Kim’s Review of Glittering Promises (Grand Tour Series #3) by Lisa T. Bergren

gpltbSeveral months ago I had the pleasure of reading Glamorous Illusions and Grave Consequences, the first two books in Lisa T. Bergren’s Grand Tour series.  The drama immediately took a hold of me, sweeping me with it to Europe.  I was mesmerized by the fashions, the characters, and non-stop action.  For several months I anticipated the release of the conclusion of the trilogy and was pumped when Glittering Promises finally appeared on Netgalley.

From Goodreads:

America’s newest heiress must decide if her potential fortune is rationale enough to give up her freedom and all that God is leading her toward. And when her newly-discovered siblings are threatened with ruin, her quandary deepens. Then as Cora nears Rome, more journalists are track the news story of the decade—“Copper Cora,” the rags-to-riches girl—and want to know more about her family and the men vying for her attention. Meanwhile, a charming Italian countess decides that if Cora isn’t going to claim Will’s heart, she might just try…

Sadly, I was a bit disappointed with this final chapter of the Grand Tour series.  After the tumultuous first two books I was expecting a story that would be moved along by an action-filled plot, not one of repetitive relationship misunderstandings.  I don’t mean that I was expecting 47 kidnapping scenarios, or robberies, or anything of that sort.  I just meant that I was expecting the plot to be more about the conclusion of the tour, and a conclusion to the crimes of book one and two, rather than Cora’s decision over who she was going to love.  Having a few misunderstandings when it comes to the romantic side of the story is acceptable, but when it becomes the only device used to move the plot, it can get slightly stale.

On the other hand, I enjoyed the character development of Cora and her siblings.  Seeing them hone their strengths, accept their weaknesses, and become adults responsible for their own futures was a reward for sticking with all three books in the series.  Cora’s journey was unarguably the most well done of all.  The complete transformation from books one through three was incredibly well written and probably my favorite part of the whole series.  This book would have been a total win for me if the plot had more moving it, but I can’t say I’m not satisfied with the trilogy’s conclusion.  The final plot twist in this book really shocked and surprised me (Bergren sure knows how to keep you on your toes!)  If you’re looking for a clean historical fiction that focuses on finding one’s self, this series is a sure bet.

3 out of 5 Stars

This is my twenty-second completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Glittering Promises by Lisa T. Bergren
David C. Cook (2013)
eBook: 496 pages
ISBN: 9780781410854

Special thanks to David C. Cook publishing for my review copy via Netgalley!

Kim’s Guest Review of Steampunk Darcy by Monica Fairview

Steampunk Darcy Cover SMALL AVATARYou can find my latest guest review over on the Austenprose blog! It’s on Monica Fairview’s Steampunk Darcy, a steampunk novel inspired by Pride and Prejudice. If you’re wondering what steampunk is, let me tell you.  It’s a mixture of the Victorian Era, steam inventions of the industrial revolution, post-apocalyptic/dystopic worlds, and a modern sense of invention.  It’s an amazing genre to say the least.  Check back in on Wednesday, when Fairview will be on the blog discussing the genre.

For a direct link to my review, click here.  As an added bonus, Austenprose has six copies you can win!

This is my eleventh completed review for the Pride and  Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge

Series Spotlight: The Fatal Series by Marie Force

I’ve long been wanting to start a new feature on the blog which spotlights book series that I’ve found and truly enjoyed.  A lot of times I get hooked on a series, find that it’s been out for a while, then binge myself on 5 or 6 books in a row, finding myself totally entranced by the series and author. One such occurrence happened when I found the Fatal series by Marie Force.  Currently 6 books and a novella, the Fatal series is a hybrid of the crime and romance genres.

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The Fatal series follows Sam Holland, a police detective for the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington D.C., as well as Nick Cappuano, a chief-of-staff turned Senator.  The two had a memorable one-night stand a few years prior, but they are now brought back into each other’s lives as Nick’s boss, Senator O’Connor, has been murdered.  As the head of the murder investigation, Sam becomes a constant part of Nick’s life again, much to his surprise.  After their one-night stand Nick tried contacting Sam over and over in the hopes of beginning a relationship with her.  Circumstances neither of them could have known about kept them apart, and this reintroduction has begun to rekindle the feelings both have never been able to truly suppress over the years.

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So, why do I love this series? First and foremost, the characters.  Nick is AWESOME.  He’s not threatened by Sam’s powerful career or her need for control.  Nor is he perturbed by the thick armor she wears to deal with the world.  Instead, he pushes her to think in new ways, express her emotions, and allow herself to need those around her.  His love, support, and encouragement help her shed the tremendous amount of stress, guilt, and pressure she’s carried around.  Sam’s an incredible character (AND woman) in her own right.  She’s strong, resilient, intelligent, and powerful.  The two together are awe-inspiring.  They can achieve anything together, as their love truly makes them better, stronger people.

I’m glad that Force chose to have Nick and Sam’s love story spill out over multiple books instead of having everything happen in one.  It makes their relationship and subsequent marriage more believable and realistic.  It also allows their development as a couple, individuals, and professionals  to grow leaps and bounds.

So, what else is so special about this series besides the characters? The non-stop action, for one thing.  Also, the intriguing mysteries!  While Sam and Nick’s love story is the heart of this series, it’s not the main plotline in each book.  The mysteries that Force comes up with are super fascinating, and they take up a good portion of each book, filling out the romantic portions nicely.  It’s obvious she’s a talented writer the more you read of the Fatal series.  Each book will have you guessing from start to finish.

In order (with my ratings) the series is:

  1. Fatal Affair – 5 out of 5 Stars
  2. Fatal Justice – 4 out of 5 Stars
  3. Fatal Consequences – 4 out of 5 Stars
    1. Fatal Destiny (novella) – 5 out of 5 Stars
  4. Fatal Flaw – 3 out of 5 Stars
  5. Fatal Deception – 5 out of 5 Stars
  6. Fatal Mistake – 3 out of 5 Stars

If you’re looking for something new to read that is truly out of the box (I mean come on, murder and romance!?) I suggest giving this series a shot.

Sam’s Review of The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe by Mary Simses

tibbacmsI have to admit that going into The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe by Mary Simses I was a bit skeptical. I first heard of the book when I had the pleasure of going to an event with Kim and Jess at the adorable RJ Julia bookstore in Madison, CT. Here, we heard quite a bit from author Mary Simses who, while charming and delightful, had no reservations in reminding her audience that a certain famous author became her mentor, titled her book, and made a few calls.

This immediately put a bad taste in my mouth to say the least. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try. The cover is beautiful, a work of art. The title is, of course, flawless. The same could also be said about the incredibly inviting passage that Simses selected to read as part of her presentation.

In the story we meet Ellen Branford, a career driven New Yorker who has recently gotten engaged to Mr. Career Driven New Yorker. On paper he is perfect: good looking, excellent job, and a go get ‘em attitude.  Following the death of her grandmother, Ellen heads to Maine from Manhattan in order to deliver a letter to her grandmother’s first and true love.

The exciting opening scene describes Ellen standing on an old seaside dock trying to snap a picture. She falls into the ocean and is swept out to sea by the strong current. Luckily, Ellen is saved by a strong and handsome local man, Roy, who swims her to safety.

Over the course of the book Ellen begins to discover things about her grandmother’s past that lead her to extend her trip and neglect her fiance in New York. Ellen delves deeper and deeper into the relationship her grandmother had with the man she loved and in the process, Ellen finds herself.

As you may have already guessed, she also finds herself increasingly drawn to Roy. As the novel progresses we discover that Roy is in fact a small part of the past that Ellen is trying to piece together.

Though I was skeptical of the book at first, I did enjoy it. It was predictable and at times slow but well written and thoughtful enough to keep my interest. I have always enjoyed stories about finding yourself in unexpected places, though this story doesn’t really change the script on the basic plot: girl has great guy who should be perfect for her, girl finds attractive working class boy, they fall in love and girl decides…well I won’t give it away!

As a main character Ellen suits the reader just fine. She is a nice mix of strong and vulnerable, and as a reader I cared about her journey of self discovery and found myself identifying with her a great deal, which is what I always look for in a well-rounded character.

One MAJOR problem that I had with this book is that no where, not even once, did the author suggest a fantastic blueberry muffin recipe. I expected to turn the last page and find the irresistible blueberry muffin. Unfortunately, I had to settle for the one on the back of the Betty Crocker package.

I read this book over the summer at the beach, which is where this book belongs. As we enter a new season I suggest picking up this title to enjoy on a cool autumn day with a cup of tea and a blueberry muffin.

3 out of 5 Stars

The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe by Mary Simses
Little, Brown, & Company (2013)
Hardcover: 344 pages
ISBN: 9780316225854

Charlie’s Review of Carniepunk, an Anthology

cpAs I have stated time and time again, I am a HUGE fan of the fantasy genre, so when I was asked to read Carniepunk, I welcomed it with open arms. It seemed like a pretty awesome anthology that numerous authors in the genre had put together.

From Goodreads: 

A star-studded urban fantasy anthology featuring bestselling authors Rachel Caine, Rob Thurman, Seanan McGuire, Jennifer Estep, and Kevin Hearne, whose stories explore the creepy, mysterious, and, yes, sometimes magical world of traveling carnivals.

The traveling carnival is a leftover of a bygone era, a curiosity lurking on the outskirts of town. It is a place of contradictions—the bright lights mask the peeling paint; a carnie in greasy overalls slinks away from the direction of the Barker’s seductive call. It is a place of illusion—is that woman’s beard real? How can she live locked in that watery box?

And while many are tricked by sleight of hand, there are hints of something truly magical going on. One must remain alert and learn quickly the unwritten rules of this dark show. To beat the carnival, one had better have either a whole lot of luck or a whole lot of guns—or maybe some magic of one’s own.

Featuring stories grotesque and comical, outrageous and action-packed,Carniepunk is the first anthology to channel the energy and attitude of urban fantasy into the bizarre world of creaking machinery, twisted myths, and vivid new magic.

The fact that this is an anthology will either be a big turn on or a big turn off for readers. I found it to be a great opportunity to get a good mix of not only the genre, but to be exposed to many different authors. Some of the authors I’m sure you have read/heard of, while others are completely new. I felt like many of the stories were geared towards attracting readers to check out the author’s existing books, as most of them are tied in to their signature series. The positive thing about this is that if you like a story, you can go pick up their other works. However, the negative thing is that some of the short stories depended too much on the reader being familiar with the series it drew upon and failed to stand on its own. While this can be a downside to readers who have never been exposed to that author’s work before, the flip side is the opportunity to appeal in acquiring new readers. While I definitely enjoyed the book I don’t believe it’s for everyone. The problem I have here is that while you get to enjoy numerous short stories instead of one novel, I’m not sure the flow of it necessarily works. It makes me think was this written solely as a tool of marketing, perhaps.

While I don’t want to give away all the stories by going in-depth I’ll just let you know which was my favorite. For some reason Freak House by Kelly Meding really stuck with me. She isn’t even one of the featured authors, so I found that refreshing to really discover someone new and not just play into the fact that the names on the cover must have written the best stories. Freak House really was a fun little story, and if I’m not mistaken it is one of the few to stand on its own. The basics revolved around supernaturals being captured and displayed in a carnival freak show. It has a great lead character, excellent pacing, and I really felt that it could grow into something more! This story was right up my alley, and I really hope I get to revisit that world again in a standalone novel!

All in all, Carniepunk has its ups and downs. I definitely didn’t love all the stories, but I thoroughly enjoyed enough of them to make the experience enjoyable. I honestly haven’t read many anthologies like this, but I feel like this one was pretty good in the grand scheme of things. I particularly liked the carnival theme, as I think it was very creative! I could totally see this being developed into a miniseries for the screen, with the potential to grow. I would totally recommend this to anyone who either likes the genre, wants a quick fix, or feels like the authors seems interesting. However, as I stated earlier, just keep in mind that this isn’t a true novel.

3 out of 5 Stars

Carniepunk by Various
Gallery Books (2013)
Paperback: 433 pages
ISBN: 9781476714158

Special thanks to Gallery Books for my review copy!

Kim’s Review of True (True #1) by Erin McCarthy

temWell folks, I’m a New Adult goner.  Seriously. I see books being published under the genre of New Adult and I MUST have them.  While perusing the Netgalley site I came across Erin McCarthy’s True.  Billed as a “captivating new adult novel,” I was instantly sold.

From Goodreads:

When Rory Macintosh’s roommates find out that their studious and shy friend has never been with a guy, they decide that, as an act of kindness they’ll help her lose her virginity by hiring confident, tattooed bad boy Tyler Mann to do the job…unbeknownst to Rory.

Tyler knows he’s not good enough for Rory. She’s smart, doctor smart, while he’s barely scraping by at his EMT program, hoping to pull his younger brothers out of the hell their druggy mother has left them in. But he can’t resist taking up her roommates on an opportunity to get to know her better. There’s something about her honesty that keeps him coming back when he knows he shouldn’t…

Torn between common sense and desire, the two find themselves caught up in a passionate relationship. But when Tyler’s broken family threatens to destroy his future, and hers, Rory will need to decide whether to cut her ties to his risky world or follow her heart, no matter what the cost…

I’ll admit that I went into reading True with high expectations.  I’d been coming off of a new adult high thanks to Easy, Losing It, The Secret of Ella and Michaand The Forever of Ella and Micha and I wanted to love this as much as I love those four.  Sadly, this book fell way below my expectations for a few reasons.

Reason number one was probably my issues with all of the supporting characters.  Rory’s a girl that’s obviously shy and has self-confidence issues.  In the first scene we see a timid girl who just goes with the flow socially and is almost raped as a result of getting mixed up in a bad situation.  After Tyler steps in and saves her from impending doom, we the see her roommates give her about 2 minutes of their time before they fall asleep/walk away to leave her to be driven home by Tyler.  Did either of them think she wouldn’t want to be alone with a guy at that moment in time? OR that their own sex lives should be placed on hold while they helped their so-called best friend?  It makes me angry that they were so callous and selfish.

THEN upon finding out that Rory is a virgin they decide to PAY Tyler to sleep with her?  First off, how awkward is that?  Also, one of her roommates was Tyler’s “friend-with-benefits” at one point in time.  I give Tyler a lot of credit for not taking the money.  It showed that he had a respect for Rory and for her decision to choose when/how/where she would lose her virginity.  I was happy that Rory confronted him about the plan once she found out about it, and that Tyler lets us in his head to see the misgivings that the plan had caused him.  BUT (and here is another huge issue I had with the book) Rory’s roommates are NEVER confronted or held accountable for it.  They just make these comments along the way telling her not to hang out with Tyler too much.  UGH. The entire situation aggravated me.

Don’t even get me started on the guy that almost raped Rory.  Apparently it’s cool to almost rape a girl and then come back to hang out at the house when she’s there.  NO COMMENT.

The only thing that saved this book for me (and kept its rating above 2 stars) was the writing.  The writing is really descriptive and is big on showing and not telling.  Rory and Tyler’s relationship develops through feelings that are apparent and vivid to the reader.  Tyler’s backstory is super depressing, but it’s an incredible one.  He’s definitely my favorite character in the book due to his intense characterization.  While the ending is a bit abrupt, I understand there are more books planned for the series.  I can only hope that the supporting characters are held accountable for their actions and that the story develops deeper.

3 out of 5 Stars

True by Erin McCarthy
Penguin Group (2013)
eBook: 240 pages
ISBN: 9781101623152

Special thanks to Penguin Group for my review copy via Netgalley!

Jess’s Review of The Things We Never Said by Susan Elliot Wright

ttwnssewRecently, I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of The Things We Never Said by Susan Elliot Wright from Simon & Schuster UK.  After checking out the summary, I was really excited to dig in to this gem from across the pond. Reading a book that hasn’t yet been released here in the States is like being in a secret club, and I am excited to be able to share my thoughts with all of you.

While The Things We Never Said comes in at just under 400 pages, it is so jam-packed with drama and scandal that the bookbinding was almost popping off. The plot has rape, deception, love, amnesia, heartbreak, longing, and electroshock therapy! Some of these themes usually draw me into a book, keeping me up to the early morning hours.  Surprisingly not even the promise of a good electroshock therapy tale could keep me up past my bed time.

The story opens in 1964 with Maggie waking up in a mental institution. At first, Maggie has no recollection of why she is there, but as time goes on little pieces of her own story come back to her. She remembers only small things at first, but it is not until she leaves the institution that she begins to pick up the pieces of her badly shattered life. The tragic story of how Maggie wound up institutionalized highlights the strength of the human spirit and how there is always the hope of a better tomorrow.

Wright presents the plot in alternating chapters between Maggie’s story in 1964 and that of Jonathan in 2008. We meet Jonathan and his pregnant wife Fiona as they prepare for the changes and challenges that parenthood will bring. Early in the story Jonathan learns about the death of his father, with whom he had a rocky relationship. In attempting to console his mother, Jonathan finds that strictly guarded family secrets emerge. When a detective rings Jonathan’s doorbell days later he is forced to face these family secrets head on.

Slowly, Maggie and Jonathan’s stories intertwine to reveal the dark past they share (don’t worry, there aren’t any spoilers here!)  Wright’s prose reads like a poem and flows very smoothly, especially as she connects the past and the present through Maggie and Jonathan’s stories. Family secrets are far from a new theme in the literary world, but Wright throws curveballs which keep the storyline fresh and push the reader to turn the page.

Overall I found the plot very slow-moving, and despite the highly emotional content I failed to connect with any of the characters. I’m not completely sure if it is the self-loathing nature of the characters or the inability of the author to truly develop the characters that caused me to experience this disconnect. Personally, I really like to be able to root for characters when I read a book, and I felt like I had to keep turning the page just to get to the point. I think it took a little too long for the two stories (Maggie’s and Jonathan’s) to really connect. For most of the first half of the book I was a little frustrated waiting for the two lives to converge.

I think Wright’s work it is absolutely a worthy read as she is able to breathe new life into the theme of family secrets. However, I don’t suggest it as a “beach read” on a sunny weekend afternoon. I would definitely recommend this book as a good rainy day read. Don’t be fooled by that absolutely stunning cover featuring a young lady in a red dress gazing out to the ocean.  It’s definitely a somber read due to the sullen nature of the plot. I encourage you to stick with it though despite the slow start, the pay off is well worth it!

3 out of 5 Stars

The Things We Never Said by Susan Elliot Wright
Simon & Schuster UK (2013)
Paperback: 400 pages
ISBN: 9781471102332

Special thanks to Simon & Schuster UK for my review copy!

Kim’s Review of Naked (The Blackstone Affair #1) and All In (The Blackstone Affair #2) by Raine Miller

I’m a sucker for books set in London. I’m also a sucker for romance novels. Oh and hot men. Throw all three together and you’ll understand why I jumped at the chance to read Naked and All In, the first two books in Raine Miller’s The Blackstone Affair series.  Also, did I mention that part of it takes place at the Olympics!?  Was this book made for me or what?

nakedBook one in the series is called Naked.  The summary from Goodreads:

Brynne Bennett is living the good life. An American art student at the University of London and part-time photographic model, she’s putting her life back on track with school and lots of hard work. When ultra successful London businessman, Ethan Blackstone, buys her nude portrait, he isn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer. He wants Brynne in his bed and makes plans to keep her there no matter what. His dominant nature captivates and ensnares despite the demons she carries inside her. But there are secrets in this relationship. Huge ones. Can Ethan free Brynne from the past that has marked her? Will Brynne let him or will the specters tormenting her resurface to destroy them both…

all inBook two in the series is called All In.  The summary from Goodreads:

Ethan Blackstone has a problem on his hands. He’s broken Brynne’s trust and she’s left him. He’s unwilling to live without her and isn’t giving up—he’s dead-set on getting his beautiful American girl back. The passion between them was explosive, but the secrets they hid from each other are dark and chilling and are powerful enough to destroy their shot at a life together. With political threats now directed at Brynne, Ethan is running out of time and he’ll need to gather all his strength and agility to protect her from the dangers that could take her away from him forever. Will Ethan be able to save Brynne from a past that keeps her locked in fear? Will he ever feel the warmth of her touch, the solidity of her trust again? This is a love-struck man who is willing to do whatever it takes to possess the heart of the woman he loves. He’ll go to any lengths to protect her. He’ll go all in. Here is the fiery story of what happens when two people surrender to a love so great it can heal the scars of the past and give way to a life of pure, rapturous ecstasy.

So when I started reading Naked my feelings were all over the damn place.  I was first drawn to the premise of the novel, a man falling in love with a nude model simply because of the beauty of one of her portraits.  Simple, yet intriguing.  As I read more into Naked I began getting interested in the darkness that both Ethan and Brynne so obviously tried to hide from their pasts (I have a thing for characters with messed up pasts).  There was definite pain and suffering for both, and the fact that Miller gets you invested in them prior to revealing the darkness of their past deserves kudos.  You are introduced to these characters and asked to care about them without much more than surface knowledge.  You wind up getting pulled deeper and deeper into the web of their secrets and become genuinely invested in the hope of a positive future for them.  As I finished Naked and delved into All In, I became more and more interested in Ethan’s character and his feelings towards his relationship with Brynne.  It’s rare (in my opinion) to find romance novels where a man of Ethan’s looks and wealth has to work as hard as he does to convince Brynne of his worthiness/love.

There were times, however, where I got lost in the depths of Ethan’s feelings.  I don’t think the writing makes a clear distinction between love and lust, so at times Ethan “loving” Brynne felt more like an unquenchable lust.  That I think was my biggest problem with the series.  As much as I enjoyed the characters and their back stories, I didn’t feel their love, just their lust.  I will admit that towards the end of All In I did finally begin to feel the change, and that’s the reason I’ll continue the series.  Another interesting note about this series: the writing is HOT.  Like  constantly-fan-yourself hot.  I’m interested in seeing where else Miller will take Brynne and Ethan and what new secrets will be revealed.  I’ll definitely be checking out book three Eyes Wide Open when it’s released in May.

3 out 5 Stars

Naked by Raine Miller
Atria Books (2012)
eBook: 192 pages
ISBN: 9781476735252

All In by Raine Miller
Atria Books (2012)
eBook: 256 pages
ISBN: 9781476735283

Special thanks to Atria Books for my review copies via Netgalley!

Kim’s Review of Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener – Blog Tour

dotsmdMichelle Diener popped on my radar about a year ago when I received a copy of her novel In A Treacherous Court.  I quickly became engrossed in the book and her ability to take me on a wild ride from start to finish.  When I heard she was publishing a book about the war between the British Empire and the Zulus (an African clan that is now KwaZulu-Natal) I was intrigued to say the least.

As the only survivor of a deadly shipwreck that took place off the coast of Zululand, Elizabeth Jones is rescued and saved by the Zulus, known as the people of the sky.  Raised by these people for the next six years, Elizabeth learns their ways and becomes one of them.  Her white skin becomes an asset after these six years, however, when the Zulu army faces an attempt by the Victorian empire to take over their lands in order to control a trade route.  Elizabeth is sent in to infiltrate the enemy camp as a spy, and there she meets Captain Jack Burdell.  Burdell finds out that she is a woman immediately, but allows Elizabeth to keep her cover (which he believes is a search for her missing brother) and has her pose as his batman in order to keep her from being discovered.  Time is running out, however, as war is growing inevitable between the two sides, and Elizabeth finds herself torn between the tribe she grew up with and the man she finds a growing attachment to.  What will she do?

The entire premise behind this story is great! Who doesn’t love an underdog story?  The Zulus are clearly the underdogs here, as they are set up in a war they have no choice but to fight in with inferior technology.  Knowing absolutely nothing about this conflict previously, I’ve been inspired to read up on the history behind this story and have found it quite fascinating.  So, it didn’t seem like much of a stretch to create an exciting story based on the history between these two groups.  The only downside to this story was the fact that I was often confused at parts.  I had to keep going back to earlier parts of the story to reorient myself, only to have it happen again.  This could be due to the fact that the story, being about a war, introduced a lot of characters and locations that moved quickly through the plot.  Other than this, however, the story was engaging and lively, and I really enjoyed Elizabeth’s passion for the Zulu people.  Her inner conflict over doing what is right for the Zulu people, while dealing with her growing feelings for Jack was written extremely well.  As the reader, you are definitely drawn in.  Her anxiety becomes your anxiety, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.  She fits the bill of a strong female heroine, something Diener is well  known for.  Her female characters are all much stronger than the men around them give credit for.  This simple fact is what keeps me coming back for Diener’s writing each and every time.  If you’re in the mood for an engaging book with a historical twist and a kickass heroine, definitely check out Daughter of the Sky.

3 out of 5 stars

This is my thirteenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge.

Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener
Michelle Diener (2013)
Paperback: 342 pages
ISBN: 9780987417626

Special thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for my review copy! I’m just one stop on the blog tour for Daughter of the Sky!  You can check out all the other stops here!  For those of you on Twitter, follow the hashtag: #DaughterOfTheSkyVirtualTour

Daughter of the Sky Tour Banner FINAL

Kim’s Review of The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon, Illustrated by Hoang Nguyen

theexileSo 2013 has turned into the year of the Outlander series for me.  I’ve made it through three of the main novels (Outlander, Dragonfly in Amberand Voyagerand am moving on to Gabaldon’s Lord John spin-off series before starting book four in the series, Drums of Autumn.  With all that being said, imagine my surprise when Todd and I went into our local Barnes & Noble and found an Outlander graphic novel in the bargain bin!! For $4 I got to be the lucky new parent of The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel.  Never has a person been more excited about a bargain than this one right here. 

The Exile is the first 1/3 of Outlander but told from Jamie’s perspective.  I won’t regurgitate the plot of Outlander myself, I’ll let Goodreads do it for me!

After too long an absence, Jamie Fraser is coming home to Scotland—but not without great trepidation. Though his beloved godfather, Murtagh, promised Jamie’s late parents he’d watch over their brash son, making good on that vow will be no easy task. There’s already a fat bounty on the young exile’s head, courtesy of Captain Black Jack Randall, the sadistic British officer who’s crossed paths—and swords—with Jamie in the past. And in the court of the mighty MacKenzie clan, Jamie is a pawn in the power struggle between his uncles: aging chieftain Colum, who demands his nephew’s loyalty—or his life—and Dougal, war chieftain of Clan MacKenzie, who’d sooner see Jamie put to the sword than anointed Colum’s heir.

And then there is Claire Randall—mysterious, beautiful, and strong-willed, who appears in Jamie’s life to stir his  compassion . . . and arouse his desire. 
 
But even as Jamie’s heart draws him to Claire, Murtagh is certain she’s been sent by the Old Ones, and Captain Randall accuses her of being a spy. Claire clearly has something to hide, though Jamie can’t believe she could pose him any danger. Still, he knows she is torn between two choices—a life with him, and whatever it is that draws her thoughts so often elsewhere. 

So I knew going into this that I would already love the story Gabaldon was telling.  Jamie and Claire’s story is truly one of my favorites…..ever. Like Darcy and Elizabeth level love.  Therefore I was incredibly surprised to see how weakly their story translated over into a graphic novel.  As I sit here writing this I’m not sure where the graphic novel fell short.  The illustrations I thought were perfectly suited for the story.  Nguyen is a wonderful artist and captured the imagery of the story magnificently.  It’s possible that because the Outlander book is so detailed and long and the graphic novel so much shorter, that description and story embellishment went missing.  The eBook of Outlander I read was 800+ pages while this graphic novel was 224.  That’s a small amount of pages/illustrations to translate nearly 300 pages of text to.

While it’s not sharing anything new to us plot-wise as readers, it was fun to get inside Jamie’s head for a short period of time.  To get his perspective on the speed and depth in which he fell in love with Claire adds a new dimension to their love.   I’ll admit, it was also great to see how far Murtagh was willing to go with his fierce loyalty to Jamie.  I think fans of the Outlander series will ultimately have the same response that I’ve had to this graphic novel: it’s ok.

3 out of 5 stars

This is my eleventh completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge.

The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon, Illustrated by Hoang Nguyen
Random House (2010)
Hardcover: 224 pages
ISBN: 9780345505385