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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Girl in the Afternoon by Serena Burdick

Title: Girl in the Afternoon: A Novel of Paris
Author: Serena Burdick
Publisher: July 12th 2016 by St. Martin's Press
Pages: 288 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, romance, cultural-France
My Rating: 3 crown


Born into a wealthy Parisian family at the center of Belle Epoque society, 18-year-old Aimée Savaray dreams of becoming a respected painter in the male-dominated art world; and secretly, she also dreams of being loved by Henri, the boy her parents took in as a child and raised alongside her.

But when Henri inexplicably disappears, in the midst of the Franco-Prussian war, the Savarays’ privileged lives begin to unravel. Heartbroken, Aimée tries to find him, but Henri doesn’t want to be found—and only one member of the family knows why.

As Aimée seeks refuge in the art world, mentored by the Impressionist Édouard Manet, she unwittingly finds her way back to Henri. With so many years gone by and secrets buried, their eventual reunion unmasks the lies that once held the family together, but now threaten to tear them apart.
A rich and opulent saga, Girl in the Afternoon brings the Impressionists to life in this portrait of scandal, fortune, and unrequited love.

My Thoughts

"Girl in the Afternoon' is a historical fiction set in Paris and England in the 1870's during the impressionist movement and revolves around a well off family, their secrets and ensuing scandals. The title of the book is based on a painting that proved pivotal to the story.  The main focus is on the daughter, Aimee, attempting to be her own person but often conflicted with outside circumstances. Overall, this was a good,  but a somewhat predictable mystery.

The writing is at times poetic and the character I enjoyed most was Madame Savaray for the depth she bought to the story.

"Dust floated like a strip of tulle in the dull light. Colette swirled her arm through it, scattering the motes with her open hand."

Unfortunately this books suffers for a few reasons. Burdick launched straight into it, attempting to create intrigue, however, I was not yet invested and for me, it fell flat. I also found the going back and forth between points of views challenging at times, especially within a short passage. This did not assist the story, often feeling like it wasn't going anywhere, and contributed to my lack of involvement with the characters at times. Everything explained, no guessing as told in the third person too often. 

There is a lot of future forecasts interspersed throughout, when all you really wanted was for the story to be told, not inferenced. The preemptive took all the angst, drama and anticipation out of the story.

"he had no idea of the crippling events that would unfold over the next few months" 

Finally, with one third of the book remaining, a compelling story began to unfold and we have raw emotion. Now I was invested, but a little too late. Still, it helped make it a three star, worthwhile read.

"He turned onto his side, feeling the tremendous expanse of Aimee's grief as if it were his own."

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Audiobook Review: Big Vamp on Campus by Molly Harper

Series: Half-Moon Hollow  # 5.5 
Publisher: Audible 
Narrated by: Amanda Ronconi
Length: 2 hours and 36 minutes
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Publisher
Ratings—Story: 3.5 Crowns Performance: 4 Crowns
In Molly Harper's newest paranormal romantic comedy set in her beloved Half Moon Hollow, a vampire princess must learn how to navigate life as a college student - including living with her messy, annoying, frustrating new roommate.
Ophelia Lambert, 400-year-old vampire princess and college freshman, suddenly finds herself domesticated by humans and forced to suffer the indignities of dorm rooms, communal bathrooms, and a roommate with sticky fingers.
As one of the hundreds of undead venturing into postsecondary education, Ophelia has a lot more to learn than just "undead studies" - she has to learn to get along with her fellow vampire classmates and, worst of all, her human ones, along with getting back into the good graces of the World Council for the Equal Treatment of the Undead.
Can this once all-powerful vampire princess balance classes and campus life with romance, human and vampire relations, and not sinking her teeth into her annoying roommate?
I’m always a sucker for a new Half-Moon Hollow story, even if it is a quickie. And this really was a quickie, but a very satisfying one.
So, here’s what’s going: As her part of her punishment and rehabilitation, Ophelia Lambert has been sent to college. Yes, you’ve heard that right, the cold as ice (and not because she’s undead) Hello Kitty loving vamp with a major attitude and desire to wreak havoc has been sent to college, which means she has to get along with her co-eds and live in a dorm with vamps, humans, and an undead roommate who nicks her stuff.
Oooh this one was so good. I loved seeing the former head of the undead council adjust to being somewhat normal. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll know that Ophelia isn’t a sweet little vamp. She’s been trouble since she was sired and used to getting her way. So, to see her actually making human friends and living a somewhat destruction-free life was very interesting. We also see her learning a bit more about herself.
I do want to warn readers that, while we learn about Ophelia, this novella is actually prepping readers for the next book The Accidental Sire so there are a few strings left hanging that will be addressed in the next book.
Once again, Amanda Ronconi is brilliant as the narrator. She’s delivers the perfect amount of snark and truly brings each and every resident of Half-Moon Hollow to life.
Overall, fans of the Half-Moon Hollow series will be delighted to see this new side of Ophelia. I’m not really sure that this book is suited for newcomers, so reader be warned.