Friday, March 30, 2012

To Their Kingdoms or Their Graves

"For when kings clash, the whole land trembles."

When the blood of the comet cuts through the sky, everyone feels it's a sign. But interpretations vary to the six people who fight for the right to call themselves King... or Queen. Those who worship the old gods, the new gods, and the Lord of Light, among others, all know that this comet has come to show them the way.

To their kingdoms or their graves.

The second novel in the series A Song of Fire and Ice, A Clash of Kings picks up where A Game of Thrones ended, revealing betrayal, war, magic, history, loyalty, and revenge. When each action claims several consequences, the throne isn't as easy to sit upon as some would like to think.
* *
George R.R. Martin's A Clash of Kings is a novel that shows no favorites and deafens to the sound of mercy. The struggle for the kingdom is chaos and everyone fighting for the land believes they're the one who should sit The Iron Throne. And all of them have good reason. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, although I found myself getting a little lost at times, trying to keep up with the various plot lines that carry through the novel. The world that Martin creates is so multi-dimensional that it's histories, characters, and motives are more than relatable. They're understandable. 

I was able to form a bond with various characters, whether I had sided with their cause or not. Martin makes it difficult to choose one ally and remain loyal throughout the entire story. The people I thought were villains at the beginning, had my understanding and respect by the end. (I'm still all for Winterfell, though, so don't worry)

But winter is still coming, and the Iron Throne is the fire that promises warmth.

        A Clash of Kings

                               on Amazon
                            rating: 3/5 cups

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (4)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
A Clash of Kings (p. 405)
         - George R.R. Martin
"Spade?" Ser Alliser narrowed his eyes suspiciously.
"If you bury your dead, they won't come walking," Tyrion told him, and the court laughed openly. 
Should Be Reading @ Wordpress

Gypsy Boy and Gentle Girl

Since childhood they have loved each other.
Win, the only one able to bring calm to Kev.
Kev, the one who doesn't believe he's worthy of Win's love.

Simon Howden
When Kev, a gypsy boy, is found by Win's father, he brings Kev home to be cared for and raised as one of his own in Lisa Kleypas' novel Seduce Me at Sunrise. Win is a gentle girl and as soon as Kev lays eyes on her, he knows he could never live without her. But a gypsy boy and a lady in society should never, could never, be together.

Then Win grows sick, severely weakened, the only answer a hospital in France. She would stay if Kev would only ask, but he knows he cannot, no matter how much they love each other.

But things change quickly when she returns to England - healthy. With a handsome doctor in tow who has his eyes set on marrying Win.
* * 
Lisa Kleypas does yet another wonderful job in telling this love story. The reader can form a connection with Win almost immediately. The young girl who will do anything for love, but is unable because of something she cannot control. Readers will find themselves thinking as Win, struggling for a life of their own without the air of sickness and pity, and demanding charge of herself. A woman who wants to make her own decisions, strike out for what she wants, and damn what others want for her. 

Yet, stubbornness gets in the way, as it seems to want to do. Kev doesn't want to take any chances with Win in which she might be worse off. Therefore he ignores her love, or tries to. Stubbornness at its best. And though readers can connect with his fear of love and the unknown outcome, I'm sure they'll side with the other family members in wanting to scream "What in the hell are you doing?" and in turn, slap some sense into Kev.

  Seduce Me at Sunrise
                          on Amazon
                       rating: 4/5 cups

Saturday, March 24, 2012

You Either Win or Die

It's a game unlike no other. A gamble with the roll of a dice.
"When you play the game of thrones, you either win or die."

The games take hold when an unexpected death breathes whispers of murder, revolt, and war.

Lord Eddard Stark is asked to become the King's Hand, a respected position whose main responsibilities are counseling the King, carrying out his orders, and ruling the kingdom when he's away. Lord Eddard, who loves King Robert like a brother, cannot refuse the request, even though he knows the last King's Hand was the one murdered...

With the story centering around the Stark house, the family members take the main perspectives of the novel. (Though not the only perspectives as other characters are also given a chance to tell their tales.) With each chapter covering a different view of the Seven Kingdoms, everyone plays a part in this chess match, where one wrong move can mean death, while Eddard tries to discover why the last Hand was murdered before it's too late.

Meanwhile, across the sea, the last members of the dragon born are awaiting their chance to take back their land, the Seven Kingdoms. Before the current King Robert, the dragon born ruled. A war brought their end, with only two children surviving to carry on the name. And they seek their revenge.

Above the wall, the northern boundary of the Seven Kingdoms, men are dying, only to come back to life and fight. With black hands and ice blue eyes, the Others, a mere fairy tale, seem to be re-appearing, if they ever existed at all...
* *

Throughout the first installment of George R.R. Martin's series, A Game of Thrones, various characters take the role of main character. Each character carries the plot forward with different perspectives, showing the reader what they need to know, and allowing them to draw their own conclusions.

The entire novel was a joust with lies and betrayal battling honor and loyalty.

The best and worst part of this novel was the amount of detail. A detail from chapter two made all the difference in chapter ten. Remembering every minute piece of information was a bit tedious, but it made the novel all the better. It made each motive understandable. Each event believable. And each character relatable. 

The amount of detail also makes the characters true to life. They have flaws and their own reasons behind their actions. Martin gives the reader a glimpse into their role of the game without allowing the reader to accurately predict their next move. Interesting and intriguing.

Of course I had my favorite character, Arya. Who I like to refer to as, the little-ninja-trouble-making-girl. A character of my own heart. And the one I'm most worried about for the second book.

A Game of Thrones 
                           on Amazon
                        rating: 4/5 cups

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Shroud of the Villa

Luigi Diamanti 
Hana, the nurse.
Caravaggio, the thief.
Kip, the bomb dis-abler.
The Unknown English Patient.

These four strangers, made strange by the war, come together in an Italian Villa at the end of WWII.

Hana hopes to cure the English Patient, whom she's fallen in love with. Caravaggio wishes to re-connect with Hana, after years of separation, and help her move on from the English Patient. Kip strives to disable all of the mines that were left behind, making the land safe once again but begins having trouble keeping Hana out of his thoughts.

And the English patient...
a burn victim with no name, only memories to cling to. A mysterious shroud hanging over the shoulders of the villa.
* *
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje was a novel of poetic beauty. At the beginning I struggled to capture his thought and meaning because of the drastic shift of language between other novels I've read lately and The English Patient

Simon Howden
After twenty pages or so, the language morphed into such beautiful prose that I was voracious for more. 

The plot itself was based in memories. Memories of times before the war, comparable to times during and after. It was interesting to see the detailed changes in each character when the comparisons were made. 

With writing style, though beautiful, the stream of consciousness air the words had, made it a bit hard to follow at times. Breaks in the writing signified jumps in time, or a shift in who the story was focusing around. The lack, and sometimes unexpected appearance, of quotations made it difficult to understand when people were conversing or thinking. 

But, this gives the novel a kind of liquidity. It can move to fit the understanding of the reader instead of the reader bending to understand the novel. Each reader can take from the novel what they want, instead of it being forced upon them. 

     The English Patient
                             on Amazon
                          rating: 4/5 cups

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (3)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
A Game of Thrones 
      - George R.R. Martin
"The things I do for love," he said with loathing. He gave Bran a shove.
Screaming, Bran went backward out the window into empty air.
Should Be Reading @ Wordpress

Spring into Reading Thing 2012

Spring into Reading Thing 2012 will be the first reading challenge that The Coffee Pot has ever participated in, being a new blog of only seven months old, and I'm really excited to be a part of it! :)

I have created my Spring Reading list based on a series that I've been wanting to get my hands on: The Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin. My goal is to read books one through five by the end of the challenge, June 20th. I will also be reviewing each book as I finish it!

My Spring into Reading Thing 2012 Challenge List:
1. A Game of Thrones [X] review
2. A Clash of Kings [X] review 
3. A Storm of Swords [X] review
4. A Feast for Crows [X] review
5. A Dance with Dragons [X] review

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Kiss

When you ask for a sign that you're doing the right thing the night before your wedding, expect the unexpected.

When Tess walks into the church that she will be married in the next day, she prays for a sign. However, she would have never thought that sign would be her fiance and the Reverend's daughter getting busy in a back room.

Evgeni Dinev
Feeling like her life has just been taken away by a tornado, Tess decides to get out of town. Away from the gossip, stares, and her evil step-mother who will stop at nothing to make sure she marries Paul, the "Rat Bastard."

And Will offers just that. An old friend of Tess, Will is driving across the U.S., toward California, to bring his friend back her van and adored dog. The idea of having a week to herself to get her life back in order becomes the perfect escape route for Tess.

The Kiss, by Elda Minger, takes an interesting turn when Will realizes that he is having strong feelings for Tess. And for her, it seems that the escape route may just turn out to be her life line to the path Tess was supposed to be on...
* *
Almost needless to say, The Kiss had me hooked from the first chapter. Perhaps I'm like this with all books... With a few odd stares from laughing out loud so much, I devoured this book in under five hours. 

Elda Minger creates the perfect (pre-) romance novel with characters that are completely relatable. She gives the reader an in-depth look at the internal process of the main characters while keeping external situations true to life. 

The story line was incredible in terms of plot development. As Tess and Will discovered new facets of themselves, other characters, and their lives, the writing style of Minger includes the reader, birthing an air of satisfaction that requires only one deep breath. 

At one point, I'll admit, I cursed Paul (the evil fiance) out loud while walking through my kitchen. 

Can I say that I'm only disappointed that a little more romance wasn't involved... even though, I wouldn't change anything about the novel? I didn't think so either. :) 

           The Kiss
                                  on Amazon

                               rating: 5/5 cups

Friday, March 16, 2012

Only the Strongest Survive

When Emely Donnovan, one of the richest CEO's in America, is kidnapped she expects a ransom, a demand for money, anything but being buried alive.

Ian Fox's novel Only the Strongest Survive follows the kidnapping of Emely Donnovan, a woman who built her fortune with hard work and the ruthless need to succeed. After growing up in a convent, as an orphan, she knows that she is the only one she can depend on and strives to make herself a rich, luxurious life. Never wishing to return to the status of poor.

Then Emely's taken hostage by vengeful brothers. And buried alive.

Only to be dug up by one of the brothers, John, who forces her to live in a small basement room and do what she does best: play the stock market and make him 10 million dollars.

Then she's free to go.
* *
Only the Strong Survive was a novel that had me holding my breath. From the opening scene to the final sentence, I felt like I was in the novel, living every word. Afraid of what the next page would hold. Ian Fox does a wonderful job at grabbing the reader's interest and refusing to let go. 

Stockholm Syndrome plays an important role throughout the novel, and the way that Fox worked it in was so authentic, I found myself feeling the same thing towards Emely's captor at every moment. I was weary of this at first because Stockholm Syndrome seems hard to relate to, but the writing style of Fox quickly diminished that. 

When Emely was scared, I was terrified. When she was happy, I was ecstatic. 

I was in the shoes of the main character, trusting every word I read. And it was wonderful. 

                     on Amazon
                         rating: 5/5 cups

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (2)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Only the Strongest Survive
                       - Ian Fox

"She had learned patience. Like a spider capable of spending days perfectly still sitting in its net, knowing that prey would appear sooner or later. She, too, possessed a huge desire to kill." 

Should Be Reading @ Wordpress


When Paige Hart meets her legal adversary, Ross Bennett, she can only compare him to a snake.

Well, an "extremely handsome snake."

Karen Shaw
Then there's an explosion and Paige awakens in a hospital room. With Ross. Staring at her exposed bottom. The letters on the window to the hall way reading "Quarantine."

The two patients become terrified immediately, and soon discover they may have contracted a disease. The main symptom being lust.

With a required fourteen day quarantine, Paige and Ross must remain in the hospital room with only each other as company until the Center for Disease Control determines if they have contracted the disease. Until then, they must live with the symptoms, which exponentially increase every day they're together.

* *
Trish Jensen's novel, Stuck With You, was beyond funny. The witticism between Paige and Ross is unbelievable! Verbal warfare at its finest. I was incredibly impressed with the writing style, the plot, and character development throughout the entire novel. 

Paige is a sweetheart who can't seem to not hold Bennett's career choice against him. Even she can't understand why she's so mean to him. Across the hospital room, Ross is an understanding, genuinely good guy, who refuses to prove Paige wrong, but rather lets her discover it for herself. 

Oh, and the sub-plots throughout the novel, really kick it up a notch. The main side story is between Nick and Rachel, who dated back in college and are reunited at the hospital. Their part of the plot is one of heartfelt nature that will make any reader's eyes watery. 

In it's entirety, Stuck With You is a novel for everyone. It holds passion, romance, comedy, and surprise. Even a thrill every now and then. It's a book that will truly stick with you. 

                     on Amazon
                  rating: 5/5 cups

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Lady Most Likely - Guest Blogger

I picked up The Lady Most Likely because, firstly, Julia Quinn (who is my personal favorite) is one of the authors involved and secondly because it seemed to hold amusing potential. This is the second book collaboration I've  completed and, although, I found the first one slightly repetitive I decided to give this one a shot.

Carolyn Finchley is hosting a house party just after the London season in an attempt to find a wife for her brother (upon his request). Thus a gathering of available men and women alike find themselves tossed together for games of hide-and-seek, hoping to discover their perfect match.  

The main characters of the bunch include: 
                   Hugh --  Carolyn’s horse loving brother 
                   Katherine -- out spoken and head strong
                   Neill -- the war-hero returned 
                   Gewndolyn -- the most desired of the season 
                   Alec -- dragged along to chaperone is sister Octavia 
                   Georgina -- the widow whom never plans to marry 

I personally thought that much fun and laughter was soon to commence, but instead found myself already confused by Chapter 5.  Chapter 4 begins from Gwen’s point of view, where on her morning walk she stumbles upon Alec, they have a pleasant conversation and he offers to escort her back to the house. 

Chapter 5 however is from Alec’s point of view where the conversation between them is quite different than that of the same conversation in chapter 4. After becoming rather "well acquainted," he sends Gwen back by herself to allow himself a dip in the cold pond.   

I found myself annoyed once again by a phrase that I read on page 149, “hell bent babe.” I feel this term wouldn't have been used in this time period and I found it quite out of place in this book. 

Other than those painfully irksome parts in the novel I continued and finished without much satisfaction. It was rather mediocre and I’ve found that with these three part novels you don’t really have time to attach yourselves to the characters. There was one particular pairing that I would have enjoyed an entire book about instead of only a third. I did find myself smiling at some parts and a few parts were quite amusing though.


                               on Amazon
                            rating: 3/5 cups

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Where the Wind Blows

When Chase Logan, wandering cowboy, appears on Jessie's doorstep to tell her that her husband has died, the strangers both receive much more than they bargained for in the novel Where the Wind Blows by Caroline Fyffe.

Expecting a quick visit with Jessie, Chase is caught off guard when owners of a New Mexico orphanage show up to drop off Sarah, a little girl that Jessie and her late husband were going to adopt. Mistaken for Jessie's husband, Chase finds himself signing adoption papers and calling Jessie "honey." 

Jessie's wracked with grief upon learning that her husband has died and is relieved when Chase, with his good heart and better intentions, steps up to help her, even if for only a few days, before he leaves Wyoming to ride to his next job. 

Within a few days, Chase realizes that his feelings for Jessie are growing. The idea of a family is not one Chase often allows himself to think about, but the people around him are becoming just that. If only he could let himself love again... but after Molly it isn't an option. He'll stay only as long as he's needed and then he'll leave before anyone gets too attached. 

If things only worked out the way they're planned. 

I loved this story! I have never read a historical western romance and for the life of me, I don't know why! Fyffe carefully constructs a story that warms the deepest chambers of your heart, giving you the understanding required to make a connection with each character. Just as Chase moves closer to his new "family," Fyffe assures that the reader does too. 

Jessie becomes the caretaker to the lot of strangers and the further the novel carries the reader, the deeper the love for Jessie grows. On the surface she's a simple woman, but underneath lay scars that run deep creating a complex and interesting character. 

The only problem I had with this novel were the spelling errors. However, they were few and far between. :) In its entirety, the novel was a wonderful read for this rainy Thursday and I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did. 

rating: 4/5 cups

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (1)

This is officially the first "Teaser Tuesday" I have ever participated in, but it seems like great fun!

Where the Wind Blows
            -Caroline Fyffe 

"What if she swooned, or worse yet, started crying? He had little experience with women. Decent ones, anyway." 

Should Be Reading @ Wordpress 

Expecting a Slap in the Face

When you work at a hospital for the criminally insane, it is essential that you don't let your mind slip beyond your control.

Dr. Matthew Russel is the managing director of a mental hospital for the criminally insane in Claude Bouchard's novel Asylum. Becoming more and more frustrated with his job, Matthew knows it's time for a vacation. Especially when he learns that he's days from losing his wife and children.

Matt promises his wife, Cass, that he'll make a change. And by the last page, it's a change that I guarantee the reader won't see coming.
* * *
Although at the end of the novel I understand the middle, while reading Asylum I had countless problems with the plot. The first thing that bothered me is that it is drastically unrealistic. Around every corner there is a man with a knife, a car jacker, a robber, a sexual predator, and Matthew is always there to save his family. He's "Family Man." The super-hero dad that every father wants to be. And like I said, with the last chapter, I completely understand why Matthew needed to save each member of his family.

But, trying not to give too much away, to believe the end, I need to believe the entire novel.

Yes, I was brought in with the opening of the novel. Bouchard did a wonderful job in drawing the reader into the story line.
Yes, the characters were intriguing. (i.e. when Matthew snaps and does something completely ridiculous such as kills a man and throws him into a dumpster) 

However, when I'm doubting whether I, as the reader, can believe the narrator ... there's something not right. Towards the end of the novel I found myself scoffing at a plot twist instead of being surprised or entertained.

Not to be harsh, but I would rather this have been a short story, leaving out the day by day account of Dr. Matthew Russel. At least that way the end would have actually slapped me in the face, like it was supposed to.
Asylum on Amazon
rating: 2/5 cups

Monday, March 5, 2012

Do Not Resuscitate

Do not resuscitate.

Those were the letters that Dr. Elena Gardner wrote on her husband's chart while he lay in a coma. Then someone turned off his life support.

DNR. The letters that were written on Chester Pulliam's chart right before his life support was withdrawn. Signed by Dr. Elena Gardner. Except she wasn't the one who wrote them, this time.

Midnight calls every Tuesday to Elena's phone. Letters that guarantee she will pay for what she's done. A suspicious eye focused on her, waiting for her to slip up again.

In Richard Mabry's book, Diagnosis Death, Elena is being framed for multiple homicides. And the killer is getting closer. Are all of these threats connected or are they coming from separate sources? Mabry takes the reader on a trek through the hospitals in Texas, weaving in and out of patient rooms, forcing them to keep their eyes glancing back over their left shoulder.

The main character, Dr. Elena Gardner, is easy to connect with on a personal level. She's a woman who has lost someone very close to her and is still struggling with the pain that loss caused. Readers can easily compare their own loss with that of Elena's, bringing them closer to understanding the fears that hide in the pages. This novel is fast-paced, but doesn't omit the details needed to fully comprehend the plot. Wonderful read, especially for anyone who has interests in medicine.
Diagnosis Death on Amazon
rating: 4/5 cups

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wedding Cake Crumbles

Disappearing dresses.
Skeletons hiding in the closet.
Allergic reactions to her fiance.

Not to worry, Sherilyn is determined to marry the man of her dreams in Sandra D. Bricker's Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride.

When Sherilyn and Andy become engaged, they decide to move back to Atlanta, Georgia. Sherilyn earns herself a career at The Tanglewood Inn as the hotel's wedding planner, working with her best friend, Emma. But it seems Karma has set her sights on Sherilyn's happiness as things take multiple turns for the worse.

If Sherilyn could only forgive herself for the mistake she made when she was younger, perhaps Karma's revenge would retreat. Then she could have her own happy ending.

This sequel to Always the Baker, Never the Bride had me reading at lightening speed. It's as delicious as the first one, maybe even more. Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride centers around Sherilyn Caine, wedding planner extraordinaire. And now it's her turn to be the bride. Readers can find themselves right beside Sherilyn as each piece of her wedding begins to fall apart, before the date is even set. The connection that Bricker's words create with the reader is a wonderful flow of friendship. The more the reader comes to know Sherilyn, the closer they step to being in her shoes.

And what fun shoes to fill!
Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride on Amazon
rating: 5/5 cups

Also look at:  "Swept Away with Love"