Month: September 2014

Book Review: The Yielding (Age of Faith Book two), by: Tamara Leigh

I give this book three out of five stars for being an entertaining read with action and fight scenes reminiscent of the first book in the series. I enjoyed the non-typical protagonist of Beatrix and the hate to love plot she had with Michael. I kept comparing this book to the first. The romantic conflict and resolution was stronger in the first book, even though the plot in this one was just as engaging.

What I liked:

1) I like the plot, and how Beatrix was set on proving her innocence. This became even more compelling as Beatrix had to contend with a head injury. It created a believable and difficult character arch for Beatrix.

2) How clever Beatrix was. She was a damsel in distress in parts of the book, but when push came to shove she was cunning and quick witted. We got to see her smarts in action as she lived alone in hiding, and thought through the dangers and dilemmas she was faced with. Beatrix’s choices also added depth to her character. She chose the high road often sacrificing her needs to help someone else or to keep intact the honor of her family.

3) The secondary plots involving Christian, Michael’s Lord, and his troubled relationship with his father. It created some tense moments at the end and a really nice battle scene. I also liked how Michael’s stepmother was woven into the main conflict.

What I didn’t like:

1) Michael’s character was all over the map. He’s billed as a womanizer, but the reader only witnesses this behavior once when he’s leaving a usual tryst with a servant. Later he turns down his usual servant’s queries about his need for her sexual services. His close friends mention his womanizing behavior, but Michael is never seen charming a woman. His point of view never eye’s up any other women’s appearance other than Beatrix. He seemed like a typical guy to me and not a full-blown “womanizer”. In the beginning of the book he swears and question’s God’s existence. By the end of the book he’s praying all the time, praying out loud next to Beatrix, and asking her to help him find God. I could see him being open to change by the end of the book, maybe have one prayer that get’s answered, but it was a little to much to soon and thick for me to find it relatable or real.

2) The kissing, each and every kiss felt tainted by something. The worst ones being the kisses in front of Beatrix’s brothers, right when she is first reunited with them. Shouldn’t Michael have been asking Garr’s permission to marry Beatrix? Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think this was typical behavior in the era portrayed. Then Michael and Beatrix having conflict of misunderstandings right after a kiss, not once but twice. They have a kiss, one that almost led to sex, while she’s being held in his prison? The only kiss in the book I liked was the kiss that didn’t happen when they were sitting cloaked in the rain.

Pictures from our first apple orchard visit of the year. I used the new release from Tami Miller Designs “Apple of My Eye” available in her store at Pickleberry Pop. 

 

I used the new release from Sweet Digi Scraps, Memories Past and a retried template from Rainy Dayz Designs. Memories Past can be found in Sweet Digi Scraps The Digi Chick Store.

Book Review of The Unveiling,  by: Tamara Leigh

I give this book four out of five stars for an engaging plot, a fine cast of characters, and some very nice action scenes for a romance novel. There’s a great deal of bodice ripping heat for a novel that does not show the reader any fire. The Christian theme is subtle and well done. It’s part of the characters beliefs, and overall an organic element to the setting. The recent cover of this book grabbed my attention, I love it.  After reading the book it really captures the feel of the main characters well.

What I liked about the book:

1) The plot. There is a risk of becoming campy anytime a character is set somewhere in disguise, especially if it’s a woman disguised as a man. Ms. Leigh’s risk was worth taking, and her work is highly entertaining. It was nice to see the protagonists appreciate one another’s strengths, minus any sexual tension. There is a nice thread of political intrigue, layered with the mystery of the death of Annyn’s brother.

2) The characters. Annyn is a woman with the audacity to take up arms and dare to do the things men do. It was fun to see the fight in her. Despite her misguided reason to train at arms, her capabilities were realistic, and she was level headed about her status as a lady. I enjoyed the cast of characters in the family surrounding Annyn and Garr. It was interesting how past family drama impacted them in the present.

3) The conflicts through misunderstanding. There is a big rollercoaster ride of obstacles set for Annyn and Garr. Each one worked within the plot and stayed clear of becoming ridiculous or petty.

There was really only one moment in the book I didn’t like. The lie Annyn told Garr in the hallway before the wedding. That didn’t make any sense to me and I’m glad it was overturned a page later. Other than that, I enjoyed this book cover to cover. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

One of our family photos from this summer. I used the template Orchard by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison. This is available in her store at The Digi Chick.  The kit is Sparkle and Boom by Sweet Digi Scraps and is available in her store at The Digi Chick

Hey-check me out, I didn’t use a template on this one.  Layout made with a new Welcome Home bundle from WM(Squared) and available in her store at The Scrap Orchard

Here’s a layout from our road trip this summer. I used the new collab from Tami Miller Designs and LJS Digital Designs. You can find it in Tami’s store at Pickle Berry Pop. The template is Lucky Duck by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison.

Some beach pictures from our day at Long Lake in August. I used the new kit from Tami Miller Designs available in her store at Pickle Berry Pop. The Template is What She Said by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison. 

 

Book Review: The Big Keep (Lena Dane Mysteries #1) by: Melissa F. Olson

I give this book four out of five stars for depth of characters, an entertaining hard to put down read, and a plot that had my mind wrapped up in it when I wasn’t reading the book.

What I liked about the book:

1) The plot, In The Big Keep, the author drops you into Lena’s life and it is quirky and real in all the right ways. As a private investigator Lena takes on a missing person’s case that turns into something unanticipated. The mystery twists and turns, as does her personal life during the reunion of a tragedy that changed her life five years before.

2) The characters, I liked them all. From the protagonist to the minor characters, each one is brought to life in a way that is real and interesting. Olson has a talent for the subtleties and the natural flow of human interactions. This is apparent in the first chapter of the book, and it is not lost as the book progresses.

3) The dialog was sincere and related the relationships between the characters without the narrative ever having to do so. Each character had a unique and clear voice.

What I didn’t like about the book:

1) There were some things an editor should have caught. There were random typo’s throughout the work. Most glaring was the war’s a certain bad guy fought in did not correspond to the wars his bad guy partner fought in. There is a large gap in time between someone fighting three tours in Vietnam and three tours in Iraq. West Point graduates officers, not snipers. This might seem like a nit-picky detail to some, but these things matter a lot to others. It would be a shame for a paragraph to discredit the total work, which I happened to really enjoy. If the book is revised in the future I recommend just taking that paragraph out.

2) There were two scenes that hit hard against my wall of suspended disbelief. While I liked the scene where Lena faces one of her demons, it was a little far fetched for me. If she was going to do it, I don’t think she would have left her insurance box of evidence rolling around on his steps. I also don’t think she would have ever been granted access to a “notorious prisoner” in a federal facility. If she had I don’t think the conversation would have gone that well.

Lena Dane is one of the best female cop characters I have encountered. Ms. Olson you have won a new fan in me and I can’t thank you enough for bringing a real woman law enforcement professional to life.

Book Review: Blood of Dragon’s (Volume Four of the Rain Wilds Chronicles), by Robin Hobb

While this fourth installment of the Rain Wild Chronicles is entertaining I give it three out of five stars for an unbalanced plot tempo, more repetition than is necessary in a book series, and the highly predictable ending. I’m a fan of happily ever after but the plot and sub plots were predictable with each one boxed into a crescendo finish or disaster.

What I liked about the book:

1) I’ve enjoyed how the city of Kilsingra has been almost a character itself. It is such a cool idea to see the new inhabitants of this ancient city explore the lives of old inhabitants by witnessing their memories captured in stone. Much more is discovered about the city in this book, and I enjoyed seeing its mysteries come to life.

2) It was good to see some resolutions for both dragons and elderlings. Especially the reconciliation or understanding established between Thymara and Sintara.

3) The one day battle was very entertaining. I wish less time was spent seeing the dragons and elderlings ready for battle, and more time was dedicated to seeing it.

What I didn’t like about the book:

1) It’s a complaint I’ve had reading previous books in this series, Hobb likes to repeat things, often. She did a better job of regurgitating information from previous books in this one, but some of it was not relevant. If we the reader witnessed certain actions take place in the previous chapter, we should not have to read a subsequent chapter with characters rehashing the previous chapters action. It’s just unnecessary and makes the story drag. Once again two hundred pages in and details are being repeated in the narrative about long established cultural elements.

2) Hest was built up as an unredeemable bad guy, but then he is put through paces during a horrific situation. I still didn’t care what happened to him, and I think entirely to many words were wasted on him. There was a nice little bow tied on his plot line, but this was not as powerful as I think it was built up to be. What happened to Hest was an obvious choice and it would have been more interesting for his ending to go in an unanticipated direction.

3) The length of time it took for the Thymara, Tat’s, and Rapskal love triangle to resolve was just annoying. To me this “confusion” and “need for time” made Thymara look weak minded. I like how she delineated herself from the memories Rapskal embraced and how she went about revealing this to Tat’s. However it was clear to me Rapskal was no longer in the running for her a quarter of the way into this book. How annoying for this resolution to be dragged through the entire book.

In Minnesota schools don’t start up until after Labor Day weekend. Getting as many weekends of summer as we can is good for the state’s economy which is based a lot on outdoor tourism.  We’ve been busy getting ready for school this last week of August. We had some meet and greets at school, and did school supply and clothes shopping.

Jacob is really excited to start school.  He loved meeting his teacher and seeing his  classroom. I used a new release by Pixelily, Collecting Moments: August and a template from Weeping Willow by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison. Both are available at Gotta Pixel, and Southern Serenity Designs is having a 30% off in her guest store there for the first week of September. 

Shop til’ You Drop by Pixelily and Candyland template by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison. Both available at Gotta Pixel.