Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review: Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet, #1)Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

Honoria Smythe-Smith is:
A) a really bad violinist
B) still miffed at being nicknamed "Bug" as a child
C) not in love with her older brother's best friend
D) all of the above

Marcus Holroyd is:
A) the Earl of Chatteris
B) regrettably prone to sprained ankles
C) not in love with his best friend's younger sister
D) all of the above

Together they:
A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake
B) survive a deadly fever and the world's worst musical performance
C) fall quite desperately in love

It's Julia Quinn at her best, so you know the answer is ...
D) all of the above.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Let me just say, I adore Julia Quinn's writing. Simply adore it! I fell completely in love with the Bridgerton family (Romancing Mister Bridgerton was my first introduction to Ms. Quinn and therefore will mostly likely always hold a special place in my heart!), so much so that I was conflicted with a mix of happy/sad feelings when that series ended. Now, however, I'm so pleased to see the Smythe-Smith's have a few stories to tell in this series that is closely linked with the Bridgerton's and takes place during the same timeline.

Marcus's and Honoria's story is filled with the same powerful emotions, snappy wit and dialogue, and laugh-out-loud fun that Ms. Quinn's writing has become famous for. This was a joy to read! Her characters are so well-written, they nestle close to your heart until what makes them happy, makes you happy...what gives them pain, gives you pain. I cried with this one, so I recommend tissues to those sensitive readers. It's a wonderful, powerfully emotional romance that leaves you smiling!

First line:
Marcus Holroyd was always alone.

Smythe-Smith Quartet:
Just Like Heaven (2011)
A Night Like This (2012)
The Sum of All Kisses (2013)

View all my reviews

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review: Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

Black Magic Sanction (The Hollows, #8)Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

Rachel Morgan has fought and hunted vampires, werewolves, banshees, demons, and other supernatural dangers as both witch and bounty hunter--and lived to tell the tale. But she's never faced off against her own kind . . . until now.

Denounced and shunned for dealing with demons and black magic, her best hope is life imprisonment--her worst, a forced lobotomy and genetic slavery. Only her enemies are strong enough to help her win her freedom. But trust comes hard when it hinges on the unscrupulous tycoon Trent Kalamack, the demon Algaliarept, and a lowlife ex-boyfriend-turned-thief.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rachel's in a mess again. Accused of being a black witch, she's been shunned by the Coven. Now she's running and fighting for her life as they try to lobotomize her. I always enjoy reading about Rachel Morgan. Kim Harrison's writing is fast-paced, full of detail and leaves me breathless. I get completely sucked into her world, hating the moments I have to step away to do stuff like eat and sleep. And, predictably, I was hooked from the very first scene of Rachel in Algaliarept's kitchen, learning to twist a curse. Black Magic Sanction also brought back a character I've been longing to see again ever since I was first introduced to Rachel Morgan. Pierce has been a favorite of mine since he was introduced as a ghost in Ms. Harrison's short story, Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel from the anthology Holidays Are Hell. Although he appeared again in White Witch, Black Curse, I was happy to learn more about him and his past in this story. And then there's Al. I have a soft spot in my heart for this deadly demon. Maybe it's his British accent? Whatever it may be, I enjoy the power struggle between Rachel and her demon teacher. And Jenks! My favorite pixie! Oh! Prepare yourself! I try not to give spoilers, but get your tissues ready for this one!

First line:
Tucking my hair back, I squinted at the parchment, trying to form the strange angular letters as smoothly as I could.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 11, 2013

In Memory of My Mother

PattyJean Zimmerman 1958-1989
Today is my mom's birthday. I always write a little about her in tribute on her birthday since she was the most important woman in my life, shaping me to become the person I am today. She was a fanatic reader. I have so many memories of her reading novels while my brother and I played on our living room floor with our toys. She read a lot of Danielle Steel, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. She read Rosemary Rogers and many, many of the romances from the '70s & '80s that are now referred to as bodice rippers. As a kid, I remember teasing her about the half naked men and women on those novel covers.

When I was really young, she read Dr. Seuss books to me (they were my favorite!). As I grew older and learned how to read, I was so proud of my new ability. Mom encouraged me to read to my brother which I did, creating wonderful memories of him following me around with a book in his hand asking me to read to him. I used to make silly faces and goofy sounds to accompany the text and point at the illustrations, imagining them coming to life and what we would do if they did. We would giggle and laugh! Reading was so much fun!

As pleased as I was to read aloud to my brother, I was also a little sad that my cherished reading time with my mom had faded away. She still read to us, both of us sitting contentedly in her lap, just not as often. But, by then, she had her own studies to work on since she had decided to go to college to further her education. During my early school years, I remember the three of us sitting at the kitchen table, all doing our homework together.

Some other things about my mom that I love to remember...

  • Her laugh. She had the funniest laugh! It was contagious. And when she thought something was really funny, she'd let out a little snort while she laughed that sent me into giggles. After she passed, I told myself I would never, ever forget her laugh. It's been almost 24 years since she's gone and I still remember her funny laugh.
  • She loved to crochet. If she wasn't reading, then she was crotcheting. She crocheted blankets and little outfits for me when I was a baby. I'm thankful to have these treasured items that I've used for my own children.
  • One of her favorite movies was Dirty Dancing (wasn't that every woman's favorite in the '80s?). She adored Patrick Swayze! I bet she was one of the first to greet him at the pearly gates when he passed. 
  • She was also a writer! A few years after she died, I was going through some things in the attic and I came across a box of notebooks that my dad must have stuffed up there. Some of the notebooks were filled with notes she'd taken during college, but to my surprise I found the beginnings of stories and short outlines of ideas for novels. And what sort of stories were these? Romance stories! Of course! Like mother, like daughter, I guess! I also discovered she was interested in becoming a book reviewer. She had a few short drafts of reviews of the books she'd read. I thought it ironic how I had been writing stories of my own long before I discovered that she had shared the same interest. At the time, it made me miss her even more. I would have loved to talk with her about the craft of writing.
  • When she drove her car, she always ended up hitting potholes. My dad used to joke that she must aim for them. 
  • My dog, Reva, loved my mom best out of all of us. Reva was her dog. She'd cuddle with her, sleep with her, she was always at her side. It was because of my mom that we got Reva as a puppy since my dad wasn't too crazy about the idea of getting a dog. But, how could he say no to my mother whom he loved more than anything? Home she came and my mom trained her and played with her everyday. My mom also named her. How did she name her? Well, she picked her favorite character from her favorite TV soap opera. Reva Shayne Lewis from The Guiding Light
  • And speaking of picking names from her favorite soaps, that's how she picked my name! There was a soap opera she watched in the '70s with a woman named Tricia who was pregnant at the same time my mom was pregnant with me. I don't remember what the show was called, but I like the name. Ironically, Tricia is also a form of Patty (my mom), and Patricia (my grandmother). Some people think it was a family-name thing, but nope, it was just a coincidence. When I was pregnant, I joked with my Nana Pat that I should keep the name thing going and name my daughter, Patrice, or my son, Patrick. My husband wasn't so keen on those names and to be honest, neither was I!
  • She always wanted to be a teacher. My grandmother tells me when my mom was a kid she'd gather all the kids from the neighborhood and she'd set up a classroom in her house and proceed to 'teach' them. This love of teaching led her to attend Penn State University and Kutztown University where she graduated with honors (I believe she ranked 2nd highest in her class). She went on to substitute teach while searching for a permanent teaching position for about half a year before she was diagnosed with leukemia. Four months later, she died. But she had achieved her dream of becoming a teacher and she touched the lives of many students and faculty.  

Reva and my mom
I'm happy to share these memories with you. Now each of you has a piece of my mom's memory which will keep her living in the hearts of us all. During her life, she became a wonderful friend to many, many people who all keep fond memories of her, as I do. I'm grateful for the time I shared with my mother and for all that I learned from her. I love her and miss her everyday!