Sunday, July 28, 2013

General Winston's Daughter by Sharon Shinn

book cover
General Winston's Daughter
by Sharon Shinn

ISBN-13: 9780670062485
Hardback: 342 pages
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Released: October 18, 2007

Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Eighteen-year-old heiress Averie Winston travels with her guardian to faraway Chiarrin to reunite with her father, who is the commanding general, and to see her handsome fiancé Morgan. She's excited about exploring the strange new country. Yet Chiarizzi rebels are fighting the invaders. Averie also realizes that Morgan doesn't share her views on the locals, and she finds herself falling in love with Lieutenant Ket Du'kai, who himself comes from a conquered society.

My Review:
General Winston's Daughter is a young adult fantasy. It's a look at how imperialism affects the conquered using a British-like society that has taken over several "more primitive" societies for economic gain. Averie has an increasingly sympathetic view of the conquered peoples.

I enjoyed the world-building as Averie learned about the new culture. I liked Averie even though she was head-strong because she tended to be willful about neutral or good things, like wanting to wear a new dress style or helping care for an injured friend. She wasn't cruel to Morgan, and Ket was an honorable man. I could see why attraction grew up between Averie and Ket.

However, I was disappointed with the ending. I could see the "surprise twist" coming from the start, but my problem was with how it has handled. No real society has such a complete unity in emotion or ability to keep a mass secret. I can't believe that the imperialist war-machine had no spies and didn't catch wind of what was going to happen. I also stopped liking Averie. Her reaction wasn't realistic and was too shallow for what had happened. Rather than becoming more mature and cautious, she became more immature and trusting. I also didn't like how she tried to force someone she supposedly loved to do things her way so she could get what she wanted.

There were no sex scenes, magic, or explicit bad language. Overall, I found the book enjoyable even though the ending was disappointing.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer

book cover
A Civil Contract
by Georgette Heyer

ISBN-13: 9780373810895
Mass Market Paperback:
416 pages
Publisher: Harlequin
Released: January 1, 2005

Source: Bought through

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Adam Deveril, the new Viscount Lynton, is madly in love with the beautiful Julia Oversley. But he has returned from the Peninsular War to find his family on the brink of ruin and his ancestral home mortgaged to the hilt.

Then Adam is introduced to Mr. Jonathan Chawleigh, a City man of apparently unlimited wealth. He has no social ambitions for himself, but he's determined to marry off his only daughter, the quiet and decidedly plain Jenny Chawleigh, to a suitable man who has a title. Adam feels forced to sacrifice his happiness to provide for his family and so cuts things off with Julia, but he feels ashamed by his mercenary marriage.

Jenny has long loved Adam, but can she win--in her quiet way--his love away from Julia, or do too many things stand in their way?

My Review:
A Civil Contract is a Regency romance. It's not highly humorous like Heyer's usual writing. If you believe that a true, lasting love can occur between two people who have decided to honor and behave in a caring way toward each other, then you'll probably enjoy it.

The characters were all nice people who were trying very hard to make things work out so everyone ended up happy. But the characters were also realistic, so they're not always successful. For example, Jenny's father kept trying to give Adam gifts, but they don't have the same tastes or ideas about what makes a good gift. Not to mention that Adam didn't want "handouts."

Most of the suspense came from relationship tensions as Adam, Jenny, and her father learned to appreciate each other for who they are while all hope that Adam and Julia grow disillusioned with each other. The high suspense came at the very end, with Adam's great gamble...perfect.

There were no sex scenes. There was a fair amount of "God" being used as a swear word. Overall, I'd highly recommend this well-written book and count it as one of my favorites.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Prelude by Helen Taylor Davidson

book cover
Prelude, A Novel
The 1854 Diary of Adeline Elizabeth Hoe
Helen Taylor Davidson,
Richard Davidson

ISBN-13: 978-1931807807
Hardcover: 296 pages
Publisher: Peter E. Randall Publisher
Released: August 1, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Publisher's Website:
A book in two parts, Prelude, A Novel and The 1854 Diary of Adeline Elizabeth Hoe. In the spring of 1854, a seventeen-year-old girl began to keep a daily diary. Filled with six months of the details of a young girl’s life, the diary itself offers a wonderful window into the mind of an educated young woman from a well-to-do family living in Lower Manhattan in the turbulent decade before the Civil War. Her meticulous record of the elegant music, dances and literature she and her sister enjoyed is juxtaposed with her matter-of-fact relation of epidemics and sudden deaths, conveying a vivid picture of mid-nineteenth-century life.

Adeline was the daughter of a famous nineteenth-century inventor and industrialist Richard March Hoe. Family friends included William Sidney Mount, noted as the first American painter to accurately depict African-American life; William Batchelder Bradbury, the NYC choral director and founder of the Bradbury Piano Company; and Robert Nunns, also of piano-making fame. The Davidsons’ footnotes to the diary explain Adeline's enigmatic references to the events and culture of this time.

Prelude, A Novel, is a captivating thriller about the Underground Railroad inspired by the Davidsons’ research into Adeline’s life and times. Davidson recreates the social milieu of Adeline around the most dramatic movement in the America in which she lived.

My Review:
This book is actually two books: a historical fiction, Prelude, and historical nonfiction, The 1854 Diary of Adeline Elizabeth Hoe. The diary is set in New York and the surrounding areas from May 26 to December 27, 1854. The novel was based on the diary. The author used the entries in the diary as an outline for the story and then added details to fill out entries--like having the characters drying apple slices rather than using the less specific description of helping in the kitchen.

These historical details and the historical notes on the diary were clearly carefully researched and helped to bring the time period alive. Suspense was added in the novel by giving Adeline a romantic interest and providing a secret life of working on the Underground Railroad to her love interest. I liked the characters in the novel, and they reacted realistically to various situations. There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I enjoyed the interesting novel, Prelude.

The diary recorded Adeline's daily activities, like her chores, which friends dropped by, going to a party, or going out for ice cream. She talked about to the illnesses of her family and relations, the books that they read while sewing, and traveling to visit relatives. It was interesting due to the variation in activities from day to day. When she got home from travelling and the days became less remarkable, her diary petered out.

Black and white pictures were included that showed people and places mentioned in the text. There were also notes related to the diary which explained who certain people were or how billiards was played back then, or the story behind a fire in a city that was only briefly mentioned in the diary. Though the diary wasn't written with the intent that descendants might read it one day, it was still an interesting look at the time, place, and her lifestyle.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

And the winner is...

It's time to announce the winner of the Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop. Including Twitter entries, we had 16 entries. Using a random number generator and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winner is:

Kim Reid (@kimbreid)
who won "In Times of Trouble" by Yolonda Sanders

Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address.

For those who didn't win, you can always buy a copy of these books from your favorite bookstore or see if they have them at your local library.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Rubbed Out by Riley Adams

book cover
Rubbed Out
by Riley Adams

ISBN-13: 9780425259993
Mass Market Paperback:
272 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: July 2, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Even Lulu Taylor—proprietress of Aunt Pat’s Barbeque Restaurant in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee—needs to get out of the kitchen now and then. But at the Rock and Ribs festival, she finds more than a taste of trouble…

Reuben Shaw rubs a lot of people the wrong way—including Lulu’s best friend, Cherry, who has the misfortune of being in the booth next to his at the festival. The pigheaded pit master thinks he’s a shoo-in to win the barbeque competition, but he spends more time stirring up trouble than seasoning his spare ribs.

Hours after she gets into a quarrel with him, Cherry finds Shaw dead with a butcher knife in his chest. Now it’s her turn to get grilled—by the police. Lulu sets out to clear her friend’s name and finds Shaw had more secrets than his BBQ recipe. She’ll need to act fast, because the real killer will spare no one…including Lulu.

My Review:
Rubbed Out is a humorous cozy mystery. It's the fourth in a series, but you can follow this story without having read the first novel, and this novel didn't spoil the mysteries in the previous novels.

The characters were engaging and reacted realistically to the situations. The details about the area, the festival, and the people brought the story alive in my imagination without slowing the pacing. Whodunit was high on my suspect list, but so many people had a motive that whodunit wasn't obvious.

There were no sex scenes. There was a very minor amount of fake bad language (as in, one "heck"). Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable mystery.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop

Spring Fling Giveaway Hop

As a part of the Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop, I'm holding a giveaway for your choice of one of the following books:

book coverIn Times of Trouble by Yolonda Sanders is a Christian general fiction novel. You can read my review.

Lisa Hampton has started a new life after a scandalous betrayal by her husband led to their divorce. But their teenage daughter, Chanelle, seems determined to lie about where she's going and who she's with and to back-talk her mom when Lisa gets protective. Luckily, Lisa has best friends in Isaac and Olivia Scott, the most influential and powerful couple in the state. But when Chanelle accuses the Scotts’ son of rape, Lisa discovers how quickly her friends become foes. Olivia and Isaac use their wealth, prestige, and power to manipulate justice and threaten everything Lisa holds dear.

book coverDeath in Vinesby M.L. Longworth is a mystery novel. You can read my review. (This novel has some bad language.)

Olivier Bonnard, the owner of Domaine Beauclaire winery, is devastated when he discovers the theft of a priceless cache of rare vintages. Soon after, Monsieur Gilles d’Arras reports that his wife, Pauline, has vanished from their lavish apartment. As Judge Antoine Verlaque and Commissioner Paulik tackle the cases (with a little help from Marine Bonnet), they receive an urgent call: Bonnard has just found Madame d’Arras--dead in his vineyard.

This contest is for USA residents only.

To enter the giveaway:

1) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered and naming which book you'd like to win. (I have comment moderation on to prevent spam comments, so don't worry if your entry comment doesn't appear immediately. It will soon.) Please also leave some way for me to contact you--or follow this blog so you can see the winner announcement.


2) you can twitter me saying "Hi @genrereviewer. Enter me in the giveaway for [give the book name and author's name]."

This giveaway ends on July 9, 2013 at midnight. The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner on July 10, 2013 on this blog.

If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your mailing address. If the winner hasn't responded with a mailing address within four days, I reserve the right to pick a new winner.

I hope everyone has fun with this!

The blogs participating in the Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop: