Reported Missing immediately caught my eye because of the blurb. How could the disappearance of a young girl and an older, married man be connected? There are lots of possibilities, and I was excited to see the connection between these two disappearances. I've become increasingly interested in crime based stories, so this sounded right up my alley.

My Rating: ❀'s
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense 
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I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I wanted to know the stories of Kayleigh and Chris, how they were connected--if they were connected--and find out what had happened to them. However, the novel didn't deliver any real answers because it was told from the point of view of Chris's wife, Rebecca.

At the beginning, I thought Rebecca would begin to look into these disappearances herself, possibly uncovering things the police had missed, or overlooked. But as the novel went on, the focus was less on what had happened, the connection of these two missing people and was instead focusing on the fallout Rebecca was suffering. She had become something of a pariah because it was assumed by the public that her husband, Chris, who went missing on the same day as Kayleigh, had something to do with Kayleigh's disappearance. That he was a criminal who had taken this young girl and was abusing her somewhere. Rebecca could not believe that this was true, but then where was Chris? Why had he disappeared? And why were his actions leading up his disappearance so questionable? Rebecca cannot help but wonder.
The novel is an exploration of happens to the loved ones of crime victims--or this case, of a missing person. It's exploration of what it might be to left behind, to be connected to someone who is a violent criminal, as Chris was thought to be.

That wasn't the novel I thought I was getting into, and therefore, I was disappointed. Even so however, I have to say that not all of Rebecca's activities and choices made a lot of sense to me. I could understand her inability to work, even her need to lose herself and therefore drinking way more than she should have been. However, I can't understand why she would seek Kayleigh's friends to find out more about Kayleigh. I suppose her depressed state of mind and constant state of doubt could be used to explain away her behaviour, but I did not feel connected to Rebecca. I found her drinking excessive, her daily activities non productive and her conversations with others never lead to any bits of the mystery being unraveled. Sadly to me, this character came across as rather two dimensional and immature. I really wish I could have connected with her more.

The ending cleared up all the questions, but I found it too quick and easy and way too much of it happened off page and then was never explained. I really was disappointed with how this book played out, from beginning to end. Maybe that's because I was expecting a different sort of novel, one more focused on the crime, but this was not a page turner in my books. It may be for other readers however, and I admire that the author tried a different tack in depicting a crime story.

A copy of the novel was provided to me from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Happy Reading,
Jewels
It's been a while since I've read a novel by Michelle Moran, and I have to say, she does not disappoint in her ability to bring historical settings and people to life. I do not know much about the history of India, and much of their customs and traditions I know only through television or conversations with people from that land. Reading this novel was most enlightening.

My Rating: ❀'s
Genre: Historical Fiction
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As many of my readers know, I adore novel setting somewhere in the pages of history. Whether it's a novel like Ms. Moran that seeks to tell history through fiction, or a romance set in the past, I just love the romance if you will of historical settings. Rebel Queen helped India to life for me. I hadn't known that women could train to become part of the queen's guard or even that India had queens and kings. I am curious to learn more about this.

The character of Sita is compelling because she is a very modern in her way. Nearly sold by her grandmother after the death of her mother, Sita's father decides that she should be well educated and trained to become part of the guard of Queen Lakshmi. Her ambition is fueled by the need to gain money to fund her sister's dowry, and Sita is successful, winning not only a place among the queen's all female army, but the respect of the queen herself.

Politics do not play a huge of the novel, but it does bring the novel to it's climax and eventual end, and Sita does have to aware of who her enemies are and who her friends are. But overall, the novel was more about Sita and her journey to become part of this elite world, her life as a part the court and then the eventual rebellion which brings the novel to it's close. Sita is a compelling character who leads an interesting life and through her we learn something of Indian values and points of view--on sexuality, on modesty, and manners. The novel is easy to read and is well paced so that you are always engaged in the story.

I did enjoy this novel, and find that Michelle Moran generally tells a cohesive tale in an intriguing chapter of history.

Happy Reading,
Jewels

You've probably read my reviews on the amazing Graveyard Queen series by Amanda Stevens.  I adored each of these books, and each ranked a 5 star rating for me. They were just that good. It's rare to come across a series so well done, so I absolutely had to feature the first of the series, The Restorer as a  Feature Favourite.

Title: The Restorer
Series: The Graveyard Queen
Author: Amanda Stevens

The Novel: What was absolutely wonderful this novel for me was the writing. It was so well crafted that you are drawn into a world that is eerie, and vivid. The novel is both lyrical and haunting and the story is one that mesmerizes. I suppose what is so fascinating about this novel, and the series as a whole is the element of haunting. As in being haunted by ghosts. Ghosts and spirits are something in which many believe, and although many might laugh at the notion of spirits, there is always the question of what if ? And this is for me what is so captivating about the series, the element of possibility that makes this novel, and those that follow, chilling.

The Author: Born and raised in the rural south, it makes sense to me why Amanda Stevens chose to set her Graveyard Queen series in Charleston, South Carolina. She now resides in Houston, Texas. Ms. Stevens is an award winning author, including three Rita awards and has written over fifty books. She writes romance, mystery and young adult novels. I've read several other novels by the author and each has been riveting.

I cannot recommend this series enough. It's my all time fav. Not one book let me down, and they just kept getting better and better.

Happy Reading,
Jewels
This novel opens up more erotically than you'd expect of a historical fiction, but don't let that deter you. This is true historical fiction, and it is done quite well by Alison Weir. So for those of you that like a bit of romance, this is a nice change of pace though it is a denser read. It took me longer than I thought to get through this novel. 

My Rating: ❀'s
Genre: Historical Fiction
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This novel opens up with a very unsatisfied Eleanor of Aquitiane. Her marriage to the French king is an unhappy one and she seeks an annulment, which is granted allowing her to marry the great love of her life, Henry. This novel is primarily about their marriage and what that might have looked like. I don't know a lot about this period in history, but it was interesting to imagine these characters, the parents of Richard the Lionheart, and to see how mad they were each other and then watch that marriage erode. It's about politics too, to a degree, and their roles as monarchs and parents. All of this is interconnected and makes for an interesting read.

I think what I most especially liked was the style. The characters were ones you could relate to, the pacing was steady and so much happens--affairs, wars, family strife, betrayals. I think what move me most was the way Henry and Eleanor parted and it was interesting to have a piece of history painted for me. The exploration of relationships and efforts to heal old rifts is both hopeful and yet sad because you know the past cannot be recaptured. The novel was poignant in places and kept me wondering as to what would happen next.

Captive Queen tells an interesting history of a period in history that isn't highlighted in the television world's period pieces, and makes me yearn for me novels set in medieval times.

Happy Reading, 
Jewels
I love historical fiction and romance and knowing a little about Marie Antoinette, I thought this novel would be a nice change of pace for me. It was the first in a series, and I think I would like to continue and see how the series evolves. This first novel focused on the arch duchess of Austria in her childhood and the early years of her marriage, and really shows how the Austrian girl turned into the French Queen.

Series: Marie Antoinette, #1 
My Rating: ❀'s
Genre: Historical Fiction
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By the time the novel ends, Marie Antoinette really is the queen of France, and not just the Dauphne, but we don't see any of her life as queen. The later books will focus on that, and that's why I'm so curious to read them. I've always been interested in Marie Antoinette and her famous words, "let them cake" although it's largely thought now she never said such a thing. But how does a woman become so hated?

This novel begins with Marie Antoinette as a small girl, and we see her as a silly, inattentive pupil who is perhaps too naive and artless for her own good. She doesn't have a mind for political shrewdness like her sister or mother, and instead wants only to please her mother by marrying the Dauphin of France, Louis who will one day be king. She even hopes that he will love her, something someone in her position at the time would not likely expect. Realizing that she is too Austrian and too uneducated to ever please the French, Marie Antoinette sets about doing everything her mother and the French ambassador advise, including getting eighteenth century braces to correct her teeth. She hopes she will please Louis and not fail her mother in the one task she must perform for Austria, to marry and bear an heir.

One has to wonder why her mother chose Marie Antoinette from her many children to marry the French Dauphin. It seems Marie Antoinette is utterly unsuited to the destiny her mother has designed for her, and even once she marries Louis and is adjusting to life at the French court, she hardly seems much different than the utterly uninformed girl she was at the opening of the novel. She is completing lacking in understanding of the machinations of the French Court, and eventually has to swallow her pride and acknowledge the king's mistress because she just can't see the political necessity of doing so. Nor can she get her husband to bed her. From what little I know of the couple, Louis did have trouble consummating the marriage, but I have to believe that after such a lengthy marriage Marie Antoinette herself might have been more bold in her efforts rather than patiently waiting and sweetly comforting Louis.

Just as the novel starts to get good--that is, Louis is king and we can't be far away from more interesting history, the novel ends leaving me hoping that the next novel will really sink its teeth into the life of this doomed royal couple. This first novel was interesting to read, but needed more omph and I hope the next novels in the series provide that.


Happy Reading,
Jewels