Wednesday, January 18, 2017

TBR Challenge: Madeline Hunter - An Interrupted Tapestry

"New York Times "bestselling author Madeline Hunter weaves passion and adventure into this exquisite love story. A noblewoman, beset by her brother's creditors, offers a cherished tapestry to a wealthy London merchant--who has more on his mind than settling her debts...
Originally published in the anthology "Tapestry"


Comment: And here we are, with the first post of the TBR Challenge for 2017. As it's tradition, the january post is usually dedicated to a short story, a novella, something not too big. Yes, all choices are exactly that, a choice, so readers can pick whatever they want but personally, the fun part is to try to meet the theme.

This novella was originally published in the Tapestry anthology. 
It's the story of Giselle, a woman living in medieval England and how she is down on her luck, her house and all her things might be taken from her because her missing brother hasn't been able to pay his debts. The only valuable thing Giselle has is her virtue so when Andreas, a now wealthy family friend, she makes a joke saying that would help but he doesn't laugh. Giselle also tries to sell the tapestry she has hanging in a room, something she was told was valuable. But can Andreas take advantage? Can Giselle's brother be found?

The author is Madeline Hunter, a writer whose work I'm familiar with so it wasn't difficult to be interested in reading this. I was recommended this to read years ago, probably because I was chatting about the author's books. I got this novella but it has been in the pile for years! This year I thought it would suit the january theme quite well.

This was a short story but it has several details that make it feel more complex. I liked it but I must confess medieval plots aren't as interesting for me nowadays as they used to so I wasn't particularly eager to be in such a set. Like most short stories, we also have a rushed end and situations and that doesn't allow time for characters to fully develop. The protagonists have never been involved but they aren't strangers and it's always very difficult to maintain the balance between familiarity and sudden feelings...something I think wasn't completely well done here.

Giselle is a sweet woman and she isn't aware of her brother's true careless personality and how he doesn't worry about her or their house. I think it's not that far fetched to imagine but in such a short amount of time obviously the things that should happen, her growing up as a character and how she deals with finding her brother's issues and flaws wasn't done with the proper time for it to be believable or complex. So it just felt too quickly done.
Andreas is an intriguing character, I wish we could have seen more of him. He is wealthy but of course he isn't God so he can't do everything he wishes for. He does help Giselle but at the end there is one price for his help. It's cute but sadly, the short amount of time isn't enough to structure such a complex cast and situations well enough, in my opinion.

The romance is quick, as you can imagine. Both Andreas and Giselle have doubts, have things they wish they could say but HEA apart, their relationship just doesn't have enough time to settle well. I know it's difficult to structure a romantic relationship properly without time but then why pushing things just to say there was a romance? Authors can always give that idea, even presenting the HEA notion without creating so much unanswered situations that only make the plot feel weaker. I'm glad the author didn't use the friends to lovers or the lovers reunited tropes because Giselle and Andreas were sort of friends but haven't been equals so it didn't feel like he had to help her. He did because he liked her but honestly I don't think this is true love between them. We just don't have enough scenes leading to it.

I was more interested in the little details included, like the message behind the tapestry presence in the story, what it meant, also the brother's character, we could read a lot between the lines just by having him say a few things or the secondary stuff we learn from others. I liked the author used time to make the main characters act and look for Giselle's brother, looking for answers. Some details about the plot, the environment and the medieval society were also very interesting but just not as good as they could to bring my grade up. Novellas are tricky, there's a certain balance to be achieved but it's possible and even it less pages that this one.
I just think this one focused on one or two things that were unnecessary and not on what would have made it very good.

All things considered, this was a positive story, has interesting elements and characters but isn't solid enough for me in terms of romance and resolution.
Grade: 6/10

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Molly Harper - Rhythm and Bluegrass

Bonnie Turkle, multimedia historian for the Kentucky Commission of Tourism, is dispatched to Mud Creek, a tiny eastern Kentucky town, with few prospects but many oddballs, to rescue important artifacts from McBride’s Music Hall. Now fallen beyond disrepair, McBride’s was once a jewel of the early American music scene, an intersection of the country-western and rhythm and blues circuits. The former owner’s grandson, Will McBride, who also happens to be Mud Creek’s esteemed mayor, would like nothing more than to see the place bull-dozed in favor of a factory that will provide much-needed jobs to his citizens. But Bonnie finds evidence of a legendary musical event at the music hall and her plans to turn it into a museum put Mud Creek’s economic future at risk – not to mention the growing flirtation between the two of them. If Will and Bonnie can’t find common ground, the town’s past and future will be lost. 

Comment: This is the second book in the Bluegrass trilogy by author Molly Harper. I've read some book by this author and I've enjoyed almost all of them but I suppose she can be hit or miss for me. I really loved one of her series, then didn't like much the beginning of another and this trilogy, the first book was good enough but this one was one step below...

In this story we follow the work of Bonnie Turkle, the researcher we've heard about in the previous book. Bonnie has the job to travel all around the state looking for interesting and special things to present to the public, things to save and to update and she has known amazing things and people. Now she's going to Mud Creek, an almost abandoned small town that used to rely a lot on factories but the companies have left and the population is depressed and in need of hope and jobs.
Bonnie meets Will, the town's new  young mayor so he can help her with an old place that used to have live music and Bonnie hopes to find hidden gems that were left out when the placed closed down years ago. 
But the mayor has plans to that old site so when Bonnie sees she can use everything and make Mud Creek a point in the touristic Kentucky map, they clash and things don't go so well. Can Bonnie find a way to compromise?

This was a fun story but I have to say it wasn't as impressive to me as the previous one nor was it as amazing as other books by the author.
This story depends a lot on very specific Kentucky references and I confess I miss some of the fun because I can't follow certain things as easily. I also think the biggest problem here is the exaggeration of quirky situations and facts in detriment of a fictional romance. I felt I was swallowed with so many little details about Kentucky's people and about the small elements the author has thought about to make the characters and the setting so specific and apparently cute/fun, that I feel the focus wasn't where it should.

The main character, Bonnie, is resourceful and dedicated and I liked knowing some things about her personality and wishes. But neither her nor Will were as developed as I hoped and I certainly don't think they had the most interesting relationship possible. In fact, I can't understand why they would work out, they are too different and the way things end, although I can feel glad about the outcome I don't think it was stressed out as well as it could if they indeed have a future. Maybe the next book can show them happy or something but in long term it's difficult for me to imagine.
Will, I had  more trouble in empathizing with, just because his actions and how he was developed didn't seem to be as deeply explained as I would have wished.

The focus in the romance wasn't what I imagined but the plot wasn't as strong either. I did enjoy some situations and all the effort Bonnie went through to prove she was a professional and a good person but there is some sense of despair and difficulties when it came to the town itself that, despite interesting, wasn't used in the best way to ensure the  end had more meaning.
The HEA didn't convince me because it felt like Will and Bonnie didn't have much in common anyway. All these elements make this story feel a bit weak to me.

All things considered, this was a cute story but there was just too much information on things that, despite interesting, weren't that vital to the plot and some characterization was over the top. To compensate, the romance was weak and the main couple doesn't seem to fully match. I still had a good time reading but this wasn't as amazing as I hoped for.
Grade: 6/10

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Louise Allen - Virgin Slave, Barbarian King

Julia Livia Rufa is horrified when barbarians invade Rome and steal everything in sight. But she doesn't expect to be among the taken! As Wulfric's woman, she's ordered to keep house for the uncivilized marauders. Soon, though, Julia realizes that she's more free as a slave than she ever was as a sheltered Roman virgin. It would be all too easy to succumb to Wulfric's quiet strength, and Julia wants him more than she's ever wanted anything. But Wulfric could one day be king, and Julia is a Roman slave. What future can there be for two people from such different worlds? 

Comment: I think I saw a reference to this book at a forum a couple of years ago and the theme seemed interesting. I'm not usually a fan of slaves and masters tropes but the fact this was set in the Ancient Rome was what made me intrigued, especially because of the romance factor. I know slavery is never romantic but this is fantasy and I was interested in seeing how the author would play the romance.

This is the story of Julia Livia Rufa, a citizen of Rome who is kidnapped by a barbarian to become his slave. Rome is in chaos because the Emperor hasn't honored the deal with the so called barbarian people who help the empire to protect its borders. Now the Visigoths are going through Rome to get what they believe is their by right and Julia is taken at that time.
However, living with her kidnapper proves to be more fun and interesting that the type of life she used to have and now Julia makes friends and finds something that makes her feel good. But her relationship with Wulfric, her master, isn't what she expected as he never treats her badly and only acts to rile her up. Can Julia find a new life and forget her past as a Roman?

Apart from all the things that would annoy a person in these modern times, this story wasn't too bad for the most part. Yes, it has situations that aren't easy to romanticize but if one can put aside reality, this fictional story is quite cute. The author didn't try a too heavy tone or a dramatic take on the overall story and that makes it easier to follow and accept. I was actually amused by the antics between Julia and Wulfric and the fact this is simply a fictional story focused on these two turns this into a sweet romance, even if not perfect.

The relationship between the two protagonists was what really made this book different. Yes, they were master and slave but he never treated her badly and he never beat her, for instance. His feelings for her (and hers for him) seemed to happen a bit too quickly considering the whole concept of slavery but the proximity and the attitude of the Visigoths seem to be quite obvious in its difference to Romans so we kind of accept they could be, believably, falling in love.

The plot isn't too complicated, although it has some interesting scenes with the dilemmas Wulfric must deal with because of the poor health of his leader and what will happen, who will succeed when and if he dies. Wulfric's choices are consistent to what we learn of his character and I'm surprised this wasn't portrayed in a more violent way...I suppose the fact this book is published by Mils and Boon and has a specific public target has something to do with the page count and general sense of things, but I'm glad we didn't have to go through too much drama and angst. 
In the end, I don't know if the HEA achieved was good enough for what become the expectations we create but I was glad enough things worked out.

The main characters are interesting, Julia seems too difficult to approach at first but I grew to like her and feel happy by how she decided to become a strong woman and I think her decisions, in a way, reflect that.
Wulfric is everything we expect from a hero warrior and his honor speaks for him.
The secondary characters were constant and offered interesting interactions with the main ones and I liked knowing them for the time we got to see them on the page.
All in all, this was a good book, a story I felt entertained with and for that alone, it was totally worth the reading.
Grade: 8/10

Friday, January 13, 2017

Lara Adrian - Bound to Darkness

Carys Chase is accustomed to making her own rules and letting her heart lead the way--no matter what anyone else has to say about it. A rare Breed female and a daywalker as well, headstrong, beautiful Carys is one of the most powerful of her kind. She lives passionately and loves without limits, especially when it comes to the lethal cage-fighting Breed warrior called Rune.
Unbeatable in the ring, Rune exists in a brutal world of blood and bone and death. He's made his share of enemies both in and out of the arena, and his secrets run as deep and turbulent as his past. A dangerous loner who has survived by his fists and fangs, Rune has never allowed anyone to get too close to him...until Carys. But when the bodies buried in his past rise up to threaten his present, Rune must choose between betraying Carys's trust or putting her in the crosshairs of a battle neither of them can hope to win on their own.


Comment: This is the 13th installment in the Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian. I've been losing interest in this series and I can't really explain why. When I first started reading this, every book was pre ordered and anticipated but since the first arc ended, it doesn't feel the same somehow even if so many things follow the same ideas. But the truth is the previous book in the series was read in 2014...

This book gives us Carys Chase, daughter of Sterling and Tavia, probably my favorite couple and book from the first arc.
Carys is both Breed and breedmate and she wants to have an independent life. She is dating, sort of, Rune, a fighter and someone coming from a different background. She knows her parents wouldn't easily accept him but they don't even try to make an effort.
When the Order need help, Carys finds herself understanding a bit more what it means to work for the good of everyone and somehow the chance to present Rune and trying to have a go at a solid relationship with him also seems to become possible.
The problem is that someone from Rune's past will interfere with all the sudden good things in Carys life...

Even after reading the book and having enjoyed for the most part, I still can't really pinpoint exactly what was about it that makes it seem weaker than some of the original ones but that's how I think of it. This second arc, which had everything to work out, just doesn't appeal to me as much. I love the character's interactions, especially when we see the ones already mated or that we know better. But the romances aren't as amazing as I would have imagined and the plot went to a interesting but not always appealing path.

It doesn't mean the stories don't have substance or structure but they don't feel the same. I guess part of it was the quick switch from one plot and then the 2nd arc had characters we saw as children or not even that already grown up and we didn't had the chance to see them develop their personalities in between. They now look like any other character in the series...
Anyway, Carys and Rune at least feel like that to me.

The romance is a strong component of this book. Like some other readers, I found their romance to be without any apparent substance, even more when we had such careless behavior from them in the previous books where they showed up. In this book they communicated more, we learned more about their pasts and dreams and their connection seemed to become stronger. I still don't think this feels they had to be together but at the end I was happier for them than before.

I think some of my issues come from the character's personalities, behavior and attitudes. The positive side of all this in the characters of the 1st arc don't seem to have been done the same way in this 2nd arc. The main characters just feel more....uncaring or unfocused on doing the right thing or being unique. It really bothers me how we have so many bad boys who only reform because they realize they are in love almost at the end of the book. Yes, this is a series' trademark almost but this younger characters also seem to be unconcerned about other things besides fighting or destroying their enemies. It feel like all the years after their parents conquered the right for them to be free or to at least have a better life (if only emotionally) meant nothing.

Ok, maybe I'm being too picky but Carys for instance reminds of this. She lives such an easy life and she only gets interested in things after a while. This feels like spoiled for me. I don't know but honesty I didn't feel much interest in her nor in her personality which seemed vain in the previous books and fast but not to last here because she is the heroine.
Rune has a lot more substance, he acts like any other guy in romances but I appreciated his path a lot more than hers.

The plot has its moments. It gets a bit tiring to keep having them fight enemies all the time but well, this is the whole premise of the books. I wish I could have more domestic scenes with everyone, proving the efforts of the 1st arc weren't just because.
The Atlantean plot line also has its moments although not too obvious yet. But the next book features an Atlantean hero so we should have more information on them and their lives.

This book wasn't the best ever but it worked out fine. I hope I won't take as long to get to the next one, though!
Grade: 6/10

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mary Balogh - Slightly Wicked

With his laughing eyes and wild, rakish good looks, Lord Rannulf Bedwyn is a hard man to resist. To Judith Law, a woman in need of rescue when her stagecoach overturns, Rannulf is simply her savior, a heroic stranger she will reward with one night of reckless passion before she must become a companion to her wealthy aunt. Imagine Judith's shock when the same stranger turns out to be among England's most eligible bachelors…and when he arrives at Harewood Grange to woo her cousin. Certainly, they had made no vows, no promises, but Rannulf never did forget his uninhibited lover…nor did she forget that one delicious night. And as scandal sets the household abuzz, Rannulf proposes a solution…but when Judith refuses to have him--in love or wedlock--Rannulf has only one choice: to wage a campaign of pure pleasure to capture the heart of the woman who has already won his.

Comment: After having read the first book in the series last year and having enjoyed it quite a lot, I was very eager to keep reading things from this author.
This is the second installment in the Bedwyn family saga series by author Mary Balogh and now it's time for Rannulf's story.

Rannulf is on his way to stay with his grandmother for a while, he knows she loves him and he doesn't like to disappoint her. He knows she expects him to court and, if he agrees to it, marry a girl she has been thinking about for some time as being perfect for him.
On the way, he finds a stagecoach overturned and the passengers in need of help. He can't do it alone some he takes one woman with him promising to send more people to help everyone. The lady he rescues tells him she is an actress and they share special moments together. But the woman is gone without notice after agreeing to spend more time with him.
The woman isn't an actress but lady Judith Law, coming to live with her wealthy aunt after her father asked for a loan. She knows she has a life of disguised servitude in her future so she is reckless for a while. But she was not ready to find the man who treated her so well to be the apparent groom to be to her vain cousin...

I had a great time reading this book and I couldn't put it down! There's something about it that just made me happy and focused on the story that I wanted to keep going. It didn't take too long to read it especially because of how interesting the characters were.

I think the author's talent is very visible in this story. I have to say I do like the writing style, it's ot the most serious or classical one but it's not silly or too easy either. The way the story is told and how we are given the information, how the details and plot are put in action is always so precise and structured that, for me, it makes it all seem perfect. I can understand why some readers think it's a too cold approach but after countless authors  giving a more erotic vibe or a comedy one, this style, I must say, agrees well with my tastes too.

The story is always developing, there aren't too many quiet moments or without activity and even the parts where we have access to the characters' thoughts aren't too still to be boring. I really liked knowing the main characters and their personalities. The plot is a little predictable in some moments, namely when we can foresee how the "bad" guy will do something or when others try to be an obstacle in the hero and heroine's path. But even knowing what will happen, if not exactly how, isn't enough to make this story boring. I was always so expectant to see what the characters would do next...

The main protagonist, obviously, have the focus on them. The way their relationship developed was quite interesting, especially after they realized each others' true identity. The beginning wasn't my favorite part but the way they connected was subtle and provided a good base to what would happen next.
Rannulf is a gem of hero, not a complete alpha type, not with certainty in his path but of course with the help and interest of the heroine to give him strength, he becomes someone we would like to know personally and even support too.
I liked Judith a lot, she wanted adventure, she thought she only had one chance to have it before her fate was sealed. I don't think I would act like her but her inner thoughts helped in liking her at the same time. And I do love heroines in danger of poverty and having to work or support themselves. I confess I like a little bit of martyrdom in them too, if it fits. It made it all to much sweeter and romantic when they fell in love and she could be recognized by her worth, despite her status in life.
It does make me want to sigh....

The end wasn't as I imagined but it followed the lines of what is expected. It was a good here, as it was in the previous novel, to see the Bedwyn siblings and family come together and help each other. The sense of family is something I really, really love in series and sagas and if it continues I'm sure this would become one of the best elements in all the books.
The HEA was cute, hopeful, the villain was bested and all wrongs are looking to become rights and that's a romance for you.
Grade: 9/10

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sera Trevor - A Shadow on the Sun

Prince Theryn and his higard, Sir Atrum, are both bound by duty: Theryn serves the kingdom of Glinden, and Atrum serves his prince. Although they harbor a secret love, a relationship between a prince and his servant is forbidden. Things change when the king promises Theryn’s hand in marriage to the volatile Prince Lyar of the Soltaran Empire, who needs Theryn’s Light magic for some sinister religious rite. Theryn and Atrum's struggle to discover Lyar’s scheme brings them together at last, but there is more at stake than their happiness. Atrum discovers Dark magic of his own, but neither his love nor his power may be enough to save Theryn from Lyar's dangerously seductive pull. And if Atrum loses Theryn, the world as they know it may be lost as well.

Comment: I got this book months ago, the author wrote this story for a Goodreads group and the story was free at the time I got it, I don't know if it's still so. As I try to read m/m books every month, this is one of January's picks.

In this story we meet Prince Theryn and his sort of servant Sir Atrum as they try to find a way for the Prince not to marry with the heir of country's enemy, thus saving the country from future actions, but at the same time playing things in a way that would convince everyone Theryn is on board with the decision. 
While this is developing, Sir Atrum, always feeling he was different, finally finds out why and reunites with elements of his family. But can this mean that, besides class differences, there will be no way for the two of them to be together the way they most want to?

This is a fantasy story set in a fantasy world, which says a lot about the author's imagination and ideas for the plot and the world she wanted to create and develop. I actually enjoyed the world building, some of the ideas, the customs... this is not the best book I've read in this regard, but it's interesting, the beings, the differences between some people and others are interesting but it's not the subject at the center of the whole thing, it's just something that lets us have an idea of how society and culture were shaped.

The characters in general are easy to read but aren't there just because. The little we learned from them was enough to help us have an idea. The main characters were different, we are supposed to have a better take on them, on their emotions and personalities. 
The two heroes were interesting enough but I was never in awe of them, neither when they were alone nor together. I can't say why I got this impression but although I was glad when they found happiness, their relationship or their individual personalities didn't seem as layered as they could to make them look people we would want to know in real life or to be close to...

Theryn is a prince and he has many good qualities but the main impression I got of him was he was too reckless and too young. Atrium had a better notion of his surroundings and what was expected but I can't understand his pining away for Theryn. Still, Atrium felt like the one with more depth in character and his wanting to know more about his roots and family was what intrigued me the most in this book.
Their relationship wasn't portrayed well, in my opinion. It was too easy, too superficial! 
Apparently they have been friends since their childhood but now both think of the other with very different feelings but because they are prince and servant they know they can't ever be together so we are told they sometimes flirt but nothing more. I would have liked to see this more often, to have more scenes with the sexual tension between them. This way, when they became intimate it didn't feel that special or momentous... which is a pity because this would have given the story more flavor.

The plot wasn't complicated but it had many situations and scenes not always easy to follow only because , the way I see it, the author didn't explain everything well enough. When the book ends, things happened but I still felt we didn't have closure on every issue. The villain was sort of punished, out heroes found a way to be together but it's not really the most realistic ending, even considering this is fantasy. Oh well.

All in all, this was a good effort, it took time and imagination, there are several scenes/moments in the story things were good and fluid but the main character's romance and the lack of layers was something that stood out and made me think about what could have been done differently.
Grade: 6/10

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

James Fenimore Cooper - The Last of the Mohicans

Set against the French and Indian siege of Fort William Henry in 1757, The Last of the Mohicans recounts the story of two sisters, Cora and Alice Munro, daughters of the English commander, who are struggling to be reunited with their father. They are aided in their perilous journey by Hawk-eye, a frontier scout and his companions Chingachgook and Uncas, the only two survivors of the Mohican tribe. But their lives are endangered by the Mangua, the savage Indian traitor who captures the sisters, wanting Cora to be his squaw. In setting Indian against Indian and the brutal society of the white man against the civilization of the Mohican, Cooper, more than any author before or since, shaped the American sense of itself as a nation.

Comment: I bought this book when I was at the university and the last year I attended was 2009 but I bought this before so I'll round up the years and say this book has been in the pile for more or less ten years. I didn't get it because I needed to read it, simply because I was very interested in the plot, the movie had been amazing...anyway when I was writing down my lists for 2017 I decided this couldn't wait any longer and now it's finally read. 

There's something about reading a book after years waiting, isn't it? Not in emotional terms but the knowing it takes so long to finally grab it but reading is much faster and now it's read...

This book was written by James Fenimore Cooper and features a cast of characters that, basically, are on their way to a Fort so the sisters Alice and Cora Munro can be reunited with their father. But the region is dangerous because of the tribe fights and the differences between the white man and the Indians. The group is aided by a scout and his Mohicans' friends but there is a traitor as well and the adventures of the group probably won't end very well...

After watching the amazing movie based on this novel and forever getting a hero-worship image of Daniel Day Lewis in my head - years later removed by another movie DDL was in before😒 - I became quite interested in reading the book, so I could compare. Years passed and other things occupied my mind but the book remained in the shelf, waiting. I mean, I was not dependent on it for my happiness but it did wait too long. At the same time, some classics are better enjoyed after we read other things and have different ways of looking at more distant words and styles.

If my aim was to compare the book and the movie then I say I was not surprised but still thought the difference wouldn't be as much as it was. Obviously experience tells any reader movies are always, always more romanticized because that is what attracts more people, she spectacle, the drama, the romances.... the book has nothing obvious nor as romantic as the movie implies. Even knowing this, it's still a bit of a let down when I realized the characters all acted much more according to the era they were living in, rather than acting as actors in a play, so to speak.

Of course, the book has an element that it's impossible to maintain in the movies, which is the prose the author used. And this aspect, despite its many evidences of what it was to live in such a time and how the writer had to write the way that was known to be the norm or the reflex of the century, is certainly not very addictive. English is not my mother tongue and I confess I had some trouble, not to understand, after a while it gets on the rhythm and we start getting used to it, but the way he wrote can be a bit boring and too wordy and descriptive. This meant that, for me, what was being quite engaging turned out to be repetitive and only helped me in losing focus.

To me, the story isn't bad, isn't boring, isn't what many readers claim as "over done", but the narrative was not pleasant, not easy and not fluid. I've read somewhere that not even characters were as easy to identify and I concur. Except the ladies, because they are the only ones, all other characters while talking, acting, fighting seemed just a blend and I do feel the personalization of each character as it happens in more modern stories.
This is, after all, what made the movie a success. All was easy to identify, to follow, to understand while the written narrative style leaves a lot to be desired.

What seems worse to me, though, is that there are so many interesting themes to read between the lines here (the role of females, the hierarchy between Indian tribes, the veracity of one's honor, etc, the value of Frontier's exploitations) that the poor writing just makes this all seem a big pile of fights and dramas that, as soon as the book ends, instead of making the reader feel they learned a great deal, it's only the relief of putting the book aside.

I still feel glad I've read it, I might one day in the distant future to try it in Portuguese but with so much to red that won't happen so soon. I like classics in general but this one is better left in my fond memories of Daniel Day Lewis when he was younger and so handsome and the spectacular soundtrack that I listen to even today.
Grade: 5/10

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sarra Manning - It Felt Like a Kiss

Ellie manages a swank Mayfair gallery, but it’s her life that’s a real work of art. Great job, really good hair, loyal friends, loving family. It’s only her succession of lame duck boyfriends that ruin the picture.
Oh, and the world-famous rock-star father she’s never met, who won’t even acknowledge her existence.
Then Ellie’s perfect life is smashed to pieces when her secret is sold to the highest bidder and her name, face (and pictures of her bottom) are splashed across the tabloids. Suddenly everyone thinks she’s a gold-digging, sex-crazy, famewhore.
Enter David Gold. Charming and handsome David Gold. On paper he’s even more perfect than Ellie, if only he wasn’t her father’s ruthlessly ambitious lawyer whose job is to manage the crisis – and her. He certainly doesn’t think that Ellie’s the innocent party and she doesn’t trust him at all. So why is it that every time they’re alone together, damage limitation is the last thing on their minds?


Comment: The first book I've read in 2017!
I got this book after having read another one by the author and because I liked, I looked at her other books and this one seemed interesting. I got it but it has been an year and something in the pile... but finally it was its time.

This is the story of Ellie Cohen, a young woman who has a good life, the job the loves, the family she cares about, the friends and the life she feels happy in. But she's got no luck with boyfriends and they all end up losers or better off after they dumped her. The last one happens to be the revenge type and after an out with her mother, a on and off rock singer/performer/composer, the ex sells out Ellie's story and, most important, the secret of Ellie's paternity, something she has always knew but suddenly everyone else knows too and she is portrayed very badly in the tabloids.
She calls her "father's" lawyers and in comes David Gold, a man she recognized as a smiling man with whom she flirted at the latest Glastonbury concert. They now seem opposites of who they were when they met and David seems to have a bad opinion of Ellie, especially after everything that the press published.
But David and Ellie still feel the attraction that made them connect at Glastonbury. Can they go past all this business Ellie definitely isn't to blame for and find common ground to be a couple?

By the blurb, I was expecting a sort of dramatic story but with cute and funny moments in the mix to make things easier on us and the characters. I thought the story would focus on Ellie and David's relationship as they both united efforts to battle the tabloids and the situation Ellie was in. But the way things happened, it was more a string of scenes of conflicts between Ellie and David, Ellie's inner doubts about the whole thing and a little portrait of what it means to have your privacy invaded in the UK (and generally as there are many character-types of what it's like to want to be famous at all costs). It doesn't mean this is all bad but...I think the romance or how sweet it could have been wasn't really a goal here.
Which wouldn't be a bad thing, Ellie's battle to regain privacy is quite interesting but... I kind of wished for more.

This is a story we can't miss is by a British author. It seems most British chick-lit  - and woman's fiction more or less - always have a lot of alcohol drinking in it! It must something cultural because I can't think of a book in the genre where the characters wouldn't be drinking often or something. I have to say after two, three times highlighting it, it becomes rather irritating. But maybe it's just me.

What I liked best was the way Ellie saw her life turn upside down but she tried to minimize things, she tried to keep a mostly normal life and I bet things are much worse for real famous people who can't let go of the tabloids and mean it. There are always those who seek fame even at terrible costs but Ellie isn't like that. The author didn't go as strongly as she could with this them, I guess. The focus was more on the supposedly funny parts, but t me they weren't as fun.

Ellie never had a relationship with her father, she never wanted one as her mother was always enough but of course some part of her wondered why he never looked out for her while doing it with his legitimate children. I think this part wasn't well explained.
We have glimpses of Ellie's mother slices of life with Ellie's father and from that to the bitter situation now it all seems rather pushed and forced. To me, the story has some characterization issues I don't think were completely explained.

The romance was a bit weak only because they never seem to develop a deeper bond than what we red on the page. There are no scenes, moves that will tell us without their words they are falling in love. In fact, they often have what I think of as secret dialogues in their heads, things we never see  and it feels like things happen, change and we don't see it, only guess they must be feeling it. It's weird and annoying.
All in all, it was a good book but not as good as it could have been, despite the emotional parts and the ones the author did well.
Grade:7/10

Friday, January 6, 2017

Bookworm's internal struggles

Another funny post at https://media.bookbub.com/
This list, https://media.bookbub.com/blog/2017/01/04/internal-struggles-of-bookworms/ , has some situations all devoted readers must have felt or thought or agree with at some point, if not all the time.
Is there any situation you agree with?
For, me the following two are quite realistic and I behave like that!!
Happy reading! 💚