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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-07-20 07:45
Just A Kiss (Summer Harbor #3) by Denise Hunter
Just a Kiss (A Summer Harbor Novel) - Denise Hunter

Watching the love of his life fall for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all. But all that changes when an IED takes the life of a comrade and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige. Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances Riley is adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up with the money needed to save it. As the weeks wear on, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory. Why is she suddenly noticing his arm muscles and the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?

Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, now it's time to for Riley Callahan to get the spotlight! Moving in the background of the first two books, here we get to know his story a bit better as he returns from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. 

 

Through the earlier books in this series, the reader sees Riley struggling with the romantic relationship between his brother Beau and Riley's best friend, Paige. Riley himself has been secretly in love with Paige for years. To cope with his emotions, he chooses to enlist in the military. Almost immediately, he gets word he's getting shipped to Afghanistan. Now fifteen months later in Just A Kiss, Riley is returning home after surviving an IED attack that costs him one of his legs. 

 

Prior to the explosion, Riley had plans to return home to Summer Harbor and finally reveal his true feelings to Paige. Now things sit a little differently, as he is moved into Paige's home for the recovery / physical therapy process and Paige takes on the role of caretaker. Not exactly what he had in mind. Riley struggles with feelings of only being half a man, still tempted to confess his love to Paige but also feeling like she deserves better than what he feels he can offer as an amputee. In response to his inner struggle, Riley begins to distance himself emotionally from Paige, thinking he's doing her a favor. But as these romances tend to go, as one pulls back, the other party involved leans forward. 

 

Paige, when not helping Riley, has her own professional stresses. The shelter she runs is at risk of being shut down for lack of funding. On the suggestion of Lucy (Riley's sister-in-law you met in The Goodbye Bride), Paige puts together a bachelor auction fundraiser and, with a bit of a struggle, gets Riley to agree to serve as one of the bachelors. Seeing him in this light where many of Summer Harbor's single ladies going crazy at the chance to have a date with him, Paige is shocked at her own feelings of jealousy towards these women. Slowly the thought creeps into her mind that maybe, just maybe she herself feels something beyond the platonic for her best bud. But of course she takes the Riley approach to things, keeping her complicated emotions to herself. So as you can imagine it takes forever for these two to get anywhere fun with each other.

 

Author Denise Hunter offers a note to the reader right off the bat letting one know that any of the Summer Harbor books can be enjoyed as a standalone piece. With this closing book to the series, while it was cute I was a left a little disappointed overall. It's pretty standard romance fare, safe romance that was built a little TOO slowly for me, and closed on a pretty bland ending. 

 

Though this is technically a Christian romance series, the religious element is pretty light through most of the books. This one though, there is a pretty heavy dousing of religion near the end, which felt a little odd... like it was getting jammed in there real quick before the doors closed... when the rest of the series was so light on it. 

 

That aside, decent light summer fluff you can have fun with on a chill-out day without too much mental commitment required. 

 

FTC DisclaimerTNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own. 

 

 

____________

 

My review for Falling Like Snowflakes (Summer Harbor #1)

My review for The Goodbye Bride (Summer Harbor #2)

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review 2018-07-17 02:30
The Silver Spoon, Forsyte Chronicles #5
The Forsyte Saga: The Silver Spoon (A Modern Comedy #2) - John Galsworthy
A Modern Comedy - John Galsworthy

An American relative by marriage arrives pays a call in Westminster, a link to the more interesting, artistic, Forsytes in time to be present at a new scandal. Soames overhears a guest at one of his daughter's parties make a disparaging remark about Fleur and defends her. What should have only been some ruffled feathers turns into a major concern and underlines just how much society has changed since the Great War.

While I have come around a bit in regards to Fleur, I still find her irritating. The social nature of this plotline had little of the dramatic edge of 'The White Monkey' for me. Mont's attempts to make a name for himself in politics is interesting historically, but also didn't have the drama I loved in the first trilogy of Forsyte novels.

What made this book readable was Soames, of course. His own interior distress at the changing times and his attempts to do right by his daughter were sympathetic and made for good reading. Soames is still moving well in financial currents and has developed an understanding of fine art, but emotions and what makes people tick are still a mystery to him. The American cousin, Francis Wilmot, has his own struggles with his fascination for the lovely and modern girl who sparked Soames outrage.

This was an interesting social critique of London society and to an extent global politics of the 1920s. I would still only recommend this for Forsyte fans.

'A Modern Comedy'

Next: 'Swan Song'

Previous: 'The White Monkey'

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review 2018-07-04 14:52
The Stuart Age: England 1603-1714
The Stuart Age: England 1603-1714 - Barry Coward

After the act of the Tudors, how would the Stuarts follow up in ruling England?  Barry Coward covers the history of England between 1603 and 1714 in The Stuart Age giving the reading a comprehensive look at the developments across religion, economy, politics, and government while trying to dispel old assumptions and highlight new research.

 

Coward begins and ends the book with looking a statistical view England, at first looking how England developed through the early Stuarts to 1650 and then through the Interregnum and late Stuarts until the Hanoverian ascension.  The vast majority of the book covers the narrative flow of history of the period from the ascension of James VI of Scotland as James I of England after the death of Elizabeth to the death of his great-granddaughter Anne with all the twists and turns that happened within the domestic political arena that saw numerous failed attempts at Scottish union to disagreements between monarchs and parliament and finally the dispossessions of monarchs from the throne through execution and invited invasion then dictating who can take the throne.  Plus add in the events in Scotland and Ireland that played important roles at critical times that shaped events in England that made the century what it was.

 

The book is first and foremost an overview of the era with Coward attempting to give the events that took place their proper context in the evolution of government or religion or anything else related to “modern” Britain.  In doing this he set aside many myths about the era especially in the context of their times, he also gave context between “court” and “country” political establishments especially in relation to developments on the continent, i.e. the rise of absolutism and centralized government.  However, one of the drawbacks is that Coward would bring up other historians and juxtapose their theories on events without just simply making his own mark on the interpretation of the events.  Another feature which was lacking was that the military campaigns of especially the English Civil War, but also the continental wars, weren’t highlighted much especially since the Civil War was only covered in one whole chapter yet as an overview book it wasn’t unexpected.  And finally, as this edition of the book—the 2nd published in 1994—is almost 25 years old further research and debate has been missed out on.

 

The Stuart Age does its job fantastically well by giving an overview of the entire Stuart era that like other parts of English history seemed to be overshadowed by the proceeding Tudors.  Barry Coward’s layout of the period gives the reader perspective of the statistical elements of history that will influence the later narrative of the political and military events that make of the majority of the book then the aftereffects of those events on the same statistics, though slow in the beginning pays off and make this book pop.  If you’re looking for an overview of this period in English history, then you should consider this book.

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review 2018-07-04 11:20
The Return of the Soldier (Virago Modern Classics) - Rebecca West

Kitty and Jenny sit at home, awaiting the end of the war and the return of Chris, Kitty’s husband and Jenny’s cousin. However he returns to them sooner, suffering amnesia from shell-shock. He can remember Jenny and Margaret, his first love, but has no recollection of Kitty. Between the women they have to decide if they should allow Chris to remain 15 years in the past or to find a cure. That cure will be an act of love.

 

It is little wonder that Chris resorts to only remembering his past. It is a coping mechanism, his brain’s way of allowing him to heal, by remembering the happiest time of his life. It is telling perhaps that his mind does not remember the early courtship with his wife, though she is inextricably linked to the loss of his son.

 

The house and it’s grounds are idealised. It is the house of old that Chris longs to return to, a place for him to be comfortable and to heal. Jenny marvels at its beauty in the present day, at the wonderful grounds and the many changes wrought by Kitty. With Chris’ situation her eyes are opened to the fact that these changes may not be as welcome to him as once believed.

 

The house and it’s setting are also used to juxtapose the battlefields. Rebecca West doesn’t attempt to portray the horror of war. It is mentioned briefly by Jenny, referring to the film reels seen and the dreams they cause. However the reader is left to imagine the scenes, stark in their absence, when compared with the idyllic life Chris has left behind. To Jenny it is a haven, a cocoon to keep them safe. The house is in a perpetual golden glow if her descriptions are to believed but it becomes more apparent that it may be something of a gilded cage.

 

Kitty isn’t a particularly likeable character. She seemed less concerned with Chris’ mental health than how it affected her. She thinks that by draping herself in the jewels he bought her, he will suddenly remember her. Her avoidance of him seems more caused by petulance than anxiety. She is discourteous to Margaret, though this seems less to do with jealousy and more to do with snobbery. Jenny is a more complex character. She views Margaret initially with disdain, a disdain towards her poverty and obvious signs of beauty than anything else. She is quick to assume that Margaret is unhappy with her life in her pokey little house, that her lack of style and money has leached her of beauty. She misses the signs of fidelity that are briefly brought before her when Margaret and her husband interact. She fails, initially, to see the beauty behind the shabby clothes. But she gets to know Margaret, learns the history of her and Chris and soon comes to rely on her. Margaret is ultimately selfless. She does attend on Chris in part to remember happier days, to relive her youth and in some respects to obtain closure or to confirm her life choices. She is also there for Chris, to help him heal. Chris is the tie that binds them together and though he is the focal point for the women, it is those women that are very much the focal point of the novel.

 

This is a slim volume, but nonetheless is an effecting story, despite it’s size. It is a quiet, beautifully told story of love and war. Recommended.

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review 2018-06-23 19:02
Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted? Volume 0 by Jason Latour
Spider-Gwen Vol. 1: Most Wanted? - Marvel Comics

Title:  Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted? Volume 0

Author: Jason Latour

Artist: Robbi Rodriguez

Genre:  Action / Superheroes / Drama / Crime / Music


Year Published: 2015


Year Read:  11/11/2017

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Series: Spider-Gwen #0

Source:  Purchased

Content Rating:  Ages 15+ (Some Language and Violence)

 

 

Spider

Introduction: 

Wait a minute…Gwen Stacy is…SPIDER WOMAN!? And who ever heard of a graphic novel having a volume 0? 

Before you get confused about this (as I was), there was an event called “Spider-Verse” that might explain about all this (except that I haven’t read the “Spider-Verse” event yet, so that point might be moot at this time). Anyway, I have been hearing so many good things about the “Spider-Gwen” series that I had to give “Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted? Volume Zero” a shot and I must admit that I actually liked this graphic novel!

What is this story about? 

In this universe, it was Gwen Stacy who was bitten by a radioactive spider and possessed spider powers (not Peter Parker). It turns out that Peter Parker was bullied so much at school that one day he decided to transform himself into the lizard and went on a rampage throughout the city and ended up getting himself killed. Because of this, Gwen harbored a lot of guilt over what happened to Peter since Peter was doing all this to be like Gwen. After this tragic event, J. Jonah Jameson had caused the public to turn against Spider-Gwen by stating that she was responsible for Peter Parker’s death and Gwen ends up being on the run from the law, including from her father Captain Stacy (at least until she tells him who she really is). Now Gwen has to prove to the public that she did not kill Peter Parker and that she is a true hero while also avoiding the people after her including Frank Castle (A.K.A. The Punisher), the Vulture and Matt Murdock himself!

What I loved about this story: 

Jason Latour’s writing: Jason Latour’s writing was quite unique and interesting to read as this universe’s Gwen Stacy is one of the most interesting characters I had ever read! I loved the way that Jason Latour made Gwen Stacy into such a strong female protagonist as Gwen also cracks jokes like Spider-Man, but she can be moody at times due to her guilt over Peter’s death and I loved the way that Jason Latour wrote Gwen’s struggles with trying to cope with Peter’s death as it made Gwen into a truly relatable character. I also loved the fact that Gwen Stacy is involved in a rock band as it adds even more dimension to her character and I just loved the fact that we have a heroine who is into music! I also enjoyed the moments between Gwen and her father, Captain Stacy, as while it was quite intense due to Captain Stacy not wanting his daughter to get in danger, it was nice seeing how much Captain Stacy cares about his daughter and only wants what is best for her. Jason Latour also did an interesting job at giving us a Spider-Man universe where Gwen Stacy is Spider Woman as I never would have thought that Gwen Stacy of all people could become a superheroine. But, this version of Gwen Stacy is so well written that I actually loved the fact that Gwen Stacy makes an interesting Spider Woman!

Robbi Rodriguez’s artwork: Robbi Rodriguez’s artwork was quite creative to look at, especially Spider Gwen’s outfit! I just loved the reddish hues that cover the pages whenever Gwen is performing in her rock band as it makes those moments really stand out. But the best part of Robbi Rodriguez’s artwork is Spider-Gwen’s outfit! I think I have fallen in love with Spider-Gwen’s outfit since it is actually white and pink all over and it makes her look like a savior type being within the pages!

Spider

What made me feel uncomfortable about this story: 

The reason why I gave this book a four-star rating was because I felt that the dialogue was a bit disjointed at times. I was not sure if it was because the dialogue was trying to use street slang to make the characters seem more modern or if it was the writing itself. I often had a difficult time trying to understand what the characters are actually saying due to how the dialogue is being written. Also, if you have not read “Spider-Verse,” chances are you will probably be confused about what is really going on in this book (although this is technically an alternate universe of the “Spider-Man” universe).

Final Thoughts: 

Overall, “Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted? Volume Zero” is a great graphic novel to read if you want to see a different take on Gwen Stacy!

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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