Sunday, November 29, 2015

Across A Moonlit Sea by Marsha Canham

Discretion advised: This book may be unsuitable for anyone under the age of 18, due to mature themes, language and sexual content.
Series: Pirate Wolf
Publication Date: January 1, 1996
Publisher: Dell
Age Group: Adult 
Genre: Romance
Pages: 400
Format: ePub 
Source: Amazon
Get the Book: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads | Booklikes

Rescuing a man whose ship had been floundering at sea, Isabeau Spense takes aboard ruthless privateer Simon Dante, who promptly seizes command of Isabeau's ship and sets out to win the lovely maiden's heart and mind.

I enjoyed reading this book, I really did, but I just can't give it more than 3 stars. The storyline is excellent, the characters are amazingly real, and the writing is pretty good. But I had a number of issues with Mrs. Canham's book that prevent me from giving it a higher rating.

The book follows the story of Isabeau Spence, daughter of the captain of a merchant ship. After coming across the wreckage of another ship, Isabeau, her father, and a number of crew members board the sinking vessel to search for survivors.Who they find is none other than the notorious "Pirate Wolf," Simon Dante and a handful of remaining crew. Seeking revenge for his beloved Virago, slowly sinking beneath the waves, Dante threatens Beau's life if her father, Capitan Spence, does not agree to load Dante's cannons onto his ship.

Capitan Spence grudgingly obliges to his request and loads the cannons. A short time later, Spence's ship, with a now larger crew, crosses paths with a Spanish Galleon and, upon the insistence of Simon Dante, they attack. Miraculously they win the battle and collect their spoils.

Now returning home, the small merchant ship runs into an entire fleet of ships, headed by the Elizabeth Bonadventure and her captain, Sir Francis Drake. Learning that Drake and his fleet have been unleashed to wreck havoc along the Spanish Main, and that the target of Dante's rage is among them, Dante and his crew leave the Egret to join Drake.

You'll have to read it to find out what happens afterward and for the details of Beau and Simon's romance. Suffice to say it's worth reading.

Beau and Simon are the quintessential romance couple-- the perfect ideal of most women's fantasy relationship. There is really nothing I could find wrong with either character. And Canham did a fine job of handling the romance between them. There were certainly some small phrases that made me chuckle more than arouse me, for the most part the sex scenes--and even the just kissing scenes-- were well written.

So what's left? Why did I only give it 3 stars when I clearly enjoyed it? For one, the prologue and the epilogue. Both of them almost ruin the story. Sure, the prologue tells you why Dante's ship sank, but it seems more like the purpose of the prologue was simply to amaze the reader at Canham's knowledge of sailing terminology. As for the epilogue, the first half of it reminded me of my 7th grade history textbook. Not joking. Canham uses half of the epilogue to talk about Sir Francis Drake's attack on Cadiz--information available in any history book or google search on the subject. The latter half of the epilogue isn't terrible, it describes Beau and Simon's relationship after leaving the Egret.

Another issue I had with the story was the pacing. I realize that the novel is a romance, first and foremost, but it is also about pirates. Writing about pirates all but requires action, adventure, and a fairly quick paced storyline. A book of this length is usually about a half day's read for me, but this took a full day, mostly because of some sections where I felt like I was trudging through four foot deep snow to read it.

There were numerous editorial issues... though they could have been due to the fact that I was reading the ebook version. Ebooks often have quirks about them that do not exist in a tangible copy of the book. There were a few, however, that I think were not ebook issues; such as one instance where Canham wrote the same phrase three times before continuing the sentence. Instead of emphasizing the situation, as I think Canham intended to do, the repetition just seemed awkward. I'm surprised that her editor did not catch it and remove it.

As a whole, the book is great and I will probably revisit it again, after all, this was my second time reading it anyway. 

**This review was originally posted on my previous (now defunct) blog the Fae Review on March 31, 2014**

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Vampire Academy (series) by Richelle Mead

Series: Vampire Academy
Publication Date: Nov 2013 (Originally published 2007)
Publisher: Razorbill
Age Group: 16+
Genre: YA, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 2784
Format: Ebook
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads | BookLikes

Two races of vampires walk our world. One, the Moroi, are alive and wield elemental magical. The other, the Strigoi, are undead and evil—feeding on the innocent to survive. Rose Hathaway—a half-vampire with poor impulse control—is training to be a bodyguard for a Moroi princess. Learning to decapitate and stake is hard enough, but Rose's real danger may lie in an illicit romance with one of her instructors...

I'm choosing to review this as the total series instead of each individual book. The simple reason is that I read them all in a book binge in less than two days. Anyway, I had originally read the first of the series, Vampire Academy, back in 2007 when it was first released. At the time I enjoyed it, but never picked up any of the others. Earlier this year the movie based on the book was released, so I decided to give it another go. Boy, did I! I honestly couldn't put it down. I read until my eyes couldn't focus and my head pounded from a headache. 

The series follows Rose Hathaway, a 17 year old, half-vampire training to protect her best friend, Princess Vasilissa Dragomir. Between Rose's lack of self-control and Vasilissa's  psychosis-inducing magical powers, the Strigoi, a race of evil vampires, may not be the most dangerous enemy they face. To top it off, Vasilissa's choice in a boyfriend raises eyebrows amongst the royals and Rose's infatuation with her much older mentor  is a constant reminder that although they live in a world where the monsters are real, the greatest turmoil for these teenage girls is their love lives. 
I'm so glad I decided to pick these books back up. I really did enjoy them and will definitely read them again.  

Mead did an amazing job on the characters. They seemed real and Mead's handling of their emotions made me want to laugh with them and cry with them, not something that a lot of books can do. And goodness, did I love Dimitri Belikov. I'm not one of those girls who falls for every guy in the books I read, but for Dimitri I will make an exception. I guess he reminds me a lot of my hubby, not that he goes around in a leather duster looking like he just stepped out of a John Wayne western. And I could really empathize with Rose-- the relationship with an older guy, her lack of self-control, and the way she shows all of her emotions-- I see a lot of me in her.  

The story was excellent, I didn't find any glaring continuity issues, and, thankfully, I didn't see any of the ridiculous quirks so often found in ebooks (you know the ones that make you wonder if they had a monkey do the ebook conversion). 
It really is a great series with a great author.

**This review was originally posted on my previous (now defunct) blog, the Fae Review on June 24, 2014**