Review: Stoner by John Williams


That’s all I can think of about this book. Yet I give it 5 stars! Ha!

I know people like Stoner exist. You have a young man who is, if not happy to work on his family’s farm, he is at least not unhappy. There’s not much doubt that his parents are the same. That their parents were the same as well. Hard workers and not much for complaining. Then Stoner goes off to college and a simple reading of literature changes everything. I found it a bit sad that Stoner couldn’t even imagine a new life until someone said it out loud first.

That’s due to my own personal experience. Books have always been what sparked my imagination and desires. Then there is Stoner. Moved as much as he can be and still left for someone else to imagine a different future for him.

Then there is his wife. Eyy eyy eyy. How I did not like this woman. But yet again, you see Stoner, more or less resigned to his fate…until once again, someone imagines a different life for him and he suddenly moves ahead and makes a change.

The entire novel is like this. Who am I to feel sorry for Stoner? Any disappointment he meets in life he just gets on with it. He doesn’t dwell on it time and time again. He is just resigned to his fate. He doesn’t shake his fist and yell at the Gods.

He proves a man strong in his convictions. He doesn’t back down. But nor does he make waves.

What makes this book such a compelling read? Was it my desire to finally see Stoner stand up and wave his fists in defiance?

Well I certainly hope not, or else I would be well disappointed.

I listened to this book on audio, and the narrator did a superb job with the reading. However, John Williams is an amazing writer. How the hell do you evoke so much emotion from what you do not write as compared to what you do write. Somehow, Williams does exactly this. That is why the narrator is so brilliant as well. Stoner, the narrator and Williams himself leave it to the reader to be outraged and to wave their fists at the Gods, whilst all three of them just simply carry on. If anything we are like the hare, flighty and weaving all about, whilst they are the tortoise that just plods along steady as they go.

I have wanted to read this book for about 5 years now. All the while I was angry at myself for not being motivated to actually start it. Now that I’ve read it, I’m even more angry at myself for not having started it sooner. And yet….

I am disappointed that I’ve finally read it. It really is something to be savoured. It’s such a difficult book to pin down. It’s difficult to explain. It’s difficult in so many ways…

But it’s not difficult to love…even though it might be very difficult to explain just why…

As you’ve always heard, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for…Stoner is that quiet one sat in the corner. That person whose story is bigger than they let on…

This story is one that is so much bigger on the inside of your mind than it appears on the pages of the book…and isn’t that the very best kind?

Don’t put it off…read this one…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Stoner by John Williams

Review: Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake #1) by CJ Sansom

138685I don’t know if it’s because I now live in England (American) but I absolutely love these period novels. I’m in the middle of a couple different historical series that take place in England, so I figured I might as well add one more. I’m very glad I did! This was so interesting to me. In one of my other series I am learning about King Alfred and his devotion and obsession with religion. In this novel we have a very different setting. It’s only a half a century (Ha! ONLY) but Henry XIII is very much against religion. I found (and always have) the ways religion is used by men to further their own desires extremely fascinating. Even more so because there are so many people who honestly believe in religion and only have the best intentions…

This is one such story…The main character is a hunchbacked lawyer named Matthew Shardlake. He is a devout man and has, I believe, honourable intentions. He is sent by Thomas Cromwell and the King to investigate a murder at a monastery. Shardlake has believed he was fighting on the side of good. However, the more time he spends investigating the murder the more he starts to wrestle with his own moral dilemmas. There are so many things he starts to question about the way things are being handled by Cromwell, a man he has always admired.

As Shardlake sees the men and women of the monastery as individual people, he questions the side he is on. He starts to see the politics behind the religion and isn’t at all sure where he stands any more..

Shardlake has never had an easy life..he has be a social outcast, if only by his physical he must face being an outcast, and perhaps worse, but questioning in his mind the activities of those above him..

It will interesting to see what happens next to Matthew…he is a hero that I find strongly drawn to…I really look forward to continuing on with this series…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy your copy now Dissolution by CJ Sansom

Review: My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly

01 mf
What a fun story! I’ve been a historical romance kick lately. When I saw the title of this I knew it was going to be cute. I was so right.

Gillian Dryden’s is not happy with the thought of changing herself to find a husband. In fact, she’s content with never having one. But for her mother and grandmother she has agreed to let the Duke of Leverton help her fit in better. But she’s not going to make it easy on him.

Charles has no time for this silly girl, who is quick tempered and outspoken, but once he’s around her, he is quite intrigued and very much drawn to her. Now most of the time they mix like oil and water, but that is where the fun lies. No one can predict that words that will leave her mouth, or the behavior she portrays. For that day in age, some were rather cringe worthy.

This book was by far the funniest historical romance I remember ever reading. The banter between the two main characters had me smiling almost non stop. It was a bit like enemies to lovers mixed in with friends to lovers. Banter all over the place. Two people, who are used to doing things their own, are now forced to work together for a common goal. Things are bound to get messy.

This is my first Vanessa Kelly, but I know it won’t be my last.


Buy My Fair Princess HERE

Review: My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels #1) by Elena Ferrante

Layout 1Whilst I really enjoyed this book, I still have to wonder what all the hype is about. The beginning is what kept me going though page after page. I really want to find out what happens to the two girls…

I did enjoy Elena’s story of growing up. Not so much Lila’s. I don’t know. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t understand both girls. I do. To me, it’s just so obvious that Lila is a survivor and she neither needs or wants our pity. She is one with a lonely life…no matter how many people she will surround herself with later on in life…however, I strongly believe that the lonely life is one she has chosen willingly to have all that she wants in life….don’t understand? Read the book…

Elena on the other hand….She is a survivor as well….but her survival is based on her hard work…and I don’t think she will ever feel like a survivor or as a success…no matter how much fame or wealth comes her way. She will always be looking for some other fulfillment that I fear will never come…

Okay, so maybe I did like the book a bit more than I realise after writing this review…

However, I still feel sorry for one girl…so much so that I want to shake her because I am so angry. Elena is like another Melanie (GWtW) and Lily is Scarlett…I don’t have much patience for either type of girl really….

There are other ways in life to survive….

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

01 aba Yep. This is going to be another fun series by Ms. Ward.

There is no better word, to describe this family, than to say it’s dysfunctional. I mean the stories and behaviors of these people are downright shocking! At one point I was cringing and then tearing up a bit. There are so many puzzle pieces that need to be found, it’s CRAZY!! I have so many ideas but when it comes down to it, I bet they’re all wrong. So I’m going to hold on tight and enjoy the ride.

I’ll admit I was a bit lost and confused with the first few chapters. I’m so used to the BDB, so learning new names and places was a bit daunting for me, but then I figured it out.

“I can’t change what happened and I know there’s no going back…all I ask is that you don’t fall for appearances, okay? You’ve had ten years around this family, but I’ve been with them and the people who surround them all my life. That’s why you’re the one I want. You’re real. You’re not capable of being what they are and that’s a very, very good thing.”

Watching the drama unfold was exactly like a soap opera would be. Intrigue, romance, lies, and above all, secrets. Lots and lots of secrets.

I can’t wait for the next book!!!


Buy The Bourbon Kings

Review: On the Road by Jack Kerouac

2552Okay, confession, I don’t even know what “beat lit” is….and if this is an example, I don’t want to know any more.

If I understood “beat lit” would it make me love this book? Appreciate it more? I don’t think so. I didn’t find it well written. I didn’t find it interesting. I didn’t find it anything except me glad to finish it. I saw lots of sex, some more sex, some sex with adults and minors, some drugs, some thieving, more sex, lies, disregard of promises and responsibilities….rinse and repeat…

Please don’t tell me it was the generation. Please don’t tell me it was a rebellion against society and the government. Please don’t tell me I don’t understand. It might have been different if all of what was portrayed was mutual and done with honesty between both parties…but to me it just stank of the selfishness of some parties on various levels….

If you’re more enlightened than me and you know it, feel free to bask in that knowledge whilst I bask in the knowledge that I didn’t enjoy any of this book…

Call if my own personal rebellion of the “American Classics and Beat Lit”…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Review: The Shadow by Sylvain Reynard

01 a122 I have missed William and Raven. So I was super thankful to receive an ARC and find out what happens.

Between the Curia and a traitor in the midst of the Consilium, it’s up to William to do what needs to be done to protect his city and the woman he loves. But in doing so, he may lose the Raven, no matter what he does. He’s caught between a rock and a hard place.

I’ll admit, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the character names, since some had two, and kept having to go back into my notes to recall who was who. All the while trying to figure out who was the traitor. But let me tell you, I was wrong in my guess.

For some reason, I wasn’t pulled into this one as much as The Raven. Perhaps it was more suspenseful and less sensual. Now, don’t get me wrong, there was romance, but not like Gabriel’s romance. Heck, I doubt anything is like Gabriel’s romance. But this was more about solving the city’s problems and less about the romance. And that’s fine, but not what I was hoping for. But it was still very good and I look forward to the next one.

Speaking of Gabriel, there was a few scenes with him that made me happy. However, seeing Gabriel scared wasn’t my favorite part. To me, he should always be strong and a mighty protector. Seeing him nervous and scared irked me. Not sure why. It was totally warranted. But I just didn’t like it.

Silly me, I thought this was the last book. I was mistaken. So I can’t wait until the next book! William and Raven need a HEA. Well, I need them to, at least.


Buy The Shadow (Florentine series).
Get caught up with The Raven (Florentine series Book 1).

Review: The Raven by Sylvain Reynard


“I am the darkness made visible.”

I gotta say, this book was quite intriguing. The Raven was the perfect combination of romance, mystery and fantasy. I stayed up way past my bedtime, just to read more. I fell hard for the Prince. I was pulled into the story and I’m not sure I ever want to leave.

I loved the Gabriel’s Inferno series so much, to the point of obsession, and was worried that this may not live up the expectations. Silly me, I worried for nothing. The romance was swoon worthy. The words spoken made me melt. The excitement gave me chills and the sexual tension was gripping.

Raven Wood spends her days at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery restoring fine works of Renaissance art. But an innocent walk home after an evening with friends changes her life forever. When she intervenes in the senseless beating of a homeless man, his attackers turn on her, dragging her into an alley. Raven is only semi-conscious when their assault is interrupted by a cacophony of growls followed by her attacker’s screams. Mercifully, she blacks out, but not before catching a glimpse of a shadowy figure who whispers to her…

Cassita vulneratus.

When Raven awakes, she is inexplicably changed. She returns to the Uffizi, but no one recognizes her and more disturbingly, she discovers that she’s been absent an entire week. With no recollection of the events leading up to her disappearance, Raven also learns that her absence coincides with one of the largest robberies in Uffizi history – the theft of a set of priceless Botticelli illustrations. When the baffled police force identifies her as its prime suspect, Raven is desperate to clear her name. She seeks out one of Florence’s wealthiest and elusive men in an attempt to uncover the truth about her disappearance. Their encounter leads Raven to a dark underworld whose inhabitants kill to keep their secrets…

Raven was inspiring. She never let the past destroy her. Her life hasn’t been easy, by any stretch of the imagination, but she won’t let that stop her. She fights for what’s right, even at the risk of her own life. No matter what life throws at her, she takes a stand against the wrongdoers, and I love that about her. I was cheering her on the whole time.

The Prince is, by far, one of the most romantic characters I’ve ever read. I swear, over half of the book is filled with swoon worthy quotes from him.

“You are my greatest virtue and my deepest vice.”

The Prince is all about protecting his city. He has no time for love. But when he save Raven, part of him was drawn to her. He wants her, and he normally doesn’t want anyone. But he knows that she should go away and stay away, for her own safety, but she’s stubborn. So he finds himself keeping tabs on her and protecting her when the need arises.

They were the most improbable of lovers. Yet it was manifest to both they were indeed a perfect match.

This book had the same artistic feel that the Inferno series did. I find that I am googling these paintings just to see the beauty. I know it is nothing like it would be in person, but it gives me a glimpse into the world of the Prince. We’re visited by Gabriel and Julianne Emerson for bit. It was nice to see them, even if the Prince wants to make them suffer for something he feels that they did wrong. But I’m still hoping that he has a change of heart.

What a perfect beginning to another beautiful and artistic series. I can’t wait for the sequel!!


Buy The Raven (Florentine series)

Review: The Prince by Sylvain Reynard

01prince Well now. That was a quick little glimpse into a new series, and I think I’m gonna like it. I think I’m gonna like it a lot.

The unveiling of a set of priceless illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy at the Uffizi Gallery exposes the unsuspecting Professor Gabriel Emerson and his beloved wife, Julianne, to a mysterious and dangerous enemy.

Unbeknownst to the Professor, the illustrations he secretly acquired years ago were stolen a century earlier from the ruler of Florence’s underworld. Now one of the most dangerous beings in Italy is determined to reclaim his prized artwork and exact revenge on the Emersons, but not before he uncovers something disturbing about Julianne …

Set in the city of Florence, “The Prince” is a prequel novella to “The Raven,” which is the first book in the new Florentine Series Trilogy by Sylvain Reynard.

“The Prince” can be read as a standalone but readers of The Gabriel Series may be curious about the connection between The Professor’s world and the dark, secret underworld of “The Prince.”

I remember seeing this character in Gabriel’s Redemption and he seemed “otherworldly” to me. So when this new series was announced, and it was said to be a sort of spin off, I knew EXACTLY who it was going to be about. Now, you don’t need to read the Gabriel’s Inferno series, to read this. But, personally, to get the full experience, I highly recommend that you do. You can thank me later.

I was mesmerized by how this Prince was intrigued with the Emersons. Well, mostly he wanted to kill the professor. But seeing a few scenes, from his eyes, made me fall for the Professor all over again, even if he’s a jerk sometimes. We see quite a few scenes with the Emersons, as he watches them and plans their demise.

But right when the Prince is ready to follow through with his plan, a new threat creeps into his city and now he must deal with this first.

I am so excited to read The Raven and find out what happens next. Part of me wants more of the professor, but then to see him means that the Prince is out to harm him. So maybe, I’m not in a rush to see him quite yet.


In the distance, the Prince could hear voices and muffled sounds.

He approached silently, almost floating across the floor.

Desperate groans and the rustling of fabric filled his ears, along with the twin sounds of rapidly beating hearts. He could smell their scents, the aromas heightened due to their sexual arousal.

He growled in reaction.

The corridor was shrouded in darkness but the Prince could see that the professor had his wife up against a window between two statues, her legs wrapped around his waist.

Her voice was breathy as she spoke, but the Prince tuned out her words, moving closer so he could catch a glimpse of her lovely face.

At the sight of it, flushed with passion, his old heart quickened and he felt the stirrings of arousal.

It was not his custom to observe rather than participate. But on this occasion, he decided to make an exception. Careful to remain in the darkness, he moved to the wall opposite the couple.

The woman squirmed in her lover’s arms, her high heels catching on his tuxedo jacket. Her fingers flew to his neck, undoing his bow tie and tossing it carelessly to the floor.

She unbuttoned his shirt, and her mouth moved to his chest, as murmurs of pleasure escaped his lips.

The Prince felt more than desire as he watched the woman’s eager movements. He caught a glimpse of her exquisite mouth and the toss of her long hair that would no doubt feel like silk between his fingers.

She lifted her head to smile at the man who held her close and he could see love in her eyes.


Pre-order The Prince
Release date 1-20-15
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Pre-order The Raven-Book 1 in The Florentine Series
Release date 2-3-15
Amazon US
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Review: The Dead Wife’s Handbook by Hannah Beckerman

***!I can’t really say that this is a bad book. It’s just so depressing. I suppose people might think differently….that the dead wife comes to terms with her lot and everyone ends up being as happily ever after as possible….but the wife is still dead….so screw that….life doesn’t just happen because it’s fate and it was meant to….sometimes life just sucks…..

Okay….maybe I’m jaded. My pops died several months ago and I think it is still hitting me….I find myself thinking of him more often then not lately and I overwhelmed sometimes….maybe that’s why I disliked this book so much….but maybe it isn’t.

We’ve all been told and comforted by the thoughts of our loved ones watching over us….right? Well this novel really put that into perspective for me. However, it was no comfort at all. It’s horrifying. None of us are saints. Sure, some people will be saintly and be happy to know that our loved ones continue to live and move on from their grief. However….let’s be honest…..would you really like to watch your husband and daughter move on with their lives without you…..we’re not talking mythically….we are talking literally….

Because of my dad and the reasons that he died….I’ve been angry….I love him…not one bit less….but I’m pissed at choices he made and how those he left behind have to continue on without him….however….to think of him sitting there looking down and watching us suffer because of those choices…well, it makes me ill.

Yet, this is a novel where a dead wife is made to watch her husband and daughter move on in life without her….no matter how happy she is supposed to be… must be horrifying….

But to take it a step further….if we actually know that our loved ones are watching our every move….and not just the *romanticized* version of looking over us……well, I can’t even imagine how that husband could have coped.

I won’t go on….it’s obvious how this book made me feel. Maybe it will give someone else comfort. However it just depressed me. I will also note that although time elapsed 2 plus years in this novel, I didn’t feel as if the daughter aged at all. Her behaviour at the end seemed pretty spot on to what her behaviour was at the start…..I think the author got the behaviour correct at the start, but that the girl needed to progress….not how emotions or how she felt about her mum….or the new person in her life…..but just how she expressed it. She still acted like the 7-year-old at the start and not the almost 10 year old….although it’s not a huge age difference, the behaviour between the two ages for a young girl is huge….I also thought the added drama (no spoilers) that the new love interest shared of her life was unnecessary and was only added to gain sympathy votes from the reader….it had the opposite effect on me….I felt that the author tried to make this woman out to be absolutely perfect…..and really……no one likes perfection… although the whole subject was horrible, the author wrapped it all up in the disguise of happening to perfect people…it would have been much more interesting if at least one person got ugly and things got messy….instead everyone just gathered around at the end and sang Kumbaya…..

ummmm….no……that’s not for me……

Now that I’ve run my gob……Please don’t let my somewhat negative review put you off this book….it was a very personal read for me and one I might not be emotionally equipped for at the moment….then again, this book was utterly depressing for me…..the whole concept….before I started it, it seemed like it would be fascinating….but right from the start it was just so depressing… hey ho…there you have it….I can’t tell you if you should or shouldn’t…..but if you start it and find it depressing for the reasons I mentioned….well….don’t expect it to change by the ending….

Until next time….

Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review