It's been an interesting April for me, and I think I need to say sorry for not getting up more posts of late. Like I said, it was an interesting month.

For me, it was a long winter. And, although it is spring, it's still chilly. Winter is beautiful with the falling snow, and ice crystals forming on tree branches but for me it's tiring. Not because I don't like winter because I do, but because the days are so short. My body seems to want to hibernate but I do have to carry on with real life. Anyway, I did start to feel better once the days started getting a bit longer sometime back in March, and I decided it was time to tackle a new project, one I'd been thinking about for a while. So I did. It's taken up some reading time, but I think it's finally under control.

What new project you ask? Well, if you've been poking around my blog at all, you'll have noticed I love crochet. It's a huge passion of mine, like reading. And last summer I started a crochet blog. I decided to move that blog over to a Wordpress blog and the learning curve is steep and I'm still swinging around on it. So, Pretty In Crochet has moved to a new home. Which is perfect because that blog showcases another way in which I love to create and another side of me. I hope you'll visit the blog as crochet has helped soothe my mind after a busy, hectic day and has healing many who suffer from depression or chronic pain. It might just been a new project for you!

I'll be back with a review soon!

Happy Reading,
Jewels
I enjoy a good story, and novels deliver the best story. And I just read a fabulous story. Lisa See is a powerful storyteller, and I thoroughly enjoyed her novel The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. I was a little confused when I first started reading this, as it states being set in the late 1900s, but the world being described sounded anything but modern. It was steeped in ritual, traditions that boarded on superstition (if were not that) and took me by surprise.

My Rating: ❀'s
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
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I had no idea that there were so many ethnic minorities in China. And I'm not referring to peoples who immigrated from other countries, but people from China itself who were part of hill tribes and even look different than Chinese people. This novel really opened my eyes to that fact. It also reminded me and educated me that not all people in the world live with modern luxeries, and that in fact, some peoples still live much as their ancient ancestors would have. It's a odd realization, but this novel brought that to light for me. Our main character is just such an individual, but she seeks to break out of her isolated village community and its strict ways of living, that Li-yan has questioned since childhood. However, breaking away from the ways of her people proves heartbreaking for Li-yan as she loses what is most precious--her child.

The novel largely focuses on Li-yan's childhood, her connection to her maternal tea grove, and the loss of her daughter, who she was forced to give up for adoption when the child is born out of wedlock. The loss stays with her and Li-yan begins looking for her daughter as soon as she realistically able to, though she has little hope of finding her daughter, who was adopted by a family in America.

Later parts of the novel outline the life of her daughter, her disconnection from her adoptive parents, and her desire to meet her birth mother. The novel also highlights the social issues with the now abandoned one child law of China.

The novel is well written, and engaging from beginning to end. I can't pretend to understand all the cultural implications touched upon in this novel, but I enjoyed the journey of the main characters and the connection they had to the land and to each other. It is very much a story about mothers and daughters, and subtlety but beautifully done.

Happy Listening,
Jewels
Sandra Brown always proves to be entertaining reading and her novels are more meaty than some, so she's becoming my go to for when I want something solid to read. I picked up Sting recently and was not sure what to expect, I had heard lots of great things but I find that sometimes I don't like (as much) novels that everyone else does but this proved an interesting read.

My Rating: 3.5 ❀'s
Genre: Romantic Suspense
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First of all, I was dumbfounded by how the novel was unfolding. The plot made sense, don't get me wrong but I kept wondering who the hero was. And where he was. I was sitting thinking, am I missing something? Is the hitman/kidnapper actually the hero? I'm supposed to buy this? Because in romancelandia, that doesn't fly. At least, not for this reader. I know Sandra Brown has a thing for the anti-hero but still, I didn't get where she was going with Shaw.

But, our famed author had a twist up her sleeve, as always, which caused me to breath a huge sigh of relief. And that was when the novel really started resonating with me. In hindsight, I should have picked on her twist, but while my mind did go there once or twice, I never really figured that bit out. Enough said here I think, I would hate to spoil things for you dear readers.

I ended up enjoying the novel. The sizzle between the main characters is ever present, but I have to say, a bit too Neanerthal for my tastes. I have been finding I don't like the portrayal of certain alpha males lately,  some of them come off as sexist and have been rubbing me the wrong way. I liked the hero mostly, but I didn't really connect with him and he failed to give me even a tiny le sigh feeling.

I think most fans will love this novel, but for me, while it was certainly was entertaining, I think I was thrown by too many little things that got under my skin to really love this book. And the ending didn't excite me, though I believe many readers will be surprised by the baddies and their actions. To me, it simply followed a natural pattern of behaviour so I wasn't especially gripped by the resolution. However, while this novel wasn't a favourite of mine, I do recommend you give it a try because I'm sure most fans of the genre will enjoy the story and style of writing, not to mention, the engaging plot.

Happy Reading,
Jewels
I'm so glad Lisa Kleypas returned to writing historical romance. There is no one quite like her when it comes to this genre. Oh, there are tons of great authors, but Lisa Kleypas has magic and weaves it throughout every book.

Series: The Ravenels, #3
My Rating: ❀'s
Genre: Historical Romance
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Let me begin by pointing out that the hero of this novel is none other than Gabriel Lord St. Vincent, son of a previous hero from a Lisa Kleypas novel, Sebastian, Lord St.Vincent. I nearly swooned when I discovered this some months ago. After all, Sebastian is the very definition of le sigh. Suave, intelligent, charming, handsome--well, if you want my full thoughts on this character, see my full review for the novel Devil in Winter. This review is about Gabriel and Pandora, and I couldn't wait to meet Gabriel.

I think I'll start with sharing my thoughts about Pandora however. I love her! She is so quirky, so independent and so utterly herself that she is very hard not to love. She defies convention so much, and yet she is not a character others shun and she's not seen as radical. I liked that she wanted to live a life where she was a person instead being essentially dead in the state of marriage. It made perfect sense. To be so defined by a man is intolerable and yet, I knew that Pandora loved Gabriel too much not to marry him. After all, he's Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, every bit as handsome as his father, and every bit as tender. And he was perfect for her because he knew how to love her without trying to change her.

I can't say I love Gabriel just as much as Sebastian. Because he's different, very different. Sebastian was more sardonic, and he was a rake and far more vulnerable than Gabriel. Gabriel is swept off his feet by Pandora, very much against his will, but he doesn't try to fight it at all, he spends a great deal of time courting and seducing Pandora. There is something of his father in him there, wink wink. He is also incredibly passionate and loves Pandora with every fiber of his being. But he is not at odds with himself in the ways that Sebastian was, and in this way, he made for a very different character, lacking Sebastian's irony that I loved so much. It was Gabriel's passion that adored and the easy, sweet way that he accepts and loves Pandora despite the fact that the rest of the world sees her as peculiar. True acceptance is hard to find, and I adored that quality in Gabriel.

There is something about this series that is different from others by this author, and I love it. It's likely a more honest representation of the society and world of the times it is set in, and I appreciate that Lisa KIeypas doesn't gloss over the unpleasant realities of it, or the injustices--such as being considered legally dead once a woman marries. What a horrible law, what a horrid way to view living persons! I like that this novel and series is highly romantic while maintaining these realisms. Hat off as always to this gifted author for penning a novel that is rich in romance, filled with wonderful characters, tender and moving scenes and honest about society and human nature. I loved every word I read.

Happy Reading,
Jewels
It's likely been way too long since I last did a Quote It! post. Not that I haven't run across quotes that I love, but life being busy sometimes I just don't have time to write all the posts I'd like to. Which is why for a while now, you've been getting mostly reviews. But I thought there were some quotes in a recent that I simply could not leave unquoted.

I just finished up Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas. And I loved it. I loved the premise, I love the series, I loved the hero and the throw back to previous characters. And now, without further gushing, here are the quotes I loved too. You can read my review soon!
Ravenels, #3

"He learned how to love them without changing them. To let them be what they were meant to be."

"You dazzle me, Pandora. Every beautiful, fascinating, kinetic molecule of you. The night we met, I felt you like an electric shock. Something about you calls to the devil in me..."

"...wouldn't it be dull if ever-after was always happy, with no difficulties or problems to solve? Ever-after is far more interesting than that."

"Your lovemaking," she informed him, "is a gift."

"My dear, I'll be surprised if she doesn't dance a jig. I've just made the match of the year for you!"

This is just a sampling of the goodies this book contains. It made me cry, laugh and blush and I loved the novel for it's depth of emotion and rich storytelling. If you're looking for a great series, you cannot go wrong with The Ravenels.


Happy Reading,
Jewels