Summer Goals–Books and Otherwise

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Currently reading…

Today has started a little bit slowly, but as it is the last day of school (for my kids), I feel like the pace was perfect. It’s an introduction to a slow summer, the season I look forward to the most. Yes, even more than my favorite season, fall.

I was sweeping floors and doing laundry when it struck me that I have no real plan for summer. Other than choosing books to read, I have no idea what we’re doing. No vacations planned, no real goals set. But, wait one second–there is a million projects around the house I feel we can finish. And, I can probably make most of them fun and interesting.

For a start, I think I know a couple of teenage girls who would do a really good job at re-staining kitchen cabinets and painting a few rooms. And, I have two boys and a nephew or ten who are perfect little weed eaters. I think I’m also going to dive into making my own popsicles this summer. Last summer I bought a mold that makes six pops of whatever you want and I did really well with making my sugar free treats, but I was still buying the kids their own to have. This year, I think we’ll make an effort at freezing about 75% of the frozen treats we eat ourselves. If we make it to 100%, that’s even better.

As far as reading goes, I’m looking into some educational sites for kids. We might even buy a few books (print, that is) online. For myself, I’d like to keep working on my reading schedule and try to finish August and September’s lineup while I read through the books I’ve penciled in. I’m pretty excited about it, really. Summer can be a lot of things, but to us, it’s the season of books, yard stuff, and frozen things. All the frozen things!

 

 

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Wolf Moon (The McKenna Legacy Book 7) by Patricia Rosemoor

Release Date: Available NOW
**I was given an ARC copy of Wolf Moon by Patricia Rosemoor, but I got my copy only a day or two before the release, so while this is a new release, this review will post after the actual release date. Apologies!**

Wolf Moon

Aileen McKenna came to the remote town of Wolf Creek to study wolves in the wild and ran into Rhys Lindgren, an enigmatic man with dark secrets and a connection to the local wolf pack. Frightened townspeople were convinced a predatory wolf was on the loose after three men were found dead in the woods. Rhys didn’t believe it any more than Aileen, and she intended to prove the wolves’ innocence. But would Rhys take her into the snow-covered forest to do just that? She’d have to be alone with him and trust him to draw out a killer…

For the sake of being honest, I really couldn’t get into this book at first. It doesn’t have a very strong beginning and I had to push through the first few chapters in order to become engrossed in the story. That being said, once I got through the first stretch, I was happy I kept reading because the book (after chapter three or so) is great. Keep in mind that this is book 7 of a series (so the title says), so maybe if I’d read books 1-6, the beginning of book 7 wouldn’t have felt as though it was dragging.

The story has everything a wolfy romance should. The mystery is mysterious, the suspense is suspenseful, and the pages almost turn themselves. The only thing that really bothered me is that I didn’t find anything in the story that would make me really want to stand in line for book 8 (if there is one). I’ll still read more by Patricia Rosemoor, but I really feel like I should see how many books are ahead in the series before I read out of order again.

I really wish I could have loved this book, I just really didn’t. It entertained, but with no pizazz. I’m actually really bummed about it. I’m still giving the book three stars because I feel like it does deserve that many for entertainment value alone.

 

Summer Reading and Vampire Mania

cropped-burne-jones-le-vampire.jpgIs it just me, or are things going back to the way they were pre-Twilight era? I have no idea what’s going on. Maybe it’s because the weather is warmer, maybe because I know fall is getting closer (I’m counting down, y’all), maybe because there are so many awesome summer releases coming, or maybe it’s because I’m an absolute weirdo and an obviously a glutton for punishment.

But, I can NOT get enough vampires and werewolves lately. I’m going bananas trying to find enough to get me through and it appears as though there is a supernatural romance DROUGHT going on right now. I hope I’m wrong and it only seems that way because I’m a whiny loon.

AshleyThere are a few good releases coming that I know of and I’m excited for both. One of them, Twilight Desires by Amanda Ashley, is coming August 28, 2018, according to Amanda Ashley’s website. I’ve been waiting on this one forever. FOREVER, people. And, I am of the personal belief that nobody does vampires like Amanda Ashley. If you haven’t read any of her books, I would suggest you go to her website, choose a title, and go. Any title. Just pick one. You can thank me later. I prefer Dove dark chocolates, cash, and Chilis gift cards.

The second book I’m looking forward to is Serpentine by Laurell K. Hamilton. It’s an Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novel and the release date is August 7, 2018. I don’t have to go into details about this book because every self respecting vampire fan has read the Anita Blake books or has at least given them a chance. Either we like them or no, there is usually no in between there (lol). serpentine

The issue I’m having is that I can’t find enough vampire fiction, particularly of the romance variety. A few years ago, when the Twilight books were in the spotlight, vampire novels were a dime a dozen–and I was so happy about it because FINALLY there were vampires and werewolves getting shelf space in places that didn’t require a ladder or a flashlight to find them. I can remember a time when finding supernatural romance novels was, for people in rural areas in particular, incredibly difficult. Obviously the books were out there somewhere, but locating them took some doing.

I’m not even having any luck finding vampire titles in grocery stores and Wal-Mart. Am I looking in the wrong places? I keep finding every romance genre but vampires and werewolves.

I feel like I’m trapped in a fantasy super library full of every book ever written, sorted by rooms/genres, and I’ve finally read the very last book in the vampire room. I’ve gluttonously read through every single bloody word in every single black book. Every word has been consumed and I’m standing on a table, innocently shrugging at the angry librarian. I’ve read so many vampire novels that I’ve spontaneously sprouted my very own fangs and I’ve sucked the life force out of the genre and left nothing but a husk.

Obviously, that’s not how it happened, but I do have a flair for the dramatic.

So, without any more of my sulking, I leave you with one final plea.

Please, for the love of vampires and books, if you know of any vampire romance NEW releases, you can email me at KellyShrewsbury@Gmail.com or leave a comment below! I really look forward to suggestions.

 

Enchanted By the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall

enchanted by the highlanderEnchanted by the Highlander is the fourth book in a charming and enchanting Scottish series that reimagines fairytales by Lecia Cornwall.

Gillian MacLeod is shy and quiet, the least likely of all her sisters to seek out excitement and adventure. But on a moonlit night at a masquerade ball, Gillian steals a kiss from a mysterious stranger, knowing she’ll never see him again.

John Erly, disowned by his noble English father, started a new life in Scotland. Most people are suspicious of the foreign mercenary and he does everything is his power to avoid romantic entanglements. But he can’t forget the bewitching beauty who kissed him in the dark, and stole his heart, even though he has no idea who she might be.

A year later, John is given the duty of escorting Gillian to her wedding and immediately recognizes her as the temptress he’s dreamed of for months. There’s not much he can do when she’s promised to another man, but fate intervenes and this time, passion—and adventure—can’t be denied. Honor demands he stay away from the MacLeod’s enchanting daughter, but love has a very different ending in mind…

***

I really enjoyed this story. I was surprised to learn there are others in this series, so I’ll be trying to look those up today, too. As of right now, my reading queue is ridiculously long, but one more won’t hurt.

Okay, three more.

I enjoyed the storytelling and the fairytale aspect to the story. It’s a feel good romantic read. Gillian is a woman I can identify with in a lot of ways and I think maybe that’s what makes the story so appealing. I think a lot of women could probably picture themselves in her shoes, if only for a moment. But, it isn’t just Gillian. All of the characters are likable and believable. Bravo, Lecia Cornwall.

The plot of the story is so fantastic and that’s how the fairytale vibe kicks in. It’s very Cinderella-like, but I found myself holding my breath for Gillian and John throughout the story. I knew there would be a happy ending, but at times I found myself worrying how it would come about. I wasn’t disappointed and I can’t wait to find the other books in the series!

You can find your own copy at Amazon!

The Rig by Roger Levy

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Release date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Titan Books

*EDITED to note that this book will not be released for Kindle until May 22, 2018. *

Rig 

On a desert planet, two boys meet, sparking a friendship that will change human society forever.

On the windswept world of Bleak, a string of murders lead a writer to a story with unbelievable ramifications.

One man survives the vicious attacks, but is left with a morbid fascination with death; the perfect candidate for the perilous job of working on a rig.

Welcome to the System. Here the concept of a god has been abandoned, and a new faith pervades: AfterLife, a social media platform that allows subscribers a chance at resurrection, based on the votes of other users.

So many Lives, forever interlinked, and one structure at the centre of it all: the rig.

Strange Horizons has called Roger Levy the ‘heir to Philip K. Dick.’ That’s a pretty tall order for an author to live up to, eh? I typically dislike when two authors are compared to each other because I rarely see enough similarities to even recognize that a comparison has been made. Well, as it happens, it’s not far from truth. I found Roger Levy’s writing style to be refreshingly gloomy, blunt, and to the point. I believe the comparison to Philip K. Dick to be right on the money.

The premise of the story is unique and I imagine that’s one reason why Levy has been compared to Philip K. Dick. Roger Levy spins his tale with a handle on the English language unlike most. He creates characters that are both believable and unique, but the ways in which he presents their stories is never lacking any of the elements required for entertainment and thought. If there are any science fiction book clubs looking for a good read this week, I think The Rig is worthy of a mention, but with a warning–You will ask yourself an awful lot of questions when you read this book and some of them may have answers you’re not ready for. But, be that as it may, read it anyway.

Without hitting my blog readers with a ton of spoilers, I will say that I can confidently give my recommendation to The Rig and I look forward to finding more titles from Roger Levy in the future.

KINDLE and PAPERBACK formats are available at Amazon.com.

 

Queens Of the Conquest by Alison Weir

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The lives of England’s medieval queens were packed with incident—love, intrigue, betrayal, adultery, and warfare—but their stories have been largely obscured by centuries of myth and omission. Now esteemed biographer Alison Weir provides a fresh perspective and restores these women to their rightful place in history.
Spanning the years from the Norman conquest in 1066 to the dawn of a new era in 1154, when Henry II succeeded to the throne and Eleanor of Aquitaine, the first Plantagenet queen, was crowned, this epic book brings to vivid life five women, including: Matilda of Flanders, wife of William the Conqueror, the first Norman king; Matilda of Scotland, revered as “the common mother of all England”; and Empress Maud, England’s first female ruler, whose son King Henry II would go on to found the Plantagenet dynasty. More than those who came before or after them, these Norman consorts were recognized as equal sharers in sovereignty. Without the support of their wives, the Norman kings could not have ruled their disparate dominions as effectively.
Drawing from the most reliable contemporary sources, Weir skillfully strips away centuries of romantic lore to share a balanced and authentic take on the importance of these female monarchs. What emerges is a seamless royal saga, an all-encompassing portrait of English medieval queenship, and a sweeping panorama of British history.  (*Blurb from Amazon.com*)

Non-fiction/Historical 

Release Date: September 26, 2017
Includes: Maps, family trees, illustrations, glossary, British terms, two appendixes, bibliography, notes, and references. 

Queens Of the Conquest focuses on the consorts of the Norman kings of England. These ladies lived lives none of us, no matter how well read or traveled, could ever begin to imagine. Spectacular language with feeling, concern, and incredible knowledge tell the tales of the backbone of a Norman society. Alison Weir’s gift of historical realness to her readers is incredible. Bravo, Miss Weir.

As I would imagine people might like to read this particular volume for research, I feel I should say that the book’s contents are arranged in such a way that a pupil will feel at ease flipping through the pages (digital or paper, applies to both) knowing that whatever bit of information they’re looking for will be right there. Every bit of every Queen’s life is explained and painted in such a way that a reader–scholarly or leisurely–will understand on a level deeper than common knowledge usually allows.

For those reading for leisure, which I assume is most of us, this is just book one and that means there are more coming in the Medieval Queens series. If the rest of the series is as meticulously involved as this one, I’m in. It is unfortunate that the Norman queens haven’t been given the same amount of attention (in my opinion) as the queens of other eras because they are, simply put, incredible.

The only gripe I really have is that I cannot seem to find any information regarding subsequent books in this series, other than that there is some. I will most certainly be following up, however, and I will let my own readers know about any editions to come.

Pre-order Queens Of the Conquest by Alison Weir on Amazon.com if you are interested.  

You can also visit Alison Weir’s website if you follow this link through cyberspace! 

 

Clade by James Bradley, A cautionary tale.

clade.jpgAdam is in Antartica, marking the passage of the solstice. Across the globe, his wife Ellie is waiting for the results of her IVF treatment. So begins the story of one family in a changing world, where the apocalyptic mingles with the everyday; a father battles a biblical storm; an immigrant is mysteriously drawn to the art of beekeeping; a young girl’s diary chronicles a pandemic; and a young man finds solace in building virtual recreations of the dead…

Let’s be honest, this book was bound to come to my view one day and I’m glad that it did because I happen to absolutely love time travel or alternate reality type stories. This goes beyond that–it follows a family through the expanse of time, so readers get to enjoy a great story that explores both science fiction and something of a family drama. As far as I can see, it isn’t part of a series, either, so for those who enjoy single stories (instead of having to read multiple novels in order to get the full view of the characters and their plights), this is a great fit.

I have never read any of James Bradley’s other works, but I feel like I might. My to-be-read pile is absolutely huge right now, but I’ll make room and I would imagine that after reading Clade, others will too. He’s a good writer, but some of the characters weren’t as strong as I would have liked. He did, however, deliver a great premise and he followed through until the very last chapter. The climate change cautionary tale James Bradley has written for us is certainly thought provoking.

If you would like to find out for yourself, I found Clade by James Bradley on Amazon, but you can also buy it from Titan Books.