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review 2017-08-22 08:44
Review: Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin
[(Butterfly Swords)] [By (author) Jeannie Lin] published on (October, 2010) - Jeannie Lin

This is Lin's first book. If I had read this before reading the other books or novellas in the series, I would have never read another book from her. This was a rough slog reading. At the 85% mark, I basically skimmed multiple paragraphs at a time just to get to the end.

 

This is the story of An Li, only daughter to Emperor Shen. She ran from her arranged marriage prior to the wedding because she had reason to believe her husband to be killed her brother. An Li thinks she is a badass, but she comes across as a complete dumbass. She is also an impulsive, immature spoiled brat known to throw down some temper tantrums and had the worst mood swings. She is supposedly skilled with swords, but there were more times she was a loser in a fight and needing rescuing. She escaped a lot of dicey situations in the first half of the book by throwing money around; when she lost her money she was basically useless. She was also very vaguely drawn; it wasn't until the second half of the book we get a detail about her eye color.

 

The hero of this mess is Ryam (no last name, which speaks volumes about the attention to detail the book gives the character development). Ryam is a "barbarian" wandering around the wrong side of the empire and is starting to make his way back home on the western frontier just beyond the empire when he encounters An Li, dressed as a boy traveling with a group of men. Of course, Ryam senses that An Li is really a female due to her curves...sure. An Li requests Ryam's help in getting her back to Changan, capital of the empire, and to her family so she can reveal her groom's nasty dealings to the court. For no reason whatsoever, Ryam agrees to help.

 

There is a lot of walking in the woods and talk about the empire in the first half of the book. I guess this is to established the bond between An Li and Ryam, but it was so boring and repetitive. Once in Changan, a mere 3 days is used to isolate An Li from her family (that she talked about So Much during the walking in the woods) and raise some political intrigue. Ryam did his duty and he left the city after collecting his pay. This lasts for approximately 10% of the book, then An Li runs away again, this time for her family's home in Longyou. Along the way she meets Ryam again and he agrees to accompany her on her trip home. At least this time they took horses.

 

At home in Longyou, An Li and Ryam act on their pants feelings for each other and the reader gets treated to long repetitive "is this love what I am feeling" monologues. An Li's groom is not happy with her dismissal and he tracks the couple throughout the book without being actually anywhere near them. He is mentioned about 25000 times and how he is a "bad man." An Li does not get the warm welcome home she expected by her brother (who remained in the mountain home to take on a job), so she and Ryam run away, AGAIN, to Ryam's home on the frontier. It is here in Yumen Guan (Jade Gate) that groom finds bride and lots of fighting begins, along with a kidnapping. Ryam goes after An Li and her kidnappers and we get a long, boring bloody showdown between groom and hero. In the end, the groom decides to let An Li go because she is not worth all this damn trouble. Emperor Shen, who witnessed the showdown and experienced An Li's constant running away, decides she is not worth the trouble either and gives Ryam the job being occupied by the brother and the couple gets the mountain home. Ryam also gets to use Shen for a last name. Emperor Shen doesn't care, he just wants An Li out of his hair.

 

So the "bad man" groom is the hero in the next book which tells you everything. Paper tiger fed by An Li's hysterics.

 

 

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text 2017-08-21 21:13
Oh No, Another Walking Tour of China
[(Butterfly Swords)] [By (author) Jeannie Lin] published on (October, 2010) - Jeannie Lin

The book starts out with a trip from the southern province to Changan. It takes the MCs to the 50% to get to Changan. Then at 60% they are on another trip, this time to Longyou. All by foot/horse/sometimes cart. A whole lot of walking and nothing else. And I don't like either MC. I'm drinking my last bottle of hard cider (I finished off the whiskey reading the historical romances over the weekend). All I have left is a bottle of grapple and lemonade.

 

Hubby is TDY this week and has the ration card. :(

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review 2017-08-21 12:55
Review: The Bootlegger's Daughter by Lauri Robinson
The Bootlegger's Daughter (Daughters of the Roaring Twenties) - Lauri Robinson

*sigh* I should have DNF at 30%, but I already DNF'd two other books on my COYER reading list and didn't want to start a trend.

 

Norma Rose Nightingale was an unlikeable heroine - cold, unforgiving, mean. She wasn't that great of a business woman, even though the reader is told over and over again how the resort turned in massive profits due to her work. She was a caricature of the "hard dame" type of woman of the Jazz Age. Although she was smart and had opinions about Prohibition failing which turned true, she was pretty dumb when it came to people. Tyler Bradshaw wasn't much better - he had a single mission that gave him all the motivation for everything he did. Both had tragic back stories that rang false (Norma Rose doesn't want to nurse anyone if they are sick because she had to take care of her dead mother and brother during the Spanish flu outbreak; Tyler had his family massacred by the mobster he is searching for at the resort).

 

The plotline and scenes were really disjointed; the author seemed not to understand the balance of suspense and romance. Plot threads were brought up and drop with frequency. The whole point of the plot was for Tyler to bring Ray Bodine to justice....and the reader got one paragraph about how Tyler took him done after the fact. This was the major plot line, the whole reason for Tyler to be there at the resort in the first place, and it was resolved away from the resort and with no details. The ending was very abrupt and unsatisfying.

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review 2017-08-13 22:55
Review: The Baby Barter by Patty Smith Hall
The Baby Barter (Love Inspired Historical) - Patty Smith Hall

I read one other book by this author and that was a DNF. I picked up this book during Harlequin's October sale, so that was prior to the DNF. I struggled at times to get through this book, but it was a decent inspirational romance.

 

Sheriff Mack Worthington is trying to handle the changing times in his small town of Marietta, Georgia while also trying to adopt a baby girl named Sarah. Sarah was born with a mouth deformity (read to me like it was a cleft palate). The changing nature of his small town was due to the war ending (sending GIs home) and the bomber plant cutting jobs (mostly women employees). The judge for the adoption is not looking favorably on Mack's lack of marriage prospects. Lucky for Mack, his high school friend/crush has come home from the war along with the GIs.

 

Thea was an Army nurse during the European campaign and is home only to help out her dysfunctional family. Thea left Marietta eight years ago (for nursing school, then the Army) and her presence has the whole town buzzing. Thea's goal is to find her recently deceased sister's baby and raise it as her own. Her high school friend/crush just so happens to be trying to adopt the baby.

 

There was a lot to like about this story. Mack and Thea had a history that was based on friendship and honesty. Thea was a capable nurse and had a wonderful bed side manner. Ms. Aurora Adair is an angel and the confident both Thea and Mack needed individually. She was my favorite character in the book. The pacing was slow in the first half of the book, but picked up when Thea agreed to a marriage of convenience to Mack.

 

There were some lackluster parts to the story. For one, all the answers to the question of Sarah's birth parents can be found in Ms. Williams' letter that neither Mack or Thea ever opened or read. That was the major plotline behind the stalled adoption and it was never resolved. Mack's cousins and his lawyer were cloying and annoying, especially Beau (Mack's conversations with Beau is what I struggled with). For a book that took place mere weeks after the end of WWII, there was hardly any world building or period details. The religious tone and actions/words from the characters felt very performative and shoe-horned in and not natural to the story or the characters.

 

I am glad I kept reading this book, but I don't think I want to read anything more from this author. I just wasn't "Wow"ed by the writing.

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review 2017-08-10 20:38
Review: Mission of Hope by Allie Pleiter
Mission of Hope (Love Inspired Historical) - Allie Pleiter

Allie Pleiter wrote another wonderful, engaging historical romance that was also a page turner. Ms. Pleiter takes readers to some of the hardest times in American history and delivers inspiring, loving stories - she has such a gift.

 

The book begins 3 months after the April 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire that destroyed the growing port city. Nora is the daughter of the post master; her well to do family lost their home in the disaster as well as Nora's cousin Annette. Nora and her parents are living in her grieving aunt and uncle's house in a different part of the city. I had no sympathy for any of Nora's family; snobbish, weak assholes all of them. But Nora (and to a smaller extent, the memory of Annette) was already becoming a modern, independent woman. Living in the aftermath of the disaster only sped up the maturing process.

 

Quinn found a locket in the rubble of the city and fixed it up with the intention of finding the owner of the locket and giving it back. The locket held a picture of Nora and Annette, so Quinn identified Nora via her picture; it was Nora's gift to Annette for her cousin's birthday and the last remaining piece of Annette. The cute meet was what sucked me in the story, and I rooted for Quinn and Nora from that moment. Their love story is one of overcoming class differences and keeping the faith that in the worst of times, one needs hope and joy wherever they can find it. Quinn and Nora do so much good work for the people of the "unofficial" camp (aka the shanty town that sheltered the poor people of the city) and through their good work grew a strong bond and eventually love.

 

Reverend Baurs was a delight to read and his manipulations (all for the glory of God and to help the disaster's poor refugees) made him seem more like an impish angel than a stuffed shirt. Baurs had skills no ordinary pastor should have, but those skills came in handy when disaster strikes. I don't think Major Simon was a true villain, but I also wouldn't want to read about him as a hero in another book - he is too untrustworthy after reading this book.

 

Overall, an exciting and great romance. 

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