Friday, April 29, 2011

Where Were You For the Royal Wedding?

Where were you this morning when William and Kate were married?  

I managed to wake up around 2:45 am to flip on the television to watch the entire ceremony, processional, and balcony kiss.  Work was tiring, but no more so than it is on any other given Friday, so I call that a good day!  Now, strangely, I'd love to have my own tiara.  I don't think that would work with my job, but a gal can dream.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review: Mystify by Artist Arthur

Let's see if I can get back into some semblance of a routine!  The countdown has started for summer break and my own little holiday in June.  I'm eagerly looking forward to my trip to England and France, so I have to say that all this royal wedding stuff has only added to my excitement to head on over!  Let me just say though that I had my tickets before William and Kate got engaged, so this is just a funny coincidence.  Still, I'm eager to finish up the school year and get on the road.

Before all that though, I have to settle down and finish up strong.  My AP students will be taking their exam in a little over a week, so I'm frantically preparing them in every way I can.  I've also been reading a lot in anticipation of what I'll teach next year.  In the midst of all that, I finished a load of books and need to just settle down and write some reviews!  The first was Mystify by Artist Arthur.

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "Sasha Carrington has grown up feeling like an outsider, and her parents are too concerned with scaling the Lincoln, Connecticut, social ladder to even notice her. They’d be really horrified to know about the supernatural abilities Sasha and her friends Krystal and Jake possess. But as part of the Mystyx, Sasha has found her place.

Now her parents have suddenly taken an interest in everything she does, and their timing couldn’t be worse. Sasha’s father wants her to become BFFs with snooty Alyssa Turner, who hates Krystal for stealing her boyfriend. Then there’s Antoine Watson, the boy Sasha has liked forever, the boy her parents would never approve of. But with the dark side getting more dangerous by the day, and the Mystyx’s own powers growing in unexpected ways, Sasha is facing choices that could affect her friends, her love life—and even her destiny."

Review:  As the second in the Mystyx series, we move from Krystal in book one, with her ghost whisperer talents, to Sasha, who can split off and relocate herself wherever she wants.  The other Mystyx in their group all have magical talents and have learned that there was a weather disturbance that coincides with the day they were born.  What they can't figure out is why this overwhelming darkness is following them and threatening their lives.

As a short paranormal romance series, this is quick-paced and easy to get into.  I actually like it for its easy drama, not blown out how-do-I-feel chapters or scenes.  Sasha was an interesting character, and although I thought her "boyfriend" came on a bit strong and possessive in the book, I think that was meant to highlight his bad-boy status more than anything.

Although short and fast paced, I think this is a fun and easy set of characters, plot lines, and magical nuances to get into.  There isn't much struggle figuring out how things work, and although character development is limited to our main character, you do feel like you get answers to your questions.  My best suggestion for this series would be the junior high or high school crowd.  These make a nice jump into paranormal romance without confusing you with too much back information on magic or family lines.

*FTC Disclosure:  Book review was based on a review copy of the book provided by the publisher.  No monies were exchanged in connection with this review.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Royal Films for a Royal Wedding

Buckingham Palace Balcony, copyright iStock Photo
 This coming week is the royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton.  Although I was a young girl when Prince Charles and Lady Diana married, I still remember the mania that surrounded their wedding, the broadcast on TV, and that amazing dress that they crushed inside that carriage.  If we all wanted a view of a real-life fairy tale, well we got it with that wedding!

Here we are some thirty years later, ready to watch Charles and Diana's handsome son get married, and I'd like to disagree with all the new reports I've been hearing and say that yes, we Yanks are seriously excited about the wedding!  Okay, so I haven't heard many folks at work talking about the wedding, but we've been too busy to chat about it.  I do, however, think that this wedding serves as a splash of positive news that we all so desperately need.  How about we sidestep the mangy Donald Trump running for president and rising gas prices news to focus on something fun for once?!?

In preparation for the big day, I've noticed a lot of "royalty" themed or centered films.  In fact, the new Lifetime film "William and Kate" appeared on cable this past week. Said royal love story knock off film was dubbed as "pond scum" by one British reviewer on CNN, while another on ABC called it "wooden, at best."  (Check out this funny news spot "Bad Royal Movies" from ABC News.)  Yes, I watched it and have to agree with the ABC critic that "It's so bad, it's good."  Yes, it's cheesy.  Yes, it's unbelievable. And yes, you'll roll your eyes and wonder how people get away with writing this stuff!  In the end though, I will admit to being thoroughly entertained.  In all it's cheesiness, I say pony up to the cheese bar and enjoy!

Based around true events from the courtship of William and Kate, the film starts at St. Andrew's University in Scotland, where the two met at school while studying art history.  The two were friends there, but soon began seeing one another on the side.  As reported in the news, they had some on and off times, which are also depicted in the film.  Kate used these to her advantage though, and showed William that she could have a life without him, which in turn attracted him to her--you know, the whole "let him chase you" theory.  Well, the rest was/is history.

Honestly, check it out for yourself.  In the spirit of all things royal this week, I liked it and had a cheesy good time with the fairytale!  For more information on the film and show times, check out their "official" site at "William & Kate Movie" .  Here's the preview as well:

Besides this Lifetime dramatization of the courtship for William and Kate, there seems to be a lot of films about or centered on royalty.  Here is a short list of films and television shows I came up with:

This isn't an exhaustive list, obviously, but a short jump off point for royal films and television.  There are other royal films based around royalty of France, Russia, etc. that I could include here.  Also, I really love Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett for its look at cathedral building.  We can say that if the number of films and television shows based around royalty, whether real or fictitious, doesn't prove that we're all still a bit intrigued and in love with the idea of royalty, then I don't know what does.  Royalty is an interesting subject, and for all it's modern complexities, I think we're all a little drawn in by the magic and mystique of it all.

What say you?  Do you have royal wedding mania?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sunday Blatherings--A Day Early

This week I've been off for Spring Break, and since I'm in Idaho for a quick visit to see my mom, I'll be traveling on Sunday and thought I'd post my Sunday chatter a day early!  I wish I could say I've been running around, having a good time this week, but I haven't.  Why?  It seems to me that being an adult means doing a lot of little things to prevent big things, right?  We change the oil in our car so it will run properly and so we can catch major problems before they get to that point.  We file bills and receipts so we can easily (ha, ha) file our taxes each year.  You get the idea.

This week I had doctor appointments galore, glasses to go order, prescription med forms to deliver, bills to file, bills to pay, rooms to clean, and so forth.  If this was a vacation, I don't know how many of them I'll be taking!  Thankfully, I was able to finish a lot of books that I'd been reading and rotating, and have about finished my ninth book for the week.  Now I'm off to grade the 52 essays that I procrastinated/didn't make time for earlier!  Thankfully I have a lovely drive home tomorrow where I'll get to listen to a couple of audio books.

I hope you've had a good week and are seeing the first signs of spring!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review: Bloody Valentine by Melissa De La Cruz

This week has been Spring Break, which was a much needed escape from work.  I had all sorts of goals to read and get ahead on blog posts and reviews, but I should have known I would be sitting here on Thursday wishing I had just one more week!  Since I don't have one more week, I better get a move on and write the reviews I have waiting, right?  One of the reviews I've had is for Melissa De La Cruz's small short story selection from the Blue Blood series. 

Synopsis:  This installment in the Blue Blood series is a short compilation of three short stories from characters we've been reading about.  The first story is told from Oliver's perspective, Schuyler's close friend who has been put through the wringer in the series.  The second is from Allegra's point of view, showing the earlier years in Schuyler's mother's life, including the choices she had to make that got her where she is in our series.  The final story is told about Schuyler and Jack, bringing there story together in a little more detail.

Although this is a short story collection, I would not recommend this before reading at least the first four or five books in the series.  Some of the characters and situations would feel odd and unfamiliar without more of the story already in place.

Review:  Altogether, this was a nice, easy collection of stories.  Oliver's initial story in the book set a fairly depressing tone, especially since I always felt for him.  His story seems to try to make you feel that Oliver will somehow be "okay," but I felt overwhelming sadness for this character and all he's been through as Schuyler's much-used friend (talk about an understatement).

The other two stories in the collection were nice additions to the back story that we've wanted.  I've especially wanted to know more about Schuyler's mother, and this collection gave us a small glimpse into her story. 

On the whole, this is a well-written compilation.  If you have read the series (and I would definitely recommend you read the other books beforehand), these stories are a nice addition to what we know about the characters.  Besides, the cover is so pretty, how could you resist picking it up to get a little more to the back story?!?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: Ghostopolis by Doug Tennapel

It's been awhile since I read a fun graphic novel, and this past weekend during the read-a-thon was the perfect opportunity to check out Doug Tennapel's Ghostopolis.  I've seen this around on a few other blogs and really wanted to give it a try.

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "Imagine Garth Hale's surprise when he's accidentally zapped to the spirit world by Frank Gallows, a washed-out ghost wrangler. Suddenly Garth finds he has powers the ghosts don't have, and he's stuck in a world run by the evil ruler of Ghostopolis, who would use Garth's new found abilities to rule the ghostly kingdom. When Garth meets Cecil, his grandfather's ghost, the two search for a way to get Garth back home, and nearly lose hope until Frank Gallows shows up to fix his mistake."

Review:  Despite what looks to be a light-hearted ghost story, with historical figures and skeletal remains of animals, this graphic novel had a few twists that gave it heart.  The story centered on the little boy named Garth, who also faced a sad future not counting his accidental trip to the spirit world.  In the spirit world, Garth got a chance to meet up with his grandfather, a man his mother never wanted to talk about.  Together, the two try to figure a way to get young Garth back to his mother.  

To this mix we add in a quirky, crime-fighter sort of guy, Frank Gallows, who asks his former sweetheart to help him go to the spirit world to save Garth.  There's only one problem, they used to be engaged and might just have unresolved issues!  

This fast-paced, action-filled graphic novel is light and fun to read, but has several funny messages tucked away in its pages.  We get to see problems resolved and relationships mended.  There are some funny historical figures inserted into the story that feel out of place but add a funny twist to the main action in the story.  After all, it's all about getting a young boy back out of the spirit world, so wouldn't he get a chance to meet a few historical figures along the way?  Altogether, this was a fun, comical ride through the spirit world and back again.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Review: The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

After reading The 19th Wife this last year, it seems like everywhere I look there are novels that center on the theme of polygamy.  To some degree, I think we all wonder how in the world that works, which is also why I'm sure these novels have picked up popularity.  I don't really remember how I ran across The Lonely Polygamist, but I'm glad I had a different approach to the topic to try out!

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "Golden Richards, husband to four wives, father to twenty-eight children, is having the mother of all midlife crises. His construction business is failing, his family has grown into an overpopulated mini-dukedom beset with insurrection and rivalry, and he is done in with grief: due to the accidental death of a daughter and the stillbirth of a son, he has come to doubt the capacity of his own heart. Brady Udall, one of our finest American fiction writers, tells a tragicomic story of a deeply faithful man who, crippled by grief and the demands of work and family, becomes entangled in an affair that threatens to destroy his family’s future. Like John Irving and Richard Yates, Udall creates characters that engage us to the fullest as they grapple with the nature of need, love, and belonging."

Review:  It was an interesting take to tell the story from the perspective of the polygamous husband.  Had this ever been done before?  If so, I haven't read one like this.  There was a humorous bent to the novel that had me really feeling for poor Golden.  As a character, he seemed like a giant oaf of a man that was being pushed from house to house, and wife to wife, with not even a "pot to pee" in (both literally and metaphorically).  There are some pretty hilarious scenes of his children creating non-stop chaos around the home, bathroom waiting lines because of all the family members, and awkward romantic interludes with wives that just didn't work (to put it mildly).  Through it all, Golden seems to go with the flow, trying to meet the needs of everyone and not succeeding.  In fact, he then comes last on the list, and he feels disconnected and unhappy most of all.  

Golden is just a funny character, and one you just can't help but feel sorry for along the way.  It seems as if a million bad things happen to him, which makes him an easy character to like.  I know it sounds odd, overall.  I have to give Udall credit for writing a novel, with all its humor and quirky mishaps, that he created a character and story that we could embrace.  Overall, I did enjoy this novel and liked it a lot more than I did some of the previous stories.  I suppose that I don't need to be hit over the head anymore with stories of corruption, so it was nice to have a character-driven plot, where polygamy actually seemed more like a device than a philosophical theme!

Sunday Blatherings: Read-a-Thon Finish Line

Good morning!  I actually woke up way too early for what time I went to sleep.  I finally couldn't focus anymore at about 4 am.  Yea, I tried, but caved an hour from the finish time.  I'm okay with that.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by to cheer me on! 

Here's what I read:

To finish off, I'll complete the end of event survey:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?  Surprisingly, it was late afternoon--around 4-5 pm.
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?  She's Come Undone was such an off the wall story, and so dramatic, that it definitely sucked me in and kept me reading.  My favorite read ever?  No, but it kept me reading.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?  No.  I think it was really great!

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?  All the communication online.  If you got online and tweeted or hopped on the site, there was a lot of great stuff going on to keep you moving.

5. How many books did you read?  5, although only three of them were from start to finish.  I also got half way through Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, which I'd hoped to finish before I went to bed.

6. What were the names of the books you read?  See picture above.

7. Which book did you enjoy most?  As far as "enjoy" goes--I liked Ghostopolis and Bloody Valentine.

8. Which did you enjoy least?  Although engaging, it would have to be She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb.  I've read another book by Lamb before, so I kind of recognized the weirdness factor that he packs in his books, but the depression-quotient was a bit high for a read-a-thon.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?  Nope. They had quite a challenge keeping up with everyone.  I just tried to jump on and cheer too!

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?  I will definitely participate.  I'd love to host a  mini-challenge, but I'm not very creative in coming up with ideas for them.  It would be fun though!

In the end, this was a great experience.  I'm a book rotater, so it's always pretty difficult to stick to one book long enough to finish.  Thankfully, I used the read-a-thon to skip around in my reading list, so besides finishing things up, it also helped me move some of my reads along.  Today I plan on laying low and actually doing some more reading.  I'm on Spring Break, so I feel no pressure to do anything for school yet (although it's coming), but I will need to do some work in my online class.  Otherwise, it's now time to recover from the read-a-thon.  How about you?

Read-a-Thon Hour Twenty-One

Yes, I'm still awake.  Actually, the little nap I  had earlier is fueling me.  Well, that and a nice Diet Dr. Pepper that felt strangely like a luxury this time of night, since I would usually avoid it at bedtime.  I will admit to sporting a bit of a low-grade headache though, so maybe I should lay off? 

I finally found a strategy that worked for me to get back into the reading groove; I've been finishing books that I was part way through.  This "cleaning up" feels great, and I feel like I'm getting more reading done that way.  Well, here are my stats:

Number of books read since you started: 4  Two novels I wrapped up that I was almost finished with, a graphic novel, and a shorter novella.
Running total of pages read since you started:  About 650 
Running total of time spent reading since you started: About 9 1/2 or 10?  I actually lost track because of a couple of starts and stops. 
Mini-challenges completed: Yikes!  About four now?  I just finished Movie Madness and Character Crush over and JD Montague's blog
Other participants you’ve visited:  Admittedly, I've lost count.  I'm sure I've visited somewhere around 75 today.  That gave me the encouragement to keep going when I saw what others were up to!

I'm not sure how much longer I'll last, but I thought I'd better update before sleep took me away from the finish line!  If I'm still up, I'll post at the end, so wish me luck.  Right now I feel fine, but I've never been good with that 3-4 am hour.  Off to read a bit more!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Read-a-Thon Hour Fourteen

It's been awhile since I posted.  I've read for awhile, then took a break to cook some dinner, gave the naughty cat that seems to own me today some attention, and even fell asleep for 45 minutes.  I'm now back to it though, and ready to head into the evening hours.  Since I missed the mid point at hour 12, I'm going to still participate in the Meme & give my stats!

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now?  I was just reading A Crowded Marriage, but it was kind of slow, so I'm going to read a graphic novel to speed things back up again.

2. How many books have you read so far?  3

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?  Not sure, since I'm kind of winging it, although I am kind of eager to dive into Meg Cabot's soon to be released Abandon.

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?  Nope.  We're on Spring Break from work, and the weather here seemed to cooperate and be nasty, so I was eager to stay indoors!

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?  My friend called from Kenya, but I eagerly took her call since it's been really difficult for her to catch me...believe it or not.  I also had to deal with the naughty cat!  He has been a complete disaster today, clawing at the curtains, howling for attention, and glaring (yes, glaring) at me if I accidentally wake him.  Who own whom here?!?

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?  How such mundane things can whittle away so much time!

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?  Nope.  It's always great!

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?  Not sure...

9. Are you getting tired yet?  YES.  Reading is a relaxing activity, so it's no wonder I find myself winding down from time to time.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Learn from my own mistake and switch your book if it's boring you to tears!!!

Well, I'm off to read.  I really want to give it a good try to make it through the last ten hours, so wish me luck!

Read-a-Thon Hour Six

We're about to head into hour six and I haven't had much of a chance to read yet!  I know, but I did start a little late.  After doing my initial post, I ate breakfast and took a little time to make some comments on other blogs.  Commenting is always fun, because you really get to feel like you're part of a bigger community of readers.  Plus, I get to see what you're reading!

In the middle of that, my best friend called me from Kenya!  She has literally tried calling me every day, but has called during work and I've missed her calls.  Luckily, I was able to catch her call this time and have been on with her for about the past hour.  I guess cell phones are incredibly cheap there, and she could visit with me for only a couple of American dollars.  Besides, she was feeling a bit down and needed a chat.  The call dropped a little over an hour in, but she was sounding better and I now know where she's at and when she gets back. 

As for the read-a-thon, it's time to get back to business.  Here are my stats:

Number of books read since you started: 1 book, that I saved because I was so close to finishing!  You have to trick yourself, and so finishing a book will now help me get a move on!
Running total of pages read since you started:  About 50 
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 35 min.  --I know that looks bad, but I started 2 1/2 hours late, posted, left comments, and was on the phone for an hour.  Now I'm ready to make up some time!
Mini-challenges completed:  I completed the "Oldies but Goodies" Mini-Challenge over at A Literary Odyssey.
Other participants you’ve visited:  About 50!  Yes, that stat looks better.  Since I had a late start, I really wanted to see how other folks were doing.

Well, I'm off to get some reading done.  The snow is still coming down outside, so I have no desire to wander out for any reason!  

Read-a-Thon Starting Point!

Good morning!  I'm getting started a little late, but I knew I'd never make it a hopeful 24 hours if I didn't get some sleep.  Now that I've had a good night's sleep, I'm up and ready to get reading!  Besides, we're having "April Showers" with lots of snow.  Talk about great stay-inside-and-read-all-day weather (not that one needs an excuse or type of weather to read all day).

To get started, let me just say that I'll try to only update about four to six hours.  I don't want to overload folks with blog posts, and besides, I'm going to try to read for as long as possible today.  So, to get started, here's my introduction for the read-a-thon!

1)Where are you reading from today?  
I'll be reading from home.  I might head to the gym a little later and read from a treadmill or something, but I really just plan on enjoying the first day of my Spring Break all cozied up at home!

2)Three random facts about me…
This is a hard question.  Here are some random ideas.  1)  I'm a book rotater.  I can't very often stick to one book, and have to rotate through a stack until one snags me.  2)  Pineapple has always been my favorite fruit--that is, until I developed an ALLERGY to it!  Yes, now I can't eat it without getting horribly ill.  Saddest day ever.  3) I love to read cookbooks probably as much as I love to read books. 

3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
About 20 different books and graphic novels.

4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
No.  Actually, I don't want to pressure myself to finish books.  I know that sounds weird, but I'm more interested in diving in and moving through a bunch of different books.  The way I feel today, I see myself bouncing around too much to actually get many stats.  I just want to enjoy a read-in sorta day!

5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?
Well, I suppose I'm a "veteran," but not a good one.  I have never made it 24 hours.  My most successful read-a-thon was the one where I varied the size of the books I was reading.  There really is something satisfying about finishing a couple of books, to push you forward to read more!

Okay, I'm going to go grab some breakfast and then start my first stretch of reading.  I have a book that I'm about 20-30 pages from finishing (and yes, I saved it to finish today so that I could trick myself into that book high), so I might be back a little early to read and comment on other blogs.  Until then, if you're also reading today, have a great one!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dewey's 24 Read-a-Thon Weekend

I really should be posting a book review (or two or three), but since my official "Spring Break" starts this weekend and I'll be in town, I finally decided to join in Dewey's Read-a-Thon that starts on Saturday, April 9th at Noon (GMT).  I'll be honest.  There is no way I'm going to get up at 5 am after being up nearly that early all week, but I'll get up and be onto reading as soon as I can think clearly enough to actually read words (or my own name)!

If you're at all intrigued, interested, or would just like a reason to spend a day reading and relaxing, check it out.  Below is a list of books I think I'll be pulling from my recent library finds, to dive into during the Read-a-Thon:

I'm sure I'll be jumping around a bit, with a wide variety of reading material.  I also have quite a list of books I need to finish, so I'll pick away at things I'm in the middle of at the moment.  Overall, it should be a nice day!
What about you?  Are you already signed up for the Read-a-Thon or have read any of the books above?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Harry Potter Twist on Pride and Prejudice

This is probably the last semester I'll be teaching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Who knew it would be so much work and be so complex!  Honestly, it's been a blast reading and discussing it at school; when else will I have a student ask me who can apparate within school grounds or why the Dark Lord chose Harry?  Let's be real here.  I'm more likely to be discussing symbolism and literary devices than horcruxes and magic!

In searching out some additional materials and clips to share with my students, I ran into this hilarious fan video, "Pride and Prejudice--Harry Potter Style."  Seeing that I love them both, I couldn't resist sharing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Review: The Lost Saint by Bree DeSpain

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi. She was infected with the werewolf curse while trying to save him, and lost her beloved brother in the process.

Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot, a newcomer to town. But as the two grow closer, Grace's relationship with Daniel is put in danger - in more ways than one.

Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace begins to give into the wolf inside of her - not realizing that an enemy has returned and a deadly trap is about to be sprung."

Review:  The Dark Divine series has been a surprising read, one that I wasn't expecting to get me so engaged in the unfolding story of Grace Divine, her family, and her boyfriend Daniel.  Having felt a bit burned out by paranormal stories recently, I wasn't sure that a book about a werewolf clan and curse would be up my alley, but I was wrong.  In The Dark Divine, the story left off with a bit of a cliffhanger.  The action was intense in the first book, so I was eager to dive into the second to find out what happened to Grace.  Once again, the action in the second book was also pretty intense in certain scenes, and Grace's anger at being cursed was more than evident throughout the story.  My feeling is that Despain really knows how to write action scenes that keep you flipping pages, because I'm not one to like drawn out action, but both books have had me eager to read more.

Obviously, there is a love story involved in both books; one that is developed mostly throughout book one.  In book two, as with many YA romances, a conflict is introduced in the second that pulls the couple apart.  Let me be honest in saying that putting a couple together, only to have the guy then turn moody because he's being protective but comes off going cold on the girl makes me want to scream.  When the love interest is pulled apart because one or the other acts like they no longer care just makes me want to smack one of them for not communicating!  Yes, it created a good deal of tension, and cast Grace out on her own to figure out how to deal with her curse, but it made me want to shake them at times.  I get that sometimes teens like these "I love you. No, I hate you" twists, and it did give the story a good bit of added tension that had you hanging on to figure out why they were being so stupid to one another!

Overall, I really have liked this series and thought it was really well written.  There is a lot of action, believable dialogue, and engaging characters.  I was pretty into the story and thought it really stood out from many of the paranormal books I've read recently.  

One funny side note to my review--I had my students in my Popular Fiction class read the first book in reading circles.  First off, I overheard them trying to figure out if the girl on the cover was wearing any underwear (they decided she must be), but secondly, the boys in the reading group said it wasn't just a "chick book."  I thought that was a pretty good two thumbs up for a bunch of teen boys to say they liked it and would recommend it to any reader!

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a review copy of the novel from the publisher.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Review: The Trouble with Mr. Darcy by Sharon Lathan

It feels a bit odd that I should be posting on April Fools, because Sharon Lathan's book The Trouble with Mr. Darcy really does come out today and is not a joke!  Yes, I've been a bit absent from blogging recently thanks to a self-imposed mini break, but I'm starting to feel like myself again and have finished three books in just the past three days.  Honestly, in the midst of the doldrums, Lathan's novel was a little treat that helped me get back in the groove of things.

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "In the fifth in Sharon Lathan's bestselling series, George Wickham returns to Hertfordshire bent on creating trouble, and Elizabeth and her newborn son are thrown into danger. Knowing that Wickham has nothing left to lose, Darcy and Fitzwilliam rush to the rescue in a race against time.
This lushly romantic story takes a turn for the swashbuckling when Mr. Darcy has to confront the villainous Wickham and his own demons at the same time... devoted as he is, what battles within will Mr. Darcy have to face?"

Review:  Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are still besotted, that much is evident in this fifth in the series by Sharon Lathan.  The couple has undergone other troubles in previous installments, but nothing they haven't been able to work through for the benefit of their relationship and growing family.  In this installment, Elizabeth gives birth to a second child and all is not well.  Oddly, this was one of my favorite twists to the Darcy saga, as there was something very real about the struggles Elizabeth goes through after her second pregnancy.  There is a wedge driven between Darcy and Elizabeth as she tries to heal from her pregnancy, something that Darcy can't simply resolve through sweet endearments or gold coins.  This struggle between man and wife, and even children, rang true to reality and gave this romance a bit of needed tension.

One thing I was not sure I wanted to revisit in this novel was a conflict with Mr. Wickham.  I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling relief when he was tucked away to the north with Lydia in the original novel, feeling that he's safely out of the picture. This time, however, he reappears and has a major grudge against Darcy and his wife, and is more than willing to put many of our favorite characters in danger to get what he wants.  Although I dreaded seeing him pop back up again, and he did feel a bit more like a scoundrel this time around, it was a fun twist that sent all our characters scurrying to find a resolution.  In the end, it was an exciting bit of action that reminded me why we pick up books--not just to learn, but to escape into a romping good time!

As is true to Lathan's writing style, the language flows off the page, adding another layer to the romance between the Darcys.  I've come to realize that these are no average retellings of the famous Pride and Prejudice.  The love between the couple is ever present, set off by steamy romance that is underplayed by the language and style used in the stories.  Trust me though, that the romance is sigh-worthy and sweet all at the same time.  To be quite honest, I don't feel "guilty" reading these books, but I do call them my guilty pleasure because of the high escape factor they deliver.

If you have not yet read Lathan's previous novels:  Mr. and Mr. Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy, My Dearest Mr. Darcy, or In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, then I would actually recommend you go back and pick up her previous installments.  The characters in this fifth book are all pretty much familiar to fans of Pride and Prejudice, but you might not quite catch some of the back story present in this fifth book.  As a fan, if you like a nice guilty pleasure, these are that perfect escape!

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based off an Advanced Review Copy of the novel.  No monies were exchanged in return for this review.