Motivation Monday: C.S. Lewis

” Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage…”

-C.S. Lewis 

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Review Tuesday: A Lady’s Heart by Vivian Arend

I don’t remember how I stumbled across Vivian Arend, but I’m so glad that I did. I love the shifter series (fantasy + romance) and the cowboy series that she has. They’re so entertaining. You fall in love with her characters so easily in these two series.

I think that I read A Lady’s Heart in about a day – maybe a day and a half. It was a quick read, with an engrossing story. I also really enjoyed the fact that the story was about Mandy. Readers met her in a previous book in the series. She was a character that you felt terribly for, and who you really wanted to get a happily-ever-after.

a-ladys-heartFrom Goodreads:

Lady Amanda Ainsworth found a safe place to pull herself together under the roof of the loud, boisterous Takhini Wolf pack. Safe—except for the sexy grizzly shifter with the oversized biceps and the steely-grey eyes who’s also hanging his hat with the Whitehorse wolves. Justin Cullinan makes her light up and shimmer inside like the Northern Lights, and she knows it’s time to start her new life.

He may be the bodyguard and not the CEO, but Justin’s powerful in his own right. He gets what he wants—and who he wants is the sweet seductive Mandy. He’ll go as slowly as necessary, but he has no intention of stopping until she admits they’re meant to be.

But when her safety is threatened, all bets are off. Justin’s going to keep his lady safe and find out who’s stalking her, and the best place is hidden in plain sight in the biggest shifter town in the north.

That is, if they aren’t running into a trap…

Like I said earlier, you met Justin and Mandy in an earlier book. In that book you immediately feel sorry for Mandy, and you instantly like Justin. So the fact that this book is about the two of them is awesome.

One of the things that I love about this  book is that Mandy learns how to stand up for herself. She decides what she wants and Justin helps her, in any way that he can, get it. It was so empowering watching her take bigger and bigger steps towards the person that she wanted to become. And I love that Justin always built her up. There were things that she wanted to do that she thought was silly and small, but he was always there to remind her when she gave in to self-doubt that if she wanted to do them, then they weren’t silly or small. It was simply what she wanted to do. Mandy gaining back her self-confidence, and trusting herself was a highlight of this book for me.

I also just enjoyed her and Justin’s relationship. There is a little zest of danger thrown into the story because someone is following Mandy and they’re not sure who is and what their motiviation is, but it does add  some heat to the story and to their romance.

In this story you also of course run into characters from previous books, and it’s just so wonderful seeing them all again. It’s like running into an old friend and playing a quick catch up. And what I like about it to is that you don’t run into ALL of the previous characters, just enough that you enjoy the catch up without being overrun with information that hinders the flow of the storyline.

There are of course hints dropped about upcoming books – there are at least 2 different sets of would-be couples, though one more than the other, that I’m excited about reading.

This was a quick read, and an enjoyable storyline. If you haven’t read any of her shifter series, and you’re into fantasy and romance then definitely give this series a go!

 

Review Tuesday:The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

fate-of-the-tearlingThe Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is book three in the Queen of the Tearling series. I picked up The Queen of the Tearling after I heard that Emma Watson was going to produce and star in it. I love Emma Watson – she’s a force of nature, and she reads. (Why does it seem like the majority of people the world pays attention to don’t?) So, after hearing this tidbit of news I picked up a copy. It was fantastic. I loved book one. Book two came along and I gobbled that up as well. It wasn’t as good as the first, but still pretty damn good. Then book three came along. The conclusion. And well…it tanked.

From Goodreads:

The thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Tearling trilogy.

In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has transformed from a gawky teenager into a powerful monarch. As she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, the headstrong, visionary leader has also transformed her realm. In her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies—including the evil Red Queen, her fiercest rival, who has set her armies against the Tear.

To protect her people from a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable—she gave herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy—and named the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign, imprisoned in Mortmesne.

Now, as the suspenseful endgame begins, the fate of Queen Kelsea—and the Tearling itself—will finally be revealed.

There are spoilers below. You have been warned.

The main theme and purpose of the protagonist Kelsea Glynn is to make her country, the Tearling, the utopia that it was originally suppose to be. However, corruption of that ideal set in hundreds of years beforehand and to fix it, well there are no easy answers. The idea of being a good Queen, of protecting her people and her kingdom was a great storyline, and the main storyline of book one.

The problem with this book for me is “utopia”. The author has set up this world where that is the end goal, which is lofty because at the end of the series she has to get there. And she does get there in one sense. The book ends in a utopia of a world. Kelsea fixes the moment where things start to go wrong hundreds of years in the past and thus changes the present. However, getting to that point was where the author lost me. I just wasn’t on board with the plot line. I think that the author was so concerned with getting to the utopia that she sacrificed the story to get there – the first books were shown to be unnecessary and I felt that I was cheated because she made the first two books redundant.

The Fate of the Tearling plodded along at a rather slow pace until the end when all of a sudden it was like the author realized she was running out of time and still had so much story left to tell. So much plot to get through, and thus she jammed it into the last 50 pages. It felt like she had all these strands she was desperate to weave together to make the story end the way she wanted it and it showed. It was like being pushed down a path covered with branches and told “this is the only way to go”. I feel like if she had decided to forgo utopia the book would have been so much better.

And that’s the other problem I have – utopia. The last few pages is devoted to it, but it rings hollow. The problem with utopia, just like the problem with communism is that it doesn’t take into account the human condition. It doesn’t take into account greed, or that fact that some people are assholes. It doesn’t take into account the desire for power, for control. It instead pretends that it doesn’t exist, which is more dangerous than acknowledging that it does. The ending of this book rings hollow because it’s unbelievable. It’s not a trustworthy ending. I was completely unsatisfied.

The first two books in this series are great, engaging and interesting. This book, however, was not. Before the end, I was longing for it to be over, and when it was, I was longing for a different storyline because this one drowned in the author’s desire to reach a particular ending that the story didn’t seem to want to follow.

 

 

We Will Not Be Silent

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice – and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”

-Madeleine Albright (First Female Secretary of State)

To everyone marching today, may your voices never go silent! May we always stand up when we see injustice and intolerance and may we all remember that we are powerful.

5 Things: walks, sunsets, picnics, laundry and books

Nature is playing a rather large role in my 5 Things that brought me joy this week. I’m assuming it’s because it’s now September and fall is on the way (though it certainly hasn’t felt like it yet).

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This week Doug and I took a couple of walks down by the lake. It’s been gorgeous weather in the evenings and I find that the walking and the company help me to relax.

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The sunset was so beautiful the other night with the pinks, and the sound of the waves. It’s a perfect recipe to help me pause and unwind.

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I made Doug and I a picnic lunch one day this week. Nothing too fancy just some sandwiches, water and a fruit salad for desert. Doug here apparently has it in for the bananas.

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This is probably an eccentricity of mine, but oh my goodness I LOVE freshly laundered sheets. It feels so cozy and clean hopping into bed on the day that you wash your sheets. This definitely brought me some joy this week.

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The two books that I’m reading next. Truthfully, I’m a little on the fence about Modern Lovers, but I’m going to give it a go and see. I’m excited for The Happiness Project because I really enjoy the podcast. My friend Meiling got me onto it.

As always my 5 Things is inspired by Cupcakes and Cashmere, which you should definitely check out!