Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

Secret of Pembrooke ParkSecret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, great read for anyone who's ever enjoyed Northanger Abbey or Jane Eyre! Secret of Pembrooke Park has a delightful mix of Austen-like hardship, family, community, and tension, while balancing some Bronte-style mystery. It makes for an awesome combo.

Abigail Foster is a practical, sensible heroine. Although her life is far from content from being in the shadow of her beautiful sister, struggling with her father's financial worries, lack of prospects, and moving, she doesn't complain. Instead she adapts to her new surroundings, the eerie Pembrooke Park, curious to understand its mysteries and tragic history.

Along the way, she finds new friends and suitors. Especially the strong and kindhearted local curate, William Chapman. As a reader, I was eager to finally know the deep secrets of Pembrooke Park. However, I was even more impatient for William to confess his feelings! He was perfect. Handsome, gentle, good sense of humor. The tension was too much. I was clinging to every conversation between William and Abigail.

I have to thank the Goodreads Choice Awards for introducing me to this book and author! I have a new favorite in both areas. Highly recommended to Regency romance fans. Great way for me to start my 2016 reading.


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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Top Ten 2015 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn't


 Top Ten 2015 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn't

Heir to Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson - I am a snail when it comes to reading e-books/kindle. I often read at night and prefer print copies to help me sleep. I'm excited to read this! Just gotta remember to get the e-reader out earlier in the day.

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen - This came highly recommended by other blogs and the Goodreads Choice Awards. A Southern chick-lit romance fantasy sounds like all the checked off boxes on my "what-i-want-in-a-book" wishlist. I need to read this series.

Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection (Hark! A Vagrant #3) by Kate Beaton - I feel like I blog about Kate Beaton a lot. I love her comics about classic literature. I was hoping to get a copy of this for the holidays, but ended up receiving many other great books from the family. So, I'll be gifting this to myself, via the giftcard credit I have, very soon.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas - I felt like this was one of the "it" YA books of 2015. It was everywhere! Popping up on other blogger's reviews, Goodreads, wishlists, and being highly sought in used bookstores. 'Beauty and The Beast' is my favorite fairy tale, so I hope to enjoy this retelling in the future.

A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott - I just spent a year watching old movies for my other blog. Needless to say, I like the glamour and legends of old Hollywood. A historical fiction title involving the charming Clark Gable sounds like the type of drama I'd like to read.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty - I love, love, love the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. It's become one of my favorite vacation spots and a place of great memories. Therefore, I'm very intrigued about a YA fantasy set there!

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell - I was surprised and interested when Rainbow Rowell released a book on her character's characters from "Fangirl." From reading "Fangirl," the story of Simon Snow sounded cool and Harry Potter-esque, minus Cath's obsession with slash pairings. I respect that some fans like slash, but I'm all about canon pairings and an author's original vision. Anyhow, I wanted to see where Rowell went with the canon version of Simon Snow.

The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick - I was looking forward to the return to the sweet, large, and lovable Jarrett family. I just didn't get to read it last year. I enjoyed the first book in the series so much and I plan to get to this one in 2016.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert - I heard a lot of nice buzz for this book! I haven't read "Eat, Love, Pray" but I did like the movie. I'm all about finding ways to be more creative in all aspects of life. So this seems like a good read for me.

Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder - I should really revisit this series. It's been years since I read the first book, "Poison Study," but the characters Yelena and Valek have stuck with me all this time. I didn't get caught up on the series in 2015, but I want to!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster (novelization)


Star Wars: The Force AwakensStar Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like many fans, I cannot wait for the next movie to come out. Star Wars: The Force Awakens left me with so many nagging unanswered questions. The husband, family, and I have literally spent weeks theorizing what will happen next. It's like a spectator sport for us. We'll probably take bets on: Who's Rey's family?, Why has Luke been missing?, and, Can Kylo Ren be redeemed?

That said, I had to read this novelization to try and gain some clarity. I gained a little, but not much. The book doesn't answer any of the nagging questions. But if you're trying to gain evidence for a certain theory, it'll help, slightly. Reading the novelization allows for descriptions of some of the characters thoughts during key moments, such as Rey vs. Ren, Ren vs. Han.

A lot of the scenes are extending with extra dialogue. Leia and Po have scenes that were cut altogether. Some of the characters have slightly different personalities than portrayed on screen. For example, Rey seems very sweet and virtuous on film. However in the novelization, her character has a layer of self-centered driven survival, which I could buy being tempted by the dark side in the future. Is it a hint? Well, I'll still have to wait to find out.

All and all, nothing new. The film is still superior in my mind. Yet, if you can't wait, it's an entertaining distraction to add fuel to your Star-Wars "what-if" fire.


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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My Top Ten Bookish Resolutions For 2016



My Top Ten Bookish Resolutions For 2016

1.) Write more Classics' Corner reviews - I always intended Classics' Corner to be a larger part of Vonze's Reader Blog. I've been in college throughout the life of this blog and because my degree was writing intense, I often kept reading and just didn't have the time and energy to properly cover the classics. I've resolved to work on that feature more this year.

2.) Read Dune - I love scifi movies. Oshie introduced me to Dune in 2013 and I loved it! He also pushed me to read "The Fellowship of the Ring" in 2015, and I really wish I had listened to his recommendation sooner. Therefore, I resolve to listen and read Dune the novel.

3.) Read a book with a Goodreads bookclub and discuss - Although I'm a member of several Goodreads clubs, I have never actually read and discussed a book with any of them. I occasionally vote on polls, share and take part in giveaways, and reading challenges. I've even bought and read the selected book for the month, I just never get around to discussing it. This year I resolved to participate at least once.

4.) Read 5 Contemporary Romance novels - I own several contemporary romance novels, but I often set them aside for my historical reads. In 2016, I resolve to catch up on five contemporary romance novels and take part in the contemporary romance challenge.

5.) Visit 5 Little Free Libraries - I have a favorite little free library near my hometown and I want to build and manage one of my own someday. To gather ideas I want to visit five little free libraries. That way, I'll have a better vision of how I want mine to look and function.

6.) Read and giveaway - We are running out of shelf space. Last year, I gave away 20 of my own books, as well as, many of Oshie's, through paperbackswap.com, bookmooch.com, and the little free library. This year, I hope we can read and release (giveaway) many other titles that we've enjoyed but don't plan on re-reading.

7.) Have a giveaway here - It's been a long time since I've gave away a book here on Vonze's Reader Blog. I've been waiting for the right book and not something that made me feel meh. I hope to have another reader appreciation giveaway soon! Maybe join a giveaway hop, too.

8.) Allow myself to DNF - One of my resolutions of 2011 was to finish every book I started. Before this resolution, I was notorious for starting and stopping books. I've proven that I can finish every book, even the ones I don't like, but now it's more important to focus on what I really like.

9.) Start a new feature - I've been brainstorming a fun, new feature for this blog. I could see it being a meme to share with other bloggers. I've just gotta make time to get it started! I resolve to add a page for the new feature and try to update it at least monthly.

10.) Organize the shelves - Ideally, I'd like to take all the books off my shelves and organize them into a YA fiction, manga, historical romance, and non-fiction shelf. But this will be a major task! Some cool day, I'll put on an audiobook, and finally finish this task.

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