Thursday, August 30, 2012

Seeking Persephone by Sarah M. Eden

Regency Romance may be my favorite genre. (For clarificaiton, Regency romance is distinguished by its time period - think Jane Austen and you're pretty much there.). This is the first novel I've read by Ms. Eden and I will be reading more. First, here's the enticement:
When Persephone Lancaster receives a marriage proposal from the ill-tempered Duke of Kielder, she refuses, and then reconsiders. The obscene sum of money he's offering Persephone would save her family from ruin. With her characteristic optimism, she travels to the far reaches of Northumberland to wed a greatly feared stranger. Lodged deep in a thick forest infested with wild dogs, the Duke's castle is as cold and forbidding as the Duke himself, a man with terrible scars on his body and his soul. But the Duke's steely determination to protect his heart at all costs is challenged by his growing attachment to his lovely and gentle bride. With caring persistence, Persephone attempts to pierce the Duke's armor and reach the man beneath. Yet he cannot tolerate such exposure, and his repeated rejections take their toll. But when grave danger arises, the Duke realizes he must face the risk of revealing his true feelings or lose the woman he cannot live without.

Ms. Eden is a romance writer on the master 1000 level. She keeps Persephone & Adam together and apart through every page of this novel. Lots of misunderstanding on both their parts as they try to make this arranged marriage work or keep each other at a distance in order to spare themselves heartache. Many secrets are revealed layer by layer of the inner workings of their hearts and minds so that by the time you get to the end you breath a contented sigh. It has a great cast of secondary characters too.

So typically me, it took me a while to catch onto the Hades/Persephone theme but once I caught the parallels it added another level of enjoyment. (I felt especially slow on the uptake with all the Greek mythology reading that's been going on at my house with my daughter's Percy Jackson craze.) Having met Ms. Eden a few times and seen some of her ridiculously funny films at LDStorymakers conferences I hoped some of her natural humor would be infused in the novel and I wasn't disappointed. I think she would make an incredible contemporary romance writer or YA romance writer. But I appreciate her love of this time period and ability to make a page turning romance of the beautiful kind.

If you enjoy regency romance, romance or just a well told story, pick up a copy of Seeking Persephone and when you are done, go pick up another one by Ms. Eden. You can find her at:

What's your favorite Regency Romance?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mozart's Last Aria by Matt Rees

First, here's the blurb from Amazon.

The news arrives in a letter to his sister, Nannerl, in December 1791. But the message carries more than word of Nannerl’s brother’s demise. Two months earlier, Mozart confided to his wife that his life was rapidly drawing to a close . . . and that he knew he had been poisoned.
In Vienna to pay her final respects, Nannerl soon finds herself ensnared in a web of suspicion and intrigue—as the actions of jealous lovers, sinister creditors, rival composers, and Mozart’s Masonic brothers suggest that dark secrets hastened the genius to his grave. As Nannerl digs deeper into the mystery surrounding her brother’s passing, Mozart’s black fate threatens to overtake her as well.
Transporting readers to the salons and concert halls of eighteenth-century Austria, Mozart’s Last Aria is a magnificent historical mystery that pulls back the curtain on a world of soaring music, burning passion, and powerful secrets.

This is a wonderful historical fiction novel and I love good historical fiction. I loved exploring the possible theory Mr. Lees presents about how Mozart may have died as uncovered by his sister Anna Maria aka. Nannerl. I could really get behind the attachment she has for her estranged brother and the connection she feels for him through his music. There are all kinds of twists, turns, riddles, espionage, love, and grief. An interesting history on the Masons, which I enjoyed as I haven't read much on them. Great description and word craft without getting heavy.

I haven't had the opportunity yet to travel to Germany or Austria to see the towns and cities where some of the great classical composers hail from. This book only adds to my excitement to see them someday. This book gave me a feel for what it would be like to be there. So take a trip back in time and enjoy Mozart's Last Aria.
Here's the link to Amazon:

What's your favorite historical fiction novel?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Devil Colony: A Sigma Force Novel by James Rollins

Did that title get your attention?

Again, I'm reading out of the box I usually stick to. This one was handed to me by my father. It is one of those conspiracy CIA type books where the world is about to end and only a team of elite forces can stop it while also vanquishing the bad guys.

Here's the summary from Amazon and the link:

From New York Times bestselling author James Rollins comes a novel of boundless imagination and meticulous research, a book that dares to answer a frightening question at the heart of America: Could the founding of the United States be based on a fundamental lie? The shocking truth lies hidden within the ruins of an impossibility, a lost colony of the Americas vanished in time and cursed into oblivion. A place known only as The Devil Colony.
Deep in the Rocky Mountains, a gruesome discovery—hundreds of mummified bodies—stirs international attention and fervent controversy. Despite doubts about the bodies' origins, the local Native American Heritage Commission lays claim to the prehistoric remains, along with the strange artifacts found in the same cavern: gold plates inscribed with an unfathomable script.
During a riot at the dig site, an anthropologist dies horribly, burned to ashes in a fiery explosion in plain view of television cameras. All evidence points to a radical group of Native Americans, including one agitator, a teenage firebrand who escapes with a vital clue to the murder and calls on the one person who might help—her uncle, Painter Crowe, Director of Sigma Force.
To protect his niece and uncover the truth, Painter will ignite a war among the nation's most powerful intelligence agencies. Yet an even greater threat looms as events in the Rocky Mountains have set in motion a frightening chain reaction, a geological meltdown that threatens the entire western half of the U.S.
From the volcanic peaks of Iceland to the blistering deserts of the American Southwest, from the gold vaults of Fort Knox to the bubbling geysers of Yellowstone, Painter Crowe joins forces with Commander Gray Pierce to penetrate the shadowy heart of a dark cabal, one that has been manipulating American history since the founding of the thirteen colonies.
But can Painter discover the truth—one that could topple governments—before it destroys all he holds dear?
I haven't read any of the other books by him, but this is a well written, fast moving, action packed book, that just might teach you a thing or two about nano technology, geology, native americans and oh yeah, the Mormons too. There are plenty of characters to keep track of, places and history. The best part, he has done his research and blends it all together while keeping it exciting. I might read another by him.
What conspiracy thriller do you recommend?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Surrender & Regret by Elana Johnson

You may be wondering why it has taken me so long (almost 2 months) to review a book I've been looking forward to for a year. A month of traveling for one and two, I wanted to be able to read it quickly from cover to cover because I knew I wouldn't want to put it down once I started it. I was right. So, I saved it to read at the beach. The anticipation of reading a really good book only heightens the experience of reading it, unless of course it turns to be a disappointment. Neither of these books fall into that category.

In Possession we follow Vi and Jag strictly from Vi's point of view. In Surrender we meet them again, but primarily this story follows two other major players in the upcoming rebellion, Raine and Gunner, and the story alternates being told from their two points of view. The dual point of view I get was a necessary tool to tell the story and executed successfully, but I have to admit it hung me up to be switching heads every chapter. This mechanism allows you to get to know and love both characters very well and certainly progresses the story, which the majority of the time is fast moving action, a must I believe for YA. If you don't keep the teen reader engaged, they're going to move on to something else: their Ipod, smartphone, Facebook, whatever. I also give top marks for dialogue and creating a different but relatable world, which is tough to do, ask any writer that's attempted it.

Once again, when I reached the end of this book, I wanted to throw it against the wall (which I didn't because I read it on my Nook). One, because, just like in Possession, Ms. Johnson leaves us majorly hanging. AHHHHH! I wanted to scream, but didn't because I was in a town house full of sleeping kids. Two, because when a book is so good, you cringe to get to the end and know that it is over. Third, the only redemption I have for the major cliff hanger ending is the knowledge that this is a trilogy and in a year, I hope, there will be closure to this story that isn't a cliffhanger or I will have some serious words for Ms. Johnson. (Just kidding. Elana is an excellent writer and in my opinion the Queen of Query. If you need to know anything about querying, go see her blog to get educated. .)

One thing I have to throw in as mom about these books. As I recall there are two 'naughty' words in Possession. I don't recall any in Surrender. (Other reviewers and Ms.Johnson feel free to correct me if I am wrong.) There is also kissing; that doesn't bother me. It is not gratuitous or graphic. Use your judgement as to what age YA you would hand this book to. I have a twelve year old niece who I think would love these and has trouble getting into books, but I hesitate only on the naughty word point. I have slightly less reservation with my high school nieces. It's one thing for them to hear it in the halls at school and another for me to put it in their hands as an aunt who feels responsibility for any part I take in their development. Still it won't stop me from recommending it once they hit sixteen or eighteen. There's plenty of guy stuff in here for the boys too, hoverboards for one.

This is the short story that tells us about Indy, one of the rebellion leaders we meet in Surrender. It's short but gives great insight into her character and how she came to be who she is when we are introduced to her in Surrender. It is aptly named and certainly up to Ms. Johnson's standards. Enjoy.

She also has one more short novel called Insider Information where you can learn more about the characters in her stories. I haven't downloaded it yet. But it's there and calling my name.

You can get all of her stories at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. 

So, what YA dystopia do you recommend I read next?