An Offer From A Gentleman

by Julia Quinn

Cover Beauty Score: 3 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 3 out of 5

Plot Blurb: Sophie Beckett is the bastard of a wealthy English lord who is left at the hands of her merciless stepmother when her duty bound sire dies of a weak heart. Years later, Sophie gets the chance to attend a fabulous masquerade among the debutantes and rogues of the ton - meeting the unforgettable Benedict Bridgerton who gives her a kiss she'll never forget. But it sets into motion events that will change her life forever.

My Reaction: This was a cute little retelling of Cinderella - a light romance novel that was a bit like candy. It was sweet and I knew what I was getting into and it was well made, but it didn't really move me or stick with me particularly. Sophie is a pretty courageous heroine and she was enjoyable to read, although I would say that her spirit deflated a bit towards the end of the story. I got a little fed up with how dramatic the characters were trying to make their situations when I didn't really feel like there was much to complain about. If I'm going to keep a romance novel on my bookshelf, that thing had better rip apart my soul, and unfortunately this one just didn't really live up to that standard.

Which is not to say that it wasn't fun - because it definitely was! It was a little light thing that was easy and enjoyable and a good way to spend a road trip. I particularly enjoyed the little intro to each chapter of a gossip columnist writing about the goings on of all the famous echelon in the ton. I must have read another in this series a long time ago by Julia Quinn, because I swear this intro is familiar to me. It was rather charming, I have to say.

Speaking of charming, the Bridgerton family is just adorable in this one. This "family finds love" series reminds me a lot of the Mallory family as written by Johanna Lindsay, and who doesn't love the Mallorys?! (If you haven't read that series, shame on you! Google that shit right now!).

So overall, enjoyable and probably worth the $5 I spent on it, but not really one I'd be interested in picking up again. This one is gonna go to Goodwill rather than take up valuable space on the bookshelves. Quinn is a great writer, though - she'll always be a firm choice for me to give a chance on a story!
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Stolen Songbird

by Danielle L Jensen

Cover Beauty Score: 5 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 5 out of 5

Plot Blurb: Cecile de Troyes lives a simple country life, training to be a singer and hopefully join her mother one day in the big city and become as famous performer. On the eve of her 17th birthday, she is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain that overlooks her valley to be traded to the trolls that have been secretly residing in the dark for hundreds of years. And to make matters worse, they engage her to the troll prince named Tristan and expect her to fulfill a prophecy to free them. She learns that there is more to the trolls than scary nightmares, and she is swiftly drawn into the political games and intrigue of the court to which she now belongs.  

My Reaction: May I just start out by saying that this book is far and away my favorite read in a LONG time. I became so immersed in this one. The writing was great - easy to read and flowed perfectly with some nice imagery and above all, amazing dialogue. There is nothing better than a book where the dialogue just flies off the page! And Jensen has this down... I mean to tell you... the characters here come alive as soon as you hear them speak to one another in a way that is entrancing.

So let's move on to the characters themselves. I found Cecile wonderfully complex. Normally I am incredibly put off by singers in books - I think it is hard to translate a person with an extra-gifted talent like this in writing. It comes off as needless and silly - but somehow Jensen seemed to make it work. I didn't get pissed at Cecile for her talent, because it was inserted at the right times and in the right placed. And how clever of her to title the book songbird? When it's songbirds who used to warn miners when to go above ground and here we have Cecile whom everyone believes will be their key to freedom above ground... see what she did there? Nice touch, Ms. Jensen.

But I digress. Cecile is as normal as you or I. She is a normal girl that wants normal things and has cool dreams that she hopes to see through. When she's put in a horrible situation, she reacts in much the same way I would. She tries to escape and reluctantly falls in love with this troll prince that is as equally complex. Tristan is a strong character that knows what he wants and doesn't plan to let her get in the way of his plans. But they both grow and change throughout the novel. So much so that their actions from the beginning to the end of the novel are incredibly different. They felt incredibly human to me. Their romance is incredibly real, in many ways.

Can we talk a moment about the romantic notion of bonding in this book? To share your innate feelings with the person you marry? I practically giggled aloud when I read that on the page, knowing that when two people pretend to hate each other, but can feel the truth of things, it was bound to get interesting. And Holy God did I nearly have a meltdown on more than one occasion. I may or may not have thrown my fancy Bose headphones at the wall (causing them to burst apart into several pieces, but that's a different story. Pretty sure my husband thinks I'm crazy now).

Now, I'm not stupid. I know there are elements of cheese in this one. But sometimes a little cliche is just what you need to get a story really going. You have to sprinkle that shit in there like it's flakes of gold. Too much and you'll ruin it, but just enough makes it sparkle and shine. Were there some overreactions? Sure. Were there some predictable makeup scenes? Absolutely. Was this book almost like a romance novel in the guise of a fantasy? You bet your blog-reading ass it was! And I loved every damn minute of it!

And that ending!!! Omg I was sobbing for about 20 minute. I definitely feel like I cried myself to sleep. But it wasn't horrible - don't let the crying throw you off! Anybody that knows me knows that I don't do ridiculous endings (aka when everyone dies). Unless you're Shakespeare, don't come at me with a story where the main character dies. I'm not having any of it. This was more of a "whyyyyy" crying with a little bit of "holy hell I need to read the next one" thrown in there.

So should you read this one? Have you even been paying attention?!? OF COURSE YOU SHOULD! If you haven't already, go pick this one up, or order it from Amazon, or check it out from your library... if you and I have similar taste in books and you haven't read this one, then you should do yourself a favor. Trust me. Yes, it's that good.
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by Meg Cabot

Cover Beauty Score: 8 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 4 out of 5

Plot Blurb: Meena Harper is a writer for a daytime soap opera that is trying to compete with its rival network who has begun writing about vampires. As luck would have it, Meena meets a dreamy guy from Transylvania that just happens to be a prince! Thinking he'll be perfect inspiration for her show's need to compete with some fictional vampires of their own, Meena doesn't hesitate to go out with him - falling head over heels for this dreamboat in the process. But what she soon realizes is there's something fishy about Lucien... and maybe vampires aren't as fictional as she thought. Did I mention Meena can see when people will die? Yeah. There's that, too. 

My Reaction:  Every time I pick up a book by Meg Cabot, it's like coming home. Her writing makes me feel like I did when I was young (er?)... independent and self sufficient and able to handle my own craziness and love it. Her writing has me laughing right from the start, her dry humor echoing the ridiculous thoughts that run through my own head sometimes. I have to say, this book was a fun way to spend a couple of days.

If you're looking for serious, this book isn't for you. It's a fun action adventure vampire romp that pokes fun at the ridiculousness of the Twilight saga. Seriously... Cabot reminds us what should be sexy about vampires and gives it to us in spades with Lucien. Meena isn't afraid to be a little feminine - she draws power from the fact that she enjoys having her man cherish her a little. And if he gets a little Transylvanian on her and tries to overstep his bounds, she is quick to tell him to buzz off.

Not sure how I felt about the bit of triangle here... although I really didn't feel like it was a well established triangle. It's pretty obvious to me that Lucien and Meena are meant to be together. Despite the events in the book, I feel like what they have is the real deal. Meena's brother going all "vampire killer" was a little weird. If anything, I felt the way he treated Meena was the real aspect of masogynistic assholeness. Like just because she was a girl they completely ignored her opinions.

In true Meg Cabot style, this book came together with a big dramatic event (there may or may not have been a dragon) and I really enjoyed it! It came down quickly and left us on a bit of cliff hanger that will probably have me picking up the sequel in a few months.

Overall, not Cabot's absolute best, but still pretty damn enjoyable! Need a fun pick-me-up option? Like sexy dark brooding heroes and intelligent but slightly scatter-brained heroines? This one is for you!
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