Monday, January 18, 2010

O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell

* I started this post on Friday. We had company stop by and I didn't get a chance to get back to it. Saturday was spent running errands. Saturday night I was in a bad car wreck. Just a reminder, PLEASE, PLEASE always wear your seatbelts. They save lives. No doubt they saved the lives of not only myself, but my daughter and dear friend.

Sorry for the delay in another post. My school dreams were dashed about three days in when the finance office called me in to tell me that the FASFA aid would only happen if I underwent an amazingly long financial review(apparently, our income caused the expected family contribution to be more than the course would actual cost for a semester). That was fine, except some of the paperwork they needed would have to be sent off for and I wouldn't have it in time to finalize and all payments or aid had to be in place before I could continue with school, and the time delay was too long and we simply don't have the monies right now to pay for it ourselves. I also can't really justify taking out a student loan. So, next semester it is then. Unfortunately, I took my disappointment out on my poor kitchen and have been cleaning out drawers, cabinets and installing shelves for the past week. Almost done in that room and off to the next. It helps. Anyway, since I'm unable to go to school right now, I should have time for more posting (once I have all my manic cleaning done anyway :).

O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell *Click on the author's name to be taken to her site and a chance to enter a contest.

(BCC) *This review is done from a book sent to Novel Reads from the publisher.

Before Juliet Capelletti lie two futures: a traditionally loveless marriage to her father's business partner or the fulfillment of her poetic dreams, inspired by the great Dante. Unlike her beloved friend Lucrezia, who looks forward to her arranged marriage into the Medici dynasty, Juliet ha a wild, romantic imagination thta takes flight in the privacy of her bedchamber and on her garden balcony.

Her life and destiny are forever changed when Juliet meets Romeo Monticecco, a soulful young man seeking peace between their warring families. A dreamer himself, Romeo is unstoppable once he dtermines to capture the heart of the remarkable woman foretold in his stars.

When I first opened this book I was sure it would be one I would not read. I mean, the cover is beautiful but the potential for disaster in the re-telling of Romeo and Juliet is colossal. Plus, it's an Historical. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the Historical genre, but it's not one I generally search for (there is no clear reason for that, but there it is). So on my computer desk this book set for a couple of days. I kept looking at that gorgeous cover. I kept flipping it over to read the BCC. Finally, I decided to give it a go—I didn't want to put it down.

You all probably know the story of Romeo and Juliet well. What Eighth Grader hasn't read it? But as the front cover of this book says, "Their love was the stuff of legend. But the legend is only half the story." And Maxwell takes the reader on a journey like no other.

Juliet Capelletti's family has known great loss. All of the Capelletti sons have died and without them there is need for a partner for her father's silk business, and plans begin to be made for Juliet to wed Jacopo Strozzi. Storzzi's family is in the wool business and also very wealthy. Though Jacopo is not the first son, so this partnership serves to offer him a great deal. And though Juliet loathes Jacopo, "I cringed at the thought of him. The occasions we had met at my father's house had been grating in every way. His pinched mouth and furrowed forehead bespoke a constipated soul." She knows she has no choice but to wed this man for her families sake, though she desperately wants to marry for love. You see, Juliet is a woman very rare for her time. In love with the works of Dante and poet herself, Juliet longs to find the life for herself that is filled with love and poetry.

Romeo Monticecco is home from years spent with his uncles in Verona. His family has also known loss, as his sisters and brothers have also been lost to fever. Upon his return, Romeo wishes to make peace with the Capelletti, a family that has been feuding with his since the time of his grandfather. Romeo, also loves the works of Dante and dearly loves poetry and writing verse, the same as Juliet.

When Romeo goes to, what I guess would be considered an engagement party, for Juliet's friend Lucrezia in the hopes of seeking out Lucrezia's soon to be father in law, Don Cosimo, a man held in the highest regard of all those in the area, he goes with the intent of getting Cosimo to help him forge a peace between his family and the Capelletti. But it is here that Romeo meets Juliet. The two are instantly smitten. Only it turns out that not only is there an age old feud between the two families that feud was recently reignited when the Monticecco family, unbeknown to Romeo, had sank one of the Capelletti's cargo ships. But, after meeting Juliet, "This woman, this earthly angel-perhaps "Goddess" suited her more, for an angel is merely sweet and gentle, and Juliet was fierce - she inspired me..." Romeo more than ever wants to restore a peace between the families.

Just as it seems peace will be restored, the unthinkable happens. Sabotage at the Capelletti silk factory. Orchestrated by someone they trust, "Jacopo was clever and was now provoked to action by the one emotion whose strength rivaled that of love - jealousy." Romeo is framed for murder of Juliet's beloved cousin and has to flee the country yet again. I think we all know how this story ends.

I'll admit, I had serious doubts before reading this book. The re-telling of a famous love story is always a tricky thing, but Maxwell wove a tale so engaging, made Romeo and Juliet so real, that the story was new again. The tale of two lovers that lived long ago touched me deeply. In Maxwell's O, Juilet, I get to know and love Romeo and Juliet, in a way I had not before. This story of loss and love is one I highly recommend to any love of Romance.

Take Care

Friday, January 8, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside!

Miss Beautiful and I sing this song quite often. She's not so good with the lyrics, but she can sing the hell outta, "But baby it's cold outside!" after whatever it may be I sing. "I really can't stay." "But baby it's cold outside," "I hafta go away," "But baby it's cold outside!" "This evening has been..." "But baby it's cold outside!" "So very nice," "But baby it's cold outside!" You get the picture. And in case not - BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE! So cold in fact, that our pipes froze! That's right! The negative temps froze our pipes! We are, quite literally a walk away from the South and the temps haven't reached above freezing in days!

Thankfully, The Hubs is THE MAN, and after I made a trip to Wally World and shelled out a few bucks, our water is now flowing again, and no pipes burst. WHEW! Thank goodness for such an awesome hubby. Also, thank goodness that the temps are supposed to hit above freezing on Wednesday! I can't wait! We've been out of school since Thursday because the temps have been too low. I'm so ready for the kiddos to go back.

Anyway, I've been whiling my time away on FaceBook. Do ya'll have Facebook? Are you as addicted as I am? For instance, I'm "friends" with the likes of Nia (who has a contest ending tonight, go forth and enter!), Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie, Lani Diane Rich, Joshilyn Jackson, Mari Mancussi, Richelle Mead, and R.L. LaFevers (current contest running, go forth and enter!), just to name a few! I mean, I rub some serious elbow over on Facebook (which would explain the extreme chappedness of said elbows).

I just love a good name drop!

Take Care

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Winners Announced

Hi all, I want to start by saying thank you for all for the words of support. I'm not completely "there" yet - wherever there may be - but I'm getting closer! I also want to thank you for the warm welcome back. I cannot express how your kindness has helped ease some of my worries and fears.

And now, the winners of the two $10 gift card to the book seller of winners choice (as long as I can send it electronically are - Brandy from the blogger account and Donna (Fantasy Dreamer) from the Wordpress account. All names were thrown into a hat and Miss Beautiful picked them. Congrats! Shoot me an e-mail to novelreads at gmail dot com (you know the drill) with choice of retailer and the e-mail to send it to. I will have them in your inbox by the end of the week.

I started school today, so far so good. It's going to take some getting used to, but I think I'll be fine. I can even do a lot of the work from home, so that's nice. Hopefully, another review will be up tonight.

Take Care

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bad Blood by Mari Mancusi

BAD BLOOD by Mari Mancusi


Sunny McDonald is in the ultimate forbidden relationship. Her boyfriend, Magnus, is a vampire—and the leader of the Blood Coven. Their differences have never been an issue, until now…

When the Blood Coven decides that Magnus needs a mate to be his co-ruler, Sunny’s humanity puts her out of the running. The chosen candidate is Jane Johnson, an Oxford University graduate, who just happens to look like a vampiric supermodel.

Sunny is suspicious of a Rhodes scholar who can’t answer the most basic poli-sci questions, but Magnus brushes it off as petty jealousy. Still, when the Blood Coven goes to Las Vegas for a vampire convention—where Magnus and Jane’s bonding ceremony will be the main event—Sunny and her twin sister, Rayne, secretly tag along. And Sunny’s not going home before she learns the truth about Jane. Because not everything stays in Vegas—especially bad blood…

*This review is done from a book sent to Novel Reads by the publisher.

I’d never read Mari Mancusi before this book showed up at my door, and I’ll admit I was a tad bit reluctant to read this one. Not because it’s YA, but because it’s book four in an already established series. You see, I have this thing about series books. I don’t like to pick one up in the middle of a series, because I’m always afraid I’ll be lost and not able to follow along. You’d think I’d’ve learned my lesson by now, but alas, I haven’t and I’m always so pleasantly surprised when I find myself not only able to follow along but so engrossed in the story that I can’t put the book down.

The BCC does a very good job at explaining the basics of the plot but the actual story is so much more than the Sunny trying to prove Jane is an imposter bit. First of all, the girls estranged father lives in Vegas, so the little trip stands to be a twofer. Snoop around about Jane (the soon to be blood mate) and spend some time with their dad. Only dad isn’t there and the step family proves to be a bit more complicated than the girls could possibly imagine.

When Rayne, Sunny’s twin takes some major news about their new family badly and all but bails on Sunny, it’s up to Sunny to do all the detective work herself. But, when dealing with vampires (evil ones at that), it would be nice to have a girl’s sister around; especially when said sister is an actual vampire and a vampire slayer.

Bad Blood had me hooked from page one. The plot was fast paced and the writing solid. Sunny was a character I could get behind and bond with immediately. Told from a First Person perspective, I found myself turning the pages faster and faster, unwilling to say goodbye at the end.

I did have a few issues though, but they can only be a testament to a well written protagonist. First of all, Magnus just pissed me off. I understand that he’s a thousand year old vampire, but his condescending attitude when it came to Sunny and her suspicions of Jane made me simply want to stake him myself. I also wasn’t very impressed with Rayne and the way she completely ignored her sister when she needed her most. But I adored Sunny and her complete unwillingness to let down the people she loved and especially loved the end when she realized that things had to change if she and Magnus would be able to have a relationship.

The cliffhanger ending was a bit much, but sets it up nicely for a next book, and I’m more than a little excited to get my hands on it. I’ve also added the first three books in the series to my online book order, and can’t wait to read them. After some reading on the author’s site, I see that the books alternate protagonists between Rayne and Sunny, and I hope that this will help me understand Rayne a bit more, because as it stands, I’m really not a fan.

All in all, the Blood Coven Vampire Novel’s have been added to my must read list. Mancusi writes with a wicked sense of humor and keeps readers turning the pages eager for more.

Take Care

You can still enter for one of two $10 egift certificate to the online book seller of your choice, just leave a comment here or here. Winners will be drawn tomorrow, January 3.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year. Contest. I'm SORRY!

I need to start this post with an apology. An apology to Angie Fox and an apology to all those that read and entered to win the contest I had up. I screwed the pooch and don’t I know it! I'll explain that in a minute, but to try and make amends, let me offer two readers a $10 e-gift card to the book seller of your choice. Just leave a comment here and I'll draw the winners on Sunday, January 3.

Now, for a short explanation: About the time the posts for the Angie Fox contest went live, my life fell apart. It was a long time coming — don't get me wrong — and it was entirely a mess of my own doing, but believe me when I tell you— that made it all the more worse. Only a handful of people know what we went through (my family and my old blogging partner dee to be exact), mainly because I was ashamed. I did everything I could to disguise the pain I was in and I think I did a fairly good job of it. Unfortunately, I could not blog anymore. I barely did any reading and I certainly ceased all writing. I had lost the desire to do much of anything. It took just about everything I had just to get up and get dressed in the morning and continue to be a good mom and wife to the wonderful family I was so (undeservingly) blessed with. It also took a lot of energy to hide it all from everyone else.

I ended up back at work, and that helped. We got a huge break in the fact that I have awesome parents that love me no matter how badly I fuck up, and we’ve slowly but surely gotten back on solid ground. It hasn’t been easy, but my husband is a muffin dressed up as a doughnut, and we made it through.

Fast forward to the present and I’m not working anymore. I will however, start school on the 5th. I’m terrified by this, as I graduated high school in 1994 and haven’t sat at a desk since. I’m also extremely excited and optimistic. I’m reading again, I’m smiling more, and life, well, it may be bumpy at times, but I see nothing but good times ahead.

I do hope to start blogging again. One of the things that has held me back from blogging has been my deep (and by deep, I mean you could throw a boulder off the edge of it and listen for a century and still not hear it hit bottom) shame at the way I just up and quit. I wish that I hadn’t done that. But it’s done and I can only hope you can forgive me. I need this blog. I need to write again, read again, and find my way back to what I love.

I lost myself. Plain and simple. I let the dark times and depression take me away from who I was at a base level. I am a decent wife. I am a decent mother. I am a reader. I am a writer. And I had forgotten that.

There may be a few changes though. I’m reading more YA and Paranormal/Urban Fantasy. I still love a good Romance, but I’m finding it harder and harder to find one of those. I’m also finding myself more and more in love with the Cozy Mystery genre. I’ve always enjoyed it, how could I not with authors like Kate Collins out there?! But the author that shall not be named took a huge chunk of love for it away (and, I’ll admit played a huge part in my depression).

So basically, there will be more Cozy reviews. Less Romance reviews (though please, if you find a good one, let me know! I’m re-reading all my Crusie’s just so I don’t lose the love). About the same (maybe more) YA and Para/UF. It’s a tough market for book bloggers. There are so many good ones out there. I’m not sure there is a place for me in reader’s hearts but I think I’ll blog anyway.

Take Care