Review: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

There are many reasons why I stopped reading the blurbs listed for books. For one, I started seeing more than a few authors/publishers feel the need to give a detailed outline for the entire book in the blurbs published on Amazon and Goodreads. That’s the same reason I try not read any review or even publicity postings for books I intend to read. It’s always a fine line to walk to see what’s being talked about without hearing too much of the talk! The main reason, for me, to avoid blurbs is that I honestly sometimes feel like I no longer need/desire to read the book if I’ve read so much information and I don’t go into the story “blind”. This is something that’s happened in the last 5 or so years. So it’s true to say that I go into the majority of my reads with little more information that the title of the novel and the author’s name.

Why do I tell you all of this? The danger of this is that I often avoid a book far too long because I assume it’s something it isn’t. Bel Canto is one fine example of this. I’ve never read Ann Patchett before. I went into this thinking it would be…well I don’t want to label anything or make a label sound bad, when that isn’t my intention. But I basically thought this would be a family drama with some difficult every day issues to deal with and at the end of the day it would be a HEA.

This wasn’t at all like that. I really enjoyed this novel. Part of that love was that it was so opposite of what I was expecting.

If you’re looking for detailed descriptions on what occurs in this novel…well….go read the blurb or some of the reviews…hahahahahaha…

I will say I felt the ending was a bit abrupt…buuuuttttt….if it had ended any other way it would have just been because the book was exactly like the reason I avoided it for years in the first place…hahahaha…really, I’m not sure how the novel could have ended differently and stayed true to the story…

I certainly understand why some people love Patchett and others don’t care for her…I’m not so sure that everyone has a literary heart that is strong enough to take an ending such as this…so many of us use novels to escape the reality of the world…we want only HEA endings…

Some might see this novel as a HEA, many others will not…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

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Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

I’ve been on a historical romance kick for the past year. To make up for being a late in life reader I am trying to read as many books as I can and these types of books are like crack to me. I’m totally addicted. I can’t get enough. So when my book club girls rave about them, I am quick to jump on my Overdrive and see if they have them and if not I add them to my wishlist and save for them. I need all of them. I really do.

I must say, this is probably one of the most funny historical book, but not in an over the top way. The hero and heroine are positively hilarious together. The banter felt real and not forced. The snark was perfect. The romance was even more perfect. I don’t remember the last time I smiled so much while reading a book.

When a seamstress is made into a duchess, there’s bound to be few mishaps. Emma tried so hard to be a good wife and duchess, but with a prickly husband, she has to work harder than she ever imagined.

The Duke suffered greatly in the war and now wears those scars for all to see. He hides himself away from the world and would rather be in the dark than the sun. But he has no idea that this wife he chose was going to flip his world upside down. Do his scars affect her? Yes, but not in the way he thinks. All he wants is an heir then she’ll be off to another of his homes, but the more they are around each other, the more she can chip away at his shell and show him what real is about.

If the next books are anything like this one, this will be one of my most recommended series. My heart is happy.

~Melpomene

Buy The Duchess Deal http://amzn.to/2xw3D8Y

Review: Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

three-wishesHave you ever read a book by a new (to you) author and love it so much that you had to go out and buy something else by her? When I read What Alice Forgot (see my review here) I knew I had to read more from Moriarty. So I figured I would start with her first book.

Did I love the book? No, maybe not. But I didn’t hate it either…

The book really read (to me) like a first attempt at a book. Easy to tell it was a debut novel. It wasn’t a bad story…it just felt very disjointed to me and wasn’t always easy to follow. I loved the ending. However, it was complete chaos at times, but I reckon being a part of triplets can be that way in real life 😛 On to bigger and better reads, but really glad I made myself finish this one…and I really appreciate how far Moriarty has came as a writer….

Sometimes it’s scary when a debut novel is amazing and wonderful. I am a cynic at heart…It’s not that I wish the worst, I just prepare myself for the worst. It’s so much easier (so I lie to myself) to not be gutted when you’re disappointed. So when I read a fantastic debut, I also fear it’s a one hit wonder…I actually am more leery of reading a second book after a fantastic debut…so yea…I am glad this wasn’t a perfect novel…I am glad Moriarty is growing as a writer. As her books continue to come out, I still see her evolving…and that, my fellow book nerds, is a wonderful thing!

If anything, reading Moriarty’s first novel has sealed me as a true fan…

Until next time…
Urania

Buy it now Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

Review: The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

valley-amazementI absolutely loved parts of this book, but then parts of it bored me to tears. Parts were well detailed, other parts seemed like hours and hours of wasted details, and yet others seemed lacking in details. I also felt strongly that Tan just invented a few parts of the novel to add more drama and those parts,for me, took away a great deal from the book.

I don’t begrudge Tan for making the book almost 600 pages long. However, I think the 600 pages had many parts that were missing and many that were not needed…the different storylines, although connected, just felt so out of balance.

The whole *****SPOILER**** man in the country basically holding the wives hostage and escaping over a mountainside just seemed so out of tune with the rest of the novel. Then we finally have this novel ending in a mad rush to tie everything together and reunite certain characters. We spend hundreds of pages with the finer details of what some of the women went though to have one of the main focal character summarize her life in a couple of pages saying how bad it was to virtual strangers…again, it just didn’t ring true with me.

As a massive Tan fan, this one left me feeling a bit flat…even more so because I genuinely started out loving it and loved so many parts of it…but at the end of the day, I can’t give it more than a mediocre rating…something I don’t like doing to a beloved author…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

Review: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

When was the last time you finished a book and had to sit back and collect yourself before you started crying, because you were sucked into it from the very first page and felt like you were in the book, and when it was done you didn’t want it to end? Well, for me, it was this morning.

Hunted is the epitome of what the perfect YA fantasy book should be. Engaging from the very beginning, exciting and emotional throughout, and a very climactic ending that leaves you breathless and in tears.

One of the best parts about this book, besides it being a fabulous Beauty and the Beast retelling, is that it’s a standalone. I am in the midst of so many series that I just can’t take another one. But I heard a few early reviews and put it on hold at the library so fast. I needed to read this. I’m so glad that I can recommend this to everyone without them feeling like they need to invest the next few years of their lives to another series.

Yeva is you and me. She is looking for more. More what, she doesn’t know. Just more. And when her family is forced to leave their current situation and head for the woods of her childhood, she thinks this may help in her discovery. She’s longed for those woods. But as an adult she soon learns that the mysteries they hold, are much more than she ever dreamed or imagined. And finding the Beast is just one step in finding herself.

I can’t say any more except to hold on tight for this beautiful and heart twisting story.

~Melpomene

Buy Hunted here: http://amzn.to/2nrchSO

Review: A Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

pale-horsemanThis series is just breathtaking. Seriously, I kid you naught, it left me breathless more than once. I won’t say that Cornwell’s battle scenes are g rated, but I have read much more graphic…however Cornwell does have me having to slow myself down, alternately, afraid of what I am about to read, whilst at the same time trying to rush ahead to see what happens next. At one point in the novel, I think I actually said, “HOLY SHIT” in the middle of the night.

But before you wander off, thinking this isn’t the story for me because you hate that type of thing, let me remind you that this isn’t just about battles. In fact, there are only a few that take place in this novel. This is a novel about a young warrior named Uhtred. Northerner nobleman by birth, English by circumstance, Dane by force, Pagan by choice, but warrior at heart.

One has to be reminded time and time again that Uhtred is only a young man in this, the second novel, of the Saxon Stories. He is still battling with his choices, his conscious, his loyalties, his religion and most definitely with his warrior soul.

Watching Uhtred make his journey into adulthood and trying to weave his way through all that he faces, be it strategical, personal, or political, is in of itself, well worth the time it takes to read this series. You will be hard pressed to find someone who inspires or moves you as much as Uhtred does.

More than that though, this is an amazing retelling of history through fiction. I find myself searching for Alfred the Great and reading more about these battles and the locations. Of the defeats and the obsession of religion. Of how he came to be…and of how he came not to be..This is a story that inspires one to learn more about what came before.

I have always found England fascinating. From time to time, I’ve asked people, here in England, how does it feel to know that you walk where kings and knights have walked? On the very same ground. Where legends were born and countries were made? They often look at me like I am either daft or a lunatic. Here, however, is the proof. The very same places that I see around me are here, mentioned in this novel. The chalk grounds I see are where blood was spilled in the wars between the Saxons and the Danes.

That is what great story telling is about. As I went to sleep each night reading this novel, I awoke, not in the 21st century, but in the 9th. In England as it must have been then, the damp, the sound of battle cries in my head, the smell of fires, the bitter cold, and the knowledge that we fight for a cause…and her name is England…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now A Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

Review: Lost Gods by Brom

28819821Wow…what a wild ride. Parts of this I never saw coming and I have to say they had me all up in arms and twitchy with nerves! Parts of it were downright scary to me!

This book blinded me with parts that were filled with brilliance. Other parts were just so outside the normal acceptable realm of imagination that I had a hard time wrapping my head around it.

That is entirely my fault, and of no fault of Brom.

Do you want to know how I know it was my fault and not Brom’s? Because as I read it, I had no problem believing that the characters he dreamed up were real…as my mind was almost stretched beyond belief, I kept thinking, does Brom really expect me to believe that was not freaking out whilst this happened? No doubt of the character…just the crazy circumstances that they were having to endure…

I can’t say I was 100% sure about this book as I read it. The Child Thief is an all time favourite of mine…From the first page to the last I loved every word. I loved this one as well, I just wasn’t sure I could accept it. I wasn’t sure I could believe it. I wasn’t sure if I would be glad I read this at the end of the day or feel like it was a wasted read…it started out just so wonderful and then I kind of stalled…again, simply because it was so far out there….

However, once I finished the last page (and I was reading at a mad pace to see what happened the last few chapters). I was very sad to see it end. Hell was a small price to pay to spend time with all of these wonderful characters Brom created….I knew as soon as I finished it that any doubts I had were unfounded…I loved this novel….even if it did seem almost impossible at times…

I’m still thinking about some of these characters long after I finished the last page…

Finally…the artwork! Hey, it’s Brom and you should expect nothing less…except expectations often fall flat…but Brom’s artwork ALWAYS blows me away…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy your copy here Lost Gods by Brom