Book Review: Honest Illusions (Nora Roberts)

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Plot: The daughter of a world-renowned magician, Roxy Nouvelle has inherited her father’s talents—and his penchant for jewel thievery. Into this colorful world comes Luke Callahan, an escape artist who captures her heart—and keeps secrets that could shatter all her illusions…

Rating: 7/10

After the immense enjoyment of The Obsession, I quickly plotted devious ways to get my hands on this book. I thought it was a new release by Roberts, but it sadly turned out to be a reprint of one of her very old book. It wasn’t bad though, but I did feel a bit bereft.

My biggest issue with this book was how long it took to get to the main story. It is naturally important to provide a bit of backstory on any set of characters, because how else would anyone ever root for them? I do think that three hundred pages of portraying the past amounted to a bit much though.

Luke and Roxy made an entertaining pair, and despite my bitching about the large past, I loved how they grew up with each other and couldn’t stay apart. I really also liked the supporting characters, especially Roxy’s father, with Mouse and LeCerq being their family and friends too.

It seemed a bit preposterous that the villain managed to become a US Senator after being a young criminal on the streets, but I’m not going to go too much into that as believably isn’t something I insist on in light reading (lol)

The book was good, but I do think that the author wasted a lot of ink on the growing up phase of our two character’s lives. It’s eventual conclusion lacked drama, which sucked, and I thought we deserved a more bitter ending for Sam Wyatt. Pfft.

Book review: The Obsession (Nora Roberts)

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Plot: (not included – I literally couldn’t find one that didn’t spoil the entire book!)

Rating: 8/10

So I gave in to my obsession (hehe) and bought this book in a world where books have become so expensive I’m not that surprised that people aren’t reading anymore. It was worth the cost and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Roberts seemed uniquely inspired in The Obsession, because let’s face it, the woman recycles her stories. The outright creepiness of this story was a brilliant way to go, because it is something that we always witness in the news but it remains so shocking and terrifying. It pleased me to no end that Naomi and her brother were raised by her gay uncle and his partner, that they weren’t portrayed as extravagant or stereotypical – they were the best thing that happened to Naomi and her brother, and that their sexuality was merely a characteristic and not an insult, which is something a lot of authors get horribly wrong.

The development of the book is great. Nora Roberts has a talent when it comes to describe certain phases of her character’s life, providing in-depth insight to a character. I liked the following of Naomi’s discovery, her adaption to her new life and the eventual present day for her, where she has to ultimately fight the demons of her past. It was really good. I had some issues with the end – not that it wasn’t satisfactory, but I couldn’t understand how a four hundred page book had it’s final scenes within twenty pages. My other (only) major complaint is that it is becoming clear that a Roberts book only properly develops until the first sex scene. It feels disloyal to say this from one of my favorite authors, but we get a fantastic villain, great character development and gorgeous scenery, until the first sex scene and then all we get is steamy showers with a final rushed ending. It deducts from the impact from the book.

If it sounds like I didn’t enjoy the book, that’s wrong, because I had the best time. The characters are great and I laughed so much with the prototype male the hero was – who couldn’t just love that? I also really loved the dog, and wanted to pet and adopt all the dogs in the world.

This mammoth book was one of my latest favorites from Roberts – there is a sense of refreshed uniqueness that she’s been missing. It ticks all the boxes, except perhaps the rushed end. It is a definite for fans, and she might even get a couple of new fans from this!

Book Review: Me Before You (JoJo Moyes)

Me-Before-You

Plot: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time

Rating: 7.5/10

I purchased this book for the sole reason of knowing who dies when the film comes out (if anyone dies, to be more correct). I really wouldn’t walk away from the film just because of it, but it is better to be prepared than to suffer from shock in an audience.

 What I liked:

  • The book isn’t soppy. I was expecting something in the line of The Notebook or a Walk to Remember, and it couldn’t have been more different. I’m not saying that there aren’t moments that make you rub your heart because of the sudden surge of pain shooting through it, but for the most part the author steers clear of cheap manipulative tricks.
  • The book reads really fast and easily.
  • It is pretty realistic – never once does anyone pretend that Will Traynor can be cured of being a quadriplegic, and they don’t even hint that there is some miracle treatment because there isn’t.
  • SPOILER TERRIROTY: The book touches a lot on whether we have the right to force someone to live. I would say that it is the main theme of the book, and that romance is the second, but falls far behind what is really addressed in this novel. It is a really dark concept, but forcing a clear headed person who isn’t suffering from a mental illness to live in a state that is a shadow of their former selves seems incredibly cruel and selfish. There will be so many people that will say they are completely against assisted suicide and I used to be one of them, but things change when you’ve seen someone you love die of a dreaded disease and who had become a mere ghost of the person they once were. I guess that is why I had some sympathy with what Will Traynor wanted to do – he was one of the most adventure seeking men out there and he became someone that couldn’t even feed himself – that is a long way to fall in my opinion.
  • The author has been compared in some articles to Marian Keyes, and I just don’t think so. Both authors have their merits, but just because two people write about British and Irish characters doesn’t mean that they even cover the same material. REMOTELY.
  • The book isn’t overly littered with medical terms, you just understand the severity of Will’s condition and the complications that come with it.

What I didn’t like:

  • I take it that the book takes place in England – I don’t think the country was actually ever mentioned, and I couldn’t place the characters.
  • Louisa – in the beginning her main attribute is that she is Why do women in books even have to be nice anymore? Haven’t we progressed 66 years from 1950? Naturally she improves throughout the book and experience the most character development, but it is a damn shame that she is so flipping nice.
  • Peter. What.a.loser.

Me Before You is thought provoking. It is sad and wonderful and full of emotion, and once the book starts progressing, it is really hard to put it down and walk away. I will move on to read its’ sequel soon, and I am really excited what it might hold. As always, I will keep you up to date!

Have you read Me Before You? What did you think?

Book Review: Sacred Sins (Nora Roberts)

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Plot: n the lazy days of summer, a merciless heat wave is the biggest story in Washington, D.C. But the weather is knocked off the front pages when a young woman is found strangled to death. A note left behind reads Her sins are forgiven her.

Two more victims soon follow, and suddenly every headline is devoted to the killer the press has dubbed “the Priest.” When the police ask top-notch psychiatrist Dr. Tess Court to help with their investigation, she comes up with a disturbing portrait of a twisted soul.

Detective Ben Paris doesn’t give a damn about the killer’s psyche. What he can’t easily dismiss is Tess. Tall, dark, and good-looking, Ben has a legendary reputation with women, but the coolly elegant Tess doesn’t react to him like other women he’s known — and he finds the challenge enticing.

Now, as the two are thrown together in a perilous quest to stop a serial killer, the flame of white-hot passion flares. But someone also has his eyes on the beautiful blond doctor … and Ben can only pray that if the madman strikes, he’ll be able to stop him before it’s too late….

Rating: 6/10

Yep, another improper title that makes you wonder what exactly is going to go down in this book. I swear, if Roberts only had better titles she would get more conservative readers on her side, because then they wouldn’t think her books are porn. That is what kept me steering clear from this particular novel for some time – I thought it was from her Mills and Boon days.

The book is okay. I had major issues with the waving–the-white-flag end, but otherwise I enjoyed it. I even had a few chills about the serial killer – the Priest – his sections were chilling and his stalking of Theresa made me check if my windows were sealed shut. I even enjoyed the –sigh- cop – hero, who managed to be entertaining but not terribly layered.

The book had a good amount of chills and a surprisingly little amount of cheese and improbable romantic gestures. I enjoyed the vibes around the police station and the interaction between COP and BEST COP FRIEND. (I forgot both their names at this point). I just hated the end – no drama and really the equivalent of the widely hated end Breaking Dawn provided.

If you can get over wimpy ends and typecast characters, then read this book. Else, there are much better Nora Roberts books to pick from.

Sherlock Season 1 (2010)

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Premise: Sherlock depicts London “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) in solving various mysteries. Holmes is assisted by his flatmate and friend, Dr John Watson (Martin Freeman), who has returned from military service in Afghanistan with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Although Metropolitan Police Service Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and others are at first sceptical of Holmes, over time his remarkable intellect and powers of observation persuade them of his value. In part through Watson’s blog documenting their adventures Holmes becomes a reluctant celebrity, with the press reporting on his cases and eccentric personal life, and both ordinary people and the British government ask for his help. (Via Wikipedia)

The latest adaption of the iconic novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is something I have thought of frequently to watch. Everybody is loving and raging about it, it has established a cult following. I thought it would be safe to start Sherlock because 1) people aren’t ALWAYS right if everyone loves it, but it is usually a good indicator, and 2) there are currently three seasons on the market and I wouldn’t feel bereft soon.

HAH. As I am watching I know I will watch the last episode of season three tonight, and I will definitely feel bereft afterwards. I know this, I am sad already.

Sherlock is addictive in every sense of the word. I have to admit that I wasn’t as taken with the first season as I had hoped to be, but I think I watched it after working 12 days straight and that the exhaustion made me more irritable than usual (which is usually a lot) and hence I wasn’t as easily pleased as normal (I’m still lying, I’m never easily pleased).

The first episode of season one felt very slow. It dragged a bit, and felt worse than the other two, which is also 90 minutes per episode. I still thought it was good, and progressed to the second one, to be amazed, and have the addiction take place.

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What I loved

The casting. Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes is just everything. His face, his incredible voice, his acting, everything is superb about the man. I am gobsmacked by his ability to portray his emotions, and to bring such a complex character to life and to do it realistically must have been a draining experience.

Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson: Bilbo Baggins is on a new adventure and it is working really well. I’ve never read the books so I wouldn’t know if Watson is an ex-army man or not, but I think that particular arc suited the series. I enjoy how he is serious minded and has issues and still manages kindness and compassion, and that he is also no-nonsense enough to deal with Sherlock’s maddening nature. Martin Freeman is such a good actor and I am really enjoying seeing him in this.

Andrew Scott as Jim Moriarti: I am going to try and keep it really simple and say that I absolutely friggin love this man as Jim Moriarti. Moriarti is mad and brilliant and the only person who is on Sherlock’s intellectual level. He is pure bad whereas Sherlock has bad pockets in him but chooses to be the good (my favourite quote ever in this series comes from Season 2, so keep an eye out for the review!). The last episode of season one was such a nail biter, and the events leading to Moriarti and Sherlock finally meeting was so intense all on its’ own. I loved the voice altering of Moriarti, his sheer madness, how he didn’t have a control button on his own emotions. He was wild and free and mad and it worked SO well.

Mark Gatiss as Mycroft Holmes: I thought for a second that Mycroft, when I just started and didn’t really know who he was, may be this massive, yet unknown villain. The whole deception that went on there was really good and I was shocked when I realised it was Sherlock’s brother. Their relationship is highly competitive, fascinating and argumentative. They obviously have beef with each other, and I think it stems from both of them having intelligence levels above average. Mark Gatiss is SO British. I find his mannerisms so hilarious and the way he speaks through his nose incredibly funny.

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The bridge between the past of the books and our present time.

A modernisation of iconic literature just doesn’t seem like the world’s freshest idea or the most original. Once again, HAH, myself. The story is that much more believable when you associate everything you know and understand in there. It has Twitter, blogs (YAY), cell phones, terror attacks. These are things we deal with, and seeing the iconic sleuthster solving problems RIGHT NOW is entertaining on an unprecedented level.

The lack of lame relationships

I’m not going to lie, I love a good romance between characters. I think it makes some stories, but it can also destroy some stories. If this had been some big boy meets sexy girl adventure it would have failed miserably. Sure, the sweet Molly obviously crushes badly on Sherlock, but she has purpose and a real goal in the story and he isn’t stringing her along, he is just completely oblivious towards romance in general. Watson’s love life develops, you know he is seeing a lot of someones but once again the story is much more than who banged who.

It is so British

Sherlock is very British and it has a definite charm. The English are so much more elegant than the rest of the world and I actually just love listening to their pronunciation of everything. The show has darkness to it that works really well – these crimes are masterful and would likely have gone unnoticed had someone like Sherlock not existed. Can I go out on a limb here and say that the British should often make drama because they make it so well, and comedy not as often because that is not their strong point?

What I didn’t like

My only major dislikes are the length of the episodes and the female police officer. The female police officer is not annoying because of her performance, which is really good, but her attitude towards Sherlock. I get that there has to be someone who truly openly despises him and questions his morality, and that not everyone can be exasperated yet charmed by him. Also, realistically, if anyone working with Sherlock Holmes completely loves him I will be worried, because he can be such a little brat at the best of times!

Rating: 7.5/10

Definitely recommended, it becomes better and better! Something great to get involved in if you want entertainment but don’t want to wait centuries to reach a conclusion through too many episodes.

Book Review: The Villa (Nora Roberts)

The villa

Book: 38/100

Spoilers ahead!

The Giambelli’s family fortune has stemmed from a hundred years of excellence in the wine world. La Signora, Tereza Giambelli, is the matriarch of the family. She is tough and resilient, and an excellent business woman. She married Eli MacMillan for love, but for the connection to his own winery as well. Their mutual decision to combine their farms, turning it into Giambelli-MacMillan, is celebrated and feared amongst competitors.

Inside the business, Tereza causes uproar when she orders her granddaughter, Sophia, and her step-grandson, Tyler, to coexist and learn each other’s respective areas of expertise. Sophie and Ty get along amicably, although they initially struggle to understand each other’s role in business. As they work together, they realize their attraction has always been there, just ignored. They learn to trust and rely on each other, but are soon bombarded with crises within the company.

The first tragedy strikes when Sophia’s father is found murdered. Tony Avano spent his life cheating on his faithful wife, Pilar, sleeping around with as many women he could find. While Pilar spent most of her time at the Giambelli Villa, Tony spent their money (mostly from Pilar’s affluent family) and his time chasing women. The one woman who finally managed to get him to divorce Pilar, Rene Foxx, a society queen interested only in his money and the privileges it opens up. She ostentatiously flashes her engagement in front of Pilar and Sophia when she forces Tony to attend the private Giambelli family meeting where Tereza lays out the company’s new business plan. What Rene does not know, is that Tony might be marrying her, but that he is far from faithful. She receives an angry call at night, and thinking it is Pilar, blames it is her jealousy over her lost husband. It is of course not Pilar, but Tony doesn’t correct his new wife. Tony is found shot in Sophia’s townhouse, and the cops start searching for the killer, but they find no clues.

David Cutter is appointed the new COO from the company. He starts to work for them, resigning from a competitor, La Coeur, to go to the Giambelli-MacMillan winery. He moves into a guest cottage at the Villa along with his two children. He meets Pilar, and falls deeply in love with her. He starts to romance her, but has to work very hard – Pilar is an honorable lady who had never strayed from her useless husband.  He also has his new job to face – Ty is anything but impressed with the new order of things, and is initially difficult to manage. Sophie appears pleasant, even helpful, but David knows she is every bit her grandmother’s grandchild, and can be downright stubborn and sneaky.

When Giambelli-MacMillan gets audited, David finds a ghost account – illegally created by the now deceased Tony and Sophia’s uncle, Donato Giambelli. Donato is arrested, but before he is prosecuted, he is killed within his cell. David gets shot at while in Italy, and spends time recuperating in hospital. Even though Donato is the obvious suspect to orchestrate the shooting, he swears to Sophie before his death he had nothing to do with it.

Jeremy deMorney, who is a big gun at La Coeur, watches and enjoys the scandals that rock the Giambelli family. His hatred for the family is far more intense than just business rivalry – he hates the Giambellis because of Tony Avano. He blamed his wife’s adultery with Tony Avano on the Giambelli family, who never controlled him.

Kris Drake has a personal and professional vendetta against Sophia. She is angered by the fact that even though she is just as good in advertising as Sophia is, she is cast aside for promotion in favor of Sophia – just because she is not part of the family. Sophia tolerates her provoking nature mostly because she really is good at her job. When she finds out that Kris is behind the angry phone calls to Rene Foxx, and that she is in an affair with Sophia’s father, she tolerates her even then. The final straw comes when Sophia learns that Kris is leaking private company information to Jeremy at La Coeur, and she is fired. Immediately, Kris starts working at La Coeur.

The worst hit for the Giambelli family comes when they learn that some of their wine has been tampered with, and that contains traces of a dangerous plant extract – killing people who has a weak heart or consume too much of it. It causes the death of a loyal, old worker, and also one of the young employees in the company. The family has to recall the particular vintage, causing huge financial loss.

They finally learn that Donato and Jeremy are behind the tampering, and that Jeremy is a very dangerous man. When it is discovered that he is a mastermind in the attempted destruction of the Giambellis, he is released from his duties at La Coeur. Angered, he sets out to destroy the Giambellis for all – but will he succeed.

Rating: 8.5/10

So many things were done right in this book. I had book hangover after it. It is that good. The story is so complex, intense and dramatic, revolving around passionate people whose professions are part of them.

One of the signs of a good book is when you feel you are personally involved in the storyline, and you know the people. This was definitely one such case.

A sign of Nora Robert’s writing is her dedication to detail – the scenes are described so perfectly that you can see it.

I would really recommend this book to anyone, and especially if you are a first time Nora Roberts reader. It is one of her best – and shows every reason why I am such a devoted reader to her books

Book Review: Death duJoir (Kathy Reichs)

Book: 26/100

DeathDuJour

When my good friend Zoë mentioned that the series of Kathy Reichs is readable, I decided to give it a try. The material is fascinating – is there a more riveting field than Anthropology? I always appreciate a strong female lead, and Dr Temperance Brennan certainly qualifies.

Leading the Anthropology department in Quebec, Doctor Brennan is ordered to exhume the bones of a young nun set for saint hood. When she sees the facial structure of the skeleton, she starts to investigate Sister Elisabet Nicolet’s parentage. Her research is disrupted when she has to investigate bodies in different parts of Canada, and she slowly starts to make the impossible connections that bind these bodies.  She and police officer Andrew Ryan discovers a network of religious fanatics who plans to commit suicide before the “end of the world”. Temperance realizes that her sister’s new enlightenment course is part of this extensive cult, and when Harry goes missing Tempe races against time to not only save her sister’s life, but other innocent members as well.

Rating: 6/10

Getting to know a new author is always a tricky process – especially if you are exploring a new genre as well. I struggled to get into the book – it is as if there wasn’t enough editing done, and the events felt really loosely tied together. All the French phrases that weren’t translated also frazzled me. I found it unnecessary, as the book was in English.

The book was entertaining enough, and the attention to detail made things interesting at times, but also extremely lengthy otherwise. It just seems that the writer uses six pages to describe a scene that could have been done in two, if that makes any sense. I am planning to eventually read the other books in the series, but it is not the types of books that compels me to read them.

Have you read them and what did you think?