Spotlight: The River of No Return

river Title: The River of No Return
Author: Bee Ridgway
Genre: Historical Fiction / Time Travel (Science Fiction)
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Adult

Synopsis:
“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life’s advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.

breeAbout Bee
I was raised in Massachusetts, then drifted around from here to there until I finally came to rest in Philadelphia. I teach American literature at Bryn Mawr College, and for fun I read, write, read, cook, read, walk all over my beautiful and dirty city, read . . . THE RIVER OF NO RETURN is my first novel, and the experience of writing it was so overwhelmingly fun that I’m roaring ahead on the sequel.

Connect with Bee
Official Website
Twitter: BeeRidgway
Facebook: Page
Goodreads: Author Page

Book Review: Lauren Willig’s The Ashford Affair

ashfordTitle: The Ashford Affair
Author: Lauren Willig
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: No
Rating: 5 out of 5
My Copy: Advance Reader Copy courtesy of St. Martin’s Press

If you’re familiar with Lauren Willig’s books, then you know she often combines narratives from the past with the present. The Ashford Affair isn’t any different and incorporates the narratives of both Clementine (in the present) and Addie’s (the past). This is Addie’s story, but in many ways, it’s also Clementine’s. Clementine is on journey to realize what truly matters in life.

Clementine Evans arrives late to her grandmother’s birthday celebration and is surprised when her grandmother calls her Bea. She asks her mother about Bea, but doesn’t get a direct answer. In fact, Clementine asks around and slowly a family secret is unearthed. Bea was a cousin of Granny Addie and through a series of flashbacks we’re told Addie’s story. Addie comes to live with the Earl of Ashford following the death of her parents. On her first night she’s befriended by one of the Earl’s daughters, Beatrice; Bea takes Addie under her wing and both become fast friends. As the narrative progresses, we see Addie grow up and on the night of the Earl’s eldest daughter’s presentation to society, Bea and Addie decide to view the ball in progress. Unfortunately, Bea brings along a pet mouse and accidentally lets go of it and Addie afraid it will be trampled to death goes to rescue Binky. Lucky for Binky she’s saved by a young man and Addie is instantly smitten. The next day, they run into each other and he introduces himself as Fredrick. Addie never forgets him and when she runs into him several years later she’s surprised and happy he remembers her. Fredrick and Addie spend time together attending a series of lectures and musical concerts and she introduces him to Bea. Addie is heartbroken when Frederick marries Bea and she goes on with her life as best she can. Five years later, she’s asked to visit to Kenya and putting her feelings aside for Fredrick she decides to visit. The Ashford Affair is a beautiful story about a love between two people and the heartache that comes with having to live with one’s mistakes.

In terms of characterization, we have rich strong characters, but admit I wish we had more of Fredrick’s perspective. Especially when he’s trying to come to terms with what to do with Addie before he marries Bea. I would have loved to have read something about his thoughts of Addie in Kenya with him and Bea or what he was thinking when her visit was announced. Bea comes off as a spoiled bitch. I realize she’s a woman trapped in a world that is changing around her and she’s unsure of how to proceed. The year she was presented to society, she was the débutante of the year and highly sought after. As a daughter of an earl, she was brought up with the expectation of marrying into the aristocracy and not having to make her own way. I keep thinking about Bea and as much as I want to judge her and hate for what she ends up doing, I can’t because in the end, she made the ultimate sacrifice. Fredrick once accused her of being jealous of Addie and I have to agree with his assessment, but for Bea, the jealously wasn’t that Fredrick was interested in Addie. It was the fact Addie was going to leave her and have a happy life, while Bea remained miserable. As for our present day characters, it’s interesting how much Anna resembled Bea in her personality and her life choices; whereas Marjorie took after Addie. Clementine is a hybrid of the both women; having Bea’s features and Addie’s drive for success.

Fans of historical fiction are in for a real treat as Willig does a great job incorporating life in England before the First World War to how everyone adapts to the changing world afterwards. We go from soirees to the heat in Kenya. Willig gives us rich descriptions and when Addie complains of the heat and her sweat stained dress, you can vividly picture it. The Ashford Affair is well written and the only real complaint I have is that, it ended way too quickly. Then again I read this in less than two days. As for the mystery surrounding the family secret, I do wish Willig would have focused on a few key scenes. That being the photographs Clementine finds, but in the end Addie and Bea are allowed to keep their secrets. It’s because of that, I’ll let the past stay shrouded in mystery.

If you only read a few books a year, this is one book you have to read. If you’re looking into trying a new genre or are in a reading funk, pick up The Ashford Affair. To say I loved it is an understatement because I more than loved it. It’s a beautiful story and I’m not ashamed to say I broke down into tears more than once. This is one book I’ll be rereading more than once.

Hunt’s The Haunted Manor

William Holman Hunt was a founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Hunt painted this 1849 in Wimbledon Park. See the haystack and the lights in the house? Those were added later and thus are different from the somber tones in the rest of the painting. Your thoughts?

William Holman Hunt (1827-1910) – The Haunted Manor
Oil on board

William Wordsworth’s A Night Thought

Today is William Wordsworth’s birthday and I decided to share my favorite poem: A Night Thought?  What’s your favorite Wordsworth poem?

Lo! where the Moon along the sky
Sails with her happy destiny;
Oft is she hid from mortal eye
Or dimly seen,
But when the clouds asunder fly
How bright her mien!

Far different we–a froward race,
Thousands though rich in Fortune’s grace
With cherished sullenness of pace
Their way pursue,
Ingrates who wear a smileless face
The whole year through.

If kindred humours e’er would make
My spirit droop for drooping’s sake,
From Fancy following in thy wake,
Bright ship of heaven!
A counter impulse let me take
And be forgiven.

Book Review: Robin Covington’s His Southern Temptation

southernTitle: His Southern Temptation
Author: Robin Covington
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Yes / Book 2
Rating: 4 out of 5
My Copy: Advance Reader Copy via Entangled Publishing

I’m a big fan of lovers reunited and when I came across the opportunity to review Robin Covington’s His Southern Temptation, I couldn’t resist. I haven’t read the first book in the series, A Night of Southern Comfort, and while I don’t think it’s necessary to read it before reading His Southern Temptation, I think it would help because you’ll be familiar with a lot of the characters mentioned. That being said, His Southern Temptation, is a good a standalone book.

Like any person growing up in a small town, David “Lucky” Landon couldn’t wait to leave and his chance came when he enrolled in the US military. As a former assassin in the military, he’s done things he wishes he could forget. He decides he wants to buy his father’s farm, but before he does, he has one more job to do. He’s hired to find the whereabouts of Sarah Morgan and the case is proving more than he bargained for; no one will talk to him regarding Sarah. Meanwhile, Taylor Elliott is only in town to help pack and sell her family’s house. Thinking an intruder is in the house she holds him at gunpoint and realizes it’s none other than Lucky. The feelings she had for him resurfaces and both must come to grips with what it all means. Will they be able to put the past aside or will they once again go their separate ways?

I really enjoyed Covington’s writing and His Southern Temptation is a fast paced read. In terms of characterization, the characters are interesting and well-written. We find out how long Lucky and Taylor have known each other and the reason why they aren’t together. The differences between their backgrounds are also pointed out, with Lucky growing up on a farm and Taylor being part of a prominent wealthy family. Taylor has some relationship issues. Her parents haven’t had an ideal marriage and she’s afraid of heading down the same path. The constant relationship / no relationship discussion got a bit old especially once Taylor had made her mind. I understand her mother’s point when she tells Taylor she needs to live to her life and basically outlined what she gave up, but at the same time Taylor has had YEARS to think this through. That was my only small annoyance. While there are a lot of secondary characters, you’ll enjoy them. I loved Sheriff Burke and his untimely arrival in three memorable scenes involving Lucky and Taylor. The real standout secondary character is Taylor’s brother, Teague. He’s so stuffy and proper and I can’t wait for someone to come and turn his world upside down.

The mystery of Sarah Morgan plays a minor role and while I was disappointed there wasn’t more to it, I realized after reading, this isn’t about Sarah, but about Lucky and Taylor. While I wanted to give it a three, I debated with the rating. In the end, the romance between Lucky and Taylor is the center of the novel and because of that, I gave it a four.

My favorite quotes:

It was time to channel the late, great Patrick Swayze and take “Baby” out of the corner.

“Maybe what you’re looking for isn’t a place but a person.”

I’ll be going back to read A Night of Southern Comfort and am really looking forward to reading Teague Elliott’s story. If you’re a fan of romance, I recommend His Southern Temptation. Just be warned: it’s a sizzling read. You might need a cold shower or two after.

Film Friday: Pure Country

This week’s Film Friday is a little late because I wanted to combine it with a wrap up of the George Strait concert I attended last night. I wanted to post this after the concert, but I got home way too late and all I wanted was sleep.

I grew up with country music in the house and my parents really enjoyed George Strait. When my father heard this year was going to be George’s last tour, he decided to purchase tickets.

george_abq
Walking into the venue was crazy since there were over 15,000 people present and even though we got there late we still had to wait in line for over twenty minutes. We made our way down to our seats and noticed people sitting there. Turns out someone was sitting in their seats and they decided to take ours. I dislike it when people do this. Do me a favor and get an usher if someone is sitting in your assigned seats I wanted to say. A few minutes later it was straighted out and by then Martina McBride was on stage (she was the opening act). She sang for a little over an hour and I joked about how whose concert she forgot it was. LOL! During intermission they played a video of George’s career. Ah tears in my eyes at this point since this was his goodbye tour. George took the stage about twenty minutes after McBride and he got a standing ovation. The concert was a basically a chronology of his career and he played a lot of songs he use to sing when he played at bars back before he signed his record deal. He was very humble and would take a bow after each song. He brought out McBride for two duets and then he brought up a wounded warrior to tell him he’s getting a house along with a few other items and a job as a thank you for serving his country. Afterwards he played a few more songs and he took his final bow. Tears when he began with Troubadour.

Song highlights:
The Fireman, Amarillo By Morning, Marina del Rey, The Chair, Blame It On Mexico, Ocean Front Property, and Troubadour.

Wish he had sung: Does Ft Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, Fool Hearted Memory, I Just Want To Dance With You, Write This Down, and Ace In The Hole.

As George takes his final bows and thanks his fans, it is the fans who have to thank him. He said we got him through a lot of hard times, but he’s easily helped us as well even if it’s to forget a few things in life. Thank you, George.

So for this week’s film, I chose his 1992 film, Pure Country. He’s not the best actor, but it is a cute film.

Pure Country (1992)
Superstar Dusty Chandler (Strait) is tired of the smoke, the strobe lights and the overmiked sound of his arena spectaculars. One night, something snaps. “I’m just going to take a little walk,” Dusty says as he walks out of the empty hall, ditching his beard, ponytail – and temporarily, his career – to reclaim his down-home country roots. But his manager (Leslie Ann Warren) retaliates: a stand-in (Kyle Chandler) lip-synchs his songs in concert. And a romance with a lovely rancher (Isabel Glasser) is on again, off again like a rodeo cowboy. The simple life can be complex, but it’s nothing a revitalized country boy can’t handle!

Feature & Follow #6

8474595901_873f4993f4 Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read. It’s a fun way to find other blogs and meet new bloggers.

You can follow Lit, etc via Twitter, Facebook, Networked Blogs, or subscribe to the blog via email. Please let me know if you’re a new follower and I’ll follow back.


Q: Have you ever read a book that you thought you would hate — ? Did you end up hating it? Did you end up loving it? Or would you never do that?

Tiffany Resiz’s The Siren was one book people kept recommending and I just wasn’t looking forward to reading it for a read-along I was participating in. The first four chapters kept making me grind my teeth because I couldn’t get into it that I had to go and look up reviews to see if it was worth continuing. I kept with it and halfway through the reading fell in love.

What about you? Any books you thought you’d love / hate?