Book Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

Title: Bayou Moon
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: The Edge #2
ISBN: 978-0441019458
Publisher: Ace
Pub. Date: September 2010
Source: Purchased
Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Paranormal
Pages: 447
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: Cerise Mar and her clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect. But all is not as it seems.
Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge-and Cerise’s life.

My Reveries and Ramblings: Bayou Moon is the second novel of Ilona Andrews’s The Edge series.  It follows William’s story two years after the events of On the Edge.  William is sent on a mission by The Mirror to find the object that Spider, the villain, is looking for.  On his way to the Mire, a swamp area in the Edge (where Spider is), he is forced to travel with a homeless-looking girl, Cerise.  He later finds out that it was only a disguise.  As soon as he sees what she really looks like, he wants her.  Then, when he sees how she fights, he wants her more.  Cerise’s parents were handed over to Spider by her family’s enemy.  After running into several creatures and hunters looking for her, William decides to stick with her, for the time being anyway.  Nothing is as it seems.  Lies, blood, and death surround Cerise as she tries to find her parents and destroy those that get in her way.
Ilona Andrews floored me with the amazing characterization in this book.  William was so complex!  He is a changeling-both human and wolf.  There are times when he acts and thinks like a human.  However, with every strong emotion, the wolf comes out-maybe not physically, but mentally.  Whenever this happens his thoughts go from normal and rational to “I want….” and “Must have…..”   Very primal.  Cerise notices when he switches to wolf-mode.  She can see it in his eyes, but she doesn’t know that he is a changeling.  Andrews juggles the two mind-frames very well.  Changelings, in their fundamental nature, act on instinct, not thought.  William always has to remind himself that he is also human and he cannot just take what he wants; he has to ask for it and be ready for rejection if it comes.  This was very sad yet admirable.  He really wanted to be with Cerise for most of the book.  He always reminded himself that women didn’t want him; he was a monster that could not be loved.  William had to deal with a ton of inner conflict, besides the wolf/human one.  He was always scared that once Cerise found out who he was, she wouldn’t want him anymore.  Before he can be with Cerise, he has to come to terms with his past and that it does not define him-his actions define him.
I felt so bad for Cerise.  After her parents are kidnapped she has to lead the family in a battle not only against their rival clan, but also Spider.  Meanwhile, her younger sister is slowly going insane-thinking she is a monster who deserves to live in the woods.  Because she is the new head, she has to hold her emotions in so that the family respects her.  The only person she truly lets in is William.  She trusts him, and loves him.  Because he looks like a Blueblood, noble of the Weird, she calls him Lord Bill when she first meets him.  Even though it was just used to mock at first, she continues to call him this as the story progresses.  I love the nickname, its so cute.  It has a teasing/flirty edge to it in the book.
There were a lot of different elements mixed into Bayou Moon.  First, there was a lot of gore, violence, and family feuding going on.  The action is suspenseful and bloody.  The fight scenes were depicted with a great attention to detail.  I felt like I was in the middle of them.  There were times when I was definitely shutting my eyes and muttering “ew.”  Second, there was romance.  William and Cerise’s relationship was intense.  There were a lot of “almost” scenes.  They were both obviously attracted to each other.  Cerise even admits to her family that she loves him, but he can’t take a hint.  William is very straightforward and doesn’t understand flirting.  He also doesn’t believe she wants him so he always pulls himself back when he wants to kiss her (or more).  This leads to many tension filled scenes that had me screaming “Just kiss her already!”
I liked On the Edge a bit better than Bayou Moon.  Not too sure why, but Bayou Moon is still a great book.  It’s emotional, action-packed, and romantic.  The other characters, besides William and Cerise, are for the most part three-dimensional.  There were so many, I thought I’d get confused (especially within Cerise’s big family) but Ilona Andrews did such a great job writing them, that it never was the case.  Rose, Declan, and the boys from On the Edge appear briefly at the end-which was nice.  All in all, I thought Ilona Andrews crafted an excellent book.

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Bayou Moon (The Edge, #2)

Book Playlist:

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Book Review: Juliet by Anne Fortier

Title: Juliet
Author: Anne Fortier
ISBN:  978-0345516107
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pub. Date: 2010
Source: Library
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Mystery/Treasure Hunting/Shakespeare
Pages:  464
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads: Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key—one carried by her mother on the day she herself died—to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy.

This key sends Julie on a journey that will change her life forever—a journey into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still reeling from the slaughter of her parents, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. Their ill-fated love turned medieval Siena upside-down and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, the story reaching its pinnacle in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.
But six centuries have a way of catching up to the present, and Julie gradually begins to discover that here, in this ancient city, the past and present are hard to tell apart. The deeper she delves into the history of Romeo and Giulietta, and the closer she gets to the treasure they allegedly left behind, the greater the danger surrounding her—superstitions, ancient hostilities, and personal vendettas. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the unforgettable blood feud, she begins to fear that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is destined to be its next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from this dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it?
From Anne Fortier comes a sweeping, beautifully written novel of intrigue and identity, of love and legacy, as a young woman discovers that her own fate is irrevocably tied—for better or worse—to literature’s greatest star-crossed lovers.

My Reveries and Ramblings: I had seen this book on B&N’s coming soon page and had to get it as soon as it was released-which I did at the end of August 2010.  This book brought me into a month long obsession with Italy.  I grilled my parents for days about our family which came from Italy.  I was secretly hoping that there was some sort of cool mystery, death, or curse or something that would allow me to go on the same kind of adventure as the protagonist, Julie, did in Juliet.  I was so disappointed when there was nothing-but I’m not giving my hopes up until I step foot in Italy and find out for myself 😉
      Juliet begins with Julie Jacobs finding out about the death of her great aunt, who raised her and her sister, Janice.  After she is told by Umberto, the butler, and her aunt’s lawyer that the estate was left for Janice, a broke Julie goes to Siena, Italy to find the family treasure that was left for her by their mother.  In college, Julie Jacobs went to Italy with a group of peace activists only to be kicked out of the country and asked to never return.  This time she enters the country as Giulietta Tolomei, her birth name.  On the plane she meets Eva Maria Salimbeni who informs her to be careful about who she tells her name to.  She begins to tell Julie, or Giulietta, about the history between their two families.  What follows is 400 pages filled with a treasure hunt for Juliet’s eyes, a gold statue with very very valuable jewels for eyes.  However, this statue is said to be located at the grave of Romeo and Juliet, which no one has seen since the black plague.  Led by only her dead mother’s notes and a copy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Julie sets out on a wild treasure hunt.  There is another thing-a powerful curse that all started with the Friar Lorenzo, who was the friar responsible for Romeo and Juliet’s romance all those years ago.  As he was being tortured he cursed the Tolomei (Juliet and Julie’s family) and the Salimbeni (Eva Maria’s family-and the evil man who tore Juliet and Romeo apart’s family) family.

“A plague on both your houses
You shall all perish in fire and gore
Your children forever wail under a mad moon
Till you undo your sins and kneel before the Virgin
And Giulietta wakes to behold her Romeo.”

      Of course Julie doesn’t have an easy time trying to end the curse and find the treasure- what with Alessandro Santini wanting her to stay away from him and his godmother Eva Maria.  Then when he finally befriends Julie, he starts doing some very suspicious things.  Then there’s the issue of someone on a motor cycle who keeps following her everywhere.  And to top it off, the Maestro painter who she befriends and who owns the painting of the original Juliet from all those years ago, tells her that Romeo comes to his studio almost every night to drink a glass of wine and look at the painting.  And no, he is no ghost- for ghosts don’t drink wine.
Take The Da Vinci Code, National Treasure, Romeo and Juliet, and Anne Fortier’s imagination and writing and you get Juliet, a beautiful love story spanning centuries and a treasure hunt.  This is one of my favorite books.  I opened it to skim through before writing this review and ended up rereading it completely -I did not expect to stay up until 5 AM.  And now all I want to do is go to Siena.  Having been to Italy once before (about 4 or 5 years ago) I have to say it felt like Italy, I was right there.  Not only that but I remember seeing the places that she describes in the book, which make it all the more real.
The middle chunk of the book alternates between the past and present.  The past being the “real” Romeo and Juliet in 1340.  The story is sad and tragic.  In my opinion, it’s even more tragic than the Shakespeare version.  Now many years later, their decedents are cursed and trying to break it.  But will Romeo and Juliet of today’s world find love or tragedy?
Julie Jacobs, or Giulietta was a great character.  I truly related to her.  I hated her twin sister, Janice, so much.  But eventually grew to like her.  Alessandro Santini is a hot Italian man.  He is the head of security for the local 500 yr old bank, very hot, and a tortured soul.  Who doesn’t love all that?  Plus he’s got some secrets.
I URGE you to read this book.  Juliet is a passionate tale of love, death, secrets, fate/destiny, and finding oneself.  It will have you believing that Romeo and Juliet existed and that this curse is for real-which of course both aren’t true.  You will be transported to Italy and will never want to leave. You will wish/pray/hope/beg that you can find your Romeo.  You will beseech your parents to let you go to Italy to find love and adventure.  You won’t know what to do with yourself when it ends.

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Juliet

Book Trailer: 

And

Just because I think Romeo and Juliet is one of the greatest (albeit tragic) love stories of all time:

Book Playlist: 

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