Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mini review: Neverland and Pan's Revenge

Neverland and Pan's Revenge, both by Anna Katmore, are books I read while on vacation.  They were both fun with a lot of adventure and romance.  Not for anyone under about 15 however because there is some adult content.  Not much, but it is there.  What I loved about these books is that it twists the story a bit.  Hook is still a ruthless pirate and Peter is the boy who never wants to grow up but there is a lot of original material here which I thought kept with the story but gave it a lot more appeal.  The romance between Hook and Angel begins to change Hook and the curse that is finally lifted from Neverland changes Peter, giving each the opposite personality compared to what we are used to.  I kind of liked reading about a compassionate Hook and an angry immature Peter Pan.  It was different but engaging.  Angel was very likable as the female lead and Tami made an excellent Tinkerbelle, who we don't get to see enough about in the story.  Smee is also present in the book but is given a more intelligent image than in the original.  These are quick reads, perfect for vacation.  Anyone who enjoys the young adult adventure romance genre and loves fairy tales will enjoy them. Happy reading!

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's Monday, What are You Reading? (July 21st)

It's Monday, What are You Reading is hosted by Book Journey. Click on the picture to link up and join the fun!

Well, not a huge reading week for me but I did get a few things accomplished while packing for our family vacation.

1.  Finished and reviewed For Everything a Season by Sharon Pape.  This book was shared with me in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed it but I had a lot of questions at the end.  It seemed a bit rushed.

2. Read and reviewed The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.  This was my first book by this author and I am definitely going back to read some of her other books.  I had been disappointed in vampire lit for a while now and this was a refreshing and exciting trip back into the world of the undead.  It was gory and fun.  I highly suggest it if you love vampire novels and aren't afraid of some violence.  I'm really hoping the author writes a second installment.

3. Started Murder at Cold Creek College by Christa Nardi.  This is part of a blog tour that I am participating in during the month of August.  I hope to finish the book while I am on vacation this week so I can review it and get started on The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

I did not want this book to end.  There are plenty of wonderful books out there and I love reading them all but there are only a handful each year that I can honestly say I hated having to put down. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is now in that top list of books I have read so far this year that just blew me away. Not only did I despise having to put it down, but I made every possible excuse to get back to it, I let the housework slide, and allowed my children to play more than their one hour of allotted video games.  I would have liked this story to go on forever, but alas... every good thing must come to an end.

Synopsis from Amazon:
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave. One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black

My Review:
This book was pure gruesome fun.  It was bloody, it was dark, it was violent and I loved every minute of it.  I've read a lot of vampire novels but there are only a few that really stand out to me.  Interview with a Vampire, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, The Outside.  These stories are unique and make the world of the vampire seem like it could be real.  The Coldest Girl in Coldtown gives us a look at what modern vampirism could look like in our world and it isn't pretty.  The Coldtowns are where vampires and the infected humans live, showing their world to the outside by way of reality television.  The young and stupid flock to these towns with the hopes of eternal life but once you enter, there is only the slimmest of chances you will ever escape.

Tana is a kick-ass heroine in this book, taking a huge risk by entering the coldtown.  She is selfless, consistently putting the needs of others above her own and determined to stay alive.  She carries a lot of baggage but manages to hold herself together through events that no young person should ever have to witness, let alone participate.  My favorite character in the book however, is Gavriel.  Yes, he is a vampire but he is a vampire with a bad-ass attitude.  He is half crazed and a fierce killer.  Not the boy you bring home to your mother but this only made him more attractive.  He reminds me of Lestat in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles.  Tana saves Gavriel in the beginning of the story and she accepts him for who he is, even though he could lose control and kill her at any moment.  At times, I wondered if Tana was bordering insanity herself.

If you are expecting a love story like Bella and Edward, forget it.  This was so much better. The scenes with Tana and Gavriel were too few and they usually included a lot of blood spattered clothing, but they were perfect in their own warped way.  The sacrifices they made for one another, the way the spoke or looked at each other... I couldn't get enough of them.  They were the perfect pair of tortured souls. Each of the minor characters brings their own unique personality to the story as well. Aiden, the charming yet incredibly annoying ex-boyfriend was especially amusing and added some humor and sarcasm to the dialogue.

Coldtown was fast-paced and had tons of action and gore.  Themes of love, loss, and doing the right thing were ever present and did I mention the huge amounts of blood?  I don't believe in spoilers so I won't go into detail but I thought the ending was exactly what it should be except for the fact that I wanted the book to continue.  I still have so many questions so I immediately went to the internet to see if a second book would be published only to find that nothing is in the works as of yet.  I will definitely be checking out some of Holly Black's other books and will definitely reread Coldtown again in the near future.  It gets five stars from me!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: For Everything a Season

I love books about witches and warlocks and magic.  When I was approached about reading For Everything a Season in exchange for an honest review, I was excited as soon as I saw the teaser. An old spooky house and stories about the Salem Witch Trials gave promise that this would be a good read. 

Synopsis from Amazon:
Not all the witch trials took place in Salem. And there are people in nearby Rachael Crossing who believe the abandoned old house in their midst has roots going back to those awful times. 

Determined not to be spooked by vague rumors, Deborah Colby leases that house for the summer and when she meets Ethan Burke, she's certain she's made the right decision - certain her whole life has been leading her there to him.

My Review:
This book was actually really interesting.  For the first half, it goes back and forth from present day to the 1600's when people in the area were being accused of witchcraft and executed.  We see as readers, the hysteria and how fear drove people to make rash decisions and participate in violent acts. It was fascinating to read but also eye opening when you think about how out of control this time in history really was.  In the present day story, we have Debra, who is looking for a change in her life. Slightly past her prime and under the constant criticism of her sister, she decides to get away for the summer and rents the old house near where these historical events occurred.  I won't give away spoilers but the two time periods connect well and we get to see some classic horror story elements such as dreams, waking visions, old artifacts, and some souls who are not quite ready to rest.

The events that occur in this story aren't really what I would call frightening but there were a few edge of my seat moments.  Most events are more interesting than that, more psychological.  I really liked the character of Mr. Darcy, the old man who Debra began to visit to hear about the history of the house and its occupants.  I didn't put everything together right away but once I did, I was impressed with the direction that the story went. It was original and not what I was expecting.  I was also pleasantly surprised with how the book ended.  It left me with a lot to think about because one big question isn't quite answered.  If you like more of a mind bending story rather than your typical ghosts haunting an old house, this book has what you are looking for.  I found it to be quite enjoyable.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

This meme is hosted by Book Journey and encourages people to share what they are currently reading.  You will most definitely find some books to add to your TBR lists.  I know I do!  I notice that many people have several books going at once and that is admirable. I however, can only focus on one book at a time.  Therefore, I only have one to share with you.  

You can visit as many posts as you like to see all of the interesting books people are reading.  Click here to add yourself to the list. And if you happen to see a great new blog you haven't visited before, a follow is always nice too!  Happy reading!

I just started a new book that was kindly given to me in exchange for an honest review.  It seems interesting so far!

Synopsis from Amazon:

Not all the witch trials took place in Salem. And there are people in nearby Rachael Crossing who believe the abandoned old house in their midst has roots going back to those awful times. 

Determined not to be spooked by vague rumors, Deborah Colby leases that house for the summer and when she meets Ethan Burke, she's certain she's made the right decision - certain her whole life has been leading her there to him.

Review: That Night

That Night by Chevy Stevens is our July book club selection and the one word I would use to describe it is "gripping."  This story gripped me from the very start and did not let go until its conclusion.

They said she was a murderer.
They said she killed her sister.
But they lied.
As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.
Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.
Now thirty-four, Toni is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.
But the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.
My Review:
The story begins with Toni being released from prison but the book moves back and forth from her present situation, trying to get her life back and find out what really happened, to the events that fated night that led to her prison sentence.  
As I read the book, my heart went out to Toni over and over again.  One, she beat to her own drum and was seen as rebellious, so she was considered a troublemaker.  Her mother clearly saw her as a bad seed and often laid the blame on her without evidence.  I really disliked Toni's mother in the story.  I felt she clearly favored Nicole, the younger sister, without realizing or caring about the hurt she was causing Toni.  I was hoping for a resolution between the two of them but my negative feelings for the mother only intensified as I continued reading. My feelings for her bordered on hatred at the end. Toni's father never really gave up on Toni but I also thought he could have done more for her. He protected her mother because of her fragility and Toni was left behind.  Toni was also bullied to the point of violence and basically lived her young life in fear of Shauna and her friends.  No one should have to put up with this kind of treatment but unfortunately, their are children in our society who have to deal with this every day of their lives.  I felt ripped apart as Toni suffered over and over from the actions of these horrible girls. Finally, the ultimate blow was having to serve years in prison, finally getting out only to realize that she still couldn't really get free from her past unless she uncovered the truth, which could get her sent right back to prison. 
When I finally reached the end, I was satisfied but I didn't want the story to end where it did.  What Chevy Stevens does is she leaves you with hope.  In some ways, it was the perfect ending but I was so invested in Toni's life and she was so real to me that I wanted to know more.  I wanted to know if she was able to move on, to finally get her life back and be able to put the past behind her.  I wanted to see her five years later and how she was getting along.  I guess I will just have to imagine it the way I want it to be.
We all know, although this was an intense example, that there are plenty of people who go to jail who could possibly be innocent.  People who have to spend years in prison and then desperately try to get their lives back after their names have been dragged through the dirt. We know there are also horrible people in the world who will destroy someone's life just because they can.  This story shows us the life of a girl who was a true victim in every sense of the word, who was able to hold on when most would give up, who was able to stay strong and withstand overwhelming obstacles in the hope that someday, she would be finally be free.  The book was intense, it will push and pull on your emotions, and you will not be able to put it down until the gripping conclusion.  This one gets five stars for me and I will not be forgetting the character of Toni any time soon.

Want to win a copy of this book?  Head over to and enter to win!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Feature and Follow (July 11th)

The Feature and Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host chooses their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow them to show off more new blogs!
Join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just click here and follow the simple rules.  I can't wait to meet you!

This week's question:  

If you had a time machine, where would you go?
Wow!  I would go to a ton of different places!  I could find out how they really built the pyramids or go to the first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster to see if she really exists.  See how Stonehenge was really created or the story behind the Terracotta soldiers.  I would travel to all the ancient places of the world and solve all of these history mysteries that I love to read about in books.  :)

Follow any way you like and I promise to follow back.  Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Blog tour: Neanderthal Marries Human

Title: Neanderthal Marries Human (Knitting in the City #3
Author: Penny Reid
Publication Date: June 24, 2014
Genres: ContemporaryContemporary WomenHumorHumorousRomance

Purchase links: Amazon • Nook 


There are three things you should know about Quinn Sullivan: 1) He is madly in love with Janie Morris, 2) He’s not above playing dirty to get what (or who) he wants, and 3) He doesn’t know how to knit.

After just five months of dating Janie, Quinn—former Wendell and unapologetic autocrat—is ready to propose marriage. In fact, he’s more than ready. If it were up to Quinn, he would efficiently propose, marry, and beget Janie with child all in the same day—thereby avoiding the drama and angst that accompanies the four stages of pre-matrimony: engagement, meeting the parents, bachelor/bachelorette party, and overblown, superfluous wedding day traditions. But Janie, much to Quinn’s dismay, tosses a wrench in his efficacious endeavors and challenges him to prove his devotion by going through the matrimonial motions, no matter how minute and mundane.
Will Quinn last until the wedding day? Or will he yield to his tyrant impulses? Regardless, one thing is for certain, Quinn Sullivan will have to learn to expect the Spanish Inquisition (i.e. the unexpected) if he plans to have and keep Janie Morris as his wife.

 About Penny Reid
SEX! It all started with sex, between my parents. Personally I don’t like thinking about it, but whatever works for you is a-ok with me. No judgment. The sex happened in California and much of my life also occurred in that state until I moved from the land of nuts (almonds), wine, silicon… boobs, and heavy traffic to the southeast US. Like most writers I like to write, but let’s get back to sex. Eventually I married and gave birth to 2 small people-children (boy-6, girl-4 as of this writing).

By day I’m a biomedical researcher with focus on rare diseases. By night I’m a knitter, sewer, lino block carver, fabric printer, soap maker, and general crafter. By the wee hours of the morning or when I’m intoxicated I love to listen to the voices in my head and let them tell me stories. I hope you enjoy their stories.

My Review:
Neanderthal Marries Human is the sequel to Neanderthal Seeks Human, and is part 1.5 in the Knitting in the City series.  I began it yesterday and had extreme difficulty putting it down, hence the reason I was still awake and reading at 1:00am when I completed it. 

When I first discovered Penny Reid's books, I was reluctant because I am not a huge romance fan but the cover was cute and the teaser seemed to promise some humor along with the romance so I gave it a shot.  I was immediately hooked and have now read all of the Knitting in the City series and enjoyed every one of them.  I was so happy when I found out that this book would continue the story of Janie and Quinn.

Janie is an addicting personality and delightful as she continues her role from the first book.  Her ability to spew random facts about almost anything is unique and never gets tiring.  Her need for proof that love can last and her search for the caring family she never had leads to some of her more humorous ideas and experiments that drive almost everyone crazy.  I don't think a chapter went by without my smiling or laughing at the snarky humor offered by one of the many characters, whether it be sexy, brooding Quinn or one of Janie's lively knitting club.  

The story is written in dual point of view and alternates between Janie and Quinn. In many books that use this text structure, I find that isn't always successful.  However, Penny Reid is able to not only make it work, but make it flow seamlessly from one character to the other, with each chapter complimenting the next. I enjoyed being able to see both sides of their relationship and Quinn's chapters were equally fun to read as I followed his journey to better himself and be more worthy of Janie.

Another aspect I really liked about this book was that, even though it still held onto its quirky, fun nature, it was also deeper in meaning as Janie and Quinn's relationship grew. As I reader, I got to see more into the baggage both carried due to their family relationships (or lack thereof) and how they helped each other to overcome their insecurities, both purposefully and just through their overwhelming love for one another. It holds great themes of love, forgiveness, and letting go.

This is a book that makes you laugh, makes you swoon, and leaves you feeling really good about the world and love in general.  Just make sure you have a few hours set aside to read it from beginning to end because you aren't going to want to be distracted until you have finished.  

Giveaway Time!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Teaser Tuesday (July 8, 2014)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser for the week is:
"You that kid on TV? The one who killed her sister? 
My face flushed, remembering the news trucks surrounding the court house, the cameras and microphones thrust in my face. The words came unbidden out of my throat. 
"I'm innocent."  
She laughed, a deep, rattling smoker's laugh full of phlegm.  "Guess nobody told you, we're all innocent in here."
That Night by Chevy Stevens 
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks! 

Review: Shenandoah Crossings

I just discovered Lisa Belcastro a few weeks back while searching for some new time travel romance, which is what I’ve been in the mood for every since reading Mariana by Susanna Kearsley a few weeks ago.  I quickly grabbed up both Shenandoah Nights and Shenandoah Crossings and started my journey back in time.

Tess Roberts may live on Martha’s Vineyard, vacation spot for movie stars and presidents, but the Island feels anything but idyllic. Tess has had it with lousy dates, lying, cheating men, and the rules that forbid her from working on her family’s centuries-old schooner, Shenandoah. 

Lucky for Tess, she knows a secret—the Shenandoah has magical powers. Her best friend, Rebecca O’Neill, once stayed in Cabin 8 and discovered a time portal that transported her to 1775. A month after Rebecca’s “disappearance,” Tess’s father, brother, and Shenandoah’s annoying first mate, Hawk, plan to shut down the time travel for good by dismantling the cabin. But what if Rebecca might someday need to come home? What if Tess isn’t ready to say good-bye forever? 

Sneaking onto the ship late at night, Tess slips into Cabin 8 and drifts off to sleep. She wakes anchored off the New England coast amidst the American Revolution in 1776. The British frigate HMS Greyhound has seized Shenandoah and taken the crew, cargo, and all onboard hostage. To make matters worse, Hawk is relentlessly tracking her, determined to bring her back to the twenty-first century against her will. Sparks begin to fly, from more than cannonballs and gunpowder…. 

My Review:
I picked this book up after reading Lisa Belcastro’s first book, Shenandoah Nights. Shenandoah Crossings is a continuation of this book but now focuses on one of the minor characters from the first story, Tess Roberts, and her adventure in 1775.  Whereas in the first story, Rebecca travels accidentally and falls in love, Tess goes intentionally, both to escape her frustrations with her own life and to find her best friend Rebecca.  

Tess is a complicated character.  I both like her and dislike her.  She is 25 but extremely immature and selfish and much of what comes out of her mouth in the story made me want to slap some sense into her.  However, she is also passionate, fiercely independent, and determined to be an equal in her family and this is what drives her.  It may drive the reader a bit batty but they are qualities to be admired.  In the story, Tess has been in love with Hawk for two years. He is the first mate of her father’s ship, the Shenandoah, and because she is the captain’s daughter, he will have nothing to do with her.  As Tess sees everyone around her getting what they want, and knowing Rebecca found happiness in 1775, she also decides to time travel.  When her family realizes what she has done, they are furious and frightened and Hawk volunteers to travel back to find her.  Without spoilers, the story mostly revolves around she and Hawk in 1776 and at this point, you won’t want to put the book down. The history and the romance will keep you turning the pages until the end.

There is also a small side story that focuses on Tess’s brother Andy but it kind of drops off once the main story in 1776 takes over.  We see him again briefly at the end of the book but I felt like his story had a huge hole in it.  I would have liked the book to be a bit longer and have the stories flow together in a way that would keep his story alive.

Although I did enjoy Shenandoah Nights a bit more, this was also a great story with both intrigue and romance and history.  A wonderful combination.  The only reason I favor Shenandoah Nights is the personality of the main character, Tess.  She just upset me at times with her irrational thoughts and decisions.  Otherwise, both books were engaging and fun to read.  Enjoy them!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (July 5,2014)

Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course, ebooks!
My stack for this week isn't huge because I am easily overwhelmed, but I do have a select few that I will be reading over the next couple of weeks and I am really looking forward to them.  I'll probably read at least one whole book tomorrow since I am stuck at jury duty all day!  What's on your shelf?? :)

That Night by Chevy Stevens
As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.
Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison. Now thirty-four, Toni, is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni's innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni's life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.But in That Night by Chevy Stevens, the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness (pre-order)
After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

The Arrivals by Melissa Marr
Chloe walks into a bar and blows five years of sobriety. When she wakes, she finds herself in an unfamiliar world, The Wasteland. She discovers people from all times and places have also arrived there: Kitty and Jack, a brother and sister from the Wild West; Edgar, a prohibition bootlegger; Francis, a one-time hippie; Melody, a mentally unbalanced 1950s housewife; and Hector, a former carnival artist. None know why they arrived there--or if there is way out of a world populated by monsters and filled with corruption.  Just as she did in Graveminder, Marr has created a vivid fantasy world that will enthrall. Melissa Marr’sThe Arrivals is a thoroughly original and wildly imagined tale about making choices in a life where death is unpredictable and often temporary.

The Turncoat by Donna Thorland
They are lovers on opposite sides of a brutal war, with everything at stake and no possibility of retreat. They can trust no one—especially not each other.  Major Lord Peter Tremayne is the last man rebel bluestocking Kate Grey should fall in love with, but when the handsome British viscount commandeers her home, Kate throws caution to the wind and responds to his seduction. She is on the verge of surrender when a spy in her own household seizes the opportunity to steal the military dispatches Tremayne carries, ensuring his disgrace—and implicating Kate in high treason. Painfully awakened to the risks of war, Kate determines to put duty ahead of desire, and offers General Washington her services as an undercover agent in the City of Brotherly Love.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review: Shenandoah Nights

The cover of Shenandoah Nights was the first thing that pulled me in. The sunset over blue water with the boats just caught my attention immediately.  After reading the teaser, I realized it was also the exactly the type of book I was looking for with the added bonus of being the first in a series.  The second story, Shenandoah Crossings, has now jumped to the next spot on my TBR list.

Synopsis from Amazon:
Could this all be a bad dream? How was she to know? Rebecca had far more questions than answers. Tisbury, Massachusetts, Martha's Vineyard The last thing sixth-grade teacher Rebecca O'Neill wants to do during the final week of her summer break is chaperone twenty-five kids on a six-night, seven-day trip aboard the schooner Shenandoah. But after a desperate phone call from the school principal, she doesn't have a choice. Worse, the ship is rumored to be 'haunted.' Five years ago, during the Holmes Hole student cruise, teacher Melissa Smith complained about hearing voices and seeing visions, then disappeared without a trace-from the very same cabin where Rebecca will be staying. Everything seems normal on Sunday as Rebecca boards the impressive Shenandoah. But as she sits in Cabin 8, she hears hushed voices that don't sound like they're from this century. Mike, a crewmember, insists he believes the crazy Island story that Melissa time-traveled to Colonial Boston. His eerie interest in constantly tracking Rebecca's whereabouts rattles her nerves. Her first night onboard, Rebecca drifts off to sleep...and wakes the following morning with memories of a secretive conversation about a battle with Britain. Monday night Rebecca crawls into her bunk after an adventurous day of sailing, swimming, and overseeing students. She's startled awake when a man grabs her and yells, 'Stowaway!' Dragged in front of Captain Benjamin Reed, she looks up into the most gorgeous brown eyes she's ever seen.... 

My Review:
This book was a winner for several reasons.  I've mentioned in previous reviews how much I enjoy historical time travel books, especially when they involve a romance.  The added bonus for me with this particular story is the fact that the time travel setting is during the Revolutionary War period.  I taught this period to my students for years and still find it to be fascinating.  The time travel scenes where Rebecca goes back to 1775 flowed easily and much of the story was told in the past.  The Shenandoah, which is the ship and the main setting, is running gunpowder to the Continental Army and George Washington even makes a brief appearance toward the end of the book.

Cabin 8 is the only cabin that is completely original, with every board it the exact place it was on the ship before it was renovated.  This is given as the reason for the time travel.  I liked that when Rebecca went back in time, she was in her 21st century clothes.  I have read many a book where the clothing magically changes to match the time period and always found it to be a flaw.  She only goes back when she goes to sleep at night and she has to be in that specific cabin or she won't travel.  Everything made sense and it was easy to understand.  There were no complicated explanations that took away from the main story.

The book has both mystery and romance.  The slow growing romance between Ben and Rebecca in 1775 is portrayed perfectly, not overdone in any way and I found myself wanting her to somehow get stuck in the past.  There is the mystery of what happened to Melissa, who disappeared on the ship five years before and a bit of intrigue and suspense in both time periods as the story begins to present some possible paths for the ending.  As usual, I won't give away any spoilers but I was very satisfied when I put the book down and was delighted when I realized there was a second story that focuses on a few of the minor characters in this book.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Review: That Summer

That Summer is the first book I have read by author Lauren Willig.  My love for historical romance has me on a constant search for books such as this; books that include stories from both past and present.  I'm so glad I found this book and had the chance to read it over the last few days.

Synopsis from Amazon:
2009: When Julia Conley hears that she has inherited a house outside London fromq an unknown great-aunt, she assumes it’s a joke. She hasn't been back to England since the car crash that killed her mother when she was six, an event she remembers only in her nightmares. But when she arrives at Herne Hill to sort through the house—with the help of her cousin Natasha and sexy antiques dealer Nicholas—bits of memory start coming back. And then she discovers a pre-Raphaelite painting, hidden behind the false back of an old wardrobe, and a window onto the house's shrouded history begins to open...
1849: Imogen Grantham has spent nearly a decade trapped in a loveless marriage to a much older man, Arthur. The one bright spot in her life is her step-daughter, Evie, a high-spirited sixteen year old who is the closest thing to a child Imogen hopes to have. But everything changes when three young painters come to see Arthur's collection of medieval artifacts, including Gavin Thorne, a quiet man with the unsettling ability to read Imogen better than anyone ever has. When Arthur hires Gavin to paint her portrait, none of them can guess what the hands of fate have set in motion.
My review:
Great characters.  Julia is on the forefront.  Not in any way a risk-taker and doesn't really have a passion in her life.  I felt for her from the beginning, being a child who lost her mother at a young age with a workaholic father who hides his feelings.  Julia needed a change in her life.  You could see her begin the story with an attitude that found the glass to be consistently half empty with no chance of being filled.  Slowly, as Julia learns more about the history of the house and meets new people, she begins to open up and by the end of the story, she has found new meaning in her life.  It was nice to see this change and I found myself analyzing all of her decisions and pushing her towards the choices that I felt would lead her in the right direction.  Nick, the male lead, has also has his share of disappointments in life.  We don't see him as much as I would have liked and I was a bit frustrated at first because the two of them kept pushing each other away.  The typical lack of communication.  Finally, however, they were able to get to the same page.   

In the past story, there is Imogene.  I love the comparison between she and Julia.  Although their stories were ultimately different, their emotional attitude and decision making was very similar.  Imogene also lost her mother and moved through life day by day, with no passion until Gavin entered her life and then she too began to show a new found exuberance.  Both women, past and present, had deceitful relatives who were easy to dislike and I found myself wishing they were held more accountable for their crimes.  Oh well.  :)  Just the simple fact that all of these characters elicited such feelings from me demonstrates the high quality of Willig's writing.

The plot was extremely engaging.  I enjoyed the past story as much as the present.  I won't giveaway any spoilers here but I can tell you that there is a good historical mystery connected to an old house with a little bit of romance on both fronts and a good deal of soul searching and self discovery.  The history was interesting and the house was the perfect setting, both charming and mysterious with a plethora of hidden secrets inside its walls.  It was truly a good read.  And now, I am on a search for the next historical romance and can only hope it will be as enjoyable as this one.