Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Book: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Source: Library download 
Series: book 1 of 2 (reads as a standalone)
Overall Rating: 5 stars

Whenever I finish reading books that are so powerful and impactful, I sit down at my computer and wonder how the heck I'm going to capture this in a review. I don't feel worthy. I'm a personal blogger and I don't pretend to be anything else. I know that I can't always express myself as eloquently as I'd like. I hope that I can do this justice.

I truly can't remember the last time that I stayed up all night reading. I tried several times to put this down and a few minutes later I would pick my ereader back up and start reading again. I finished at 6:30 a.m. feeling emotionally worn out but also so grateful to have found this book. 

When I think about what this book is about, I could head in a few different directions, but what it really came down to for me was family. Even as I type that I get a little choked up, knowing what I know. Lavinia is a young Irish girl whose parents die on a ship as they are heading to the U.S. in the late 1700s. She is taken by the captain to be an indentured servant on his plantation. Lavinia is given to Belle, a slave in The Kitchen House, and together they take turns narrating. I don't want to give much more away but the relationships that are formed is what really makes this story work. The story is riveting and emotional and I read most of it with a sore stomach and with my heart in my throat, but where Kathleen Grissom truly shines is in her characterization. Her language was not complicated or overly flowery. Her characters worked their way into my heart so effortlessly that I couldn't let them go. 

(affiliate links to Amazon US)

Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Kathleen Grissom is now happily rooted in south-side Virginia, where she and her husband live in the plantation tavern they renovated. She is the author of The Kitchen House and most recently Glory Over Everything.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

Book: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith 
Genre: Mystery/Crime
Source: Library download 
Series: book 1 or 3 in the Cormoran Strike series 
Overall Rating: 3 stars
Panty Changer Rating: 

I don't often take book recommendations from my boss but she insisted that I grab this series over the summer and listen to the audiobooks. I haven't read much mystery over the last 20 years but I used to love them. I was also interested in reading something by J.K. Rowling (aka Robert Galbraith). I've never read Harry Potter so I was looking forward to discovering her writing style. My immediate reaction was very similar to my reaction when I read my first book by Stephen King. I thought, "She is a born storyteller!" Her prose is so powerful that I was in awe of how she could say things so perfectly in just one sentence. I felt like I'd been missing out.

The reader of the audiobook was excellent. He had a really pleasing voice and I settled in right away.  I was intrigued by the set up of the murder mystery and enjoyed getting to know the characters. Cormoran Strike is not your typical investigator. Well, maybe he is, but I read a lot of romance so they all tend to be sexy, alpha men. Cormoran was refreshingly different. I enjoyed the way the author let both his professional and personal lives unfold. I also enjoyed his relationship with his office assistant, Robin.

The story started to lose its impact in the middle. I got a little bogged down in the details. I understand that it takes time to uncover the mystery but it felt too long to me. There were a few times when I wished it would hurry along. Near the end it picked back up and I was once again intrigued. A few hours after finishing, I realized that I missed Cormoran Strike and downloaded the second book. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

(affiliate links for Amazon US)

Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series and The Casual Vacancy.

Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

Book: Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead 
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: book 1 of 6 in the Georgina Kincaid series 
Source: gift 
Overall Rating: 3 Stars 
Panty Changer Rating: 3

2016 continues to be the year that I read outside my comfort zone. Years ago I read Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series and tried Bloodlines but ended it there. The teen vampire fiction wasn't really for me anymore. So, when Megan from Reading Books Like a Boss waved Succubus Blues enthusiastically in front of my face (online) a year ago, I wasn't very excited to read it. She even bought it for me. I still didn't read it. With some time off this summer, and my desire to read new things, I decided that it was finally time. I'm glad I did.

The best thing about this book is the clever dialogue delivered by lots of sexy men. I seriously didn't know which guy I wanted her to pick. It was like a hot guy buffet! Every time I spent time with one of them, I'd change my mind. They made me laugh and was instantly charmed. Our succubus, Georgina Kincaid, was also quite witty and smart. I liked that about her. I love how we gradually discovered things about her past that helped us to understand her personality and motives behind her decisions. I still struggled with her a little bit, but I'm guessing that over the next 5 books I'll learn more about her and maybe relate to her better. I didn't dislike her, I just didn't love her. 

My real struggle came with the plot. Now, most of my book friends know that I'm not typically a fan of Urban Fantasy or Paranormal. Sometimes I take a risk and I'm pleasantly surprised but often I have a really hard time wrapping my head around all of the fantastical elements. Imps? Demons? Angels? Vampires? Okay, maybe. The intricate workings of how their worlds work? Not so much. I couldn't get fully on board with this part of the book. I did love all of the personal interactions and sexiness. Richelle excels at delivering humour but also knows how to write a good sexy scene or two without pushing me into the "ew". It was really hot without grossing me out. Luckily for me, the book wasn't weighed down with the world building and I could get back to the fun stuff. 

I already have book 2 on my ereader ready to go. I'm looking forward to the next book!

Cover links take you to Amazon US
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Richelle Mead is the international best-selling author of over twenty-five novels for teens and adults. She is the author of the international #1 bestselling Vampire Academy series and its spinoff series, Bloodlines. Her Georgina Kincaid and Dark Swan series take a witty but edgy look at the paranormal.

Sidebarred by Emma Chase

Book: Sidebarred by Emma Chase 
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: book 4 of 4 in the Legal Briefs series 
Source: Library download 
Overall Rating: 4 Stars 
Panty Changer Rating: 4

This was a really quick read. I think I had forgotten how much I enjoy this team of lawyers. This novella is about my favourite, Jake, and his new family. I have a soft spot for good dads and if they are super sexy then that makes it even better. Chelsea and Jake are such hilarious parents. Jake can't control his language in front of the kids and it cracks me up. He also has these extremely touching moments with the kids where he has to guide them through their challenges and I loved every one of those moments. I could have done without the epilogue. It fast forwarded too far and I wasn't ready to move on yet. I still enjoyed hearing about the future, but I would have been happy without it. I'm guessing that most people will love that part of it. I continue to think that Emma Chase pushes the crass descriptions a little too far but I do understand that she's often telling her stories through a male POV. I'll continue to read her books even though I get a little jolt of "ew" every once in a while. 

Cover links take you to Amazon US
(affiliate links)

By day, Emma Chase is a devoted wife and mother of two who resides in a small, rural town in New Jersey. By night she is a keyboard crusader, toiling away the hours to bring her colorful characters and their endless antics to life. She has a long standing love/hate relationship with caffeine. 
Emma is an avid reader. Before her children were born she was known to consume whole books in a single day. Writing has also always been a passion and with the 2013 release of her debut romantic comedy, Tangled, the ability to now call herself an author is nothing less than a dream come true.