Book Review: My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

9750937Title: My Name is Memory
Author: Ann Brashares
ISBN: 978-1594485183
Publisher: Riverhead Trade
Pub. Date:  June 2010
Source: Purchased
Genre: Romance/ Fantasy/ Historical Romance/Paranormal Romance/ Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads:   The latest from Ann Brashares, the New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a magical story of reincarnation and a love that lasts more than a lifetime Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. For all the times that he and Sophia have been connected throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. But just when Sophia (now “Lucy” in the present) finally awakens to the secret of their shared past, the mysterious force that has always separated them reappears. Ultimately, they must come to understand what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together.

My Reveries and Ramblings: My Name is Memory is one of those books where you read the first page, and you immediately know that it will be amazing. There is so much I have to say about this book, so bear with me as I try and collect my thoughts and communicate them to you.
I have a not-so-small obsession with stories that involve reincarnation and romance. Something about soulmates and love lasting lifetimes just warms my heart and makes me smile. There is a drawback, however, to reading so many stories like this; they tend to all start to mesh together because most of the time they are all too similar. This book is not like that at all! The story was so original. It was so grounded in reality! It barely felt like a paranormal romance. In fact, by the end I felt like it could totally be possible.
The book switches between Lucy and Daniel’s POV; It also alternates between lives. There are many chapters dedicated to Daniel telling the story of his past lives and how he came to meet Sophia (Lucy) in all the other lives. He can recognize her soul even though her body changes with each life. Her soul becomes a beacon throughout his lives. However, they usually are far apart in age and it almost always ends in tragedy. It was painful to watch Daniel in his past lives try so hard to be with her, make her happy, make her know, and to apologize for what he did to her in that first life they met, only to fail again and again.
Daniel and Lucy in the present spend most of book apart. We see Daniel falling in love with Lucy through the stories of his past life. When Daniel transfers to Lucy’s school, she immediately becomes obsessed with him and that scares her. It’s the insta-love syndrome, but the heroine isn’t giving in to it (like in almost every other book), instead she seriously questions her sanity. When he approaches her after two years at the end of senior year, she remembers some of a past life with him. That is what causes her to run. She leaves him, heartbroken, because she is scared she has finally gone insane. The rest of the book takes place in the six years following the incident. She uses this time to flesh out her thoughts and feelings and find out the mystery surrounding Daniel. But neither of them realize that a danger from the past has been following them and wants revenge. This danger could tear them apart once again.
I feel so bad for Lucy. She is a very realistic person. The fact that she is being haunted by memories that knows didn’t occur in her lifetime very nearly convinces her she belongs in an institution. She spends a lot of the book trying to come up with an explanation for her love for a man that she’s barely spoken a word to, and the strange visions and memories.
There was only one teeny tiny thing about this book I didn’t really like that much. The pacing was inconsistent. The beginning was good and super interesting. Then the entire middle was long and ever so slightly tedious. The end picked up, though. But the information presented in the middle is extremely important for the series. It sets up the story and the history; plus the reader gets to see Lucy and Daniel fall in love. So it was still enjoyable.
What I really loved about this book (other than the reincarnation romance part), was that Ann Brashares explored the consequences of having memory as a special power. Daniel’s character changes throughout his lives. He learns and grows like most people do, but in many lifetimes, carrying those experiences over from life to life. His love and dedication to being with Lucy strengthens with each lifetime.
Ann Brashares has written a beautiful novel that touched my soul. While reading this book, I realized one of the reasons why I love reading about love is because it IS so beautiful. Words can caress the heart, bring tears to your eyes, pull at your heartstrings, make you stop breathing, make you laugh until your side hurts, and so much more. There were moments where I felt like crying. Their love was so beautiful it tore at my heart.
This book is not stand alone. It’s the beginning of an epic love story. The only sad thing is that now I have to wait for the sequel (THANK GOD it is a series), which from what I’ve heard, may or may not happen. Let me just say, IT BETTER! I’m serious, I will write a letter to the publisher if i have to!
So my recommendation, is that you stop reading whatever it is that you are reading right now, AND READ THIS!!!!

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My Name is Memory

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Book Review: Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning

743599Title: Beyond the Highland Mist
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Series: Highlander #1
ISBN: 9780440234807
Publisher: Dell
Pub. Date: Marc 1999
Source: Purchased
Genre: Paranormal Romance/ Historical Romance/ Fantasy/Adult
Pages: 375
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads:   He would sell his warrior soul to possess her. . . .
An alluring laird…
He was known throughout the kingdom as Hawk, legendary predator of the battlefield and the boudoir. No woman could refuse his touch, but no woman ever stirred his heart–until a vengeful fairy tumbled Adrienne de Simone out of modern-day Seattle and into medieval Scotland. Captive in a century not her own, entirely too bold, too outspoken, she was an irresistible challenge to the sixteenth-century rogue. Coerced into a marriage with Hawk, Adrienne vowed to keep him at arm’s length–but his sweet seduction played havoc with her resolve.
A prisoner in time…
She had a perfect “no” on her perfect lips for the notorious laird, but Hawk swore she would whisper his name with desire, begging for the passion he longed to ignite within her. Not even the barriers of time and space would keep him from winning her love. Despite her uncertainty about following the promptings of her own passionate heart, Adrienne’s reservations were no match for Hawk’s determination to keep her by his side. ..

My Reveries and Ramblings:  I bought this book while I was reading Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. I was waiting for Shadowfever and needed something to help me get through the waiting period. So I turned to her Highlander series…
Beyond the Highland Mist begins with Adrienne getting transported back in time to Scotland in the early 1500s by some faeries that want to see a certain man in misery. Hawk is that man. He is perfect in every way. Women would literally kill to be with him. Even the faerie queen likes him. This enrages both the faerie king and Adam Black, also known as Puck or Robin Goodfellow. The plan: find a beautiful woman that hates beautiful men and place her in Hawk’s path. What follows is pages and pages of pure enjoyment. Yes, this is a romance novel, but Moning makes it so much more. She constantly pushes the Adrienne and Hawk together and just when you start to think “YES! FINALLY!” she pulls them apart. I raced through this book. I kept me on edge and wanting more. I think I’ve reread it several times since I finished it the first time. Each time I’m just as on edge as I was the first time.
Some of the best moments in the book was when Hawk was trying to get Adrienne to sleep with him and she would go to great lengths to get away from him, only to end up in Adam Black’s arms and want to run right back to Hawk. I would HIGHLY recommend this amazing time travel romance. You seriously won’t regret it! I am definitely going to finish reading the series.

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Beyond the Highland Mist (Highlander, #1)

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Book Review: Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren

9935444Title: Torrent
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Series: River of Time #3
ISBN: 978-1434764294
Publisher: David C. Cook
Pub. Date: September 2011
Source: Publisher/Author
Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/ Historical Romance/Christian Fiction
Pages: 388
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads:  When Gabi and Lia finally learn to surf the river of time, they realize they must make hard choices about life and love in the third and final book in the River of Time series. 

Gabi and Lia Betarrini have learned to control their time travel, and they return from medieval Italy to save their father from his tragic death in modern times. But love calls across the centuries, and the girls are determined to return forever—even though they know the Black Plague is advancing across Europe, claiming the lives of one-third of the population. In the suspenseful conclusion of the River of Time series, every decision is about life … and death.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  Right now, there are 2 types of people in the world: 1) those who have read The River of Time series and 2) those who have never read it. If you are in that second group, then please do, these books are epic.

(SPOILER ALERT=some spoilers)
Okay, now for those of you in that first group, get ready to feel like you will burst from all of the emotional energy you will have while reading this book. It is pure epicness.
Even though the central goal in the beginning is to get Fortino back. That is just a small battle in the whole war. Actually this book made me realize how big this really was. In Waterfall, we aren’t really aware of just how high the stakes are raised, everything is tense, but life does go on. In Cascade, we are made aware of the waging war, but it still doesn’t hit us. It’s not until book three, Torrent, that we fully acknowledge the scale.
In Waterfall, Gabi is brought into the past, unprepared, and even a bit naive (not much though). Throughout Waterfall and Cascade she learns that in order to survive and protect the ones she loves, she has to make choices and sacrifices. Almost every one of them are not easy. Most are dangerous and life threatening. But through all these experiences she learns that life is short, and is meant to be lived. Gabi is tested, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In Torrent, Gabi starts to feel the stress from everything she has done. All the exertion, all the fighting, everything pushes her to her limits.
What I love most about this series is Ms. Bergren’s ability to really pull the reader into the book. Every chapter had me screaming, crying, smiling, and jumping out of my seat. I started this book while on a plane and I think the kid sitting next to me thought I was crazy. I was so into this book that I completely forgot where I was and started tearing up, making exclamations out loud, and moving around in my seat when the energy from all the suspense was too much to take sitting still. There were so many of these moments throughout the book, that it never lags. The pace is perfect!
Another reason why I love this series, is the characters. All the characters grow and change throughout the books. As a reader, we are only keyed into Gabi’s thoughts and feelings. Like every normal teenager, she is constantly questioning everything: her faith, her relationships, her morals, etc. Ms. Bergren takes the reader on the adventure with Gabi, which is so cool!
The Plot: Ms. Bergren doesn’t disappoint at all. After reading Waterfall, I had no clue how Cascade would hold up. Well, it exceeded all my expectations and more. Then, I began to feel the same about Torrent. How would this epic series end? With a bang? Or with disappointment? I was seriously hoping to love the ending. And….I DID! I was constantly left guessing what would happen next; Torrent was completely unpredictable. In fact, when books get too suspenseful, I usually end up sneaking a peak at the end (please don’t yell at me!). It took everything, and I mean everything, I had not to do this. I love this series too much, to ruin it for myself.
The action, was a huge bonus in this book. Seriously, it is action-packed up until the very end. I’m not exaggerating. Just when you think its all over, its not. Which is GREAT!
Now onto our swoon-worthy heroes.
Dear Marcello, ahhh, my love. I love him! I do, but about half-way through, I decided to accept the fact that Marcello and Gabi were made for each other. So my sights moved onto Greco. Oh My Gosh! Lord Greco is now my favorite swoon-worthy Italian man in this series. He completely shocked me with his loyalty. I didn’t really like him in Cascade, but I loved him in Torrent. And now I’m gushing just thinking about him. Ahhh.
Ms. Bergren, you are my hero! I love this series. In fact, the second I finished Torrent, I said “This series is better than Twilight!” (Please Twi-hards, don’t kill me!) I love Twilight, but the writing, plot, characters, and setting of The River of Time series were all so much better. This series is definitely one of my favorite series EVER. I can’t recommend this these books enough! It deserves 5 BILLION Kisses!

BIG Thank-you to Ms. Bergren and David C. Cook for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Torrent (River of Time, #3)

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Book Review: Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas

674220Title: Again the Magic
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Wallflowers #0.5 (Prequel)
ISBN: 978-0380811083
Publisher: Avon
Pub. Date: February 2004
Source: Purchased
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 391
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads: She gave him her innocence . . .Lady Aline Marsden was brought up for one reason: to make an advantageous marriage to a member of her own class. Instead, she willingly gave her innocence to John McKenna, a servant on her father’s estate. Their passionate transgression was unforgivable — John was sent away, and Aline was left to live in the countryside . . . an exile from London society . . .and he took her love.
Now McKenna has made his fortune, and he has returned — more boldly handsome and more mesmerizing than before. His ruthless plan is to take revenge on the woman who shattered his dreams of love. But the magic between them burns as bright as ever. And now he must decide whether to let vengeance take its toll . . . or risk everything for his first, and only, love.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  When Aline and McKenna’s feelings are discovered by her father, he threatens McKenna’s very existence if Aline ever sees him again. In order to protect him, Aline convinces McKenna that she does not love him, hoping he will never return to Stony Cross. After he leaves, Aline descends into a depression that is followed by a terrible accident that leaves Aline with scars on her legs. Twelve years later, McKenna returns to Stony Cross from America, where he became one of the nouveaux riches, to take his revenge on Aline for all the pain and heartache he caused her. Aline realizing his intentions decides to ride it out until he goes back to New York. This plan fails however when both McKenna and Aline start to fall for each other again. But Aline can never be with him, for she is not only a spinster, but also damaged.

      I don’t think I’ve ever cried, or even teared up while reading a romance novel, before reading Again the Magic. Here we have two characters who are obviously in love with each other, but refuse to acknowledge it, and instead spend almost 400 pages fighting it. The book begins with Aline and McKenna in their late teens, already in love. Life is good. Well, except for the fact that Aline is the daughter of the cold and malevolent Lord Westcliff, and that McKenna is only a footman. After years of resenting, no that is not strong enough, hating is a better word; after spending years hating Aline, he starts to unwind when he realizes that Aline never married or slept with anyone. This sends his plan to “break her” out the window. Aline on the other hand, doesn’t mind McKenna’s efforts at hurting her. In fact, she welcomes them because they allow her to feel after years of being numb. This entire book had me screaming “Just say it!” It was like McKenna and Aline decided to be stubborn and thick-headed at the exact same time. And this is what created the tension throughout the novel. All of these scenes led up to an amazing tear-filled ending that any fan of romance will LOVE. 

This novel deals mostly with Aline and McKenna’s story but it also includes Livia, Aline’s sister, and Mr. Shaw’s, McKenna’s business partner, story. This one was also cute. Of course, not as much drama as the main love story, but still a bit dramatic.
For a historical romance, this was fantastic. It was an emotional, film-worthy story that will have you rushing to the bookstore wanting more of this series.

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Again the Magic (Wallflowers, #0.5)

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Book Review: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker

22238196Title: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
Series: Strangely Beautiful #1
ISBN: 978-1428511453
Publisher: Leisure Books
Pub. Date: August 2009
Source: Publisher
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Historical Romance/Urban Fantasy
Pages: 322
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Hidden in the dark heart of Victorian London, the Romanesque school was dreadfully imposing, a veritable fortress, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met its powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadows of the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She saw simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gift. This arched stone doorway was a portal to a new life, to an education far from what could be had at a convent and it was an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  I was shocked! I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. Ms. Hieber captured me in the very first few words. Her world is so gothic and romantic. I just love it! It was like Jane Eyre meets Harry Potter meets Ghostbusters.
The Guard was blessed with powers to rid the civilian population of evil ghosts/spirits and other demons. In order for them to succeed they must work together. As soon as they split, they weaken. Besides ridding the world of evil beings, they are looking for the reincarnation of Persephone, the goddess who gave them their powers. All they were told was that she would be their peer, to look for a doorway, and to be careful of imposters.
When Percy Parker arrives at Athens Academy after leaving the convent that raised her, she is immediately regarded as odd. With her white hair, glowing eyes, and uber-pale skin she has always felt she was different. By covering herself up, she protects herself from the gawking stares of others. That is until she starts spending her nights being tutored by Prof. Rychman, who insists she removes her “barriers.” The first time Alexi, Prof. Rychman, sees Percy without all the scarves and glasses he becomes mesmerized. During the course of their tutoring sessions, Alexi becomes more and more convinced that she is Prophecy. However, the Guard refuses to believe that she is their seventh since she is not a peer but a student. Instead they do everything they can to convince Alexi that the real Prophecy is Miss Lindon. Alexi must choose between the two. The wrong choice could mean the end of the world.
Ms. Hieber’s writing blew me away. I find that most historical romances have great stories, but the writing is weak. That was not the case in this one. When the characters spoke, their word choice as well as their sentence structure was appropriate for the time. I was so happy to not hear the words “yeah” or “Oh my god” or even worse, “buddy.” Nothing ruins a historical romance like 21st c. talk. Ms. Hieber’s Victorian era writing is itself ,enough for an applause. Her word choice and descriptions were just perfect. Seriously, this book could have been written in the Victorian era and there probably wouldn’t have been a difference in word choice or style.
Now onto characters. When we are introduced to Percy Parker, she is scared and alone. Her friends see her as “strangely beautiful” while others avoid her, if not for her strange looks then for the possibility of being mad. When she arrives at Athens Academy, she finds that her professors don’t think she is crazy when she (rarely) talks of seeing visions (or dreams) and speaking to ghosts. One professor in particular finds her fascinating. His name? Professor Alexi Rychman. Before I continue I must say his name bears a striking resemblance to one Alan Richman (aka Professor Severus Snape). After reading about half of the book I found out that Professor Snape was who Ms. Heiber had in mind when writing this character.

tumblr_nyw8l2yylq1ud2p0eo3_500 Alexi is cold, mean, stiff, and lonely. He is hard on Percy and considers her failure to do well in his class a major flaw. However, he falls more and more in love with her over the course of the book. Alexi was so frustrating (and oh so swoon-worthy). Shortly after reading The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, I watched BBC’s North and South. The second Richard Armitage came on screen, I almost fell out of my chair! It was Alexi! This was exactly how I had envisioned my Alexi! This was before I found out that Miss Hieber had actually mentioned him in an interview (at Darkly Reading) as an alternative to Alan Richman (too old now) for Alexi.
The romance was knit with so much sexual tension, you could almost see the sparks. Yet, there was very little kissing. The tension alone just made me want to scream “Get together already!” It was awesome. There was also a few subplot romances going on within the Guard which were equally fun to read. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books to see more of those play out. This book doesn’t really have a cliffhanger. These books are more like Harry Potter where there is a beginning, middle, and end, but there are certain story arcs that span across the whole series. Although I do want to find out what happens with Alexi and Percy. Basically, I love this book. I’ve read it several times since finishing it, stopping every once in a while to daydream about Alexi *sigh*. I love the eeriness of it-very gothic.
If you like: retellings (ancient greek myth of Persephone), Historical romance (Victorian era), Paranormal (ghosts, demons, etc.), Gothic Romance (swoon-worthy hero, eerie qualities), and apocalyptic scenes, then you’ll love this book.

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The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (Strangely Beautiful, #1)

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Book Review: Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren

9368401Title: Cascade
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Series: The River of Time #2
ISBN: 978-1434764317
Publisher: David C. Cook
Pub. Date: June 1, 2011
Source: Author
Genre: YA/ Historical Romance/Time-Travel
Pages: 416
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads: Mom touched my underdress—a gown made six hundred years before—and her eyes widened as she rubbed the raw silk between thumb and forefinger. She turned and touched Lia’s gown. “Where did you get these clothes?”
Gabi knows she’s left her heart in the fourteenth century and she persuades Lia to help her to return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, weeks have passed and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence—while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead.  But Marcello patiently awaits, and Gabi must decide if she’s willing to leave her family behind for good in order to give her heart to him forever.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  If you haven’t read Waterfall, the first book in the River of Time series, then I urge you, nay, kick you to the bookstore to buy, yes, you heard me right; buy Waterfall because it is so worth it! Now, stop reading because this review will spoil the end of Waterfall for you.
When my package (Cascade) came in the mail, I screamed and ripped it open. I beheld a signed copy of Cascade with signed bookmarks (Thank you, Lisa Bergren!) Apparently all the noise I was making alarmed my family. When they walked in the room asking me what was wrong, they found me jumping up and down repeating “yes yes YES! AHHHH, I’m so happy!” They just looked at me shaking their heads, probably flashing back at the last time this happened (during my Twilight phase).
EPIC. That was the first word that came to mind when I finished Cascade. I didn’t think it was possible to love a book more than I loved Waterfall, but Ms. Bergren proved me wrong. This book was even better than Waterfall. The stakes were raised even higher in this installment. Gabi and Marcello are forced to really think about the direction of their relationship. For Gabi to stay in the past, she would have to force her family to stay with her. She would also have to start thinking about marriage-people got married at a much younger age back then (they also died earlier). When the three Betarrini women travel back in time, they find themselves in the middle of a war. No one is safe; especially the “She-wolves of Siena.” Gabi and Lia are confronted with numerous obstacles in this sequel. The enemies of Siena are constantly hunting them. As a source of hope for the people of Siena, Marcello and Luca, the girls must survive. I’m going to stop talking about the plot here, because there is just too much that happens and I really don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Just know that there are three things the girls are up against: 1) The plague, 2) the war, and 3) the choice to either go back to the present or stay in the past.
Okay, now for my gushing! I. Love. Marcello. I might have said that in my Waterfall review, but I don’t care. It’s true! Ms. Bergren created a hero that is charming, swoon-worthy, and…..Italian! All my favorite scenes involved Marcello. Ahhh, I’m smiling just thinking about him. Ms. Bergren did add a new potential swoon-worthy guy, Lord Greco. His status in the book is a bit complicated, so I’ll just say this: YUM! Yep, he has the whole Ash (from the Iron Fey series) attitude. He’s goal-oriented, sly, and is more than meets the eye. He is charged with capturing the Betarrini women. After accepting the task, he finds out that this is much harder than it seems.
Cascade was exhilarating! The story never stalled. I was constantly turning the page wondering what happened next. Whenever Gabi overcame one obstacle, there were two more waiting for her on the next page. Just when I thought “Thank God they made it!” the suspense comes creeping back. Usually authors have an action scene then a relationship scene. Ms. Bergren effortlessly blends the two together. The reader feels the urgency the characters are feeling, throughout the book. This made me feel like I was a part of the story; like I was right there in the battlefield/forest. This sequel was much more emotional than Waterfall. Ms. Bergren was not afraid to kill off characters. Gabi, as well as Lia and their mother, had to deal with death at a much closer and bloody level. They begin to realize how tragic and dangerous this war is. They have a responsibility towards the people of Siena whether they like it or not. Whatever Gabi felt, I felt. I could feel her pain and sadness over each death. War is so tragic; it was heartbreaking to read it through Gabi’s POV.
I couldn’t put the book down! The only problem was that it ended. Ms. Bergren took me on an exciting adventure that I will never forget! WARNING: Don’t read the book in a public place unless your are fine with being stared at. I read Cascade on the train. Every time something really great happened I wanted to jump up and down. Every time something tragic or sad happened I wanted to scream or cry. Of course stifling my laughter by coughing doesn’t really work because my “coughs” sounded more like cackles. When I finished it (on the train) it took EVERYTHING I had to calmly shut the book. I wanted to dance and run around yelling “THAT WAS AMAZING! WHY DID IT HAVE TO END?!?!?!?!” But instead I fidgeted in my little window-seat replaying my favorite scenes and thinking about how far away the release date for Torrent is.

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Cascade (River of Time, #2)

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Book Review: To Catch a Pirate by Jade Parker

493051Title: To Catch A Pirate
Author: Jade Parker / Rachel Hawthorne
ISBN: 978-0439026949
Publisher: Point
Pub. Date: May 2007
Source: Library
Genre: YA/Romance/Adventure/Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
Pages: 320
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: Once caught, it’s harder still to let a pirate go.  When Annalisa Townsend’s ship is set upon by pirates in search of her father’s treasure, one of the crew, James Sterling, discovers her in the hold.  When he moves to take her necklace, she begs him not to, as it is all she has left of her mother.  He accepts a kiss in exchange for the necklace.  “A fair trade, m’lady,” he tells her afterward, before disappearing.  A year later, with a forged letter of marque, Annalisa is intent on hunting down the wretched James Sterling and reclaiming her father’s treasure from him.  But now she’s in danger of him stealing something far more vulnerable this time: her heart.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  After the death of her mother, Annalisa Townsend and her father sail to the Caribbean, with a treasure chest filled with some of the King’s gold, to build a new port.  When their ship gets attacked by pirates, the gold is stolen and many lives are lost.  The survivors, including Annalisa and her father, report the attack.  Because they survived, Annalisa’s father is accused of either being a pirate or associating with pirates and is thrown in jail.  Annalisa goes out with her friend, Nathaniel to find the pirate, James Sterling.  He was the very attractive pirate who held her at knifepoint, stole her ring, and kissed her while the pirates were searching the ship.  In fact, he saved her life, by keeping her whereabouts a secret.  Since her father is incarcerated, she wants nothing more than to kill the pirates that forced her into ruin.  Using her dowry, Annalisa finds a ship and crew and begins hunting for the pirate that stole her treasure.
Annalisa was such a strong character.  For a woman in the 1700s to chase pirates and captain a ship-that’s pretty darn incredible.  James Sterling couldn’t believe she (a woman) was commanding a ship.  Of course, she had Nathaniel’s help; but still.  Grrr….Nathaniel.  I did not like him.  Since this book reminded me so much of the Pirates of the Caribbean (without the supernatural aspect), Nathaniel reminded me of Norington.  James Sterling was just Ahhhh *swoon*.  He was like a combination between Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner.  After stealing Annalisa’s kiss and ring he is marooned on an island along with his friend Ferret for betraying his captain.  When he gets off the island he ends up running for his life from a pirate hunter.  When Annalisa finally catches him, she treats him well, or tries to at least.  Nathaniel can see the growing attraction and does not like it.  He does terrible things to James, like beating him.  James is the better man, even though he is a pirate.  Now partnered with James, Annalisa goes out to find the buried treasure.
This book was so great.   It had romance, sword fighting, pirates, adventure, and suspense.  I would definitely recommend reading this awesome book.
Side note: The author is actually Rachel Hawthorne.  She wrote To Catch a Pirate under “Jade Parker.”

 

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To Catch a Pirate

Book Review: Everlasting by Angie Frazier

Title: Everlasting
Author: Angie Frazier
Series: Everlasting #1
ISBN: 978-0545114738
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pub. Date: June 2010
Source: Library
Genre: YA/Romance/Adventure/Fantasy
Pages: 336
Rating:  3/5

From Goodreads:  Sailing aboard her father’s trade ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a girl of society in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn’t love, or condemn herself and her father to poverty.
On her final voyage before the wedding, the stormy arms of the Tasman Sea claim her father, and a terrible family secret is revealed. A secret intertwined with a fabled map, the mother Camille has long believed dead, and an ancient stone that wields a dangerous—and alluring—magic.
The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar, a handsome young sailor whom she is undeniably drawn to. Torn between trusting her instincts and keeping her promises to her father, Camille embarks on a perilous quest into the Australian wilderness to find the enchanted stone. As she and Oscar elude murderous bushrangers and unravel Camille’s father’s lies, they come closer to making the ultimate decision of who—and what—matters most.
Beautifully written and feverishly paced, Everlasting is an unforgettable journey of passion, secrecy, and adventure.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  Several months before Camille’s marriage, she goes on one last voyage with her father.  Just before reaching their destination in Australia, Camille discovers a secret her father has kept for 16 years-her mother did not die during childbirth and she is still alive. Before Camille can extract more information from her father, the ship goes down with her father-leaving Camille in the care of Oscar, her father’s first mate.  He agrees to go with Camille to see her mother and get the map to the stone of Umandu.  If Camille can get to the stone before her father’s rival, then she can bring her father back to life.  With the help of Ira, their Australian guide, and Monty, Oscar and Camille travel through the wild Outback.  With each day comes a bunch of near-death experiences and fast paced action scenes.
I wanted to love this book.  The first half of the book was a bit disappointing.  There were a few really juicy scenes that I loved, but overall, I thought it was okay.  The second half blew me away.  I found myself flipping rooting for Oscar and Camille.  I loved their relationship.  Oscar was constantly caring for Camille.  He saves her life many times throughout the book.  It’s so cute.  My absolute favorite part of the whole book was actually in the beginning when they were on the ship and the storm was bringing it down.  Camille ran on deck and was scared.  Oscar embraced her and said “My Camille” calming her and letting her know that he’d keep her safe.  It was just TOO cute.  My heart was melting!  Basically whenever Oscar opened his mouth I was melting.  He just had that effect on me.  I found Camille, while ahead of her time with her independence, quite selfish at times.  I thought choosing to marry Randall instead of pursuing her interest in Oscar, at the beginning of the novel, because her father’s business was failing was honorable of her.  However, there was one scene where I wanted to slap her.  She basically was wondering why she couldn’t marry Randall and still continue her thing with Oscar.  I mean come on!  That is so selfish.  She only decides it wouldn’t work, not because its wrong, but because she thinks Oscar wouldn’t like to be considered second best.  But I other than that I thought she was brave and had a back-bone.  I loved Ira.  He was so funny-kind of like an uncle.  He stuck with them through their journey even though he would get nothing out of it.
While I was disappointed with this book, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was a swashbuckling adventure.  Everlasting read like a movie.  I literally could see everything very clearly in my mind, including music!  Think Pirates of the Caribbean meets Titanic.  It was great.  I liked Everlasting and will definitely be reading the next book when it comes out.

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Everlasting (Everlasting, #1)
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Book Review: Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Title: Waterfall
Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren
Series: Rivers of Time #1
ISBN: 1434764338
Publisher: David C. Cook
Pub. Date: February 2011
Source: Kindle/Paperback
Genre: Christian Fiction/ YA/Historical Fiction/Time Travel/Romance
Pages:  384
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads: Lisa Tawn Bergren’s new YA series, River of Time, is romantic, historical fiction in which the plucky heroine doesn’t have to fear a vampire’s bite but must still fight for her life. 

In Waterfall, American teenager Gabi Betarrini accidently finds herself in sixteenth-century Italy . . . Knights. Swords. Horses. Armor. And Italian hotties. Most American teens want an Italian vacation, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives there with their archaeologist parents. Stuck on yet another hot, dusty dig, they are bored out of their minds… until they place their hands atop handprints in an ancient tomb and find themselves catapulted into the sixteenth-century—and in the middle of a fierce battle between knights bent on killing one another.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  Oh.  Emmmm.  GEEEE!!! I can’t even begin to describe how much I loved this book.  I’m not a huge fan of Christian literature-mostly because I usually get the author-stuffing-it-down-my-throat feeling which can be overwhelming.  Well, not this one.  I didn’t even know it was Christian literature until I went online to the author’s website.
Waterfall is about twin teenaged girls, Lia and Gabi getting pulled back in time to medieval Italy.  They become separated during their time traveling.  The book follows Gabi and her quest to find her sister.  After getting caught and rescued in the middle of a battle by super hot Marcello and his men, Gabi is taken under the protection of the Forelli’s.  Gabi, being from the future, doesn’t realize that by wearing her hair down, preferring to wear pants, using her sword, and being outspoken, everyone labels her unusual.  After telling a few lies, almost everyone accepts her as a “Norman.”  Well, everyone except Marcello’s fiancé, daughter of one of Sienna’s Nine.  All Gabi wants is to go home with her sister, but a war between the Forelli’s and the Paratore’s has placed them right in the middle. Now she and Lia’s survival, as well as the Forelli’s depends on Gabi.
Gabi’s is such a great role model.  She is so confident and is not afraid to be herself.  Even in medieval Italy, where women were seen and not heard, Gabi refuses to be the weak damsel in distress.  Instead of sitting in the castle while the men fight and try to find her sister.  She takes her sword and goes out with them- though they do try to talk her out of it.  Her bravery and confidence attract Marcello.  He embodies the Italian male.  Nothing like a hot Italian man to make one double take.  Too bad he is already engaged.  His fiancé is a piece of work.  Her character is like the popular you-know-what (begins with a B) you can find in every high school.  She gives Gabi hell throughout the book.  She is truly nasty.  What she does (I won’t give any spoilers) at one point in  the book is just unbelievably terrible.  Lia, Gabi’s twin, annoyed me.  She was a loving sister, but still, she could have been more supportive of Gabi and her relationship with Marcello.  I thought it was too cute how Luca liked Lia.  His reaction to Lia when they first met was adorable.
Bergren explores sibling relationships in Waterfall.  Gabi’s relationship with Lia reminded me of my own relationship with my sister.  My sister and I look and act like twins but we are two years apart.  Gabi does everything she can, risking her own life several times to find her sister.  Marcello’s relationship with his brother is also carefully written.  Marcello is the younger brother and he has no interest in inheriting his father’s title even though his older brother is very sick and not expected to live much longer.
I love love LOVE LOVE LOVE L.O.V.E.D. this book.  I was giddy the entire night I read it.  You’d have to pry my dead fingers off this book to get me to put it down- and even then, I’d come back and haunt you for taking it away.  That is how obsessed I am with this book.  The adventure was amazing.  The romance was beautiful.  The setting, Italy, was gorgeous.  The characters were real.  The action was riveting.  Everything in this book was perfect. There was even a twist at the end, which left me screaming for more.  I read Waterfall three times within a 24 hour period.  I couldn’t get enough of Marcello.  All I wanted to do was go into the book and be Gabi.  If only time travel was possible.  This book not only exceeded my expectations, but it has become one of my favorite books.  READ IT!  The next book in the series, Cascade, doesn’t come out until June.  That is too far away.  The last time I got the I-must-read-the-next-book-NOW feeling was after reading Dreamfever.  Waterfall is an action-packed adventure story that takes you back in time with a kick-butt heroine, her sister, and a whole lotta handsome Italian men.  My recommendation:  find a good quiet space without anyone to bother you for a good chunk of time because once you start the book, you won’t be able to put it down until you finish…ANNNDDD then you’ll be throwing a tantrum because you have to wait until JUNE for the sequel, Cascade.

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Waterfall (River of Time, #1)

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Book Review: The Native Star by M.K. Hobson

Title: The Native Star
Author: M.K. Hobson
Series: Native Star #1
ISBN: 978-0-553-59265-8
Publisher: The Random House Publishing Group
Pub. Date: August 2010
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance/Historical Fiction/Steampunk
Pages:  387
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: In the tradition of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, this brilliant first novel fuses history, fantasy, and romance. Prepare to be enchanted by M. K. Hobson’s captivating take on the Wild, Wild West.
 
The year is 1876. In the small Sierra Nevada settlement of Lost Pine, the town witch, Emily Edwards, is being run out of business by an influx of mail-order patent magics. Attempting to solve her problem with a love spell, Emily only makes things worse. But before she can undo the damage, an enchanted artifact falls into her possession—and suddenly Emily must flee for her life, pursued by evil warlocks who want the object for themselves.  Dreadnought Stanton, a warlock from New York City whose personality is as pompous and abrasive as his name, has been exiled to Lost Pine for mysterious reasons. Now he finds himself involuntarily allied with Emily in a race against time—and across the United States by horse, train, and biomechanical flying machine—in quest of the great Professor Mirabilis, who alone can unlock the secret of the coveted artifact. But along the way, Emily and Stanton will be forced to contend with the most powerful and unpredictable magic of all—the magic of the human heart.

My Reveries and Ramblings:   Take an old Western then add some magic, a pinch of paranormal, and a sprinkle of romance and you get The Native Star.  This was one crazy steampunk adventure.  The Native Star follows a 25 year old witch, Emily.  She and her adoptive father, Pap, own a magic shop-mostly for home use; however, it is being run out of business by a larger company.  In an effort to ease Pap’s life, she casts a love spell on her friend for money hoping that after they get married she will grow to love him.  However, her spell goes wrong and a poor drunk warlock, tells Emily about suspicious events occurring as well as accusing her of using dark magic.  After going to check on his suspicions, Emily gets a native star stuck in her hand.  With the help of Dreadnought Stanton, the most aggravating Warlock ever, she goes in search of removing it.  Their journey across America is filled with problems.  Almost every magical society is after them, including the government.  Apparently the native star is much more valuable and deadly then Emily originally thought.
What an adventure!  I felt like I was there.  When Emily and Stanton were tired, I was tired.  When they were scared, I was scared.  It was so much fun.  This novel takes place in 1876.  Their journey takes them from California all the way to the east coast.  It is an America where magic is used everywhere, even in the government.  This magic is powered through faith and belief in it.  You do get the occasional anti-magic religious town.  This world is filled with secret societies, radicals, zombies, and flying machines.  The story has an old western feel to it-so much so that I visualized some of it in sepia.  No joke, it was almost like watching a blockbuster western film.  Epic.
The characters were so well-written (the whole book was!)  At the beginning of the novel, Emily made a choice. It was the wrong one and everything that happens to her after that is the consequence of one small decision.  Hobson explores choices and their consequences throughout The Native Star, for almost every character.  Emily is a very human character.  She makes mistakes and she is not perfect in any way.  But she tries to do the right thing.  Emily gets stuck with the “insufferable” Stanton, who has made it his life mission to show off his magical knowledge.  Stanton was a fascinating character.  At the beginning, I agreed with Emily on his annoying and supercilious attitude and comments.  I remember thinking “It’s going to be a long ride.”  But over the course of the book, the reasons for his actions and personality are revealed and I (and Emily, of course) started to fall in love with him.  The romance wasn’t overpowering though.  It started out as hate then turned to love over time-basically a growing attraction.  Stanton reminded me of Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre.  He’s definitely the strong smart guy, but there is no doubt that he is tortured.  These two are the central characters of the novel.  There are a whole bunch of others including an Indian Holy Woman, an evil soul that possesses people, a radical warlock who happens to run the American military, and a paranoid feminist witch.
This is the first book in a series.  The Native Star is an exhilarating adventure that will leave you wanting more.  I give it 4/5.

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The Native Star (Veneficas Americana, #1)

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