Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
In general, I adore Lisa Kleypas. In fact, I think that this is the first book of hers that I've read that I haven't given a 4* or better review.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed the first half, expecting some sort of change in the characters. In Holly, I expected that her uptight, prim, and proper personality might loosen a bit, but after she'd finally followed her amorous feelings for Zachary, she had to up and leave his estate, right into the arms of her dead husband's best friend. If there was an actual reason for her doing this, I might accept it, but there was no rational reasoning there. Additionally, she's overly frigid for a woman that had been previously married.
In Zachary, I expected that once he realized that he wanted Holly, he'd stop his carousing. I have to confess, I *despise* it when heroes or heroines sleep around with people other than their book match after they've met their future spouse. And he did this for a good half of the book. I hated it.
Not only this, but I couldn't quite understand why Zachary fell in love with Holly. I get that opposites attract, but Holly was cold when it came to any romantic aspect of their relationship.
In addition to the irritating character and relationship issues, the last 1/4 of the book seemed to have absolutely no purpose. The book ought to have ended when they got married. If the author wanted to put in the terrifying sickness, she should have put it in before the romantic conclusion.
That all being said, there were some parts of the book that I enjoyed. I rather liked the interactions between Zachary and Rose, and when Zachary finally stopped sleeping around, he seemed likeable.
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I went to the doctor this morning (because I have a nasty cold that has settled into my chest), and something happened to me in that little room that I'm certain has happened to every single other human being in the history of time. Something insulting was said to me and, instead of uttering the response that I later realized was perfect, I sat in stunned silence and let the moment pass.
For those of you who are curious, this particular circumstance was that a walk-in clinic doctor (whom I'd never before met) told me that my anxiety (the panic attacks that I've been having on a weekly-to-daily basis for the past 9 years) and my nasty cold would be cured by getting more exercise. My first desire was to shout profanities and storm out (which I didn't do), because if he actually knew my medical history (or at least looked at my file before he made a snap judgement about my weight) he would have seen that 1. I have been trying to lose weight using diet and exercise for my entire life, and 2. I have hypothyroidism. Additionally, more exercise wouldn't cure my cold and make my lungs magically better. In fact, I think that my exercising right now would merely make me cough more.
The response that I *really* wanted to give, after pondering it for the past two hours, was this: "I appreciate your insight, but your assumption is that I'm fat due to lack of exercise and poor diet. As you've made very clear, you do not know my medical history. What I'm interested in is the diagnosis that you would give to someone that is skinny."
Not only do I wish I could have put him in his place for my own reasons, but also because he could easily say the same thing to another person and they could take him seriously, potentially overlooking a life-altering anxiety issue.
This experience today (which I've had thousands of times before) made me think. If I'd been writing the scene, I'd have gotten my heroine to say exactly what she wanted to. She'd have stood up for herself.
I also realized that I generally write strong, outspoken heroines precisely because I usually get tongue-tied or stunned into silence when I'm in these social situations. So while my heroines all have a little bit of me in them, I've made them stronger, more resilient, and braver; essentially, people that I want to be more like.
Here's to hoping that the next time someone insults me, I can think of the right response, or at the very least that I'll learn to not let it hurt me.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I thoroughly enjoyed Ready Player One. While I'll agree with some of the 1 to 2 * reviews in that there are a few info dumps in-between the action, I actually found that they added to the narrative (despite the suspense that they invariably caused). They also explained things, such as the backstory to a video game, that I would not have otherwise known, and were, therefore, integral to the story--no matter how "dry" they might have seemed to some readers.
As for some readers' assertions that this is simply a book about nostalgia, and spoke of the implausibility that there could be nothing else of interest between the 1980s and 2040s video game-wise... That is a very closed-minded way of thinking, in my opinion. Firstly, it wasn't just a matter of nothing else interesting happening, it was about a specific contest that centred around video gaming in the '80s, so while there might be other interesting gaming info, the protagonist clearly didn't care so much about the other gaming info when a big prize was to be had if he focused on the '80s stuff. Additionally, I don't think that the only readers that are capable of enjoying this are people reading for nostalgic reasons. I was born in the '80s--not playing video games in them--and I still very much enjoyed the book.
To me, the idea was fascinating, the descriptions and plot engaging, thought-provoking, and exciting, and the characters diverse, imaginative, and amusing. I loved the humour and the voice. I am unquestionably going to read this book again, and I would recommend it to others. I'm very much looking forward to watching the movie when it comes out!
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Highland Knight of Rapture by Amy Jarecki
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I quite enjoyed the two middle books in this series, but this one I couldn't get into, and therefore did not finish. I realize that it was the way things would have been back then, but I couldn't get past Helen's steadfast devotion to her awful husband. He treated her abysmally and openly cheated on her, and her reaction was to work as hard as she could to seek her husband's approval.
Looking back, I should have realized that this wouldn't be a story for me, because I just can't get into this plot, even based on the synopsis. I merely figured that since it was part of the series that I should give it a read. But, I was wrong.
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A Highland Knight to Remember by Amy Jarecki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
**This review contains spoilers**
This is the second of Amy Jarecki's novels that I've read, and my enjoyment was just about the same with this one. Overall, this story was great; lots of love and steam, with some adventure thrown in. I very much enjoyed the interchange between Sean and Gyllis, particularly when Gyllis was in the midst of her recovery from paralysis and he went frequently to visit her.
With that being said, I have some criticisms. Firstly, I thought that it was just in the first book I read (in which the heroine wants to be a nun), but the over-doing-it with God references got to me a bit. There were a *lot* of scenes in which the Sean or Gyllis shouted at the skies, asking God "Why is this happening to me?!?!" or some variation of that. It got old really fast.
Second, was the third sex scene. Yowza. So Gyllis just rescues Sean from the brink of death (he'd been held in a full-body iron contraption and starved for three days). They miraculously make it out of there and to safety in order to clean him up, etc. He gets his servants to draw him a bath (because he was covered in blood, snot, oozing lesions, and his own urine, according to the scenes with Sean in the cave), and then, before he's even gotten into the bath, he's got a raging erection for Gyllis. I just don't get it. He's almost died from lack of food and water, he's weak, he's been tortured, and likely smells to high heaven. How on earth does this make any sense? I mean, he could possibly be up for some sex after he's gotten some rest, food, water, and bathed, but it doesn't make sense to have it before then.
Additionally, once Gyllis starts washing him in the bath, it doesn't say anything about his washing his face and hair, which led me to believe that once they started kissing, his snot-covered nose and upper lip (as he'd previously described it) was rubbing all over her mouth. Not only that, but he pulled her into his filthy bathwater! Talk about cringeworthy. He was supposed to have washed his stale pee covered body in that water, as well as the fact that it'd have dried blood and puss from his "festering wounds" floating around. And somehow Gyllis didn't even notice that the nasty water was soaking into her clothes when he pulled her in. Nope, she just went on kissing his booger-covered face.
My third--and last--criticism of A Highland Knight to Remember was the fact that these characters seem to recover from injuries shockingly fast. Not only was Sean ready for sex immediately after being rescued from the torture device, but he rode off before dawn and went straight towards the battle. Once he's in hand-to-hand combat with his foe, he quickly realizes his folly, but I was still amazed that he was able to get out of bed, let alone ride around and wield weapons.
These things aside, I (again) very much enjoyed this novel. I would certainly recommend it for those wishing for a sweet and sexy love story between two strong-willed characters.
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I've reached the point in my writing (to which most of you authors can relate), where the end is so close that I can practically taste it. With every word that I write, my anticipation heightens, knowing that the story is almost complete.
I'm wrapping up plot points, concluding the romance in a satisfying revelation of "I love you"s, and making sure that the bad guy gets his just desserts. It's what I've been working towards since I'd started the research, and written the first word, and the suspense is almost too much to bear.
The trick is not to get overly excited and rush through the end, which ruins it for everyone. I also have to make sure that I've hit all of the appropriate emotional notes, and I don't skip any important plot details or make continuity errors. It's difficult to keep the same level of thoughtfulness and precision that goes into the rest of the manuscript, because I'm just so eager and thrilled!
For those of you that aren't writers, or might not quite get what I'm describing, it's not that I want the book to be over. It's more of a fervent desire to have my work in readers' hands, and the quicker I can write it, the quicker my editor can go over it, and the publishing process can begin. I have so many stories in my head that are waiting to be written, that I want to get them all out as quickly as possible so that others might enjoy them.
As you all know, my current work in progress is a novella, and I'm bursting to have you all read it! So, back to writing I go...
I've heard about other authors' comfort zones when it comes to writing, whether it be that they're more comfortable with flash fiction, short stories, novellas, or they're better at writing full-length novels. In my first series, and early in my second, I'd only ever written longer novels (between 80,000 and 100,000 words). I had never really considered how difficult trying something new would be, until I gave it a shot.
My current WIP is a novella that branches off from the third novel in the Mason Siblings series (entitled Love and Deceit), and I have to confess that I'm really struggling to keep it "novella length". I thought for certain when I'd begun writing that the story should only be about 20,000 words at most. This WIP currently sits at 27,468, and it's not even close to being completed. I'm beginning to wonder if I'll be able to keep it from being a novel, and that concerns me.
I'm trying to avoid rushing the scenes, because it definitely comes through to the reader, but I suppose that I won't know if I've done that until my editor takes a look at it. For now, I will keep writing, and hope for the best. The story is done when the story is done!
Do any of you experience this problem?
A Highland Knight's Desire by Amy Jarecki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
**This review contains spoilers!**
I'll be clear and say from the start that I very much enjoyed this novel. It kept me engrossed and eager for more. That being said, I do have some criticisms.
A Highland Knight's Desire is a page-turner throughout the first 1/3, but I found it dragging around the middle when Duncan leaves on his next mission for the king. Duncan spends far too much time either injured or recovering from injuries, and while I mostly enjoyed it, I found that plot point became overdone pretty quickly.
I’m glad that I started the series with the second book, because I would have absolutely been heartbroken otherwise. This author broke the unspoken cardinal rule of not killing off their previous novels’ hero/heroine. In this novel, the hero of the series’ first book is killed, which I’m sure would break the hearts of many readers. Usually, when I’m reading a series and this happens, I stop reading immediately, but as I’d begun the series with this book, I didn’t. Killing off previous heroes/heroines is a cruel way for authors to pull emotions from readers, especially when there are plenty of other ways to elicit those feelings.
I also had an issue with Duncan and Meg's first intimate experience, where Meg kissed Duncan when he’s unconscious, and they had sex while he was delirious with a fever. It wasn’t just that the act seemed implausible (because he was both injured and weak), but that a woman would try to seduce a man that was out of his wits. He clearly wanted it throughout the beginning of the novel, and he was pleased with the fact afterward, but it still seemed a bit sketchy to me.
Despite my reservations, I really enjoyed A Highland Knight's Desire. I'm definitely going to read the other two books in the series.
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I want to wish all of my fellow Canadians a very Happy Thanksgiving!
This year, we had dinner both at my in-laws' place (yesterday), and at home (today). Ordinarily, we'd have three turkey dinners on Thanksgiving weekend, but this year my mom is out of town, so we invited my older brother over to our house.
The photo on the left is my dinner plate from my in-laws' place, and on the right is our dining table at home.
I hope you all have had a lovely weekend, are stuffed full of turkey and pumpkin pie, and are having a wonderful time with family and friends!
I've decided to begin doing some Facebook Live videos, in which I will answer questions, on my page! I've received a lot of inquiries over the past few years, and I'd like to get the conversation going in my videos.
Please send me your questions, and I'll write them down and answer them in a live video! Your questions can range anywhere from my life as an author and mom or being a mom of a child with Tourette Syndrome, to my writing process or general interests. I'm happy to answer it all!
There are several different ways that you can ask me a question. There is the contact sheet on this website, through Twitter or Facebook DMs, or by commenting on this post.
I look forward to hearing from you! Happy Thursday!
My name is Cheri. I'm a historical romance author, wife, and stay-at-home mom of four young children.