Monday, December 31, 2012

Guest Post by Jackson Keene and eARC Review of Sarah Quanli

Guest Post by Jackson Keene, author of Sara Quanli

Having earned undergrad and grad degrees in history, plus having spent a year toward a doctorate in same, I’ve always had a healthy fascination with long ago events and individuals (whether common folk or famous personages), with major trends and traditions, and how such evolved through time.  It’s interesting to dig deep into how people carried on – how they managed – during the great epochs of past; how they lived, loved, survived, overcome, left legacies and lineages to carry on their name and bloodline.  How each generation is beholden to the last, but still tasked with creating its personal stamp for the next generation to come.
I’ve loved the sport of basketball since childhood.  I greatly like Chinese people and China as a country.  In fact, I have several Chinese friends with whom I play pick-up basketball games most every week.  In addition, I’m an evangelical Christian.  I love action and adventure, both in movies and in reading.  I’m a very passionate (romantic) person.  So it almost seems natural I would write an historical novel with romance and danger that combines all these things into a unified story.
In some ways, the saga of SARAH QUANLI has elements of both The Good Earth and East of Eden.  It’s all about the lives and loves of several generations of a Chinese family, begun when a handsome Scottish missionary marries a beautiful Chinese girl.  The newly published Book One covers the time period from the birth of David Adam MacDougall in 1882 to the birth of his first child, a daughter, named Sarah Quanli MacDougall in 1916.  Books Two, Three, and Four – still to come – will take the reader through the brutality and turmoil of strife-torn twentieth century China, and later, concurrently, through the social upheaval of the 1960s and beyond in golden California.      _____________________________

Publication Date: October 26, 2012
Synopsis: The beautiful yet deceitful Rossalyn McDonald had twisted the knife deep in David Adam MacDougall’s big heart. He was extraordinarily handsome: chiseled muscles, kindly soul, thoughtful personality, and totally faithful. Any other lass in his Scottish Highlands village would have cheated her own sister to become his bride.
Now David’s entire being felt broken into a thousand pieces. Now he only wanted to reach the faraway city of Beiping China where he was called to be a missionary. But before arriving in that mysterious mistress of the orient, he would face uncertain dangers.
The year is 1904. The bloody Boxer Rebellion is only four years past. Much of northern China still seethes with undercurrents of resentment and hatred of all things Western. If David can just make it to the ancient city with body and soul intact, if he can just survive, there he’ll find his new purpose, his new home, and his new people.
There, he’ll meet the woman he comes to believe is the love of his life. The lithe, athletic, saucy, highly intelligent and equally independent Xiu Li!


It's my first time to read a Historical Romance book so it took time for me to adjust to the writing style of the author.

Basically, the book is about David McDougall's journey from childhood to a grown up man. The book thoroughly narrated his experiences as a child and that explained who how he became to be a wonderful, kind and gorgeous man. Someone who seems to have it all- a great family, friends and love of his life; didn't guarantee a problem-free life. He was betrayed by his fiance and he was badly hurt. So he decided to take a journey to fulfill his calling in Beiping, China. 

Let's start with the positive side of the book. I started to like the book when David made his journey to Beiping. It was definitely a long one but still there were entertaining and full of action scenes. The main character is totally likable. I can't see any flaws about him, which can be a positive or a negative trait but I'll consider it a positive one. I also liked how the title came from. I was having doubts as to who Sarah Quanli was, and then boom!NO SPOILERS! 

Then let's go to the "not so" positive sides. First, there are a lot of supporting characters that made me confused at times. I don't know if that's a part of it because it's a historical book. Anyway,there were also a lot of side stories that I think are mostly unnecessary. I would have liked it better if the flow is organized. 

The book talks more about David's life and his religious journey, which made the romance part cut short. Since this is a Historical Romance, I would really liked it if the romance part is the focus of the book.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the book! I had fun with it, for the most parts. So if you're a fan of Historical genre, you may give this a chance.

*Disclaimer: The book has been provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. My views and opinions on the book are all my own.*


Memorable Quote:

"God is so real. His words are so real. His plan and Purpose for your life is so real. Reach out to him. Reach out, and he will meet you more than halfway, I assure you."

Monday, December 10, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) by Rachel Mead

Publication Date: August 16, 2007
Synopsis (Goodreads):
St. Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school-it's a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St. Vladimir's-the very place where they're most in danger. . . . Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy's ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi-the world's fiercest and most dangerous vampires-make Lissa one of them forever.



Before I go to the review proper, I just want to say, now I know why they compared Pure by Jennifer Armentrout to Vampire Academy. If you haven't read Pure yet, I must warn you. This part may contain some spoilers. 
Basically, Pure is not about Vampires but the construction of characters and storyline are similar. Both main characters have gone away from the academy and when they got back, they were given punishment and had to train with someone. That someone, as the story went on, is their love interest. Also, both characters have the same personality- stubborn,strong-willed and protective of those important to them. One thing that sets them apart is the reason of the main character's existence. Both books are good but I liked Pure better. I don't know if it's because I read it first or maybe just because the flow of the story for Pure was better. 

Anyway,let's go back to the REVIEW part.


Rose, the main character is most of the time annoying but there are times when I start to like her then she goes back to being annoyingly stubborn again. She's overprotective of Lissa so she had the tendency to be bad and push people away. What I like about her over protectiveness is that she's being selfless and thinks about Lissa more than herself. I like her strong-willed and outgoing character.

Lissa,a Moroi Vampire Princess and Rose's bestfriend, is kind, beautiful and fragile. It seems she's always the one needs saving but in the latter part of the story, she realizes she also has the power to protect the ones she loves. 

The characters are good but I had the hard time connecting with them. I may have liked them at some parts but I wasn't really into them.

I was a bit confused on the first parts of the book because some terms,like Strigoi or Moroi were not defined as it was first mentioned. I just realized who they are as the story went on. I haven't read the blurb, I just went straight to reading the book so I had no idea. Again, my mistake. 

It has a slow start but as the story went on it caught up with the pace I liked. The story itself is very intriguing and there are tidbits of unpredictability which is good. It wasn't entirely focused on romance so I'm glad. The romance parts are cute and lovely. They made me smile.

Overall, I liked and enjoyed the book despite some issues. I'll definitely read the next book. If you want to read a vampire book which isn't just about the good looks, read this one!


Memorable Quotes:

“If I let myself love you, I won't throw myself in front of her. I'll throw myself in front of you.” 

“Taking a deep breathe, I made one of the hardest decisions of my life.
I walked away.” 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (#11)

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

Title: Antigoddess
Author: Kendare Blake
Expected Publication: September 10, 2013
Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

I'm currently reading Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake and so far,so good. Her new book is getting a lot of buzz since it was first reveled. I must say, I love the cover! It's simple compared to her earlier series, but it shows a representation and has an important meaning. The blurb is too long but very interesting. I can't wait to read this too!

How about you? What's your Waiting on Wednesday? Link me.