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Review – Pandora’s Bottle – Joanne Sydney Lessner

Layout 1Pandora’s Bottle
Author: Joanne Sydney Lessner

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
When financier Sy Hampton purchases this legendary bottle—which, through a quirk of preservation, may yet be drinkable—he shocks the wine community by choosing to uncork it privately with a female companion, rather than share it at a special public event. Sy intends the evening to be a quiet reassertion of his virility in the throes of middle age, but for ambitious restaurateur Annette Lecocq, the event offers an irresistible opportunity for much-needed publicity. Their competing agendas are not the only things to collide on the fateful night. Caught in the crossfire are Tripp Macgregor, a waiter on the verge of his long-awaited Broadway debut, and Valentina D’Ambrosio, the beautiful but unworldly working girl from Brooklyn Sy hopes to impress.

Review:
For me, this book could easily be divided into 2 parts, before the wine and after the wine…and the second part was more interesting than the first. I will say up front that I’m not a huge wine drinker and when I do, I go for the cheap sweet wines – I’ve never been to a tasting class or anything like that. So some of the intricacies of it went over my head. I do think that someone who enjoys wine would probably enjoy the first part more than I did. But secondly, it seemed that the characters in the first part weren’t real – they seemed too stiff, too perfect – even while they were struggling, i had a hard time relating to them. That did, however, change in what I call P.W. (post-wine).

I found the second half of the book to be much more enjoyable than the first – I think because it was almost like the characters had come to life. Whereas before they were stiff and ehhh…they seemed more alive – I felt like I was getting to know them more, rather than just sitting and watching them from the sidelines. The story also got more intriguing in this half. Weird, I know. I will admit that about 1/3 of the way through, I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue, because I wasn’t sure if it was worth it. But I am glad that I did. Overall, I would give the first part of the book 2 stars, and the second half 4 stars, so an average of 3 overall.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Grave Mercy – R.L. LaFevers (@RLLaFevers)

grave mercyGrave Mercy
Author: R.L. LaFevers
Series: #1 in the My Fair Assassin series

Narrator: Erin Moon
Run time: 14 hrs and 14 mins
Publisher: Recorded Books

Description:
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Review:
Anyone who knows me as a review, knows that I rarely give 5 star review for books, so that fact that I am seriously considering giving one to Grave Mercy should sum up what I thought of it. I originally bought the audiobook back in July after I heard it discussed on a message board and now for the life of me, I can’t remember why I didn’t listen to it then. Now having finished it, I want to kick myself for not listening sooner, but at the same time, so glad I didn’t, because now I only have 4 month wait for book 2, rather than a 9 month wait (and I can tell you that it is going to be torture…). Really hoping that the audiobook is going to be available for pre-order so I can start it on the day of release. But back to Grave Mercy…

The first thing that sucked me in (aside from the recommendation) was the cover – I love the current popularity of girls in these fancy dresses on the cover, and this one totally suited the time period that the book was set in. Plus, she was carrying a cross-bow – I mean, how bad-ass is that ;) Then there was a time period. Having a mom that is a french/history teacher has made me a sucker for books set in unique time periods (thanks Mom!) And the history of France, and Brittany is one that has intrigued me in the past. I can’t think of any other books off the top of my head that are set during that time period (maybe a Julie Garwood romance, but not sure). Wow, have I managed to get distracted again…I totally have a case of BSN disease (bright, shiny, new…ohhh pretty!)

So anyways, cover, time period in history, oh yeah, assassin nuns…ummm, ’nuff said. I loved that Ismae wasn’t a typical wilting heroine that seems to predominant in many books (the kind of heroine that I often want to beat over the head). Although, she did have a few moments of dumb-assery (and yes, that is a real word according to Dee, and probably urban dictionary), for the most part, she was fairly level headed – while at the same time, maintaining the naitivety of a teenager, because ultimately that is what she was (I think maybe 17-19 in the book, if I can do my math).

Yes, there is romance, but it isn’t the sickly sweet, insta-love, but rather a slow developing, burning/smoldering flame. It felt real to me (and having read romances for like 15+ years now, I have a lot to compare it to). I liked the ending because everything wasn’t tied up in a pretty bow, because a) history isn’t all pretty like that (and if you google this time period and the individuals mentioned you will know why) and b) she is writing 2 more books that I am hoping/guessing will take place in roughly the same time period.

Someone commented on an Amazon message board about currently reading YA that they weren’t necessarily a fan of all the political intrigue. but for me, I really liked it – it reminded so much of what I remember reading in my history books in high school and college – there was just so much back-stabbing, jealous, planning going on. I did manage to figure out relatively early on who the traitor was (but don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you). But I did like seeing how it was all revealed as part of the plot.

Erin Moon is a new narrator to me, like so many of the audiobooks I have tried this year. She had this sweet teenage-esque voice that I think suited Ismae to a tee – but at the same time, was able to make the multiple male characters (Duval, Beast, DeLornay) sound masculine. There were a few of the lesser male characters (Francois, and the Captain of the Guards) that I felt weren’t voices as well. Mostly because they didn’t have as much of a speaking role and many of the others. I’m really hoping that she ends up narratoring the next book in the series – I don’t know (off the top of my head), any other narrators who I think could do it as well (maybe Natalie Ross or Xe Sands).

So yeah – overall, read it, listen to it, devour it…just get a copy of this book in some shape or form and read it. You won’t regret it (and if you do, well then, I plead innocent of all charges – it wasn’t my fault).

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Audiobook Review

 

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