Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Book Review: The Legend of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan

The Legend of Holly Claus
by Brittney Ryan

Genre: Fantasy / Holiday / Romance / Adventure / Middle Grade

Ages: 8 and up

I received an e-copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Santa Claus is the King of Forever, Land of the Immortals. When one special boy writes to Santa asking what no other child has ever asked, a miracle occurs: Santa and Mrs. Claus are blessed with a daughter. But the birth of Holly Claus also brings about a terrible curse--from an evil soul named Herrikhan. Holly's heart is frozen, and the gates to Forever are locked, barring exit or entry.

As she grows into a beautiful and selfless young woman, Holly longs to break the spell that holds her people hostage. With four faithful and magical animal friends, she escapes to the wondrous world of Victorian New York, where she will face countless dangers, adventures, and a miracle all her own.

My Thoughts:

I"m not sure what led me to read this book, but I am very glad I did. Maybe it was the pretty cover, or the setting of mid-1800s New York. My family has never done 'Santa Claus' in any way, shape or form, so it was an unusual choice for me. However, from the very first page, I fell in love.

The Legend of Holly Claus is, in essence, a fairytale, and I'm a sucker for fairytales. The infant princess, Holly, is cursed by a terrible warlock and is then raised in a very sheltered, lonely way. She has a few unusual, loyal to the bitter end friends (I love Euphemia and Empy in particular). Holly grows up looking at the world from the outside, yearning to experience life outside of the magical palace that keeps her safe, but isolated. She is a sweet, fairly simple character, which would in other stories come across as boring, but in this one it was in keeping with the straightforward simplicity of the fairytale-style adventure, and with the curse that has frozen her heart in a state of perpetual innocence.

After breaking out of Forever, her homeland, Holly lands on her feet in New York, finding a place to work at a toyshop, which is owned by a man named Mr. Carroll, a brooding, enigmatic figure who lurks behind curtains and never says a word that is not bad-tempered. Then the dashing Mr. Hartman sweeps her off her feet. The men in the story are much more complicated then Holly, adding a bit of darkness to keep the novel from being to sweet.

Ms. Ryan's writing has a certain charm to it that I was unable to resist. While this book is usually to be found in the children's section of a library or bookstore, it has enough weight and intelligence to entertain any age of reader. I've already read and enjoyed it more than once. I'll be reading it again next year, a Christmas tradition in the making.

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence 
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain spoilers.

I don't remember any swearing, but there might have been a 'damn' or 'drat'. Sorry, but my kindle isn't behaving today and refuses to do word searches.

I rate it a 1.10 for some mildly sensual vibes and a kiss or two.

I rate it a 5.10 for murder, attempted murder, and some brief violence, never graphically described. 

                          Lieder Madchen

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop!

Hi! This is my first giveaway hop in a long time, but I saw this one and it seemed like the perfect way to celebrate Christmas. The Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop is hosted by the lovely BookHounds and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. Make sure to follow the hop along and say hi to her and all of the other participating bloggers.

For my part, I am giving away a hardback copy of Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat. Just look at the cover; quite frosty and appropriate for the season, don't you think?


1908: New Venice--"the pearl of the Arctic"--a place of ice palaces and pneumatic tubes, of beautifully ornate carriage-sleds and elegant victorian garb, of long nights and vistas of ice.

But as the city prepares for spring, it feels more like qaartsiluni, "the time when something is about to explode in the dark." Local "poletics" are wracked by tensions with the Eskimos circling the city, with suffragette riots led by an underground music star, with drug round-ups by the secret police force known as the Gentlemen of the Night. An ominous black airship hovers over the city, and the Gentlemen are hunting for the author of a radical pamphlet calling for revolt.

Their lead suspect is Brentford Orsini, one of the city's most prominent figures. But as the Gentlemen of the Night tighten the net around him, Orsini receives a mysterious message from a long-lost love that compels him to act.

What transpires is a literary adventure novel unlike anything you've ever read before. Brilliant in its conception, masterful in its prose, thrilling in its plot twists, and laced with humor, suspense, and intelligence, it marks the beginning of a great new series of books set in New Venice-and the launch of an astonishing new writer.

So, fill out the Rafflecopter and the best of luck to you all! Sadly, I can't afford international shipping so this giveaway is limited to the US only. :( I am sending virtual gingerbread men to all of my wonderful international followers, and I promise to try to do an e-book giveaway next time.

The winner has been chosen and contacted, so check your e-mail!

Merry Christmas!

             Lieder Madchen

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Review: Forgotten Sins by Rebecca Zanetti Sins
by Rebecca Zanetti

Genre: Suspense / Romance / Action / Adventure / Mystery / Science Fiction

Ages: 17 and up

I received an e-copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.


His Secrets Can Destroy Her

From the moment Josie laid eyes on sexy, mysterious Shane Dean, she was in love. Their desire ignited a passionate affair, and within weeks, Shane had slipped a ring on her finger. It seemed her every fantasy was coming true . . . until her new husband disappeared without a trace. Now, two years and one broken heart later, Josie is shocked by the hospital calls: Shane has been found . . . at a crime scene with no memory of how he got there.

Her Love Can Save Him

Shane can't remember the blue-eyed angel at his bedside—or who he even is—but he knows something isn't right. His hearing is razor sharp, his physical strength incredible, and the urge to protect Josie overwhelming. For powerful enemies are hunting him, and Josie is the key to discovering why. As Shane struggles to unravel his past, dangerous new truths come to light. Can he protect the only woman he's ever loved? And can Josie trust a man she thought she knew—one who carries such a deadly secret?

My Thoughts:

I've been on a romantic suspense kick recently and this one really managed to catch my eye. From the first chapter, the characters grabbed me and I started asking questions. There was a bit of a Bourne Identity vibe with hints of sci-fi, fun action scenes and really fun characters. Plus, I simply can't resist a good amnesia story.

Josie's life gets turned upside down when she is called to the hospital to see her husband, who remembers nothing of his life before that day, including walking out on her without a word two years previously. Unfortunately, Josie can't help him remember much since he never told her about himself even while they were married. Things just go downhill from there, or, from a reader's perspective, they just get more entertaining by the minute.

Shane and Josie's relationship is interesting and well written, as bit by bit his mysterious past (I love a hero with a mysterious past, don't you?) is revealed in all its dark, painful glory. Josie struggles with whether or not she can trust him, even as she is forced to rely on him completely to stay alive. There emotions just clicked for me. Shane is almost ridiculously tough in a number of ways, but when it comes to Josie he can't seem to figure out what to do. He sees her as this almost fantasy creature, kind and 'soft' and in need of protection at all times. Josie might be soft in some respects, but she is also feisty and tougher than he thinks, managing to rescue herself on more than one occasion.

I adored Shane's brothers. They each have their own unique talents and personalities - though they try to hide them - and a complete, unbreakable loyalty to each other. They might beat each other to a pulp every once in a while, but heaven help anyone else who so much as lifts a finger to harm one of them. I'm looking forward to reading the upcoming books about Matt and Nathan.

Reading this book is comparable to watching a not particularly original but well made, well acted action movie. It's a fun way to spend a couple of hours on a rainy afternoon, or a cold, frosty afternoon in my case.

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence 
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain spoilers.

I rate it a 7.10 for 28 uses of the f-word (Don't you love the search feature on kindle? It makes my job so much easier.), as well as multiple instances of mild to mid-level swearing.

I give it an 8.10 for a few fairly descriptive scenes and some innuendo and references.

I rate it an 8.10 for murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, fistfights, torture (not graphically described), etc.

                                      Lieder Madchen 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Heartbeat Book Blitz + Giveaway!

Hello! Today I'm sharing a very interesting looking book with you, courtesy of Kismet Book Tours, and give you an opportunity to win a copy. So, take a look, enter the Rafflecopter, and come back in a few days to read my review. :) HEARTBEAT:
Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.
But Emma can’t tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her. bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn’t have interested Old Emma. But New Emma—the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia—New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge. Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death—and maybe, for love?

Praise for Heartbeat

“An intense examination of a family coping with grief, this absorbing character study easily keeps pages turning.”

— Kirkus on Heartbeat Elizabeth Scott - Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Tumbler

ELIZABETH SCOTT grew up in a town so small it didn’t even have a post office, though it did boast an impressive cattle population. She’s sold hardware and panty hose and had a memorable three-day stint in the dot-com industry, where she learned that she really didn’t want a career burning CDs. She lives just outside Washington, D.C., with her husband, and firmly believes you can never own too many books.

And now, for the giveaway! Good luck! :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Top 5 Sunday: Re-Told Fairytales

Hello! This week on Larissa's Bookish Life, they picked a theme I suggested! Re-Told Fairytales. :) I really, really love re-told fairytales. They make me very happy. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order.

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, a re-telling of the Wild Swans, my favorite fairytale of all time. This book is just beautifully written wonderful in so many ways.

Deerskin by Robin McKinley, a re-telling of Allerleirauh, another one of my favorite fairytales, and also one of the less common ones. This is a really dark story, but also very beautiful.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, a re-telling of, shocker, the Goose Girl, another more obscure fairytale. This one's more kid-friendly than the previous two books on my list, and a lot of fun.

The Once Upon a Time series of YA books published by Simon & Shuster. These are short and sweet re-tellings of a variety of fairytales and legends, including Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey (the Ballad of Hua Mulan), The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey (Scheherezade), Water Song by Suzanne Weyn (the Frog Prince), etc.

Born of Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Ok, so this one is not technically a fairytale re-telling, or at least, it isn't advertised as such. Still, I am convinced that the author was thinking of both Beauty and the Beast and the tale of Eros and Psyche when she wrote it. Really. Read the two stories, then read the novel and tell me you don't see the similarities.

Aaaaand....Because I read so many fairytales, I can't stop at 5. I must add more, such as:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer & Sequels. Cyberpunk fairytales = awesome.

Five Hundred Kingdoms series by Mercedes Lackey; a fantasy world where the characters are forced to live by fairytale rules and sometimes twist them to their advantage.

Entwined by Heather Dixon, a lovely re-telling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen and Bahija Lovejoy. This is a folktale rather than fairytale, but I love it so much that I'm counting it anyway.

Everything by Alex Flinn (loved Beastly) Jane Nickerson, Melanie Dickerson, Jessica Day George...I could keep going, but I'm already cheating enough as it is. :)

                      Lieder Madchen

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holiday Kindle Fire HDX Giveaway!

Holiday Kindle Fire Giveaway
Hello! Today I'm sharing a giveaway, hosted by the lovely Inspired Kathy over at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. Go check it out and enter to win a Kindle Fire HDX. Don't forget to leave a nice comment for the authors and bloggers who worked to put this together. :) Happy Holidays!

Just in time for the HOLIDAYS - Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)   This is a joint AUTHOR & BLOGGER GIVEAWAY EVENT! Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HDX 7".

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)

  Or $229 Gift Card (International)

  Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)
Holiday Kindle Fire Giveaway #1 Sponsors:
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  6. Confessions of a Librarian in Training...
  7. Bea's Book Nook
  8. Author Kary Rader
  9. Author Jennie Sherwin
  10. A Book Lover's Retreat
  11. These are but Shadows
  12. Tressa's Wishful Endings
  13. Author Lia Fairchild
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  15. Buku-Buku Didi
  16. Truth Seekers Dare to Enter
  17. The Reporter and the Girl
  18. Author Terah Edun
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  23. Author L.A. Matthies
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  Sign up to sponsor the next Kindle Fire Giveaway:    

Giveaway Details 1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only - $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7". Ends 12/18/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Recommend to X Person

It's been a long time since I did a Top Ten Tuesday post, though the meme (started by The Broke and the Bookish) has always been a favorite of mine. So help me get back into the habit by posting lots of comments!

This week's topic is books you would recommend to different sorts of people. I get to pick what sorts of people I'm recommending the books to, so this should be fun. :)

1: For tea-drinking anglophiles with a crazy sense of humor, I would recommend Soulless by Gail Carriger. Fraught with silliness and British stoicism, this book and the rest of the Parasol Protectorate series is not to be missed.

2: For older brothers who don't believe women can write good novels, Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold, the first novel set in the sci-fi world of Barrayar & other planets and the precursor to the magnificent Vorkosigan Saga. Trust me, it works like a charm. My brother went through the series faster than I could borrow them from the library.

3: For kids who were told too many Robin Hood stories before bed, I recommend The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan, first novel of the Ranger's Apprentice series. It's not just for kids, either, people in my house between the ages of 27 and 10 were fighting over them when we first discovered the series.

4: For sweet-sixteen, never-been-kissed girls who spend too much time daydreaming, I recommend Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, as well as its sequel, Lola and the Boy Next Door. It's just so dang cute. :)

5: For those who like their endings bittersweet, leaving them smiling through tears, I recommend Delirium by Lauren Oliver, plus its sequels. I've read the book 4 times and it still makes me cry, in the best possible way.

6: For people who are always complaining about how awful their lives are, anything by Sherrilyn Kenyon would do the trick. The way she tortures her characters...Yes, your life could be so much worse.

7: For the escapist who wishes a magical world would open up under her feet, Random Magic by Sasha Soren is just the thing to add a little spark of wonder to your day.

8: For someone who reads far too many sad stories with far too many sad endings, I would say read If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch. Based in a tragic, all-too-believable scenario, it offers a bit of hope.

9: For someone who would like to try urban fantasy but can't stand the whole sex/vampire/shirtless guys on the cover books that monopolize most of the genre, I recommend Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews and everything else that writing duo has ever written. Truly, this person will come back to you full of gratitude.

10: For the aspiring writer who needs hope that it will get better, I recommend Eragon by Christopher Paolini & Sequels. That series is the clearest example I know of how a writer just gets better and better with more practice.

I hope you enjoyed my list!

                 Lieder Madchen

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Top 5 Sundays: Best Evil Villains


Hello! Today I thought I would join in on the Top 5 Sundays meme from Larissa & Friends' Bookish Life. I'm nearly a week late and it isn't Sunday, but oh well, it's fun anyway. :) The theme today is:

Best Evil Villains

Don't you just love it when you come across a really spectacular villain? One who manages to actually creep you out every once in a while? Here's my list, in no particular order. Also, these are just my top 5 off the top of my head, not necessarily my favorites of all time. There are so many good bad guys...

Sebastian from The Mortal Instruments. I like all of the bad guys in that series, but he's the only one who made me shiver sometimes.

Guy of Gisborne & the Sheriff of Nottingham from nearly all Robin Hood stories. Yes, I'm a Robin Hood geek. These two aren't creepy, but they are definitely favorites.

Tohon and the Skeleton King from Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder. Tohon has been kind of creepy through the whole Healer series and the Skeleton King is downright shudder-inducing.

Hugh d'Ambray from the Kate Daniels series. He's not particularly scary, but I really loved him as a main villain in Magic Rises.

Chauvelin from The Scarlet Pimpernel. OK, so he's not scary at all, but he's so much fun. He always has this complicated, nefarious plan to defeat the hero, and Sir Percy just saunters in and makes a fool out of him.

                              Lieder Madchen

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Interview with J. Marie Croft, Author of Love at First Slight

Today it is my great pleasure to have J. Marie Croft, comedic romance author extraordinaire, over for tea and an interrogation, *coughs*, I mean, interview. Please join us for a cup of tea and feel free to ask your own questions in the comments. Also, check out my review of Love at First Slight.

Good morning, Ms. Croft! Thank you for coming, would you care for some tea?

I’m grateful for the invitation.  Unaccustomed to interviews, I’m a tad nervous and wonder if you have anything stronger than ... Tea would be lovely, thanks.

I'm afraid that if I attempted to serve anything stronger trouble would ensue, the constabulary would get involved and this would turn into an entirely different sort of interview...Cream and sugar?

A few sugar cubes, please.  I may have to take my lumps once this interview is over.

How did you come up with the fascinating idea of reversing all the characters’ genders from Pride and Prejudice?

Interested in all things Austen but disgruntled by the status of women during the Regency, I thought, ‘Humph!  Pride and Prejudice would have been a completely different story if the Bennets had five sons.  Hmm.  What if they did have boys? What if I tried to write such a variation with the protagonist being – not Elizabeth but – William Bennet?’  The rest, as they say, is his story.   

Are there any characters that were particularly difficult for you to write in their new roles? Which ones did you have the most fun with?

The gender reversals were more diverting than challenging, but Mrs. Bennet’s role in Love at First Slight was probably the most difficult to write.  For some reason, I find it easier to work with male characters than female ones.  Having so many men in the story was, therefore, to my advantage.  Creating dialogue for the five Bennet brothers (moralizing Martin, charming Charles, willful William, and the temerarious twins) was particularly satisfying; and I had great fun with the two youngest, Christopher (Kit) and Laurence (Laurie).

What is your writing process like? Do you listen to music, have a particular place you like to work, etc.?

Starting with a ‘what-if’ premise, I make mountains of notes.  Ideas pop into my head at the oddest times and places – middle of the night, middle of a meeting, or middle of the forest.  Written in the dark, under the table, or while swatting mosquitoes, hen-scratched jottings might simply contain a keyword, a line of dialogue, a topic to be researched, the naming of a character, wordplay, a setting, or a twist in the plot.  

Then the sewing begins, and all those paper scraps become patchwork pieces of the quilt I want to create.  Fragments are stitched together (seamlessly, I hope), and quotes from Pride and Prejudice are woven into the tapestry.  During revisions, some threads are completely yanked out and other sections embroidered upon.


Drafting and editing processes take place, in solitude, at my desk, free from distraction and noise.  My ‘real’ job is at a music school; and, although I love almost all genres, I can’t have tunes playing while writing.  When I listen to music – be it Yo-Yo Ma’s performance of Bach’s ‘Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major’ or Satriani’s ‘Always With Me, Always With You’ (Live in Paris) – I like to give the artist my undivided attention.           

Are you a teacher at the school? What instrument/s do you play?

I’m one of the coordinators there; but, sadly, I am not musically octave.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do when you need inspiration?

I try to write every day, but there are times I’m unable to string together two sentences.  So, I pick up a book and take pleasure in someone else’s words for a spell.  Reading usually motivates my need to be creative.  

What is the last book you read?

The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett.  Next on my list is Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair and then an umpteenth reading of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander in preparation for the 2014 television series.

I don't know The Bookman's Tale, I shall have to look it up...I'm really hoping they do a good job on the Outlander show; the books are great.

I love Jamie and Claire!  On my Pinterest board, I've repinned a Someecard: 

So then they handcuffed me and said, “Anything you say can and will be held against you.”  So I said, “James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser.” 

Now, let me ask you a question.  Mr. Darcy or Jamie Fraser?

Mr. Darcy has my heart, of course, but Mr. Fraser certainly draws the eye...Ahem. What is your favorite Jane Austen novel, not counting Pride and Prejudice?

Persuasion.  I consider that novel to be Austen’s finest work; but there’s just something about Darcy and Elizabeth that compels me to repeatedly revisit their story rather than Wentworth and Anne’s.

Oh, I do hope you do decide to visit Persuasion one day! It and Pride and Prejudice take turns being my favorite, depending on which one I read last.

I know what you mean, but please don’t hold your breath waiting for me to write a Persuasion-inspired story.  You’d end up half agony, half hope.
You pierce my soul! *makes theatrical gesture*

Fanciful Questions:

Trousers or knee breeches?

Trousers … unless the gentleman is wearing tall leather boots with those snug knee breeches (plus white shirt and cravat, waistcoat, tight tailcoat, gloves, and top hat).  Sharp-dressed Regency men must have been rather hot in those getups, don’t you think?

Oh, dear, I was firmly in the trouser category until you went and said that. Now I'm not so sure.

After speaking of Jamie Fraser, perhaps you should rephrase your question. Trousers, knee breeches, or kilt?

Oh, you are a wicked, wicked woman. How's a girl to choose?

Spencers or shawls?

Hmm … a spencer ... or an elegant, embroidered shawl of gossamer muslin – or delicate, patterned silk or fringed cashmere – gracefully draped around my shoulders.  Oops!  Unbeknownst to me, the shawl slides down an arm and trails along the floor.  A Regency gentleman in snug breeches, tall boots, etc., notices and comes to my rescue.  As he assists in the shawl’s recovery and replacement, his fingers ‘accidentally’ caress my skin and … What was the question?

Do you require a fan? It seems to be getting a little warm in here...

Indeed. ‘Tis almost hot enough to make a lady melt.  Let’s change the subject.  

That's probably a good idea. *fans furiously* Let's look at chocolate: white, milk, or dark?

I prefer a mélange à trois – a decadent mixture of all three.  Speaking of chocolate, Miss Elizabeth Darcy enjoys it as a drink in this snippet from Love at First Slight.

She sat and asked the footman to pour her favourite hot beverage of sweetened chocolate, flavoured with milk, vanilla, and spices. She sipped and closed her eyes in contentment. “Mmm, warm, rich, creamy, fragrant, full-bodied, and sweet, with just the right amount of zest. Perfection.” The footman took a position against the wall, stared into space, and pondered how thoroughly the young miss had just described herself.

Thank you, Lieder Madchen, for the tea and interview.  If anyone else has questions, please leave a comment, for I am quite at leisure.

The pleasure was all mine, Ms. Croft. I do hope you call again one day.

I'll leave you my calling card.  

About the Author:

J. Marie Croft lives in Nova Scotia and divides her time among working at a music lesson centre, geocaching (a high-tech treasure hunt) with her husband, and writing. Her stories are lighthearted; and her tag line is Jane Austen’s quote, “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” A member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (Canada), she admits to being excessively attentive to the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. Adult twin daughters are the light of her life even though they don’t appreciate Mr. Darcy the way ‘Momzie” does.

About the Book:
In this humorous, topsy-turvy Pride & Prejudice variation, the gender roles are reversed. It is Mr. Bennet’s greatest wish to see his five sons advantageously married.

When the haughty Miss Elizabeth Darcy comes to Netherfield with the Widow Devonport (nee Bingley), speculation—and prejudice—runs rampant.

William Bennet, a reluctant and irreverent reverend, catches Miss Darcy’s eye, even though he is beneath her station. His opinion of her is fixed when she slights him at the Meryton Assembly.

As her ardour grows, so does his disdain; and when she fully expects to receive an offer of marriage, he gives her something else entirely ….

Book Review: Love at First Slight by J. Marie Croft

Love at First Slight
by J. Marie Croft

Genre: Romance / Comedy / Historical / Austenesque / Pride and Prejudice Re-imagining

Ages: 15 and up

I received an advance e-copy of this book from Meryton Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Check out my interview with the author here.


In this humorous, topsy-turvy Pride & Prejudice variation, the gender roles are reversed. It is Mr. Bennet’s greatest wish to see his five sons advantageously married.

When the haughty Miss Elizabeth Darcy comes to Netherfield with the Widow Devonport (nee Bingley), speculation—and prejudice—runs rampant.

William Bennet, a reluctant and irreverent reverend, catches Miss Darcy’s eye, even though he is beneath her station. His opinion of her is fixed when she slights him at the Meryton Assembly.

As her ardour grows, so does his disdain; and when she fully expects to receive an offer of marriage, he gives her something else entirely ….

My Thoughts:

I laughed so hard while reading this book, there were times when I had to stop and bury my face in a pillow so I wouldn't wake anyone up. Even if I discounted the hilarious character interactions, the endlessly diverting twists to the story, the colorful and highly creative language, etc., the writing alone would have left me chortling.

With their genders reversed, Miss Austen's familiar characters have been turned completely on their heads. William Bennet is an out-doorsy, easygoing sort of fellow who develops an unreasonable dislike for the aloof, aristocratic Miss Elizabeth Darcy after she declares him to be 'tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me'. Mr. Bennet flutters about, trying to find rich wives for his five sons while his wife hides away with her novels and wine. I read with delicious anticipation, never quite knowing what to expect. Certain scenes were especially entertaining, particularly a rather damp accidental meeting...

My favorite parts of the novel were probably William's internal self-scoldings and the puns, oh, the puns! I'm not usually big on puns, but these were alternately utterly brazen or almost invisibly sneaky and I could not help but laugh, particularly when I caught them before the characters did. I also greatly enjoyed certain characters' alliterative tendencies and varied vocabularies, especially when revealed in the form of insults. I only have one complaint. Well, half of a complaint, really. Throughout the book, Elizabeth and William are engaged in a battle of quotes and pithy sayings. I loved the quotes, but the sayings were occasionally a little overwhelming.

While Love at First Slight is mostly a comedy, one mustn't forget the romance, which was just beautifully done from start to finish. I cracked up yet again at the realization that William and Elizabeth are fated to be...Mr. and Mrs. Bennet! I was supposed to be done mentioning the comedic qualities of the story, wasn't I? So much for that; the laughter just doesn't seem to stop!

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence 
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain spoilers.

I rate it a 3.10 for mostly mild but highly colorful swearing.

I give it a 2.10 for the occasional risque joke or implication.

I give it a 1.10 for an angry slap (wouldn't you like to know whom got smacked by whom?) and a sword-fight. 

                              Lieder Madchen

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Release Day Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

by Veronica Roth

Genre: Young Adult / Dystopian / Science Fiction / Romance

Ages: 14 and up

Sequel to Divergent and Insurgent.


The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she's known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris's new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

My Thoughts:

Allegiant is a very powerful book. It pushes limits, breaks hearts and always, always makes you think. It is much more complex than most young adult novels in its challenges of what is logical versus what is right. The characters are infinitely human, neither heroes nor villains, at least not fully.

Tobias reveals vulnerabilities I never would have guessed he had, and yet, they were completely believable and right for his personality and past. I loved that half of the novel was told from his point of view; the darkness and desperation he fights against were so intense it hurt my heart.

Tris' side is less complicated and she doesn't change as much as Four, but her coming to terms with her family, living and dead, strengthened her character in subtle but significant ways. She gains a deeper understanding of things, which in turn gives the reader a deeper understanding of the characters and their motivations.

While I loved so many things in this book, the writing didn't really pop as much as the previous novels, at least not for me and not in the beginning. At first it felt like a lot of exposition as a hundred new things had to be explained all at once. This might have been necessary, but it was also kind of awkward. Towards the middle it gained more intensity and the pace picked up, and by the end I was on the edge of my seat. Crying.

The end was perfect. Heroic and sad and beautiful and unexpected and so very, very brave. Not just on the characters' parts, but on the author's as well. She took a unique path that, upon the arrival of the last page, made the whole trilogy fall perfectly into place. It was an ending that left me recalling earlier scenes with an 'Oh' of revelation that it was all leading to this.

This novel is a worthy addition to any bookshelf.

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence 
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain spoilers.

I give this book a 4.10 for some mild to mid-level swearing.

I rate it a 3.10 for a scene that may or may not have been a fadeaway or just a heavy make-out session, as well as kissing and petting.

I give it a 7.10 for multiple murders and injuries.

                          Lieder Madchen

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Book Review: The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Traitor
by Julie Kagawa

Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Paranormal / Romance / Faeries

Ages: 13 and up

This is the sixth novel set in the Iron Fey world, the second book in the Call of the Forgotten series. Here are my reviews of The Iron Knight and The Lost Prince.

I received an advance e-copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.


In the real world, when you vanish into thin air for a week, people tend to notice.

After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as "normal" as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for-his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again.

But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, "normal" simply isn't to be. For Ethan's nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan's and Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all.

My Thoughts:

Oh. Wow. This book is...Wow. I'm attempting to turn my incoherent sputterings of horror and glee into actual words. I laughed at Razor's antics, I sighed over the doomed romances of Ethan and Kenzie and Keirran and Annwyl, I scolded the characters (out loud, to my chagrin) and by the end I cried. And sputtered. And raged over the long months that that will have to pass before I can read the next book. This book was awesome. Possibly Julie Kagawa's most spectacularly evil novel yet.

Ethan and Kenzie attempt to return to normal life, which doesn't work so well when Kenzie's dad tries to get Ethan arrested for kidnapping. Turns out he doesn't like it when his terminally ill daughter disappears with a boy. I liked that he seems to finally be waking up and noticing Kenzie, even if it makes things that much more difficult for our hero. I also loved how Ethan has to learn how to protect Kenzie without treating her like glass. It's a thin line for someone as instinctively protective as him.

Keirran and Annwyl remind me of young lovers from a Shakespeare play; impulsive, wild-eyed and tragic. They just hurtle from obstacle to obstacle leaving disaster in their wake. Well, I can't really blame Annwyl as she is usually attempting to persuade Keirran to slow down and think before making bad decisions. However, he's the proverbial 'unstoppable force' and nothing slows him for long.

The Nevernever, already one of my favorite fictional worlds, is still practically a character in itself. The band of questers (for this book really is at its core a questing adventure) also take an interesting little side-trip into the Between and the magic-drenched city of New Orleans.

Questions I never thought to ask were answered in this book, like; why don't the Summer and Winter Courts mingle? I always thought it was a matter of politics and dissimilarity of magic, but what of there's a deeper reason? Ms. Kagawa continues to be one of my favorite authors for world-building.

However, she is also spectacularly evil. The ending of this book was so absolutely perfect and heartbreaking and completely, utterly, incontrovertibly mean. How can you do this to your loyal readers??? How can you torture us like this and make us wait who knows how long for the next book???

My only complaint for The Iron Traitor is that it ended. 

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain spoilers.

I rate it a a 7.10 for three uses of the f-word and some mid-level swearing.

I give it a 2.10 for some brief, vague hinting and some kissing.

I rate it a 6.10 for fighting and murder.

                       Lieder Madchen

Series Review: The Kate Daniels Series (1-6) + Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

The Kate Daniels Series (1-6) + Gunmetal Magic
by Ilona Andrews

Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal / Mystery / Adventure / Romance

Ages: 15 and up

Note: This review contains SPOILERS! I try to avoid them as a rule, but when reviewing multiple books in a series, they are impossible to avoid. The whole review is kind of weird and not in my usual style, but I've never tried to review a series this long in one post before.


The world has suffered a magic apocalypse. We pushed the technological progress too far, and now magic returned with a vengeance. It comes in waves, without warning, and vanishes as suddenly as it appears. When magic is up, planes drop out of the sky, cars stall, electricity dies. When magic is down, guns work and spells fail.

It’s a volatile, screwed-up world. Magic feeds on technology, gnawing down on skyscrappers until most of them topple and fall, leaving only skeletal husks behind. Monsters prowl the ruined streets, werebears and werehyenas stalk their prey; and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers driven by their thirst of knowledge and wealth, pilot blood-crazed vampires with their minds.

In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight.  But sometimes even trained killers make friends and fall in love, and when the universe tries to kick them in the face, they kick back.

My Thoughts:

I recently read this series start to finish, including the spin-off novel Gunmetal Magic and most of the short stories, in under 48 hours. It was a marvelously entertaining 48 hours. Since I read them all together, I thought I would review them the same way. There will be some spoilers, just so you know. And I'll throw in some quotes, just because. :)

First of all, the series in its entirety is amazing. The world is well-developed and interesting, the characters are unique and perfectly written, and the stories are a perfect combination of dark fantasy, hard-edged mystery and humor that left me laughing to the verge of tears. If you like sword-fighting heroics, magical misadventures and an eyebrow-raising courtship, this series will be perfect for you.

Magic Bites introduces us to Kate Daniels, a snarky mercenary with many secrets and a large sword who is setting out on a very personal investigation; the murder of her mentor and friend. A simple set-up, all the better to flesh out the world and all of its wondrous inhabitants. I liked the book from the first page, but it wasn't until Kate knelt down in a dark alley and called 'Here, kitty, kitty, kitty' to the lion shape-shifter Beast Lord that I started cackling in gleeful anticipation for what was to come. I can mark that one sentence as the place where I fell in love with the series.

Magic Burns starts with a bang, or rather, a large fire and a crossbow bolt. The scale of the plot is larger than that of Magic Bites, what with a trouble-making ancient thief in town trying to steal kisses from Kate, among other things, and certain Celtic deities running amok. The tension between Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, reaches delightful new heights and Julie, a street-savvy witch's daughter, makes her appearance. So does Raphael, the charming werehyena who takes a liking to Andrea, Kate's best friend. This book was maybe a shade darker than the first, but had just as much fun. Curran has far too much fun teasing. Plus I highly approve of Kate's favorite book.

"I kiss like a madman!"

Magic Strikes begins with a banshee on a telephone pole. I loved how random a start that was. In this book, Kate is called to aid her teenage werewolf sidekick Derek, who has gotten himself into a spot of trouble involving a pretty girl and illegal fighting. Suddenly it seems like half the Pack is keeping secrets from Curran, and Kate is caught right in the middle, and isn't that a fun place to be? Just to complicate things more, mwahaha, Curran's teasing is becoming more serious. I love how the authors have managed to keep the perfect level of sexual tension between Kate and Curran. As someone who hates it when characters fall into bed too quickly, I really appreciate a drawn-out romance. It also has what are, in my opinion, some of the best action scenes of the entire series.

"What happened to barely winning?" 
 "You said sloppy! Look, I didn't even use my sword; I hit him with my head, like a moron."

Magic Bleeds starts with Kate waiting for Curran to show up for their date. And waiting. And waiting. When he stands her up, all heck breaks loose between them and it is oh so wonderful to watch. A battle of words and elaborate pranks is waged as their friends attempt to keep a safe distance while watching the fireworks. The teasing and sparring and tension have all lead to this; will they, or won't they? *chuckles evilly to self* This is my very favorite book of the entire series. I laughed so hard I could barely breathe. Even as Kate and Curran duke it out once and for all, someone else is launching their attack on Atlanta. Add Kate's past coming slowly to light and you have a brilliantly chaotic, endlessly entertaining recipe for utter disaster. I loved every word. Plus there's Grendel, the ever-vomiting poodle. And pie. Lots of pie.

"There is catnip all over my bed."
"Catnip? How peculiar. Perhaps you should speak to your head of housekeeping."
"I have to kill you. It's the only reasonable solution."
Magic Slays has Kate trying to get her new magical investigation business off the ground while learning the ropes of being Curran's mate and saving the world at the same time. So, business as usual, yes? She handles everything with her typical aplomb and lack of tact. I love watching her and Curran work out the kinks in their new relationship. The story takes a decidedly dark turn when some of the Pack's kids, including Julie, are attacked. Everyone becomes grim and protective and very, very determined. Despite the fewer laughs, I enjoyed this installment of Kate's adventures just as much as the others.

"You sure you don't need your Prince Charming to come and save you?"
"Sure, do you have one handy?"
"Oh, I think I could scrounge one up somewhere. As often as I have to rescue you..."
"I'm going to kick you in the head when I get home. Repeatedly."

Gunmetal Magic takes us on a side trip into the life of Andrea, Kate's best friend, as she deals with her heartbreak after the ruination of her relationship with Raphael and that fact that she is beastkin, a rare and reviled form of shapeshifter. When Raphael drags a new girlfriend into her office, she goes a little nuts. Which, strangely enough, is just the thing to get them talking again. Watching them argue through their issues while trying to work together was immensely entertaining. Kate and Curran made an appearance, but they kept to the edges of the story for the most part. I loved that one of my favorite mythological beings showed up in a villainous capacity; he made a great bad guy.

"I know it's difficult, since I have a shapely butt and all, but try to focus on our illegal burglary."
"As opposed to legal burglary?"

Magic Rises returns to Kate and Curran, just in time to see them off on their way to Europe and their first truly serious relationship difficulties since they became mates. They've hardly stepped off the boat before Curran appears to have taken up with another woman and Kate's past catches up with her. There aren't nearly as many laughs in this book, but it is the first one in the series to bring me to the verge of tears over the main characters' sheer emotional anguish, which is a different sort of entertainment. Is this the end of Kate and Curran? Will Kate's secrets come fully out in the open? Who will win the truly epic sword-fight two thirds of the way through the book? Since when do weredolphins exist??? *more maniacal laughter* I think the authors were having fun torturing the readers with this book, and I say 'torture' in the best sense of the word.

"What does that mean?"
"Magic turtle crossing."
"I got that one, but what about the second one?"
"Beware the magic turtles."
"They spit fire."

So, there you have it, the series thus far. The books started out lighthearted (well, somewhat) and simple (relatively speaking) but have morphed into more of the darkly humorous (understatement) and complex (not to mention weird; they are definitely getting weirder) as Kate draws inexorably closer to the inevitable battle with her nemesis (that dark secret from her past I mentioned before).

I shall conclude my review thusly: This. Series. Is. Awesome.

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain spoilers.

I rate it a 7.10 for some uses of the f-word as well as mid-level and mild swearing.

The early books get a 3.10 for references and innuendo, books 4-6 plus Gunmetal Magic get 7-8.10 for some mildly descriptive scenes.

All books get an 8.10 for bloody fighting, murder and some torture.

            Lieder Madchen

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