Monday, September 22, 2014

Sicilian EngagementSicilian Engagement by Rachel Lyndhurst
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sicilian Engagement was an enjoyable read. I received an early release copy from NetGalley. I always look for books based in the Mediterannean and this is one of the few that I have read so far based in Sicily. I always flash back to an episode of Anthony Bordain's No Reservation where he spent time in Sicily when he spoke with one of his hosts about whether there was still "family connections" there and she confirmed that it is not as obvious but every once in a while it reared its head so it is not completely gone. So when I read contemporary stories that hit on this I think about this and realize there is a bit of realism there and this story was quite interesting. It spent some time on "family" politics in Sicily and how this effects business. Lorenzo Ferrante's story delves into these relationships since Lorenzo has done his best to stay out of his father's "family" business. But Lorenzo has a plan for how to clear himself once and for all and try to do some good in Sicily but he needs to be married to sit at the table for the deal. But he has to start somewhere so he needs to find a fiancee fast and hires one but the person chosen to be his fiancee through a temp agency in London is blackmailed into it. She has no choice but to honor the contract but she goes in with her head on straight and is determined not to fall for Lorenzo, who of course is gorgeous. One of the best things about Sicilian Engagement is seeing Sicily's landscape through the author's eyes. There were some great descriptions of Sicily which are always my favorite. Although I am new to pure romance I love when they have a bit of a twist and there was a bit of excitement in this book which helped make it more enjoyable for me. I will look for more books by Rachel Lyndhurst!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Prince Who Loved Me (The Oxenburg Princes, #1)The Prince Who Loved Me by Karen Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun book! I received a copy via NetGalley and jumped right into the story. The Prince Who Loved Me is about a prince who is both Romany and a Prince of a country called Oxenburg. He comes to visit a small Scottish village where Bronwyn Murdoch lives with her father, stepmother and stepsisters. They actually seem to be a close family despite their differences. Bronwyn is a bookish or "bluestocking" who does not really think about the future other than helping her father file patents for his inventions and answering correspondence. Her stepmother is very hands on and traditional and tries to make Bronwyn more of a lady in how she behaves, dresses and in her extracurricular activities as she spends most of her time reading and hanging around her dogs. The dogs and a new doggie she meets in the woods are quite funny additions to the story. It is also in the woods when Bronwyn meets someone that changes how she sees her future. There are some very comical portions to the story and I enjoyed the goings on at the different events at the castle. There are some very colorful characters in this story including the Viscount, his uncle, the Romany grandmother and Bronwyn's stepsisters. I always get a little nervous when I try to read historical fiction and I was not disappointed. The Prince Who Loved Me is a great, funny story!

Review can also be seen at LadyTechies Book Musings http://LadyTechiesBookMusings.blogspo...

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Assassin's Game (David Slayton, #2)Assassin's Game by Ward Larsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received Assassin's Game as an eArc through NetGalley. Ward Larsen has a winning series on his hands. I love it!

Assassin's Game is the 2nd in the series that follows "David Slaton" (if that is his real name), the most lethal Kidon to be trained by the Mossad. In this book we see David under his new assumed identity and Christine as they have begun their new domesticated life. Christine has completed her residency and has flown to Sweden to attend a medical conference when David's former life comes back to haunt both of them. They both find out it is not so easy to leave the Mossad and secrets are very hard to keep if more than one person knows them. The Mossad wants its agent back and they have a huge problem with a nuclear weapons expert who works for one of Israel's biggest enemies.

David Slaton has to create a plan against the odds to kill the chemist and also try to protect his wife who is being chased across Europe by police and other forces. In the middle of all of this he has to try to figure out how to keep his marriage together. I have to admit that at the end of this action-packed story I had to remember this is not a romance. This is an action-packed thriller. But, Ward Larsen does a great job of portraying the tensions on a marriage that is fraught with violence, deception and betrayal. This portrays espionage and international politics in the best fashion. We also get to follow the stories of some of the side characters like the investigators and the villains. Another great aspect of this story is that it is a great mystery. I cannot wait for the next installment in this intriguing story.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Guest Blog by Suzy Vitele author of The Empress Chronicles on Who is the Audience of Young Adult Books?

Thanks for inviting me to guest post on your blog!
Today’s topic is Young Adult versus Adult and the challenges and benefits of writing in multiple genres.
Let’s talk about audience first. Books are sold and marketed to specific audiences, and it’s commonly thought of as best practices to “target” a book visually, and with the right hook, to get it into the hands of its most appropriate readers.
Like my debut, THE MOMENT BEFORE, THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES is a bit of a crossover book. While I see teens as the main audience for EMPRESS, the subject matter and the historical/social/political context (fingers crossed!) will appeal to an older audience as well. This idea is certainly not new. Lewis Carroll’s ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND is a great example of a book that covers multiple genres and invites a spectrum of ages into its fantastical account of a girl’s journey.
If you ask most writers who their audience is, hopefully they’ll say themselves! Write the book you wish was written – to appeal to you as a reader. My “target” audience might be thought of as a set of qualities rather than an age. Daydreamers, loners, people who often feel out of step with popular culture. Artists, quiet types, bookish thinkers. Also, romantics, poets, people who enjoy suspending disbelief. For The Empress Chronicles, a fascination with European royalty would help, too. Generally, I like to think my characters offer a nod to those teens/adults who might be thought of as “stubborn” or “difficult.”
As far as process, in my experience, it helps to find a setting and a character whose voice you can’t get out of your head and go from there. As the story unfolds (I dabble in plot boards to establish a structure, but usually morph the plot points along the way), the audience becomes clearer. I made a conscious decision to avoid swear words in Empress because I think there are some 12-year-old precocious readers who would like the book, and I didn’t want parents to have an easy excuse for its exclusion in their home libraries.
The “difficult” subject matter in Empress includes mental illness, divorce, the pressure to party and have sex in high school – but, on the page, I try really hard to stay in the mindset of a “late bloomer” type 15-year old. I’ve raised three children (my youngest is 15), and I know that teens are bombarded with pressures all day long. For me, the journey of a young adult narrator should reflect the authenticity of today’s pressures.

As far as “genre,” Empress could be equally slotted in historical, contemporary, fantasy, issue, or teen romance. The cover alone gives the reader a hint that they’ll be journeying to at least a couple of places. In the most optimistic sense, we might think of the book as a genre mash. Or even, dare I say it, a literary smorgasbord! 

Shadows in Death by J.D. Robb My rating: 5 of 5 stars Is it possible for an author to be 51 books into a series and still have those book...