Sunday, February 28, 2016

Review: The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowley

The Ramblers
by Aidan Donnelley Rowley
Release Date: February 9th 2016
2016 William Morrow
ARC Edition; 400 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062413314
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary
Source: Review copy from TLC Book Tours

4 / 5 Stars

Set in the most magical parts of Manhattan—the Upper West Side, Central Park, Greenwich Village—The Ramblers explores the lives of three lost souls, bound together by friendship and family. During the course of one fateful Thanksgiving week, a time when emotions run high and being with family can be a mixed blessing, Rowley’s sharply defined characters explore the moments when decisions are deliberately made, choices accepted, and pasts reconciled.

Clio Marsh, whose bird-watching walks through Central Park are mentioned in New York Magazine, is taking her first tentative steps towards a relationship while also looking back to the secrets of her broken childhood. Her best friend, Smith Anderson, the seemingly-perfect daughter of one of New York’s wealthiest families, organizes the lives of others as her own has fallen apart. And Tate Pennington has returned to the city, heartbroken but determined to move ahead with his artistic dreams.

My Thoughts
The Ramblers is one of those books whereby I had very little idea of what to expect so I was pleasantly surprised after reading it; it seemed like a bit of a love fest to New York City as a lot of quite interesting things about the city were mentioned and the author seemed to really enjoy 'showing off' parts of it through her stories.  

The story itself was about three New Yorker's, all in their thirties, facing a turning point in their lives, a crisis so to speak, and we see how they deal with it over the a one-week time span.  Ordinarily, I would scoff at the time span, but it seemed to work in this novel.  We have Clio, an ornithologist, having a panic attack at the thought of moving in with the man she loves and trying to reconcile her childhood pain with the woman she has now become.  And there is Clio's best friend, Smith Anderson, going through her own emotional breakup, trying to figure out a way to break free from a family she adores but which also stifles her in every way.  And then there is Tate Pennington, a man facing a bitter divorce despite becoming extremely wealthy after selling an app he designed. These three people connected and interconnected in ways that were quite interesting and I liked the stories they had to tell.  

All three of these characters were quite fascinating in their own way: Clio had immersed herself in the study of birds, a study that was particularly important to her mother, but it was also something that helped her to evade a painful childhood, one that she needed to deal with in order to continue on with her life; Smith also had a painful past, despite the wealth and privilege in which she grew up, never quite succeeding in making her father proud of her choices, growing a bit out of control and at a loss as to how to fix things in her life; Tate was just coming out of a painful marriage, trying to cope with the how and why things fell apart, learning to live on his own for the first time in years.  I know some of the criticism of this novel has to do with the privilege of these three people, but I never looked at the wealth, only at the issues they had, and found them very relatable to what people face today.  Does it matter that Clio may need a Xanax to get her through the day once in a while because she suffers from panic attacks? No, not really.  Does it matter that Smith may need a Life Coach to help her get through her breakup with her boyfriend? No, not really.  Does it matter that Tate wants to pursue photography despite being quite rich? No, not really.  I know people in these situations and they definitely don't live in $10 million apartments in Manhattan.  What matters is the connections between them.  And I liked the bond that Clio and Smith shared, the loyalty that Smith displayed, despite the snobbishness of her parents.  And that is far more important.  The themes of loyalty, and friendship came across quite strongly throughout the novel.

The author has this style of writing that I enjoyed quite a bit.  While at times the narrative could be quite touching and dare I say it? poignant, at others, her characters seemed whiny and immature, and I liked that because it showed that wealth couldn't solve everything, that you have to face your issues and deal with them in order to have happiness.  She was also great at showing that one should never be ashamed on one's roots; they make you the person you are, no matter what.  

The Ramblers is an enjoyable novel simply because not everyone's problem is solved in the end, and I liked that a lot.  And while the characters could be whiny and annoying at times, it also made them more relatable and real to me.  Told through alternating narratives, the story just seemed to work.  I definitely recommend this one for those of you who like literary fiction. 

Book Release and Excerpt: The Changing Season by Steve Manchester

The Changing Season
On Sale Date: February 23, 2016
9781611882261, 1611882265
$26.95 USD, $26.95 CAD
Fiction, Coming Of Age
The Story Plant
300 pages - 6 in | 9 in

A remarkable coming-of-age story with special appeal to dog lovers.

This was supposed to be a simple summer for Billy; one more lazy expanse of time before college began. He'd fill the hours playing with Jimmy - his canine best buddy - going camping and doing all the things he promised Jimmy they'd do before Billy left.

But that was before the accident that shook the entire town.

It was before the summer job that turned into something so much more than a way to get a paycheck.
And it was before Vicki.

Author Information

Steven Manchester is the author of four #1 bestsellers: Twelve Months, The Rockin' Chair, Pressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island. His long-anticipated novel, The Changing Season, is currently available for pre-order. Steve is also the author of the award-winning novel, Goodnight, Brian. He has written A Christmas Wish (Kindle exclusive), Wilbur Avenue (novelette), Just in Time (novelette) and The Thursday Night Club (novella), while his work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series and he is the produced playwright of Three Shoeboxes. 

When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.

Links to All Online Retailers (for print and eBook versions): The Story Plant

This summer was destined to be many things to Billy, things he didn't truly understand until now. But it was definitely not going to be simple.

The beach was nearly deserted. After erecting their tent and establishing a cozy campsite, Jimmy trotted to the water. As Billy looked on, the silver-faced mutt walked in slowly—like an old man easing himself into a warm bath—the reckless abandon he’d once been known for completely gone.
Jimmy swam for a bit before sitting in the shallows with the water line at his chest.
Billy waded in and took a seat beside him where they sat for a long while, looking out onto the horizon. While the tide gently lapped at their chests, Billy wrapped his arm around Jimmy’s shoulder. “This is the life,” he whispered.
A seagull landed on the sand a few feet from them. Jimmy just sat there, watching the squawking bird with mild interest. “You must be tired, Jimmy. Back in the day, you would have chased that vulture until you collapsed.”
Jimmy stood and took chase, but it was a haphazard effort.
“Half-stepper,” Billy teased the dog and stood to go for a walk and dry off.
As they strolled along the coastline, Jimmy shook the salt water from his coat. He also took breaks, long breaks, acting like he was exploring.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tease Me Thursday

Tease Me Thursday

TBHWM-Teaser1Tested by her Web Master by Normandie Alleman


FrancescaControlling Interest by Francesca Hawley


Kelly Hashway

Into the Fire by Kelly Hashway


Review: The Spirit Chaser by Kat Mayor

The Spirit Chaser (Book One)
by Kat Mayor
Release Date: November 13th 2015
2015 Kat Mayor
Ebook Edition; 442 Pages
ISBN: 1517161479
ASIN: B01845NL8K
Genre: Fiction / Paranormal
Source: Review copy from Bewitching Book Tours

3.5 / 5 Stars

Some places are too evil. Some places should be left alone.

Austin Cole has it made. Star of the hit television show Spirit Chaser Investigations, he has become the world’s most famous paranormal investigator. Although hard work, a talented investigation team, and favorable genetics have something to do with it, it’s his lack of fear and willingness to take risks no one else will that make Spirit Chaser Investigations cable’s number-one show. When a ghost-hunt-gone-wrong seriously injures his best friend and lead psychic, Austin is forced to find a replacement for a team member he considers irreplaceable.

Casey Lawson can’t catch a break. She’s been on her own since she turned eighteen and is scraping by as a part-time psychic and cashier at a New Age store. When a desperate Austin Cole calls her up and offers her a position on his team, has her fortune finally changed?

He’s a control freak; she’s stubborn and opinionated. It takes time, but when they finally realize they’re working on the same side, everything clicks, both on and off screen. 

Just when things are looking up, a new threat emerges. Over the years, Austin has angered plenty of demons, and one of them has set her sights on him. Now he’s the one in danger, and it’s up to the team to rescue him from the riskiest investigation of their lives.

My Thoughts
The Spirit Chaser seemed like the ideal book for me because I am a huge fan of ghosts, old houses, ghost hunters, paranormal investigators, psychics, and horror.  And with Austin Cole as the leading man, he seemed too good to be true; a natural leader, a hard worker, charismatic, charming, a risk-taker, a team player, and quite successful as the manager of Spirit Chaser Investigations, a hit television show that features psychic investigations into haunted places.  And he was too good to be true. While I sort of enjoyed his character in the beginning, he quickly because overbearing and annoying, the main reason I gave the novel the rating that I did.

First of all, I did enjoy the story line and most of the other characters. I was quickly caught up in the events surrounding Barrett's attack and the reasons he pulled himself as lead psychic investigator from the show.  I enjoyed the way the author developed the story and the setting, giving us pieces of the story bit by bit so we could figure out what actually happened to Barrett that night.  When Casey took over Barrett's position, she had no idea what was in store for her and what kind of mess she had walked in on as the events the night of Barrett's attack were far from over, leaving her in the crossfire. I thought the investigations into some of the other houses and situations were interesting and I liked Casey's interactions with the ghosts and other paranormal creatures.  I have always been a sucker for this kind of thing so I just soaked it right up.  The author definitely knows how to create an atmosphere, that's for sure.

I also liked many of the secondary characters, especially Josie and Casey's dad.  It would be nice to learn more about them and their stories, and since this is book one, I am hoping more of the characters will be fleshed out in future books.  I really liked Casey, even if I wanted to shake her at times, as I liked her spunk and her fortitude to deal with anything that came her way.  She definitely has a tough personality and is not a quitter.  I liked how she fought for herself and her beliefs even against someone as stubborn as Austin, and really wished she had not fallen for him.  Which leads me to Austin.  While I sort of liked his character in the beginning, it actually didn't take long for him to end up on my list of characters that I don't like very much.  While I found him to be driven and charismatic, he was also stubborn, pushy, and downright rude.  And sorry about this, but I really need to mention it, but to not know the needs of your partner during sex is a bit unforgivable.  To have to do research and book an appointment with a medical doctor seems a bit excessive to me, especially given the situation, when I Austin really didn't try very hard to think about Casey's needs and desires and was only thinking about himself.  I was actually shaking my head during those scenes because it made him seem selfish.  Let's just say I was not impressed. And also, I'm not really sure what kind of message the author was trying to get across with these scenes. Was she trying to show that some women need help with sexual relations? This is definitely a good theme, but it didn't work here.   Because if that was the case, I think the wrong message was being sent out and the only message I got was that Austin was insensitive.

I also couldn't buy into the whole demon thing halfway into the book with Austin simply because of the timing.  This part might actually contain some spoilers, but I don't know how to write this without them.  To go for so many months without any signs or indications, then for him to suddenly turn The Exorcist on everyone seemed really weird and I didn't quite buy it.  I would have preferred for there to be a slow change of personality, not what we saw.   

The Spirit Chaser was an enjoyable novel overall, even if I didn't care overly much for one of the main characters.  I did enjoy the plot and thought the rest of the characters were quite interesting, although I would have loved to learn more about them.  I really think there are a lot of fascinating stories that could be told, especially from different points of view.  I thought the ending was perfect, if not what I was expecting, but I was glad it played out the way it did.  I'm interested in knowing where the author is going to take this series next and I will definitely read the next book when it comes out.  For those of you interested in the paranormal, it's worth taking a look. 

Author Information

Kat Mayor is a native Texan, wife, and mom. In addition to The Spirit Chaser, she has written a young adult series, The Circle. She’s a full-time reader, part-time writer, and when she’s not kicking a story around in her head, she loves to read and review books on Goodreads.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Book Blast and Giveaway: Banished by Kimberley Griffiths Little


Banished (Forbidden #2) by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Publication Date: February 2, 2016 HarperCollins
Hardcover & Ebook; 416 Pages
Series: Forbidden, Book #2
Genre: YA/Historical/Romance
 Add to GR Button  

She thought she’d lost everything . . . After spending months traveling the harsh, unforgiving Mesopotamian desert, Jayden reunites with a broken, injured Kadesh. Although everyone was convinced the violent and unpredictable Horeb, Jayden’s betrothed, killed the handsome prince, Jayden knew in her heart that her love was alive and safe. But their reunion is short-lived, as they learn Horeb is on their trail and determined to take back the girl he has claimed. Soon, the two star-crossed lovers are on the run toward Sariba, Kadesh’s homeland, where, as heir to the Kingdom, he plans to make Jayden his princess.

But the trek to Sariba is fraught with heartache and danger. After narrowly escaping being stoned to death for a crime she didn’t commit, and learning that her sister has disappeared, Jayden’s only solace is her love for Kadesh. But even he is keeping secrets from her . . . secrets that will change everything.

This gorgeous and enchanting sequel to Forbidden, is full of love, danger, and heated passion that will leave readers breathless.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Review: The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

The Mapmaker's Children
by Sarah McCoy
Release Date: February 9th 2016
2016 Broadway Books (Hardcover published by Crown - May 5th 2015)
Paperback Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-385-34892-8
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / Historical
Source: Review copy from TLC Book Tours

3.5 / 5 Stars

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.

Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.

My Thoughts
The Mapmaker's Children traces the story of John Brown's children after his death as they continue his fight for the abolitionist movement.  While I am quite familiar with John Brown's story, I was definitely not familiar with the story of his wife and children after his death, so I found this to be quite interesting and fascinating.  The story is an alternating narrative following Sarah's story as she struggles with the aftermath of her father's execution and Eden's modern story as the deals with the after-effects of yet another failure to conceive and the discovery of a porcelain head in the root cellar of her new house.

First of all, I enjoyed Sarah's story much more than I did Eden's.  Learning about the sacrifices the Browns made after John's execution made me admire that family even more so than before; you certainly have to have a lot of fortitude to keep going when everything around you is destroyed.  I thought Sarah to be an incredibly strong and brave woman, and admired her very much.  She was very courageous, and even though she made mistakes and was very forthright for a woman of her times, she definitely grew and developed as a character; I liked her more for her mistakes and her misjudgements because she learned from them and became a better person.  I thought the integration of the dolls into the Underground Railroad was pretty interesting; I had heard of perhaps quilts being used for such a purpose, but I suppose anything could have been used if you really thought about it.  The concept was intriguing and its inclusion felt natural.  I was a bit disappointed at the lack of story about the Underground Railroad though, as I was hoping for more  surrounding that.  While Sarah did her part to help, she didn't play a role in the actual movement of people for the Underground Railroad.  The story was more about the Brown family coping after John's death, and the developing story line around Freddy and Sarah. 

While I was a huge fan of Sarah's, I wasn't a fan of Eden's.  I thought her quite irritating, especially in the beginning, and although I understood her personal issues and disappointments, I also never thought it was an excuse for poor behaviour.  She did however, grow on me a bit as the novel progressed but those earlier chapters were difficult to forget and overall, I thought she was a bit spoiled and whiny.  Cleo however, is a different matter altogether.  I enjoyed her character quite a bit, even if I wondered why it took months for Eden and Cleo's grandfather to meet considering how much time she spent at Eden's house.  I mean, she was barely eleven years old.  Do you allow your eleven-year-old to enter a stranger's house and visit regularly without knowing them or at least meeting them?  Strange.  That being said, Cleo was precocious and downright fun, which kind of took the heat off Eden. 

The Mapmaker's Children was a good book, but I think it really had the potential to be really great, especially if it focused more on Sarah and left out some of the stuff about Eden, which failed to interest me.  Some people may disagree about that, but I honestly feel that there was enough material for a story about Sarah and her family which would have been quite interesting in its own right and would have allowed the author to explore some themes and concepts a bit more in depth, both emotionally and politically.  It's quite obvious the author did an enormous amount of research on Sarah, and I found her story to be quite riveting, and the writing style drew me in right away.  Cleo and the dog Cricket definitely had some fun and amusing parts that helped with Eden's story, but not enough to make me like her as a character. I definitely recommend this book for those who have an interest in John Brown and his legacy.

Author Information
SARAH McCOY is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of the 2012 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction nominee The Baker's Daughter as well as The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico and the novella "The Branch of Hazel" in Grand Central. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas.

Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page or via her website,
Sunday, February 14, 2016

Spotlight: Predetermined Series by Heather Van Fleet

Resisting Fate


Seventeen-year-old Emmy O’Connell is the epitome of a hot mess. 

Her boyfriend’s been shipped out of town to some boarding school four states away. Her step-douche is constantly drunk and badgering her. And then there’s her good-ole-mom… The lady is nothing more than a miserable shell of a woman. She’s turned off all of her feelings and her ability to be a good mother as well, leaving poor Emmy and her four year old brother Jamie to suffer. Life couldn’t get much worse, right? 

Enter the elusive, cocky, and oh-so-broody Jack Hartman… The jerk cousin of her boyfriend becomes Emmy’s worst nightmare…times ten. He’s cruel. He’s insensitive. But he also has this strange little ability over her – he makes her weak in the knees with the single touch. No matter how miserable or amazing Jack makes her feel, Emmy can’t seem to deny him, especially when he takes on the role of her protector –her pseudo-knight in a black leather coat. A knight who also happens to ride in on his black Harley, instead of a white horse… 

And to make a bad situation worse… 

Werewolves and teens shouldn’t mix! But what can Emmy do when she finds herself thrown head first into the center of it all. Can she handle the supernatural mess her life rapidly becomes or will she fight against the inevitable fate her heart desires?


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tease Me Thursday

TMTDark Menace MC - Stone - Tory Richards

Dark Menace by Tory Richards


Tease me Thursday 2

Wrecked by Sherilee Gray

Entangled - Amazon


Forever Dusk by Jocelyn Adams



Everything I Need by Stacey Mosteller


OSC Teaser

Our Second Chance by C.D. Taylor


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Review: The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle

The Good Liar
by Nicholas Searle
Release Date: February 2nd 2016
2016 HarperCollins
ARC Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-240749-8
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary
Source: Review copy from TLC Book Tours

3.5 / 5 Stars

Roy is a conman living in a small English town, about to pull off his final con. He is going to meet and woo a beautiful woman and slip away with her life savings. But who is the man behind the con?

What has he had to do to survive a life of lies?

And who has had to pay the price?

My Thoughts
The Good Liar is a fairly interesting story about an old man conning an older woman, and making off with her savings.  But as always, appearances can be deceiving. I liked how the story was told, going backwards in time rather than forwards, and although it was fairly predictable, and easy to figure out what happened, it was still interesting to read the glimpses of Roy's life we were able to get.

First of all, while I thought the plot was fairly predictable, it was pretty interesting.  I was curious as to how Roy became the man that he did, and although I didn't like him very much, I did feel sorry for him to a certain extent.  Not enough to be completely sympathetic to what happened to him though, as I found him to be somewhat despicable in his disregard for others and the devastation he left behind him.  And while I enjoyed the plot, and there were definite moments when I was completely absorbed and the tension would build up nicely, only to be let down by those moments that did tend to drag on a bit and slow down the story.  I definitely looked forward to the sections about the past as I found them the most fascinating and wished there had been more story to tell.  I don't think I will ever tire when reading about World War II and the impact it had on people's lives.  So devastating!!

I thought the author is a very clever writer however, and really enjoyed his writing style.  Reading between the lines is definitely my thing and the author insinuates and creates innuendos very well, making you rethink your ideas.  Many of the concepts were revealed slowly and carefully, but if you paid attention to the innuendos, it really wasn't hard to figure out what was going on and why Betty was involved in Roy's life.  This author has huge potential to create some really suspenseful novels in the future and I really look forward to that.  However, in this one, I thought the conclusion was a bit too pat; it also seemed to be a bit of a letdown from the buildup.  While it wasn't a horrible ending by any means, I just expected a little bit more.  But then again, it is life, and life doesn't always end the way we want it to, does it?

I also wasn't too sure of Betty although I did like her as a character.  However, I wondered if I liked her because Roy just wasn't nice which made her seem more likable.  Since most of the story was from Roy's viewpoint, I didn't really feel like I got to know Betty, until maybe the end, which was a bit too late for me.  I sympathized with her story and her plight as a child, but I didn't really connect with her as an adult.  

The Good Liar had a great concept, but I did feel it lacked a little something that would have made it even more interesting.  The author's writing style is very appealing however, and I did enjoy the progress through time as it was a bit different than the usual.  The last third of the novel was probably the most enjoyable and it showcased the author's talent the best and what this novel really could have been, except for perhaps the ending which was anticlimactic.  A very promising debut.

Review and Giveaway: Daughter of Destiny by Nicole Evelina

Daughter of Destiny (Guinevere's Tale, Book #1)
by Nicole Evelina
Release Date: January 1st 2016
2016 Lawson Gartner Publishing
Ebook Edition; 327 Pages
ISBN: 978-0996763103
ASIN: B01651N77A
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from HFVBT

4 / 5 Stars

In the war-torn world of late fifth century Britain, young Guinevere faces a choice: stay with her family to defend her home at Northgallis from the Irish, or go to Avalon to seek help for the horrific visions that haunt her. The Sight calls her to Avalon, where she meets Morgan, a woman of questionable parentage who is destined to become her rival. As Guinevere matures to womanhood, she gains the powers of a priestess, and falls in love with a man who will be both her deepest love and her greatest mistake.

Just when Guinevere is able to envision a future in Avalon, tragedy forces her back home, into a world she barely recognizes, one in which her pagan faith, outspokenness, and proficiency in the magical and military arts are liabilities. When a chance reunion with her lover leads to disaster, she is cast out of Northgallis and into an uncertain future. As a new High King comes to power, Guinevere must navigate a world of political intrigue where unmarried women are valuable commodities and seemingly innocent actions can have life-altering consequences.

This book has been short-listed for the 2015 Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction.

My Thoughts
Daughter of Destiny, the first book in a planned trilogy, was a very pleasant surprise, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm very leery when reading books about King Arthur and Guinevere and to be honest, haven't really liked a lot of them; either they were too mythological and fanciful for my taste, or everything about the characters were off.  And don't get me started on the movies.  What I've always wanted was a gritty story, one that really understood the times, was not overly fanciful and mystical, but still had that whimsy behind the tale of King Arthur.  This one met most of those expectations.

We first met Guinevere on her way to Avalon as an eleven-year-old girl. To me, she was a typical girl used to being waited on hand and foot, and her attempts to fit in with the other girls did not go too well in the beginning.  It also didn't help that her gift was quite complicated and required extra attention in order to get under control, making the other girls jealous. I liked the author's portrayal of Guinevere's early years as it made her much more sympathetic and real to me; I think if she had been perfect, one who developed allies and allegiances at that age, it would have turned me right off.  She's a girl!!  And one with no idea of the destiny in her future, planning only to wed a lord and run a manor house like her mother did.  Her conflict with Morgan seemed only natural as both were competitive and fierce, so why wouldn't they fight over the top spots whenever they could. And since Guinevere is human, it would be natural for her to be jealous over Morgan's accomplishments as well as anger over her tricks. The author certainly sets up the rivalry between Morgan and Guinevere quite well. Who wouldn't?

While I would have loved to learn more about Avalon, I'm glad the author chose to keep the descriptions to the background as there was the danger of them taking over the story line.  Avalon was essentially just part of the story, and nothing more, except as a way to plot the eventual story line between Morgan and Guinevere.  It becomes very easy for the setting to take over the character development and plot line which can effectively ruin a story, and there was a fine balance to walk in this book; the author wanted to develop the mystery of Avalon so her readers understood its significance, but also wanted to develop the characters and eventual story lines that will appear in later books.  

Guinevere's relationship with Aggrivane was a childhood obsession; he was her first love and we all know how intense first loves can be.  Being isolated on Avalon, her dealings with men were few and far between, so it's really no wonder this man caught her attention after spending many hours with him.  I really didn't think a lot about their relationship other than to wonder how it would end as we all know who she eventually married.  

I did find the portrayal of the religious conflicts to be quite interesting; they actually played quite a large role in some of the events in this story.  While the author doesn't call herself a historian, she certainly shows a lot of knowledge about the subject, and I found it fascinating how it was incorporated into the novel.  Slight touches, here and there, but with deep nuances of meaning.  

Daughter of Destiny was a delightful retelling of Guinevere's early years and I enjoyed it tremendously. I thought the characters were interesting and enjoyed seeing them in a new light; Isolde quickly became a favourite of mine so I hope to see her again in future novels.  I think if I had any issue with this book is that it wasn't quite gritty enough for me; the time period was one of great upheaval and war so I would have liked that incorporated a bit more. But this was a book about Guinevere's childhood so I do get why more of that wasn't in this one.  I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the trilogy, Camelot's Queen, to be released April 12th, as Guinevere and Arthur begin their married life together.

  Daughter of Destiny
Thursday, February 4, 2016

Review: Remembrance by Meg Cabot

Remembrance (The Mediator, Book #7)
by Meg Cabot
Release Date: February 2nd 2016
2016 William Morrow
ARC Edition; 400 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-237902-3
Genre: Fiction / Paranormal
Source: Review copy from TLC Book Tours

4 / 5 Stars

You can take the boy out of the darkness.

But you can’t take the darkness out of the boy.

All Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and since becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva).

But when she’s hired as a guidance counselor at her alma mater, she stumbles across a decade-old murder, and soon ancient history isn’t all that’s coming back to haunt her. Old ghosts as well as new ones are coming out of the woodwork, some to test her, some to vex her, and it isn’t only because she’s a mediator, gifted with second sight.

From a sophomore haunted by the murderous specter of a child, to ghosts of a very different kind—including Paul Slater, Suze’s ex, who shows up to make a bargain Suze is certain must have come from the Devil himself—Suze isn’t sure she’ll make it through the semester, let alone to her wedding night.

Suze is used to striking first and asking questions later. But what happens when ghosts from her past—including one she found nearly impossible to resist—strike first?

What happens when old ghosts come back to haunt you?

If you’re a mediator, you might have to kick a little ass.

My Thoughts
Remembrance is the first adult version of the Mediator series and I was thrilled to discover that Suze and Jesse's story would be continuing; it was one of those series I thought about over the years and often wondered what it would be like for these two when they are adults.  

As adults, our mediators are now dealing with post-graduate work (Jesse is a medical resident and Suze is completing her post-secondary studies to become a counselor). They are also dealing with the usual complications that arise as adults: work, loans, money, wedding issues.  And to top it all off, Suze gets attacked by a child ghost during a routine guidance session.  Since the mediator stuff was something I really enjoyed in the original series, I was glad to know that a lot of the book would have Suze facing off against vengeful little spirits, although the result wasn't quite what I expected.  It was refreshing, and familiar, to know that Suze hadn't changed a whole lot when dealing with the spirits / ghosts; she was her usual brash and feisty self I remembered from the original series.  I would have been extremely disappointed otherwise.  

It was definitely nice to revisit characters and to see what they were all doing as adults, although I could have done without Paul Slater.  He was still as despicable as ever, but I did have to laugh over some of his antics as a grown up, albeit a much more powerful one now that he has all that money and sway in town.  I liked seeing what Suze's brothers were up to and was a bit disappointed that they didn't have more of a role to play in this one; they are much more interesting as grown-ups and I would love to learn more about them.  The author did hint a bit about their abilities so it would be interesting to see exactly what they could do, especially working together with Suze and Jesse.  And while I love Jesse, and always will, he was a bit annoying at times in this one.  While I get that he had been dead for over a century and a half, his over-protectiveness got cloying and I could have done with a bit less macho behaviour.  Other than that, he was perfect, the same sweet, kind, and considerate person, and the scene with Paul Slater (sorry, spoiler) was great.  

I thought the plot was interesting, but it was one of the weaker points in the this novel.  While I truly enjoyed Becca's plight and the situation with the little ghost, Lucia, I did think the novel was more about Jesse and Suze's relationship issues, and lack of sex, at least on Suze's part, than about the ghost issues.  And while that was fine, it did have a tendency to drag on a bit and I just wanted to get on with the story and find out what was going on with our friendly / unfriendly little ghost.  While I also understood the author's 'need' perhaps to find closure with Paul, I did find the whole situation, the dinner and 'dessert', to be a bit over the top. Really? I'm sure there could have been another way to solve the problem with Suze's house rather than introducing the whole blackmailing plot point.  While it may not bother other people, it didn't set well with me.  

Remembrance is a good addition to the Mediator series; it was great to see all of my favourite characters return as adults and to learn about them as adults.  That being said, while I would definitely recommend the earlier novels to my thirteen-year-old daughter, I would not recommend this one to her due to the many, many sexual innuendos that are in here; this is about a grown up Suze and her wants and needs as a woman who is definitely not a teenager anymore.   I enjoyed this book quite a bit and am quite glad that Ms. Cabot is continuing the series as it was one of my favourites (I can't believe it's been almost sixteen years since I've read the first one.)  There is so much potential with these characters, and so many interesting things going on, that I truly hope the author will continue Suze and Jesse's story. 

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