Tag: five stars

March 23, 2017

Review | First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Review | First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth PhillipsFirst Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Series: Chicago Stars, #8
Publisher: William Morrow, August 2016
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
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Piper Dove is a woman with a dream—to become the best detective in the city of Chicago. First job? Trail former Chicago Stars quarterback, Cooper Graham. Problem? Graham’s spotted her, and he’s not happy.
Which is why a good detective needs to think on her feet. “The fact is...I’m your stalker. Not full-out barmy. Just...mildly unhinged.”

Piper soon finds herself working for Graham himself, although not as the bodyguard he refuses to admit he so desperately needs. Instead, he’s hired her to keep an eye on the employees at his exclusive new nightclub. But Coop’s life might be in danger, and Piper’s determined to protect him, whether he wants it or not. (Hint: Not!) If only she weren’t also dealing with a bevy of Middle Eastern princesses, a Pakistani servant girl yearning for freedom, a teenager who just wants to fit in, and an elderly neighbor demanding Piper find her very dead husband.

And then there’s Cooper Graham himself, a legendary sports hero who always gets what he wants—even if what he wants is a feisty detective hell bent on proving she’s as tough as he is.

From the bustling streets of Chicago to a windswept lighthouse on Lake Superior to the glistening waters of Biscayne Bay, two people who can’t stand to lose will test themselves and each other to discover what matters most.

Don’t judge this book by it’s cover…or rather, it’s title. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little put off by the nursery rhyme title (even M raised his eyebrows at me when he saw the cover), but First Star is one of SEP’s best.

Why? Her characters.

Like each of her novels, First Star is entirely character-driven. I loved Piper Dove, struggling private investigator with a soft heart but stubborn nature. Cooper Graham, retired star quarterback who is trying to break into the nightclub business, appears to be her exact opposite, but they are essentially two peas in a pod: soft on the inside, hard on the outside. And believe me, that made for some intense tension.

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But Phillips didn’t rely on that tension to carry the novel. It’s the wacky characters, from Piper to her elderly neighbor Berni, to Cooper and Jada, the teenage “assassain” who befriends Piper when she moves in. There’s an element of reality in the wackiness, one that both brings the characters and story alive.

I loved how both Piper and Coop go through separate heroic journeys, yet use each other as support. Piper’s initial friendship with Coop allows her to slowly let down her defenses she’s held up for so long, and Piper’s instinct to protect him lets Coop realize it’s okay to rely on someone else (well, someone who’s not in football pads).

The cameos from other characters in the Chicago Stars series cracked me up, especially Heath‘s role in Piper and Coop’s relationship. It created a kind of closure in the series, and since I think SEP originally intended this to be the final Chicago Stars novel, it fit.

Whether you are kinda into contemporary romance or a major fan (*raises hand*) First Star is simply a must read. From the hilariously relatable characters and original plotlines to the breathtaking romance, SEP’s latest is a must.

5 Stars

Posted March 23, 2017 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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October 14, 2016

Review | Roses by Rose Mannering

Review | Roses by Rose ManneringRoses by G.R. Mannering, Rose Mannering
Series: The Tales Trilogy, #1
Publisher: Sky Pony Press, June 2016
Pages: 328
Format: Ebook
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She bears no name. Her silvery appearance is freakish to the numerous inhabitants of Sago, the cosmopolitan capital of Pevorocco in the Western Realm. With her mother vanishing at the instance of her birth, she is sent to live with the cruel, rich Ma Dane, where she is punished daily for something, though she knows not what. Tauntingly named Beauty, she flees Sago in a violent uprising that sets out to massacre all Magics and journeys to the farthest point of the country.
But Beauty cannot hide in the grassy Hillands forever. Before long, the State officials find her and threaten to take her back to war-torn Sago where death surely awaits. In a midnight blizzard she escapes them, running into a deep, enchanted forest to a great and terrible beast who will bargain for her life.
But can Beauty accept Beast? Eternity is a long time. Now for the first time in paperback, Roses is sure to capture your heart as you fall in love with Beauty and her Beast all over again.
For readers 12+, this is a very imaginative, fantasy retelling of a classic fairy tale, which is still popular to the YA genre. With lessons about bullying others and falling in love, this is not only a light, fun read but also engages kids to think about their relationship to others in the real world.

Roses isn’t quite what I expected it to be.

First, when I read it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I expected it to be the story of Beauty and the Beast. While that element is in Roses, it isn’t the main story. Instead, it tells how Beauty became Beauty, starting back with her mysterious birth, subsequent abandonment, and sad childhood at the hands of her aunt (more on this later). Parts I loved, parts I didn’t, but it wasn’t the story I chose.

Other reviewers have pointed out Roses‘ confused story lines, and I have to agree. The novel splits into two distinct plots: Beauty’s mysterious past/family and the more familiar fairy tale story. Mannering tries to combine the story lines to create a cohesive novel, but they didn’t mesh. Instead, it felt like two distinct novels.

I found the same lack of consistency when it came to Beauty’s aunt, a woman who isn’t comfortable with Magic and spurns it in her apparently Magical niece. Instead of a Harry Potter situation (Harry knew his relationship to the Dursleys), Beauty’s aunt doesn’t disclose her relationship. Instead, she varies in her treatment of Beauty, giving her the cold shoulder at times, trotting her out to show her friends, and occasionally letting a little warmth shine through. Her ambivalence and occasional cruelty were never really explained or tied back to the fairy tale retelling.

I wish there was more explanation to the worldbuilding in Roses. It was unusual: Magical beings were persecuted after a civil war spreads throughout the continent. It added to the Beauty’s past storyline but didn’t make much sense in the fairy tale retelling. I would have loved a further connection to this worldbuilding in the novel.

The saving grace? When the narration turned over to the fairy tale retelling. It was stunning. I loved the outlines, the little descriptions that referenced the Disney movie, and the Beast himself. It was easy to believe the story’s magic, to fall into their world.

3 Stars

Posted October 14, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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September 29, 2016

Review | Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb

Review | Apprentice in Death by J.D. RobbApprentice in Death by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death, #43
Publisher: Berkley, September 2016
Pages: 375
Format: Hardcover
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The shots came quickly, silently, and with deadly accuracy. Within seconds, three people were dead at Central Park’s ice skating rink. The victims: a talented young skater, a doctor, and a teacher. As random as random can be.
Eve Dallas has seen a lot of killers during her time with the NYPSD, but never one like this. After reviewing security videos, it becomes clear that the victims were killed by a sniper firing a tactical laser rifle, who could have been miles away when the trigger was pulled. And though the locations where the shooter could have set up seem endless, the list of people with that particular skill set is finite: police, military, professional killer.
Eve’s husband, Roarke, has unlimited resources—and genius—at his disposal. And when his computer program leads Eve to the location of the sniper, she learns a shocking fact: There were two—one older, one younger. Someone is being trained by an expert in the science of killing, and they have an agenda. Central Park was just a warm-up. And as another sniper attack shakes the city to its core, Eve realizes that though we’re all shaped by the people around us, there are those who are just born evil...

Master and apprentice in death. It’s a new take for Lieutenant Eve Dallas, Homicide. She faced down lovers, loners, psychopaths and worse. But when a long distance serial killer (think sniper) starts killing in New York City, Eve has a feeling she may be out of her depth.

I couldn’t get into this book at first. After waiting (im)patiently for the latest book in the In Death series, I expected a grand opening scene. The initial murder scene at the ice skating rink didn’t catch me at first. The connection, the viciousness that I’d come to expect from Robb’s villains didn’t stand out. Instead, it was cold, impersonal, and almost clinical.

As Apprentice in Death began to play out, the implications began to sink in. I realized that these villains, the master and apprentice, were unlike anything Eve has faced before. I was hooked into the massive manhunt for the serial killers for one reason: the psychological profiles.

The depth and variation in both the master and apprentice’s mindsets, motives, and rationale were intense, emotional, and entirely engaging. In other words, I loved it. The dueling narration of Eve’s hunt and the snipers’ thought processes fascinated me, pulling me deeper into the story than I ever imagined.

Most of Robb’s installments are what I would consider thrilling, but the gritty nature of this manhunt made it downright heart-stopping. Although it took a while for it to get started, Apprentice in Death lives up to Robb’s standards.

As thrilling as the new characters were, it was the returning cast that made me fall in love with this book. The dynamics between Peabody and Eve in Interview always add a thrill, and Roarke…well, Roarke is an entity unto himself. Their perfectly imperfect marriage is one of my favorite relationships in literature today.

I don’t know why I doubt it; Robb’s In Death series has won me over time and time again. Apprentice in Death was no different.

4 Stars

Posted September 29, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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September 23, 2016

Review | Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Review | Empire of Storms by Sarah J. MaasEmpire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass, #5
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens, September 2016
Pages: 693
Format: Hardcover
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The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don't.
As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

One day, I will learn how to adequately express my feelings about Maas’ work. But after reading Empire of Storms, I can tell you honestly it won’t be today.

Empire of Storms picks up shortly after Queen of Shadows. Aelin Galathynius has shed Celaena Sardothien, taking up the role as the true Queen of Terrasen. As her court comes together, however, her world shatters around her. Broken apart by old feuds, a terrifying Valg prince, and a furious Faerie, Aelin has the cards stacked against her. Still, she begins to gather an army of misfits through blood debts and favors to build a force that will save her world.

Aelin is not your typical nice person. She’s blunt, a little manical, borderline obsessive, and definitely bossy. And I couldn’t love her more. All of these hid the heart of gold and strong sense of duty that push her forward. I love how Maas creates this push-pull in her protagonist, using the worst parts of Aelin to highlight the best.

Surprisingly, for me anyway, was how much I loved Manon. She and I haven’t always been on the best of terms, but Maas gives her character the same treatment as Aelin, Aedion, Rowan, Dorian…and, well, everybody. She pushes Manon into a corner, makes her worst nightmare come to life, and sees what happens. And I love her for it.

There was an addictive quality in Empire of Storms, an intense need to know what happens next, and a deep fear that the characters I’ve come to know and love wouldn’t make it through the many heart-stopping battle scenes. (I actually had to check the back before I read on. Sorry.)

It’s this intense drive to know what happens, to feel enveloped in her world, that makes Maas’ works so consistently amazing. Empire of Storms may be her crowning achievement of the Throne of Glass series…which makes me only yearn for the final, yet untitled, installment of the series.

5 Stars

Posted September 23, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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July 25, 2016

Review | A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Review | A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. SchwabA Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic, #2
Publisher: Tor Books, February 2016
Pages: 512
Format: Hardcover

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift – back into Black London.
Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games – an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries – a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.
And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

Four months. Four months since Lila and Kell fought and defeated the rulers of White London. After parting ways, neither can completely forget the other: Lila hears Kell’s voice in her head while she sails free among the seas, and Kell’s every other thought is of her. Yet with the Element Games approaching, their entire world is going to change…again.

I thought I loved A Darker Shade of Magic. After reading A Gathering of Shadows, it’s pretty obvious: I had no idea what love was.

Schwab has always pushed Kell and Lila, forcing them out of their comfort zones, but her skillful character movement and development in this second installment is mind-blowing. I was hooked to Lila’s story, I felt Kell’s struggle, and their mutual surprise when they realized who was under the mask. Both Kell and Lila felt so much more alive to me in A Gathering – their emotions, motives, and reactions were so vivid that I felt myself pulled along with them.

The story itself was extraordinary. Set in a world where the three dimensions were connected by Londons (white, red and grey), the family and relationship dynamics stood as the highlight. Kell’s struggle to repair his relationship with Rhy, his yearning to see Lila again, and desire to just disappear are all feelings we can relate to (although maybe not the circumstances). Lila’s inner voice tells her to run, to move on, but she searches for a way to stay. The dynamics alone between the royal family are emotionally wrenching.

I almost wish I hadn’t read A Gathering. Knowing I have to wait until next February for A Conjuring of Light feels cruel…but the developments in Lila and Kell’s story is worth the torture.

Without a doubt, A Gathering of Shadows is a must read for any fantasy fan, but I would recommend starting with A Darker Shade of Magic – the story line will make much more sense from there.

Posted July 25, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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July 2, 2016

Through Diagon Alley | Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Through Diagon Alley | Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter, #7
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books, July 2007
Pages: 759
Format: Hardcover
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Harry is waiting in Privet Drive. The Order of the Phoenix is coming to escort him safely away without Voldemort and his supporters knowing - if they can. But what will Harry do then? How can he fulfil the momentous and seemingly impossible task that Professor Dumbledore has left him?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The magical world has fallen. Despite the best efforts of the Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort has regained power and the world is falling into chaos. It’s up to Harry, Ron, and Hermione to finish the task Dumbledore left them: find and destroy the Deathly Hallows.

Out of the Harry Potter books, Deathly Hallows is by far the hardest book to read. It’s bittersweet, really. Rowling makes good on her promises and brings the ultimate battle of good and evil to life, but it’s still hard to say goodbye to a world I’ve grown up with.

Harry’s evolution from a teenager to a man is especially symbolic in the beginning. His flight from Privet Drive is the last moment of his childhood, torn away from him rather abruptly View Spoiler ». It’s a startling rip, an abrupt jolt into adulthood that leaves me surprised even when I know it’s coming.

I loved how Rowling tampers down the dark nature of The Deathly Hallows with light moments, especially with Ron and Hermione’s relationship. FINALLY! I loved the tension, the brief romantic moments that offset the terror that thrives throughout the book. The other highlight is Luna Lovegood, a character that’s quickly become one of my favorites. Her determinedly positive outlook on life brings light into the narrative.

The long-awaited final battle of good and evil was everything Rowling foretold. The battle of Hogwarts gives me goosebumps each time I read it, from McGonagall’s courage to the bravery of the students who join Harry to fight. It’s more than a great fight scene though – it’s the final battle of love versus hate, love versus obsession, love versus everything. Love is seen in every action the defenders of Hogwarts take, from Molly Weasley to (surprisingly) Narcissa Malfoy.

From the inside look to Dumbledore’s life to the evolution of the true natures of much-loved characters, The Deathly Hallows is a winner, through and through. As hard as it is to leave Harry’s world, it makes me excited to start his story all over again.

5 Stars

Posted July 2, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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June 12, 2016

Review | My American Duchess by Eloisa James

Review | My American Duchess by Eloisa JamesMy American Duchess by Eloisa James
Publisher: Avon, January 2016
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
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The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford - an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fiancés.
But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.
The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honor clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear: All is fair in love and war.

An accidental clandestine meeting with a dark stranger on a balcony. Twins caught up in a mix of rivalry and family drama. An American heiress who just can’t play by the ton‘s societal rules as much as she tries. When the Duke of Trent falls heads over heels for the mysterious American woman at the ball, he has no idea he’s just fallen in love with his twin brother’s new fiancee. But Merry isn’t just any heiress – she’s the one that could save them all.

For some novels to work, the reader must be willing to suspend a reality a little and believe what the rational mind wouldn’t. My American Duchess is not one of the stories. Sure, the chance meeting in the darkness of the balcony may have been a little contrived, but it’s James’ characters that brought it to life. Throughout the story each character transformation is made more real because of how her characters perceive and react to it.

I didn’t expect to like Merry, but after she determinedly frees a puppy in the park, I knew we were kindred spirits. Her stubborn, direct nature and blunt observations made me laugh and contrasted to the other fluffy ladies in the story. It’s the two brothers of the story that provide the most intriguing character journeys. Cedric, the younger twin, is what I would call a dandy. He’s all too interested in his own looks, appearances of others, and extremely judgmental, but charming. His brother, Trent, is his opposite. Broody, aloof, and slightly arrogant, Trent does his best to stay away from Merry, but he can’t shake his attraction to her. Watching how the two different men dealt with their relationship with the American heiress was fascinating.

I loved how the romance, while incredibly steamy, didn’t consist of just sex scenes. It had a mixture of anger, lust, and getting to truly know the other person as a whole, not just “wife” and “husband.” The dive into the dynamics of their marriage caught me much more than the initial courtship.

My American Duchess is a winner, both historical romance and otherwise. I loved everything about this book.

5 Stars

Posted June 12, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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June 4, 2016

Through Diagon Alley | Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Through Diagon Alley | Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré
Series: Harry Potter, #6
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books, July 2005
Pages: 652
Format: Hardcover
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The war against Voldemort is not going well; even Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of the Daily Prophet, looking for familiar names. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses.
And yet... As in all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate — and lose a few eyebrows in the process. The Weasley twins expand their business. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince.
So it's the home front that takes center stage in the multilayered sixth installment of the story of Harry Potter. Here are Hogwarts, Harry will search for the full and complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort — and thereby find what may be his only vulnerability.

half blood prince

He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back.

It’s the Wizarding world’s worst nightmare. Cornelius Fudge, disgraced and ashamed, has stepped down from his post as Minister of Magic as the magical world struggles to come to terms that the most evil Dark wizard of all time has seemingly returned from the dead.

With Voldemort’s return, Harry knows life will never be the same, even at Privet Drive. Yet he doesn’t know what to expect when he embarks from the Dursleys’ house with Dumbledore late that summer, especially when he finds a mysterious Potions book full of the writings of the Half-Blood Prince.

Without a doubt, Rowling’s world has gotten vastly darker compared to the relatively light story of Quirrell and his secret. The opening night scenes in the Muggle Prime Minister’s office sets the tone for Half Blood Prince, an atmosphere that lasts throughout the book, even to the sunny afternoon the narrative leaves off on. With the extra element of foreshadowing, the desire to get to the bottom of what’s going on drives Harry (and me) forward.

I loved how Rowling drops us right into the middle of the story. With five books behind us, there’s no need to recap the events; even so, the abrupt start to the story was jarring and captivating all at once.

As Harry and Dumbledore explore Voldemort’s history to learn more about his truth, I realized that Rowling was painting Voldemort as, for all intents and purposes, born evil. It made me wonder: Is he the only character that’s painted so black and white, or is this a depiction of humanity? Either you’re good or bad – no grey area available.

If we’re following that theory, then just how does Snape fit in? Throughout the books, Dumbledore has made an effort to show us and Harry that Snape is actually on the side of the angels. Is he truly a double agent (good cloaked in evil) or is he the only shade of grey?

On the lighter side of Half Blood Prince, I loved the romance between Lavendar and Ron (I choked on my tea when I came to the “Won-Won” part – you know what I mean). The drama between Ron and Hermione over Ron’s new relationship was just so…teenagey that it grounded the story down and gave a little relief from the great “good v evil” battle we all know is coming.

For years, I thought Order of the Phoenix was my favorite Harry Potter book, but after this read, I think Half Blood Prince takes the cake. The complexity of the search for Voldemort’s motives and means combined with the everyday teenage drama happening at high schools across the world is a subtle mixture, but one just right for setting up the grand final installment of the series.

5 Stars

Posted June 4, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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May 7, 2016

Through Diagon Alley | Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Through Diagon Alley | Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter, #5
Publisher: Scholastic, August 2004
Pages: 870
Format: Hardcover
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Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected...
Suspense, secrets and thrilling action from the pen of J.K. Rowling ensure an electrifying adventure that is impossible to put down.

Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter is having a horrible summer.

After being unexpectedly attacked by magical creatures over the summer, Harry feels left in the dark: his two best friends, Dumbledore, even his godfather keep telling him to keep his head down and stay out of trouble, but no one is saying exactly what’s going on.

When he finally arrives back in the wizarding world, Harry finds that he has gone from the Boy Who Lived to the boy who lied.  And this is before he heads to Hogwarts for his fifth year, to face Ministry interference, a horrible Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, and visions of Voldemort that he can’t quite shake.

Order of the Phoenix has a level of heartbreak in it that makes it emotionally wrenching to read, but I. Can’t. Stop. From the destruction of his reputation and feeling of being left on the outside to the horrible death of a major character, Harry can’t catch a break. The typical emotionally-charged reactions of a fifteen-year-old boy combined with the feeling of being left out of the hunt for Voldemort, a cause Harry feels a special tie to, leaves him volatile and occasionally unlikable.

Strange to say, but I like that Rowling occasionally makes him unlikable. While his reactions are understandable, it forces him away from the stereotypical wonder child who can do no wrong to a living, breathing teenage boy who is dealing with far more than anyone ever should.

Harry wasn’t the only one emotionally drained from Goblet of Fire – his first date with his longtime crush, Cho, is a disaster. Cho is, safe to say, confused. Despite that, it irritated the daylights out of me that she strung Harry along, then lost it when he didn’t do/say the right things. I didn’t quite understand her, but maybe that’s hindsight…

The villain of Order of the Phoenix, Dolores Umbridge, was delightfully horrible. She made me feel a mix of disgust and delight every time she entered a scene, because I knew something was going to happen.

The final scenes in the Ministry make a huge jump forward in the series’ plot line. To put it simply, without spoilers, there’s no going back now.

Order of the Phoenix is still my favorite of the series. Harry’s huge leaps in his character journey and the horror of Umbridge and the Ministry’s missteps make this a winner every time.

5 Stars

Posted May 7, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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April 21, 2016

Review | Blue Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas

Review | Blue Eyed Devil by Lisa KleypasBlue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Travises, #2
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, March 2008
Pages: 328
Format: Hardcover
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MEET THE BLUE-EYED DEVIL - His name is Hardy Cates. He's a self-made millionaire who comes from the wrong side of the tracks. He's made enemies in the rough-and-tumble ride to the top of Houston's oil industry. He's got hot blood in his veins. And vengeance on his mind.

MEET THE HEIRESS - She's Haven Travis. Despite her family's money, she refuses to set out on the path they've chosen for her. But when Haven marries a man her family disapproves of, her life is set on a new and dangerous course. Two years later, Haven comes home, determined to guard her heart. And Hardy Cates, a family enemy, is the last person she needs darkening her door or setting her soul on fire.

WATCH THE SPARKS FLY....Filled with Lisa Kleypas's trademark sensuality, filled with characters you love to hate and men you love to love, Blue-Eyed Devil will hold you captive in its storytelling power as the destiny of two people unfolds with every magical word.

Haven Travis thinks she knows what’s best…and usually that’s the exact opposite of what her rich Texas baron father thinks. So when her college boyfriend, Nick, approaches her father and asks for her hand, her father says no. When Haven marries him anyway (and is cut out of the will), she quickly finds out the sweet man she knew in college isn’t the same guy as the monster she married.

When Haven finally divorces Nick and returns home, the last thing she should be thinking about is another man, let alone millionaire and family rival Hardy Cates. But there’s something about the way his blue eyes fasten on her that she can’t stop thinking about…

I don’t typically like when the hero/heroine of a romance starts off the book in a relationship with someone else. It makes me antsy and feels like the relationship’s getting off on the wrong foot. But when Haven mistakes Hardy for Nick in the dark at her brother’s wedding…that should have been a sign to her right there.

Kleypas’s depiction of Haven’s abusive marriage was heartbreaking. Since Blue Eyed Devil was told through her narration, watching how her mind processed Nick’s action was enlightening, but…well, there truly is no other word than heartbreaking. I stayed up half the night with Haven, hoping she’d make it through and crossing my fingers that Hardy would come storming through the door to save her.

The entire story felt so realistic: from Haven’s struggling to overcoming the emotional destruction from her marriage to the relationship she develops with Hardy, every element in Blue Eyed Devil had just the right touch of realism. I loved that the romance was a slow development, considering Haven’s past, instead of a sigh, swoon, fall into bed.

It all comes down to Kleypas’s writing. Her narration enveloped me, making the twenty minutes I intended to read before bed stretch into an hour and a half. I felt invested in her characters, their world, and their lives, so much so that I felt sad to close the back cover on the book when I finished.

After Blue Eyed Devil, Kleypas may be a new go-to for contemporary romance! Any recommendations?

5 Stars

Posted April 21, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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