The Earl’s London Bride – What Do You Get With A Free Romance On Kindle?

Book Review : The Earl’s London Bride
The Chase Brides

By Lauren Royal and Devon Royal

Kindle Edition

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

The Earl’s London Bride” is the SWEET & CLEAN ROMANCE edition of “Amethyst” by Lauren Royal.
London, 1666: Amethyst Goldsmith makes dazzling jewelry, but her future isn’t nearly as bright as the pieces she creates. Though custom dictates she wed her father’s apprentice, her heart rebels against the match. In mere days Amy will be condemned to a stifling, loveless marriage, and she sees no way out—until the devastating fire of 1666 sweeps through London, and tragedy lands her in the arms of a dashing young earl who knows a diamond in the rough when he sees it…

Colin Chase, the Earl of Greystone, has his future all figured out. He’s restoring his crumbling castle and estate to its former glory, and the key to its completion is his rich bride-to-be. But the Great Fire lays waste to his plans, saddling him with trouble—in the form of a penniless shopkeeper’s daughter with whom he’s most inconveniently falling in love… (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Romance is a sticky genre to review. Too often kisses are electric, warm, scintillating, caressed, ect. Unfortunately, these descriptions seem trite after the third description (often jumping from one book to another with the same basic theme). For a romance book to be enjoyable I need to be surprised, enchanted and have a good back story. I think I like a romance novel, but in actuality there are very few that I feel like I would ever read again.

In The Earl’s London Bride I thought the setting was above average. The backdrop is during the Restoration of King Charles II in London. The Great Fire of London in 1666 is the catalyst for the romance of Colin and Amy. At this point I had great hope for the plot.

I was sadly mistaken. The plot devolved into maudlin dialogue and stolen kisses that melt, ect. I actually got excited when Colin was sent off to France by King Charles because I was looking forward to more historical facts.

Colin’s character enjoys practical jokes. I have never understood pranks like this and it put me off of him as a romantic lead. Amy was good natured about the jokes and appreciated his humor. There is a lot of angst over class and the appropriateness of their relationship.

Amy is written with many modern values which seem inconsistent with the time. I doubt women would have questioned who they were marrying so deeply because women had financial security through a marriage. It is fully conceivable that she would have worked in her family’s trade and unlikely that her husband would have wanted her to exclusively raise a family. The family trade was essential for survival and everyone participated for survival. There was some upward mobility in class with merchants and the nobility. It was always due to money and titles being joined.

Spoiler alert! When they have a child and name her Jewel, I just about threw the story out. So inane!

In the end I’m barely giving it 3 stars (Honestly, I might knock it down to 2 except for the fact that the time period was interesting).

It is a clean romance, though silly. In the end I feel like I got what I expected. Not much, but the price was right.

3 out of 5 stars
3 star

  • the Mother
  • Romance novel’s that I have enjoyed include The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, Sorcery and Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede, Possession by A. S. Byatt, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and other classics by Jane Austen.
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The Yellow Wallpaper – Does This Book Change The Way You See Insanity?

Book Review : The Yellow Wallpaper

By Charlotte Perkins Stetson

Kindle Edition

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

First published in 1892, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is written as the secret journal of a woman who, failing to relish the joys of marriage and motherhood, is sentenced to a country rest cure. Though she longs to write, her husband and doctor forbid it, prescribing instead complete passivity. In the involuntary confinement of her bedroom, the hero creates a reality of her own beyond the hypnotic pattern of the faded yellow wallpaper–a pattern that has come to symbolize her own imprisonment. Narrated with superb psychological and dramatic precision, “The Yellow Wallpaper” stands out not only for the imaginative authenticity with which it depicts one woman’s descent into insanity, but also for the power of its testimony to the importance of freedom and self-empowerment for women. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

The road to insanity is devious. The Yellow Wallpaper was a fascinating read, especially since the author had experienced depression, and had received a doctor’s advice to avoid all activity, much like the protagonist, Jane, in her story. This is a must read if you are interested in Gothic Horror.

I enjoyed how a subtle word change showed Jane’s thought process. Her situation deteriorates from abhorring the wallpaper, to exploring it and finally being trapped within it’s prison. Her fascination with the wallpaper is part of her fear. She sees more than others will ever know within that prison. The last moment as this tortured soul circles around the room rubbing the wallpaper where it appears, yet another person had gone before, shows that she is not alone. The mind is a powerful thing.

The writing is beautiful! One of the things I truly miss in most modern writing is the lack of substance in sentences. I want to hear a description that sings with images, and I want to taste the words before they are swallowed.

Here are a couple of quotes (I don’t have page numbers since I read it on my Kindle)

    It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw—not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things.

 

There are things in that paper which nobody knows but me, or ever will.
Behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day. It is always the same shape, only very numerous.
And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I don’t like it a bit. I wonder—I begin to think—I wish John would take me away from here!

 

It’s fun to do a search on artists’ impression of the yellow wallpaper that would drive a depressed woman mad.

Here is a link to one artist’s thoughts http://lucydillamore.com/projects/yellow-wallpaper/

3.75 out of 5 stars

3-half-star-hotel

  • the Mother

If you liked this one try Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep – How Do We Define Humanity?

Book Review : Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

By Philip K. Dick

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

It was January 2021, and Rick Deckard had a license to kill.
Somewhere among the hordes of humans out there, lurked several rogue androids. Deckard’s assignmet–find them and then…”retire” them. Trouble was, the androids all looked exactly like humans, and they didn’t want to be found!
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? has been on my “to be read” pile for years. After some of the quintessential mediocre books from my summer reading I finally decided it was time to take the plunge and read something different. Like other early science fiction books, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? isn’t written for pure pleasure reading (aka fluff), it has a sociological point the author wants to convey.

The setting is in the San Francisco area after the world has suffered through a nuclear war, which has decimated and mutated the human population, killed many animals to extinction and created the need for space colonies. To attract the non-damaged humans to venture into space they were offered an android as a servant. Androids have continued to become more sophisticated and appear human; they want their freedom and are willing to kill to escape their masters. The plot centers around the humans rather than the androids.

I believe Dick wants us to think about our humanity. What makes us human? When do we stop being human? One of the most interesting points in the story is when the female robot, Rachael, kills Rick Deckard’s beloved goat. If the robot truly has no empathy they would have no need for revenge. Then why would Rachael intentionally kill the goat when she has acknowledged it is the thing he loves most, even more than his wife. Rachael does nothing to stop Rick from his course of action to kill the other androids.

Rachael was an inconsistent character, and was my biggest problem with the writing. She claimed she had not known she was an android when confronted by Rick. Later, when Rick is seducing her (though how do you seduce a robot that has no emotions?) Rachael says that she has done this multiple times and every bounty hunter is changed after being with her, except for one.

On a funny note, I borrowed this book from the library – inside the cover was a sticky note which read, “You’re reading! Nerd!” I have laughed over this wondering if they are trying to tell me I’m a reading nerd, or are they surprised I know how to read, or what? Since I picked up the book I knew I was reading, and I actually already know I’m a nerd. So, what.

In conclusion,  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was not my favorite book. I felt like I was back in High School reading an assigned book so I could analyze the deep meaning the author intended. On some days I would probably rate this book with more stars, similar to Orson Well’s 1984 (another High School assignment).

3 out of 5 stars

3 star

  • the Mother

If you liked this one try The Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov.

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Harry Potter and The Cursed Child – Does It Live Up To The Legacy?

Book/Play Script Review : Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

By J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I was very torn about reading The Cursed Child because I didn’t want it to ruin the wonder I felt through the whole Harry Potter series. This is also a play script which feels very different than a book. When reading a script I feel like I am filling in more details because the background is a a sketch of words, feelings or intent are sometimes noted and the majority of the text is the dialogue.

Harry seemed a bit loopy and I wanted him to be more involved with Albus. The authors did explain why Harry was a bit stilted as a parent – because he wasn’t raised by parents which was completely reasonable. However, there are other characters who weren’t raised by their parents and seemed to cope quite well.

Albus is a great character. He has integrity; even defying his family to befriend the friendless Malfoy boy, Scorpius. His struggle felt very real as he was compared to his father’s legend. I also liked Scorpius because he was such a surprise, and misunderstood by his father.

I did not like the deviation in personality of the Trolley Witch. She is such a minor character, but she seems like such a sweet granny. I thought Rose’s character was underdeveloped, particularly if Scorpius has a crush on her. (We will have to assume she is really cute because she was always very rude to Scorpius.) I’m having a hard time making the leap into suspended disbelief that Voldemort could have fathered a child. Hmmm, nope, still can’t imagine him having a child.

There were a couple of moments that made me smile. Overall, I didn’t feel like there was new magic or details about the wizarding world that were revealed. One of the things in the original series that kept me reading was to learn more about Harry’s magic world.

Essentially I am saying The Cursed Child did not live up to the legacy of the original series, but I enjoyed it for what it is. Would anything have lived up to the legend? Perhaps not, and that might be the actual curse.

3 out of 5 stars

3 star

  • the Mother

If you liked this one try the original Harry Potter series by Rowling (if somehow you have lived in a cave and missed it).

Otherwise, some of my favorite series that feature magic include, and in not particular order:

The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
 A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Sorcery and Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede
Beauty and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
The Gray Wolf Throne series by Cinda Williams Chima
Incarceron by Katherine Fisher
A Stranger To Command by Sherwood Smith
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey.

If I thought about it I know I could come up with more titles, but that should be enough to find something interesting.

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The King’s Traitor – Do You Think You Know The Ending? And Everything In-Between?

Book Review : The King’s Traitor
The Kingfountain Series
By Jeff Wheeler

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Against all odds, Owen Kiskaddon grew from frightened boy to confident youth to trusted officer in the court of Kingfountain—and watched its regent, Severn Argentine, grow ever more ruthless and power-mad. Robbed of his beloved protector, his noble mentor, and his true love, Owen has anticipated the day when the king he fears and reviles, yet loyally serves, will be toppled. Now, as Severn plots a campaign of conquest, the time has come to take action…and Owen’s destiny demands that he lead the strike.

Ordered to incite war with a neighboring kingdom, Owen discovers its beautiful, reclusive ruler, whose powerful magic might even exceed his own. Together they mount a daring plot to overthrow the corrupt monarch, crown the rightful heir, and defeat the prophesied curse threatening Kingfountain with wintry death. But Severn’s evil is as bottomless as the fabled Deep Fathoms. To keep his ill-gotten throne, he’ll gladly spill the blood of enemies and innocents alike. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I’m doing something very rare, for me, and giving The King’s Traitor 5 stars. The King’s Traitor is is the culmination of the Kingfountain series and shows the planning Wheeler has had from the beginning of the series, and it is officially one of my favorite new series. Usually the first book in a series is my favorite, however, I believe this one is probably my favorite. And I want Wheeler to know I forgive him for his mistreatment of Owen and Evie in the last book.

I don’t want to spoil the twists and events that harken back to the previous two books, so I will instead talk about more general aspects. From previous author’s notes we know that Wheeler is a fan of history and was inspired by Richard III for this series. He is also a fan of mythology and the magical elements are more fully developed in The King’s Traitor. I found the use of fountains to be fascinating and thought provoking as a symbol.

The characters are rich and complex.

Owen Kiskaddon is now 24, alone, jaded and sarcastic. He does not like how he manifests Severn’s personality. He is fraught with internal conflict over loyalty and duty. To whom does he truly owe his allegiance? Owen has deceived Severn into believing that he can see the future with his fountain magic, but in fact he is able to nullify the affects of others’ fountain powers and he can bring others back to life (which he received from Ankarette Tryneowy when she saved his life as an infant). As a child he replenished his powers by organizing tiles, but as an adult found that he could fill his reservoir of power through thinking of strategy. An additional talent seems to be his ability to organize and execute his plans.

Elysabeth Victoria Mortimer is a mother and has grown to love her husband Iago. She still values her relationship with Owen and hopes to renew their friendship. Evie is not fountain blessed, but she sure is up for mischief, as is her daughter Genevieve.

King Severn is mired in his own insecurities. He relentlessly pursues Lady Katherine while plotting her husband’s death. He is not aware that he has become the tyrant he was rumored to be early in his reign. The King’s power from the fountain is to be persuasive in convincing others to follow his will.

Etayne deeply loves Owen though her love is unrequited. She is a trusted confident and is loyal to Owen. Etayne can change her appearance, as well as others’ appearances through her gifts from the fountain. She is also a talented poisoner who wouldn’t hesitate to poison Severn.

A new character, Sinia, the Queen of Brythonica is an enigma. She is keeping secrets, but exudes open generosity. She is deeply respected and loved by her subjects. Etayne is very suspicious of her motives. Owen is trying to determine if she is worthy of his trust. Sinia is fountain blessed to see the future, but sometimes seeing the future is a burden.

I would still like to see a larger, more detailed map and a picture of the Wizr board and pieces.

I loved the cover illustrations. It’s refreshing to not have a canned photo of characters on the front.

Anyone who enjoys historical fiction or fantasy will enjoy this book. The writing is very character driven within the events which makes for a scintillating plot. I’m looking forward to the next generation and their stories.

If you predicted the ending of this series from the beginning I would believe you are clairvoyant. I didn’t even predict the end to this one, except I believed Owen would betray King Severn from the title.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • the Mother

If you liked this one you might want to read A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr, A Stranger To Command by Sherwood Smith, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner and The Way of Kings series by Brandon Sanderson.

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Chasing Vermeer – A Tween Da Vinci Code?

Book Review : Chasing Vermeer

By Blue Balliett
Illustrated by Brett Helquist

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

When a book of unexplainable occurrences brings Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay together, strange things start to happen: seemingly unrelated events connect, an eccentric old woman seeks their company, and an invaluable Vermeer painting disappears. Before they know it, the two find themselves at the center of an international art scandal, where no one — neighbors, parents, teachers — is spared from suspicion. As Petra and Calder are drawn clue by clue into a mysterious labyrinth, they must draw on their powers of intuition, their problem-solving skills, and their knowledge of Vermeer. Can they decipher a crime that has left even the FBI baffled. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Do you like puzzles, patterns, art and mystery? If so this is the book for you. I thought Chasing Vermeer was quite clever. I saw some clues in the illustrations, but I needed a guide to know just what to do with what I found.

I think kids will get caught into this book because it is interactive with solving codes and looking for clues. Finding the missing painting does not rely on science, but rather coincidence – which is rather like magic. Because the book is for a young audience, who halfway want to believe in magical thinking, moving the action forward with patterns and coincidences works. The pentominoes are a tool for inspiration used by Calder which predict the future or interpret the present. As and example the pentomino F might stand for Fool, if you felt like you had acted like a fool. An adult would want to have scientific reasons, or logic to solve the problems on hand.

The resolution was a little confusing, but I was reading quickly, which is my excuse. Frog who disappeared seemed like a clue to “Glitter Man” being responsible for the theft of A Lady Writing.

“And then there was Frog. Once Petra remembered Fort’s sentence We shall pick up an existence by its frogs, she pointed out to Calder that perhaps it had been some kind of strange clue. Maybe they should have picked up Gliter Man’s existence from Frog.” (p.253-254)

In fact, Frog had gone to stay with a relative in Washington D.C. while his parents were traveling.

I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 10 because of its complexity. I can see the comparison to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code because of the speed and mystery surrounding art. It was a fun read!

I loved Helquist’s illustrations!

 

3.5 out of 5 stars
3-half-star-hotel

  • the Mother

If you liked this one try reading Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by Robin LaFevers.

johannes_vermeer_-_a_lady_writing_-_google_art_project

A Lady Writing

brvgy

Pentominoes Code

Here is a link for lots of enrichment activities to use with Chasing Vermeer.

http://suzyred.com/2005vermeer.html

The author’s explanation pages.

http://sjalisle.org/resource/battle-08-09/Chasing_Vermeer.pdf

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The Mysterious Benedict Society – The Children Must Save The World

Book Review : The Mysterious Benedict Society

By Trenton Lee Stewart

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”

Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children-two boys and two girls-succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. But what they’ll find in the hidden underground tunnels of the school is more than your average school supplies. So, if you’re gifted, creative, or happen to know Morse Code, they could probably use your help. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I balk at writing a review for books like this because it didn’t grab me, but there was nothing wrong with the book and it definitely has an audience. Once again, The Mysterious  Benedict Society has the premise that the children are the only ones who can save the world from evil. It’s at times like this I believe I have read too much and am jaded.

The positives:

-The gifted children each solve problems in a unique way. It’s great to see that there are different kinds of intelligence and solutions.

-If you love poetry, Constance’s poems are original.

 

-There is lots of cloak and dagger elements.

-Each character is distinct. The main character, , has integrity, humility and is very likable. Kate is bombastic, Constance is very contrary and Sticky is loyal.

-There were three plot twists that will catch the younger audience by surprise. (Warning! Here are the big spoilers! Skip down to the next section if you want to avoid spoilers. Benedict has an evil twin, Kate’s father is actually Milligan and Constance is actually only two years old – which explains why she is always stubborn and napping.)

-No romance

The negatives:

-It’s slow off the mark. I felt like I was a third of the way through before we had gathered the four children who need to save the world.

-I interviewed my mother and other neighborhood children and the first adjective they all used to describe the novel was ‘weird’. There can be wonderful weird or just plain weird. My small survey all fell on the side of the latter.

I am reminded subtly of Animal Farm because of the progression of mis-thinking and misdirection.

Here is an excerpt from The Mysterious Benedict Society:

“The free market must always be completely free.
The free market must be controlled in certain cases.
The free market must be free enough to control its freedom in certain cases.
The free market must have enough control to free itself in certain cases.
The free market…” (p. 170)

3 out of 5 stars
3 star

  • the Mother

If you liked this one try The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens, The Secret of Sinbad’s Cave The Natnat Adventures By Brydie Walker Bain, The Children of Green Knowe By L.M. Boston and Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFever.

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