Monday, July 25, 2016

Even Angels Love Bourbon

"Let this take its proper course, 
and trust that the outcome is predetermined and as it should be."
--JR Ward, The Angel's Share

Genre
: Adult Contemporary
Publisher: NAL
Pages: 432
Publication Date: July 26th, 2016
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Previous Books in Series: The Bourbon Kings
Find on: Goodreads | Amazon

My Thoughts

The Belle
When this showed up on my doorstep, I flipped shit. We all know JR Ward is an all-time favorite author and her newest series The Bourbon Kings is a definite different direction from her previous series but no less amazing. Sidenote: I just have to say how much I love the title, the meaning of it, and everything it represents.Ok, review time. Lemme try and break this down...

The Characters
Listen, many might disagree with me but I have to say that almost none of these characters are likeable. That might sound like a negative but stay with me. I love unlikeable characters. Seriously love them. Because they don't give any fucks and they make no apologies for who they are. The Bradford family is this to a T. But what is so amazing how Ward's writing is even if they aren't the poster children for morality and decision-making, you can't help but root for them. Or care immensely what happens to them. But you do. I do. I care so incredibly much about this family and they never cease to surprise me in journey.

While Lane is a big focal point of the story and how he's trying to keep his family and company afloat, I won't lie, it was the side stories that really kept me reading. Edward continues to be my personal focus and my heart bleeds for him. I want him to find peace and hope and a way to...be himself. I don't want to say move on because what happened to him isn't something you can just forget. But I want him to listen to his Momma and accept his circumstances and rise above. He is hands down my favorite character. I did love to see Lane really take the reins and steer his family away from ruin, though. Well done, Lane. Love where you're going with this.

Another characters that shocked me was Gin. Oh, Gin. Girl, you a damn mess. There are moments I just wanted her to fail because her entitlement turns me off...but she surprised me. She stole my heart a little bit and I cannot wait to see where this story takes her. I loved the direction and her choices in this book so, so, so much. Of anybody's story, her arc is what I am most excited to see what happens...with hope of some major changes and revelations.

The Setting
The deep south of Kentucky is as twisted as it is charming. I loved reading about the houses and gardens and location as much as I wanted to cringe with disappointment that people can have such warped views of the world and other people. As perversely fascinating as it is, I can't help but hope these opinions and viewpoints are not the norm of the people who actually live there.

The Plot
The Bradford Company is a hot mess and Lane is doing his best to keep it from ruination. My one 'Beast' would be I felt like the first 50% was Lane having the same conversation over...and over...and over...and over again. It felt a bit like we were going in circles and not really moving forward. The last 50% did a direction change and we started moving again. The end is moderately shocking. I didn't want that ending to happen but I'm not completely surprised it went down...ok, maybe I was pretty surprised. I just don't know what to think and I need the next book right now!!!!

Backstage Pass
If you love the South, corrupt family dynamic, and bourbon...this book is for you.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Love Can Make Us Do Impossible Things

"All that matters to me are people and experience.
Connection--that's the thing. 
That flicker of electricity between people, the invisible tie."
--Kate Morton, The Lake House
Genre: Adult Contemporary & Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 493
Publication Date: October 10th, 2015
Source: Gift from Hannah--thanks, love!
Previous Books By This Author: The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper
Find on: Goodreads | Amazon

My Thoughts

The Belle
I have read and loved Kate Morton's books for years. Each book has a familiar yet unique feel to it and you know that you can always count on a mystery that will leave your head spinning until the final moment. This book is no exception.

The Writing
Kate Morton's writing never ceases to blow me away. It is vibrant and vivid and the setting comes to life right before your eyes. I am not a fan, personally, of verbose and unnecessary emphasis on setting detail, but Morton is my exception. The house at Cornwall is old and crumbling yet still majestic in itself. The city of Cornwall in its small seaside elegance is another component that makes you feel like you're right inside the story. AND THEN we also get to see Cornwall in all its glory in the 1930s and it is everything you would imagine while reading about a grand house in the height of aristocracy. Ok, well 'height' is a stretch because we all know those rules of etiquette were not the norm for much longer but still, they were in place and as ridiculous as the social class divide is to me, there's something magical about reading books that take place in it. There's always some sort of tryst or attraction going on, we get this with young Alice and the handsome gardener. It's just enticing and I loved it but that's the plot so let's move on to that.

The Story
As with her previous books, the brilliance that Morton brings to her stories are always on another level. She weaves in so many characters and subplots and secrets that she will actually have you guessing until she finally graces us with the answer, She is the queen of misdirection and the literary Sigfreud and Roy. Just when you think you have it figured out, she throws you for a loop. I love this. I love reading between the lines of every detail and I have to say I was able to call two secret plot points and that doesn't seem like much, but trust me it is! I was so excited!

Back to the story. The Lake House tells the story of Alice Edevane and her family in 1933 when her 11-month brother went missing and was never found. In present day Cornwall, a detective stumbles upon the house and the mystery and cannot let it go, she has to solve it. The back and forth between what really happened n 1933 and what clues are discovered in 2011. I love this. I love seeing the pieces come together and how it all fits and how all the crazy elements and seemingly insignificant details fall into place. It is nothing short of brilliant.

The Love
Another constant in all of Morton's stories is love. It can be tragic and heartbreaking and uplifting and ...it can make you do impossible things. One of my favorite parts of this story was Anthony and Eleanor's love. We get to see how they meet and fall in love. It's so beautiful. Their marriage and devotion to one another isn't always easy but they are amazing. I cannot say too much about this because I don't want to give away plot points but my heart just ached with how much I loved them and their love for one another.

The Magic
As I said above, there is something magical that happens to me when I read a Kate Morton book. I am transported into her world. I feel cocooned by the writing and just want to crawl up into and watch it unfold. This book is no exception. I found myself really taking my time and spending a lot longer reading it than I normally would have but I loved it. I read all her other books before I started this blog and always read it indulgently. I did the same with this one and I loved every second. If you haven't read a Kate Morton book yet, you are really missing out on a phenomenal author!

Backstage Pass
If you love complex plots, family secrets, and small, vivid English towns...this book is for you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Adventures in the Great Wide Somewhere // Quebec City, Canada

While Montreal was not my cup of tea, Quebec City was fantastic! About a 2.5 hour drive north of Montreal, Quebec City is an city enclosed by a stone wall-not sure if I'm saying that correctly but it is true for the most part. I think it's made of stone but I digress.

My day included the drive, a quick stop at Montmorency Falls for some photos, and then exploring the upper and lower portions of Quebec City. For this post I decided to focus more on photos than text because to be honest, I don't have a ton to say because I didn't do a whole lot in Quebec City minus walking around. It might sound lame but take a look at the photos below and you'll understand why I spend a good 4 hours just walking around this beautiful city.  
Montmorency Falls
View from lunch in the beautiful lower Quebec City
Shopping in lower Quebec City
Notre Dame Cathedral
Holy Door at the Notre Dame 
Chateau Frontenac
Shops of upper Quebec City
Streets of upper Quebec City
But to give you some direction, my destination highlights of the city were the Notre Dame and the Chateau Frontenac, the most photographed hotel in the world. Those were the highlights of my day for sure! Besides those two places, just enjoy wandering through shops and up and the brick paved streets.

Don't forget to post on Instagram with the hashtag #WanderlustWednesday! It can be anything--a throwback travel photo of a place you've been, a Google image of where you want to go, an inspirational quote, a travel themed trinket you have, anything that inspires your wanderlust.

Monday, July 18, 2016

When A Rake Falls, He Falls Forever

"'Have I told you how lovely you look tonight in that sage gown?'
'Yes. But I think you talk a lot of nonsense. 
And I asked you to stay away from me.'"
--Anne Gracie, The Perfect Rake
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Pages: 360
Publication Date: July 5th, 2005
Source: Gifted to me by Betty, thanks love!
Find on: Goodreads | Amazon

My Thoughts

The Belle
This book was SUCH a fantastic surprise! I have never previously heard of this book or author but it came as a very thoughtful Christmas present from Betty. I was in a bit of a DNF slump and I wanted something fun and swoony to get me out of a bad book binge. And it totally did! This book was fun, sassy, snarky, and all things swoony.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Thou Shall Be Immortal

"It's all about love...no matter what side you're on, it's all about love."
--JR Ward, Immortal
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Publisher: NAL 
Pages: 388
Publication Date: October 7th, 2014
Source: Bought
Previous Books in SeriesCovet & Crave & Envy & Rapture & Possession

My Thoughts 

SPOILERS FROM PREVIOUS BOOKS AHEAD, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

The end is here! I am so sad to see Jim and Adrian and co. go! *sniff* This final book I had no expectations as to what was going to happen. We follow Jim and Adrian and Sissy as they try to figure out what to do about the next soul. Along the way they stumble and fall…multiple times…but it is truly how they get back up…and how they love one another. I LOVE the dynamic between all of them and how much they truly protect and love one another. It really is all about love.

The plot of this final book is fantastic. I obviously can’t give anything away but all I have to say is that I LOVED how things concluded, what happened, how people reacted, and how all the things went down. Jim and Sissy I finally get. Their relationship matured and I actually felt the connection between them much more than previously. I am seriously in love with Jim and I cannot wait to revisit this series in the future.

What I was surprised about was how Devina has really transformed over the season. She is a villain I love to hate because she has moments of redemption…even if she is a huge asshole. Her obsession with Jim and the delusion he loves her was HILARIOUS. I’m sure that’s not maybe the normal reaction to unrequited love but when it’s Devina and her crazy ass, it’s so amusing. Loved this.

The ending is beautiful. I wont’ lie. I shed a few stoic tears. It is so heart-warming and I just couldn’t help a few tears leaking out. I also loved how a few characters’ ending was open. I didn’t expect this but now in hindsight it makes sense. It will tie in with the Black Dagger Brotherhood and I cannot WAIT to see certain characters pop up with the Brothers! Eeeeep!!

While objectively, I will say the final two books of the series are probably the weakest. I loved reading this series and I would still recommend it but I was slightly disappointed feeling the last two books lost the magic of the first four. But I’m being really nit-picky. Plus…hot, buff, warrior angels? Can’t beat that.
Reserved Seating/Backstage Pass
If you love hot angels, redemption, and true love…this book is for you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Adventures in the Great Wide Somewhere // Montreal, Canada

While not every city I go to will be a favorite, I was really surprised that Montreal didn't impress me more. It wasn't that I strongly disliked it, it was just that I wasn't blown away. I'm a very intuitive person and this city just didn't click with me. When you know, you know and Montreal wasn't a 'know' for me. There were beautiful parts of the city but overall it felt like any other major city to me. Disclaimer: It goes without saying, once again, travel is subjective and one man's trash is another man's treasure. Instead of talking about what I didn't like, I'm going to highlight the few parts of the city I did really enjoy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Victory Is Yours

"The only way to have a life without pain, my darling girl, is to also have a life without love.
And that is no life at all."
--Laura Andersen, The Virgin's War

Genre
: Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 384
Publication Date: July 12th, 2016
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Previous Books in Series: The Virgin's Daughter & The Virgin's Spy
Previous Books by Author: The Boleyn King & The Boleyn Deceit & The Boleyn Reckoning
Find on: Goodreads | Amazon

My Thoughts
The Belle
If you've been here before then it is no secret the deep love I have for Laura Andersen's books. If you're new, then you're about to get an earful. The Virgin's War is the third and final book in The Tudor Legacy series, companion series to The Boleyn King series with the generation before.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Words Have the Power to Change Us {The Tudor Legacy}


I've been meaning to post this quote, from The Virgin's Spy by Laura Andersen, for awhile but other posts came up and it got away from me. I've wanted to feature this and talk about it because I find it super relevant to me not only now but all the time.

I've always been a person who is grateful for what I have. There are always things I wish were different, most notably and for the longest time that thing being a relationship, but I try really hard to focus on the positive. Life is too short to be unhappy or wallow in self-pity but, ya know, I'm not perfect. Emotions get the best of me. I'm alone a lot and this is my choice because of my career choice but it doesn't make it any less lonely some days. And some days the emotions get the best of me and I feel sad. And lonely. And filled with self-pity. And I hate those moments of weakness because I truly do feel grateful for the blessings I do have. Regardless, I read this quote shortly after starting my current job and it was 1000% what I needed to hear at that moment.

Y'all know I believe in book karma and moments coming to you at the exact time you need them most. A few weeks ago this was one of those moments. I needed to hear this. I needed to be reminded I am not alone and we don't always get what we when exactly when we want it. I know this. I believe in God's timing and in hindsight it has been the best life 'choice' not to have been involved with anybody. I wouldn't have made the choices I have in the last 5 years had I been with somebody. I wouldn't have had the courage to travel and be as independent as I am. And it's only right now reflecting back that I believe I still wasn't really read to settle down in a relationship. CLEARLY, I have places to go and people to see, none of which would be possible while being "tied down."

It's always ironic to me when married or in-a-relationship friend says to me how great it is I can go do whatever I want whenever I want. And it is...for now. It's ironic because I'd love to have somebody to come home to. To spend a lazy Sunday afternoon with. To talk to at the end of a long day. But that's not what's in the cards for me right now and that's okay. I feel like because I don't have that that I have to travel and see as much as I can before I'm in a position when I can't do that anymore which is another side of this quote I found relevant. To take advantage of the opportunities we have at the moment and be happy about them.

What I'm trying to say in all my ramblings is that this quote was such a poignant reminder that everything happens for a reason. Everything happens in His perfect timing and when it's supposed to happen. There are always things that could be better but the important thing is be grateful for the positive things we do have in life and I think I do that 99% of the time. My go-to response at work when somebody asks me how my day is going no matter how good or bad it is is always 'It could always be worse.' Because truly, it can be. There's always the possibility for disaster whether at the workplace or in personal life and it's important to find the silver lining in everything we do.

What do you guys thinks?
Do your emotions get the best of you when you know things can be worse?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Adventures in the Great Wide Somewhere // Seville, Spain

If you remember my Instagram pic from a few months ago, you'll know how much I LOVED Seville. Hands down my favorite Spanish city. Gorgeous, steeped in history, and a nerd girl's dream. Why? Well, I'll tell you. Seville is home to not only the filming location of the Palace of Naboo from Star Wars but it is also the home of Dorne from Game of Thrones...holy shit somebody pinch me I'm in Heaven!! I squee'd so hard it should have been embarrassing but as if I give any fucks. Here's my breakdown of my favorite Spanish city. Note: It's gonna be more picture heavy because I couldn't choose just one per place!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Show Me Your Milk Can

"Everybody has a story."
--Alice Clayton, Cream of the Crop

Genre
: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 384
Publication Date: July 12th, 2016
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Previous Books in Series: Nuts
Find on: Goodreads | Amazon

My Thoughts

The Belle
The Hudson Valley series has become one of my most pleasant surprise series. Nuts was a surprise favorite romance of last year and I've been eagerly anticipating Cream of the Crop especially after meeting the hero in Nuts who is a big, tall, broody farmer. The Wisconsin girl in me swooned hard these boys.

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