Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: Mrs. Poe

Title Mrs. Poe

Author Lynn Cullen

Release Date October 1, 2013

A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.

It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.

She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.

As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late...

Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.

When I saw this on Netgalley, my interest was immediately piqued. I've had a fascination with Edgar Allan Poe since I read "The Tell-Tale Heart" in middle school. Even though I've shied away from historical fiction in the past, I knew I had to get my hands on this book.

While I've read some of his works and a biography on him, I won't pretend I'm an expert on Edgar Allan Poe. And other than hearing her name before, I have very little knowledge at all of Frances Osgood. Luckily, whether or not you have any knowledge of the two main characters makes little to no difference at all when reading this book.

Lynn Cullen fills in the gaps about what we know of Osgood and Poe and their relationship. She creates, what I feel is, a believable story about Osgood and Poe's love affair. She weaves in some darkness with Mrs. Poe (with both her sickness and her obvious knowledge of her husband's affair). In all, we're presented with a rather unique story.

It was clear to me that Cullen had certainly done her research before she wrote this book. It certainly made me wonder about what actually happened between Osgood and Poe.


5 out of 5 stars

*This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Book Review: Maddy's Star

Title Maddy's Star

Series Wishing Star, book 1

Author Kate Rosebrook

Release Date August 30, 2013

Three women. Three stars. Three wishes.

When three friends make wishes on their piece of the metal Wishing Star, they start to see their dreams come true. But they don’t know about the supernatural power behind the star, or the deadline to return each piece before their lives are overcome with danger.

Maddy returns to Serenity Falls ten years after throwing her piece of the metal Wishing Star over the Falls, trying to get her life back together. When her past returns to haunt her, she and her friends worry there was more to their wishes than they thought. Maddy sees her fiancĂ© even though he’s dead. Nightmares of her abusive father become reality. And soon she discovers she has to recover her piece of the star to make the danger stop.

Riley falls for Maddy soon after she returns, but can’t seem to get her to open up to him. All he knows for sure is something is happening to her—a supernatural chain of events she can’t seem to stop. Once he learns about the Wishing Star, he’ll do whatever it takes to help the woman he’s falling in love with, and save her from the threat facing her and her friends.

To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about the story in this book. While Maddy's Star is well written, something seemed to be lacking. I think my biggest problem with the book is how through much of it (over half of the book), I wasn't sure why things were going on (what happened to Kara that caused her to despise Serenity Falls so much?) and so much of the book leaves us in the dark about the wishing star (it's obvious that something negative is happening because of the star, but why/what is left a mystery for too long). Instead of intriguing me to read more, it frustrated me.

I'm not sure I enjoyed the friendship between the girls very much. I didn't get a best friend vibe from them. It felt like they were friends, but it didn't feel like a genuine best friendship to me. To be honest, though, I haven't had a super close friendship with a group of girls in a long while, so I might just not remember what it's supposed to be like. As far as the girls individually, I enjoyed all of them except for Kara. Something about her didn't sit right with me.

Overall, the book was okay. The story was good enough to keep my attention and it was a nice and easy read.


3 out of 5 stars

* I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. *

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Review: Scarlet

Title Scarlet

Series The Lunar Chronicles, book 2

Author Marissa Meyer

Release Date February 5, 2013

The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth...

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Scarlet is such a good book. It was much better than someone might expect from a second book.

The writing in Scarlet is strong. We're presented with two different stories that intertwine beautifully. Each story is presented from the point of view of their respective main character (Cinder and Scarlet). The perspective switch was done flawlessly and transitions were always done at the perfect time.

We're introduced to some new characters in Scarlet (Scarlet, Carswell Thorne, and Wolf). While they were all wonderfully done, I have a particular fondness for "Captain" Thorne. While he isn't really a main character, he was one that I enjoyed the most (besides my beloved Iko). He seemed to be around to lighten the mood and keep things from getting too overwhelming. Wolf was also well done. We were introduced to him in the short story "The Queen's Army," so we have a little bit of back story on him there. Lastly, there's Scarlet. Unfortunately, I didn't care for Scarlet and her story as much as I feel like I should have. I don't think it would have bothered me at all if Scarlet wasn't a part of the story and that was kind of disappointing.

One thing I really enjoy with The Lunar Chronicle series is that while there is some romance, it isn't the focus of the story. I like that Meyer includes a little bit of violence with her romance. It seems much more realistic than trying to believe that everything can be rainbows and sunshine in a character's life while the rest of the world is falling apart.

While I can't say that I enjoyed Scarlet more than Cinder (like I've seen in many reviews), it was a really story and enjoyable book. I can't wait to see where this series goes with Cress (February 4, 2014) and Winter (2015).


5 out of 5 stars

Monday, September 2, 2013

Book Review: Cinder

Title Cinder

Series The Lunar Chronicles, book 1

Author Marissa Meyer

Release Date January 3, 2012

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I'm a fan of re-telling fairy tales (see My Name is Rapunzel). Even though that's the case, I was hesitant to pick up Cinder. Cinderella isn't my favorite fairy tale as it is (and no, I can't tell you what my favorite is because I'm not even sure I have one), so it makes sense that a futuristic Cinderella didn't exactly beg for me to read it. It seems, though, that sometimes we're destined to read a book whether or not we plan on it. After the first time I saw Cinder, suddenly it was everywhere. I felt like I had no choice but to give in and read it.

Meyer's writing is engrossing and absolutely wonderful. There's no doubt in my mind (now) that all the attention Cinder has received for a good reason.

One thing I'm always weary about whenever reading a re-telling is whether or not the story will be original enough to even warrant a re-telling. I feel like an author needs to strike a balance between sticking to the original story and making it their own. Meyer does this beautifully. There's enough plot twists in this book to keep it interesting without over-complicating it. While I did figure out a fairly important one early on it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book, but rather added on to it.

Cinder is such a great book. I loved the writing, the characters, and the futuristic world that Meyer created. I would definitely recommend this book. And I, personally, cannot wait to continue this series.


5 out of 5 stars