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review 2018-08-21 09:12
Falling In Love With English Boys by Melissa Jensen
Falling in Love with English Boys - Melissa Jensen

Sixteen-year-old Catherine Vernon has been stranded in London for the summer-no friends, no ex-boyfriend Adam the Scum (good riddance!), and absolutely nothing to do but blog about her misery to her friends back home. Desperate for something-anything-to do in London while her (s)mother's off researching boring historical things, Cat starts reading the 1815 diary of Katherine Percival her mom gives her-and finds the similarities between their lives to be oddly close. But where Katherine has the whirls of the society, the parties and the gossip over who is engaged to who, Cat's only got some really excellent English chocolate. Then she meets William Percival-the uber-hot descendant of Katherine-and things start looking up . . .

Amazon.com

 

 

 

This epistolary novel spans two centuries (through alternating chapters, all of Cat's chapters headed with song titles), combining the stories of two young women, Cat and Katherine. Cat, who shares her adventures with the reader via a blog format, is a modern day American teen who travels with her mom to the UK so that her mom may study the life of Mary Percival, whom Cat describes as "some woman who did absolutely nothing of import and has been dead for two hundred years."

 

*In the story, this Mary Percival character died before the age of 45, like Jane Austen. The reader will pretty quickly notice that this novel is heavily influenced / inspired by Austen's work.*

 

Katherine is a teen in 1815 England, whose story is provided through journal entries. While reading the excerpts from the journals of both Katherine and Mary Percival, Austen fans will likely notice that those journal scenes are basically remixes of plot points from Austen's Sense & Sensibility as well as Pride & Prejudice, but with some changes to make it Jensen's own unique imaginings. For one, a character in Katherine's era drinks too much at a party and suffers a sexual assault... which helps make even this fluff piece a bit of timely reading material.

 

While it may be easy to dismiss this as an easy breezy read, there are some respectable moments of character growth to be had here as well as some important, and as I said earlier, timely, topics to think on. Cat outwardly comes off as spoiled and obnoxious, but as the reader gets to know her a bit better, we learn that there's actually a fair amount of emotional hurt in her that she's struggling to address. But I did enjoy her sense of humor.

 

For example, visiting the Tower of London and the National Portrait Gallery and coming back with the hilariously simplified "King Henry (VIII) was rather hard on his wives... and I gotta say, after Anne Boleyn, they all look a bit anxious."

 

Continuing on in the NPG: "Winston Churchill didn't always look like a bulldog... Queen Victoria kinda did..."

 

Meanwhile, Katherine in her own time is struggling to maintain her sense of self when it's expected that she should just go along with her father's plan for her. I grew to really like Katherine's mother, who did her best to keep her daughter distanced from the gross choice of a suitor Katherine's father had picked out for her.

 

Mama curled in her favorite cushiony chair, feet tucked beneath her. In the moment, with the fire behind her and her face softened by shadow, she was familiar, like a mirror.

 

"Promise me something, Katherine," she said in a quiet moment.

 

"If I can."

 

"Oh, you can. Promise me that you will think, in every moment possible, what you want for yourself. And you will stand for yourself, especially in the times when no one seems interested in standing for you."

 

I did not understand, not really, but I promised nonetheless.

 

One moment in the story also illustrates a good point regarding double standards to think on: If we can acknowledge that some women may be fine pursuing fat, ugly or socially odious men simply for monetary gain, why is it so baffling to think men might likewise pursue plain women for THEIR wealth?

 

If you only get through the first few chapters of this, it'll be easy to dismiss it as forgettable froth, but there is a layer of depth here I found impressive and entertaining. Admittedly, I did prefer Katherine's portions of the book, but I'm a history junkie, not to mention I just found her story, that of a young woman so desperately trying to show others she has plenty of worth as an individual, not dependent on nabbing a husband, much more interesting than Cat's humorous but somewhat privileged ramblings around London... but Cat, though maybe a little irritating at first... she grew on me :-)

 

 

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review 2018-08-20 21:40
4.3 Out Of 5 STARS for The Scorpio Races
The Scorpio Races - Maggie Stiefvater

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~BOOK BLURB~

The Scorpio Races

Maggie Stiefvater

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Some race to win. Others race to survive.

 

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. 

 

Some riders live.

Others die.

 

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them. 

 

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn't given her much of a choice. So she enters the competition - the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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For some reason, this book was never on my radar.  I can't really say why.  If it wasn't for a reading challenge where I needed a book with a race in it…I probably would have never read it.  I think this is why I'm so addicted to them because they force me to discover something I wouldn’t have otherwise. 

 

I really liked The Scorpio Races, with all of the broody, dark-ish, Irish folklore-ish, mythical atmosphere that it had going on.  This is a story about the Capaill Uisce or Water Horses…a version of them anyway and an island where they train these horses, as best as they can, to run in a race they have every year.  There are some lulls in the story leading up to the race, but the budding romance/friendship between Puck and Sean is so beautifully done, that I hardly noticed them.

 

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~MY RATING~

4.3STARS - GRADE=A-

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 4.5/5

Main Characters~ 4.7/5

Secondary Characters~ 4/5

The Feels~ 4.2/5

Pacing~ 4/5

Addictiveness~ 4.5/5

Theme or Tone~ 4.5/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 4.2/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4/5

Originality~ 5/5

Ending~ 4.5/5  Cliffhanger~ Nope.

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Book Cover~ Striking, both covers actually.

Narration~ 4.5 for Steve West and Fiona Hardingham, I did like Fiona better than Steve, but they were both exceptional.

Setting~ Thisby Island

Source~ Audiobook (Scribd)

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review 2018-08-20 19:42
From Russia With Love / Ian Fleming
From Russia With Love - Ian Fleming

Every major foreign government has a file on James Bond, British secret agent. Now, Russia's deadly SMERSH organization has targeted him for elimination - they have the perfect bait in the irresistible Tatiana Romanova. Her mission is to lure Bond to Istanbul and seduce him while her superiors handle the rest.

 

***2018 Summer of Spies***

”At 7:30 on the morning of Thursday, August 12th, Bond awoke in his comfortable flat in the plane-tree’d square off the King’s Road and was disgusted to find that he was thoroughly bored with the prospect of the day ahead.”

Having just recently finished Lycett’s biography of Ian Fleming, the above passage sent me flipping through my notes about that author, where I found this quotation that I had noted:

”After his death his widow Ann put it in much the same way. “You must realize that Ian was entirely egocentric. His aim as long as I knew him was to avoid the dull, the humdrum the everyday demands of life that afflict ordinary people. He stood for working out a way of life that was not boring and he went where that led him. It ended with Bond.”


The conjunction of the two books made me smile. I’ve also recently finished reading Somerset Maugham’s spy novel, Ashenden. It also features a beautiful Russian woman—the protagonist spends a week with her to confirm their compatibility and instead finds her boring and demanding.

”But Ashenden saw himself eating scrambled eggs every morning for the rest of his life. When he had put her in a cab, he called another for himself, went to the Cunard office, and took a berth on the first ship that was going to America. No immigrant, eager for freedom and a new life, ever looked upon the statue of Liberty with more heartfelt thankfulness that did Ashenden, when on that bright and sunny morning his ship steamed into the harbour of New York.”


A wildly different response to the care and attention that Bond expends on Tatiana Romanova.

And wow, the first cliff hanger ending of the Bond series, showing how uncertain Fleming was about whether he would continue to write these adventures. Partly because of the criticism of conservative reviewers and the sniping of his wife’s circle of friends (which included Maugham). Ian became quite testy about his wife’s friends for this very reason. I think he would be pleased to know that Bond is still “a thing” even now in the 21st century.

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review 2018-08-19 17:58
Rough read, could have been better with a lot more editing.
True Love - Betty A. Blue

I found this story a little hard to get through. I felt it was a little disjointed. The premise of the story was fine. Young love, separated by misunderstandings, presumed death, and family manipulation. This was Katherine's and Antoine's story with a lot of secondary characters. Theirs was a tragic love story on the lines of Romeo and Juliet without the dying at the end. Too many errors pulled me out of the story as well as too many points of view. I hope that the author does take the time to look over the book again and see what she would change.

I received a copy of this story through Candid Book Reviews, and this is my unsolicited review.

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review 2018-08-18 05:47
Accidentally in Love with the Pilot by Teri Anne Stanley
Accidentally in Love with the Pilot - Teri Anne Stanley

 

What happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas. Not in the real world anyway. A little relaxation in Sin City becomes a wild ride for two strangers. For a loner with the best of intentions and a wild child with escape on her mind, a few too many glasses of liquid courage has them putting a ring on it. The problem is neither can remember where, when or why. Except when it starts to become all too clear. Not only have they lost their minds but if they don't step carefully they just might lose their hearts. Teri Stanley always makes my heart a little lighter with her humorous tales of over the top romance. Accidentally in Love With a Pilot is wicked entertainment. Fun romance.

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