Book Review – Tender Wings of Desire

TITLE: Tender Wings of Desire
AUTHOR: KFC (YUM Brands claims the copyright)
PUBLISHED: 2017
FORMAT: E-Book

“For mothers everywhere, I dedicate this to you – a brief escape from motherhood into the arms of your fantasy Colonel, whoever he may be.”

Lady Madeline Parker doesn’t want to marry the man who her parents have given her hand to, so she runs away the night before her wedding and finds work in a tavern, and finds love in the arms of a sailor (also running from his responsibilities) named Harland Sanders.

No, this is not a joke. For Mother’s Day, KFC put out a romance novel, complete with redhead in jeans, accessorized by a purse and a chicken drumstick, in the arms of a rather buff and sleeveless Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of KFC. As the e-book was free*, I picked it up, and figured it would be a light read where I would giggle at the tropes I often encounter in romance novels. Oh no.

Whoever wrote this did no research into whatever era they placed this in, given the mistakes they made in forms of address for peers, most of which can be found with a quick internet search, or a character calling another a “dish”, as well as a lot of little things that just read like nails on a chalkboard to me. The plot was trite and, really, nothing was done to make us really care about Madeline, or, dare I say it, Harland. While there may be eleven herbs and spices in the Colonel’s secret recipe, they were all lacking from this book and these characters.

Which brings me to the biggest issue I had with this book – Colonel Harland Sanders. KFC/YUM Brands stuck a disclaimer in the beginning that “characters are fictitious or used in a fictitious manner.” But this is nothing more than someone at (or hired by) KFC writing real person romantic fan fiction about the founder of the restaurant. Frankly, the real Colonel Sanders, and yes, he was a real, actual person, deserves better than to be reduced to this, a bland caricature of a man running away from his responsibilities to his restaurant empire. While the real Colonel Harland Sanders’ rank was more honorary as a member of the Kentucky Colonels (an honor he shares with persons such as Muhammad Ali, John Glenn, several former U.S. Presidents, and Betty White), he was an actual human being, not just an actor in a white wig, and reading about his romancing this fictional woman just put me off this book entirely. I kept reading in the hope it would get better, and sadly, it never did.

I have to give it 1 out of 5 pages.

*As of today, it’s now $0.99 on Amazon for the e-book, unless you have Kindle Unlimited.

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Book Review – Alice in the Country of Hearts: White Rabbit and Some Afternoon Tea Part 1 by QuinRose

Title: Alice in the Country of Hearts:  White Rabbit and Some Afternoon Tea Part 1

Author: QuinRose

Illustrator: Mamenosuke Fujimaru

Format: Paperback

Published: 2015

 

After pushing through the monstrosity that was last weeks book that shall not be named, I opted to read something light and fun this week.  Yes, another Alice manga.  For those who have been reading this blog for a while you know that this is my obsession.  I don’t know why but I love the story, the idea of an independent Alice who is not looking for love and yet surrounded by it (and gun fights) just intrigues me.  This story had by attention from the start and I love the infinite possibilities that branch from the story.  What if Alice chooses not to love?  What if she falls in love with the March Hare?  What about the Cheshire Cat?  What if instead of falling in love in the Country of Hearts she doesn’t fall in love till the Country of Joker?  There are an infinite number of ways things could go and I love it.  I also love how the love when it is chosen develops.  It also doesn’t hurt that the characters are attractively drawn and are very vibrant.  I am after all a sucker for a good story and great characters make for a good story.

 

Anyway, with my obsession with Alice in the Country of Heart series I always wondered what it would be like to have a story where Alice might actually fall in love with Peter White the White Rabbit.  It is a difficult story of course, because he was the one who kidnapped her away to Wonderland and he can be a ‘little’ over the top with his affection.  Honestly in almost every story there is a hate that resides with Alice towards Peter.  Honestly one can’t really blame her for that.   Still the idea has always intrigued me and as I’ve learned more about the character Peter White the more curious I got.  Such as Peter being her “Sunday Afternoon”, always there, always loving, and only wanting what is best for her.  It is clear in most manga and in this one in particular that Alice’s safety and happiness is all Peter wants.  While he would love to be with her romantically speaking he will settle for her being there in Wonderland and happy.

 

This story honestly has done a masterful job of exhibiting the relationship between Alice and Peter and helped push things beyond physical attraction or a sudden change of character personality.  In the story there are many occasions where Alice over hears conversations that show her more of Peter’s character and his love for her beyond the apparent crazy obsession he has for her.  Honestly with out any kissing and hardly any hand holding the romance in this story was impeccable.  The soft quiet moments between Alice and Peter though rare and few were swoon worthy and the suspense in the story didn’t feel like a trope (classic Alice getting dragged into mafia wars or kidnapped.)  Okay so you could call what happened as a kidnapping but it wasn’t a classic kidnapping and that made the story all the more real.

 

Honestly, I loved everything about this manga.  There is not a single thing I would change, it had me laughing, sitting on the edge of my seat and swooning.  It was impeccable despite the fact that my two favorite characters Mad Hatter (aka Blood Dupree) and March Hare (aka Eliot) did not exactly feature in this book.  I think over all I am actually going to give this book a rare 5 out of 5 because I enjoyed the read that much and had no complaints about anything including the art as that was done my the original artist of the series.    With my high rating I will notate that this isn’t ‘the’ book to start with if you are looking to jump in on this Alice series but at the same time it isn’t the worst either as it will give you a clear picture of everything that is going on and you do not need to have past experiences with the story to derive enjoyment out of the story.

Writer Wednesday – Janie Franz

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1. Who are you?
Janie Franz
2. What type of stuff do you write?
I write fantasy and some archaeology-based adventure. I also have a couple of contemporary novels (romances for want of a better word)–one about Hollywood and one about the music industry.
3. What do you want to pimp right now?
My six-part Bowdancer series (The Bowdancer Saga and The Lost Song Trilogy).
4. What if your favorite book?
Besides my own? Seriously, unlike many writers I love reading my own work. As for other authors I love Stuart Clark’s Project U.F.L. trilogy and I really enjoyed NM writer Susan Slater’s Rollover. I’ve been a fan of Tony Hillerman and, yes, I LOVED the Harry Potter books.
5. What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?
I’m a retired freelance journalist, specializing in music. I’m currently a publicist for a NM music festival, and I do a lot of petsitting/housesitting in New Mexico. I’m a mother and grandmother. I used to be a radio announcer, taught yoga and relaxation, and was a booking agent and publicist for a jamband.
6. What link can we find you at? https://authorjaniefranz.wordpress.com
Words from the Author…
The first con I ever attended was a science-fiction conference in Fargo ND. The guest author at that con was Margaret Weis, the author of the Dragonlance Chronicles. Those were some of the first modern fantasy novels, other than Andre Norton’s work, that carved out a whole new niche for writers.
The thing that impressed me most about Margaret Weis was the fact that she was everywhere! She tablehopped when she wasn’t on a panel. She visited with everybody. When she came to sit at a table where I was visiting with a friend, I was impressed with how ordinary she was. She was a famous author, but she was also human and very funny.
For me as an aspiring writer, with a lot of starts in a drawer, I realized that being a published author was possible. People–real human people–actually did it. And that one way to market was by showing up and talking to people. It was a great eye-opener for me.
Many years later, as a published author with eleven titles out, I am following Margaret Weis’ example: Be Present. As a guest author of Imaginarium in Louisville this September, I hope to Be Present as much as possible.

Book Review – The Liar

Title: The Liar

Author: Nora Roberts

Format: Hardback

Year Published: 2015

Yes, yet another Nora Roberts novel! (They’re a guilty pleasure, what can I say?)

So, The Liar is the newest offering from Roberts, which explains why it took me a month to get it in from the library. Shelby has been recently widowed and has discovered that her husband isn’t at all who she thought he was. She retreats home to Tennessee, taking her daughter to her family, and settles in, trying to overcome the debt her husband has left her in and ignoring all the mysteries of his past, all the while slowly falling in love with a new man.

Unfortunately, her husband’s past isn’t done with her. Starting with a PI who follows her from Philadelphia to Tennessee, more trouble follows as one of her husband’s ‘associates’ tells her what he was really involved, and then ends up dead. Slowly, the tangled web of lies that her husband built start to fall, and Shelby learns the truth.

So the big plot twist of the story (revealed in the last thirty pages), I called by the end of the first chapter. Some of this may be because I’ve read/watched a lot of detective stories, but this one felt *so* obvious I couldn’t believe that it never even came up as a possibly with the characters. So that felt a little less true-to-life.

I liked Shelby, and I liked Griff (her new love interest) but Roberts has started making her heroes a bit *too* perfect (I know – what else can I expect in a romance novel). Griff is always perfect – he knows when to push and when to step back; he knows how to win over not only Shelby but her daughter, and it all adds up to a rather boring specimen, to be honest.

As usual, Roberts’ skill with interesting characters is showcased in the side-characters – with Shelby’s best friend and her new beau; with Shelby’s mother and grandmother; with the girl who’s hated Shelby since they were girls and her actions once Shelby returns home.

Nothing spectacular, but nothing horrible either. 3/5 stars.

Book Review – The Witness

I wouldn’t classify this as one of Roberts’ best books, but it held my attention once the main part started, and I might want to reread it as some point in the future. A solid 3/5 stars.

Book Review – Alice in the Country of Joker: Circus and Liar’s Game Vol 4

Title: Alice in the Country of Joker: Circus and Liar’s Game Vol 4

Author: QuinRose

Illustrator: Mamenosuke Fujimaru

Format: Paperback

Published: 2014

 

Yes, I am bringing you more Alice. I am aware that I skipped over book 3. I feel bad that I missed reviewing that particular book but I don’t remember the exact details of what happened in that book and just know the general plot and it was something I enjoyed. Any way this book is pretty fresh in my memory and it was rather good. As you know from my past reviews that the March Hare is one of my favorite people to pair Alice with second was Boris till Bet on my Heart which was a fantastic read! (You can see my review to see what I rated it and I would recommend any Alice fan pick that novel up!) Any way the Mad Hatter is my second favorite person to pair Alice with and there are some moments in this book that made my inner fan girl get a little giddy with delight.

 

In addition to the fun little romance moments in this book there is also the matter of there being more information about Alice and her past and what being in the country of Joker entails. A running theme in a lot of the books features the concept of trying to make Alice forget her past and her regrets of the past. This becomes more prevalent as Alice finds herself falling into Joker’s prison and seeing her sister locked up. This bothers Alice as her sister is not deserving of such treatment. Joker and his prison are an ongoing theme as well as Alice tends to just fall in and the others try and pull stunts to rescue and pull her back out.   It is a concept that I am intrigued to learn more about and add a level of danger for Alice that is new and exciting to me.

 

One of the best reveals of the book isn’t entirely a reveal but an allusion that was given a little more detail than the last time I saw it. This allusion and my theory is one that I feel could be a spoiler though it is only a theory. So skip to the next paragraph  In another book I think it was the Art Book (I’m not sure) there was an allusion to a death that Alice was certain that it was a vision of her mother’s death but when I read the scene I had a feeling that wasn’t the case and that it was actually possibly her sister. In this book there is more revealed about this allusion that makes me think it all the more and I am most intrigued and excited about this because in a lot of ways it turns things on its ear. Alice might be finding Wonderland as even more of an escape than I originally though and there isn’t a sister to return to. I don’t know if I’ll ever learn the truth here but it is an exciting idea to allow to play in my head.

 

Over all I think I would give this book a sold 4 out of 5 pages as I thoroughly enjoyed the story and learning more things about this world that I have so fallen in love with. I look forward to learning more as Joker has by far been one of the most interesting story arcs to me.

Book Review – Blood Magick

Title: Blood Magick

Author: Nora Roberts

Format: Trade Paperback

Year Published: 2014

And so the Cousins O’Dwyer saga draws to a close (unless Roberts decides to play in this world again, which doesn’t happen as often anymore but isn’t out of the realm of possibility). The book begins a month or so after the end of Shadow Spell, where our heroes almost succeeded in defeating Cabhan but only succeeded in weakening him.

Blood Magick follows Branna and Fin as they struggle with the love that they feel for each other, and the knowledge that they can never be together because of Fin’s blood connection to Cabhan. This is an unusual take for the typical Nora Roberts trilogy (this is way I was reading these books – comparing them to her other trilogies, so sorry if the constant comparisons annoy you.) In some ways, we get the hardest part of their struggles in Dark Witch and Shadow Spell – where they’re not ready to admit to themselves, much less each other, that they’re still in love. Blood Magick has less of the “I love you but I’m pretending that I don’t” angst and more “I love you, but we can’t ever be together” type of angst.

Blood Magick continues the theme of having the past connect to the present in a very direct way, and the more I read of the original three Dark Witches, the more I wanted to read about them (in some ways I think because I didn’t already know the bare bones of how their story was going to go).

The defeat (spoiler alert!) of Cabhan felt kind of – random. Wait, now he’s allied himself with a demon? There were no hints of that in previous books! I understand that it wasn’t put in before because otherwise the characters would have had a better chance of defeating him, but it still came out of left field.

I liked how the “Fin is related to Cabhan” storyline resolved (I won’t spoil that one), and I am rather impressed that none of the three female characters were pregnant by the end (although both of the female original three were at one point, so maybe that counter-balances it). Still, as I powered through this in an evening, I’m giving it a 3/5.

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