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Review: Undeniably Yours (Kowalski Family #2) by Shannon Stacey

Undeniably Yours

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One-night stand + two percent condom failure rate = happily ever after?

Bar owner Kevin Kowalski is used to women throwing their phone numbers at him, but lately he’s more interested in finding a woman to settle down with. A woman like Beth Hansen. If only their first meeting hadn’t gone so badly…

Beth’s tending bar at a wedding when she comes face-to-face with a tuxedo-clad man she never thought she’d see again. She tries to keep her distance from Kevin but, by last call, she can’t say no to his too-blue eyes or the invitation back to his room. Then she slips out before breakfast without leaving a note and, despite their precautions, pregnant.

Kevin quickly warms to the idea of being a dad and to seeing where things go with Beth. After all, he’s not the player she thinks he is. But she’s not ready for a relationship and, given his reputation, it’s going to take a lot to convince her to go on a second date with the father of her child…

Well, this book just…felt like it went on forever. And it annoyed me greatly – well, the heroine annoyed the living shit out of me.

I really, really dislike books where the reason the hero and heroine don’t get together is because “reasons.” In Undeniably Yours the reason the H/h stay apart the entire book is because the heroine doesn’t want to do permanent relationships. Because her parents hovered and smothered. Although she has a good relationship with them. And she’s pregnant. And broke. Because reasons! And feelings!
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Review: Exclusively Yours (The Kowalski Family #1) by Shannon Stacey

Exclusively Yours

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When Keri Daniels’ editor finds out she has previous carnal knowledge of reclusive bestselling author Joe Kowalski, she gives Keri a choice: get an interview or get a new job.

Joe’s never forgotten the first girl to break his heart, so he’s intrigued to hear Keri’s back in town–and looking for him. Despite his intense need for privacy, he’ll grant Keri an interview if it means a chance to finish what they started in high school.

He proposes an outrageous plan–for every day she survives with his family on their annual camping and four-wheeling trip, Keri can ask one question. Keri agrees; she’s worked too hard to walk away from her career.

But the chemistry between them is still as potent as the bug spray, Joe’s sister is out to avenge his broken heart and Keri hasn’t ridden an ATV since she was ten. Who knew a little blackmail, a whole lot of family and some sizzling romantic interludes could make Keri reconsider the old dream of Keri & Joe 2gether 4ever.

This book has been an interesting experience for me. There was a lot of negative impressions/views about Keri (the heroine) at the beginning of the book and those negative views were not initially tempered by Keri’s own voice. Other than the basic character introduction and [plot] motivation, the reader is told about Keri from the view of Joe (the scorned ex) and his twin sister Lisa (the scorned ex-best friend). Not to beat about the bush, the initial view of Keri is…pretty atrocious. Seriously. The reader learns that Keri dropped Lisa – her best friend – in high school when she became popular and that Keri dropped Joe – her high school sweetheart – as soon as the diploma hit her hot little hands. Then Keri leaves town and doesn’t see or speak to them again…for almost 20 years. The reader learns that Lisa was really hurt by Keri’s actions and that Joe was devastated: he withdraws from his family and friends and becomes an alcoholic.

Let’s be honest, Keri sounded like a bitch and I have a hard time rooting for bitches. I was about five seconds from DNF’ing this book at chapter one…until I thought about something: Keri was 18 when she moved away…Joe became an alcoholic at 18?! WTF, yo! That’s…a bit much to try to put on a kid’s shoulders. Having that thought really was the only thing that kept me from tossing this one.
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Review: The Spirit Thief (The Legend of Eli Monpress #1) by Rachel Aaron

The Spirit Thief

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Eli Monpress is talented. He’s charming. And he’s a thief.

But not just any thief. He’s the greatest thief of the age – and he’s also a wizard. And with the help of his partners – a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls – he’s going to put his plan into effect.

The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he’ll need to steal some big things. But he’ll start small for now. He’ll just steal something that no one will miss – at least for a while.

Like a king.

 

 
This one was a slog.

I bought this as part of omnibus based off of a great blurb. I started and stopped it a couple of times but I finally buckled down and read in starting in January.

It took me forever to finish this book – it’s not particularly small but it’s not that big, either. It’s well written and the writing is engaging.

So why was it such a slog for me?

I’d have to say it was the characters. Well, one character in particular: Eli. Eli Monpress is supposed to be rather charming. I’m guessing he’s supposed to give the reader a “gentleman thief” kind of feel – someone extremely likeable but untrustworthy – maybe like Pierce Bronsan’s Remington Steele or Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora.
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Review: The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” (The Chronicles of Narnia, #3) by C.S. Lewis

The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader"

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Lucy and Edmund, with their dreadful cousin Eustace, get magically pulled into a painting of a ship at sea. That ship is the Dawn Treader, and on board is Caspian, King of Narnia. He and his companions, including Reepicheep, the valiant warrior mouse, are searching for seven lost lords of Narnia, and their voyage will take them to the edge of the world. Their adventures include being captured by slave traders, a much-too-close encounter with a dragon, and visits to many enchanted islands, including the place where dreams come true.

Note: I love this series to pieces so this is more of my thoughts than a review.

Let’s start with great first lines: “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” starts with Edmund and Lucy Pevensie going to stay with their aunt, uncle and their annoying son, Eustace. Eustace…is originally characterized as a snotty little asshole that was training up to become a psychopath. He liked dead bugs. *ew* Eustace also enjoys harassing people, hurting feelings, tattle-telling and embarrassing others. Not. Fun. So when Lucy and Edmund are pulled into Narnia (and to the Dawn Treader), Eustace comes with them – bad qualities included. I wonder, sometimes, about Eustace. What was Eustace’s purpose and why do we [the reader] get him instead of Peter and Susan?

King Caspian has set out on a long voyage after getting Narnia settled nicely. Caspian is (heroically?) searching for seven Lords of his land that his dictator Uncle Miraz sent off to sail the world. I always wondered how a King with no Queen and no progeny could do something this irresponsible but, hey…*shrug*
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Review: Magician’s Gambit (The Belgariad #3) by David Eddings *spoilers*

Magician's Gambit

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Ce’Nedra, Imperial Princess of Tolnedra, had joined a dangerous mission to recover the stolen Orb that supposedly protected the West from the evil God Torak. And somehow, she found herself feeling quite tender for Garion, the innocent farm boy, who would be forced into the strange tower in the center of all evil to retrieve the Orb by himself.

 

 

Magician’s Gambit starts with the company on a ship sailing out of Nyissa.

While Belgarath and Silk were away from the company, they discovered that Zedar no longer had the Orb. Zedar and Ctuchick (also a disciple of Torak) fought and Zedar fled.. Ctuchick too the Orb to Rak Cthol in Cthol Murgos.

Belgarath received a summons from his Master – the god Aldur – so the company prepares to travel the 250 leagues to the Vale of Aldur. This will take them a month or more.

While traveling to the Vale the company (Garion, Ce’Nedra, Belgarath, Polgara, Durnik, Barak, Silk, Hettar and Mandorallen) is chased by groups of Murgos, all coming from different directions. At this time the company was close to Maragor, so Belgarath decides that the only way to avoid capture was to go through instead of around Maragor.

Maragor

Maragor is a haunted and empty land. The Tolnedrans declared war on Maragor – using the subterfuge of stamping out cannibalism – because Maragor is filled with gold. In their greed, the Tolnedran armies slaughtered all of the Marags (including non-combatants). Mara, the god of the Marags, was driven mad with grief over the loss of his children. Continue reading

Review: Prince Caspian (The Chronicles of Narnia, #2) by C.S. Lewis

Prince Caspian

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The four Pevensies help Caspian battle Miraz and ascend his rightful throne.

NARNIA…the land between the lamp-post and the castle of Cair Paravel, where animals talk, where magical things happen…and where the adventure begins.

Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are returning to boarding school when they are summoned from the dreary train station (by Susan’s own magic horn) to return to the land of Narnia-the land where they had ruled as kings and queens and where their help is desperately needed.

A prince fights for his crown. A prince denied his rightful throne gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world.

I love the Narnia series and I’ve read it many, many times. Whenever I read this series, I always read it in original publication order – as it should be.

It’s hard to review books you love so this is more like…a smattering of a review combined with my general thoughts and feelings.

Prince Caspian introduces one of my favorite characters: the talking mouse Reepicheep. Reepicheep is fierce and I love him to pieces. When I first read this series, I was taken with Reepicheep and with every re-read I realize what a wonderful character he is! The bravery, loyalty and honor along with the slight arrogance make Reepicheep a very human character.
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Review: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia #1) by C.S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, completed in the winter of 1949 & published in 1950, tells the story of four ordinary children: Peter, Susan, Edmund & Lucy Pevensie. They discover a wardrobe in Prof. Digory Kirke’s house that leads to the magical land of Narnia, which is currently under the spell of a witch. The four children fulfill an ancient, mysterious prophecy while in Narnia. The Pevensie children help Aslan (the Turkish word for lion) & his army save Narnia from the evil White Witch, who’s reigned over the Narnia in winter for 100 years.

This edition follows the original numbering scheme. Recent publishers have renumbered the volumes so they are ordered chronologically.

I have read this book (and series) so many times that there is no way to count. I’ve owned all the books on multiple occasions and in multiple formats – my current format is a trade paperback omnibus edition. I truly believe this is a book that is a such a treat for the eyes that all should have the opportunity to read it at least once. The book was written for children and it does read that way…but this is not a “childish” book (or series) in any sense of the word.

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (as well as the entire Narnia Chronicles) is definitely a Christian allegory but it’s written in a very…non preachy way. Most young children who read this book are unlikely to recognize the Christian elements. I remember reading this series several times as a child (as well as watching the BBC movies*, which I love and own) and it took me quite some time (as well as age) before I started to notice the Christian elements. I think that is one of the things that makes this book so beloved: even if you’ve never heard the story of Jesus you can thoroughly enjoy this book.
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Review: Queen of Sorcery (The Belgariad #2) by David Eddings *spoilers*

queen of sorcery

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The Sorcerer Belgarath and his daughter Polgara the Sorceress were on the trail of the Orb – stolen by a priest of Torak – seeking to regain its saving power before the final disaster prophesized by the legends. And with them went Garion, a simple farm boy only months before, but now the focus of the struggle. He had never believed in sorcery and wanted no part of it. Yet with every league they traveled, the power grew in him, forcing him to acts of wizardry he could not accept.

 

Note: This is one of my favorite series. I read this series, it’s sequel The Mallorean, and Belgarath the Sorcerer yearly.

Queen of Sorcery is the second book in The Belgariad series by David Eddings. In comparison to the first book, Queen of Sorcery gives the reader a lot more information and a greater incentive to continue the series. One of the things I liked the most about this book is that the reader starts to get to know the side characters a lot better – and a lot of the things left unexplained in book one are cleared up in book two. Eddings is not one for a lot of loose ends, which I greatly appreciate.

Queen of Sorcery starts the same way Pawn of Prophecy does – with an info dump prologue – and then it proceeds into another info dump. The prologue tells of a famous battle that happened centuries in the past and the second info dump gives the reader a rehash of Pawn of Prophecy. It also reminds the reader that Garion is anguished and that the adults are keeping secrets from him.

Unlike Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery tells the questing group (and the reader) the exact nature of their quest at the beginning of the book: The Orb of Aldur has been stolen by Zedar the Apostate. They have to retrieve the Orb before Zedar can deliver it to the evil god Torak, waking Torak from an ensorcelled sleep to take over the world.

Queen of Sorcery also gives the reader a better sense of Eddings’ world. Each country is populated by a different racial stock and each racial stock is a stereotype. Thus far we have met the Sendars (who are sensible) and the Chereks (who are rowdy, drunks and war-like). Queen of Sorcery introduces us to the Arends (who are “not very bright but very brave” and who’s nobles engage in almost casual warfare while severely mistreating their serfs), the Tolnedrans (materialistic and obsessed with stature) and the Nyissans who emulate the snake. The Nyissans are also drug users and dealers, they sell poisons, are untrustworthy and are also slavers. Got all that? Good.
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Review: Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad #1) by David Eddings

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Long ago, the Storyteller claimed, in this first book of The Belgariad, the evil god Torak drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.

But Garion did not believe in such stories. Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved–but did not know…?

Pawn of Prophecy is the first of five books in The Belgariad series. In this book we meet our hero, Garion and most of his companions: Polgara, Belgarath, Durnik, Silk, Barak and Hettar. Garion is an orphan farmboy who is being raised on a farm (of course) in Sendaria by his aunt, Pol. This trope – the orphan farmboy – is one that the seasoned fantasy reader is quite familiar with. The big difference here is that Eddings’ Garion is one of the first of his kind. Pawn of Prophecy was published in 1982 – a time when fantasy had very few titles and readers were clamoring for this type of epic fantasy.
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