Review: Legend by Katy Evans

01 leg The most REAL ending to this series I could ever hope for.

Reese Dumas is staying with her cousin, in order to get a break from her life and to find the real her. She’s been hidden away for so long, now the chance to find her. I liked Reese. She seems very sheltered on some ways, and yet very worldly in others. She has a very low self esteem and is trying to make herself into a person that she thinks is perfect. But there is no such thing as a perfect person.

Maverick Cage is fighting to prove himself worthy. He just needs a chance to do it. But really all he wants is for someone to be in his corner. Deep down that’s what we all want. When we first meet him, he has this passion and drive and it hurt to see him being rejected for reasons outside of his control. But he never gave up. By some miracle, he stumbles upon Reese and his world is about to change.

Love is a funny thing. I don’t even know if you could it a “thing,” precisely. It’s a force. An energy. A feeling. A moment. A look, a kiss, a smile. All of those things in one.

It sneaks up on you; you never see it coming. And when it does finally hit you, it isn’t a small little poke. It’s like a rhinoceros rammed itself against your chest. Or you just got run over by a car. It knocks the wind out of you. Slams you against the wall. Kick-starts your heart.

Of all the fighters she could’ve fallen for, he was the worst. But for her, he was the best.

The crazy thing about this book is that it seemed like there was WAY more action and less talking. Normally I don’t like that, but I felt this book needed that. We needed to be inside Reese and Maverick’s head to fully understand their trials and pain. Of all the fighters she could’ve fallen for, he was the worst. But for her, he was the best.

While I am sad to see the series end, I think it went out with a bang. With the roll that Remy played, I don’t think this book could’ve ended any better. Bittersweet.

~Melpomene

Be sure and grab Legend (The REAL series Book 6), since Katy will be donating a percentage of sales to the NationalMsSociety.Org.

Review – A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby.

10073People say that brain surgery is hard, and I agree, it probably is, but I also imagine that writing a story about suicide, and making it into a dark comedy, is also very hard!   Nick Hornby has achieved this major feat in his novel, A Long Way Down.   Now, this book came out 10 years ago, but it is the first Hornby novel that I have read.   I’d always been interested in picking up one of his novels (Hornby is perhaps most famously known for his novel, About a Boy), but it was a case of never pulling the trigger, so to speak.    Well, I’m certainly glad that I did!

The novel explores the lives and interactions of four characters that incidentally meet on the top of a building on New Years Eve; all have the intent of jumping off said building.    Hmmm…. Sounds pretty grim, huh?   Well, let me give you an example of what drew me in:

Can I explain why I wanted to jump off the top of  tower block?  Of course I can explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower block.  I’m not a bloody idiot.  I can explain it because it wasn’t inexplicable: It wasn’t a logical decision, the product of proper thought.  It wasn’t even very serious thought, either.

The first few lines of the book are full of dark humor, philosophy (actual, realistic philosophical thinking) and candor.   Hornby’s use of the first person narrative really draws you in and entices you into each character’s experiences and story.   Talking of which, the characters are a huge reason this novel works so well; each character is real.  They all have their flaws, and you will spend a considerable amount of time disliking them, wanting to slap them silly, but at the same time, wanting to give them a hug and talk things out with them.   I think when you’re story circles around such a profound and personal theme of wondering how your life has ended up the way it has and not seeing any way forward, the characters need to be real; they need to be human – someone we can relate to.

Hornby is British, so his humor is very dark, discrete and dry.  I personally loved it, but I can see how a lot of people may miss it, or simply not find it amusing.   However, I think this novel will have something for everyone, as it offers hope, perspective and a good old fashioned kick up the rear end.    It’s not all doom and gloom, but it also doesn’t offer a glossy shine on life.  Oh, and there is a film version of this book, on Netflix, and while it isn’t a bad  film, it doesn’t offer nearly the same amount as the book does (and in my opinion, the casting person for that movie should have read the book a little more carefully!), so steer clear until you have finished the book!

Until next time,

Pegasus.

A Long Way Down

Review: The Friends We Keep by Susan Mallery

    
Life sure surprises us. Maybe we get comfortable for a while, but sooner or later the road we’re on takes a sharp turn. How we handle the turn makes all the difference. 

So it is with friends Gabby, Hayley, and Nicole. Whether it’s upheaval in marriage, with children, or at work, the ladies lean on each other for support and laughs. 

The ladies really worked on being good people to themselves and each other. It was nice to read good conversation that reflected positively on women and their families. 

The beginning seemed very planned, bordering on contrived. I felt like I could practically see the framework of the plot — and it should be invisible to the reader!  However, as the characters grew into themselves, the story flowed better and seemed more natural.  The development of secondary characters helped, too. 

By the end, Mallery had me crying. I appreciated each character, flaws and all, and I saw exactly why these friends were keepers. 

-calliope

Buy THE FRIENDS WE KEEP

Review: Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman

433075This was my first Penman book. It certainly won’t be my last. This book was brilliant. There are close to 1,000 reviews of the wonderful novel on Goodreads alone…so I won’t go into details about it. I highly doubt if there is anything that I could add to…however, I must share some of the thoughts I had whilst reading it…

This book grabbed me from the very first page. The last 50 pages, I had to keep putting it down. I just couldn’t handle the pain of it all. I was truly upset. Yes, this is a book of fiction…but the events are based on fact. No matter if the Penman invented the words of her own imagination, there has to be some truth in them….there’s no other way that it could have played out (READ. THE. BOOK).

However the whole concept just has me questioning everything I’ve ever known in life. What can I mean by that? Stay with me and I hope to explain….

I’m American, married to a lovely English bloke. As an American I confess, I haven’t learnt much *real* English history. This book must have driven my husband mad, as the first day I asked him dozens of questions. Bless him, he was googling like mad a few times for me. Throughout this entire book, I had my laptop by my side and googled time and time again.

I don’t know how it is for the rest of the world, I can only speak for me…but I was one who dreamed of a knight to come sweep me off of my feet. To *rescue* me. To be a fine lady dressed in layers of clothing.

The reality? Oh dear me. Where does this fantasy come from? Of princes and princesses? Of Kings and Queens? Of Knights and Ladies? The romanticized version of them. Why does it play such a huge part in children’s dreams? The reality is that women, nay, children, both male and female, were mostly used as pawns of war and empty promises of peace. Love did not come into play. Was there really any concept of romantic love throughout history? Or is that simply a modern fantasy that is pushed onto us? Sounds harsh? Look back through time and tell me why this is harsh? Reality is often harsh….Even now, look around you. Do you not see power and wealth still often play a part in “love”.

After reading this book, I have even less faith in religion. Not that I’ve had much faith in the last few years. I’ve always known that religion has been used as a tool and a harsh weapon throughout the ages, but this book really brought home how “ordinary” men used it in horrible ways. What makes the Pope someone to decide life and death over an entire Country? Don’t misunderstand me. This novel doesn’t really focus on those wrongs….they are merely mentioned as a fact of the circumstances that the Kings and the ordinary people dealt with. Entire countries being under interdict, of men in high power being excommunicated numerous times, simply because the Church wanted their way. I don’t care how much you fancy in there being a higher power, religion has been used as a weapon far too many times…ordinary, simple, innocent, GOOD people have been punished and hurt all in the name of that power…

Finally, although this book makes me question the entire concept of romantic love…I have to confess, it also restores my faith in that love a bit….I just can’t help it. Throughout history there HAS been instances when men and women gave up all for it’s name. Kings have laid down their crowns to obtain it. Men and women have died AND killed for it. So now I am so conflicted. I honestly just go round and round with the concept. There is no doubt that the main characters in this novel married as part of a political power play. However, somewhere along the way, they must have fallen in love. The real Joan MUST have felt conflicts in her life. Her father, the King and her husband, the Prince, in constant wars with one another. It does appear that she chose her husband above all she knew and how she was brought up. It is also true that he forgave her in the end. No matter how else I see it, no matter how much I try to weigh up the gains he would have taking her back…well there is no way I can see that they outweigh the losses he might have faced. At the end of the day, romantic love is the only logical reason for him to forgive her….and really….where is the logic of that in the 1200’s?

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman

Review: The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

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This book is so very much.  It’s a love story, a tale of tragedy, a story of folktales, and a story of the Otherworlds in one ambitious undertaking.

Natalie has always felt different.  No surprise, considering that she’s adopted.  But there’s also the matter of seeing things that others can’t even imagine.  It’s just part of who she is.  And she’s especially comforted by late night visits from “Grandmother”, a kindly elderly apparition.  Grandmother has always been a soothing force in her life, a source of comfort and stability.  Until the night that Grandmother comes with an eerie warning:  “You have three months to save him.”  No other hints or clues as to who this “him” might be.

It’s around this time that she also begins seeing glimpses of another world, with other people.  Sometimes what she sees is familiar but not really.  Like peering through a looking glass into the past.  And she’s not the only one with this ability.  There’s Beau, who of course is handsome and kind and confident and all those wonderful things that teenagers love.  But can he help figure out just who it is that’s in need of saving?

This debut novel by Emily Henry is beautiful.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going in, so it took me a bit longer to digest it all.  It’s a somewhat lengthy book at almost 400 pages, but it’s necessary to fully tell the story.  And don’t rush the ending like I did.  As such, I found myself going back to reread on more than one occasion.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Love That Split the World

Review: He Will Be My Ruin by K.A.Tucker

01 a1Have you ever been afraid to read a book? I gotta admit, I’ve had this book, sitting on my kindle, for almost three months, but I was too scared to read it. Like legit scared. Why? Well, it’s because I love love stories. Suspense gives me the willies and makes me need to grab a couple of Xanax. But, since I love KA Tucker and all of her books, I had to dive in and get over my fear. And, boy, am I glad I did.

SYNOPSIS
Twenty-eight-year-old Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a bottle of Xanax and a handle of vodka, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers secrets in the childhood lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man who Celine herself claimed would be her ruin.

On the hunt for answers that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life—and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.

From the very beginning my heart was racing. I honestly don’t think it calmed down until an hour after I finished. This book was filled with twists and turns and head on collisions. My word. Just when you thought you knew who did it, the board was cleared and you started back up again.

I felt like a cop taking notes. I have all these little bits and pieces and was drawing my own conclusions and now I look back and laugh. I was clueless. I would make a horrible cop!! I suspected everyone. And you will too.

~Melpomene

Buy He Will Be My Ruin: A Novel

The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee by Talya Tate Boerner

  
Gracie Lee rocks! She has a mean, alcoholic father, a timid mother, and a copycat sister. They’re in Arkansas in the 70s, where the success of the cotton crop determines life or death, and the path to heaven is via the local Baptist church. 

Gracie Lee cuts through as much baloney as she can. She plays with her Barbie and dumps beer down the drain when her daddy isn’t looking. She confides in the church pastor when she really needs an adult who will listen and guide. Best of all, Gracie Lee invents her own little mystery that allows her to feel like she’s needed and valued. 

Gracie’s story is charming and poignant and smart. I laughed and cried.  I also got pretty mad – which goes to show how invested I was. Why anger? Well…

Gracie Lee’s dad really ticked me off, especially when he asked her for a favor at the end of the book. Ugh, like she owed him ANYTHING, especially something that she would burden her. Selfish selfish man. 

This book was a little slow, but really a wonderful story that I’m grateful to have experienced. In the end, I think Gracie Lee saved HERSELF with her cleverness and courage. And personally I believe she had some backup from the man upstairs. 

-calliope

Buy THE ACCIDENTAL SALVATION OF GRACIE LEE