Monday, August 25, 2014

Stormbird by Conn Iggulden

So I just finished this author's Genghis series (that I loved!), so I figured I'd give his new series a chance. 

Told from multiple points-of-view, this historical fiction tries to clear the muddy waters that are England and France international relations.  I have to admit that I should know this stuff from my English History class, but it's so darn complicated that not much of this sounded familiar to me. Then, after reading the end, I found out what was historical and what was made up, and I was thankful that the made up parts weren't real! Whew!

I have to admit that I liked the parts from Queen Margaret's point-of-view most--I liked her. I didn't love this as much as the first book of Genghis, and I think it's because it's difficult to throw so much known history together into a novel. It'sswimming in characters, and not many of them are fleshed out.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

Sometimes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm in the mood for smut.  And I like my smut to be historical smut.  50 Shades of Grey isn't for me--give me women in corsets and men who seduce them, please!

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell is a twenty-eight year old spinster living in England, and decides that she will use her spotless reputation to create a bucket list.  Number one on the list is to be kissed, so she arrives at the Marquis of Ralston's house since he's the most notorious rake around. He does his duty.  And a lot more (hehe).

Monday, August 18, 2014

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I'm a little late to the bandwagon on this one, but, whoa, I'm so glad I found it! I watched the first episode of Outlander on Starz YouTube and I loved it! Scotland, time travel, gorgeous guys in kilts--what's not to like? And so I downloaded the ebook and gave it a try.  The TV show is pretty darn accurate with the book--smutty historical drama!

I have to admit that I'm a bit worried about the upcoming violent scenes--those of you who know me know that I don't do R rated stuff. My innocent eyes.  ;) But the rest of the story will keep me watching, I bet. I've already placed Book #2 on hold!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Frozen by Mary Casanova

No, not that Frozen.

But this takes place in Minnesota and since I'm currently freezing in the Northwoods, I thought I would give it a try. Sadie Rose is being raised by the rich Worthingtons, and she can't talk. However, all of a sudden, her voice comes back, she meets other teenagers she likes, she bobs her hair, and stands up to the Worthingtons in order to find out who her parents really are. Her memory conveniently comes back in chunks so that she knows her mom was a prostitute and then she remembers enough about the night when her mom died. Too many coincidences for me in this book, even though I like the time period and setting. And I LOVE the cover. But, when the reader keeps saying, "Really?" Then it needs to be re-written. If it weren't about whores, I would think I had read a middle-grade mystery novel--that's the kind of suspense and intrigue that's in here.

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Raccula

This isn't my usual read--it's an adult book about a weekend music festival for teens held at The Bellweather Hotel. I have to admit that I thought of the chorus and band teachers I know--bet they've never chaperoned a weekend like this! Alice and her twin brother Rabbit are caught up in a mystery when Alice's roommate goes missing. The music festival director isn't concerned--her gifted daughter has disappeared before. Add in some other quirky characters (think Seinfeld) and more mystery and you've got a quirky read. Gives new meaning to the phrase..."this one time at band camp...."

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Sometimes I'm in the mood for good YA storytelling, and that's why this ARC has been sitting on my shelf for three years. I knew I would eventually get to it, since I enjoyed the first book in the series, Hex Hall.

Sophie is still trying to figure out how to be a demon, but now she has the help of her father whom she barely knows. There's a love triangle (of course) and the action totally leads into Book 3, but I was totally fine with what this book had to offer!

Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough

I think I was in junior high when I read my mom's paperback edition of The Thorn Birds. I don't remember much about it other than it took place in Australia and was about some family. Lol. So when I saw this billed as "her first romantic saga since The Thorn Birds," I had to download it from Netgalley.

Meh. I have to say that the elements are all there for a good family epic, but I just didn't like how it was told. Mostly in third tense, but then the occasional 1st or 2nd would really throw me off. The four sisters have a good story to tell, but I didn't feel close enough to them to understand the decisions they were making. I won't be reading another by this author.

One Kick by Chelsea Cain

Kick Lannigan is one bad-ass young woman. She can throw stars, shoot any gun out there, climb walls, pick locks, and kick to kill. She has to protect herself, because years ago she couldn't when she was kidnapped by a child pornographer. She spent five years with Mel and his wife, and she hasn't recovered. But she's trying. When a sexy, rich, connected man wants her to help him solve recent child abductions, she jumps at the chance, even if she doesn't know much about him.
This is published YA, but the character is 21.  Good example of New Adult!

Have to admit that I wasn't thrilled with her relationship with Bishop--it didn't match with her character. But I loved the nonstop action and how Kick tried so hard to save kids, even if it meant dredging up her own nightmares. Scary to think what these "saved" kids deal with as they grow up. 

Secrecy by Rupert Thomson

Zummo is a sculptor of wax and has been invited to Florence by the grand duke to join the Medici court. Secrets abound and this historical fiction novel took some smutty turns when I least expected it. I enjoyed the secret look into the Medici family, their twisted servants, and everyday life of an artist who has a wealthy patron in the late 17th century.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove

This is one the prettiest books I've seen in awhile--Viking/Penguin spent a lot of money producing it. But it fell short for me.

I love the concept of maps and how our world has been upset.  Some countries are in other times for some reason after The Great Disruption. It's 1891 in Sophia's world in Boston. Her uncle is the world's greatest cartographer and when he's kidnapped, she has to try to rescue him and figure out why he was kidnapped. I love the characters she encounters, but, whoa, the middle of the book was so hard to get through! I almost gave up, but I stayed up late to finish. Will I read the second book? No. I see the comparison to Pullman's The Golden Compass, and I love the world that Grove created, but I could have handled one hundred fewer pages.

Fire & Ash by Jonathan Maberry

Oh, I love this series! I feel like I've watched Benny and his friends grow up! They are still on a mission to save their world from the zombies and the evil adults--and they succeed.  Love the friendship of the teens in this series and how they never lose hope.  Make sure you read the books in order.

1. Rot & Ruin
2. Dust & Decay
3. Flesh & Bone
4. Fire & Ash

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Conqueror: A Novel of Kublai Khan by Conn Iggulden

So you must read these books in order.

1. Genghis: Birth of an Empire
2. Genghis: Lords of the Bow
3. Genghis: Bones of the Hills
4. Khan: Empire of Silver
5. Conqueror: A Novel of Kublai Khan

And, yes, I've read and given them all 5 stars! Love, love, love this series that started with Birth of an Empire, which won the Alex Award when I was on the committee.

The series is wrapping up with this #5--Genghis's grandson Kublai is a scholar who takes after the Chin ways.  After his older brother becomes khan, Kublia is ordered to give up his scholarly traits and go conquer the Song and rule the Chinese lands.  And he does.  Well.  All that book reading and studying of history made Kublai one smart khan.  He romps all over China, taking cities and allowing people to surrender and live if they promise to follow him.  This is a switch--Mongols used to just kill everybody.  It was awesome to see Kublai grow from a scholar into a scholar warrior--he was just downright lethal on a battlefield! So many good decisions about moving troops and surprise attacks and methods of warfare.  This is the kind of book that makes me want to brush up on my military history again.  Love, love, love.  Sorry the series is over, but I'm moving on to his War of the Roses soon!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Before this book, I couldn't say that I was a huge Brandon Sanderson fan--I had only read and liked one of his adult novels--Warbreaker.  But now that I've devoured this one, I can call myself a fan, right?

David's world was destroyed when the Epics came to Earth--horrible superpowered humans that killed his dad and took over everything.  Now David is surviving in Newcago (great Chicago references throughout this novel, including Soldier Field) and collecting notes on the Epics.  He wants revenge, and joins The Reckoners to do so.  They are just humans trying to kill epics one-at-a-time, but David serves as the catalyst to get them to rebel in a huge way.  Steelheart is the epic at the helm of Newcago and David wants to bring him down!

This is one of the best superhero/scifi books I've read in a LOOONG time.  So much action that you never want to stop reading.  A main character who you really like--he's funny, young, and stupid at all the right times.  Plenty of warfare/gun details to satisfy the gun nuts at your school and it's an Illinois setting! Yay!