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Danielle's Reading Adventures

Reading is my favorite hobby, hands down. Books are love to me.  I am an avid collector, and paper books will always edge out e-books with me.

Currently reading

Russian in 10 Minutes a Day
Marianna Ilyina, Kamal Bouranov, Kristine K. Kershul
Say It Right in Russian
Clyde Peters
The Blue Fairy Book
Andrew Lang
The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?
F. F. Bruce
Berlitz Russian Phrase Book & CD
Berlitz Publishing Company, Berlitz Publishing Company

Art is Life

Rainshadow Road - Lisa Kleypas

I read this book back in the summer, and I never got around to writing the review. If I had a word to describe it, it's charming. At the same time, I can't say either Lucy or Sam would be anywhere near the top of my list of favorite Lisa Kleypas characters or couples. In fact, I did have minor issues with both of them. Sam more than Lucy.

Lucy made me want to yell at her a few times. I didn't get why she let Alice get away with so much, although LK did a good job of explaining the complexities of the sister relationship and the fact that Alice getting away was stuff was doing business as normal. But I wanted Lucy to get Alice told, and she didn't quite do that. Alice is a mega-brat and she needed someone to hold her accountable for the crap she'd done and instigated in her short life, and Lucy wasn't willing to do it. I think Lucy will appeal to a lot of readers, because she does seem like a normal kind of woman (despite her magical abilities).

Sam, well he just comes off as selfish in that he is living his life and that's his thing. His family dysfunction is there, but he was able to escape from it in a way that his other siblings couldn't, I don't think. He had the neighbors to hide out with and they were like grandparents, giving him a sense of safety. Although I read Dream Lake after this, I started to think of these books as a group. Sam lives in the shadow of Alex for me. Sam managed to avoid most of the angst that hit Alex full in the face, so it’s not wonder that Alex is a trainwreck.

I know that a big issue that I have with Sam is his attitudes towards sex and relationships, or lack thereof. He had no desire for a meaningful relationship. Yes, as the child of two alcoholics, that makes sense. I think if he had shown more depth, I could have connected to him and his reasons. I did like that he finally realized how much Lucy meant to him and his gesture was so sweet and authentic.

As far as Sam and Lucy's relationship, it was pleasant. I did believe they loved each other, but it's hard to get too involved in their relationship considering that I didn't have strong feelings for either of them.

I liked the magical elements. It was different and unique. It's subtly done but integral to the storyline. Kleypas doesn't really explain why Lucy has this ability and no one else in her family does. I don't know if it's because of the fact that Alice always got all the attention and this was a gift that belonged her her alone.

I've read all the books in this series, and this is my least favorite. I think it lacks the punch that later books have, and with Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, Holly pretty much cinches the story. Holly was in this book and I liked how Sam does connect with Holly, and that is an aspect of the story that gives Sam an added depth.

I have very high standards for Lisa Kleypas. She's been one of my favorite authors, well, for most of my life. I like her foray into something different, and she did it well, but this doesn't stand up well to her other books. Normally most of her heroes turn me into goo, but Sam left me very unmelted.

So, I gave this one 3.5/5.0 stars.

Never Game a Gamer

Never Trust a Pirate (Playful Brides) - Valerie Bowman

This is a definite win in a consistently good series. Valerie Bowman writes so charmingly, and I love that the heroine is as roguish as the hero. I like the surprises along the way and Danielle is probably going on my favorite heroines list, not because we share the name. But because she's awesome. I picture Eva Green as Danielle.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine http://affairedecoeurmagazine.com.

Shadowy Characters

Shadow Rider (The Shadow Series) - Christine Feehan

An interesting new series for Christine Feehan readers. With everything going on, it took me a long time to finish it. I read most of it on the way home from Illinois when we got back from my grandmother's funeral. I was really sucked in at that point. This one is about a family of people whose shadows are alive and they can manipulate and move the through the shadows/ dark spots around them. Cool idea. I'd give the idea definitely over a four star. The story overall is more like a three and a half. I think it's me. I am not into the mafia vibe. There was a pervasive mafia feel to this book I didn't enjoy. The lead character, Stefano seems like a mafia don, a man of infinite power and who is infinitely adored. But he's in a violent world and capable of extreme violence. I think if there was no paranormal elements, this simply would have been a crime romance about made men in Chicago. It was creepy who everyone bowed down to Stefano and his family and was constantly telling Francesca how lucky she was to be the apple of his eye. I think I would want to get the heck out of there. It could be what's going on right now in the country that has me sensitive to a lot of Kool-aid drinking, but that was a turnoff for me.

The other thing that bothered me was so controlling and rough Stefano was with Francesca. Now I can't say he was abusive. But he was very clearly always the one in control and expected Francesca to go along with this. I'm not into that whole aspect in which the hero is uber dominant and the heroine is submissive to him in every aspect of their relationship. Francesca did have a backbone and she was her own person, but I found her too compliant for my tastes.

I was kind of meh about Stefano. He was hot looking, with the black hair and dark blue eyes (which I really like). I dug how the Ferraros always wore three piece suits and look damned good in them. But being rich and hot isn't everything. I mean, he's a good guy and takes care of the family and the folks in his neighborhood. And he doesn't take crap. He puts his enemies down hard. He really lost me when he kept going on about how he needed sex and lots of it, but the women didn't mean anything to him. I can't stand when the hero's sexual past in rubbed in the heroine's face. Francesca kept running into Stefano's vindictive hookups and many excuses were made about how it was a nature of the Shadow Riders, but she was special to him and he adored her. Then the dude has the nerve to think about hunting down Francesca's first and only lover other than him and killing him. What. The. Frell? Nope. Yes, I like a possessive hero, but not when he's been there done that and gets irritated because he isn't the first for the heroine. Double Standard Alarm going off.

Another thing is how raunchy and rough the love scenes have gotten to be in Feehan's books. Very much over the line into erotic. I am not against sex scenes, I just get to the point where it's too much for me. Especially when it's about the hero making all the demands the heroine submitting to him sexually. It doesn't do a thing for me.

I guess there was a good love story. I didn't really connect to that aspect of the book. I was more intrigued with the shadow rider concept and the suspense storyline. Feehan knows how to write a good action and suspense story. I loved the climax. It was on point. When I was about to check out because of all the sex scenes that went on too long, the storyline twisted back to focus on the action and suspense, and I was hooked as before.

This was almost a four star, but the things I complained about above kept it in the 3.5 star range. I really wish Feehan would chill down some of the raunchy love scenes and the must have control in the bedroom aspect. That's getting old. I love a tender lover personally in my romances. If he gets a little wild every now and then, that's cool. But rough 24/7, no thanks. I love the family element and I grew fond of the Ferraro siblings. I'm looking forward to the sister's story with the guy who's in the rival family. My luck, it will probably be the last book in the series. Since it's Feehan and she's like my personal brand of crack, I will read them all.

Fifth Times a Charm

The Bad Luck Bride (The Cavensham Heiresses #1)The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This started out a little slow but I got very involved with this the story. Claire is one of the most tormented heroines I've read in a while, and even though Alex starts out wanting revenge, he's so caring, he won me over.

Historical romance readers should check this one out.

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com.


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Kidnapped in the Highlands

My One True Highlander (No Ordinary Hero) - Suzanne Enoch

This was like a nice book vacation to the Scottish Highlands. I like that Marjorie is practical but dreamy and Graeme is a good guy who has dedicated his young life to taking care of family. I personally don't get tired of Scottish books, although I can get bored with Regencies, a little. Nice that this has plenty of the Scottish vibe to give it some pizazz. Plus the kids were a lot of fun.

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com.

Ex-Super Hero and Current Misanthrope

Alias, Vol. 1 - Jeph Loeb, Michael Gaydos, Brian Michael Bendis

Basically, if you like the Jessica Jones show on Netflix, you will like this. It even has the same tone. Not much happens. Except the show has more wow, crazy moments than the graphic novel does. Heavy on prose and ironical humor. Jessica herself is impossible not to like, probably because of her flaws. She's cynical, drinks too much, and is a bit of a misanthrope. This is essentially a graphic novel about an ex-superhero turned private investigator who has turned her back on the superhero world, even though it keeps drawing her back in. So there is not a lot of epic battles and such. It's very grounded in everyday. Readers who are looking for a narrative/prose-driven graphic novel that deals with celebrity and the question of what happens afterwards, will appreciate this book.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

Secrets and Small-Town Lies

A Death in the Dales (Kate Shackleton Mysteries) - Frances Brody

The latest in this savvy historical mystery takes Kate to a small town full of dark secrets. A mystery that is also a character(s) study. Worth the read!

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine: http://affairedecoeur.com.

Broken Strongman

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Two Vol. 1 - Tom Taylor, Mike S. Miller, Tom Derenick

Riveting stuff. Superman's rampage continues. He's decided that he needs to rule over mankind so he can keep it safe. Not everyone is down for it, so things come to a head between him and Batman. Heartbreaking, really. Batman will not give up. He's not made that way. Even he will take on a madman with unlimited power. Superman has lost his grip and he's developed a cult of personality around him. Very timely subject matter. Some leaders can do that, and that's when people have to make the truth clear. Even at great cost. Meanwhile, some galactic protectors need to decide if they will get in involved.

Batman is not able to to watch over Gotham (let's leave it at that), so Jim Gordon and his crew take up the mantle, along with the Birds of Prey. They have an asset in their favor to even the odds a little.

I wish I had written this review sooner, but it's so intense and affecting, and I'm not describing it well. Let's just suffice it to say that you can't read these books and be okay afterwards. It's good to be able to say, it's only fiction, and not all the DC books reflect this reality. Let's take this fiction and learn some lessons so we don't repeat these mistakes in real life, okay?

Strange Little Girl

Hopeless, Maine Volume 1: Personal Demons - Tom Brown, Nimue Brown

The artwork in this book was gorgeous, but the storyline feels underdeveloped, probably due to the lack of prose. It's a stylistic choice for the artist, having the male and female characters look so similar. It gives the characters an otherworldly beauty that is rather feminine on the whole. Not a dealbreaker--just interesting to me. I loved the dark Gothic feel. I'll pick up the next volume at my library.

Harley Quinn Vol. 3: Kiss Kiss Bang Stab (New 52) - Chad Hardin, Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti

This is my favorite one in this series. I'm glad I didn't give up. The silliness is tempered out a bit with good storytelling. Harley is much more of a heroic antiheroine instead of a neutral character who has no concept of right and wrong. Also, we get to see her psychiatrist roots in this book. There is still some gross humor, but not as over the top. Loved the Batman/Bruce Wayne storyline and the lesson about you might not want what you thought you did when you actually get it. A lot of good moments and this one actually had a feel good vibe to it. Not helping my Harley Quinn obsession here, folks.

High Spirits

Baron (The Knickerbocker Club) - Joanna Shupe
 

 

This book was good stuff. Dynamic leads with sexy and intense romantic chemistry and vivid history combined into one tasty package. This series is on my radar and tbr list.

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine: http://affairedecoeur.com.

Dante's Inferno Redux

Constantine: The Hellblazer Vol. 1: Going Down (John Constantine, Hellblazer) - Riley Rossmo, Ming Doyle

A new Constantine series that feels like old Constantine. Nice. Yeah, it's got the tone and the feel of the older series. By that I mean the cringy, it's the "that's not right" feeling I get when I read old Constantine. They haven't cleaned up this version and made him PC for a "kinder" generation. I didn't like the artwork so much. It's a little squiggly for my tastes. Okay, yes I'll keep reading. It's Constantine.

The Making of a Villain

 

G.I. Joe: The Fall of G.I. Joe Volume 1G.I. Joe: The Fall of G.I. Joe Volume 1 by Karen Traviss

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is my first GI Joe comic. I have liked GI Joe since I was a kid and the animated tv show came on with its famous (and I still use it), "...And Knowing is Part of the Battle" saying. I admit that I really checked this out because Baroness is on the cover. Even though she's a bad guy, I find her interesting, and I love her style. Sadly, she is barely in this book.

I think this story is really serious and tackled some intense issues. I didn't mind that, but I didn't think that it really captured the feel of the GI Joe team. I haven't read proceeding volumes (since this is my first one), so I not familiar with the events prior that lead to the team losing people and Duke going off on his own. Also, the fact that the government is about to shut down the GI Joe program.

This story seems focused on the main villain, a young man who went through the Cobra Cadet training but is now joining the Separatist group in his country, believing that Cobra is too moderate and extreme measures are required to win back his company's independence. I think that if I wasn't looking for a GI Joe book and more action, this would have been an interesting dramatic thriller suspense graphic novel. But since I was looking for a GI Joe book, it was disappointing.



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A Gothic Tour

The Poe Estate - Polly Shulman

This is an homage to Gothic fiction lovers aimed at younger readers. I loved that about this book. It's metafiction that takes it even deeper. There is story within a story within a story. I read The Wells Bequest first, which is the science fiction volume of this series. I liked it, but I liked this more because I love Gothic/Classic horror. It's apparent that Shulman does as well. I made a note of all the books she alluded to. Many I had read, but I got ideas for others to look up and read.

The overall concept was well done, and some elements were quite serious for a MG level book. This book deals with death in a very matter-of-fact way. Suki's sister died and her ghost is her protector. Except Kitty is getting to be problematic in her protectiveness, leading to Suki's reputation as being weird, and Suki needs to let her go. Her parents have to move in with a great, great-aunt into a house that is part of her family's strange and tragic history. As Suki gets drawn into an adventure related to her ancestor's tie to the house and interacts with employees from the New York Circulating Repository, she learns that it's important to accept her sister's death and try to move on.

I couldn't give this book higher than 3.5 stars because it is written in too lightweight a fashion. Some serious topics are put out there and there are deeper levels that don't get delved into with this book. I feel that there was a longer book inside of this one that didn't get written. I understand that some things had to be pared down due to format, but I would have liked to see that other book that this book shows potential for turned out. On the good side, I love how multicultural it is, and the fact that all families aren't the same, and that hardworking people experience financial difficulties and lose their homes and jobs. Not because they are lazy, but because of things outside their control. Suki is a strong young girl to go through all of this and keep on going. I had mad respect for her and her family. I cried about her sister and some of the tragic events from her family's past.

I love the metafiction concept. I could read about that for days. I could have spent hours more delving into this interest world that Shulman created. I wish I had 100 more pages of this gem. I will always be a cheerleader for middle grade fiction. While I was somewhat disappointed with this book, I would still recommend it to readers who love classic and Gothic horror.

The 1st Detective Story

Murders in the Rue Morgue & Other Stories (Library Edition)Murders in the Rue Morgue & Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I checked this audiobook out to celebrate the October Spooky mood. I have been an admirer of Poe since I was a grade school student, and what I've read by him, I've loved. I have been meaning to read more by him, but haven't taken the time. Audiobooks are such a good way to maximize my time because I can listen and do other things, so I grabbed this one. In all honesty, it wasn't very scary or even eerie (with the exception of "The Raven. " I am glad that I did listen to it though. I had never read any of these stories. I could have done without a couple of them, but overall, it was enjoyable, and this four hour audiobook format was a good way to keep me company as I did other things. The narrator's voice was a bit irritating, with a nasally tone that wasn't my favorite. He was good with accents and voices though.

Here are my thoughts on the stories:

"Murders in the Rue Morgue" --I love a good detective story, and this is the first detective story, and that is to be celebrated. I saw a lot of Sherlock Holmes in C. Auguste Dupin and Watson in his anonymous friend. It was a great mystery with a crazy resolution. I never would have guessed. My only issue with it is that it's basically telling and not showing. Dupin seems very pompous in his way of analyzing people, and he seems very self-important. He shows the observant trait of a good detective, which Poe terms ratiocination. I loved the twist on how each witness thought the guttural speaker was a foreigner, but from a place that had never been. In light of the resolution, that was a very nice touch. I give this four stars because it's impressive as the first detective story. I think all the detective fiction readers and writers owe Mr. Poe a great debt.

"The Purloined Letter" --I didn't find this one as impressive as the first. It seemed very simplistic, and there was no real tension. I do give Dupin props for his handy solving of a mystery that had the police stumped, but he's so obnoxiously arrogant about it. Sherlock with some aristocratic French attitude thrown in. 3 stars.

"The Thousand and Second Tale of Scheherazade" --I didn't care much for this, sadly. I love Scheherazade and the Arabian Nights stories, and I don't think this added anything to the mystique of the stories. I felt like it was full of weirdness, way too random, with bizarre diversions in the storytelling, but at the same time, really quite boring. Besides, it ruined the best aspect about the stories, so that was a downer for me. Probably my least favorite story by Poe. 2 stars.

"A Descent into the Maelstrom" --This felt more like a Jack London story than a Poe story. It's good to see that he does venture into straight adventure, no pun intended. I felt it was an average read. It didn't have much of an impact on me, but I didn't dislike it like the previous novel. 2.5 stars.

"The Raven"-- A classic by this author. I love poetry, especially eerie poetry. I admit I don't like overly long poems, so this was a nice length. Long enough to get a reader involved, with a beautiful rhythm to it. Listening to this was a lot of fun. I think I would need to read it, to delve more meaning out of it. It's a bit oblique, in my opinion. 3.5 stars

"Masque of the Red Death" --I really appreciated listening to this. I have seen the movie with Vincent Price and thought it was very clever. It's interesting how they managed to get a full-length movie out of this, since it was very short. I think the tone was nicely Gothic and sinister, and it has an impactful statement about the concept of believing that being wealthy and high status makes one exempt from all ills. And there is something very repugnant about indulging debauchery and hedonism when people are suffering around you. Death finds everyone of us. 4 stars.

Conclusion: Four hours of my life that I can't say I regret. It helped that I was finishing a project for school at the time, so it kept me busy. I would say that one's life is not added to much by "Scheherazade" and "A Descent into the Maelstrom", but I recommend the other stories.




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Ghosts of Japan

Lafcadio Hearn's "The Faceless Ghost" and Other Macabre Tales from Japan: A Graphic Novel - Sean Michael Wilson, Michiru Morikawa

Beautiful art with eerie storytelling. I wish this was a series. I would so keep reading these. I still intend to read the original stories, but this was great as a visual format to some great classic horror I hadn't yet got around to reading except for one very scary story by Hearn I read in an anthology. If you like Japanese horror movies, check out the source material.