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The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…
 

Goodreads Summary

Adelaide aka Elizabeth (her real name) made this entire novel for me.  She was intelligent, brave, and put others before herself.  When faced with a match made for financial reasons and security, Adelaide seizes the chance to take on her maid's name and enter the Glittering Court as her maid.  The Glittering Court helps lower-class ladies make matches with high-powered gentlemen.  When Adelaide meets Cedric, who initially chose her maid to be part of the Court, she knows that he's someone she could really like eventually.  She makes friends with Tamsin and Mira and excels in all of her courses.  Tamsin is headstrong, opinionated, and slightly controlling.  Mira is exotic, lovely, and clever.  The trio engage in fun dialogue and hilarious scenes together.

When Adelaide catches the eye of one of the wealthiest man participating in the Glittering Court, she isn't sure she wants to make the match.  After all, didn't she enter the Glittering Court to choose her own husband?  The romance between Cedric and Adelaide felt raw and real.  I loved how their affections for each other developed slowly over the course of the book and did not overtake Adelaide's character.  Adelaide's strong love for her friends and Cedric gets her into trouble more than once and causes strife between the friends, but it all works out in the end.  I was a little bit surprised by the ending, but could see it coming for the most part.  I hope there is a second in the series because I am dying to know what Tamsin confided in Adelaide at the end of the novel and what Mira was secretly leaving to do at night.  I really enjoyed this novel and finished it in one sitting.

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Woman in the Photo by Mary Hogan: Review and Giveaway!

Friday, July 22, 2016

In this compulsively readable historical novel, from the author of the critically-acclaimed Two Sisters, comes the story of two young women—one in America’s Gilded Age, one in scrappy modern-day California—whose lives are linked by a single tragic afternoon in history.

1888: Elizabeth Haberlin, of the Pittsburgh Haberlins, spends every summer with her family on a beautiful lake in an exclusive club. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains above the working class community of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the private retreat is patronized by society’s elite. Elizabeth summers with Carnegies, Mellons, and Fricks, following the rigid etiquette of her class. But Elizabeth is blessed (cursed) with a mind of her own. Case in point: her friendship with Eugene Eggar, a Johnstown steel mill worker. And when Elizabeth discovers that the club’s poorly maintained dam is about to burst and send 20 million tons of water careening down the mountain, she risks all to warn Eugene and the townspeople in the lake’s deadly shadow.

Present day: On her 18th birthday, genetic information from Lee Parker’s closed adoption is unlocked. She also sees an old photograph of a genetic relative—a 19th century woman with hair and eyes likes hers—standing in a pile of rubble from an ecological disaster next to none other than Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. Determined to identify the woman in the photo and unearth the mystery of that captured moment, Lee digs into history. Her journey takes her from California to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, from her present financial woes to her past of privilege, from the daily grind to an epic disaster. Once Lee’s heroic DNA is revealed, will she decide to forge a new fate?
 

Goodreads Summary

I never knew that this event occurred in history so that alone makes me glad I read this book.  I did enjoy the overlay of the past and present and thought the author did a pretty decent job of ensuring it was not confusing or contradictory.  I could sort of guess where the ending was headed, but it was a nice surprise anyway.  Lee and Elizabeth were both strong female characters who tried to do what is right.  I think Elizabeth pushed Lee in the right direction.  

I did enjoy the characters though I wish I had gotten to know them better.  I really felt "in the past" when reading from Elizabeth's point of view.  The author's attention to detail was very good and the plot moved fairly quickly after I got my footing in the beginning.  I do wish that the book paid more attention to the actual flood and the politics behind that.  Although I enjoyed the book, this felt like a quick read to me which doesn't usually happen with historically-based books.  A reader who enjoys historical fiction or someone who wants to learn about an event in their country's history they liked did not know about would enjoy this book.

3 1/2 Stars


GIVEAWAY:

Please leave a comment about a little known historical event plus your email for a chance to win this book (USA)!


This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Without Annette by Jane B Mason

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A gorgeously written, witty, and poignant YA novel, about a girl who must forge her own path in the wake of a crumbling relationship. 

Josie Little has been looking forward to moving halfway across the country to attend Brookwood Academy, a prestigious boarding school, with her girlfriend, Annette, for ages. But underneath Brookwood's picture-perfect image lies a crippling sense of elitism that begins to tear the girls apart from the moment they arrive.

While Josie struggles to navigate her new life, Annette seems to fit in perfectly. Yet that acceptance comes with more than a few strings. And consequently, Annette insists on keeping their relationship a secret.

At first, Josie agrees. But as Annette pushes her further and further away, Josie grows closer to Penn, a boy whose friendship and romantic feelings for her tangle her already-unraveling relationship. When Annette's need for approval sets her on a devastating course for self-destruction, Josie isn't sure she can save her this time -- or if Annette even wants her to try.

Goodreads Summary


I loved the plot of this book without necessarily loving all of the characters.  Annette has an abusive mother and Josie wants to "save" her by taking her to a boarding school where they can enjoy the intimate relationship they both have together.  Except...none of this happens.  Once they get to the boarding school, Annette tries to blend in with the popular girls and largely ignores Josie except when she wants to make out with her.  Josie, on the other hand, is left to make friends with Penn (a boy she eventually may have feelings about and who likes her) and Roxanne (her roommate whose anti-establishment beliefs don't necessarily agree with her family).  

Josie's character was lovely.  I liked how she was protective of her girlfriend.  Although I thought she overdid the protective attitude; Annette eventually has to learn to deal with life herself.  Josie was smart, determined, and (as the book makes clear) authentic.  Roxanne turned out to be a great roommate and fun character with sardonic dialogue.  Penn disappointed me.  He turned into a great friend and possibly something more (?) in the end, but what occurred in the middle of the book was a huge turn-off.  I liked the private school air and austerity throughout the book (attended one myself!).  I thought the author wrote beautifully and her prose held my attention the entire novel.  Josie truly did develop as a character and as a person.  I wish Annette (who really annoyed me) developed like Josie.  I felt like she often used Josie and that there wasn't true depth to their relationship.  

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Love On My Mind by Tracey Livesay

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Successful PR executive Chelsea Grant is one assignment away from making partner at her firm and nothing will stand in her way. Her big break? Turn a reclusive computer genius into a media darling in time for his new product launch. He may have been dubbed the “sexiest geek alive” but he has no patience for the press—and it shows. Piece of cake, right? Only problem is… his company doesn’t want him to know they hired her.

After a disastrous product launch two years ago, tech CEO Adam Bennett knows the success of his new device depends on the media’s support. When a twist of fate brings the beautiful PR specialist to his door, Adam hires Chelsea to help turn his image around. Their attraction is undeniable and the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep things professional.

But when Adam discovers Chelsea’s deception, will she risk everything for her career or is love the real thing on her mind?

Goodreads Summary

Adam is an introverted, shy computer nerd with a brilliant product idea.  Chelsea is brought on the scene to help him, but he isn't to know that that is why she is around him.  The book mentions that he has Aspberger's syndrome and covers the syndrome and its complications a little bit.  Adam has a difficulty understanding social cues and responding correctly.  Chelsea tries to smooth over some of his social gaffes and help him deal with people.  Chelsea is able to reach him when most people fail to do so.  

I liked Adam's character because I totally understand how his mind works.  He was methodical, centered, and intelligent.  Chelsea, despite her lying, was remarkably honest.  She wanted to tell him the truth through much of the book.  I liked how they worked together and their relationship seemed genuine.  The ending was handled perfectly and I really enjoyed the book overall.  Romance readers will definitely be a fan of this book.

4 Stars


This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ