Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chasing Charity by Marcia Gruver

A remarkable second novel in the Texas Fortunes Series - this one centering around Bertha's daughter, Charity. I personally loved the change in generation with the characters, as it is rare with a series to get to see characters in vastly different times in their lives.

Charity has recently been left at the alter by Daniel Clark and is trying to move on with her life. Buddy Pierce is new to Humble, Texas, having joined the Oil Boom. Daniel is absolutely terrible in his manipulation of both Charity and her best friend Emmy. The words and thoughts that come from his mind gave me shivers. Additional greed from another local family add to the villains out to get what they want no matter the cost. I was thrilled to see the relationship between Bertha and Magda still going strong, as they provide some of the funnier and more heart-warming scenes in the story. And ultimately, true love prevails in the end, though not without a page-turning, nail-biting climax.

Historical fact mixing with light-hearted fiction makes for a delightful read. The third in the series, Emmy's Equal, is sure to bring just as must history, tension, and fun as the first two. Gruver is one of the best Christian Fiction writers out there today.

Diamond Duo by Marcia Gruver

Diamond Duo was quite the delightful surprise.

My ever excellent better half picked up this book and read the end Dear Reader before I had started reading myself. His exclamation "Oh man, are you going to like this book- it's right up your alley. Quite interesting," had me fascinated to see what was in store for me.

It did not disappoint. Marcia Gruver has a real knack for re-creating the historical time period of Texas, mixing fact with beautifully written fiction. The scenes of racism were powerful. It is easy to forget there were places in our nation where the people behaved and thought like that. And Diamond Bessie was a fun character, despite her personal troubles. The chemistry between her and the strongly independent Bertha is where the real romance in this story was. Thad was a mere side side character, but redeeming in the end anyway.

I am looking forward to more from this great author. I love her writing, her story lines, the real history behind her fiction. Can't wait to dive into Chasing Charity!

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

You should be warned ahead of time- this book is gory. Yet the graphic parts are necessary to a novel about the plague. The details never get overbearing, but if you are the type of person who gets squeamish at the puss and skin abrasions, then you might want to pass on this one.

The main character is Anna Frith, a young maid who seems to be at the center of the village. It is her who takes care of the ill throughout, but she also has ties to the leaders of the village, and therefore makes a great observer to the events in the story. Brooks made Anna a very powerful woman, and did so without being cliché at all. There is no man in Anna’s life that she towers over. Instead, she deals with loved ones all around her falling victim to the plague, yet she stays strong and continues to do what is needed to survive, while others give in to sadness and grief. When the village makes the decision to quarantine themselves, she follows along and believes in the new duties she takes on for the greater good.

Quarantining an entire village does not seem like something that would soon happen in today’s day and age, yet Brooks writes as if she were there back in 1666 alongside the other villagers. She writes with beautiful, flowing sentences. There is significantly more description than dialogue, yet you will find yourself reading every single word for the magic of their impact alone.

The Wonder Singer by George Rabasa

Writing a book about a book has never been an easy feat. Often the reader will enjoy one book over the other, and excerpts will be overlooked so that they can get back to the more interesting plot at hand. THE WONDER SINGER does not suffer from this affliction.

From the very first chapter, Rabasa throws you head first into the story and does not lose momentum through to the end. Perhaps what makes THE WONDER SINGER so interesting, however, is not the late Diva herself, but rather the small cluster of adoring followers that are so intent to produce a book about her life. The #1 fan, the devoted housekeeper, and the hired ghostwriter provide real chemistry and often funny scenes throughout the book. And by the time you reach the last chapter, you may find yourself rooting for the good guys, booing the bad guys, and mourning the loss of a great voice in opera.

The Red Siren by M.L. Tyndall

The premise of THE RED SIREN is an instant formula for fun: Faith is a proper lady by day and a feared pirate by night.

We quickly learn it is not all fun and games for Faith though, as she is maintaining these charades in order to support and protect herself and her two sisters, Grace and Hope, in her father's absence. Captain Dajon Waite is the only man who can put a kink in her plans. He is charged with looking after the three girls, which includes protecting them from some truly slimy, villainous men. His own baggage and personal plans create humorous and nerve-wracking situations for the girls. With all of these elements the story twists and turns, building to a satisfying resolution.

Fans can look forward to the next two books in the series, sure to bring more of the action and romance that seems to come naturally to M.L. Tyndall. All in all, this is a book that is sure to please both Christian Fiction and general readers alike.

Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus

Kaye Dacus premieres her Brides of Bonneterre series with a story about Anne, a wedding planner charged with putting together the biggest wedding of the year. The good news is that there is no budget. The bad news, however, is that she finds herself attracted to the groom! George Laurence discovers he is in a similar predicament - as a stand-in for the real groom, he is forbidden to reveal his job to anyone, ESPECIALLY the wedding planner, whom he just can't seem to stay away from. George gets to know Anne's whole family, creating some situations that will make you blush! Humorous dialog and fast-moving scenes keep the momentum going strong from beginning to end. Besides a few plot twists that seem out of character, the reader will be rewarded with a timeless, fairy-tale ending.

There were a few scenes that took a little more effort to push through, but otherwise, an easy read!

Last Night In Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

Lilia Albert has been running away from people and places her entire life. It is a compulsion that has never had any consequences, at least until her latest boyfriend Eli takes to the road and follows her. Adding to the mix are other elements surrounding her long ago kid-napping - the private detective and his daughter, both whom have their own personal obsessions with the case. With alternating chapters between Eli's present and Lilia's past, the reader finds themselves hurtling through snippets in time towards an inevitable tragic ending. Mandel writes with refreshing sadness, the mystery and grief in her heart-wrenching story pulls you in and shows you everything in slow motion. And as you continue reading and learning what Lilia is running from and where she is running to, you will find yourself powerless to stop it. LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL is so full of emotion and history, it is amazing this book doesn't burst at the seams.

I felt this book was strangely addictive, like it would leave me if I left it alone for even the slightest minute. Good stuff!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr


Fragile Eternity brought back all of the passion and emotion and turmoil that was so abundant in Wicked Lovely. It took a few chapters to get back into the world, but once there, I could not put the book down.

I loved having more Seth in the story - from his point of view. There were some shocking twists in the story I didn't see coming. Additionally, I was pleased to see some strong development of Donia and Keenan as an ill-fated couple. Growth of Niall as a loyal friend to Seth. And the growing distrust between to the Faery Courts.

Marr's writing style is easy and addictive, each chapter seems to compel you to read on. Her dialog is much stronger than her action, but the blend of the two creates a complete world without holes or questions.

If the next book in the series came out tomorrow, it would not be soon enough.

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

An interesting way to write a sequel - taking the attention away from the characters in the first book.

I was hesitant at first, unsure that these new characters of Leslie, Irial, and Niall would be as interesting as Ash, Seth, and Keenan. But they TOTALLY were!!! As Leslie contemplates getting a tattoo, and then finding herself thrown into a world she never could have imagined existed, I was captivated right from the start.

There have been other books written about paranormal tattoos, but Ink Exchange is the perfect version for young adults. Leslie's life is not an easier than the others we have met in this world, giving readers lots to identify with. Perhaps in future books, Marr could focus more on the relationships between Ash and her human friends. With her new position and powers, it would be interesting to see how she can continue to go to regular school.

It is also worth noting the art on the cover. BEAUTIFUL. I especially love the treatment of vines/flowers around the title, to include an "ink" theme.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

This book took my breath away.

When hearing about how great twilight is for paranormal teen fiction, I always wish to speak out that this book is better than the Twilight series. Sure, they aren't apples to apples, but when discussing YA paranormal romance, DO NOT leave this series out.

Perhaps what I loved most about this series debut was the raw teen angst spilling off the page. Aislinn (LOVE this name!) is a high school girl with a lot more on her plate than normal. She can see faeries all around her, but abides by her Grandma's strict rules in dealing with them. Seth is a teen boy who has grown up too fast and lives by himself in a converted train car. How HOT is that? Perhaps it is just my teen fantasies speaking out, but the combo of these two characters is absolutely amazing. The sexual tension was tangible, something that felt so real reading the words on the page.

It is difficult to write about Faery worlds without getting too fantastical or too mythological, but Marr pulls this off perfectly. The rules with which the Faeries have to abide by are easy to understand and play lightly into the traditional Winter and Summer Courts. With first forbidden love being a central theme, Wicked Lovely is bound to appeal to a wide range of young adult girls.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy

I heart Mary Connealy. I really do.

This book was the third in her Lassoed in Texas Series and it was just as good as the first two. (Petticoat Ranch #1 and Calico Canyon #2.)

The tension cackles and sparkles as Grant and Hannah come together to save the orphans (and themselves) in Sour Springs, Texas. The natural attraction between these two is undeniable despite their constant bickering and constant misunderstandings.

Connealy excels at pulling the reading into her stories - with sharp-witted, sensitive characters, endearing plot-lines, and addictive dialog. She has created genuinely scary, vengeful villains in Prudence and Horace, slowly building fear while they plot to get rich and rid themselves of Grant and his children. Most notable about Connealy's writing is the way she can capture the nature around these characters - snow storms so raw and real that they will make you pull the blanket up a little tighter to stay warm, cliffs so high they will make your palms get sweaty, woods so thick that you will have no choice but to keep reading and find your way out.

I look forward to the next series!

Midnighters: The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfield

I picked up the whole trilogy at Bookmans in Tucson and MAN did I love them.

First, it is worth noting how incredibly awesome and seductive these covers are, as the newer covers leave something to be desired, me thinks. Would have hesitated a lot more to read these if the Mass Market versions did not have such cool cover design.

That being said, the actual book was super cool, too. Is it just me who has dreamed about a world in which time can stop and you are the only one left moving? Total. Fantasy. With the added touch that these select teenagers have super-powers, EVEN BETTER.

I instantly fell in love with the five teens and their issues and powers. This is a fast moving book that held me in it's grip late into the night.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This book was a last minute buy before heading out to Tucson, AZ for a few days. The car ride is loooong, and even though I had plenty of other books with me, I started this one right away and ended up reading it for most of the trip.

Surprisingly good. Was not sure what I expected, but it is always a delight to be sucked into a good book.

The first scene really captured my attention and never let it go from there. Clare has created a neat paranormal world unlike the others out there similar to this. I especially love how the main character, Clary, is so strong and does what she knows to be right, even when she is terrified. It should be easily identifiable with the older teen crowd, with themes of first love, independence, and adventure. The pace never slowed, the characters were fascinating, and the ending left me reaching for more!

Book 2, City of Ashes, comes out in paperback THIS MONTH. My copy is already ordered. Can't wait to read it!

A Bit of a Backlog

Since I am starting this blog in 2009 and it is already March, I thought I would do a quick backlog of the books up until this point. Then nothing from this year will be lost.

An Introduction

Hello fiction fans out there! Thought it was about time to get started on an official book blog, since I am a personal fan of so many others out there.

A quick introduction: I read fiction 99% of the time, and that includes fiction across ALL genres and age groups. In any given week I can read, enjoy, and finish 3-4 books. I always have an opinion and a few words to say about every book, but every now and then a story will cross my path and require a much longer review.

I look forward to some fantastic reading and meeting you! Enjoy!