Thursday, July 2, 2015

TBR Pile Challenge - Three books crossed off!

I have been feeling like I've been lagging behind, it was June and I had only read three books off my list.  I had read an ARC of another Alex Beecroft book and really enjoyed it so I went back and downloaded these three onto my Nook.  Then they sat there and sat there, and I kind of forgot about them until I put together my list for last year. I never got to them so I made sure they were on this year's list.  I feel like I caught up after reading these three in one month!

Alex Beecroft writes male/male romance set during the Age of Sail. Her books are set during the 1700s. They all involve sailors and life on these ships. At the time any sexual relations between men was punishable by death, most commonly hanging. These men all live in fear of being discovered and facing an end at the gallows.

(some spoilers)

Blessed IsleBlessed Isle by Alex Beecroft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novella is told through the perspective of both Captain Harry Thompson and First Lieutenant Garrett Littleton.  At the time of the writing, they are living together and are recapping the horrible voyage that brought them together.

Harry has worked hard to become Captain of a ship. He comes from a working-class family and he is determined to make his first trip as Captain of a prisoner transport ship a successful journey.  However, they are faced with sickness, horrible weather and rioting prisoners. Harry and Garrett and marooned on an island and left alone, without the fear of being discovered they let their lust turn into romance.

Once they are rescued from the island, the fear of being caught could rip them apart.  The dual perspectives of this novella show how the strengths of each man plays off the weaknesses of the other in their relationship. I really enjoyed this story and the journey these two went on to find happiness.

By Honor BetrayedBy Honor Betrayed by Alex Beecroft
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this novella, Lieutenant Conrad Herriot and Seaman Tom Cotton are friends as well as master and servant. They are extremely close and for most of the last 10 years have hidden the lust they feel towards each other until Tom is injured and Conrad rushes to his side.  The captain then separates the two putting everything they feel to the forefront and putting them at risk.

As in the last book,  this book also toes the line of class relations. Conrad is not only torn about risking his neck, he worries about the fact that Tom is of a much lower class. The author does a wonderful job writing about his torn feelings, but this story just left me wanting something that I couldn't put my finger on. I think Conrad just protested against it all a bit too much. In the end he does realize that love is more important that class.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Unlike the other two on my list, this was more of a novel than a novella. There is so much more detail in this book and a lot of it, the sub story lines and focus on secondary characters really pulled me out of the main story arc.

Joshua is barely hiding his secret from his ruthless captain and it gets even harder when extremely handsome Peter Kenyon comes aboard the ship and they are forced to share a room.  The two men are polite and kind of friendly with one another while secretly watching and admiring the other.  In order to keep suspicion off himself, Peter tries to court the daughter of the man the ship is taking to Bermuda. During the crossing, the extremely stern captain pushes the men too far and just before the men can overthrow him they come across pirates attacking a merchant ship.

Once in Bermuda, Joshua and Peter try to keep a low profile. Peter keeps courting the young lady who has an interest in the captain of the merchant ship they saved. This is where the story started to lose me. There was just so much going on and then Joshua and Peter go on a mission and Josh's ship goes down and he's rescued by Native Americans who are totally okay with male relationships. Josh wants to stay, but he also wants Peter so he goes back to Bermuda. While this is all going on Peter is taken hostage, and then he gets traded back so once in Bermuda he and the old captain have a duel. AND through it all it all works out in the end. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Three Books, Two Challenges

I finished the series Fairy Tales by Eloisa James.  I'm also using these books to complete the "A book that is a retelling of a classic story" requirement for the Read Harder Challenge.

The Duke Is Mine (Fairy Tales, #3)The Duke Is Mine by Eloisa James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Duke is Mine is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea. It has the heroine showing up in the middle of the rain storm, not looking at all like the lady she is supposed to be, and there is  scene where she sleeps on a pile of mattresses and feels something uncomfortable but it's not a pea.  I really enjoyed this retelling and thought that the hero and heroine were a really good match. I liked them both and how they were upstanding enough to want to please their families but realistic enough to know that it wasn't at all possible to deny their feelings for one another.

The Ugly Duchess (Fairy Tales, #4)The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Ugly Duchess is a retelling of The Ugly Duckling.  Like the original the heroine is though to be ugly and not pretty enough to be duchess to the duke. They completely bungle their marriage and spend a number of years apart.  She goes off to France to become a beautiful swan and he becomes a pirate. I would have liked this story more if a lot of the middle had been cut out of the story.  Some of the animosity between the two main characters felt forced in order to fit to the retelling.

Once Upon a Tower (Fairy Tales, #5)Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once Upon a Tower is a retelling of Rapunzel. I like how there are a number of references to the original fairytale throughout the story (this is done in other books in the series, but I liked these the best).  The heroine quickly marries a Scottish lord and is thrust into his life. Up until his marriage the Duke thought he had his life running like a well-oiled machine. It's not until these two are forced to realize that they both can't have it their way, that love prevails. It just takes a jealous husband and a wife who has locked herself away in a tower to play her cello in peace.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Read Harder - Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade

This full challenge is to pick A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade.  I took a look at the lists and while there were a few books on there I would read, nothing struck me as "Read me now".  Then I took a look at the Drama category of the Pulitzer Prize and decided on the 2008 winner.

August: Osage County (TCG Edition)August: Osage County by Tracy Letts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, talk about a dysfunctional family!  I didn't know much more than it was a story about a dysfunctional family from the promos for the movie (which I haven't seen yet.).  It took me a little bit to get a handle on who was who in the family, I had to keep flipping back to the character list.  I would love to see the stage setup, it describes a stage that is broken up into multiple levels and rooms of the Weston house.

The story centers on the disappearance of Beverley Weston and the way his family deals with the fallout of disappearance. His wife, Violet,  is a pill popping addict. His three daughters are all facing issues in their lives and this forced family time just makes the issues worse. Barbara, the oldest comes back from Colorado with her husband and daughter. Her marriage is in trouble and her daughter is a 14-year-old pot smoker. Ivy is the daughter who never left home and the daughter most abused (due to proximity) by Violet. The youngest daughter, Karen, comes home with her older fiance.

It starts off with a 'typical' dysfunction and quickly builds into OMG levels of dysfunction. By the end of the play you start to think the dysfunction can't get any more and I'm pretty sure if this play went on the level of these people are crazy would rise as well.