What is your reading goal this year?

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Summer Queen

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick

(Summary taken from an email the publisher sent me) "Young Eleanor has a bright future as the heiress to wealthy Aquitaine. But when her beloved father dies, childhood is suddenly over. Forced to marry Prince Louis of France, she barely adjusts before another death catapults them to King and Queen. Leaving everything behind, young Eleanor must face the complex and vivacious French court – and all of its scandals."

I usually enjoy historical fiction, and so I was excited to read this book. I haven't ever heard of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and so it was fun to get to know her story through this book. First off, I can't imagine getting married at 13. No Way!!! Ok, now that I got that off my chest we can get back to the story. This book is written well. The descriptions are well done, but not over-the-top, it flows well, and the conversations are interesting and easy to understand. The characters are developed well, especially Alienor (Eleanor). I liked her character a lot. Some of the things she did and the attitudes she had drove me crazy, but just a few. She was very bold for a woman during that time period, she knew when she had to follow tradition and when she could blaze her own trail. I liked her personality and felt sorry for her during the hard times. She had a few moments when she was a little dramatic, but luckily they weren't the norm. Louis was crazy. Definitely crazy. That's all I need to say about him. I'm soooooo glad I wasn't married to him. I started off liking Petronella, but didn't really like her towards the end. Some of it she may not have been able to help, but she got a little obsessive. I liked Henry, for the most part. I hoped for Alienor that he decided to be a little more faithful to her, but did like his character. The story line is engaging and kept me turning the pages to see what would happen. There's romance, scandal, love, treason, fighting, chivalry, deception, prayer, and so much more. I also liked learning the actual known history surrounding Eleanor and those in the story. 

There might be a couple of swear words, but that is it. It is clean language-wise. There is some minor fighting and a little bit of violence, but not too bad. However, there is a lot of love-making and "intimacy" in this book. A lot. There is some that is sanctioned by marriage and some that is not. There is a lot of talk of "consummating a marriage" and lots about "making an heir." There are affairs and secret meetings along with marriage nights and marriage beds. There are some scenes that are very descriptive and others that aren't, but just know that there is an abundance of love-making scenes and discussions about it. It is a theme that permeates the entire book. For the most part, it didn't deter me from reading the book. Most of it was tastefully done and I can see how that would be a big part of a woman's life during that time period. 

I enjoyed this book. There were some fun surprises and other moments that may have been more predictable, but it came together well and I was pleasantly surprised. I would recommend it, with the previously mentioned warnings. 

Rating: R (Very little language and violence, but LOTS of love-making scenes and discussions)

Recommendation: Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

George Goes To Mars

George Goes To Mars by Simon Dillon

(Summary taken from an email the author sent me) "When George Hughes discovers he has inherited the planet Mars, he goes from poverty to becoming the richest boy on Earth overnight. Accompanied by his new guardian, a mysterious secret agent, and a crew of astronauts, George voyages to Mars to sell land to celebrities wanting to build interplanetary homes. But sabotage, assassination attempts and an alien threat plunge him into a deadly adventure."

This book has a little bit of everything: action, adventure, mystery, space, a touch of romance, a few surprises, and some politics scattered here and there. Hahaha.....you know how I feel about that last one in middle-grade and early YA books. Yeah, not my favorite. Anyway, there are some good moments in this book. I liked a few of the characters. I liked Giles and I liked George's parents. I also liked a few of the characters on the space expedition. For some reason, I just didn't latch onto George. I'm not quite sure why, but I didn't relate to him at all. The story line was ok. I actually found a lot of it too unbelievable to even go with. It's not fantasy where you can kind of go with it, it's sci-fi and supposed to be realistic, and I didn't really find it to be realistic. The whole premise was a little out there for me. I wanted to like this book because I liked "Uncle Flynn," Mr. Dillon's other book, but it just kind of fell flat for me. My boys might like it more than I did; maybe it's more of a boy thing. I usually like sci-fi, and space can interest me, but this time I just didn't care what happened to George (even though I wanted to), and that usually isn't a good sign. 

There are a couple of swear words, but that's all. There's some violence with fighting and bullies, and a deadly river with some graphic descriptions. There are some deaths as well. 

I might give this to my boys to read (they are 12 and 10), because it may just be a boy thing. I'll let you know if they enjoy it more than I did.

Rating: PG+ (Minor language, violence with bullies, deaths, fighting in a war, and a deadly river with some graphic descriptions)

Recommendation: 5th grade and up (10-11 year-old), and  I think boys will be more interested than girls.

(It's only $.99 on amazon.com right now, so it might be worth the read.)