Back in the game

So this is weird…its been a while since I’ve written on here but I’m back and better than ever!¬†

I hope to begin anew yet continue where I left off of reviewing books, plus posting about changes in my life. Well let’s get started… ūüôā

Since we left off, last August I believe, I have been reading, reading, and doing some more reading. Sadly I have lacked the ambition to post my reviews on here…disheartening to say the least. Let’s see…let’s see what have I been reading this months away: I, like many others, got swept up into the Fifty Shades craze and continued reading “lady spank” books, as my co-worker Emily calls them. I’ve read the really, really erotic ones to the lovely historical ones with occasional sex scene. All in all I can say that I won’t¬†stop any time soon, I’m too much of a hopeless romantic at heart :)!

Also I have added to my collection of books, if you remember to the picture I posted of my bookshelf, well now imagine that 5-shelf bookshelf so full and brimming with new books to read that it has spilled unto¬†the floor and you can no longer see the bottom shelf. Alas…it has been tough to tackle and I seem to not be making any dents in clearing the floor ;). That being said, my lovely book club and I have started reading books that every girl in their 20’s should read and I will be blogging about them soon.

All in all books still dominate my life and I need to be more actively involved in this blog, since it tis mine. So look out for what is coming and I hope you enjoy.

 

Ta Ta for now

Tori

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The Bride’s House by Sandra Dallas

Happening across this book in Fred Meyer’s, I knew it would be a book that would be right up my alley. So when my English Lit buddies and I decided to start a book club, this was our first read (suggested by me ;)). I couldn’t wait to get started and was super-duper excited that our book club (ok Amanda and Mary, we need a name for our book club!) was reading this as its inaugural book.¬†

The Bride’s House is actually three different stories in one but they are all connected because it follows three different generations of women from one family in Georgetown, Colorado. Too keep this simple (because I started writing an overview and it was way to long) I am going to quote the description on the back, which I think does the book a great justice.¬†

“It’s 1880, and for seventeen-year-old Nealie Bent, the Bride’s House is a fairy tale come to life. It seems as if it is being built precisely for her and Will Spaulding, the man she is convinced she will mary. But life doesn’t go according to plan, and Nealie finds herself in the Bride’s House pregnant–and married to another.

For Pearl, growing up in the Bride’s House is akin to being raised in a mausoleum. Her father has fashioned the house into a shrine to the woman he loved, resisting all forms of change. When the enterprising young Frank Curry comes along and asks for Pearl’s hand in marriage, her father sabotages the union. But he underestimates the lengths to which the women in the Bride’s House will go for love.

Susan is the latest in the line of strong and willful women in the Bride’s House. She’s proud of the women who came before her, but the Bride’s House hides secrets that will force her to question what she wants and who she loves.”

Ok, that said all I was trying to say much more eloquently and succinctly. I was trying to add all the details into the overview and it was not working :). I really did enjoy this book; From beginning to end, the story hooked me, with the three different women, Nealie, Pearl, and Susan, intertwining in a way that was very compelling. All three ladies were strong female characters and had distinct minds of their own, which was ahead of their time periods. They were engaging characters, that I was rooting for them from the beginning. The trials and triumphs that each woman went through during their part of the journey was what really captivated me. They had such strong convictions and attitudes, even in times of great strife, that made me want to weep with sadness and clap with joy. Their stories brought me to tears and made me laugh, but most of all they portrayed woman at their finest; dealing with adversity with great amounts of character.

¬†The set up of the book was one that I found very intriguing. I liked the idea of having three stories in one but having each store connected to the other through different generations. That is something that I have not stumbled upon often and Sandra Dallas did an amazing job in writing all of the intertwining connections. I enjoyed that each woman of the family got their own section but they also overlapped and developed throughout the whole novel, especially when the secrets of Bride’s House are revealed towards the end. Not only is Susan great at writing these characters, she is wonderful at adding in historical data to fill in this novel. Every page with brimming with historical references,¬†that it was a pleasure to read and made the story more real. Sandra did her research and it paid off in this novel, especially when you learn at the end in the author’s note that Sandra has bought the house that is the Bride’s House (how cool is that!).¬†

I should throw out there that I did have some issues with the novel. I was a little disappointed in how quickly each woman’s story took place. They were over, wham bam thank you mam. No real meat or sustenance to a lot of the plot that it felt a little rushed. There could have been a lot more detail to this novel, which would have strengthened the book and provided a better understanding of each woman. That being said I still enjoyed the story, I just wanted a longer book.

Lastly, how could I forget to mention the 4th main character, the House. The house took on an embodiment of its own. It became the setting that held this families secrets for years and without this house there would be no book. This beautiful Victorian house, stood the test of generations and came out on top in this wonderful novel. Overall, I highly recommend this book. Buy, rent or borrow it!

Rating: 425 pages out of 500.

Upcoming: The Solider’s Wife by Margaret Leroy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and whatever else I can read.

Laters, Baby

Tori

Austentatious by Alyssa Goodnight

So I know that I have completely slacked on writing blog posts for a month, but life got in my way. Finding time to write on here, to work, to do my homework, and to find the time to relax; I was mentally exhausted. Now I have to play catch up and go back to review books I have read since I last posted. I haven’t read to many, but there will be 2 to 3 new posts on here in the next couple of days. Get prepared for a barrage of posts in the coming months. I’m gonna be a reading machine.

Let’s start this posting spree with Austentatious by Alyssa Goodnight. I was shopping for a new hair dryer, since I completely destroyed mine, in Fred Meyer and came across this book for a 15% discount. Well any and all things related to Ms. Austen I pick up and this was no different. Austentatious is a modern adaptation/homage to P&P, which is something different so, obviously, I was intrigued. Nicola James, a straight-laced engineer, is browsing for a gift for her cousin in an Austin antique store when she come across an old journal mixed in with Austen novels. Nic knows her cousin will be happy with this gift cause she is an Janeite and loves all things Austen. Nic purchases the journal and looks it over at a local coffee shop. Next thing she knows, she has spilled coffee on the journal and can no longer gift it to her cousin. Nic keeps it for herself and places it in the revered position on her bookshelf, next to Jane’s novels. Nic, never having been a journal writer, decides to write in the journal. The next day, Nic opens the journal to find out that her entry has disappeared and all that is left is certain words from her entry to give advice back to Nic. Obviously, the thought that the journal could be writing back is ridiculous, but Nic, with her “Fairy Jane,” decides to take the advice to heart. She follows “Fairy Jane’s” advice and thus the start of Nic’s adventure. All this culminates in Nic’s romance with Sean, a gorgeous Scottish musician, in Austin for the SXSW festival. Still be a skeptic a heart, Nic reluctantly lets “Fairy Jane” lead her romance with Sean and it ends up changing her very staid, planned life.

Boy was this book a good one to read! I am always, like I stated in a previous review, skeptical of any Austen sequels, adaptations, homages etc. I was pleasantly surprised with this novel, not only because it did not detract from Jane’s works, but because it was a fresh modern taste to Austen lovers. This book had all the right elements to make it a very worthwhile read. From amazingly funny scenes (mushrooms anyone?) to heartfelt emotions between Nic and Sean, this book will make you laugh and definitely tug at your heart. Nicola is a great protagonist. She is the story and helps to create a wonderful sense of camaraderie between the reader and the writer. She is sweet and a little quirky, with a whole host of issues about how her life should be (she created her life plan at age 13). Through all the complaining about her life changing with “Fairy Jane,” Nic is a true to earth character. One that every reader can connect with on any level. She wears her emotions on her sleeve and always has a funny retort to add when the moment needs it. She makes for a great female character and without her wit and integrity, the story would not have been as good. Sean, well what woman doesn’t want a sexy Scottish musician to fall at their feet. I know I do and boy was he worth it in this story. He completely balances Nicola’s sometimes rigid personality with his carefree nature and fun-loving attitude. They go together like to peas in a pod and compliment each other so well. Sean, the carefree guy, that is usually (or at least how Nic sees it) just good for a fling but in actuality Sean is down to earth, emotional, and very serious at times. Worth having around for more than a fling, which is precisely what Nic finds out on her “Fairy Jane” adventure. Plus the way Alyssa describes him in a kilt, oh my!

From Sean and Nic’s whirlwind romance to the banter between “Fairy Jane” and Nicola this novel is worth the read. Any novel, where the premise is advice from Jane through a journal, is a novel highly rated in my book. So, pick up your copy today and read Alyssa Goodnight’s very well written novel.

Rating: 450 out of 500 pages.

On a side note: My English Literature buddies and I decided to form a book club and read as many books as we can cram into our busy lives. So a lot of the reviews from here on out will have Amanda and Mary’s views thrown in. Oh book clubs how you excite me! ūüôā

Upcoming: The Bride’s House by Sandra Dallas, Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and more.

Laters, Baby

Tori

Royal Blood by Rona Sharon

Anything about Tudor England intrigues me to no end. So when I found this for $2 dollars I could not pass up the opportunity. I was ready for a novel full of intrigue and passion and lots of lovely snippets of King Henry the 8th. 

Royal Blood¬†follows to main characters, Michael Devereaux and Princess Renee de Valois of France, as they traverse the highs and lows of the Tudor Court in 1518. Most of the novel takes place during the Order of the Garter ceremony at the palace, which is where Michael and Renee meet. Michael, as a ward of the lord of Ireland and the legal heir to that lord, he is at the celebration to prove his worth and make a name for himself. Where as Renee is in England for more nefarious means. They have a chance meeting when Michael catches Renee spying on the Duke of Buckingham and his sister Anne, as they plot to kill the King. As soon as Michael learns this, he knows his way to fame is in the attempt,¬†if he stops it; where as Renee must make sure the attempt at the King’s life is successful so her secret mission can continue. From the beginning they are at odds with one another, but the can not deny the growing attraction. For Renee to act on the attraction would be fatal to not only herself and her mission, but to a man back home whom she loves. Michael, on the other hand, fights this attraction because there is something more nefarious taking place within himself that he tries to shield from all. As Renee’s mission takes her further into the depths of the English court, she realizes she needs an¬†ally. Who better than, Michael. As they come together, face each others foes, they can not fight the attraction and they sleep together. Renee is smitten, Michael is half way to love, but Renee must put her mission first and Michael is battling a big demon inside him. Can these two come together to vanquish their demons or will they face them on their own?

I did not want to give too much away in the description so it is kinda vague but if you go to Amazon, you will get the blurb from the back, which will go into more depth. I really enjoyed this book as I expected from a book containing Tudor history. King Henry’s court and regency has always interested me (mostly because as much as I can’t stand the bloke, I really got to hand it to Henry…guy had some balls, well at least for a while anyways ;)). I loved the double angle of this book; getting to read both Renee and Michael’s stories separately and yet together was really fascinating. You get to experience both their thoughts throughout the novel, not just one over the other. Both these characters are dynamic in their own rights but put them together and you have one hell of a story. I enjoyed Renee’s sense of stubbornness for a woman in that time period, granted that comes from her being a Princess of the French court and a daughter of a King, but nonetheless she was a woman who I grew to love throughout the story. Her strength and character not to mention her passion, compassion and that fiery temper, really won me over. Michael, was much the same way. As he progresses into himself, he becomes a man you can depend on; a man who knows who he is, what he wants and is willing to fight for it (which sounds like just a really “manly” man but he is so sweet underneath the gruff that you fall a bit in love). Their relationship from the fiery beginning to the love in the end really tugged at my damn heartstrings and I rooted for them to be together the whole way through.

As to the story itself, I was greatly impressed at the thought that Rona Sharon put into the historical events that she described. She obviously did her research and it showed greatly when reading the novel. I loved¬†that it was Renee who was the spy/nefarious one in this novel instead if it always being the man. That really made me love the book all that much more. As the intrigue comes into play, we find out that most of it has to do with Cardinal Woolsey and this artifact that will lead him to be Pope, which consequently is what Renee is in England to steal. All¬†is revealed through out a series of events that are very dramatic and make me dislike Woolsey so much more, but it was an interesting plot to the novel. The major issue I had with the whole book was that all of sudden in the middle of the novel Michael becomes (spoiler!) a goddamn vampire. Seriously!!!! Where the hell did this come from. I was not expecting vampires to pop up in this novel when I bought it (although from the title I should have guessed) but Michael’s “illness/demon” that he had been fighting was his lord’s wish to turn him into a vampire like him. I am very much over the vampire genre and it is not what I was looking for in this novel but that being said it did not play out the way all the other vampire novels do. There was something more to the story than just vampires, which made me like Rona all the more as an author.¬†

I can truly say that this novel was a pleasure to read and I am looking forward to hopefully reading more books by Rona.


Rating: 400 out of 500 pages

Upcoming: The Daughter of Sienna by Marina Fiorato and Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.

Laters, Baby

Tori

Juliet by Anne Fortier

I have had this book for almost a year…it has been taunting me to read it and I finally broke down and picked it from my millions of books (why does Half Price Books make me spend so much money…it’s all their fault :)).¬†

Juliet is a story surrounding Julie Jacobs, a 25 year-old wandering through life. Julie works odd jobs at Shakespeare festivals to earn money, after she dropped out of her masters program. At the beginning of the novel, Julie’s great Aunt Rose dies (the only mother Julie and her twin Janice have ever known). Reeling from the shock of her death and seeing her sister again (they don’t get along) Julie is not prepared for not receiving any part of her Aunt’s estate; it all goes to Janice, who throws it in Julie’s face. Hurt and desolate, Julie hides out where Rose’s butler (and father figure to Julie) Umberto, finds her. He gives her a letter from her Aunt, with a key, stating that Julie must find the safe deposit box that the key goes to. The key (and box) belonged to Julie’s mother and is Julie’s last legacy to her mom. The catch here is that all this needs to be accomplished in Siena, Italy where Julie was born. Armed with the key, her passport (with her real name Giulietta Tolomi) and her maxed out credit cards, Julie embarks on an Italian adventure. As she arrives in Siena, Julie meets Eva Maria Salimbeni and her godson Alessandro Santini. Eva Maria, upon learning Julie’s real name,¬†regales¬†her with the story of their families history of strife between the two. The Salimbeni and Tolomi families hate each other (like the Montagues and Capulets…anyone?!?!) and now Julie is right in the middle of the continued strife. As she finds the safe deposit box, learns more about her family history, falls in love with Alessandro, she learns that the true story of Romeo and Juliet lies here in Siena and she is a direct descendant from Giulietta Tolomi- the real Juliet. With this knowledge she tries to complete her mothers dying wish, find Giulietta’s eyes (2 big huge sapphires) and solve the “curse on both houses.”

Full of adventure, romance, and history, Juliet by Anne Fortier is a book worth the read. I could not put this book down, the story is so intriguing and the mix between history and present day was fascinating. The book starts in present day, but when Julie learns that the real story of Romeo and Juliet happened in Siena (and she has the diary to prove it) the story then goes back in time every other chapter to learn the true story of Romeo and Juliet. It was so interesting to read both stories simultaneously happening and learning about both Julie and Giulietta…I am impressed and embroiled in both their stories. I fell in love with this book from beginning to end…Julie is such an amazing character, that you have to fall in love with her and her adventure. She is witty and stubborn yet compassionate and caring; you root for her through out the novel and you want her to be the one to figure out the true mystery of Romeo and Juliet. Anne Fortier is an amazing story-teller and she is able to blend two stories together to create a book that is a book, once read, you won’t forget. Obviously, much research was required for this novel and Anne keeps the facts intact and creates a beautiful world of history and present day Siena.¬†

The mystery and intrigue surrounding Giulietta’s eyes and Julie’s¬†struggle to figure out where they were hidden, was very well written by Anne. I felt as though I could have been in the hunt for the eyes along with Julie and Alessandro (and others…). To be able to create a mystery surrounding one of the most popular stories of all time and keep everything coherent and factual, is a great feat. I congratulate you, Anne Fortier, for creating a novel surround and adding to the story of Romeo and Juliet and not detracting to the history and story of R&J. Go pick up this novel, you will not be disappointed in any aspect.

 Rating: 450 pages out of 500.

Upcoming: Royal Blood by Rona Sharon and Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff.

Laters, Baby

Tori

The Sacred Book of the Werewolf by Victor Pelevin

I picked this book up in San Fran, at the City Lights Bookstore because it was recommended by one of the workers there. Normally, this is not something that I would ever pick up, but I am always willing to try new books so I decided to give it shot.

The book,¬†written from the perspective of A Hu-Li, a were-fox who lives in Russia. As she has been around for thousands of years but still looks quite young (she is mistaken for 17 years old all the time), she impersonated a 17-year-old prostitute in order to make money and survive. She needs human (or tail less monkeys as foxes call humans) life force…the essence of life to survive. What better way to get that then by impersonating a prostitute. Through the course of this life, she has run ins with death, which make her lose her job at a prominent hotel. Then she puts an ad out on the internet to solicit sex, and ends up whipping a client so badly that she comes under the notice of the Russian FSB. There is meets Alexander. An amazingly beautiful man, who is the commander general of the FSB, she is instantly attracted to him, which doesn’t happen ever to her. They form a mutual bond, when it turns out that he is a werewolf, and they end up staying in a relationship together for a long time (he is the only one who understands her and has a sex with her, because believe it or not she was a virgin). Through this relationship, A Hu-Li or Adele as she goes by with Alexander (ginger too cause she is a redhead) comes to learn the true meaning of her existence (through many philosophical rants throughout the novel)…Love. Her love for Alexander is what she has been waiting for this whole time to be the true super-werewolf (an were-creatures ultimate destination). Thus she finds enlightenment…

From the description on the back of, The Sacred Book of the Werewolf, (where it just discussed her being a prostitute and a were-fox) I though it was going to be a super interesting novel and not something that I ever read very often Boy was I wrong. I really could not get into this book, the story is one of the more¬†disjointed that I have ever read. It jumped from present day Russia with A Hu-Li and Alexander to her memories of the past and way…WAY to many philosophical discussions about life and her meaning of life being a were-fox and blah, blah, blah. Don’t get me wrong, I do (now and then) enjoy a good philosophical discussion (don’t laugh at me Beck), but this was every other stinking chapter. There really was no story…just the author throwing in his personal beliefs in the guise of A Hu-Li’s transformation throughout her life as a were-fox. A Hu-Li as a character was not enjoyable to read about. I never felt like I truly understood what she was about nor do I think she even understood what she, herself, was about. There was no real story involved between her and Alexander, just brief passages where they were together and had sex or had sexual fantasies with their tails¬†entwined together. It wasn’t love or not the love that I believe in. I no way (obviously) could I get into this book. All that being said, Victor Pelevin is a good writing, who has some amazing thoughts on life. HE can tell a could philosophical discussion and is obviously very intelligent, this book just does not cater to any of my whims. I will say that if you enjoy philosophy, this is¬†your book!

Sorry this review is so short, but really there is nothing more that I have to say about this novel. On a happy note, another review tomorrow. 

Rating: 100 pages out of 500.

Upcoming: Juliet by Anne Fortier and many others, which I haven’t decided on yet ūüôā

Laters, Baby

Tori

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

My favorite novel of all time is Pride and Prejudice by the lovely Jane Austen, so I try to read any and all sequels of P&P whenever I can. I had heard about this novel from the Jane Austen blogs/twitters that I follow, but never picked it up till it was on sale at Barnes & Noble. Anything that has to do with P&P is worth a shot…

The year is 1803, six years after Elizabeth and Darcy married. They are settling¬†into their lives at Pemberley, with two wonderful boys, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth and Darcy’s love is as strong as ever, as they prepare for Lady Anne’s ball (which was a ball held every year by Darcy’s mother). Elizabeth is taking over the duties of mistress of Pemberley, as is evident from her planning of the ball that Lady Anne used to throw. They are a happy family, with regular visits from Jane and Bingley and Georgiana growing up into a beautiful women who maybe getting married soon (2 candidates to choose from there). There are no major problems in their life and they are content to live the rest of their days at Pemberley. All that is bout to change when, the night before the ball. Darcy, Elizabeth, Jane, Bingley, and others are relaxing in the drawing-room, when Darcy notices a wildly careening carriage coming down the lane to Pemberley. This can only bring bad news, and all of them run to the door to find out what is wrong. The carriage opens and a hysterical Lydia falls out screaming and crying that Wickham is dead. The shock to everyone is immediate. They are all stunned as they take in the information that Wickham could be murdered (and privately they are all thinking, why the hell is Lydia here…she is never invited to Pemberley). As Lydia sobs, the story comes out. Wickham, Lydia and Captain Denny were travelling together and Lydia was going to be dropped off a Pemberley for the ball (a surprise to Elizabeth and Darcy, since she wasn’t invited) while Wickham and Denny would travel on. In the Pemberley woodlands, Denny got out of the carriage and refused to go on with Wickham. Denny walked into the woodlands and Wickham followed, all the while Lydia was screaming for them to not leave her. Minutes passed, Lydia heard gunshots and became hysterical and told the coachman to drive to Pemberley straight away. Upon mounting a search for Wickham, Darcy, along with Colonel Fitzwilliam and a young lawyer named Alverston, found Denny dead in the woods, with Wickham leaning over the body covered in blood and shouting that he had killed his friend. The body, carried,¬†back to the house by Darcy and the Colonel, where the constable and magistrate will come to view the body. After interviewing all the guests and servants at Pemberley, the magistrate takes Wickham into custody to await an inquest (which is where it will be decided if he is guilty and will move on to a trial). Wickham,¬†thought of as guilty at the inquest, will await trial in the spring. As the story progresses, the Darcy’s become¬†embroiled in the scandal and are trying to learn the truth of what really happened that night. The book ends with the culmination of the trial, where we all find out what truly happened in the woods.

As I said above, I love sequels to P&P, so I try to read as many as I can. Trust me, there are some good ones out there. To me, however, Death Comes to Pemberley was not one of them. I really could just not get into this book. There was too much narrative and not enough character interaction. This book is obviously geared towards readers who have read P&P, but she spent so much time with background into the characters and the story before this story. It all felt redundant and there was too much explanation of every little detail. I read these sequels because I want the magic of P&P to continue; I want to see the characters after they got married. I don’t, however, want a story that is all narrative especially when it is narrative that I have already read. To me, the story really did not start getting interesting till pg. 195 (out of 291 page¬†novel) when the trial began. That is when the story started progressing and you finally got the characters interacting with each other. Really, until this last part, Darcy and Elizabeth didn’t speak but more than two sentences to each other (come on!). The premise of the book was interesting, I enjoyed the macabre sense of death being brought to the wholesome world of Pemberley and Jane Austen. That is something that is not done often with sequels to P&P, so it was a good start. Yet, the book just didn’t take off. It was a slow read (it took me 5 days to read it) and I really could not get into the novel at all.¬†

That being said, P.D. James is a good writer and she really was thoughtful in how she portrayed her Austen characters. They stayed true to the sense of Jane Austen, which is most important when writing a sequel. She is a strong writer with good skills and maybe this book can appeal to some. I just couldn’t get past the no interaction between characters. I really wanted to like this book…

Rating: 150 pages out of 500.

Upcoming: Juliet by Anne Portier and Deadlocked by Charlane Harris.

Laters, Baby

Tori