Friday, September 2, 2016

MINI-REVIEWS: JK Rowling, Annabeth Albert, Ilona Andrews, Sabrina York, Theresa Romain

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two (Harry Potter, #8)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8) by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
Arthur Levine Books -- July 31, 2016


It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Like many other readers, I was excited (but nervous) about this newest installment in the HP world.  I wanted to know what happened to Harry and the gang, but I also wasn't sure whether I would enjoy reading it in script form.  Thankfully, my fears were mostly for naught.  The format was different, but I was able to get engrossed in the story enough that it didn't matter much a few scenes in.  I liked seeing old favorites especially Hermione kicking ass as an adult as much as she did in Hogwarts.  I also fell in love with young Scorpius Malfoy who is awkward, adorable, and, for me, the stand-out character.  I will admit that I thought the reveal of the Big Bad was obvious and anti-climatic.  I had higher expectations due to how well the other HP stories were able to amp up the suspense and surprise me.  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not the same as the other stories.  The play element is different and doesn't allow for the descriptions and inner dialogue that were so prevalent in the books.  But, I had a great time reading it and hope to see the show someday.


Status Update (#gaymers, #1)Status Update (#gaymers #1) by Annabeth Albert
Contemporary Romance -- Male/Male
Carina Press -- December 7, 2015


Adrian Gottlieb is winning at life. He's a successful video game designer with everything a man could ask for, including a warm comfy ride to Denver and a date for his sister's wedding. But he finds himself in need of a total reboot when he's left stranded at a snowy campground in Utah. Holiday plans? Epic fail.

That is until Noah Walters offers him shelter for the night and a reluctant cross-country ride. Nothing about the ultraconservative geoarchaeologist should attract Adrian, but once he discovers Noah's hidden love for video games, the two connect on a new level. Soon, a quiet but undeniable chemistry sparks.

Something doesn't add up, though. As the miles accumulate and time runs out, Noah must face the most difficult choice of his life. Meanwhile, Adrian must decide whether he's ready to level up. Is their relationship status worth fighting for, or has this game ended before it's even begun?

I have been wanting to try one of Annabeth Albert's contemporaries for awhile and thought Status Update would be a good starting point since it involves many themes I like: geeky heroes, road/cabin romance, and re-evaluating one's life when true love appears.  I found Noah and Adrian to be likable and well-developed characters.  I loved all the details about archaeology and video game design that were packed in.  Those helped the story come alive even more.  I did think that the shorter page length didn't allow for the romance to develop as organically as I would have liked.  I found it easy to believe that Noah and Adrian would be attracted to one another, but I wanted more time fully embrace them as a long-term couple.  I am interested to read the rest of this series especially if it focuses on Adrian's co-workers who were given brief, but entertaining scenes towards the end.


Hannah and the Highlander (Untamed Highlanders, #1)
Hannah and the Highlander (Untamed Highlanders #1) by Sabrina York
Historical Romance
St. Martin's Paperbacks -- September 1, 2015


Highlanders are her weakness.

Hannah Dounreay has no time for suitors who only seem interested in her family’s land, which she manages as well as any man. If she marries, she wants to be loved for the educated, independent woman she is. But when a strong, silent—and spectacularly handsome—Highlander saves her from a violent attack, her heart is stirred. Who is this man? And if he asks for Hannah’s hand, will she be able to resist him?

Love is the most powerful weapon of all.

Alexander Lochlannach, Laird of Dunnet, has no time to lose. The Highlands are in an uproar as clans battle for land—without mercy—and Alexander can’t afford to fall for the wildly attractive, strong-willed Hannah. What’s more, he has a desperate secret, one that could destroy them both. But as their attraction turns into an all-consuming passion, Alexander has no choice but to prove to Hannah that he’s the only man for her—body and soul…

I love me some Highlanders so I had to pick up this first book in a trilogy about sisters who fall in love with sexy, kilted men.  I thought this was a cute, but not perfect historical romance.  I adored the hero who was big, sweet, and completely devoted to his clan.  I have a real soft spot for characters who are insecure about something and learn how to handle it.  Hannah was an okay heroine.  I liked her determination and her compassion.  I did get annoyed with how much she didn't trust Alexander even when, I felt, like he had proven himself to her time and again.  There were quite a few instances where the story and the emotions were almost there, but then something happened that threw the tone or the plot off.  Just felt like a few missed opportunities.  I do plan on reading the rest of the trilogy in the future.


Steel's Edge (The Edge, #4)Steel's Edge (The Edge #4) by Ilona Andrews
Urban Fantasy
Penguin -- November 27, 2012


The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is a fairy tale—and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Charlotte de Ney is as noble as they come, a blueblood straight out of the Weird. But even though she possesses rare magical healing abilities, her life has brought her nothing but pain. After her marriage crumbles, she flees to the Edge to build a new home for herself. Until Richard Mar is brought to her for treatment, and Charlotte’s life is turned upside down once again.

Richard is a swordsman without peer, future head of his large and rambunctious Edger clan—and he’s on a clandestine quest to wipe out slavers trafficking humans in the Weird. So when his presence leads his very dangerous enemies to Charlotte, she vows to help Richard destroy them. The slavers’ operation, however, goes deeper than Richard knows, and even working together, Charlotte and Richard may not survive...

I thought this was a wonderful conclusion to a fascinating series.  Richard Mar stood out to me in book two, Bayou Moon, with his stoic demeanor and hints of a tragic backstory.  Now he gets to take center stage and I felt like it was worth the small wait.  He is loyal, protective, and, unknowingly, desperate for stability and love.  Charlotte was also great.  I really liked the detail put into her healing abilities and how their development matched her personality.  I found it very interesting that so much of this book took place in the Weird after the other books devoted most of their pages to the Broken and the Edge.  I loved hanging out in this fantasy world and am eager to read the Innkeeper Chronicles soon which feature some of my favorite side characters like George and Jack.


To Charm a Naughty Countess (The Matchmaker Trilogy, #2)To Charm a Naughty Countess (The Matchmaker Trilogy #2) by Theresa Romain
Historical Romance
Sourcebooks Casablanca -- May 6, 2014


Can a reclusive duke...

Brilliant but rumored mad, Michael Layward, the impoverished Duke of Wyverne, has no success courting heiresses until widowed Lady Stratton takes up his cause—after first refusing his suit.

Win London's most powerful countess?

Caroline Graves, the popular Countess of Statton, sits alone at the pinnacle of London society and has vowed never to remarry. When Michael—her counterpart in an old scandal—returns to town after a long absence, she finds herself as enthralled with him as ever. As she guides the anxiety-ridden duke through the trials of London society, Caroline realizes that she's lost her heart. But if she gives herself to the only man she's ever loved, she'll lose the hard won independence she prizes above all.

I continue to make my way through Theresa Romain's backlist and, again, I find myself impressed with how beautiful her writing is.  She takes common tropes and makes them come alive with descriptions and unique character development.  What I enjoyed the most about To Charm a Naughty Countess was the character of Caroline.  She is an example of an alpha heroine and I am always excited to see them used in historical romance.  I really admired her confidence and her determination to live life the way she wanted to.  Michael, the hero, was almost as wonderfully drawn.  He is a little left of center, but super sweet and a good partner for Caroline.  I thought the use of their past relationship was well-done and provided plenty of drama.  I look forward to finishing this series out with Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I felt exactly the same way about Hannah and the Highlander. It was ALMOST there, but not quite. I have read Lana and the Laird, but I haven't read Susanna and the Scot.


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