RSS Feed

Category Archives: 2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge

My Darcy’s Dream (Darcy Series #6) by Elizabeth Aston

Posted on
My Darcy’s Dream (Darcy Series #6) by Elizabeth Aston

So I didn’t think this was particularly part of a series when I bought it. While reading it I realized that, technically, it’s a stand-alone book. However, I think that reading the other books in the series first would have been a huge help. As I didn’t read Mr. Darcy’s Daughters I was confused on who the characters were and how everyone was related. I can’t say that those characters factored much into the story, however, they were referenced a lot. The only thing that really helped was that some of the characters provided backstory or servants called them by different names.

The story follows Mr. Darcy’s niece Phoebe (the daughter of Georgiana – which I didn’t figure out until halfway through the book). She had been proposed to be a man that she was completely in love with and thought above reproach. Her father rejects the proposal, describing the man as a rake and wholly unsuitable for his daughter. When she searches for answers she stumbles upon circumstances that make her believe her father. In despair she retreats to Pemberly for the season where she is joined by Jane and Charles Bingley’s daughter Louisa. The two wish to spend a quiet season in the country, only planning the traditional mid-summer ball for the Pemberley estate. Unfortunately, their plans are side-tracked when the Phoebe’s lost love reappears in the country seeking her out.

Overall, the story wasn’t bad but I was expecting something a little more mature, in the same vein as Austen. This story was, however, very predictable and seemed geared toward a younger audience. It is a completely clean read, so suggesting this book to teens, particularly girls in may 7th grade or up would be completely acceptable. They may not understand all the undercurrents or side comments that go on with the snide remarks that were typical of the Victorian era society but that is not altogether a bad thing.

The characters were fairly well developed, but could be done a little better. There was very little actually connected to the original Pride and Prejudice but that is to be expected in the sixth book in a sequel series. The story line could have picked up its pace somewhat though. The majority of the book were Phoebe avoiding the man that only wanted to talk to her in order to explain things. If they had done that soon, there honestly wouldn’t have been much of a book. The side story with Louisa Bingley was a nice touch and I actually enjoyed that plot line more. There were also the standard characters resembling members of the original book, but that made it somewhat more predictable instead of adding in new personalities that could add strife and drama.

All-in-all a light, enjoyable read that is good for the beach or an easy night. Not a whole lot of thinking involved or elegant, advanced vocabulary like you’d expect from Austen, but a clean, fairly interesting read. I’d suggest it to young adults more so than grown adults. I would, however, suggest reading the other books in the series first.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.41 PM

Bag of Bones by Stephen King

Posted on
Bag of Bones by Stephen King

This was the first Stephen King book I’d ever read. My husband loves Stephen King, but I can’t stay this particular was a favorite for either of us.

The story follows Mike, a writer, after his wife passes away. He moves to their lake house and things get a little…ghosty. He begins to get mysterious messages on his fridge, hears children crying in his house, and knows he isn’t alone in the house. He meets Mattie and her daughter, who are currently fighting a custody battle with Mattie’s father-in-law. The further the book goes on, the more Mike helps Mattie and the more he looks into the mysterious disappearance of Sarah Laughs, a black singer who used to own his house. The two interests collide in unexpected ways and there are numerous twists and turns throughout the story before coming to its rather brutal ending.

So, the first thing that ticked me off was his over-description of certain events that didn’t actually have anything to do with the story. Fortunately, this was primarily at the beginning and faded after a couple chapters. The second thing that kind of annoyed me was how obsessed Mike became with wanting to sleep with Mattie. I know he was a guy and all, but even my husband said it was kind of extreme. The third thing is that there was a lot of violence. I can’t say there was a whole lot of it, the majority of it was only eluded to or implied, however there were a couple particularly violent scenes. Overall, though, the book is just…dark.

There were a lot of difficult topics the book addressed as well, but they were handled really well I think. Racism, small town loyalty, egoism, arson, demonic possession they were all present in the book, but woven into the story line brilliantly to serve a purpose. I can’t say I was a fan of these items while reading, but they painted a true picture of what dealing with the issues is like.

Also, what kept me going in this book was the writing. I mentioned before that he was over-descriptive with things that didn’t pertain to the story line. However, once he got to the story line, the amount of detail and his phrasing sucked you right in and made you feel like you were Mike, you were living this crazy, paranormally-twisted world. I mean it was brilliantly written. If I pick up another Stephen King book, it will be because of how he writes.

Overall, I would have to just say that I wasn’t a big fan of the story line, but the book was amazingly well written. If anyone likes ghost mysteries, horror, murder mysteries, or psychological thrillers, this is a definite read. It’s a little longer than a standard novel, but shorter than most of Stephen King’s other works. If you aren’t too keen on violence, particularly towards women, this is probably a pass. Also, this would be a good read for ghost story readers. Lots of ghost action going on here – LOTS. It made some of the events really interesting to have the ghosts involved, particularly some of the back story. However, if you are just getting into Stephen King, I don’t think this would be a book I’d recommend, start with The Shining instead is what my husband suggests.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright

Posted on
The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright

This book I have to say was exactly as advertised. It is described as a literary fiction book focused on family secrets. Not something I usually go for, but the premise of the book caught my attention – a couple who wrote letters to each other every week pass away and their children find the letters. That seemed quite interesting to me, so I picked it up.

The story follows the three children of Jack and Laurel. Matthew is the eldest and lives with his wife in New York where they are having trouble getting pregnant. Samantha is a single mother who took a job with the local police force to stay close to home and raise her daughter. Malcolm is a hothead who fled the country after getting in a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. All three descend on the bed-and-breakfast their parents ran after their death and unwittingly discover the letters their father, Jack, wrote to Laurel every Wednesday since their marriage night. Within the letters, family secrets are discovered, hearts are broken, and family ties strained. Old loves add more strain to the situation. The epilogue at the end is actually an envelope glued to the back cover with a letter inside.

I can’t say the story line was very surprising, but there was enough interest to keep me reading. The book was full of emotion and easy to relate to. It’s actually interesting that through the whole book, you are rooting for Malcolm. There were a couple twists and turns, but it was fairly straightforward. It was really nice to read letters from Jack to Laurel throughout to gain information as the children were. It broke the book up nicely and gave you different perspectives on the events in the book. The end result of all the secrets and family drama was surprising in a way you wouldn’t expect.

The characters were amazing well-developed, particularly Jack who was only known through his letters. You don’t really get a feel for Laurel because everything you learn about her is second-hand. Aside from Jack, Malcolm and Rain are the next mostly developed characters. Matthew is probably the least developed of the siblings, but you get an image of him easily. The other characters in the small town are brought to life through simple interactions with the members of the family and through the letters being read. The story flowed well and moved nicely. There were no awkward areas where the story was dragged along. Between the letters, people arriving for the viewing and funeral, and Malcolm’s issues with his history, there was always something to move toward.

If you like literary fiction or family fiction, this would be a great book for you. I thought it was good, but not something I would pick up again. I feel like it would be more for people in their thirties or older. I’m almost thirty and I think a little more life experience would make the book more connectable and memorable. It does teach some great life lessons and gives some good advice on love.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

The Chamomile by Susan F. Craft

Posted on
The Chamomile by Susan F. Craft

I wasn’t all that sure I’d like this book when I started to read it. It seemed a little too simple and it drug a little bit. However, a couple chapters in the story line really picked up. I was actually impressed with how much happened in the book without it seeming packed with ridiculous events pilled on top of each other.

The story follows Lilyan and is told solely from her point of view. She lives in Charleston with her brother, Andrew, and her companion, Elizabeth. After her brother is arrested for joining the Patriots, Elizabeth begins to work as a spy and pass along information. She meets Nicholas, a Patriot captain, and the two have a slow building, cleanly written love story.

The author did a fabulous job of incorporating some history into the story line. You didn’t learn a whole lot of history through the book, but you got enough to get a sense for the time period, learn some interesting tidbits, and follow the story and its place in history. The story line moved at a great pace, not too fast and not too slow. After the first few chapters, which kind of dragged on a little bit, the content really propelled the story along. I can’t really say action because a lot of the book was talking and getting information.

The characters were quite complex for a shorter book. You got a real feel for the characters and their personalities right from the start which is somewhat difficult to do. The book also really pulled you in to what Lilyan is feeling throughout the story and you feel what she’s feeling and hoping for her dreams. It’s also not a book where you start yelling at the characters because they’re doing something stupid. You don’t really feel that they are acting counter-productively to their wish, which is what happens in some books. The events happen in a logical order and are plausible enough that you don’t start wondering if this could actually happen.

I strongly recommend this to people who like historical fiction. It’s supposed to be for teens and young adults, but it can be read by adults as well. The story is complex and this would be a great read to start historical fiction. There is a love story wrapped up in the more complex war story line. It’s also a clean book, so it would be good for anyone. There is some violence, but it’s not over-the-top and it’s in a normal context. There are some rough scenes so I probably wouldn’t recommend it for below middle school. It was a great book, but probably not a re-read.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

Bearly Pucked (Alpha Champions #1) by Janna Rayne

Posted on
Bearly Pucked (Alpha Champions #1) by Janna Rayne

I hadn’t read a shifter book in a while and decided I felt like reading on again. I’d gotten this novella on sale a few months ago and decided to read it to get it off my Kindle. It was actually better than I expected it to be.

The story follows Griff, an bear shifter pro-hockey player, as he is put on a week long suspension for having a short temper. The love interest is Maddox, a half-bear shifter athletic trainer who grew up in a human family. Maddox is sent by Griff’s team trainer to check on Griff while he is on suspension. The two instantly connect and the rest of the story is them accepting and celebrating being together. There are a couple issues that pop up with Maddox being half-shifter, but for the most part it is a simple, happy, sexy read.

The story line isn’t super inventive but also not completely stale. The characters are decently developed and the family dynamics are interesting. There is actually only on shift throughout the entire novella. The majority of the shifter integration is through the instincts and increases senses. There was also not any hockey either. They talk briefly about Griff being a player, but the mechanics, skill, and professional responsibilities aren’t mentioned. The characters were decently developed, but they could use a lot more fleshing out. There was also no real events where Maddox dealt with being half-bear shifter. She’d mention it, others mentioned it, but it was just kind of like a “that’s all I can be and I accept that” feel, no real actual dealing with it.

I can’t say I was disappointed with the book, but it wasn’t really interesting enough to read again or get me to continue the series. The only other book I might be interested in reading is the one about Griff’s older brother, but there is no mention about that in the works right now. For someone getting into shifter books, this is a good starter. For regular readers of shifter books, this would be a filler read when you just needed to pass the time

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

The Lettered Affair by Alice Ayden

Posted on
The Lettered Affair by Alice Ayden

So this book was written as a 4 novella series. It actually read somewhat like a magazine or newspaper serial that you would read week after week. The books picked up directly after the first one ends as if there was no break. Additionally, the entire series was written in the form of letters between the characters. Most times that doesn’t work out as well as the author hopes, but in this case it worked brilliantly.

The story follows two sisters as they deal with the people in their lives in Victorian England. Cassandra is the elder sister who has married the  cousin to which her father’s house was entailed. It was not a love match, but they get along fine. She meets Lord Halithorpe, Henry, and falls in love. As she would never betray her husband, this puts a great strain on her when she finds out her love is returned. Cassie’s sister Juliana is the youngest sister and refuses to marry  without love. After Cassie is married, she goes to the home of a friend, where she meets Lord Kemnay, Retton, whom she works with regularly to help his sister. In the midst of all this is Henry’s brother, Nathaniel, and Juliana’s mother (Cassie’s stepmother) Patience make it their mission to destroy the two girls and their options for happily ever after.

I actually greatly enjoyed how well-developed and complex the characters were in this book. Through the letters being written back and forth between the characters (it’s not just between Cassie and Juliana, but between all the characters) you get a real sense of what they’re like. Some of the letters are written as scenes, but they are put in such a context that you get to see the scene and not forget you are reading a letter. You fall in love with the girls’ beloved. You are entertained and delighted with the grandmother of Henry and Nathaniel. You feel compassion for Retton and a building hatred and pity for Patience and Nathaniel.

Even though it is written through letters, the story is amazingly easy to follow, but still complex. There were twists and turns that I had not expected, but did a fantastic job of further developing the characters and keeping the story line from going stale. It is a clean romance as well, which was wonderful because you could focus on the myriad of emotions playing through all the letters.

I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who likes historical romances or clean romances. Also, anyone who enjoys fiction that focuses on the development of relationships and even mind-games. For anyone getting into historical, clean romance or fiction, this would be an interesting book to start with. I thought the story line was  fresh, the twists and turns kept it from being a standard or overused story line I’ve read before. Also, the format kept the information presented interesting because you would cleaning switch between characters. A definite read-again in the future.

 

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.16 PM

Highland Healer (Highland Healer #1) by Florence Love Karsner

Posted on
Highland Healer (Highland Healer #1) by Florence Love Karsner

I got the impression this may have been the author’s first book. I can’t say it was written poorly or that the story line needed developed, but it was a little choppy in places and areas were a little hard to follow. This story follows two women. The description and such explain it as just following one woman, Caitlin, but early on it begins a parallel story line with Millie. For a while I wasn’t sure if Millie’s story line was a history of something that needed to be known for something in Caitlin’s story to be understood, but the two women meet each other about half-way through the book and the story continues on with them together.

The story begins with Caitlin settling in to a new home she finds after fleeing an angry Captain who thinks she is a witch who killed his son. As she is a healer, she has work in the nearby village and a quiet life. She is interrupted one night by the MacKinnon brothers, whose youngest has suffered a terrible injury and must have his leg amputated. While they wait for their brother to recover enough to be moved, the eldest brothers, Jack and Alex, begin to know the healer. Alex in particular becomes attached to the healer and after hearing her plight about the Captain (and also an enraged Lord who she overheard talking treason) is determined to help her. After they leave, the Captain finds Caitlin and she takes off for the northern MacKinnon lands in search of help.

That all seems pretty simple, but the author weaves a second story line into the  book. Millie is the wife of the Lord Caitlin angered. The story encounters Millie as she is devising a way to flee her abusive life and return to her family’s land in Scotland. She makes her escape while heavily pregnant and encounters Caitlin in her flight.

Also, Caitlin’s uncle Wabi is a wizard and has been trying to teach Caitlin about the powers she holds within herself. He pops in and out of the story, being quite skillfully depicted and lively. When Caitlin’s powers do finally emerge, the shock of them leaves her reeling and seeking guidance.

This book is part fantasy, part classic romance, and part woman power. Each chapter you are following and different character, which is confusing at first, particularly when they start introducing Millie’s story line. However, after the two story lines combine it gets easier. For the most part you are following six different characters and each usually gets their own chapter or part of a chapter in a cycle. The characters are extremely well developed. You have a definite feel for each character and what they are going to do. She even makes the people who aren’t there real through memories or stories of the other characters. The story could have used a little more down time and a little less conflict. I think she could have cut out one less enemy and still been fine. The accent of the brothers is heavy Scottish brogue, so if you’ve never read or heard it before that can be confusing as well.

Overall, not a bad book. It was good, just really complex. Anyone who is sensitive toward domestic abuse probably shouldn’t read it. If you like fantasy books that aren’t too out there, this is a great book. If you like reading fiction that takes place in Scotland, it is also a great book. I can’t say I’d recommend this for anyone getting into the genre because it can be confusing and it’s not quite built up well on the magical end (Wabi explains his abilities and powers well, but when it comes to Caitlin it’s very confusing). Overall, a decent read.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM