Monday, April 14, 2014

The Affair by Lily Maxton

The Basics:

The Affiar by Lily Maxton
Entangled: Scandalous
A Sisters of Scandal Novella
Historical Romance
Published April 14, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Why I picked up this book:

Bookseller romance? Yes.


She was his for one week only…

When a beautiful stranger ducks into his bookshop during a rainstorm, Cale Cameron, well-known rake, is instantly attracted to her. Elizabeth, Lady Thornhill, is restless and hungers for something she cannot name. Society would never accept a countess and a mere bookseller, so they agree to a one week affair to indulge their desire.

As their passion ignites and their connection grows, Elizabeth threatens the one thing Cale has protected above all else—his heart. Letting her go is the only solution…and the one thing he is not prepared to do.

My thoughts:

This novella is about 70 pages long and it's too short. I wanted more of Elizabeth and Cale. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this short tale of romance between a widow and a bookseller with a scandalous reputation. Elizabeth is fresh out of mourning for a husband who didn't appreciate her. Cale's a man who knows how to appreciate a woman, and he's set his sights on our heroine. 

Because of the novella format, there isn't enough time to develop anything beyond the central romance. The romance started abruptly - I almost wished these two had a prior connection, perhaps she had visited the lending library/bookstore while married or had a pattern of running into each other before their fortuitous encounter one rainy day.

Regardless, there's a spark between Cale and Elizabeth that made their romance believable. 

There's the cast of required secondary characters - scheming mother, two younger sisters (who I imagine might star in their own stories, particularly the 'betting' sister as she made the stronger impression), and a respectable suitor.

Bottom line:

It's a brief, enjoyable romance. Just the thing to fill an hour in a fun way!

4.5 stars
For fans of historical romance, books in books.

A to Z - L (2014)

I'm doing the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year. The basic idea is to blog nearly daily with each day representing a different letter of the alphabet. My entries will be short and book-related.  

L is for...

Literary Fiction!

When fiction doesn't fit a genre, it tends to be categorized as mainstream. I usually think of it was literary - or simply literature. These are books that make for good book reports in school, that are often about the message or the journey rather than where you're going to end up. It's about beautiful language and dazzling linguistic artistry, often (but not always) prized above a thrilling plot. (And this isn't to say these things are valued in genre fiction either, because they are and I think genre fiction takes a bad rap on some fronts because it's entertainment as well as art).

These are the books that get grants to be written, that receive big literary prizes and that tend to make good book club books as long your book club doesn't mind being occasionally pretentious (and does actually read and discuss books).

I've read some excellent literary fiction - I majored in English so it wasn't optional. I also love nineteenth century novels, and I tend to mentally lump these into the same category, because there's a certain linguistic elegance to even those that were considered pulpy and 'genre' at the time they were written.

I find that literary fiction is never my go-to. These are usually the books that I think I should read rather than the ones I pick up for enjoyment.  

Basically, I guess all my A-Z blogging so far is leading me to underline the pleasure I find in reading, and the emphasis I put on entertainment over enlightenment.   

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A to Z - K (2014)

I'm doing the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year. The basic idea is to blog nearly daily with each day representing a different letter of the alphabet. My entries will be short and book-related.  

K is for...


This is more about blogging book reviews than about books specifically. Tonight I visited a bookstore and I noticed several books on the shelves in hardcover and fancy paperbacks that I have had the opportunity to review recently or that I have upcoming. It put a little spring in my step, I'll admit. 

So today I want to acknowledge the *kindness* of the authors and publishers who have generously shared ARCs and review copies with me. I realize that it's all part and parcel of the marketing process, getting the word out about these books and such, but I hugely appreciate the opportunity each book provides.

That's all for today!

A to Z - J (2014)

I'm doing the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year. The basic idea is to blog nearly daily with each day representing a different letter of the alphabet. My entries will be short and book-related.  

I do realize that I'm a day late here (and two for I) but I've decided that I'm just going to catch-up and carry on. It's that or give up on the month and I didn't actually expect to make it this far in the first place. 

J is for...

Jim Butcher!

When I started reading Urban Fantasy, my first authors were all women - Patricia Briggs and Karen Chance come to mind. I loved their books, and have stuck with their series. It didn't take long for me to trip over Jim Butcher's name as one of the more significant authors in the genre.  

The Dresden Files is easily on my "top ten series to follow" list. This was the first series I read with a male perspective, and I really appreciated how that set it apart from the typical kick-ass female urban fantasy novel. Even more than this, I love how Dresden's world has evolved over the course of the series. I have never felt as though his story rotated around a romantic entanglement, nor that the stakes have had to escalate infinitely to keep things interesting. Dresden's work as a wizard-for-hire is not exactly atypical of the genre, but I think is leveraged to excellent effect. His career choice provides all kinds of interesting plot opportunities and doesn't become a side note after the first book or two.

Butcher has also written epic fantasy, but I haven't read any of these yet. I imagine they're also incredibly fun and engaging!

Are you a Butcher fan?  Did you ever watch the short-livedDresden Files television series?  

A to Z - I (2014)

I'm doing the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year. The basic idea is to blog nearly daily with each day representing a different letter of the alphabet. My entries will be short and book-related.  

I is for...


One of the first online retailers I used for ebooks was Harlequin. They have a ton of imprints - some of them are the short, cheap, disposable books you spy on shelves of grocery and drug stores. Others are books that you would never expect are published by Harlequin - no scantily clad, embracing men and women on the covers!

I'm a fan of both varieties, but I want to focus on one of the shorter imprints  - Intrigue. This series features some mystery, usually involving an officer of the law, that often requires someone to be protected while trying to solve the case.

I like these for a couple reasons - one is that I can usually read on in a couple hours. I know I'll get a happy ending at the end because that's a requirement of the imprint, which means I can also expect good to triumph over evil - yay!  I also like that these have some kind of actual conflict built in - whatever the central crime plot is, I'm guaranteed something more threatening in the book than miscommunication or previous prejudices blocking romance.  

I don't quite want to call these books junk food but they're definitely like a reading snack!  And thank goodness for ebooks, because my poor house would be overrun if I had to have all these in physical copies....

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Basics:
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Delacorte Press
YA, science fiction, romance
Published April 8, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

I loved the idea of time travel to save the future.


Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

My thoughts:

The Here and Now delivered on time travel conundrum-y goodness, but didn't quite give me what I wanted on a few other fronts.

So the good:

Our future is really messed up and this makes for an interesting story as travellers come from the future to our present to try to fix it all.

There's some excellent twists in this book - some I saw coming and still enjoyed and others I didn't entirely foresee and enjoyed. The plot is solid, I think, and I'd really like to know what happens beyond the end of the book.

I loved the way Ethan was with Prenna. So understanding and gentle and almost... grateful? Also, I liked that he wasn't just a romantic hero, he did act like a teenage boy some of the time!

The enh:

Ethan seems like a big nerd, which is fair, but he's presented as being this really popular guy. This is all part of the isolation of the story - Prenna doesn't interact with many people, and she doesn't have to. I would have liked to have seen a bit more action in the high school, a bit more evidence that somehow the kids from the cult - er - community are assimilating okay?

The bad:

The adults of the community, the leaders, are vicious for no apparent reason. How did these people end up in control of things? Really - how did that happen?  I needed them to have both more of a comeuppance on page as well as to know how the heck these people got into power.

There's a definite didactic tone through the novel, messages about both the future of our planet and making sacrifices to protect it as well as about questioning the status quo. Because it was all necessary for the plot, I'm going to give the book a pass, but it's a very near thing.

Side note, I don't think the cover is doing this book any favours. It wouldn't have made me pick it up at all. Poor book.

Bottom line:

I enjoyed this story, but I didn't love it. I do want to know what happens next - both immediately and to the distant future.


3.5 stars
For fans of time travel stories, YA romance

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A to Z - H (2014)

I'm doing the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year. The basic idea is to blog nearly daily with each day representing a different letter of the alphabet. My entries will be short and book-related.  

H is for...


While I can get by without a happily ever after, or happy for now, ending, I always need some hope. Give me an uplifting ending, one that ends on a positive rather than on crushing defeat, depression or death. Don't make me think the characters have no chance at survival, at happiness, at resolving their issues in the future. Give them hope! 

This is part of my problem with 'literary,' serious or any novel that's more about the journey than the destination. I want both to be good. I don't want to shut the book and be crying sad tears, to feel emotionally crushed. I read fiction books for pleasure, and I want them to ultimately be pleasant.

I can appreciate a beautiful story, and I've read my share of sad, heartwrenching books. But I always have to make myself pick them up - these are never impulse-read books.

Maybe I'm just a superficial reader?  If so, I'm okay with it. I'll take happily superficial over miserably enlightened when it comes to my books any day.  ;)