Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Planned hiatus

Sorry folks, but I have to step back from posting reviews for a little while. October is shaping up to be quite busy, and then I'll be using all of my free time in November to work on my NaNoWriMo novel. December is likely to help clear up, so than I should be back to posting regularly by January! I may try to pop out a review here and there in the interim, but I don't feel confident promising anything. But I'll see you for sure in 2017!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - Menagerie [#1]

Author: Rachel Vincent - http://rachelvincent.com/index.html
Format: Kindle ebook. Free from Net Galley. Link on Amazon
Did it feel like a full novel: yes
Cliffhanger: ends on a good note, though you know there is more to explore later.
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal, dystopian
Dates Read: April 8 - May 9, 2016
Official Blurb: When Delilah Marlow visits a famous traveling carnival, Metzger's Menagerie, she is an ordinary woman in a not-quite-ordinary world. But under the macabre circus black-top, she discovers a fierce, sharp-clawed creature lurking just beneath her human veneer. Captured and put on exhibition, Delilah in her black swan burlesque costume is stripped of her worldly possessions, including her own name, as she's forced to "perform" in town after town. 

But there is breathtaking beauty behind the seamy and grotesque reality of the carnival. Gallagher, her handler, is as kind as he is cryptic and strong. The other "attractions"—mermaids, minotaurs, gryphons and kelpies—are strange, yes, but they share a bond forged by the brutal realities of captivity. And as Delilah struggles for her freedom, and for her fellow menagerie, she'll discover a strength and a purpose she never knew existed. 

One Sentence: Not what I expected, but so much better!

Full Review: The synopsis makes it sound, at least to my ears, a little more sexy and fantastical than it really was. When Deliliah is “stripped of her worldly possessions”, they don’t just mean things. They mean her human rights. She is property, less than an animal (for cryptids count as less than they). It was angering and more than a little disturbing. It takes a while to get past this most brutal beginning, but there is nothing like detailed rape or gore. Just that dark unpleasantness that is the core of evil in many human beings. 

The cryptids are realistic characters, not just “oh it’s a mermaid!”. They have different pasts and stories about how they came to belong to Metzger’s Menagerie, which helps with the world building. There are constant hints about something BIG that happened in the past to make the current events make sense, but other than that, I felt we had a good amount of information to follow along. 

The characters were great, not just the main ones like Delilah and Gallager (OMG, I got to love him so much), but so many others like the Claudio, Eryx and Nalah. Some of the ‘good guys’ pissed me off, but it kept their unique viewpoints realistic. Being allies does not mean you will be friends, automatically. 

This book was AMAZING, and though I would have LIKED to have some romance, the whole story does NOT need it. Perhaps it’s so rich and fascinating because it doesn’t have a romance to fall back on? Can’t wait for the other two books of this trilogy!

Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 stars

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - The Game and the Governess

Author: Kate Noble http://www.katenoble.com
Format: paperback. Won in a giveaway hosted at www.parajunkee.com
Did it feel like a full novel: yes
Cliffhanger: nope
Genre: historical romance
Dates Read: Feb 1 - Mar 21, 2016

Official Blurb: Three friends. One Wager. Winner takes all.

The Earl—‘Lucky Ned’ Ashby. Pompous, preening, certain that he is beloved by everyone.
The Miller—John Turner. Proud, forced to work as the Earl’s secretary, their relationship growing ever more strained. 
The Doctor—Rhys Gray. Practical, peace-loving, but caught in the middle of two warring friends.

Their wager is simple: By trading places with John Turner and convincing someone to fall in love with him, Ned plans to prove it’s him the world adores, not his money. Turner plans to prove him wrong.

But no one planned on Phoebe Baker, the unassuming governess who would fall into their trap, and turn everything on its head…

One Sentence: Enjoyable romance though it does take a while to get romantic.
Full Review: So-called "Lucky Ned" is not a very enjoyable hero at first. Phoebe Baker, the governess whom is the planned 'conquest' is fascinating at least, but the story is mostly carried by Ned. Which is something I rarely see, so it's a shame he's not more likable. However, after a point your pity at his constant faux pas and misfortunes kinda turns a bit into like, and you hope things will work out... though by then you want him to drop the pretense because you KNOW it's gonna bite him in the butt. 

With the exception of his dry manservant, I couldn't really find myself liking any other character. Turner was close, but just couldn't reach it. Everyone else is either annoying, or hateful and fake, so they're not very fun. The kids were cute, but too young for me to really get vested in them.

I really don't care for romances which hold onto miscommunication as drama, it bothers me. But since the whole basis of this book is that it's a wager on traded places, you kind of can't be honest from the get go. Regardless though, I really enjoyed a lot of the storyline, just watching Ned and Phoebe gradually fall in love was actually quite sweet. The suspense of knowing it was gonna get ugly eventually but in a way I dreaded made me anxious, so it was certainly a page-turner. I would like to check out another book by this author, but I don't think I'll go for the second in this series though. 

Rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - TUESDAY FLIRTATIONS - The Dangers of Adopting a Werewolf [Changeling Encounters #2]

I'm sure a lot of us download free romance novels to read because there are SO very many of them out there. And then the little guys breed like rabbits in our eReaders. Why don't we share our reviews/impressions so we can find the best ones to read?

1. Read a free romance book (this was started for legally free eBooks, but you can count anything gifted, borrowed, ARC, etc!)
2. Review it on your blog. If you can and it's still available, share the link to the free book.
3. Link back here by using the code below.
4. Leave your link to the specific blog post (NOT your main site) in a comment on the recent week's TF post or via the linky.
5. Delight in reading reviews by real people who's likes/dislikes you can compare to and thus find a romance you most likely will enjoy :D

Author: J. S. Scott - http://www.authorjsscott.com
Format: Kindle ebook. Free at the time on amazon 
Did it feel like a full novel: nope
Cliffhanger: no
Genre: romance, shifter
Dates Read: May 9, 2016
Official Blurb: Illustrator Zoey Hall had moved out of the city to recover from the last year and a half of losses and traumatic events in her life. All she wanted was a
little peace and to recover from her losses. When she finds a puppy in the
woods and rescues it, any peace and serenity she was looking for is shattered. The pup is a wolf changeling, she is his mate and her life is
about to drastically change.

When Rafe Lancaster shifts into a wolf pup to avoid overzealous hunters, he doesn’t expect his savior to be the woman that is destined to be his mate. However, now that he’s found her…he isn’t letting her go and he’ll do anything to keep her by his side…forever.

One Sentence: Too short and unrealistic on almost every angle.

Full Review: Quick stories are good, but this was much too rushed and too perfect (he's super rich and all) for the ending. Rafe establishes himself as a werewolf and then they both feel the urge to have sex. Then she starts to regret their sudden actions but he tells her he won't leave her and just kinda doesn't take no for an answer again. Major dislike for both of them. The sex was also a bit stale, alas.

Rating: 1 star

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - Harder: A military stepbrother romance

Author: Sable Dare
Format: Kindle ebook, received copy from author for an honest review. Amazon link.
Did it feel like a full novel: yes
Cliffhanger: no
Genre: romance
Dates Read: Mar 22 - Apr 5, 2016
Official Blurb: Nothing can get under his skin. Except for me. 

Jackson Cooper used to be a tough kid. Now he's a hard man - gorgeous, sculpted by his Army service and hungry for me. 

He's also my fucking stepbrother. And I can't keep my hands off of him. 

He's everything I ever wanted. And everything I can never have. 

Not only am I engaged to marry the biggest prick in the world, the guy has me in a stranglehold. Not even Jackson's iron fists can solve this little fucking problem I created for myself. There's no running from the thugs who own this boondocks town. 

But it's my fuck-up, so I'll deal with it, right? Wrong. My captor doesn't just want my hand, he wants everything. And I'm going to have to give it all up. Including Jackson. 

Why did he have to come back? It would have been so much easier without him here. 

Now things are fucked up as hell. 

And I can't help but want them to be even harder. 

One Sentence: I expected more, but there's a lot of solid story here though at times you can't fully sympathize with the heroine

Full Review: OK, well first off, the main reason I would gravitate towards something that's titled "stepbrother romance" is because I'm in the mood for a little forbidden fruit. When you find out these two will be related as step-siblings at this point as adults, not previously at all, it kinda deflates that aspect. 

So then it feels just like a romance where the heroine has to hide her true feelings because she's being coerced into a different relationship. Which, as it is, is a solidly written book in that manner. Jackson was really enjoyable, being a tough guy with deep passions. You really get into his head with Dare's writing, and you like him for it. Jessica kind of wandered back and forth between like and dislike, but mainly it was because I felt she needed to fess up to SOMEBODY about what was going on rather than keep it hidden for so long AND yet being pissed at others for not giving her a break at the same time.  And then at the end when she really feels she needs help, guess what, it's almost too late. 

As a romance, you generally know where it's going to go as the situation opens up, but I felt that the little details were original enough to really hook me in. The writing is overall pretty good, it's just the beginning where you can get a little lost for a lack of a few information-giving sentences. But otherwise, the voices of Jackson and Jessica are decently distinct, and you do get a feel for who they are pretty early on. 

Rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - Ready Player One

Author: Ernest Cline http://www.ernestcline.com
Format: Kindle ebook, purchased on Amazon
Did it feel like a full novel: oh yes!
Cliffhanger: nope
Genre: sci fi
Dates Read: Mar 3-11, 2016
Official Blurb: In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. 
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

One Sentence: Spectacular adventure with so much 80s stuff that you don't know where to look!

Full Review: Had been wanting to read this book for a while, and was delighted we chose it for out book club's March selection. Rushed through it because it was too hard to put down! Happy to hear that two other members felt the same, heh heh.

So it's a good book in the feel of the hero having a quest to complete, with a lovely sci fi feel for not too far off in the future. The internet/operating system Oasis just felt incredible and I really I live long enough to experience something so awesome! There was enough information about the real world to understand why people acted certain ways, but it wasn't superbly in depth. Didn't really need to be though, considering how much of the book actually deals with events in the Oasis vs the real world.

Our hero, Parzival, is likable while having flaws, feeling like just an average guy that we'd like to be, in a way. At least that's how I felt. Or be his buddy. I can only imagine the nerdy conversations we could have! 

And let's not forget all the lovely 80's bits EVERYWHERE. Some were part of the plot directly, and got explanations. Others were just thrown in, such as a quote or just a quick mention of something. We had a lot of fun discussing our favorites at our book club meeting, especially how ones that one person 'got' were not always the ones others did. I am still curious if there was a slight 70s reference to M*A*S*H, wherein Parzival goes under the pseudonym Tuttle. It might have been just coincidence, I'm not 100% sure. 

Anyways, this book is great as sci fi, also as a journey kind of novel, and an enjoyable 80s tribute. Highly recommended to almost everybody :D

Rating: 5 stars

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Semi-Returning for unofficial hiatus

Well folks, it seems I totally did take a long unplanned break. I think I just felt a little too busy to comfortably read as many books as I had been previously, then the pressure made me want to hide away. Have gotten back to reading again a bit, and I hope very much to continue doing reviews, though they may be twice a month instead of weekly. Seeing where I'll feel fine to keep them regular.

Monday, March 28, 2016


New Blue by Jules Barnard Publication Date: March 28, 2016 Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Purchase: Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Kobo | Google Play
The survivor of a high school sabotage that made her flee her hometown at sixteen, Hayden Tate is no stranger to bullying. Now she has returned to Lake Tahoe to take on her dream job with a degree and a backbone. But her newfound strength is pushed to the limit as she fights to hold her own against the old boys club of Blue Casino. Adam Cade is the prince of Lake Tahoe, born into one of the wealthiest families in the area. He’s used to doing what he wants when he wants. So when his powerful father threatens to cut him off without a dime unless he uses his Ivy League degree for a job his father got him at Blue Casino, Adam capitulates. Hayden, the head of HR, hates Adam on the spot, finding every way possible to put him in his place—and suddenly the lackey job his father found him gets interesting. Adam’s life of leisure lacks substance, and even though he’s not willing to give it up, he wouldn’t mind the distraction Hayden presents. But when the casino’s sinister inner workings begin to reveal themselves and Adam is caught between the powerful executives he works for and the lovely Hayden, his loyalties are divided. Blue Casino offers Adam a lucrative career where he wouldn’t need his father’s money for the lifestyle he’s accustomed to, but at what cost? Hayden’s silly side shines through when Adam least expects it, charming his jaded heart, and forcing him to face a morality he never knew he had. For the first time in Adam’s life he finds himself yearning for something real, but will he risk losing everything to have it?

About Jules Barnard

Before turning to storytelling, Jules earned a master’s degree in public health and spent many an hour running statistical analysis–until she realized her favorite part of the job was writing reports. She decided to cut out the math and add in some hot guys, and so began her career as a novelist. Jules is a Northern California native living on the coast with her husband and two children. She has no impulse control around cupcakes and credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - Water for Elephants

Author: Sara Gruen 
Format: Kindle eBook, purchased on amazon
Did it feel like a full novel: yes
Cliffhanger: no 
Genre: historical, romance, movie
Dates Read: Feb 24-Mar 3, 2016
Official Blurb: Orphaned, penniless, Jacob Jankowski jumps a freight train in the dark, and in that instant, transforms his future.

By morning, he's landed a job with the Flying Squadron of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. By nightfall, he's in love.

In an America made colourless by prohibition and the Depression, the circus is a refuge of sequins and sensuality. But behind the glamour lies a darker world, where both animals and men are dispensable. Where falling in love is the most dangerous act of all..

One Sentence: Felt transported to behind the scenes at this circus during the Depression

Full Review: I haven’t watched the film, and all I really know about it is that Robert Pattinson is in it. I didn’t have much interest because it looked like a star-crossed lovers romance somehow, and I didn’t know there was more plot to it. However, after reading the book, I certainly want to give the film a try!

I was very easily hooked into the character of Jacob, feeling his frustrations as he recalls things in present day, having an annoying number of problems in his nursing home. You feel for him, but you don’t really pity him. His voice felt believable to me. The other half of the book’s action takes place in the past, when he was young and joined the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show. It’s really cool, making me want to watch Carnivale and other stuff like that (recently got through American Horror Story: Freakshow). No, nothing reminiscent of Freaks (1932), rather more the drama just from workers and performers and animals all jumbled up together, being on a tight schedule. But I still liked reading from Jacob’s perspective and enjoyed his younger self. I was reading the book eagerly and enjoying every word.... up until The Romance.

It felt like it was added because it needed to be part of the story, but I could not believe, throughout the whole thing, that these two characters really loved each other. I mean, I was told they did, and I could see little things, but it felt much to quick even by romance novel instalove standards. Maybe it was also because Marlena felt kinda one dimensional? Well, not that much, but more so than Camel or Walter for sure. Even August was somebody, not just a cardboard puppet. 

But thankfully there wasn’t all that much time wasted on the romance, there was rather a bit more! The traveling situation, the interactions of persons (I was curious about more rube/carniefolk interactions but eh well), the animals like Rosie and Bobo. Now all that I could easily get myself easily lost in the book again. 

I am curious about Gruen's other works, but it might take me a while to pick one up, just because I don’t want another lackluster romance. Possibly it just felt that way because when you compare their relationship to a full romance novel, it’s a bit skimpy in comparison perhaps? I don’t know, but either way, it really didn’t detract too much, it was just not as enjoyable as the rest of the book. 

Rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - The Scarlet Pimpernel

Author: Baroness Emma Orczy
Format: Kindle ebook, free on amazon
Did it feel like a full novel: yes, though a short one
Cliffhanger: no
Genre: classic, vigilante adventure with a tinge of romance
Dates Read: Jan 5-25, 2016
Official Blurb: Armed with only his wits and his cunning, one man recklessly defies the French revolutionaries and rescues scores of innocent men, women, and children from the deadly guillotine. His friends and foes know him only as the Scarlet Pimpernel. But the ruthless French agent Chauvelin is sworn to discover his identity and to hunt him down.

One Sentence: Amusing read that took a while to get action-y, and made me eager to read the others in the series

Full Review: Read this for our book club, and glad it was picked. The style was easy enough to deal with, especially for a classic. There were parts where you could hear the author, reminiscent of the way Alexandre Dumas, where you can see which characters they like or don’t like. I enjoyed reading the first ‘heroic secret vigilante’ novel, and it’s fun to see what tropes have changed and which have stayed the same. Maurgerite was the main character, and I enjoyed her despite not liking her. 

To explain, I liked that she managed herself and had her own opinions on life. But I was not a fan of how at the very end, she just stopped DOING things, now becoming a passive ‘damsel in distress' who needed to be saved. Mostly it jarred me from the story because it was such a break from earlier. She'd made her life her way, and really got stuff done when it came to the second half. Compared to modern story females, she wasn't all that proactive, but if you compare her to those of a similar writing period (such as the main character of "The Yellow Wallpaper") there is a noted difference. But then at the end she faints and just lays there and cries. Disappointing!

To go back to the author’s writing, I think I best loved how she seemed to often go “Percy was built like a perfect Hercules/Adonis, but dumber than a bag of rocks. Still cute though.” It made me think of many of us writers when we start out. We love our characters, and want them to be loved despite their flaws by others. 

Marguerite was the mainly fleshed out character, though her husband and her nemesis have their moments, I wouldn’t say this is all that character-driven of a plot. Yet I wouldn’t say it was action-driven either. I think that’s why I feel I want to read the others of this series, being that I want more than just a taste of this world and this heroic story. 

It was cool that after a point, you know who the Scarlet Pimpernel is, but the book tries to keep it secret for you by not pointing it out itself. Makes me think of how the first 20 minutes of Terminator 2 are filmed (where you don't know Arnold is the good guy), yet the trailer gave it away anyway. Well, maybe not like that, but it still reminds me of it, heh.

Rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - Bound by the Enemy

Author: Jessi Bond
Format: Kindle ebook. Free at All Romance ebooks here.
Did it feel like a full novel: nope
Cliffhanger: serial ending in the middle of the story
Genre: erotica, gay male, reluctant (based on the character; in real life would be non con/rape)
Dates Read: Feb 24-25, 21016
Official Blurb: Secret agent Randal Blake has been captured by the enemy, soon to be tortured and held in captivity. Or so he thinks - until his captor makes it clear that he's interested in more than information or ransom. Bold and sensual, the mysterious kidnapper offers Blake a unique alternative to traditional torture - and the drug he slipped into Blake's food is making it seem all the more enticing. Will the straight spy decide to become another man's sex slave?

One Sentence: Supposed to be fascinating but can't be taken seriously

Full Review: The idea sounded incredibly hot! I wanted it to be good! It's not so much the writing which failed, but the plot layout and the incredibly quick narrative that is just too ridiculous to believe. The hero is boring, and seems ridiculously calm about his sexual capture, and accepts it way too soon. There's a fisting act, but it's very step-by-step and then over so quickly, you don't have time to care. For being a badass superspy guy, this dude is a complete pushover. And I just HATE the way he's told he's a "natural submissive". Sorry, but someone's preference to be submission doesn't have anything to do with enjoying being with just anyone against their will. Though I guess, the hero isn't acting very 'captured' anyway, bleh. It just reminds me too much of those het stories where the girl meets the guy and finds out she's a sub and loves everything her Dom does to her despite not wanting to do any of it previously in any other situation. 

Rating: 1 star

Friday, February 19, 2016

A possible hiatus (that I don't want to take)

So as you may have noticed, I did not post a review last Wednesday, or the one just past. Honestly, I have no finished books of which to write about :[ And weirdly enough, I haven't felt very much like reading either! Kinda crappy, but I hope it's just temporary. I think I'm more than a little tempted to start reading 2-3 new books, maybe I'm just trying to avoid the ones I've already started or something. After all, I could always go back to them, right?

 Do you all ever feel like you don't want to read for longer than a few days? How do you snap yourselves out of it?

So I'm not saying goodbye; hopefully I can continue my posts come next Wednesday! But if not, then I'll post out another note about it. Fingers crossed though, heh.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - War of Rain

Author: H.W. Vivian - http://www.facebook.com/hwvivian7
Format: Kindle ebook. I was gifted this ebook in exchange for my honest review. Amazon link here.
Did it feel like a full novel: yes
Cliffhanger: no
Genre: post-apocalyptic, young adult
Dates Read: Nov 23, 2015 to Jan 21, 2016
Official Blurb: Fifteen year-old Miri lives in a desert village called Boreala, which competes with the city of Stratos for Rain - the equivalent of Holy Water. During a confrontation while gathering Rain, Miri accidentally kills a citizen of Stratos, and unintentionally starts a heinous war. Now it is up to her to find the God of Rain, Kalono, and ask Him for an invention that can bring both peace and war before Boreala is destroyed.

One Sentence: First part of the the book was spectacular, the second not as much, but still necessary for part three to rock!

Full Review: Opinions in this review are my own.

The very beginning of this was a little confusing. Being dropped among these almost primitive sounding people, with a ruined landscape in the background, was confusing. There was actually a trend of many curious things that were described but you just had a hard time picturing in your mind clearly. Not so many as to ruin the novel, but it sometimes made you want to shake the narrator in want of a better descritption.

That was the main drawback though. Miri was a fascinating heroine overall. She was tougher than she gave herself credit for, which was exemplified more than once. While she did have moments where you kinda want her to not act so young, it’s understandable considering she’s 15. And she does mature a bit, so that’s quite welcome. The rest of the story-line was enjoyable, though I was kind of losing my patience with the second part, just because you are left with a sort of a cliffhanger and you’re concerned about the other characters (well mostly Philip for me). But it is needed to help Miri learn about herself and so the reader gets a bit more information on the current world (which wasn’t what I expected but was pretty cool; I would hope the author might do another novel with those situations perhaps!). A lot of the characters don’t feel all that fleshed out, which was a shame since I think I could have grown to like them had they not been so simple. 

There wasn’t very much similarity between this book and Lumiere (maybe like a fraction when it comes to the postapocalyptic world?), unless you consider the way the two MMCs are in comparison to the FMCs. The ladies do their thing and have some interest with their guys. But the guys seem a bit more taken (almost like Peeta with Katniss in the beginning of Hunger Games, though not as devotedly for Philip and Miri) with their romantic interests than vice versa. They are not subservient, nor submissive, but they touch a tone I don’t see often in non-young adult romances. Like they don’t need to bluster and bluff and peacock about, but just follow the lady’s lead without overdoing it?  I’m not sure how to put it in words, but it strikes a deep chord inside me so that I cherish those parts with Philip in them, short as they may feel in comparison the entire story. 

So anyway, I did enjoy most of the book. But there were those bits that almost bored me, or I couldn’t understand because I didn’t get the description. Currently there’s a giveaway on Goodreads for a physical copy of the book which I certainly DO suggest you try! I had my reservations, but there’s a lot of deep stuff in here that I think would make this a 4 or 5 for others!

Rating: 3.5 stars

Sunday, January 24, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - Shearwater [Ocean Depths part one]

((I totally didn't realize this cover pic MOVES until I was setting up my post. LOVELY EFFECT!))

Author: Derek Murphy - http://urbanepics.com/

Format: ARC Kindle ebook. Free from author in exchange for an honest review. Amazon link. The website with more detail is www.UrbanEpics.com/shearwater

Did it feel like a full novel: No, but is just a part of the full novel after all. Very in depth though (no pun intended) for just a first parter.

Cliffhanger: The end was set up as a "dun dun DUN" part, but not one of those shocking, unexpected, and annoying kinds.

Genre: fantasy, young adult, merpeople

Dates Read: Jan 17 to 20, 2016

Official Blurb: "I watched the colored lights and sparkles coming off of Sebastian in the dark water, as the ocean began the process of rebuilding his tail. I longed to join him in the water, to wrap my arms around him and let him carry me under the sea; but I wasn’t ready. For him, the ocean was a home; for me it was death. Without being able to transform, the ocean depths would suffocate me, the pressure collapse my bones and flesh." 

After her parent's accident, Clara is shipped off to live with a grandfather she never knew, in a town she can't pronounce. In Ireland, she soon discovers that her mother's secret past is filled with tragedy. Trying to track down the truth, she begins going through changes of her own, until she's not sure just who - or what - she is anymore. 

Then she meets the mysterious Sebastian, who won't leave her alone, and Ethan, who apparently can't stand to be near her. Both of them seem to have supernatural powers, and she's not quite sure whether they want to kill her or kiss her. Just when things are getting interesting, someone attacks her, and she gets a revelation that destroys everything she thought she knew about the world, humanity, and herself. 

>>>Explore the magical coast of Northern Ireland, and an new interpretation of the Tuatha de Danann, the Fomorians, and mermaid mythology. 

>>>An innovative paranormal romance with a brand new magical system, and a version of mermaid biology that actually makes sense. 

One Sentence: Fantastic YA story with an amusing heroine, enrapturing story, grand settings, and hot romantic interest(s)!

Full Review: I wanted to read this novel for several reasons. Some are silly, such as the author's last name being my pseudonym's as well ;) And the FMC's last name being the same as a good friend of mine, and their first names are also similar. I took this all as a sign to read the synopsis and then I knew I just had to get my mitts on the book! Very glad I did too, heh.

Clara is a great lead, being strong enough that even when she has her teenage moments, she realizes she is having them. And she has some great face palming moments that just killed me! There was really only one thing she did (or didn't do) near the beginning that felt pretty dumb and railroaded, but we all make mistakes, so I can't really judge her too harshly. Her interactions with her friends and other characters were very individually based and realistic. I really liked how she dealt with Sebastian (and how he acted around her), though her minimal interaction with Ethan was interesting too. Their use of Facebook, Instagram, Harry Potter references, etc, all felt very authentic, not just tossed in to be "hip" like some people do.

I hate reading just parts of books like serials, but this one hooked me within a chapter or two pretty well and I couldn't stay away. I enjoyed Mr. Murphy's writing, it being fast paced enough to develop the story but not so much to overly rush everything. I don't think I can take waiting until October for the very end, aaaaah!

Another thing I liked was the way he writes his mermaids/men. Interestingly possible yet still within a magical world. Ooo, and the accurate locations were also cool! I would have liked to visit Ireland if I ever go to Europe, but now I think it kinda got pushed up the more top locations ;)

As to what I didn't like, well, besides Clara's mistake of keeping something a secret (I don't think it actually did much harm, but it COULD have), was the part where... ack, I don't want to ruin something, but I want to mention it. Well, she kinda gets her YA-style 'specialness' in a way that you no longer really feel like you could just be in her place, which is something I kind of like about YA novels. But it's not all that bad as it develops, and you appreciate and still find Clara enjoyable as a heroine. At least I did. Also, I don't know if I'll be able to deal with this becoming a love triangle later, but that's really just an assumption I have. Maybe it won't even occur that way. 

I have posted this review before my usual schedule because I wanted you all to know about it prior to its launch on January 26th. ... ... .... ALTHOUGH.... Mr. Murphy will be selling this first part for only 99 cents starting then, yet on January 28th it will be available for free! Fantastic, right? Well it gets better!

Check this out, straight from the author:
I’m wrapping up Part One of my first novel Shearwater – an epic YA mermaid romance – and I want to do something fun and meaningful for my book launch: raise money for ocean conservancy and to protect marine wildlife.
During launch week, not only will all earnings be donated, but I’ll further donate $1 for every sale. My goal is to sell 1000 copies at 99cents each, which which will raise about $700 + a $1000 bonus.

That is pretty awesome, right? Being it was a fun novel, I really do suggest you try it out, whether when it launches originally, or when it's free. Very nice read (and for a good cause!) starting off 2016 in a delightful manner!

Rating: 5 stars

Saturday, January 23, 2016

MEME - Stacking the Shelves - 01-23-16 #24

Not a lot, but I feel rather behind with what I should be caught up with. All ready finished Shearwater and can't wait to do a review hopefully this Wednesday for it!

Author Request:

Won in Giveaway:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW & DISCUSSION - The Court Jester (1955) [AKA: Why I may like a certain male/female dynamic]

Before we get too far along in this, let me say this is one of my favorite films ever. A comedy that still makes me laugh every time I watch it. I scoured Amazon for a DVD copy being that no store had one, despite its awesomeness. But yes, at last I own my own! Because I loved it so much I would regularly rent it previously. But now it's mine, MINE, ALL MINE, HAHAHAHAHA! 

I hope you'll forgive me for having the love I have for this film coming out so thickly, but I hope that maybe this long post can shed some light on why I treasure it so.  SPOILER WARNING: Please be forewarned that I'll be talking about the ENTIRE film, giving away the ending and all. If you have any interest in seeing it before I spoil all the good bits, I suggest you find a copy to watch first!

To start, it's a period piece, where the Black Fox is a masked vigilante (think like Robin Hood), trying to serve justice as the current king has unlawfully taken over the throne. The true heir is only a baby, recognizable as royalty by having the royal birthmark, the purple pimpernel! The Black Fox's men are keeping the child safe, and the main character played by Danny Kaye, Hawkins, has the job of showing off the baby's bottom to new recruits. 

When he mentioned that wouldn't it be better if a woman does it, the Black Fox tells him "each one serves as best he can." Hawkins is a former carnival performer, and has a bunch of little people who are his friends from it (though they can't join because they can't fight).

Anyway, Hawkins is sent with the captain of the troop to take the royal baby to a safe place. The captain is Jean, played by Glynis Johns (who also played Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins, something cool I didn't know until writing this post! Research is awesome!), whom Hawkins has a major crush on. I love that he accepts her authority, always being all "Yes Captain" when she tells him to do something or whatnot. Actually kind of reminds me of the Princess Bride's "as you wish" heh. You get the feel that she kind of likes him, but it takes a rainy night and a heart-to-heart conversation to get them talking about a close relationship. Of course, then she tries to be sensible about that they shouldn't until the real king is safely on the throne.

This is the first thing that I can see how it triggered certain likes and dislikes I have now. I like seeing guys devoted to their ladies. Where they are the ones who stare and have to look away, or blush and titter nervously. When they ask for a kiss rather than taking one. So anyway, they get interrupted by another traveler seeking shelter from the storm. The great Giacomo, newly arrived from Italy, here to serve the King as his court jester. They hint at each other what to do without having to talk about their plan (something that indicates they are close if they can do that pretty quick). Hawkins is unwilling to knock out Giacomo, so Jean has to do it. I wish I could find a pic, but pretty much she bashes a log against his head (shadow play, was it too violent to show onscreen at the time?). Now Hawkins can pretend to be Giacomo, get chummy with the king, and steal a key that could help the Black Fox's men get into the castle via a hidden passageway. They separate, her with the baby hidden in a secret compartment in their wine cart, and Hawkins to the castle as Giacomo!

At the castle, he whistles a special tune that's a way for this vigilante troop to recognize each other in searching for an inside man, but mistakenly thinks it is Sir Ravenhurst. He's played by Basil Rathbone so that tells you what side he's on. He has his own nefarious plans, and the true Giacomo is a part of them, so the two have no idea something is much amiss.

The king is curious about Giacomo, but Hawkins being Danny Kaye, he talks his way out of it splendidly. By saying everything and nothing at the same time.

OK, so in the meantime Jean had been caught as one of those aforementioned wenches but at least she make contact with the inside man, who can hide the baby while she has to go be bathed and dressed before tonight. The king has been making plans with some guys of other regions to gain strength, one of which he wants his daughter to marry (she is played by the young and beautiful Angela Lansbury), Sir Griswold. She doesn't want to because her maid Griselda has been telling her stories of true love. The maid sees an opportunity here so she enchants Hawkins into thinking he's super suave and that he will charm the princess. The magic is turned off/on with a finger snap.


While he's enchanted and swinging about the exterior of the castle like a badass after saying goodbye to Gwendolyn, he meets up with Ravenhurst and accepts the job of assassinating three of those guys the king wants to make a deal with. Then he has to take down Sir Griswold. When he gets back to his room, Griselda makes him forget everything. 

Later during the dinner, he performs as a jester. Take note that though this a musical comedy, pretty much all the songs don't detract anything from the film, they only enhance the scene they're in. There's lots of stuff going on around with Jean and the baby, so he has to do a number to distract everyone.

During all this, Griselda hears those three guys talking about how they have to make absolutely sure that the princess marries Griswold. She poisons their drinks, and they die. Ravenhurst is just super impressed with "Giacomo", telling him to proceed to Plan Two. Sir Griswold arrives and it's discovered that the princess' clandestine lover is Giacomo. Griswold (Robert Middleton) demands satisfaction, since he can't challenge a commoner to mortal combat like he would a real knight.

Of course Ravenhurst suggests to the king that they knight the jester, because he's thinking this is ALL PART OF THE PLAN. I'll give you three guesses which one is Hawkins.

Now a knight, he challenges Griswold to mortal combat (Jean told him the Black Fox would come and fight in his place). Through this arrives one of the most loved and quoted scenes of Danny Kaye's cinematic career. It's technically two parts, but I'll only put the first one here.

Suffice to say, it doesn't work out. Ravenhurst, because of a something one of his friends tells him, outs Hawkins as.... the Black Fox! 

Lots of stuff happens, leading up to a battle thanks to the forest group and Hawkins' small friends swinging about, knocking heads and taking names. Then Hawkins must fight against Ravenhurst. Griselda is around and spells him so he is suddenly a fencing master (but as before, it comes and goes with a finger snap). I remember reading that Kaye took fencing lessons because he wanted to parody appropriately. And I believe Rathbone was an experienced fencer, but he had to let the fight choreographer do quite a bit since he was 63 to the time of filming. 

In the end, two little people distract Ravenhurst, Hawkins bodily flips him onto a catapult thing, and Jean sends him flying. The real heir is presented to everyone including the false king, they all bow to their real liege, and it ends with the short song based on the opening song with Hawkins and Jean holding hands and everyone seems happy to join in the chorus. 

A delightful romp in silliness of which I have tried to spare you most of the jokes because if you know the plot there should still be something you have to look forward to in watching! So yeah, if you can't tell, I absolutely love this movie for almost every little thing. But enough of me going over the film; how's about some actual discussion now!

I saw this film early as a preteen and I think it helped get me to realize women could be quite awesome on their own, despite it being filmed in the 1950's. Jean never really loses her cool. She reaches points where she's obviously concerned things are just not going according to plan, but she never gives up to feel sorry for herself. She doesn't wait to be rescued by someone else. She works through things as best she can, sometimes figuring out crazy but effective ways to protect herself or do what needs to be done.

Gwendolyn wants romance and true love, but that's a decision she's made by herself. She doesn't have a lot of negotiating power against her father, which is why she has to threaten her own life to demand she get what she wants. But then she also threatens her dear Griselda's life TWICE because she wants that love (the first because she thinks Griselda has been lying to her, and the second for Giacomo/Hawkin's life). This is a serious, goal oriented princess who will not let her ambitions be denied.

And then Griselda acts more like one of the evil characters, but more for her own protection than other gain. She doesn't wiat for others to do something, she gets stuff done herself! She sees her chance when she first hears Giacomo around, and she enchants him to fall in love with the princess. She doesn't care about his wants (and dare I say, his consent), only how this can benefit her. She hasn't done this before, so maybe she was waiting for Gwendolyn to find someone on her own to fall in love with, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Oh yeah, and poisoning the three guys without even a blink of an eye.

These three women are not the norm when it comes to period films. Despite two of them having some moral ambiguity, they are all strongly written in that they have goals they work towards. Two are towards a man, and the film does fail the Bechdel test, but you could see they are certainly not just sexy lamps in this. The film is far from perfect, but it does give quite a different feel to the more traditional romantic storylines and gender roles. Though Gwendolyn looks like she's reconsidering Griswold at the very end, it could be construed as being merely one of those scenes for the entire cast to be in. They all did just swear fealty to the baby-king, but not one is trying to tar and feather her or the former king, right?

Speaking of gender roles... Hawkins really just wants to get through all this madness, hopefully by initially looking like a super cool fighter so he can either impress Jean (not that likely in that she'd still outrank him), or just prove himself at least minimally competent (more feasible). He has to let Jean handle a violent situation that looked like it make him uncomfortable or maybe even queasy. He lets Jean make the decisions because she has a better mind for plans. Though he loves her, he doesn't let himself get too carried away, remembering his mission and his need to protect the baby-king. But he also doesn't just listen to every little thing Jean says. Remember up there in that pestle video where Jean says, "It's so easy I can say it" and he doesn't skip a beat before replying, "Well then you fight him." While most of this is likely irritation that he can't remember the rhyme, probably a bit is that he's bitter that she really can't for him, since he would probably sure she could kick his butt. Remember how the Black Fox says "each man serves as best he can"? There's no way Jean could have made the position of captain if she hadn't proven herself able.

Near the end, the two are cornered by Ravenhurst, and he tries to shield Jean with his body. She does a little of the damsel-clench thing, but it's not like she has a weapon so there's not a lot she could do anyway. But Hawkins is still unarmed and still tries his best. Flipping over Ravenhurst though uses his own natural self, he didn't gain new strength or anything like that (he's been quite physical throughout this whole film, and you can guess he was maybe an acrobat or tumbler from the hints of his circus past). Jean is still the one to flip him via the catapult, and I wonder if it's because Hawkins still wouldn't have the stomach for it.

So yeah, I can see how this may have laid a good foundation into "guys I like" just as I was hitting puberty. The men don't have to be the biggest and baddest. Their romantic interests can be stronger, and they aren't threatened. They still want to protect them and be devoted, but not in an annoying or stalker way. And they still have a way to do so, even if it's not in a way that is comparable to others. 

So that's that! Goodness I just kept  going, didn't I? I hope this makes sense, and I'd love to hear any comments or questions, regardless if you've watched the film or not. Being I think one of the better Danny Kaye films though, I hope you may view a copy soon!

Rating: 5 stars

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