Saturday, May 25, 2013

Book Review: Highlander Most Wanted by Maya Banks

Title: Highlander Most Wanted (Montgomerys and Armstrongs #2)
Author: Maya Banks
Publisher:Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: March 19, 2013

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

From Goodreads

In Highlander Most Wanted, a reclusive woman content to live in the shadows shows a Highland warrior the true meaning of love.

Genevieve McInnes is locked behind the fortified walls of McHugh Keep, captive of a cruel laird who takes great pleasure in ruining her for any other man. Yet when Bowen Montgomery storms the gates on a mission of clan warfare, Genevieve finds that her spirit is bent but not broken. Still, her path toward freedom remains uncertain. Unable to bear the shame of returning to a family that believes her dead or to abandon others at the keep to an imposing new laird, Genevieve opts for the peaceful life of an abbess. But Bowen’s rugged sensuality stirs something deep inside her that longs to be awakened by his patient, gentle caress—something warm, wicked, and tempting.

Bowen seizes his enemy’s keep, unprepared for the brooding and reclusive woman who captures his heart. He’s enchanted by her fierce determination, her unusual beauty, and her quiet, unfailing strength. But wooing her will take more than a seasoned seducer’s skill. For loving Genevieve, he discovers, means giving her back the freedom that was stolen from her—even if it means losing her forever.

My Thoughts:

This story was heartbreaking. What Genevieve went through was absolute hell and the ridicule and torment she endured even from those who also feared Ian was just as horrifying as what he did to her. Not only did no one ever stand up for her, but they blamed her. I wanted to shout, scream, and defend Genevieve against those who would do her harm. I wanted to rail against the injustice of it all. And I wanted her deceased captor and torturer to be killed all over again, only this time, slowly. When an author can bring out that kind of emotion you know she is doing something right.

Bowen's protection of Genevieve was beautiful. He promised to be there for her and he was. He listened to her when she needed to talk and he stood up for her to his brothers. When they separated I thought my heart would truly break. I was as miserable as Bowen was. What he was willing to sacrifice for her well-being was  touching and I loved how it contrasted with the protective, alpha Highlander that he was. He wanted her, he loved her, but he also wanted her to heal.

And the ending...I just need to ask how is it that Ms. Banks always makes me cry in these Highlander romances?! I'm never like this when I read a contemporary (at least not that I can remember) but somehow she is able to bring forth such raw emotion in her highlanders! It's freakin awesome though I had to tell my inquiring nephew that "no, I wasn't crying at your little league game. I had something in my eye." (Just a little white lie to save face in front of his baseball team...)

This series is really well written and I love exploring both families in this series. I am really hoping that this explores all the Brothers' Montgomery and Armstrong because I would love to see them all find happiness. I hope we see more of Talie and Brodie especially! The next book I think is out in September of 2013 according to the author's website though GR has 2014 as a release date. I am really, really hoping for September of 2013 though! This is definitely a series that, for me, is on my "re-reads" shelf of my Nook.

*This book was a self-purchase and I was not in any way compensated for, or even asked, to review this book. All opinions are my own*

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Back On Track

After two Sundays of rest and relaxation I am back with my Week in Review and weekly ROW80 updates. I know, you guys missed me, right?! Unfortunately today will be relatively quick as I have a busy day ahead of me. I have plans to write, read and and, eventually, mowing the lawn. If it stops raining. I hope it does, cause I really need to get on that. There's a whole lot of other things on my to-do list too and I want to get as much done as I can so I'm not bogged down this week.

On the blog this week I reviewed the first in Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series, A Night To Surrender. I seriously love this book and this entire series. The fourth novel (there are two novellas in the series as well) will be released on May 28th. I cannot wait!

I also found two highlander romances at the library by Paula Quinn, Laird of the Mist (MacGregors, #1) and A Highlander Never Surrenders (MacGregors, #2),  that I read this week. I really enjoyed both of them and gave them each 4 stars on Goodreads. Her characters are well developed but it was the research she clearly did that had a huge impact on me. She gave a pretty accurate portrayal of Scotland during that time and the fighting between clans, as well as the issues between England and Scotland. Often times in historicals/highlanders actual facts are glossed over so this was a nice change.

On a side note, I am loving being able to download eBooks from my library. However, as I noted on twitter this week, I am pretty impatient. The eBooks can be out for 14 days and for me, who reads fast, I'm practically jumping out of my chair as I wait for others ahead of me in the 'hold' line to get done. Yeah, this is something I need to work on.

Also, has anyone else noticed an uptick in twitter drama of late? I love twitter, but lately it's like there is drama and/or controversy every time I turn around, especially with authors. Maybe it's always been there and I've only just noticed it because I'm more active on twitter of late. I don't know, but whatever it is, it's making me need to turn away from social media more and more so I can focus. This might be a good thing because focusing on my to-do list and WiPs is of course a priority but still, I'll be happy when things settle down. I don't like drama and conflict. It makes me twitch. 

Anyways, back to more important things. Here's my ROW80 update:
  • Write every day: I hit 5 out of 7 days. Not too bad but next week I hope to make it every day. 
  • Review minimum of 3 books per week via the blog or GR: See above for the break down. 
  • Post my Sunday ROW80 update: Done
  • Finish organizing all WiPs and make a plan: In progress. I've gone through my outlines and cleaned those up a bit, added info where I needed to, and started to prioritize them in a way that makes a reasonable amount of sense in terms of order to write them in. Now I have to move on to the WiPs I have half started, nearly finished, etc. There are a bunch of those. I have to read through each this week and see if they are salvageable or if I should toss 'em. 
  • Workout a minimum of 3 times per week: Well, I didn't get any yoga in but I did take a couple walks. I'm dog sitting for a month while my uncle has surgery on his back and the dog likes his walks. In addition to walking I've also been doing a bunch of yard work. I am trying to get more comfortable about being outside in nature. It would be perfect if the bees just left me alone but I swear my face is on a "Most Wanted" poster somewhere in the buzzing insect community. Every time I step outside they freaking find me! So yeah, I gotta work on this still. :D
Anyways, that was my week. Not too exciting but at least somewhat productive. My goals for next week will remain the same and hopefully next Sunday I can tack on some others. I hope everyone had a great week and good luck!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Book Review: A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

Title: A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove #1)
Author: Tessa Dare
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 30, 2011

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

From Goodreads

A peaceful resort by the sea, Spindle Cove is a retreat for Regency ladies—offering intelligent, often unconventional women a temporary escape from men and their madness. Unfortunately for Miss Susanna Finch, the seaside safe haven she has so painstakingly nurtured is no longer quite so safe. The Cove’s been invaded—not by Napoleon’s forces, but by battle-weary, barely civilized, dangerously handsome men.

Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn’t belong in Spindle Cove. So far as he can tell, there’s nothing in this godforsaken place but spinsters… and sheep. But he’s stuck here—with orders to gather a local militia. It’s a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna. Not only has she driven all red-blooded men from the place with her "modern" notions, but her lively wit and tempting beauty are distractions Bram doesn’t need.

Bram fears he may have met his match, for Susanna won’t easily surrender.

The scene is set for an epic battle ... but who can be named the winner, when both have so much to lose?

My Thoughts:

This series, along with Maya Banks' Highlander series, has brought me back to loving (and seriously glomming on) historical and highlander books. I'd been in a bit of a book funk of late and everything I read was all the same. The contemporaries  the PNRs, it was all just melding into one glob of sameness and nothing was holding my interest. I realized I needed variety in my reading genres. And I also realized I needed to space things out. Reading and reviewing contemporary after contemporary was wearing me out on hte genre. So I looked back, searching for historicals and highlanders, that caught my interest to give me a bit of distance. One of the authors I kept seeing come up was Tessa Dare so I grabbed the first in her Spindle Cove series and I fell in love with it, and the genre, all over again.

Bram and Susanna. Oh how I loved these two. Their story was so beautiful, funny, steamy, sexy and had me even tearing up in a few places. Susanna's independence and her reasons behind it both tugged at my heart strings and made me cheer for her. She was doing what she could to help others like her while at the same time resigned to her fate as a spinster. Or so she thought. When Bram and his friends blast into her life (literally) this sets of a chain of events that slowly allows Susanna to see she can be more than just a spinster. She can love and be loved, and still be independent. In fact, I think that's why Bram and Susanna fit so well together. As much as he (Bram) seemed to get exasperated by her need to do things on her own, he seemed to also respect her for it. But I gotta say, watching Bram break down her walls, slowly but surely, until they finally came together...*sighs* I admit, I might have swooned a bit.

The writing and plot were tight. The characters were well developed and had real issues they were dealing with. The end wasn't rushed and it came to a reasonable (and believable) conclusion. But what I think is most notable of this book is the world that Ms. Dare created. She has a whole slew of secondary characters in this community that she managed to make interesting and this is what made me want to read the next book, and the next, and then wait anxiously for the release of the third novel in the series. (Note: there are 2 novellas in this series as well. See the series page on Goodreads for the order).Not many others can make a whole town seem like a place I not only would want to visit, but a place I'd like to spend a considerable amount of time in, getting to know the residents and join in the often humorous situations the residents find themselves in. (I'm thinking of the tea shop incident here but I won't say more than that. It was both horrifying -for Susanna and the ladies- and humorous at the same time!)

I've read the other two novels in this series and will be reviewing those on the blog soon. But seriously, if you're looking to get into historicals with some seriously sexy, strong heroes and feisty, independent women (and the sexy times -and tension- that come along with all that) get thee to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or wherever it is you purchase your books. Make haste people. Make haste!

*This book was a self-purchase and I was not in any way compensated for, or even asked, to review this book. All opinions are my own*

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Getting Back To Writing & ROW80

The last two weeks have been insanity. I've barely posted. As a matter of fact, I haven't posted at all. I've only gotten my daily writing in a handful of times. Instead, I've been working, grading papers, reading when I can and falling asleep on the couch way too early. I blame this on a lot of things: work, of course. It's the end of the semester and if anyone has seen my recent tweets you'd see many consist of me being buried in papers and finals and trying to close out the semester for my students. When I get done grading 50 critical essays I find my brain is numb and I'm not very good at putting words down on the page at that point. So I read. Or sleep.

But also I've had a lot of little league and softball games to go to during the week and on the weekend. My niece has three games a week; my nephew has two. This doesn't include spring concerts of which my niece is in three. (She is in chorus and chorale. She's a busy kid!)

I feel bad for the slacking. And I hate not writing. It makes me twitch to not find time to tap out words onto the computer screen. And the lack of blogging is frustrating cause of course I have lots to say, just not a lot of time to sit at the computer and ya know, actually say it. But at the same time I've enjoyed spending lots of time with my niece and nephew. They are growing up so fast-she's 14, he'll be 13 later this summer-and I don't want to miss a minute of it.  I know it sounds cheesy, but what can I say? I guess I'm becoming a sap in my middle age!

But with classes over, my grading done and just waiting to be submitted (I can't officially hit 'submit' on the grades until Friday) time is opening up for me. I can now get back to the WiPs that have been languishing and type up a few rough outlines I've been scribbling on a legal pad for future stories. I'm excited to jump back in. I know two weeks isn't all that long, but for me, who was writing every day, I feel a bit lost.

But I won't stress over getting back into the swing of things for long. I'm just going to jump right in. Starting this morning. No time like the present, right?

As for my ROW80 goals, I've done a bit of tweaking.  My overall goal for the round of finishing the revisions of Wanted (as indicated in my starting post for Round 2) will remain the same but I am tweaking my weekly goals as follows:
  • Write every day: Camp NaNo is done so my focus will be on revisions of Wanted and the Camp NaNo still untitled project but I'm open to working on any of my WiPs as long as I am writing every day.    
  • Review minimum of 3 books per week via the blog or GR: I will get back on track with this. I have so many reviews to post that are in my draft folder. Gah!
  • Post my Sunday ROW80 update
  • Finish organizing all WiPs and make a plan: One of my larger goals for this Round was to go through and get myself together, prioritize, and make a plan. This will now be a weekly goal until I finish it. 
  • Workout a minimum of 3 times per week:  In my 2 week hiatus I am happy to say I was doing this. Yay! Well, if you count all the outdoor work I've been doing and the lawn mowing. (I have a huge backyard and a push mower so yeah, my legs and arms have been getting a workout!)  
My other overall goal for round 2 has been completed: completing Camp NaNo. I'm glad I did it. It was a long and exhausting month but I have proven to myself that I can write a heck of a lot of words in a month's time that don't completely suck. :D  This will bode well for the other WiPs I have on the back-burner, I hope!

I hope everyone is having good luck with completing their goals! Oh, and LET'S GO RANGERS! Yeah, it's playoff time again in hockey!