Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays: Inside Out

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!

To tell you the truth, I have had a difficult time finding a suitable teaser from this book. Most 2-4 line passages don't have enough context to make sense, but I finally found something that worked!

"Hold on. The Trava takeover?" I asked. "The Travas have always been in charge."

"No, they haven't. The Travas want the scrubs to believe that, and they're hoping eventually, with enough generations born, the uppers will forget they ever had a say in the running of inside."

~ page 54 of Inside Out (eBook edition that includes Outside In) by Maria V. Snyder

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Snapshot (08.25.12) - I miss NC already!

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at Alyce's blog, At Home With Books.

As promised, I'm sharing a few pics that I took while we were on vacation. Unfortunately, I didn't take nearly as many as I had planned and wanted to. Our big adventure to Roan Mountain for a picnic was cut short as we discovered Laura has the same problem her mama does riding on curvy mountain roads. (I was driving if you were wondering how I was combating it.) Let's just say I could have used more than the one spare outfit I brought with us that day. :-/ When we did have to pull over the second time to, er, clean up, there was a beautiful overlook and that is where I took the bulk of my pictures of pretty views.

I took this pic from our deck with my iPhone during a sunset. What is interesting about it is that to the right of top of the tree on the left, there was a contrail, of which there is NO evidence in this picture!

The view from Roan Mountain. I think we were still in Tennessee at this point, but probably looking into North Carolina.

More of the view from Roan Mountain.

And still more of the view!

And here is the little Sweat Pea. She was down to a diaper and a bib at this point; hence, the headshot.

Happy Saturday, y'all! Enjoy the weekend, I know I plan to!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pub Date: September 2011, HarperCollins
Format: eBook (epub)
Source: Purchased from Books-a-Million

Synopsis (from BN.com)

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa has always felt powerless, useless. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could save his people. And he looks at her in a way no man has ever looked at her before. Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn't die young.

Most of the chosen do.

My Thoughts

This was likely my favorite book that I read while on vacation last week. I honestly did not want to put it down and finished it in less than a day's time. The adventure is incredible, the world building is vividly detailed, and the cast of characters is really quite superb. I love that Elisa is a flawed (and realistic) girl who emerges into a heroine you can't help but root for. Equally important are her servants, the others who are seeking her, and the king she marries. I wish I could say more about the characters, but I think it would most definitely spoil the story a bit for those of you who may not have read it yet. What makes them so interesting is better left as part of the telling of the story, as so many of the characters evolve along the way.

I think the only part I truly disliked was that in the first part of the book, Carson seemed to feel the need to remind us constantly how imperfect Elisa was -- well, really, how fat she was. I mean, I got it from the beginning, I didn't need the constant descriptions that were really unnecessary to the events taking place. I did appreciate that we have a female heroine who doesn't fit the typical mold of perfection, but the constant reminders were silly. Of course, Elisa changes in many ways both physically and emotionally throughout her quest, which isn't really surprising. But the key is who loves her regardless of her appearance -- who loves her for the girl she is and the amazing woman she becomes. Elisa's growth throughout the book is some of the best character development I have read this year, quite honestly.

Now if you've read my reviews (even my last review the other day, in fact) you know that I am a big believer in happy endings. Well, The Girl of Fire and Thorns doesn't really have that. And you know what? I am totally okay with it! Don't get me wrong, certain events/twists definitely made me sad, but somehow, I just couldn't see the story going in any other direction. I also think that Carson did a good job balancing tragedy with the potential of what is to come for Elisa. I am hoping that the romance piece of the puzzle has a little more life in the next book -- I suppose that part left a little bit to be desired for me, as well.

Have I intrigued you? I hope so! I think this is a great debut and I look forward to the next book in the series, The Crown of Embers, which is due out September 18th... I will definitely be downloading it as soon as it is available!

My Rating
4 stars

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Series Review: The Hollow by Jessica Verday

Title: The Hollow
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pub Date: September 2009, Simon Pulse (HC)
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased from Amazon.com
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from BN.com)

When Abbey's best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead?and rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey goes through the motions of mourning her best friend, but privately, she refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Then she meets Caspian, the gorgeous and mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen's funeral, and keeps reappearing in Abbey's life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he's the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again...but also special.

Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen's betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her—one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian, as well as her own sanity.

Title: The Haunted
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pub Date: August 2010, Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased from Amazon.com
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from BN.com)

An impossible truth. An impossible love.

After a summer spent reclaiming her sanity and trying to forget the boy she fell in love with—the boy who must not exist, cannot exist, because she knows that he is dead—Abbey returns to Sleepy Hollow, ready to leave the ghosts of her past behind. She throws herself into her schoolwork, her perfume-making, and her friendship with Ben, her cute and funny lab partner, who just might be her ticket to getting over Caspian once and for all.

But Abbey can never get over Caspian, and Caspian has no choice but to return to her side, for Caspian is a Shade, and Abbey is his destiny. They are tied not only to each other, but also to the town of Sleepy Hollow, and to the famous legend that binds their fates—a legend whose dark truths they are only beginning to guess....

Title: The Hidden
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pub Date: August 2011, Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased from BN.com
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from BN.com)

Abbey knows that Caspian is her destiny. Theirs is a bond that transcends even death. But as Abbey finally learns the full truth about the dark fate that links her to Caspian and ties them both to the town of Sleepy Hollow, she suddenly has some very hard choices to make. Caspian may be the love of her life, but is that love worth dying for? 

My Thoughts

I opted to lump my reviews for Jessica Verday's The Hollow series into one review, since I decided to re-read the first two books before finally finishing the series while on vacation last week. And, quite honestly, I'm not sure I could bring myself to write three individual reviews for these books. I think I might be in the minority when I say that for me, the series started out much stronger than it concluded.

While it seems to rate lower among other readers, I actually really enjoyed Verday's debut, The Hollow. In my opinion, basing the story off of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was a refreshing premise in the vast offering of YA Paranormal books. Verday opens each chapter with quotations from Irving's book, which really made me want to pick it up again. While I admit that Abbey and Caspian might be a little annoying, I did find myself completely wrapped up in their story. Something else that I found interesting and different: Abbey's hobby as a perfumer. I thought that added to her overall character, not to mention showing how smells really become a part of our lives and memories -- I could certainly identify with that. The side plot pertaining to Kristen's secret was a little contrived, but none of these flaws curbed my enjoyment of The Hollow.

The fast-paced ride continues in the second book in the series, The Haunted. Just when Abbey has nearly convinced herself that she imagined her ghosts and shades, when she returns home it is almost as if her summer away never even happened. It was nice to have some more focus on Ben this time and a little less Caspian, even though we all know how it's ultimately going to end. We also see more of Katy and Nikolas (minor spoiler - they're from the original story of Sleep Hollow) this time and start to get a glimmer of just what is going on with Abbey, why she can see these people no one else can, and just what part she is supposed to play in it all. With that, the story gets a little darker this time, as well.

And then we get to the third book, The Hidden. Sadly, this book diminished my overall opinion of the series, though again it seems I'm in the minority as the ratings are generally higher for this book. In a way, it was almost too short -- tying up the various loose ends actually deserved at least another couple of chapters. I was very disappointed with how suddenly Verday wrapped up the story, but it is difficult to explain what was wrong without completely giving it all away. Suffice it to say that while perhaps the resolution wasn't totally out of left field, it was introduced so suddenly and put to bed so quickly that it left me wondering what the heck happened. I almost felt cheated, if that makes sense. And frankly, it was all too neat and tidy to fit in with the rest of the story. I'm a sucker for happily ever after, but this time happily ever after seemed like the easy way out somehow, it's difficult to explain.

Based on individual ratings of 4 stars for both of the first two books and 2 stars for The Hidden, my ultimate rating is:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back from Vacation!

Yes, I'm back and I must say I had a very relaxing week away... Not only that, but I managed to finish reading 8 books! I haven't had that much time to devote to reading since I can't remember when. Most of the books were pretty good, fortunately -- just a couple of "duds" in the lot.

Of course, now I have to put all my thoughts together for some reviews... I hope to post one later today and sprinkle them through the next couple of weeks.

I plan to share some pictures from the trip for this week's Saturday Snapshot post, though I didn't get to take nearly as many as I planned (traveling with a wee one changes things quite a bit, haha).

I'll do my best to catch up on some blog visiting, too, though work will also be consuming a lot of my time this week as I catch up.

At any rate, it is good to be back! :-)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Salon: Blog Buttons - Pointless?

Happy Sunday, everyone! This is yet another scheduled post while I am on vacation with very limited access to the Internet. This is a bit of a musings post, I guess -- about something I've pondered off and on lately... is there any point to having a blog button to "advertise" your brand? I'm not really going to argue the case for or against, this is more an observational rambling, if you will.

Yes, I do have a blog button -- a shiny new one that came with my blog redesign. I also had one that I had made to go with my old blog theme because personally, I like the idea of sharing blog buttons. Almost all of the blogs out there that have been professionally designed have buttons and a few intrepid folks have made their own, as well.


Yes, there's a but...

I almost never see blog buttons posted on other bloggers' sites. At least, that is how I feel when I browse the various blogs I follow. And no, I don't mean my button -- I mean ANY blog buttons.

This all came up because I have been debating how to share all of the blog buttons I have grabbed. In the "research" for this post, I actually made sure that I had a blog button represented for every blog in my blogroll that actually had a blog button. In the last few months, though, I have wondered if my scrolling list of buttons is very effective and have thought about creating a page that would link from my menu bar with all the book blog buttons I've grabbed. But then I thought people might not bother going to look at that.

Ever since I began blogging and keeping up with other blogs, I have wanted to link all the blogs I follow on my blog. Call it a sign of solidarity, I don't know. I just know that when I visit other blogs, I often look to see what blogs they keep up with that I have yet to have heard of.

So the numbers nerd in me decided to conduct some informal research of the book blogs in my blogroll. {Aside: This also gave me a great opportunity to clean up the blogroll and remove various blogs that disappeared.} I did limit it strictly to book blogs -- no author blogs or personal blogs. I went through EVERY one of those blogs (166 of them!) and looked to see (1) did they have a blog button, (2) did they post other people's blog buttons, and (3) did they have some sort of blog roll list? I guess I wanted some kind of "proof" to back up my theory that while a pretty fair number of bloggers have blog buttons, very few bloggers actually share other blogs' buttons. And guess what, I was pretty much right...
Really, I think I just wanted an excuse to display pie charts on my blog :-D

As you can see, just over more than a third of the blogs I researched have buttons up for grabs. However, only about 10% of all the blogs actually shared any blog buttons besides their own. Blogrolls were much more prevalent, with just over half of the blogs displaying blogrolls either in their sidebar or on a separate page linked from their header. Actually, I would have expected this percentage to be higher. Now, I didn't get into any fancy analysis beyond this with any overlapping data -- I was really just curious about the big picture.

And I really am not suggesting that there is a right or wrong answer when it comes to linking to other blogs. I admit I would have expected more blogs that have their own buttons to display buttons from other blogs, but obviously that isn't the case. I still haven't decided what to do about my own blogroll and blog buttons. The blogroll takes up quite a bit of space on my left sidebar and the scrolling space for the buttons really isn't able to do all of those buttons justice...

In the end, with so few "grab" buttons actually finding their way onto other blogs, I have to wonder if it is really worth it to have one? (Not that I wouldn't be happy for you to go over and grab mine from the sidebar, LOL.)

Well, I've rambled on about this enough. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on the matter. If I were to move my blogroll and create a page for blog buttons, do you think it would still be effective? Do you like to link to other blogs and if so, what's your preferred method?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday Snapshot (08.11.12): VACATION!!

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at Alyce's blog, At Home With Books.

So last week I completely forgot to post a snapshot. Today I am heading to the mountains of North Carolina for vacation. Unfortunately, due to schedule conflicts with his job, my hubby is not able to go, so Laura and I will be heading out on our own to the family vacation house with my parents. I have really been looking forward to this week away, though I hate that we have to leave the hubster behind. (We are hoping to take a trip back to NC together in the Fall.) I'm in the process of scheduling a few posts (including this one) and tweets so that I don't completely fall off the map for a week. ;-)

This is what I will be enjoying for the next several days:

Though the trees have grown up so much you don't really have this much visibility, this used to be part of the view from the deck of our family's house. Now you pretty much have to be on the roof of the house or brave the steep bank up behind the house to see anything like this.

This view is at Roan Mountain National park. It has been several years (I'm thinking nine?) since we last went here, but we are planning a return visit complete with picnic lunch. Should be interesting carrying along Laura this time!

This is along the path to that view above. I've always really liked this picture!

Hope you all have a great week... I hope to have lots of fun pictures to share on future Saturday Snapshot posts!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Review: Of Thieves and Elves by A.P. Stephens

Title: Of Thieves and Elves
Author: A. P. Stephens
Genre: Fantasy
Pub Date: April 2012, Fanda Books
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased an e-signed copy directly from the author and also received a request to review.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

A monumental tragedy has befallen the Clan of Ionor, an ancient brotherhood of elven warriors. Concerned when their Master does not reach his secretive business in a distant kingdom, the Elders learn that Tryn, their beloved leader, has been captured by a cutthroat gang of bandits known as the Steel Claw. Yet this is not the darkest of their tidings. The relic under the clan's safekeeping, a weapon of terrible power that was forged by the gods themselves, is also missing. The Ionor dispatch Eonen, a headstrong Elder, and a young and talented apprentice, Tride, to rescue the Master and the relic by infiltrating the bandits' stronghold-the formidable Fortress of Toppledom. As the two determined elves hasten into the unknown beyond their borders to restore balance and honor to their clan, they encounter the true darkness behind the matter-the very origin of the world's evil. Allegiances will be twisted. The fates of many will be set into motion. And the destiny of one will be realized.

My Thoughts

My first thought when I started reading this book was that it has been WAY too long since I listened to The Stolen Moon of Londor, which I reviewed at the end of 2009. Now, you absolutely don't have to have read the other books in The White Shadow Saga to enjoy this "supernovella." Personally, I think I am due for a re-read and I'd really like to continue with the second book in the series, Shameless Wonders.

With this "supernovella," as Stephens has termed it, he has managed to pack quite a punch in approximately 238 pages on my Nook (the paperback is 254 pages). In this epic fantasy, there is as much action and adventure as you will see in many full-length novels. That said, there is not as much world-building as I might like and a few of the characters could have used some more backstories and development. In the end, the actual adventure and story help to make up for those missing elements. After all, this is not intended to be a full-length novel, so it is to be expected that every last little detail can't possibly be crammed into the story. Amazingly, Stephens is able to work in some great twists that I did not see coming.

As with The Stolen Moon of Londor, Stephens has again given us a varied cast of characters. While I did think some of them were one-dimensional, Stephens was able to do justice to the two focal characters, Tride and Eonen. However, when it comes to their enemies, we really don't learn as much about how and why they became who they are, with perhaps one exception, but if I share who that is, it would be a spoiler and I do try to keep these reviews spoiler-free.

One thing I did notice when reading this book that I might have perhaps missed when listening to the audio of The Stolen Moon of Londor: some passages can become very wordy. Granted, some of the best works of epic fantasy are very lengthy and wordy, in order to create the worlds and characters we are reading about. My comment regarding the wordiness is meant to be an observation rather than a criticism and it may be worth noting for those of you less familiar with epic fantasy books.

Bottom line: Of Thieves and Elves is a great addition to The White Shadow Saga. I often (almost always, in fact) find novellas to be pointless fluff. This is absolutely NOT the case with this book. Regardless of whether or not you've read any of Stephens' other books, if you enjoy epic fantasy, I believe you'll enjoy this chapter in the story of Londor and it will leave you wanting to read the rest of the series.

My Rating

Author Website
Twitter Link

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays: Of Thieves and Elves

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!

Nothing like scheduling your post for the wrong time, whoops! But better late in the day than on Wednesday ;-) Here is my teaser this week:

"You act as though you know something," Tride said, again detecting a hint of reluctance in the Elder's demeanor. "Something you have yet to tell me." But Eonen did not take kindly to the accusation from his inexperienced Learner and gave him a stern look. Tride shuddered at the angry glare as the Elder's golden eyes pierced his soul like a hot iron.

~ page 69 (of 238 on my Nook) from Of Thieves and Elves by A. P. Stephens

Monday, August 6, 2012

Review & Giveaway: Forgotten Dreams by Alexia Banks

Title: Forgotten Dreams
Author: Alexia Banks
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pub Date: TODAY! August 6, 2012, Crimson Romance
Format: eBook
Source: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks for the opportunity to read and review your debut!


Itching for adventure, Miami private investigator Shane Connelly heads for Swan Creek in North Carolina wine country. But she quickly discovers it’s anything but the perfect spot to while away the summer months. Her country home turns out to be a burned out hovel that she suspects is haunted. Discouraged, she plans to head home when a handsome stranger arrives at her doorstep. Before she can beat a trail off the mountain, Shane and her dashing neighbor Jesse are inexplicably drawn together as they dodge bullets, unearth ghosts, and unravel a dark town secret. In the end, Shane realizes it's not the high altitudes that are making her head spin, but her brooding lover with the penetrating dark eyes.

My Thoughts

At just 128 pages on my Nook Simple Touch, Forgotten Dreams is a pretty quick read that is easy to get into, so I finished it easily in one sitting. Therein lies my problem with this book. The story has SO MUCH potential but there wasn't quite enough detail to truly do this book justice. The characters are great -- what little we are able to see of them. Shane is a fiery redhead who isn't afraid to speak her mind and be herself, especially after she ditches her painfully dull boyfriend. Jesse is equal parts tough guy and sensitive sweetheart and it just so happens his mother also presents an interesting character of whom I think we see far too little throughout the story.

Seriously, it's really impressive just how colorful the characters are, given that this is such a short book. Multiple character development across the broad spectrum of a story is often a shortcoming with debut authors, but not a bit with Alexia Banks. If only the plot could have been as intricately drawn and fleshed out a bit more, we would have a seriously awesome read on our hands. But realistically, I understand that you can only provide so much detail in a book of this length. I'd love more of a backstory on the ghost and even Shane, herself -- more than what we see in her nightmares, anyway, which is certainly an intriguing way to learn about Shane, I must say. And let's face it, you can't properly build a relationship between two people in such a short read. Such a hot romance deserves a little more build-up and suspense. While Shane and Jesse not unexpectedly start off on the wrong foot, I wish there had been more time to make the transition to what their relationship ultimately became.

I also have to say that I would have loved to see more of the paranormal element in the storyline. There are big chunks of the story that drift away from it and I think the ghost story could have become more central to the plot than it ultimately did. There were times I was deliciously creeped out -- especially reading this late at night, but that momentum kind of died off soon after the various ghost sightings, which led me to forget that this was supposed to be a paranormal romance.

Bottom line, I think it can and should be considered a big positive that I truly wanted to be able to read more of this story. Yes, I did lower my rating because I felt like important details were missing with respect to key elements of the storyline. If you are looking for a quick read with some steamy romance, ghostly elements, and a splash of humor, you should definitely give Forgotten Dreams a try. It is a worthy debut that I hope brings the promise of more (and longer!) books from this author.

So have I intrigued you? Would you like to win an ebook of Forgotten Dreams? Well, be sure to enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter just below the rating. And below that are even more goodies in celebration of Forgotten Dreams Release Day!

My Rating

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Other Goodies

Alexia Banks talks about Forgotten Dreams:

Alexia Banks' website
Twitter Link
Facebook page

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Review: Forever and the Night

Title: Forever and the Night
Author: Linda Lael Miller
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pub Date: Orig. November 1993, Penguin Group; this eBook version April 2012, IGLA
Format: Nook Book
Source: Purchased from BN.com

Synopsis (from BN.com)

Neely Wallace, having stumbled upon an unsavory secret concerning her employer, a U.S. Senator, is on the run. Her main goal is simple, to stay alive. The last thing she needs or wants is to fall in love—especially with a time-traveling vampire like Aidan Tremayne. Aidan has some complicated challenges of his own to meet, since a number of very bad and very powerful former humans are out to drive the proverbial stake through his heart. 

My Thoughts

Linda Lael Miller was one of the first romance writers I read, and one of very few that I have kept up with from time to time over the years when I feel the urge to pick up a romance. When I noticed she had independently re-released this vampire romance on ebook, I thought I would give it a try (it's only $4.99, after all, and I love a good vampire story) and see what her story from nearly 20 years ago was like. Well, as I recently discovered when trying to re-read a book of Miller's recently after a long hiatus, I seem to be discovering that I don't care for her books as much as I used to.

To begin with the technical, something odd happened with the translation of this title to ebook. Spacing is off and there are bizarre instances when a number "1" will appear instead of the letter "I". I think there was also an instance when the word "Mend" appeared where I think it should have been "friend"? I'm not sure; it was really, really strange -- and unfortunate that it should go to mass market in that condition. But enough about that -- I do think it deserves mentioning, but let's move on to how I felt about the story.

And as for that, I felt... not much. I easily skimmed at least the last half of the book. The story was dull, most of the the characters were lifeless and one-dimensional, save one (thank goodness for Valerian!), and I am beginning to question why I liked Miller's writing. Granted, this book is nearly 20 years old, so I think I should re-read a recent work of Miller's before questioning my loyalty to her books. There was just SO much of that clich├ęd, over-the-top, flowery writing of the romantic scenes that I found myself rolling my eyes. If the story had been better, I could have lived with it, but the story was pretty lame and there was very little to like about Neely or Aidan, which makes it pretty difficult to find any connection with the book at all. And I am so sick of the "oh, I barely know you, but I know that I love you with my entire being" device.

So... yeah... I don't have a lot of great things to say about this one. There are two reasons I am not just giving this book one star. The first is the character Valerian. Given how little we see of him, it is amazing how much more vibrant he is than either Neely or Aidan. I expect that a future book in this series must be devoted to him, but I will not be reading the rest to find out. The second reason I didn't completely blast the book is one that would be considered a spoiler, but this book has been around so long it hardly seems worth worrying about that. Aidan Tremayne is a vampire who doesn't want to be a vampire and will do anything to change back into a mortal man. I haven't read any stories like that out of the various vampire books I've read over the years, so it was refreshing for me. I just wish it had been enough to save the story for me.

My Rating
2 stars

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review: Surrender The Heart

Title: Surrender The Heart
Author: MaryLu Tyndall
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
Pub Date: August 2012, Barbour Publishing
Format: Kindle eBook
Source: Downloaded for free from Amazon.com

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

On the brink of the War of 1812, Marianne Denton must marry to unlock her inheritance. Without the money, her mother can't receive medical care and her sister will be destitute. But Noah Brenin needs to sail his cargo to England before the war commences in order to prove his worth to his father and make enough money so he won't have to marry at all.

Defying his father's wishes, Noah loathes the idea of marrying a woman he finds plain and pompous. Marianne wants nothing to do with the rogue who taunted her as a child, yet she must convince him otherwise or her mother will die. 

But when Noah walks out on their engagement party, Marianne chases him down and ends up on his merchantman out at sea. The situation worsens when Noah's ship encounters a British man-of-war and the couple are impressed into the British navy. While a young lad's prophecy of destiny looms over them both, Marianne and Noah are forced to face their darkest fears as they desperately try to find a way to escape and fulfill their destinies-destinies that could change the course of the war and history forever.

My Thoughts

This book (and this author) came highly recommended by my favorite Christian Fiction author Julie Lessman. I had never read anything by MaryLu Tyndall, so I thought I would give it a shot, since the story sounded pretty interesting. Of course, as with all new-to-me Christian Fiction, I go in hoping that I am not going to be preached to in an overbearing manner, as is sometimes the case. I also worry about running into the common theme of not becoming "unequally yoked," which is usually a major, MAJOR turn-off for me in Christian romances. Thankfully, neither of those dreaded motifs occurs with Surrender The Heart. The majority of religious references have to do with regaining a lost faith in God. I suppose that is a common theme in most Christian Fiction works, as well, but it does not rub me the wrong way like the treatment of "unequally yoked" partners almost always does.

Enough about that, let's talk about the story! Oh my, but Marianne and Noah end up finding themselves in quite an adventure! Admittedly, the storyline and the presumed effects the pair would have on history and the War of 1812 are unbelievably far-fetched, but this is a work of fiction, after all! With Marianne and Noah, sometimes it was frustrating to watch them wonder or simply assume what the other must thinking of them. Overall, however, I found the development of their relationship so much fun to watch as it unfolded and grew into something richer while they both also grew in strength of faith, both in each other and themselves. This book will keep you turning pages, wanting to know how Marianne and Noah can possibly get through the ordeal in which they found themselves.

In sum, I think it is safe to say that this won't be my last book by Tyndall! Her writing style is descriptive without being flowery and over the top and she knows how to draw her characters and develop them in tune with the story. Not to mention, Tyndall provides a great supporting cast in the form of Noah's crew and the Captain and other high-ranking officers on the British naval ship where Noah and Marianne were forced to serve. If you enjoy Christian Historical Fiction, along with plenty of action and romance, I don't think you'll be disappointed with Surrender The Heart!

My Rating
4 stars