Great Journey of Self Discovery with Lucy

48fc036cb417fe6596d4b637051434f414f4141.jpgOn the eve of Pearl Harbor, impetuous and overindulged, Lucy Stanhope, the granddaughter of an earl, is living a life of pampered luxury in Singapore until one reckless act will change her life forever. Exiled to England to stay with an aunt she barely remembers, Lucy never dreamed that she would be one of the last people to escape Singapore before war engulfs the entire island, and that her parents would disappear in the devastating aftermath. Now grief stricken and all alone, she must cope with the realities of a grim, battle-weary England. Then she meets Bill, a young evacuee sent to the country to escape the Blitz, and in a moment of weakness, Lucy agrees to help him find his mother in London. The unlikely runaways take off on a seemingly simple journey across the country, but her world becomes even more complicated when she is reunited with an invalided soldier she knew in Singapore. Now Lucy will be forced to finally confront the choices she has made if she ever hopes to have the future she yearns for. (From Goodreads)

So what I was expecting from this book is a typical journey of a young woman and a boy she finds along the way. I was expecting a serious journey, perhaps with a few tear jerker scenes along and a bit of romance to lighten the mood. I was happy to be wrong about it when I finally finished the book.

Besides the obvious journey to London, it’s also more of Lucy’s road to developing her true self and coming to terms with it. She comes across characters that have had a hand in impacting her life and assisting Lucy in finding self finding journey.

The plot here was steady and flowing, there were some lulls here and there but it’s pretty much cut and clear. I did like reading Lucy’s character development throughout the novel. She went from spoiled entitled brat to someone who really did have a soft caring heart. It was great to see her develop into a more caring loving person of not others but also of herself. No matter how much she tries to go back to her selfish ways something always gets her back on track to show her true caring nature and that it is more rewarding helping and caring for others.

Lucy’s chemistry with Bill and Michael make the book more enjoyable to read. Bill because he brought out the caring aspect in Lucy, Michael because he challenged her and made her see things in a different light (plus, well he managed to wriggle under Lucy’s skin which was nice and fun to read as he had caught her speechless in some moments)

What I didn’t expect from the book was the funny light hearted moments. I found myself laughing here and there with Bill’s behavior and his uncanny ability to involve himself and Lucy into potentially hairy situations, or the times where Lucy fights with Michael, and it seems Michael is the only one that can render Lucy speechless and flabbergasted. Those were great moments in the book and it kept the reading at a light hearted mood despite what was happening around them.

I enjoyed this book a lot and I do recommend it if you’re in the mood for something light despite the dark setting of WWII London.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

Thank you William Morrow for providing me with the review copy!

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Louisa and Daniel were Perfect Together!

48fc036cb417fe6596d4b637051434f414f4141.jpgWhen dance hall singer Louisa Bell visits Fort Reno to see her brother, she is mistaken for the governess that the harried Major Daniel Adams is waiting for. Between his rowdy troops and his two daughters, he has more responsibility than he can handle alone. Eager for the opportunity, Louisa sets out to show the widower that she is a perfect fit. (From Goodreads)

 

The plot was normally what you would expect in this type of novel. What I really loved about this book was the comedy throughout. I wasn’t really expecting some laughs. It made the book stand out and an enjoyable read. The romance within was also nicely done. There were moments where it tore you up inside but at the same time makes you squeal for joy because you were cheering Daniel and Louisa on. But the ending! Oh my the ending got me all girly and squealing. I’d have to say it was one of the most beautiful endings I have read so far.

But my oh my the romance in this book was excellent! The things Daniel does was enough to make you swoon. The chemistry he had with Louisa was also very well done and although there were a few frustrating moments were Louisa could just tell Daniel outright what the truth was, I guess it had to be dragged out to make the story complete (albeit not necessary. You sort of knew what was going to happen once Daniel found out the whole story.)

Louisa is also very likable and her willingness to change paths is admirable and fun to read. I was hoping for two hellions for her to deal with (which the two girls were at first) but Louisa didn’t have to do much to get them to like her (which proves how likable and fun going she was.)

As a non Christian reader, there are moments of the book where it gets preachy but it’s to be expected and one can gloss over those parts. It’s not extremely central to the book if you’re there to just read for the romance and the characters.

I’m looking forward to reading the next few books and I hope they cover the rest of the characters at the fort. I’d love to know more about their stories and hope they find the same happiness Daniel and Louisa did. 🙂

I give it a 10 out of 10.

2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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I’ll be entering this Reading Challenge for the upcoming 2018.

This will probably motivate me to read more (hopefully!) as I’d like that for one of my goals for 2018.

So if any of you are interested in joining the challenge with me you can go here: http://www.passagestothepast.com/2017/12/2018-historical-fiction-reading.html 

There’s different tiers for the challenge. I’m going to be aiming for the Medieval level which is 15 books (any type of historical fiction is included)

I have a lot of books to go through so I’m hoping Reading Challenges like these will help me through it 🙂

Let me know if you’ve joined! I’d love to see what books you have in store for your reading list!

Mr Darcy Will Always Be Loved…

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After her father’s death, Elizabeth Bennet goes to work as a governess. Little does she know the Willstones are social acquaintances of the Bingleys and the Darcys, and Elizabeth finds herself once again drawn into Mr. Darcy’s orbit. To make matters worse, Mrs. Willstone’s sister sets her sights on Mr. Darcy. With Elizabeth’s social status even lower than it was before, she knows she must abandon all hope of Darcy renewing his proposals, even as she begins to see him in a completely different light (From Goodreads)

I’m such a sucker for these kinds of books featuring Pride and Prejudice. There are so many different types of retellings and most of them are good. This one has its moments and it was enjoyable to read.

So in this twist, our beloved Mr Bennet dies prematurely and Elizabeth becomes a governess. This was rather interesting, and it does suit Elizabeth rather well – although back then in the day it’s a drop in the society ladder and everyone she knows makes sure she knows it.

So she meets Rosalyn which I thought at first, was an ideal friend for our dear Lizzie. She’s a bit  vapid and valley girl type of character. Especially when Mr Darcy is around (can’t blame her, we all love Mr Darcy) but it’s almost to the point where she’s annoying about it.  It’s not until the latter half of the novel where Rosalyn does a complete 360 and she becomes a pretty awful person (including her mother).

The plot in this one tries to stay within the main one we’re all familiar with it just diverts the path a bit and comes back to full circle. Which is nice as it tries to stay true to the original story at the same time you just get a different “what if” scenario to enjoy reading. I’d have to say I enjoy reading Hamilton (another cousin of Darcy’s) playing along with Elizabeth. It was playful banter and he sounded like the type of rogue we all love to read and fall for (albeit, foolishly). It was a bit hard to get into at first but it’s worth going through to the end as once Rosalyn does her 360 turn, everything becomes much more interesting.

The only thing I did not enjoy reading is towards the end Darcy does something completely out of character and it just did not sit well with me. He’s not the type to be outspoken even when it comes to be madly in love. Don’t make him something he’s not. It nearly ruined the entire book as it was doing so well staying close to the true nature of the characters only to have him do something he wouldn’t EVER do (nor can you picture him doing so).

Also, the ending just dragged too much for me. We get it. We all know what’s going to happen. We all know what did happen. There’s no need for extra fodder in the last few chapters of the book. It could have just ended with the proposal or wedding and done. Perhaps the last few chapters could have been made into an entirely new idea for another book to be made. It was just so unnecessary.

Overall, it was a good read for those that love Pride and Prejudice “what if” scenarios and fans. I enjoyed it despite those changes in characters that nearly caused me to grind my teeth and yelling out certain expletives.

I give it a 6 out of 10.  

The Sworn Virgin Had High Hopes…

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When eighteen-year-old Eleanora’s father is shot dead on the cobblestone streets of 1910 Albania, Eleanora must abandon her dream of studying art in Italy as she struggles to survive in a remote mountain village with her stepmother Meria. Nearing starvation, Meria secretly sells Eleanora into marriage with the cruel heir of a powerful clan. Intent on keeping her freedom, Eleanora takes an oath to remain a virgin for the rest of her life—a tradition that gives her the right to live as a man: she is now head of her household and can work for a living as well as carry a gun. Eleanora can also participate in the vengeful blood feuds that consume the mountain tribes, but she may not be killed—unless she forsakes her vow, which she has no intention of ever doing. But when an injured stranger stumbles into her life, Eleanora nurses him back to health, saving his life—yet risking her own as she falls in love with him… (From Amazon.com)

So what I really liked the most about the book is the historical background and aspect. It’s rich in detail and sheds a light on the customs in Albania. I loved the descriptions of the setting, the clothing especially and how family life was at the time. Despite that Eleanora lived differently from others in the village, traditions are deep rooted, strong and followed to the exact detail. It’s all about maintaining family honor and if disgraced, the way to gain it back is likely with someone killing the other from the rival family that did you wrong. It’s pretty harsh and during that time doesn’t give much voice to women in general, but Eleanora’s personality is strong and admirable even though she’s pretty much a daddy’s girl (which helps her let her be who she wants to be).

The first half of the book was great and got the reading going pretty quickly. It wasn’t until the last third of the novel where things bog down and I was afraid of this: the moment the ‘man of the her dreams’ came into the story. Then I was instantly reminded as to why I hated “Memoirs of a Geisha” so much and this mirrors it. Holy mother. The guy was the sun, moon and stars for Eleanora. I kind of get it after what happened to her dad but for crying out loud I was rooting for Eleanora for taking the vow and being strong. All it takes is an Adonis to break that all down. Eleanora then takes a complete 360 and becomes a mooncalf.

I lost admiration after her treatment of Meria. I get it. Meria shouldn’t have done that nonsense because she’s all obsessed with family honor and had Eleanora’s best interest even though it was far from beneficial. I thought her treatment was excessive to the point of abuse and cruelty and I felt like jumping in and giving Eleanora the beat down for her stupidities.

Then Eleanora’s mood swings go from pity party to guilt and goes back and forth for what seemed like the entire last third of the novel and it got tiresome to read. You know Eleanora, you could have solved all this if you JUST. TELL. HIM.

And when she does. Your patience is done with the book and depending how you found the book you either breathe a sigh in relief or roll your eyes because it took about 50 pages to get Eleanora to smarten up and the book would have ended sooner than later.

I liked the book at first, but it just didn’t hold it for me. The pity trips, and the self torment Eleanora goes through is just too much and made up a good half of the novel. I wish it could have been better because the historical aspect was excellent.

I give it a 3 out of 10.

 

Likeable characters in An Inconvenient Beauty

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Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, and he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. He’s certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, but while Frederica is strangely elusive, he can’t seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge. Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, her uncle will only help them if she’ll use her beauty to assist him in his political aims. Already uncomfortable with this agreement, the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she wishes to be free of her unfortunate obligation. Will Griffith and Isabella be able to set aside their pride and face their fears in time to find their own happily-ever-after? (from Goodreads)

This book would have made an excellent movie that I would watch several times over. You can picture the characters clearly in your head and play out the scenes as they’re really well descripted and well written. What surprised me the most while reading the book was how funny it was. It’s not a laugh out loud comedy per se, but there were scenes and encounters where you found yourself laughing out loud. I thought it was different. Not all regency romance novels are like this (most are lighthearted romances) so seeing some good funny scenes is nice and puts a different spin on things. (The lawn bowling incident haha!)

Isabella and Griffith were perfect together. They had the perfect chemistry, their intelligence was on par with each other and Isabella was exactly what Griffith needed. He was all about routine, and finding the answers to everything and being prepared. Isabella was exactly the opposite; she made him question his methods, and got him to realize not everything has an answer and sometimes just going with the flow helps brighten up life. The best part was although their romance didn’t start off as usual (love at first sight, etc) it was a gradual bond that lasted throughout the book.

What I didn’t really like was although the characters were great, and the comedy bits made the plot light and fun, it didn’t do much regarding the speed and pace of the plot. It dragged midway in the plot and it seemed to have slowed to a crawl and the change of pace changed considerably.

Aside from the slow pacing in the second half of the book, I enjoyed the characters. They  were fun and likable, and the comedy provided some good light moments. Although this is part of a series, this book can be read as a stand alone as well.

I give it a 5 out of 10.

(The slow pace really got to me in this one, unfortunately)

 

Jackaby is Eccentric but fun

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Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny. (From Goodreads)

 

This book was a little slow to start. However I find that because the characters are so interesting and have their own quirks you find yourself sticking to the story because they’re so fascinating.

When I was reading about Jackaby and his character he bears the resemblance of an unorthodox detective whose social skills are rather lacking (speaks his mind without realizing he’s offending) but who happens to be brilliant at what he does and those in the police force grudgingly accept his help because they have no one else to turn to. So in turn you can see why Abigail is needed in this partnership. She provides the social skills and provides insight on things that Jackaby might miss. Which is why they make an interesting team.

Although he’s eccentric and Abigail may come off as ‘normal’ they both are similar because they both don’t stick to the social norms that society at the time (18th century USA) which is why they make good teamwork. Not to mention, Abigail is also searching for adventure and working with Jackaby provided just that.

The world building is interesting and good. There’s supernatural elements and creatures throughout the city in hiding. Those with special vision (Jackaby) would be able to spot them whereas Abigail accepts this – a little too accepting but going with the notion that she needed to find employment right away to survive, I suppose beggars can’t be choosers. It still ended up being the right choice anyway.

Other secondary characters (Jenny and Douglas) are good fillers to provide more substance to Jackaby’s world. I enjoyed reading about Charlie and I hope he makes another appearance in the next novel.

I would say, stick to the story because of the characters that you end up liking as the book progresses. It does get exciting in the last third of the book despite the lack of momentum in the beginning. It was still an enjoyable read.

I give it a 7 out of 10.