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Ambrosia's bookshelf: currently-reading

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine
tagged: currently-reading
At the King's Pleasure
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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Ambrosia has read 1 book toward her goal of 26 books.
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Posted by on July 20, 2018

The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen.

Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…

When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.

I lost a dare with a friend, who wanted to watch this series. I of course have to read before I watch, what can I say I am really a stickler for that. So I sat down, knowing very little about this one, it sounded a little Twilight to me and I was not wrong. Alas guess what I confess I enjoyed Twilight and I found myself enjoying this book as well.

Yes, it is full of the typical tropes of YA with the instant love and the sort of triangle and all the silly drama that comes up. I mean seriously. However, you can’t say some of this stuff isn’t right out of Hollywood because there is a reason we call it Hollyweird and I personally could never live in LaLa land full time. Paige is your typical girl who suddenly gets tossed into the deep end. I can relate to her on many levels. We all have a time and a road to find out who we are, can you imagine having to do that in the fishbowl which of course is what Paige has to do. People are obsessed with celebrity, so much so you get the situation like Paige, before her movie even comes out.

She is famous for being famous.

All in all I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t my super favorite, but I don’t regret spending time with the characters. Best yet, I wasn’t yelling about glitter at any point during the reading.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on July 19, 2018

Will he secure his future by ruining hers, or will she ruin his plans by securing him? A new twist on the old fortune hunter plot puts an impoverished earl in a position to gain his fortune only by ruining an innocent’s reputation without offering marriage. The innocent he’s selected, however, has no plans to settle for anything less than marriage and will go to almost any length to secure him.

With no other means for an income, the impoverished Andrew Black, Earl of Townson, makes an agreement that will put a definite end to his eight year poverty streak. But, in order to gain his fortune he must do only one simple thing: ruin an innocent young lady’s reputation enough to make her flee to America.

Brooke Banks isn’t interested in marriage, or so she thinks. She came to London to have a good time, and that’s exactly what she’s doing. Widely known for her tendency to flout the rules, she suspects nothing when a handsome stranger appears on her doorstep.

Thirteen days, a handful of kisses and one scandalous situation later, Andrew and Brooke will have to choose to stick to their original plans, or decide if a life together is worth the risk.

I got this book as an Amazon freebie and to be honest, I did not have super high expectations going into this one. It seemed like it would be a little bit of fun to read while I was on the tube and such in England. I was happily surprised this book actually got my interest and I found myself invested in the characters.

Brooke was a firecracker and I really loved the way she happily teased and flaunted and act like a “typical” American of her era while her other sister flitted and worried about proper protocol. Andrew is an interesting character. Sure, he is the typical member of the Ton that needs money because he has a really bad Dad and some other family issues. However, he is observant and funny and a bit of fun. The ending well dang it, I was in tears when he presents her with all the paper roses. I won’t detail more than that so I am not giving it away, but it is a beautiful moment.

This is a little bit predictable as a book, it has many of the usual bodice ripper tropes. That does not mean it is a bad thing. Sometimes you just want to curl up with a book that has something familiar about it and have an easy enjoyable read. To me this book provided that and it was even more fun for me reading it while in England because I treated myself to walking to a few of the places mentioned in it, while I read. So the bottom line for me, I enjoyed this one and I am going to put the second book of the series on my To read pile. If you like an easy read fun little book you will probably enjoy this one too.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on July 14, 2018

In a court filled with repressed sexual longing, scandal, and intrigue, Lady Katherine Grey is Elizabeth’s most faithful servant. When the young queen is smitten by the dashing Robert Dudley, Katherine must choose between duty and desire-as her secret passion for a handsome earl threatens to turn Elizabeth against her. Once the queen becomes a bitter and capricious monarch, another lady-in-waiting, Mistress Mary Rogers, offers the queen comfort. But even Mary cannot remain impervious to the court’s sexual tension-and as Elizabeth gives her doomed heart to the mercurial Earl of Essex, Mary is drawn to the queen’s rakish godson…

I wanted to like this book so much more then I did. I read some of the reviews, but since I have enjoyed other books by the author and do love historical fictions in the time of Elizabeth I, it seemed like this would be a hit read. Sadly for me this book did fall a little bit flat. It was not a completely awful book but in the end it was just a bit repetitive and trite overall.

On nearly every single page at least once we the reader were reminded that at any moment Lady Katherine Grey could be named the heir to the throne. This of course was seen as a totally awful thing that the Lady did not want and we were told again and again how much she didn’t want it. With that being the very loud overall theme it was a little harder to get into the other events going on over that kind of noise.

It also felt for me that a lot of the characters were not fully fleshed out and I felt many of them were vapid because of this. With those negatives said there were some bright moments here and there. The book also flowed fairly well which is what saved it from a lower rating. My end thoughts are if you want to take a chance on a book give it a try. Otherwise if you don’t have much interest in the time period or taking risks give it a pass.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on June 27, 2018

An exciting debut: a vivid, richly imagined saga of ancient Rome from a masterful new voice in historical fiction

Thea is a slave girl from Judaea, passionate, musical, and guarded. Purchased as a toy for the spiteful heiress Lepida Pollia, Thea will become her mistress’s rival for the love of Arius the Barbarian, Rome’s newest and most savage gladiator. His love brings Thea the first happiness of her life-that is quickly ended when a jealous Lepida tears them apart.

As Lepida goes on to wreak havoc in the life of a new husband and his family, Thea remakes herself as a polished singer for Rome’s aristocrats. Unwittingly, she attracts another admirer in the charismatic Emperor of Rome. But Domitian’s games have a darker side, and Thea finds herself fighting for both soul and sanity. Many have tried to destroy the Emperor: a vengeful gladiator, an upright senator, a tormented soldier, a Vestal Virgin. But in the end, the life of the brilliant and paranoid Domitian lies in the hands of one woman: the Emperor’s mistress.

I am going to be completely honest here, I picked this book because it was based in ancient Rome and I wanted a book set in Rome to come with me on my Roman Holiday. So I really expected just a quick, fun, but cheesy read with this one. I am glad to say I got more than what I thought I would.

Mistress of Rome does have some of the familiar historical romance tropes, but it also has so much more within the pages. The characters created are multi layered and the story that unfolds is really gripping and spans so many years. I found myself feeling the anguish of Thea and her loved ones. This story really does show how little power over their own lives as slaves of the ancient times had. However, it also shows that if played right slaves could have a form of power, especially the Gladiators who won the heart of the mob. Was it a useful power? Was it power that was worth the price? Well, that is hard to say and you will have to read the book yourself to find out the details of this story. I truly enjoyed this read so much and I am going to be reading more in the series. The Emperor Domitian was no one that I did much research on personally, but this historical fiction has ignited my desire as a history fan to dig more into this interesting and complicated Emperor who was assassinated.

All in all, for me the fact that I really enjoyed the book AND it has made me want to dig into more real research means this is a winner. I am sure this read wont be for everyone, but if you like a good story with lots of layers and interesting characters with a hearty helping of love, this is a read for you to give a shot. It moves quickly and it holds your interest.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on October 14, 2017

This is the story of the making of England in the 9th and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred the Great, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex (Alfred’s kingdom and the last territory in English hands) Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane. He certainly has no love for Alfred, whom he considers a pious weakling and no match for Viking savagery, yet when Alfred unexpectedly defeats the Danes and the Danes themselves turn on Uhtred, he is finally forced to choose sides. By now he is a young man, in love, trained to fight and ready to take his place in the dreaded shield wall. Above all, though, he wishes to recover his father’s land, the enchanting fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.

This thrilling adventure—based on existing records of Bernard Cornwell’s ancestors—depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England.

Full disclousure this series will make you want to watch the netflix series based on the books and you will get to see…this guy (yup excuse to use this gift again LOL sorry not sorry.)

Bernard Cornwell is an amazing author and I find that his stories are so rich and textured and layered. These are really books you can sink your teeth into. Better yet most of his works are part of a series so you get to spend a lot of time with the characters you enjoy. This is the first of the Saxon Series and you get to dive into a crazy world. England was just starting to be forged into what we know it as today and watching the transformation unfold while following these characters around is truly enjoyable.

Uhtred is such a fantastic character you can’t help but feel drawn to him. Even before seeing him brought to life on the screen he is the type of character you can see in your mind because he just jumps off the page. He is so charismatic and unique as a character. Born a Saxon but raised a Dane it really just makes a unique man with a different look on the world.

He is not a perfect man by any means, he is flawed and he makes bad choices and he admits to them. That is what makes him so fantastic though, you get to see his flaws and yet see him still be a hero. It is easy to like a character that is just a hero and always seems to make the perfect choices. It is harder to look past flaws, things we might not chose to do ourselves and still see a character as a hero.

If you like history, intrigue and just a plain good read I would recommend giving this one a try. It isn’t a fast read, but it is a really good read.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on March 25, 2017

Voltaire said, “Machiavelli taught Europe the art of war; it had long been practiced, without being known.” For Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), war was war, and victory the supreme aim to which all other considerations must be subordinated. The Art of War is far from an anachronism—its pages outline fundamental questions that theorists of war continue to examine today, making it essential reading for any student of military history, strategy, or theory. Machiavelli believed The Art of War to be his most important work.

When people hear the name Niccolò Machiavelli they tend to think of The Prince, it is by far his most well known book, but certainly not his only one. Machiavelli was a hugely prolific writer and although only a few ( I don’t know the exact number off the top of my head) of his works were published in his life time but thankfully we have his works now.

Other people hear the name Niccolò Machiavelli and think of immorality and many other unkind thoughts because of the way his work is. So, well Machiavellian.

A third group will hear the name Niccolò Machiavelli and think of this guy:

Okay, perhaps a shameless excuse to use a picture in my review, something I don’t usually do. Anyways, I digress.

I have always enjoyed reading Machiavelli, yes, he is a little dark overall. However, within that darkness is an honest look at the human condition and all that comes with it. Most think of a completely different book when they think of The Art of War and so perhaps they they have some disappointment in this book because of that. This is one book that has been sitting on my TBR for a while and was one that I did not read before now.

The Art of War by Niccolò Machiavelli is like any of his works an insightful look and for me another great read. It takes a solid look at military maneuvers and the history of them. If you like reading military works this is a book that you shouldn’t skip IMO. This one ranks up there with Caesars’s Gallic wars for me. The theory and strategies that are brought up in this book is just as relevant today as it was when first written down. As much as I enjoyed another solid classic, this book also makes me a little bit sad. That sadness comes from looking at just how little the world has changed in all of this time. We are still highly war driven as a race and I suspect that will never change and so we will always need books like this.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on January 5, 2017

What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it’s about everything

What is there to day about this classic? I have always loved the Princess Bride both the book and the film. The characters come alive and seem to leap off the page when you read this book. I for one make a point to come back every few years and re-read this favorite. I feel a little silly making such a short review, but really what is there to say about such a classic? It is wonderful, there is everything you could want in a book so it has a wonderful pace. You have action, romance and of course a great deal of humor. Bottom line if you are a rare person who has not read this book yet, well what are you waiting for?

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on January 4, 2017

Lexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller.

For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer’s block – until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes this is the perfect place for his villain to hide the weapon. He digs into the snowman to discover two things: the weapon fits int he body just under the head, and the snowman was supposed to be the back drop for Lexi’s next show.

From this improbable beginning comes friendship. Can there be more for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood?

Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.

I do not usually get into Christmas or Holiday books in general, but this year I was making an effort to be a little bit more Holiday feeling and I had Bah humbug on my TBR so why not? The editing work on this book was not done very well and in all honesty, I am getting a little tired of so many books with typos and issues. I know small indie authors do not make huge sums, but I feel if you are going to publish a book you should proof read very well! Ask a friend! No ones perfect I know that, I know I am not perfect when I post my reviews but GAH! Okay little rant over and moving on.

This book is a fast cute little read overall and it was a fairly quick one as well. Lexi Anderson our female character reminded me a lot of Brie from Desperate Housewives and I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. The best way she thinks to get new neighbor and author to get over being a Christmas Grinch is to essentially present to him Christmas on steroids. That may not work in the real world with most people (would not work on me!) but who knows in books things happen. I don’t want to give away the plot, of course, but what would Chic lit/Romance be without a little bit of rivalry in it as well right? Enter Author Kyle’s brother. Of course he shows up as Kyle is falling in love with Lexi.

The long and short of this review (many pardon’s if I am a little jumpy with this, post holiday cold requires lots of nyquil!) is that while it isn’t a particularly deep book it is fun. If you want something easy, cute and fitting for the holidays next time they come around you would probably be happy by picking up this little Novella.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on December 8, 2016

Joclyn Despain has been marred by a brand on her skin. She doesn’t know why the mark appeared on her neck, but she doesn’t want anyone to see it, including her best friend Ryland, who knows everything else about her. The scar is the reason she hides herself behind baggy clothes, and won’t let the idea of kissing Ryland enter her mind, no matter how much she wants to.
The scar is the reason she is being hunted.

If only she knew that she was.

If only she had known that the cursed stone her estranged father sent for her 16th birthday would trigger a change in her. Now, she is being stalked by a tall blonde man, and is miraculously throwing her high school bully ten feet in the air.

Joclyn attempts to find some answers and the courage to follow her heart. When Ryland finds her scar; only he knows what it means, and who will kill her because of it.

I wanted to like this book, I wanted to be in love with this book. Sadly the feeling I ended up having when it came to Kiss of Fire was just kind of meh. It wasn’t a bad book and all of the right things seemed to be there, a little mystery, some tension, two star crossed kids. Alas, something really just didn’t come together for me.

One nag I had about it was Joclyn hiding her scar so much. A huge deal was made of the scar, and without giving anything of the story away I get that. However, for me it is stretching a little to far to fathom that she managed to completely and successfully hide it for so long by wearing lots of hoodies. Hey, I enjoy hoodies too, but come on.

There was also a lot of Mary sue type situations and in the end, I really can’t take too much Mary sue these days, so maybe that was what really ended up bothering me the most. I may be saying a lot of negative in this review, but overall the book was readable. It was not the best book of the year, but it wasn’t the worst either. As I started with for me it was just a bit meh. That doesn’t mean someone else won’t enjoy it more than I did, because the potential is there. Toss in Ryland who suffered so much at the hands of his own Father and the book does give you some of those emotional punches that you need.

I might even give this series another try and check out the second book of the series. If the second book picks up the pace faster, it might bring me out of the Meh zone.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on October 28, 2016

For nearly twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones… about a love that transcends the boundaries of time… and about Jamie Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his.

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart… in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising… and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves

This book really is a great read, it also breaks your heart more then once. As the seasons of Outlander play, I have been rereading as the seasons come and I forgot how much I loved these books. Dragonfly in Amber is a new adventure and we get to spend a great deal of time with the beautiful and feisty Brianna. I always have a bit of a smile when I think of her, Jamie and Calire are both super stubborn in their own rights, mix the blood together and you get a girl who wants to do all of her own things no matter what anyone says.

Better yet we spend time in Paris, as Claire and Jamie have to work through the intrigue of court life. Trying to put off what happens at Culloden. If you are a fan of the show you should enjoy the books as well, the source material is great. If you have read the books it’s time to jump in once more for fun. Dragonfly in Amber is a stunning part of the series and great as a standalone as well.

My Gemstone Rating:

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