Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2 A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Title: A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1)
Author: George R.R. Martin
Publisher: Spectra
Publication Date: August 1, 1996
paperback, 835 pages
ISBN: 0553588486 (ISBN13: 9780553588484)
available @ Amazon| B&N | Book Depository 

Summary: In A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin has created a genuine masterpiece, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill the pages of the first volume in an epic series sure to delight fantasy fans everywhere. 
In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

If you are looking for a typical fantasy novel with wizards, magical weapons, elves and orcs, this is most definitely not the book for you. A Game of Thrones is set in the Seven Kingdoms long after a time when magic was much more pronounced. While some traditional fantasy elements are hinted at they are only periphery to the story. The story itself is a story of intrigue, betrayal and honor. This is the story of power (the struggle to get it, keep it or reclaim it). The story line is excellent but a bit busy. There are many different story arcs going at once and while some resolution is seen at the end of this book, it is a series so there is much left unsaid and undone. The characters are well fleshed out and you are given just enough backstory to help their development but not so much that it bores you. The backstory is well woven into the ongoing saga so you don’t feel like “Oh no not another flashback” like in some stories. My favorite character is Arya, the tomboy daughter of Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell, the story’s protagonist. She hates doing the “girlish” things expected of her like needle-work and learning the manners associated with being highbred. She wants to learn to fight and ride. She brings light-hearted, childish fun and humor to what is otherwise a very serious story. I also like Tyrion Lannister, “the Imp”. He is the Queen’s brother and has most of the best lines of dialogue. Overall I really liked this book. I found it to be an intriguing tale that kept me wanting until the end and still left me wanting more. I am excited about continuing the series as soon as I can. I know that this book was first published in 1996, but I thought with the series now debuting on HBO there might be a renewed interest in these books.

Find out more about this author and series: website | Not a blog

*picture and summary taken from Goodreads

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

0 Book Review of Wizards by John Booth

Title: Wizards
Author: John Booth
Publisher: Pfoxmoor Publishing
Publication Date: November 2010
paperback, 196 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9829791-5-0
Book available @ Amazon | Smashwords

Summary: Jake has a secret hidden in his bedroom, under the carpet. It is a game that every child knows and plays. But for Jake, there is one small difference. This game takes him to strange and wonderful worlds. He calls it hopscotch and it helps him find missing people. It helped him find Jenny. 
Jake is a wizard but he doesn’t have a clue. 
But that’s not all; Jake has yet another secret, hidden away in the attic. It’s an accident, a strange object from another world. Jake has forgotten about this secret, but that’s all about to change. Because this secret is about to hatch! 
Jenny doesn’t think Jake is weird - she likes weird. Princess Esmeralda of Salice thinks Jake should repay past mistakes. Evil wizards, kingdoms at war, chases, rescues, an offer he can’t refuse … 
Jake is a wizard and his life is about to get interesting.

Wizards by John Booth is a charming story about a young wizard named Jake. Jake is an average guy except he's, you know, a wizard and has a dragon for a pet, other than that completely average. Jake has a lot to learn about the wizarding world and makes a ton of mistakes learning how to be a wizard. Jake finds that he has the awesome power of traveling between worlds. This is where the trouble starts as well. You see nobody taught Jake how to be a wizard. He just has to wing it, which gets him into even more trouble. 
Wizards is a unique tale. I really liked that Jake had to figure out things on his own. There was no 'Hogwarts' or mentor to show him the way. In fact in this book, wizards tend to kill first and ask questions later. This element added so much to the novel. Jake's character changes throughout this book. He has to 'grow-up' and find a way to rectify all the damage he causes in his journey to becoming a wizard. He has the help of his girlfriend,Jenny and his loyal pet dragon.  One of my favorite things was the dragon. His name is Fluffy. Fluffy doesn't seem like a very suitable name for a dragon at all. However despite his name, Fluffy is full of attitude. I really liked the dynamics of the characters in this novel. They seemed to work okay together. Although there were times that I thought Jenny was a too hard on Jake. She's suppose to be in-love with him but at times she acted like she couldn't stand him or thought he was an idiot. Granted Jake had made quite a few mistakes but I thought she could ease up a bit. 
The storyline in Wizards was entertaining. John Booth lets us in on Jake's earlier years as a young wizard but the book takes place mainly when Jake is an adult. The story is pretty fast paced. It has a lot of action and adventure, evil characters, a princess and a dragon. I can honestly say that this book was not predictable at all. I do hope there will be a sequel because I still have some unanswered questions. 
Overall I thought this book was an enjoyable read. This book has a fresh outlook on the world of wizards. Parents, I wouldn't recommend this book for young kids. I would definitely say it's for an older YA audience. Wizards has violence, sexual situations and language. 

Find out more about John Booth on his blog | website | Goodreads

*picture and summary taken from goodreads
*book received from publisher in exchange for a review. This in no way influenced my opinion of the book.

Monday, April 25, 2011

2 New Harry Potter quiz for The Prisoner of Azkaban

Happy Monday everyone! I have a confession to make, I've fallen behind on my Harry Potter Reading Challenge. However I haven't given up! I finished The Prisoner of Azkaban last week and I've checked out The Goblet of  Fire audio book from the library. It has 17 disks! Anyway if you're still with me in this challenge, I'm so grateful. If you've fallen behind like I have, consider me your personal cheerleader. YOU CAN DO IT! 
It's been awhile since we've posted a quiz so we've cooked one up for you. You don't have to be signed up for the challenge. Anyone who wants to take it can. It's all for fun. In this new quiz you can test your knowledge of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Don't forget that you can use your book. Good luck everyone! 

Check out this Monster Book cake. Isn't it awesome? 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I'm taking the day off for Easter. Sunday Confessions will continue next week. I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday.

6 What's Your Status?

Zakiya from Butterfly Feet Walking on Life has a fantastic meme. In this meme you post your status of the books your reading this week, books you finished this week, books you're going to read next, and books you plan on buying this week. You can also post what reviews and memes you participated in for the week. Zakiya is taking a well deserved break for the next few weeks and asked me to host in the mean time. If you want to participate in this meme just leave your link to your post in the comments.

Books I finished last week:
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Books I'm reading now:
My Jane Austen Summer: A Season of Mansfield Park by Cindy Jones
Black Shadows by Simon Swift

What I plan to read next week:
(this list is subject to change)
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Conner McNees
The Scandal of Lady Eleanor by Regina Jeffers

What's your status this week?

1 Book Trailer Spotlight (11)

This week's book trailer is the Body Finder by Kimberly Derting. This book is on my wish list. Have you read this book? 

Friday, April 22, 2011

4 Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Title: Timeless
Author: Alexandra Monir
Publisher: Delacorte Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: January 11, 2011
Hardcover, 304 pages
ISBN: 0385738382 (ISBN13: 9780385738385)
Available @ Amazon | B&N | Book Depository 

Summary: When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance. 
Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

This book was fabulous! I read it in one night. That doesn't happen very often for me but this was definitely one of those books. I really like the concept of this book. For me it falls somewhere between the Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and the movie Somewhere in Time. This story takes place in the modern world but also in the past.  The main character Michele is forced to move in with her estranged grandparents after the sudden loss of her mother. Her grandparents household is a complete turn around from what she's used to. While there she discovers that she can time travel to the past. She uncovers lots of family history and meets the man she's been dreaming about (literally) her whole life. They fall in love but she soon realized that changing the past also changes the future. Michele soon realizes that she must let the love of her life go if she wants him to have a future. Be still my heart. I absolutely loved this story. My heart broke for Michele many times while reading this story. The love story between Michele and Philip is phenomenal. It transcends time. I found myself eagerly tearing through the pages in anticipation of what is going to happen next.  Besides the love story there is also a lot of mystery. Michele keeps going back in time to try to uncover secrets of the past that might help her in the future. Michele was a great character. She changes so much through out the novel. She learns things like self sacrifice and forgiveness. I was on the edge of my seat until I reached the last page and then I needed a hug. However I did find some solace when I learned there will be a sequel that comes out in 2012, it's called The Timekeeper. 
I definitely recommend this book. It is beautifully written and a quick read. The story line is fantastic. It's full of love, mystery, music and suspense. Alexandra Monir is a wonderful story teller. I enjoyed all the aspects of this book. Many times while reading, I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. There is a cliff hanger at the end of this book that leaves you wanting more. 

To learn more about Alexandra Monir and to find extras for Timeless check out:  website | twitter | facebook

Thursday, April 21, 2011

1 Guest Post by Abel Keogh

Today Abel Keogh is on To Read or Not To Read. He is the author of the dystopia novel, The Third. Today he will be telling us what his top five dystopian novels are.

5 Best Dystopian Novels

The best social and philosophical commentary in fiction is found in dystopian novels. Setting a story at a distant “utopian” future is a great way to talk about where the author thinks society is headed. Though the complete dark and dreary outlook of most dystopian futures don’t come true, bits and pieces of the best dystopian novels still resonate in a culture years after their initial publication because they continue to speak to societal ills. Here are what I consider the five best.

5. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949)
Unlike most dystopian novels, this tale of government propaganda and mind control doesn’t have a happy ending as Winston Smith realizes he loves Big Brother. However, 60 years after its publication terms like “big brother” and “doublethink” are still commonly used today by both sides of the political spectrum. This book is a great guide on political marketing and misinformation campaigns even in the age of Facebook and Twitter.

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008)
Meant for teens but enjoyed by adults, The Hunger Games takes dystopian novels to a new level with its complex plot, complex characters, and vivid action scenes that would hold the attention of any ADD teenager. Still, Collins’ novel combines the classic elements of a dystopia including an oppressive government who makes children from various districts fight for their lives in a tournament that’s broadcast to every household. Katniss Everdeen’s fight for her and her family’s freedom may be the standard foundation of most dystopian novels, but Collins’ amazing storytelling ability add jolt of energy freshness that has been lacking from the genre.

3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957)
Most people view Rand’s classic more as a political commentary but it also fits the definition of dystopian novel. Set during an unspecified time in the future, a collectivist government seeks to to push the innovators and artists – people Ryan would refer to as “produces” – who are the driving force behind the economic prosperity of the United States. Finally the heroes of the book are forced to flee to Gault’s Gulch where they can live their lives without government interference. Sadly the only down side to Rand’s hefty tome is that it’s extremely preachy in places. A more subtle approach would have made the book much more enjoyable.

2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1951)
Bradbury’s short tale of fireman Guy Montage has become an anti-censorship classic. However, most readers forget that books in his futuristic society were banned not from an edict of a brutal, power-hungry government but because their content was found offensive to different religious, ethnic, and other groups. The real and often missed message of Bradbury’s novella is one of tolerance for views the reader might find offensive. It’s a message that needs to be taught over and over again.

1. The Children of Men by P.D James (1992)
James usually writes compelling mysteries, but her lone foray into a futuristic world is downright haunting. The human race can no longer have children and now that the last generation has reached adulthood, the world is without hope or much of a future. As the population declines, people are moved to crumbling cities, women walk around with lifelike dolls, and suicide is encouraged. But a band of revolutionaries has found a woman that is miraculously pregnant. However, once word gets out that someone is pregnant, the powers at be realized she’s a powerful political tool and will do anything to get their hands on her. An unforgettable reminder of how much hope children bring to the world.
Abel Keogh is the author of the just released dystopian novel The Third (Bonneville Books, 2011). You can read the first chapter of his novel here.

Summary of The Third:
When Ransom Lawe, a recycler in the Pacific Northwest, finds out his wife is pregnant with their third—and therefore illegal—child, he’s forced to choose between the government who proclaims a desire to save the planet and his hope for a place where his family can live in freedom. But with the Census Bureau Sentinels closing in on his wife and unborn child, Ransom’s choice will either save his family or tear them apart forever. 

Abel Keogh offers a stark and haunting look at a not-so-distant future in this chilling new novel. Crossing lines between good and evil, freedom and oppression, and political and environmental responsibility, The Third is a gut-wrenching tale of intense loyalty and unconditional love.

Find out more about Abel Keogh blog | goodreads | facebook | website
You can purchase a copy of The Third at Amazon. Available in paperback and Kindle

7 Giveaway winners

I have a few winners to announce. The first winner is for the Easter Blog hop. First I want to thank everyone who entered. I hope you had a lot of fun giveaway hopping. 

Congrats to Ricki @ Reading Challenged.
 You won a book of your choice from the Book Depository or Amazon.

The second winner is from my blogoversary giveaway. I want to thank everyone for their anniversary wishes. You are all awesome.

Congrats to Tara T
You won either a $25.00 GC from Amazon or $25.00 in books from the Book Depository 

I will be emailing you in the next 24 hours to give you instructions on how to collect your prize. PLEASE make sure to check your SPAM. You' have 48 hours to respond or your prize is forfeited. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

0 What Would Mr. Darcy Do? by Abigail Reynolds

Title: What Would Mr. Darcy Do?
Author: Abagail Reynolds
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date: February 15, 2011
ARC,  228
ISBN: 1402240937 (ISBN13: 9781402240935)

Summary: This sexy installment in the Pride and Prejudice Variations series explores one of the roads not taken in Jane Austen's original. Before Darcy leaves the Lambton Inn after learning the scandalous news about Lydia and Wickham, he and Elizabeth declare their true feelings. Determined to give Darcy up rather than drag his name through the mud, Elizabeth will have to choose between what is right, and what she wants more than anything...

Abagail Reynolds is one of my favorite authors when in comes to Pride and Prejudice variations. I have read several of her novels and have fallen in love with each one. She takes the question 'what if?' and applies them to the original story line. In this novel, What Would Mr. Darcy Do? Abagail Reynolds addressed the question, What if Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett were upfront with their feelings for each other at the Lampton Inn?" The storyline takes off in a new direction. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy both confess to their romantic feelings towards each other and things start to heat up. They are caught in a precarious position by the Gardiners and hard choices have to be made.  Although Elizabeth is fond of Mr. Darcy, she does not want to be forced into marriage. Mr. Darcy makes it his mission in life to convince Elizabeth that he is the right man for her. 
This book was originally published in 2008 under the title, From Lambton to Longbourn. However this was my first time reading this particular variation. I found the story line to be very enjoyable. I like this twist on the original story. I also like that Abagail Reynolds keeps most of the side stories in tact while giving us something completely new. She stays true to the characters and their personalities.  Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth both express doubts and misinterpret each other quite a bit. They must learn to overcome it their insecurities, with the help of the Gardiners. Things also become a little hot and steamy between the two.  It's not R rated but definitely not PG either. The chemistry between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is captivating. 
Overall this book is a great Pride and Prejudice variation. I adore Abagail Reynolds and I love reading her novels. She definitely gives me my Mr. Darcy fix. If you're a fan of Pride and Prejudice, I would recommend this novel to you. Even if you're not a fan it's still a good read.

To find out more about Abagail Reynolds check out: website  | blog | twitter | facebook

*I received a copy from the publishers in exchange for a fair review.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

0 Tyger, Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Title: Tyger, Tyger (Goblin Wars, #1)
Author: Kersten Hamilton
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: November 15, 2010
ISBN: 0547330081 (ISBN13: 9780547330082)
Available @ Amazon | B&N | Book Depository  

Summary: Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.
     Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby's right. The goblins are coming.

I had heard a lot of good things about this novel before I read it. I'm a big fan of fantasy so I was eager to read this novel as well.  Tyger, Tyger is based on Irish folklore. I'm not too familiar with it but I enjoyed learning about it through Kersten Hamilton's words. This story is centered around Teagen, a teenage girl who has her life planned out. She is entirely focused on what she wants in life and how's she's going to get it. I really liked Teagen's character development through out this book. She starts off as a over confident girl whose world is turned upside down when she realized nothing is as she thought. She has to find her inner strength and get her confidence back with the help of Finn Mac Cumhaill. Finn is a bit of mystery. He lost his parents at an early age and has been a nomad ever since. He comes to stay with Teagen's family. There is an instant attraction between him and Teagen. I have to tell you I have a thing for accents and Finn being Irish was definitely a plus in this book. His character is charming and intriguing. Finn and Teagan have to work together to save her family from the goblins. They find some interesting help along the way including Abby and Mamieo. Abby is Teagen's best friend. I love her character. She made me laugh out loud several times. Mamieo is Teagen and Aiden's grandmother. She is a lively woman who you wouldn't want to mess around with. 
Tyger, Tyger is an enjoyable book to read. The story line is fantastic. It is fast paced and exciting. It's full of Irish legends and adventure. I love that Kersten Hamilton included a bit of romance but it isn't the main story. There are also a couple of plot twists that I found very interesting.  Kersten Hamilton has written many books for young children, however I would recommend this book for teens because of some violence and some language. Tyger, Tyger is the first book in the Goblin Wars series. The next book, In The Forest of the Night comes out October 3, 2011. I'm really looking forward to it.

For more information Kersten Hamilton check out: website | unblog | twitter  

*I received an ecopy for review from netgalley. The opinions that are expressed are my own.

Monday, April 18, 2011

2 Some announcements

Happy Monday everyone! I just have a few announcements that I want to share with you. The last five days have been super busy for me because I was attending Book Bloggers and Publishers online conference.

Book Bloggers & Publishers Online Conference

This was a great event. I learned so much. The attendees had the opportunity to hear from publishers and authors to help us work better with them. There were also great tips from the attendees to help our blogs run better. Over the next few weeks I hope to implement some of these suggestion on To Read or Not To Read.One thing I really like is that the panels are recorded and I can go back and listen to the ones that I missed. If you didn't attend this year, I hope you consider doing so in the future. You can click on the button to take you to their site to learn some of the topics covered and more information about BBP.

My other announcement is that I will be having a part-time reviewer join me on this blog. I'm so excited to welcome Steve to To Read or Not To Read. Here is a little info about him:

"A little about me, well me, I am a big old nerd. I love Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly and played Dungeons and Dragons as a kid. We even drew pictures of what our characters looked like. Even today I love role playing games on my xbox 360. I try to read books across many genres but I always go back to sci-fi and fantasy. I guess about the only books I would absolutely turn down are period period pieces, romance and anything with sparkly vampires."

I look forward to Steve's reviews and I hope you will too. I've already given him some books and set him to work. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

13 Sunday Confessions April, 17, 2011

This is a weekly meme started by yours truly as a way to get to share a bit about myself and also learning more about you. Sometimes its about books and book related topics and sometimes it's not. This is all in good fun and I would love it if you would participate.

This week's question is:

Have you ever been to a book signing?

I have never been to a book signing but I would love to go to one. They look like so much fun. I would love to go and meet some of my favorite authors. I would also like to meet other readers who love the same books that I do. There are so many great authors out there that I would love to meet, if given the chance.  I have a hard time just picking one. I would gladly stand in line for the chance to meet Rick Riordan, Charlaine Harris, Cassandra Clare, and Kresley Cole to name a few. 
What about you? Have you been to a book signing? Which one? If you haven't been to one, whose would you like to go to?

If you answer this question on your own blog, please leave me a link in the comments so I can come visit. 

1 What's Your Status?

Zakiya from Butterfly Feet Walking on Life has a fantastic meme. In this meme you post your status of the books your reading this week, books you finished this week, books you're going to read next, and books you plan on buying this week. You can also post what reviews and memes you participated in for the week. If your interested in participating in this meme, check of Zakiya's blog for all the info and the linky to sign up.

What I read last week:
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (finally!)
Wizards by John Booth

What I'm reading now:
Black Shadows by Simon Swift

What I plan to read next week:
My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park by Cindy Jones

I was super busy this week and didn't have a lot of reading time. I've also be hanging out on the Book Blogger and Publishers Online Conference. It's been going on since Wed. but you can still sign up. That's my status this week. What's yours?

0 Book Trailer Spotlight (10)

This week's book trailer is Leviathan by Scott Westerfield. I love this trailer. I have this book sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. Hopefully I can get to it soon. What do you think?  Have you read this book? Do you want to? 

Title: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
Author: Ben H. Winters
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: September 15, 2009
ISBN: 1594744424 (ISBN13: 9781594744426)
Available @ Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Friday, April 15, 2011

32 Easter Giveaway Blog Hop

Easter Hoppin Blog Hop

A very big thank you to Danielle Lush Book Reviews and JoJo from JoJo's Book Corner for setting up this giveaway blog hop. These hops are so much fun. Not only to you get a chance to win some great prizes but you also get the chance to visit some great blogs.

I'm going to giveaway my usual prize: any book up to $15.00 from the Book Depository or Amazon. 

To enter:

  • This giveaway is international. You must make sure the book depository delivers to your country. (check here)
  • You must be over 13 years old to enter
  • Please be sure to check out my contest/giveaway rules
  • You do NOT have to be a follower to enter. I appreciate it but it's not necessary.
  • You must fill out the form below
  • Giveaway ends April 17, 2011
  • Don't forget to check out the linky below for more giveaways

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2 Shadow Cat by Reena Jacobs

Title: Shadow Cat (The Striped Ones)
Author: Reena Jacobs
Publisher: Create Space
Publication Date: February 7, 2011
ISBN: 1460914163 (ISBN13: 9781460914168)
available @ Amazon | B&N |Smashwords

Summary: Eric Randall’s plan is simple—fix the mess his researchers have created in Malaysia, experience the pleasures the country has to offer, and return to the comforts of America. All it takes is one beautiful aborigine, and Eric finds himself stranded in a world of Malaysian myths and legends. A novice shaman amongst her people, Berani is free and independent. Yet all is not well in her homeland. Demons prey on her people, pushing them to extinction. When a strange speaking man invades her forest, she has one more worry to add to her already troubled life. Attraction or no, she will fight Eric tooth and claw to maintain her freedom. But will she destroy herself in the process? If Berani wishes to save her family… if Eric wishes to reclaim his old life, they must stand together against the threats of encroaching wehr-tigers and bloodsucking demons… or perish.

Shadow Cat is a paranormal romance that takes place in the Malaysian rain forest. I absolutely loved the background setting to this novel. There is something so mysterious and alluring about the rain forest. I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel because the rain forest is a character in itself. It is home to the rare tribe of wehr-tigers, that are hidden deep in the forest. Legends and myths tell of their existence. Berani is a wehr tiger who is strong, fearless,  and protective of those she loves. She's also insanely beautiful. She's absolutely livid over her part of her rain forest being destroyed by a pharmacological company run by Eric Randall. Eric is head strong and a major control freak. He is attracted to Berani's exotic beauty.   He's also attracted to her kitty pheromones she's releasing. Berani and Eric's relationship is interesting. They are from different cultures and don't even speak the same language. The have to find a way to communicate. There are also other obstacles that they must overcome, for instance, Eric isn't the only one that is attracted to Berani's scent. I enjoyed watching their relationship unfold throughout the story. Their chemistry together is smoking. Shadow Cat also has many other enjoyable characters.  Two of my favorite are Bryan, Eric's best friend and Nenek, Barani's grandmother. I hope to see more of Bryan in a future book. He made me laugh out loud a few times. 
Overall I thought the plot was good. There were a few aspects of the storyline that I thought worked out to easily, but it didn't take away from the overall story. I really enjoyed the mystical forces that are threatening the inhabitants of the rain forest. That was definitely interesting and a bit creepy. Reena Jacobs is currently working on more books in the Striped Ones series. I look forward to seeing what happens next in the series. Hopefully Bryan will be in them. 

Check out Reena Jacobs on twitter | blog | website | facebook

*I received an e-copy of Shadow Cat from the author for review purposes only. This in no way influenced my review.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

1 The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen

Title: The Girl in the Gatehouse
Author: Julie Klassen
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: January 1, 2011
paperback, 391 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0708-2
Available @ Amazon | B&N | Book Depository 

Summary: Miss Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a long-abandoned gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative's estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how--by writing novels in secret. Captain Matthew Bryant, returning to England successful and wealthy after the Napoleonic wars, leases an impressive estate from a cash-poor nobleman, determined to show the society beauty who once rejected him what a colossal mistake she made. When he discovers an old gatehouse on the property, he is immediately intrigued by its striking young inhabitant and sets out to uncover her identity, and her past. But the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he must distance himself. Falling in love with an outcast would ruin his well-laid plans. The old gatehouse holds secrets of its own. Can Mariah and Captain Bryant uncover them before the cunning heir to the estate buries them forever?

I was very excited to read The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen. I'm a huge fan of Regency era novels. I could not wait to dive into this one.  The book begins with the main character, Mariah being sent away. There is a lot of mystery and suspense surrounding the reason behind this exile. Julie Klassen did a great job giving you just a lit bit of information here and there. Mariah is taken in by an aunt whom she's not had contact with in a long while. The aunt sets her up at the gatehouse. The gatehouse has been abandoned for many years.  Together with her childhood governess, Ms. Dixon, they begin to turn the gatehouse into a home. During their stay at the gatehouse, they encounter many interesting people, mainly from the poorhouse just outside the gate. There is also a mysterious man that walks the roof of the poorhouse that nobody wants to acknowledge. This is an intriguing addition to the story line. The story heats up when the estate is leased by the dashing Captain Mathew Bryant.  His sole mission in life is to win back the love he lost by flaunting his new wealth in front of his ex. Captain Mathew Bryant and Mariah form a heart warming friendship. However Captain Bryant is suspicious of Mariah's reputation. Mariah has to hold many secrets to protect herself. 
I really liked Mariah's character. She is a strong, resourceful, witty, and gentle character. She is thrown into a tough situation and is determined to make the best out of it. She is also remorseful of what she's done even to the extreme that she feels undeserving of even God's love. She is also going against society and trying to become a published author. Captain Bryant is a great character too, although he spends much of his time wanting all the wrong things. He's good at heart even thought he's a bit misguided. My favorite character is Ms. Dixon. She is a kind, loyal, no-nonsense kind of girl. 
There are many themes woven throughout this novel such as forgiveness, finding hope, and love. There are several love stories strewn throughout this book. I loved them all. I could tell from reading this book that Julie Klassen was inspired by Jane Austen when she wrote this book. I especially loved the quotes that were above each chapter. Many from Jane Austen or her novels. Many of the characters had certain qualities that I've found in Austen. In fact I think Mariah herself was modeled a little after Jane. This is an absolutely charming novel that I couldn't put down. I will definitely re-read this book again. 

Check out Julie Klassen on her website

*I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a review. This in no way influenced my opinion. 


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