Monday, October 28, 2013

Musing Monday

Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
My choice for the week:
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
I'd like to muse about series books.  When reading a series with a continuing story, I love the cliff hanger endings that have me desperately waiting for the next book.  The Mortal Instruments series, the Divergent series, etc. I love putting the next installment on my wish list and watching the release dates get closer and closer.  I love thinking about all of the various ways the story could turn out and then seeing if any of my predictions become reality.  Then, there are the series books that have the same characters where each story builds on what you already know, but also have a unique plot of their own.  I love those too.  However, sometimes when a series continues on and on into the 6th, 15th, or sometimes even 20th or more book, I find myself asking, "When is enough enough?  When does it become too much of a good thing?" 

This is where I get frustrated.  There are a few series that I have devoured and then as they go on and on and on.... I've found myself becoming disappointed for several reasons.  The writing just isn't as original as it began and the stories become predictable.  Sometimes, the intensity is lost, whether it be within the relationships of the characters or the action/main event of the story.  It's like a balloon that is really full and fun to play with for the first few days and then it gradually starts to deflate and it just isn't any fun anymore and you wish it would go back to the way it was when you first got it.  I won't mention specific authors and, of course, this isn't always the case.  I've just had it happen several times and I have wished that I stopped reading before the series puttered out.  I often wonder if we would have enjoyed the 15th Harry Potter book as much as the first seven?

I'm in the middle of a few good series currently and I am hoping and praying that these immensely talented authors know when to stop and leave us with book series memories we will cherish forever.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review: The Girl You Left Behind

I knew walking into this book that there would be an element of sadness to it so it took me a while to actually pick it up and start it.  When a story is too depressing, I get stuck feeling sad for days so I was hoping and praying that this wouldn't be the case.  I actually really enjoyed the book and was satisfied with the way it ended.  It is definitely a book that makes you think and realize that you shouldn't take the luxuries you have for granted.

Here is the synopsis from Barnes and Noble:
France, 1916:  Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again.
Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test.
One thing I really like about the story is that it wasn't predictable.  I never knew what would happen next.  I had hunches and theories but I was never sure and that kept me reading well into the night.  I also enjoyed how the author switched between past and present.  The main plot revolved around a portrait of Sophie when she had been in Paris with Edouard.  The portrait caused both pleasure and pain for Sophie in the past.  In the present, in is owned by Liv Halston, whose late husband gave it to her as a gift.  She loves the portrait and when a long lost Lefevre relative says it was stolen and tries to take her to court to get it back, Liv, like Sophie, is willing to make huge sacrifices.  Liv is also strong, but stubborn in my opinion.  The court case could cause her to lose everything but she won't give up.  I liked that about her but at the same time, I was frustrated with her at times for being so one sided and not realizing how much she has on the line.  She did smarten up toward the end and again, I thought I knew what would happen and I was mistaken and pleasantly surprised.
If you enjoyed Sarah's Key (which I did), you will like this story.  It definitely has its depressing moments but also some inspiring ones.  Sophie was an extremely strong character who took extreme risks to keep her family safe. She never gave up on her hope that she and her sister Helene would see their husbands again.  Helene was less confident and often leaned on Sophie for support but when the time came for it, she found the emotional strength she needed as well.  Edith, although not a huge character, was the one I felt the most emotionally attached to.  I wanted to know more about her life after Sophie was taken.  She was so young to have to deal with so much loss.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Review: The Liberator

The Liberator is the second Dante Walker novel, sequel to The Collector, both by Victoria Scott.

Synopsis from Barnes and Noble:
Dante has a shiny new cuff wrapped around his ankle. His new accessory comes straight from Big Guy himself and marks the former demon as a liberator. Despite his gritty past and bad boy ways, Dante Walker has been granted a second chance.
When Dante is given his first mission as a liberator to save the soul of seventeen-year-old Aspen, he knows he’s got this. But Aspen reminds him of the rebellious life he used to live and is making it difficult to resist sinful temptations. Though Dante is committed to living clean for his girlfriend Charlie, this dude’s been a playboy for far too long…and old demons die hard. 
With Charlie becoming the girl she was never able to be pre-makeover and Aspen showing him how delicious it feels to embrace his inner beast, Dante will have to go somewhere he never thought he’d return to in order to accomplish the impossible: save the girl he’s been assigned to, and keep the girl he loves.
My review:
I think this was a good book.  Not great, but good.  With regards to characters, Dante is the typical gorgeous male lead.  He's strong-willed, stubborn, and impulsive.  He is a little bit too sappy about his girlfriend Charlie in this book but otherwise, he is a winner and your typical hero who will face anything, even Hell, to keep Charlie safe.  Charlie herself grows a lot stronger in this book.  She is slowly accepting what is happening and learning to fight rather than cower and let everyone else to the work.  She is starting to stand her ground and I think this makes her a much more likable character.  We meet Aspen, who I didn't much care for at first, and ended up being one of my favorites.  Her tough angry exterior slowly fell away as the story continued and I was actually surprised when she made a huge sacrifice toward the end of the story.  All of the other characters are still a big part of the story too.  Blue, Max, Valery, Annabelle, and now Kraven, who has quite a large role this time around.
The story was basic for the most part, Dante and his friends protecting Charlie at all costs.  Dante gets another assignment however, and has to leave for a little while.  While he is gone, demons go after Charlie.  We find out that her soul is already in Hell and Dante decides to go get it.  They go to a training center to get ready for the journey.  When the story was close to ending, I was excited to see a cool plot twist that explained a lot and got me excited for the third installment.  As I said, the book was good but until this part, the third book wouldn't have been on my priority list.  I loved, however, the direction the author took at the end and so I will pick up the next one when it comes out to see what happens.  If you liked the first book, I say go ahead and read this one.  Once you get about three quarters of the way through, you will be happy you picked it up.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review: Hotshot

I was super excited to read this because Julie Garwood's Buchanan family series were a lot of fun to read.  I don't however, have a whole lot to say about this installment in the series.

Here is the synopsis from Barnes and Noble:

Peyton Lockhart and her sisters have inherited Bishop’s Cove, a small, luxurious oceanfront resort, but it comes with a condition: The girls must run the resort for one year and show a profit—only then will they own it.
A graduate of a prestigious French culinary school, Peyton has just lost her job as a food critic. Out of work and in a bad place personally, a year doing something completely different sounds wonderful.
There are countless challenges and too many people who want to stop the sisters from succeeding. Among them are Peyton’s contentious cousins, who are outraged that they didn’t inherit the resort, as well as a powerful group of land developers who have been eyeing the coveted beachfront property.
It’s soon apparent to Peyton that their efforts are being sabotaged, but she refuses to let the threats scare her—until she’s nearly killed. She calls on her childhood friend and protector, Finn MacBain, now with the FBI, and asks for his help. He saved her life once; he can do it again.
My review: 
Not a favorite unfortunately.  I usually eat up every last detail in Garwood's books.  Mercy and Heartbreaker were in my top ten for last year and I read a lot of books so that was really saying something.  In Hotshot, I quickly found myself skipping pages and to be honest, it didn't make a difference.  The romance was rushed and predictable and although the plot had a lot of potential, it fell flat in my opinion.  I certainly hope that her next book is much better.  Oh well,  not every book can meet expectations I guess.  On to my next book.  :)