Review: Sweet Unrest by Lisa Maxwell

Sweet Unrest finalWhat a thrill it was to receive this as an ARC months before the release date. I’d been eyeing it for several weeks after I added it to my wish list, so of course I had to jump right in when I got it.

I have to start off by saying that the cover is one of the most beautiful introductions to a story I’ve seen in awhile. Simple and understated but so elegant and indicative of the story.

The story centers on Lucy, a teenager who has been dragged against her will to an old plantation outside of New Orleans when her dad takes on a new job. She’s determined to just ride out the summer until she can return to Chicago. Through a combination of dreams and encounters with a mysterious stranger, she begins to uncover secrets both old and new. Although parts of the story take place in the distant past, much of the danger is very much set in Lucy’s present day world.

I have a weakness for stories set in Louisiana and New Orleans in particular so this one was right up my alley. It’s a ghost story and love story wrapped up in one but, have no fear about it being too scary or gruesome. And although the story centers on the dark and spiritual world of voodoo, much of the scary stuff is left to the reader’s imagination. It’s simply a beautiful tale, reminiscent of legends passed down over time. An excellent debut novel from an exciting new author!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Sweet Unrest

Review – The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

17456328Would you put everything on the line to save innocent people from persecution? Would you hide someone in your apartment, knowing that in doing so, you’ve just signed the death warrant for yourself, your family, and even the rest of the tenants in the apartment building? Well, as tough as these conundrums may be, people in Nazi occupied France made these kinds of decisions every day. One of these people, Lucian Bernard finds himself wrestling with his conscience, sense of practicality, pride, and financial strain, when he accepts a commission to build a concealed hiding place for a friend who makes it his business to hide Jews, and at the same time, accepts a commission from the Germans to build a factory in Paris.
Charles Belfoure’s debut fiction novel, The Paris Architect, has been hailed as being exciting, exhilarating and nerve racking. Belfoure has even been called the next Ken Follet…. Yeah, that kind of put me off as well – I really hate plaudits like that, A) it is lazy writing, B) it is such a big comparison, that it is almost impossible to live up to, and C) every author should be individual…. Anyway, that’s for another musing post later on maybe.
I wanted to read something completely different to what I am currently struggling through (I may either have a really positive review or a really negative review in a few weeks!), and so I thought I’d give this one a go. Let me tell you, I am so glad that I put my initial reluctance aside because it turned out to be one of my favourite books that I’ve read this year!
The writing and pace follows that of a traditional thriller, however, instead of implementing 3 page chapters, Belfoure manages to keep the suspenseful tone and pace throughout decent sized chapters. This is a real telltale sign that an author knows how to write. The characters are very well fleshed out and no one in this novel is “perfect” – each person has their own prejudices and how they decide to prioritize these prejudices is interesting, and sometimes frustrating.
There are some negative points to this novel though: Sometimes the phrases used by certain characters seemed quite contemporary, or Americanized – but then, for all I know, they may have indeed used those phrases in 1941. Another issue with me was the fact that sometimes certain things tied a little too neatly together – however, at the same time, it did show realistic human nature, so I suppose that can’t be too much of a negative. I can’t really explain further as it would give away some major plot points.
Although entirely fictional, the happenings in this novel most likely did occur in Nazi occupied Europe. I love reading about the French Resistance and the dichotomy between the citizens of France that try to survive by joining the Resistance to destroy the German progression, and the other citizens who try to survive by “collaborating” with the Germans in many different aspects. It really does make you think about what it means to survive, what it would take, and how far you can stretch your moral compass. Do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of this brilliant read!

~ Pegasus.
The Paris Architect: A Novel

Musing: Reading and Running

IMG_0209.JPGLast year I read Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run. Read my review here.

One valuable nugget I took from the book was that people who ran barefoot – and who were raised running barefoot – had fewer injuries than westerners running on super-cushioned shoes.

Even in my 20s when I was in the best shape of my life and ran half-marathons, I still felt pain when running. Shinsplints and knee pain attacked the most. I was slender, strong, and young. I couldn’t imagine why running was so painful sometimes.

Fast forward 15 years, three childbirths, and five pounds… and the book Born to Run.

I decided to try barefoot running shoes to help me shorten my stride and land on the balls of my feet. (I’ve since learned this is called “running forefoot.”) I picked out some cute Vibram FiveFingers. See some Vibrams here. My husband calls them my Himalayan mountain shoes. And hey, if it helps me run like the guys running 20 miles a day in the Himalayan mountains… Awesome.

Guess what? On my very first longer-than-a-mile run, NO SHIN SPLINTS. I haven’t had shin splints or lasting knee pain from running in the entire year I’ve been running “barefoot.”

I recently trained for 8 weeks for a race. Just 8 weeks. I finished the half-marathon (13.1 miles) wearing barefoot running shoes. My stride is more natural and I am pain free. I even recovered twice as quickly as my sister who has been training longer and further than I have.

I credit Christopher McDougall, Born to Run, and Vibram with my success. Thank you!

To you readers out there I say, Give Born to Run a read. Even if you’ll never run in your entire life, it’s a work of science and anthropology followed by a fantastic, inspirational story.

-Calliope

buy VIBRAMS
buy BORN TO RUN
buy more by journalist CHRISTOPHER MCDOUGALL

Review: Burning Desire(Dragon Kings #3), by Donna Grant

01burI stopped a book I was currently reading, just so I could read this ARC. I am so thrilled to have received this book! I just love these Dragon Kings!!

So much happened in this book, it’s crazy!! So many side stories that if you haven’t been paying attention, you’ll miss stuff. So PAY ATTENTION!!!

Kiril is spying on the Dark, in hopes of finding Rhi. But then he finds himself drawn to a female Dark, who is trying to set him up. He knows what she’s up to, but can’t stay away from her.

Shara has been on a mission to make her family proud of her again. So she is to bring them a dragon king, so they can prove how powerful their family is. But what she doesn’t anticipate is falling so hard for him.

No matter what happens, they know that a Dark and a Dragon King can never be together, but they don’t care. When they finally give in to each other, it’s an all consuming fire that spreads like mad. I was shocked at the fierceness of their passion. But when you have such power flowing through you, there’s only so many ways to release it. But behind all this passion are secrets that could destroy them.

But soon they have outside distractions that make their secrets known and cause their hearts to break. They are both in very deep trouble, if they can’t find a away to move past and prove to each other that their love is stronger than all the danger around them.

We also find out a few surprises that may change the players in this war. One in particular, I am hoping we see something soon. He may be the deciding factor to which this war would be won.

Oh my gosh, I am so excited to see the next few books!!! I won’t say anymore. Spoilers…. but AHHHH!!!!!

~Melpomene

Buy Burning Desire (Dark Kings)
Release date: September 30, 2014

Read the first two stories in this series.
Darkest Flame (Dark Kings)
Fire Rising (Dark Kings)

And book 4 comes out December 30 and I can’t wait!!!
Hot Blooded (Dark Kings)

Review: In Your Dreams (Blue Heron) by Kristan Higgins

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Aaahhh, the Blue Heron series. Wine, good-looking vintners, smart and sassy women, and swoon-worthy heroes.

So Emmaline has a crush on Jack, but so does half the town. He married and quickly divorced a hot ticket from Savannah, saved four stupid teenagers from drowning, and offers his friendship to any of his sisters’ friends who need a convenient date to a wedding.

What I absolutely adore about Jack is that he’s pretty realistic. Higgins precisely got into the mind of a man … focused on his own stuff, not purposely being a jerk but obliviously doing so, aware of his charm and hotness — and willing to use it for his own benefit.

Emmaline proves to be one of the most awesome female protagonists in a romance. She’s great at her job, insecure with men, not a skinny-minny, loving to her sister, annoyed with her mother, and just trying to get through life unscathed any more than she already is. Very realistic. And she has a smart-mouth on her, that Emmaline.

Higgins writes Emmaline in that little place of insecurity – in love with a man but not willing to tell him because she knows it’s going to blow up in her face. And you know what, it does blow up in her face.

And then Jack saves the day. And they live happily ever after. Because that’s how the Blue Heron men roll.

–Calliope

$5 for kindle!
buy IN YOUR DREAMS

Review: Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

*viso ummmm….I appreciate this book, because honestly, it’s the first book I’ve actually been able to read in months without actually forcing myself to pick it up and finish it.

However, I can’t decide if I like it or not….I see where it could have actually been a very good book. It just fell short in so many places. The main character just felt forced. The humour felt forced. All I could think of though out the entire book was that I was pretty thankful that I never had a friend that was so obsessed with her virginity…or better yet….so obsessed with *herself*…..Okay….let me rephrase that….of course as young girls we were all obsessed with our sexual journey to a certain point…however, I like to think that we weren’t so self-absorbed with it to the extent that nothing else mattered in our lives….and I should hope that those that made it to the age of 21…well….I certainly hope that they wouldn’t have still been so focused on it….

I suppose I am just old-fashioned without considering myself old fashioned….by that I mean…well….I guess I have issues with sexual relations with people who you aren’t exclusive with and have no intent to be so….I suppose I also have issues with simply going out with multiple partners whilst having sexual relations with them…..

hey ho…I’m not passing judgement….I’m just saying I personally have issues with it and I really can’t relate to it….so perhaps I am not the best person to rate this book….

I’m not a prune…I’ve enjoyed books where there might be a love triangle….I understand people can be confused….I suppose I don’t even have problems with people have multiple partners if that’s what they want….I guess I just have issues with people not putting a higher worth on something that can be so intimate. Don’t misunderstand me…I’m not just referring to the main character here…This wasn’t just a one person trait here…it was multiple characters….

And therein lies the rub….

That’s why this book wasn’t as wonderful as it could have been for me….it wasn’t the actions of the characters that bothered me…..it’s how those actions made me feel about how they valued themselves….or actually a lack of value. It cheapened the entire book for me. They were so occupied with themselves that they often overlooked what it meant to others….they selfishly took and then became offended when others seemed to be doing the exact same thing….if what you’re concerned with in life is superficial and what you offer others is also done only for what you can get out of them and not what it can mean to someone….well….don’t be surprised if you get the same type of behaviour in return….just saying…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Review copy provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

Review: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

18599754Young adult books are all the rage these days. Add to that stories of young adults facing physical or mental/emotional disabilities and you’ve covered at least half of the books I’ve read in the last year. So it takes a little bit of something extra to make a story stick with me, as did this book by Cammie McGovern.

Amy has lived with cerebral palsy for all her life. She doesn’t know anything different. It defines every part of her existence-her interactions with her family, how she navigates life outside of her house, and how she fits in with the rest of the world. When she meets Matthew, everything she’s come to believe is challenged. That works both ways, however. Matthew is dealing with issues of his own. A self-exiled outcast because of his obsessive-compulsive disorder as well as neurotic thoughts & tendencies, Amy forces him to confront his fears head on. They’re good for each other, while at the same time being not so good for each other.

So what makes this one stand out from the likes of Wonder, Out of My Mind, and Counting by 7s? First of all, it’s clearly meant for an older audience, in my opinion. While still suitable for the older teenage reader, it covers material not suitable for an older elementary student. Most importantly, the author writes about the issues faced by both Amy and Matthew with complete honesty. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything as the story evolves. Harsh realities are written about, and not everything ends on a happy note. Still, it’s an excellent story that came highly recommended from a friend as I’m now highly recommending it to you!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Say What You Will