The forty-sixth book I read in 2014 was Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. I finished this book on 5/31/14. I rated this book (really a play) 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5. This was actually a re-read for me since I read this in high school for my AP English class. This is one of my favorite works by Shakespeare, a comedy in which Countess Olivia falls in love with Viola, who is disguised as a young boy (Cesario). Viola falls in love with Orsino, the Duke of Illyria, but Orsino is in love with Olivia. And when Viola’s twin brother Sebastian shows up (looking exactly like the disguised Viola) and marries Olivia, all hell breaks lose.
To be honest one of the things I have always really liked about this play is a modern-day adaptation of it, She’s The Man starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum. The characters names are even the same as in the Shakespeare play. The movie is set in a school named Illyria, where Amanda Bynes (Viola) disguises herself as a boy to be able to play on the soccer team. This has been one of my favorite all time movies and is a funny adaptation of Twelfth Night.
There is something really beautiful about the way Shakespeare rights, even though sometimes it can be a little hard to follow. There are a lot of words, phrases, and references that readers today might not understand. That’s why I found the “Pelican Shakespeare” vision so easy to use, there were footnotes that explained various words, phrases, and references. Shakespeare’s plays can sometimes be difficult to work your way through but I would definitely recommend giving Twelfth Night a read. Its funny and interesting and full of plot twists. Great read!
Link to Wikipedia article on Twelfth Night play: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelfth_Night
Link to website about William Shakespeare: http://www.william-shakespeare.info/
Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Twelfth-night-What-you-will/dp/B007EQG6N8/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401572457&sr=1-2-fkmr1&keywords=twelfth+night+edited+by+jonathan+crewe
The forty-fifth book I read in 2014 was Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue by Stephanie Laurens. I finished this book on 5/30/14. This is the 16th book in the Cynster family series and the 1st book in the Cynster Sisters trilogy. The Cynster Sisters trilogy is actually a sub-series within the Cynster family series. I have read other books in the series and have many other blog posts on them. This book was actually a re-read for me since I’ve read it before. This time I rated it 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5. This book tells the story of Heather Cynster any Viscount Breckenridge. Very early in the novel, Heather is kidnapped and Breckenridge just happens to witness it. He follows the carriage that kidnapped Heather and attempts to save her. Heather has learned from her kidnappers though that they were abduct “one of the Cynster sisters” and therefore she wants to learn Moe about the reason for her abduction before she’ll allow Breckenridge to save her. Her sisters could potentially be in danger too and Heather will do anything to protect them.
When her abductors arrive with her in Gretna Green, however, Heather realizes that she can’t postpone being rescued any longer. She and Breckenridge then decide to walk to the Vale, which is apparently a three day journey. At the Vale they then spend 50-100 pages miscommunicating with one another. Which while probably realistic is incredibly drawn out for readers. The heroine in this book was the epitome of stubborn and it was very frustrating. The plot line of the beginning of this book was very interesting as we are trying to figure out why Heather was kidnapped and where they’re going and what not. But I found that I really had to push myself through the 100pages of the book whether Heather and Breckenridge are basically circling around each other, each loving the other but not wanting to be the first to admit it and not even wanting to show it first.
I love the Cynster family series, don’t get me wrong, but after the 16th one I am starting to get tired of the pattern. Each book has a very similar pattern, we have a hero and heroine each with a strong and stubborn personality, they have sex and fall on love and struggle to admit to each other that they are in love. I think that her books are great and I would highly recommend them to readers but I don’t know if I would recommend reading all 20 in the series. Maybe that’s why there aren’t many authors who write series’ with 20 books.
One thing I do want to talk a little about is the mention of Gretna Green. This comes up in a lot of historical romance novels. It is a place just over the border of Scotland (from England) where couples in love could run away to get married. This is swell known by the heroine in the book and what leads her to allowing Breckenridge to rescue her so she can avoid being married to the mysterious laird who had her abducted. This apparently was because of a law that was enacted in England in 1754 allowing the guardian of a person under the age of 21 to prevent marriages simply by rejecting the match. According to Wikipedia, in Scotland the age of consent for boys was only 14 and for girls only 12.
Link to Wikipedia website on Gretna Green: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gretna_Green
Link to author website: http://www.stephanielaurens.com/
Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Viscount-Breckenridge-Rescue-Cynster-Sisters/dp/0062068601/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1401501271&sr=1-1
The forty-fourth book(s) I read in 2014 were Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift and The Untamed Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley. These were both short stories connected to the Highland Pleasures (Mackenzie family) series by this author so I counted the 2 short stories as 1 book. Together the 2 short stories were 396 pages, which is about the size of a normal novel.
Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift is book 4.5 in the Highland Pleasures (Mackenzie family) series by Jennifer Ashley. This short story therefore takes place between books 4 (The Duke’s Perfect Wife) and 5 (The Seduction of Elliott McBride). I finished this book on 5/27/14. I rated this story 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5. This story was fun because it was about all the Mackenzies! The family has gathered for Christmas and all 4 brothers and their wives and children and relatives, plus the Mackenzies’ half brother Inspector Fellows. It was interesting to revisit many of the characters from the previous books. You hardly ever get to read about how well your favorite characters are doing in their marriages after you read their books. They might show up in books on their relatives but usually they play only a small part in those books. This book featured each of the couples from the previous 4 books in different scenes. It was great! What a lovely addition to the series.
The Untamed Mackenzie is book 5.5 in the Highland Pleasures (Mackenzie family) series by Jennifer Ashley. This short story therefore takes place between books 5 ( The Seduction of Elliott McBride) and 6 (The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie). I finished this book on 5/28/14. Unfortunately, this book was only available in e-book format. I rated this book 4 stars out of a scale of 5. This tells the story of the Mackenzies’ half brother Lloyd Fellows, Chief Inspector for Scotland Yard. He has run into Isabella’s sister Louisa Scranton at a few family functions and each time he is drawn to her. They have kissed twice and neither can deny the sparks that fly between them. Louisa has been hurt by her scandalous family though and wants to find a respectable man to marry so that her family’s name might be drawn from the mud. When a respectable man proposes to her and promptly perishes however, Inspector Fellows is called to investigate the crime. Everyone seems to think Louisa killed the man (which if you ask me is a little ridiculous) but Lloyd knows she’s innocent. I thought this short story was great because it didn’t even feel like a short story. It felt like a regular novel with its plot and story line. And I have been wanting to hear Lloyd’s story so overall I thought this was great!
Link to author website: http://www.jennifersromances.com/
Link to Mackenzie family series website: http://www.jennifersromances.com/NewSite/Mackenzies/mackenzie_main.html
Link to Amazon – Mackenzie Family Christmas: http://www.amazon.com/Mackenzie-Family-Christmas-Highland-Pleasures/dp/1481268007/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1401372840&sr=8-1
Link to Amazon – The Untamed Mackenzie: http://www.amazon.com/The-Untamed-Mackenzie-Mackenzies-Series-ebook/dp/B00AEDDSMA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401372873&sr=8-1&keywords=the+untamed+mackenzie
I recently ran across an article in the Wall Street Journal discussing digital and physical book sales. This has been a much discussed topic with me and my loved ones in the past couple years. I am one of those people who love the feel of a physical book- the touch, the smell, being able to turn the pages, everything. I also am a devoted fan of libraries and cringe to think what would happen to my beloved libraries if e-books were to take precedence over physical books. My family has discussed purchasing a kindle for me since I love reading so much and I am vehemently opposed to this. I included a photo above of some of the pros and cons of e-books vs. real books. I’m not stupid, obviously I realize there are some definite benefits to e-books. Especially at 2am when you’re arm just can’t physically hold up your book any longer. But there is something so special to me about holding a book in my hand, there’s a connection that you just can’t feel with an electronic copy I think.
The Wall Street Journal article reveals that physical books are now proving to be holding their own in sales longer than anyone expected. One reason listed was that most people use their electronic devices to play games or watch movies. Even if those devices are specifically purchased for e-book reading they don’t end up being used for that very much. I know this is not always the case but I’m sure it does happen. Also, one person quoted in the article says that people read to get away from electronic devices. I agree with that wholeheartedly, I think this is one of the reason’s I love reading physical books- I can escape from reality. Its not much of an escape though if you’re battery starts running low (score for real books!)
Another thing I found interesting about the Wall Street Journal article was something I actually found in the comments. Someone left a comment that in France the e-book costs the same as the physical book. They did this to “keep their book-loving culture intact.” I did a little research and found another article that confirmed book discounting has been banned in France. Even further than just e-books, France regulates the prices of books so that a book in a small bookshop will cost you the same as a book from a “high-street giant.” This has allowed independent book stores to survive amid all the discount sellers.
While I was doing some reading on the e-book vs. real book debate I came across a study that was done recently. The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project conducted an in-depth survey of people ages 16 and up on their reading habits. It was really a quite interesting article (the link to the article and the study’s findings is below) detailing various kinds of topics, such as reasons for reading, book readers by age, and library use in the past year among many other things. Some of the facts I found interesting from this article included:
- 83% of Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year
- 60% of Americans under age 30 used the library in the past year
- About half (48%) of readers said they had purchased their most recently read book, 24% said they had borrowed it from a friend or family member, and 14% said they borrowed it from a library (see chart below)
- Almost half (45%) of high schoolers—and 37% of college-aged adults—say that the library is not important or “not too important” to them and their family
Below is a chart that I found particularly interesting which shows the format of books read by people ages 16 and up in the past 12 months:
Let me know your thoughts!
Link to the Wall Street Journal article: http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2014/04/18/reports-of-the-bookstores-death-were-greatly-exaggerated/?Ref=Email_B2C_Authors_May20145/8/2014
Link to article on France’s book pricing policies: http://www.theguardian.com/books/shortcuts/2012/jun/24/why-is-france-shunning-ebooks
Link to article on America’s reading habits: http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2012/10/23/younger-americans-reading-and-library-habits/
The forty-third book I read in 2014 was The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie. I finished this book on 5/26/14. This is the sixth book in the Highland Pleasures (Mackenzie) series by this author. I have read the previous five books but all previously to 2014 so none are featured in this blog. I rated this book 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5. This book tells the story of Daniel Mackenzie, the son of Cameron Mackenzie from the third book in the series, and Violet Bastien, one of the most famous spiritual mediums in England.
Daniel ends up at one of Violet’s reading performances and finds himself enchanted by this strong woman, even if she is fooling all her “clients.” And when Daniel finds all the mechanics inside the walls that Violet uses to make her clients believe in her spiritual abilities, he knows that she is just the person to help him finish his motor car. Violet’s wind machine could be just what Daniel needs to cool down the motor as it runs.
Violet has a traumatic past though and, unaware of Violet’s issues, Daniel pursues her in a romantic way and promptly gets smashed over the head with a vase for his troubles. Thinking him dead, Violet runs to France to start over and hopefully outrun the law when Daniel presses charges. When Daniel wakes up though, he has no interest in pressing charges and every interest in finding the person who engineered the wind machine. Using the help of his uncle Ian, Daniel tracks Violet down to Marseilles where he finds her up to her old tricks.
After Daniel learns of Violet’s past though he realizes that there are a lot of obstacles to overcome, the biggest being Violet’s damaged psyche. With the help of his family though he is able to make Violet see how special she is to him. Overall I thought this was a very nice story, I loved seeing Daniel in his own story as a grown up after first being introduced to him during his Father’s story.
Link to author website: http://www.jennifersromances.com/
Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Daniel-Mackenzie-Mackenzies-Series/dp/0425253953/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0
The forty-second book I read in 2014 was Starry Night by Debbie Macomber. I finished this book on 5/24/14. I rated this book 3.25 stars out of a scale of 5. This book tells the story of Carrie Slayton, a reporter from Chicago, and Finn Dalton, a recent bestselling author who is trying his best to stay out of the limelight. Carrie is currently writing the Society page in the Chicago Herald. Tired of writing articles without substance, her boss finally gives her a chance to write articles about more than just the comings and goings of the city’s elite. If she can get an interview with the reclusive Finn Dalton she can write anything she wants.
And so Carrie sets off on her journey to find Finn Dalton. Through a couple of lucky breaks she ends up finding out where he lives. Unfortunately she finds his house only to be dumped there at the beginning of a snowstorm, with no promise of being rescued until the following morning at the earliest, if not later. Finn is less than pleased to find a frozen woman reporter on his doorstep, and he makes his unhappiness with the situation very clear. A couple of days in a secluded cabin together though brought them closer together than they ever imagined, so much so that they can’t help but continue their relationship after Carrie goes back to Chicago.
Overall I thought this was a very cute book. It was a quick read at only about 230 pages. I liked the characters in the story and I found myself being able to relate to the hero and heroine’s long distance relationship. Beyond that though I had trouble connecting with the main characters in the book. Was a good story though.
Link to author website: http://www.debbiemacomber.com/
Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Starry-Night-A-Christmas-Novel/dp/0345528891/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1400953204&sr=8-2&keywords=starry+night
The forty-first book I read in 2014 was After Dark with a Scoundrel by Alexandra Hawkins. I finished this book on 5/23/14. This is the third book in the Lords of Vice series by this author. I rated this book 4 stars out of a scale of 5. This book tells the story of Regan, sister of the Earl of Chillingworth who is one of the Lords of Vice, and Lord Hugh Mordare, also one of the Lords of Vice. When Chillingworth (“Frost”) catches Dare kissing his sister when she’s just 15, Frost immediately sends Regan away to a school for girls (which if you ask me seems a little extreme). Regan is devastated at being ripped away from her family, and five years later there is still a distinct strain on her relationship with her brother.
Regan’s parents were both gone by the time she was a little girl, so she was basically raised by the Lords of Vice. I thought that brought an interesting dynamic to her character, as she was raised by very rough men so she knows how to fence and fight. I thought Frost was a bit rough in how he treated her though. He would talk very crudely in front of her and I was surprised that as her brother she wouldn’t try to shield her a little more. I think I said this in a previous post but I’m not sure how I’m going to feel when I get to Frost’s book. I don’t especially like him. Anyway, Regan comes back to London after 5 years at her girl’s finishing school. Frost tries to forbid her from returning but she is determined to seduce Dare since she’s been in love with him her whole life.
Dare doesn’t think he can risk opening up his heart again after what happened the last time, when the woman he loved had an affair with his brother behind his back. Dare can’t seem to help but let Regan into his heart though, especially since he’s known her almost all her life. Overall I thought this was a very sweet, touching story. I couldn’t help but love the hero and heroine and found myself rooting for them through the story. I’m looking forward to the next Lords of Vice book!
Link to author website: http://www.alexandrahawkins.com
Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/After-Dark-Scoundrel-Lords-Vice/dp/0312381263/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400853559&sr=8-1&keywords=after+dark+with+a+scoundrel
Link to review on book row in the Lords of Vice series: https://rebeccabookreview.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/2014-book-32/
Link to review on book one in the Lords of Vice series: https://rebeccabookreview.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/2014-book-19/
The fortieth book I read in 2014 was Temptation and Surrender by Stephanie Laurens. I finished this book on 5/21/14. This is the 15th book in the Cynster family series by this author. Previous books in the series were discussed in earlier blog posts this year, specifically 2014 – Book #23, 2014 – Book #21, 2014 – Book #13, 2014 – Book #12, 2014 – Book #10, 2014 – Book #6, and 2014 – Book #4 (I know that’s quite a few!). I rated this book 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5. This book tells that story of Jonas Tallent and Emily Colyton. Jonas is the brother of Phyllida, who married Lucifer (Alasdair) Cynster in the 6th book in the series, All About Love. As I’ve said in previous posts about this series, I like meeting the characters in previous books and then seeing them and learning about their characters further when they feature in their own books.
Emily is willing to do whatever is necessary to get herself and her siblings out of their horrible Uncle’s house, even if that means taking a position as an innkeeper to earn money to support her family. So they take up residence in the town of Colyton, hoping to find a treasure that their ancestors supposedly left behind for future generations while Emily also manages the inn. Jonas Tallent’s father owns the inn that Emily now manages, giving him a perfectly good excuse to talk to her whenever he wishes. Their relationship develops and Jonas realizes that he wants to protect Emily and take care of her for the rest of her life, which is nice.
I thought this book was ok. I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I have in previous books by this author but the plot was interesting enough and the main characters seemed like decent people. The hero was a little too pushy for my taste but he was a nice enough guy. I felt like the ending was a bit of a stretch, the villain’s identity I saw coming in a sense but the explanation behind it was weak and not well developed through the rest of the story I thought. Overall this wasn’t my favorite book by this author but was a decent addition to the series.
Link to author website: http://www.stephanielaurens.com/
Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Temptation-Surrender-Cynster-Stephanie-Laurens-ebook/dp/B001NLL932/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400770991&sr=8-1&keywords=temptation+and+surrender
Link to first blog post in 2014 about Cynster family series (includes family tree picture): https://rebeccabookreview.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/2014-book-4/
So last night I went to a book talk and signing with Kristan Higgins at the Durham Public Library. She talked about her two most recent books, The Perfect Match and Waiting on You. Her talk was just awesome! I figured out why her books are so funny, she is just hilarious! She talked about her process with writing the two books (two most recent books in her Blue Heron series) and the part I found most interesting I think was when she talked about the different things she had to research when writing the books.
Kristan discussed the research she had to do for her two most recently published books. For The Perfect Match she had to research immigration laws, toxic friendships, and boxing. For Waiting on You she had to research kidney failure, Chicago, and fraternal twins. I never really considered before how much work and research has to be put into each novel for it to work and make sense. I thought it was fun that she got to research vineyards while she was looking for the right setting for the Blue Heron series. Who doesn’t want to do research at a winery? I think it might be interesting to try and write a book. Obviously it is extremely difficult and I’m not really sure I could manage but it might be interesting to try.
Kristan also talked about her writing process and how she finds a celebrity guy to crush on when she’s first forming the hero’s character in the book. I thought this was funny, she even included some pictures of cute celebrities in her PowerPoint! I also liked how she connects a lot of things from her life into the books. Like one of her books has a teenage girl in it and at the time she was writing this book her daughter was just entering teenage age. Kristan was very personable and gave such a great presentation!
What a great talk, Kristan kept me interested the whole time! And then I got my book signed, I felt like I was meeting a celebrity I was so nervous 🙂
And surprise Mom (in case you read this before tomorrow) but I got a signed copy for you in addition to my signed copy!
Link to review on Waiting on You: https://rebeccabookreview.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/2014-book-24/
Link to author website: http://www.kristanhiggins.com
Link to author’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KristanHigginsBooks
The thirty-ninth book I read in 2014 was The Dream Dress by Janice Thompson. This was the third book in the Weddings by Bella series but was the first book I’ve read by this author. I finished this book on 5/16/14. I rated this book 2.75 stars out of a scale of 5. This book is about Gabi Delgado and Jordan Singer. Gabi is an alterations girl in the most renowned wedding gown salon in Galveston, TX. She secretly designs wedding gowns at night and on the weekends though. Jordan Singer is a reporter who comes in to do an article on one of the brides who is buying a dress from Gabi’s boss.
Overall I found this story very hard to connect with. The characters in the story were all nice all the time except for the one villain of course, but even he came around in the end. There was one scene where the four girls are all sitting around talking and the three girls that are currently in relationships start talking about how amazing their significant other is and they get all teary-eyed thinking about how wonderful their husbands/boyfriends are. WHO DOES THAT. The answer is no one. No one actually does that in real life. Ever. And while I like to read about romance novels because I like the happy endings, this book was just too far fetched for me.
Another piece of this book that was difficult for me to relate to was the overwhelming topic of God in this book. To be honest this book felt like it was more about Gabi finding God than about Gabi finding Jordan. Which is fine, I certainly have no problem with God. But did it really have to come up in every single conversation? And (**SPOILER ALERT**) in the end Gabi ends up this super successful wedding designer and she’s going to design a dress for someone to wear to the Academy Awards all because she prayed to God? That isn’t really how it works. I just couldn’t relate to that at all and I found it almost insulting in its lack of feasibility.
Overall I was not a fan of this book (obviously) not only because of the reasons already listed but also because I just couldn’t get into the book. The characters weren’t developed very deeply and the conversations all felt forced, awkward, and choppy. Just wasn’t my type of book I guess.
Link to author website: http://janiceathompson.com/blog/
Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Dress-The-Weddings-Design/dp/0800721543/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400245606&sr=8-1&keywords=the+dream+dress