Posts Tagged With: romance

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve been reading and reading and reading some truly wonderful books over these past months and I must say my negligence in sharing them with you is weighing on me. Well, no more. I am going to be bombarding you with some book recommendations. Be warned.

Shadow And BoneShadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

The heroine in Leigh Bardugo’s Russian inspired Shadow and Bone is Alina Starkov. She, like her best friend Mal, was a war orphan from the outskirts of Ravka. Now teenagers, the two have joined the military to continue in the ongoing fight for their kingdom.

While their unit is traveling through the darkness of the magical Shadow Fold that splits their country, they are attacked by winged monsters. Mal is wounded in the exchange and Alina uses a power she didn’t know she possessed to light the darkness. Identified as one of the magic Grisha, Alina is taken from the eerie Shadow Fold to the riches of the King’s castle by the mysterious Darkling. Here she has to discover what she really is and what she holds dear.

Shadow and Bone is the first in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy. I read Shadow and Bone back in December and instantly became a huge Leigh Bardugo fan. Her writing draws you in and doesn’t lag into filler. The high adventure fantasy story was engaging from the start to the explosive conclusion. While the “will they or won’t they” romantic elements of the reads I choose was there, I also was hit over the head with some surprises. That was quite refreshing.

You can read more about Leigh Bardugo, her Grisha Trilogy and even find some original Ravka folktales at her website: http://www.leighbardugo.com

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THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green

Dutton Books, 2012

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsI don’t feel I need to write a recommendation for The Fault In Our Stars. If you enjoy YA and don’t live under a huge rock, you likely know all about this book and the box of tissues you should buy along with it. I’m ONLY writing this because I want this amazing title in the Recommendation section of my blog. That and because it’s timely. The movie comes out on Friday people.

John Green’s writing has the wit and charm of someone who has spent their life making smart people laugh. Plus, he gets into his characters and makes them real. He crammed all this wit, charm and realness (word?) into his protagonist Hazel Grace Lancaster.

Hazel is a sixteen year old girl that classifies herself as a cancer kid. She’s resigned to the fact that she’s dying. There is no way around it. Imminent death is the focus of her life…until she meets Augustus Waters. The romance that follows doesn’t take away her worries. It just makes her focus on the “life” part of her life more than she did before.

Besides the clever writing and moving story, here are the Top 10 Reasons I think you should read The Fault In Our Stars (and then go see the movie):

  1. Hijacked wishes

  2. Augustus Waters Fetish (it’s a thing)

  3. Side effects

  4. No eggs at breakfast

  5. The beautiful couple is beautiful

  6. Orange Picnic

  7. Infinities big and little

  8. Metaphoric cigarettes

  9. Fourteen to remember

  10. Okay? Okay.

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My A to Z of Pride and Prejudice – Letter N

Pride-and-Prejudice_LOVEThe April A to Z Blogging Challenge  is a month-long event where I, and more than 2000 other bloggers, will post every day of the month (except Sundays) using a different letter of the alphabet. The theme of my posts will be “What I Love About Pride and Prejudice.” Click the link above or the A to Z badge in my sidebar to visit other participants.

N

N is for Netherfield Park

“My dear Mr. Bennet,” said is lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”  –Jane Austen Pride & Prejudice

The day Charles Bingley moved into Netherfield Park changed the future course for all the characters in Pride and Prejudice.

Netherfield_Edgecote Hall

The exterior shots of Netherfield Park were filmed at Edgecote Hall, Northamptonshire for the BBC 1995 Pride & Prejudice mini-series

If this one event hadn’t happened, Mr. Bennet wouldn’t have gone to make the acquaintance of Mr. Bingley and his daughters wouldn’t have been able to dance with this newcomer at the ball in Meryton. If Bingley hadn’t liked Jane Bennet so much upon meeting her, he never would have pointed out her sister Elizabeth to Darcy. Darcy wouldn’t have slighted Elizabeth and she wouldn’t have resented him. There would have been no evenings at Netherfield for Elizabeth to spar with Darcy while Jane laid ill upstairs. And most definitely, there wouldn’t have been a ball at Netherfield where Darcy and Bingley’s sisters decided once and for all to get Bingley away from Meryton.

In all likelihood, Jane would have felt duty bound to marry Mr. Collins (shiver). If Elizabeth didn’t fall for Wickham (shiver again), which is likely because the thing they most had in common was a dislike of Darcy, she may never have fallen in love with anyone. I’m sure the rest of the Bennet sisters would have continued to be quite silly. And Darcy would have likely married his cousin Anne de Bourgh or, worse yet, Charles’ sister Caroline (and yet another shiver).

Jane Austen’s whole story depended on the fact that Charles Bingley couldn’t make up his mind about where to buy a house. If he had liked any of the other estates he’d seen there wouldn’t have been any pride or prejudice to be sorted. Netherfield Park was a temporary residence, but it set in motion some very permanent outcomes.

Do you have any other thoughts on what would have happened if Charles Bingley never came to  Netherfield Park? I’d love to read your comments.

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UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi

HarperCollins, 2012

Under the Never Sky_coverI read this book a while ago, but since the last installment of the Under The Never Sky Trilogy launches January 28, I thought it was a good time to get this recommendation out there.

It’s no secret that I love a romance in my YA fiction. When the two would be young lovers REALLY dislike each other at the beginning, all the better. It’s sort of an Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy thing with me. I eat it up and can’t put it down. Friction, friction, friction. That’s exactly what we get from Veronica Rossi’s debut novel Under The Never Sky.

In a future Earth where the environment has become so hostile, people have to survive deadly aether storms by either hiding in rock structures or man-made pods. Aria is a pod dweller living a life of technological luxury. She’s forced to leave the safety of her home after she was involved in a pod breach scenario with the Head of Security’s son. Peregrine, or Perry, is an outsider known for his survival skills and unusual gifts. In desperation he breaks into one of the pods and inadvertently ends up saving Aria’s life. The two unlikely partners are forced to rely on one another because the other holds the key to what they each need.

Veronica Rossi tells this engaging adventure story in alternating voices. One chapter is from Aria’s point of view and the next will be from Perry’s. This gives us the readers a chance to see how each character’s feeling and personalities grow throughout. The author does an amazing job of pulling off this difficult task.

It’s definitely a book I would recommend you read. Please know that it is the beginning of a series, but this title stands on its own. Once you’ve entered this world I’m sure you’ll want to stick around for the encores.

Find out more about this book, the others in the series and the author Veronica Rossi on her website: http://www.veronicarossi.com/

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THE FALSE PRINCESS by Eilis O’Neal

Egmont USA (sub of Random House) 2011the-false-princess_cover

When I first got this book, I thought I’d read it before. There was a princess who wasn’t really a princess, a prediction of a terrible death and a boy who wouldn’t be able to marry a princess or a pauper. It’s been done before. Many times. But this take is different. Author Eilis O’Neal blows some fresh wind into this old tale.

Sixteen year old Princess Nalia finds out she isn’t really a  princess at all. Instead she’s Sinda, the daughter of a common weaver. He was so heartbroken when the child’s mother left him soon after the birth that he willingly gave the baby to the King and Queen to raise.

At the time of the real princess’ birth, an oracle predicted that the she may die before her sixteenth birthday. Wizard advisers to the crown came up with the idea of switching the babies. The real princess would be locked away safely until the danger passed while the false princess would know nothing of the deception.

When the prophesy doesn’t come to pass, they decide it’s time to bring back the true princess. So, out goes Sinda to live with an aunt she doesn’t know and who doesn’t want her. She also leaves behind the only parents she ever knew plus her best friend, a boy named Kiernan. 

This is when Sinda’s life of adventure REALLY begins.

Though the story seems familiar, it has magical elements, unpredictable twists, romance and a gusty heroine that keep it fresh. A combination I truly enjoy. There were also a couple of times I found myself crying. That always makes me happy (HA!).

As far as I can tell this is Eilis O’Neal’s only novel, but she has other published stories. You can read them and more about the author at her website: http://www.eilisoneal.com/

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BIRTHMARKED by Caragh M. O’Brien

BirthmarkedRoaring Books Press, 2010

I was immediately swept up in this story.  At the opening, the teenage protagonist Gaia is assisting in an overnight birth by herself. The description of that is harrowing enough, but the worst part comes after the delivery. Gaia feels duty bound to take the baby from its resistant mother. As she walks through the dark with the baby in her arms, the mother follows behind as best she can begging for her child.

Birthmarked is the story of Gaia, the apprentice to her midwife mother. It is set far in the future when water is in short supply and babies are given to the wealthy of the Enclave to meet a monthly quota. Gaia and her parents live in poverty just outside of a high wall where within, there are riches and pleasures that those struggling in its shadow can only dream about. Her whole life she envied the children who were lucky enough to be chosen to live within the Enclave.

After her parents are arrested and taken deep within the walled city, Gaia is forced to take up the role as midwife. It’s then she begins doubting her loyalty to those on the inside. Gaia becomes determined to defy the Enclave and rescue her parents whatever the risk.

This book is a quick read full of action. There’s a predictable love interest, but I found it enjoyable. Just enough give and take on both sides to keep me interested. Caragh M. O’Brien also does a good job with description without droning on and on. Afterwards I was interested to know what else happens to the characters, though I didn’t find the ending wanting.

Luckily, Birthmarked is the first of a three-part series following Gaia’s life. The next two installments are called Prized and Promised. You can read more about these books at Caragh M. O’Brien’s website: http://www.caraghobrien.com/

She’s even written a couple of short stories that fill in the gaps between the three books, plus they’re told from the point of view of Gaia’s love interest. Read them for FREE at: http://www.caraghobrien.com/book/birthmarked/ (scroll to the bottom of the page – titled Tortured and Ruled.) Once you’ve read the first book, I’m sure you’ll want to know what else happens to Gaia and the other characters in the story.

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WARM BODIES by Isaac Marion

From Atria Books, 2011

WARM-BODIES-coverWhen it came time to write my first recommendation for the blog I immediately thought of Warm Bodies. I read the book back in January and fell in love with the characters. Yes, I fell in love with a zombie. The thing is, there’s a question about whether this book qualifies as YA fiction. Of the two main characters, Julie is definitely a teenager. She’s nineteen and lives with her father. It’s harder to say about the protagonist R. He doesn’t even remember his own name – just that it likely begins with an R. There’s no way he can tell us how old he was before he died. Since this story is a futuristic retelling of Romeo and Juliette one of the original teenage romances, I’m leaning towards calling it YA. Talk about your star-crossed lovers.

The book’s been out for a while. It was even Indie published back in 2009. My first experience with this title though was on a coming attraction at the movie theater last fall. I was captivated by the idea that a zombie could possibly feel remorse for doing what zombies do…eat brains. Plus, it looked hilarious and I had to find out more. When I Googled the author I found his website (www.isaacmarion.com) telling about how this started out as a short story that was rewritten into a novel around the same time the movie rights were purchased. This drew me in even further. For those of you who haven’t read the book or haven’t seen the movie and its trailers (same name, released February 2013), let me explain the premise: The future world is in ruin and a plague has descended. Anyone who dies becomes a zombie unless their brain is removed. R is a zombie who ‘lives’ at an abandoned airport with a bunch of other zombies and some skeletons known as ‘boneys.’ Every now and then a group of zombies takes a walk down the deserted interstate to the city for dinner. Their preference is to eat the human brain because it gives them a feeling of humanity. The effect is that this will temporarily cause them to experience the victim’s memories. A sort of ‘mortal high’ (I’m so glad Isaac Marion cleared that up. I always wondered why zombies went for the brain).

On one of these outings, R is eating a guy’s brain and he feels how much the guy loved this one girl named Julie. When R looks up, Julie’s there in the room. R is compelled to save her, takes her to the old airplane he calls home and then everything starts changing…for the better. Let me say that I am not one to enjoy blood and gore, but this author handled that in a way that made it not so disgusting to read. You don’t blame R for what he is. We know he can’t help it and we feel for him.  

The story is a quick read, but I found it very poignant. When I reached the end of the book I kept it on my bedside table for a long time. These characters set up house in my head and I wasn’t ready to let them go. It took the library due date to make me turn them over. Luckily I read on Isaac Marion’s website that he is writing a sequel. I can’t wait. He already has a prequel out (see his website above).

Read the book…even if you saw the movie. You’ll be glad you discovered the wit and charm of Issac Marion’s writing.

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