Jude Deveraux’s Secrets


Jorie’s Store – Secrets: A Novel

 
Title and Author(s):  Jude Deveraux’s Secrets
Release Date:
May 06, 2008
Publisher: Atria Books

ISBN: 978-0743437189
Pages: 320
Source: Harris County Public Library

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Reasons for Reading: While I was waiting for books I’d requested, I had nothing to read. Naturally, I found myself at the library, looking for lighter reading material. I recalled that Jude Deveraux wrote contemporary, romantic suspense. Since I hadn’t read  one of her books in years, I found Secrets and checked it out from the library.

Summary: Cassie Madden lived under the thumb of her commandeering mother. At age twelve, Cassie meets the love of her life, Jefferson Ames, a young man who rescues her from drowning. Since then, Cassie has done everything to get away from her mother and be with Jeff.  After college, Cassie moves to  Williamsburg, VA where the widowed Jeff lives with his daughter, Elsbeth. Cassie becomes Elsbeth’s nanny and still can’t get Jeff to look at her.

Jeff’s neighbor, renowned acting legend Althea Fairmont, is a recluse. Then, Cassie hears shots coming from Althea’s estate. That’s when Cassie discovers that Althea knows a great many secrets. These secrets turn Cassie’s quiet life upside down.

One Thing I Learned from reading Jude Deveraux’s SecretsI didn’t quite realize that there was a “Colonial Williamsburg” and the “rest of Williamsburg.”

What I Liked: I enjoyed Cassie’s character. She was smart and funny. While she may have been naive, I think she was pretty cool. I found the parts about Williamsburg and gardening interesting, too.

What I Disliked: The story seems to have some holes in it. However, if you go in for a reading joyride, it’s not so bad 😉

Song: The All-American Rejects – Dirty Little Secret

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Katherine Howe’s The House of Velvet and Glass


Jorie’s Store – Katherine Howe’s The House of Velvet and Glass

 
Title and Author(s):  Katherine Howe’s The House of Velvet and Glass
Release Date:
 Apr 06, 2012
Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition

ISBN: 978-1410448743
Pages: 695
Source: Harris County Public Library

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Reasons for Reading: Feel free to click onto this link TBRs – Katherine Howe’s The House of Velvet and Glass. Unfortunately,  I was reading this book when my Nook went on the fritz. It was a huge relief to me when I found the large print version of this novel at the library branch. Thus, I was able to quickly finish this book.

Summary: It’s 1915, three years after losing her mother and sister (Helen and Eulah) on that fateful voyage of the HMS Titanic, Sibyl Allston suffers in near silence as she runs the Boston household of her laconic, shipping magnate Lan Allston. She seeks solace in her late mother’s medium. When her brother, Harlan, gets kicked out of Harvard and his involvement with an odd woman seems the cause, old flame Professor Benton Derby reaches out to Sibyl. With Benton, Sibyl embarks on an odd journey of discovery of Boston’s Chinatown and its opium dens. Sibyl’s 1915 point of view is mingled with those of Helen and Eulah’s 1912 and Lannie’s 1867. I won’t say anymore about Lannie.

One Thing I Learned from reading Katherine Howe’s The House of Velvet and GlassI knew of the Widener Library at Harvard but I didn’t know the story behind it. For more info, visit History – Widener Library – Harvard College Library.

What I Liked: The characters were well conceived – particularly Sibyl, Eulah, and Lan. The settings appeared well-researched and recreated. Howe’s descriptive writing paints the picture without being gratuitous. I appreciated the integration of real-life people such as Harry Widener and Edwin Friend. By the end of the novel, I truly appreciated Lan’s love for and devotion to his family. Howe’s afterward was great and she made significant points in this section.

What I Disliked: Well, it wasn’t “Deliverance Dane.” The beginning didn’t pull me in as quickly as Howe’s first effort did. Once I put aside my “Deliverance Dane” measuring stick, I got more out of this book. Also, the presence of opium in this book made me extremely uncomfortable. Nonetheless, I DID like the resolution of the opium abuse. Lastly, I wanted to know more about Dovie, Harlan’s mysterious girlfriend.

Song: Al Bowlly “Melancholy Baby”

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Libba Bray’s The Sweet Far Thing (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #3)


Jorie’s Store – The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle, Book 3)

Title and Author(s):  The Sweet Far Things (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #3)
Release Date:
 Dec 26, 2007
Publisher:
Delacorte Press
ISBN: 9780375890604
Pages: 819
Source: Harris County Public Library’s Digital Media Collection | Overdrive

Reasons for Reading: Hey, I wanted to find out how it all ended for Gemma Doyle and her friends!

Spoiler Alert: Readers must read A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels before reading this review.

Summary: As sixteen-year old Gemma Doyle prepares for her London debut in 1896, she also copes with harsh realities: her mother’s murder the previous summer, her father’s addiction to laudanum, and her magical powers in the Realms being solely hers. Many both worlds will do anything for Gemma’s magic. Compounding the issue is the absence of  her reluctant friend, former Rakshana brotherhood member Kartik. In this otherworldly coming of age saga, Gemma must figure out who she is and her place in it all before all Hell breaks loose.

One Thing I Learned from reading Libba Bray’s The Sweet Far ThingI didn’t think that “nice girls” became actresses at the time. I thought this attitude was quite progressive for Victorian London.

What I Liked: They’re kids and they’re trying to figure out who they are. They are also trying to find their place in the world.

What I Disliked: Did this book really need to be 819 pages? Couldn’t this been expanded to a quartet? After page 700, this became work for me to read. That’s not good.

Song: The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army 

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Libba Bray’s Rebel Angels (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #2)


Jorie’s Store – Rebel Angels (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy)

Title and Author(s):  Rebel Angels (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #2)
Release Date:
 August 23, 2005
Publisher:
Delacorte Press
ISBN: 0385730292
Pages: 560
Source: Harris County Public Library’s Digital Media Collection | Overdrive

Reasons for Reading: Well, I finished A Great and Terrible Beauty and I wanted to know what happened next to Gemma and her friends.

Spoiler Alert: Readers must read A Great and Terrible Beauty before reading this review.

Summary: It’s Christmas 1895 and Gemma can’t wait to going to London, having fun with friends Felicity and Ann,  filling her dance card at holiday balls, and spending time with her family. Setting the fact that her father is unwell and her grandma is consumed with worry, Gemma manages to enjoy her time. Simon Middleton, Lord Denby, is dazzled by Gemma and begins to pursue her. However, Gemma is also pursued by three ghostly girls. They can only be from the realms. So, Gemma takes Felicity and Ann to the magical realms. They are reunited with Pippa in the realms but all is not well. Kartik has returned, ordering Gemma to find the Temple in the realms and to bind the magic. Now, Gemma must face all of her fears – the apparitions, her father’s opium addiction, and her late mother’s foe – Circe.

One Thing I Learned from reading Libba Bray’s Rebel AngelsI didn’t know that the infamous Bedlam Hospital hosted balls for its patients.

What I Liked: Gemma was definitely a teenager. She was trying to figure out who she was and how she fit into the real world and the realms. I liked how she ultimately chooses the right thing.

What I Disliked: This book seemed like work. I enjoyed reading the first book but this one wasn’t as fascinating to me. Also, I didn’t care much for the book beginning with Kartik’s voice. These books are referred to as the Gemma Doyle Trilogy for a reason, right?

Song: Loreena McKennitt – Mystic Dream

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Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #1)


Jorie’s Store – A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy)

(Written 17 February 2013)

Title and Author(s):  A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #1)
Release Date:
 December 09, 2003
Publisher:
Delacorte Press
ISBN: 9780375890499
Pages: 432
Source: Harris County Public Library’s Digital Media Collection | Overdrive

Reasons for Reading: When I installed the Overdrive Digital Media App on my Nook Tablet, I quickly sought available fiction. When I saw Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty listed as available, I checked out the book and downloaded it sans USB cable. It felt good, too!

Summary: Life seems a bore for teenaged Gemma Doyle. Her parents won’t let her be part of London society but keep her in India. Then, on 21 June 1895, Gemma’s sixteenth birthday, a scary creature scares her mother and her mother commits suicide. So, Gemma is shipped off to Spence Academy for Young Ladies, outside of London. Gemma suffers loneliness, guilt, and ominous visions. She doesn’t immediately make friends and seems to have a young Indian man stalking her. Soon, Gemma gains three friends – fearless Felicity Worthington, beautiful Pippa Cross, and talented Ann Bradshaw. She also learns that coming to Spence, the visions, and the talisman her mother left her are all connected.

A Great and Terrible Beauty begins the three-part saga which follows Gemma and her friends into a story about destiny, power, friendship, and duty.

One Thing I Learned from reading Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible BeautyThe British subjects abroad didn’t have to regularly attend church.

What I Liked: Bray knew Gemma Doyle well. She expressed herself in a believable way. I knew a teenager narrated the story. Gemma also defended and brought her roommate – scholarship student Ann Bradshaw into an inner circle at Spence.

What I Disliked: Sometimes, the words seemed anachronistic. I wondered if Gemma or her friends would truly say certain things in 1895.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Loreena McKennitt – The Mummers’ Dance Official video – YouTube

Setting: Bombay India, London UK, England

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Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love: A novel


Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers | LibraryThing

Rivers, F. (2005). Redeeming love: A novel. Sisters, Or: Multnomah. 9781590525135

A number of my friends enjoy Christian Fiction. This is a genre I haven’t explored deeply. When I heard that Redeeming Love paralleled the Old Testament book of Hosea, I placed a request on it through HCPL.

Set during the California Gold Rush of the 1840s – 1850s, Rivers writes the story of Angel (Gomer), a beautiful prostitute, who is saved from a bordello by Michael Hosea, an honest farmer. Angel suffered much as she was sold into the trade as an eight-year old girl and trusts no one, especially not men. However, Michael hears God tell him he is to marry Angel. While he doesn’t exactly want to marry a “soiled dove,” Michael does as instructed. Although Michael treats her with love and respect, Angel can’t resist the depravity of her “previous life.” Michael relentlessly brings Angel back to his farm.

I wouldn’t call this a replica of Hosea but Rivers weaves the Gold Rush into the plot quite well. Also, Rivers paints her version of Gomer with living color. Through Angel, Rivers explores God’s grace and unfailing love. I could also detect Rivers’ previous experience as a secular romance writer. I also appreciated the expression of God’s love. Rivers nor her characters were preachy or sanctimonious and I thank God for that. Love scenes were present but so discreet that I didn’t even notice the first one – definitely for the Christian reader. This may not have been my favorite book for stylistic reasons (repetitive in words and events) but I did like the message.

Three and a Half Out of Five Pearls

Song: YouTube – Third Day – Gomer’s Theme

Places : New England, New York City, California

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