Monarch, by Michelle Davidson Argyle (plus giveaway news!)

MonarchMonarch by Michelle Davidson Argyle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The blood pooling on the floor under the assassin’s back reminded Nick of butterfly wings.”

Man, what an awesome first line! It sets up the mood, theme, and direction of this book perfectly! After a line like that, my expectation was that this book would be a post-James Bondian mission. Like, what happens *after* a mission takes place and the hero reports Mission: Accomplished.

Well, this is definitely not a post-Mission: Accomplished spy thriller. More like, Mission: Hasn’t Ended Yet. And, oh yeah, it’s not just about the mission.

Nick, a soon-to-be-retired CIA operative and the hero of this story, makes it home from a mission in Brazil, but unfortunately, his “work” didn’t quite stay there. Needing to find safety, he thinks of the only person with whom he’s found a semblance of peace: Lillian Love, now owner of the Monarch Inn.

The Monarch Inn is nestled in West Virginia, and named for the monarch butterflies that migrate through that area on their way to Mexico. At the Monarch, Lillian Love and her son Devan run the business as best they can, quietly living their lives. When Nick stumbles back into Lillian’s world, his presence soon shakes up their seemingly-peaceful bubble. Illusions of a perfectly happy and normal life are challenged, as these characters discover strength in unlikely circumstances.

Through Lillian, and Devan, I discovered the emotional depth of what could have been a superficial action tale. They told the narrative with Nick, alternating in a three-person perspective. Each voice is unique, and paced really well throughout so that the tension remained tight.

Though I expected a plot driven, action packed story (I’m a Die Hard kind of girl, yippee-ki-yay!), it was the unexpected character driven multiple perspective storyline that won me over. (In fact, though I’m a fan of the action and story in Brazil, I actually preferred the scenes at the Inn, especially Devan’s perspective.) Getting into these characters’ heads gave such a satisfying depth to the story and steered it away from being generic.

Nerd Point: I ate up the science facts about monarch butterflies that the author gave in the beginning of the book. It threw me off at first, since notes of that nature seem to come at the back of the book, with other acknowledgements and appendices, but looking back, I liked it, because it kept me in the mindset of these butterflies, how they persevere despite all external odds against them, and how they’ve endured, despite all scientific logic. They are truly worthy of being the symbol to represent the spirits of revered ancestors.

I think it’s with that mindset that I was able to sympathize with the characters more. They have come to realize that they are stronger than they appear, and can hope for a brighter future despite all logic and odds.

* * *

I invite you all to chat with the author, Michelle Davidson Argyle TONIGHT (9/15) at 9PM EST. The chat will be hosted by Annie Cechini on her blog, conveniently found HERE.

During the chat, you’ll be able to participate and be entered into a drawing for a free copy of Monarch.

Also, please visit DB Smyth’s blog HERE for her ridiculously-awesome-why-did-I-even-bother-to-review-this-book-when-I-can-just-link-to-her Monarch review (with more details about tonight’s giveaway.)

Hope to chat with some of you tonight!

* * *

Speaking of giveaways, my wonderful friend, Carol Miller is hosting a giveaway of GLOW. Much anticipated by me, since I love scifi. Click on the pretty cover image to get to Carol’s giveaway!!

GoodReads Summary:

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you’d been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth’s collapse, the ship’s crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader’s efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don’t know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them…

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren’t all from the outside.

Also, there’s a banner on my sidebar linking to Regina Linton’s blog, who is hosting a giveaway for it, too!

Share The Love

First off, I wanted to shout out Rachel Harrie’s Third Writers Platform-Building Campaign! I had a lot of fun participating in the last Campaign, and enjoyed meeting a lot of writer friends, and visiting other blogs! If you’re interested, act NOW! The list of Campaigners will close tomorrow, August 31.

Hope to see you around the blogosphere, and on Twitter via #writecampaign

Photo shared generously by Poppy Thomas-Hill

Ok, now to share more love!

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks here, so here are a few highlights from my last few weeks…

While roaming around the blogosphere, I LOVED these posts:

Laurie Halse Anderson: The Nuts and Bolts of Crafting a Creative Life

Carrie Ryan: Revisions, The Why and The How (courtesy of WriteOnCon)

Beth Revis: Don’t Give Up (courtesy of WriteOnCon)

I also twittered a little bit, and I LOVED these tweets:

http://twitter.com/#!/Committed_Jay/status/82263496196227072

http://twitter.com/#!/veertothewrite/status/106797419995475971

I also read a TON and LOVED these books (I wish I could review them ALL):

Eona: The Last Dragoneye (Eon, #2)Eona: The Last Dragoneye by Alison Goodman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think of Eon and Eona as one epic saga, like Lord of the Rings, versus being a book and its sequel. Goodman did such an amazing job weaving culture, language, magic, action that while I read, the words just disappeared and I was living the story.

Just to emphasize how gripping this tale is, I started reading this book around 9PM Wednesday night, thinking to read a few chapters before bed. Well, I HAD to keep reading, and got to The End around 5AM. I only had three hours to sleep before going to work, but the story was SO worth the lack of sleep. (Besides, that’s what coffee is for!)

Amazing work! I only hope that one day, I can develop my scifi/fantasy to this level of sophistication.

WitchlandersWitchlanders by Lena Coakley (released TODAY, August 30!)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Witchlanders is told through the perspectives of two boys, Ryder and Falpian. Ryder is a farm boy in the Witchlands, struggling to support his family after his father’s death. Falpian is a Baen prince from the Bitterlands, mourning the loss of his twin and his potential for magic. Born enemies, Ryder and Falpian discover they have a common destiny, and need to work together to uncover the mysteries behind the cultural assumptions that they’ve inherited.

Witchlanders delivers high fantasy without plodding backstory and cumbersome terms. Coakley beautifully weaves together cultural traditions, histories, and magic to create a rich, immersive reading experience. It has the scope of being an epic story, and the potential for companion tales. And, though I would read a sequel to this story (and I hope there is one considering how this story ended), I would REALLY be interested in reading a prequel.

*Note: I read Witchlander as an egalley, courtesy of Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab program.

View all my reviews

[I’ll be archiving any of my book reviews on my Book Love page (see menu) and of course, GoodReads.]

Those were some of the things I’ve loved these past few weeks…how about you?

Celebrating My Love

Happy Birthday Love Heart

Image by Status Frustration via Flickr

Tomorrow is my dear husband’s birthday, and, in honor of The Hubs, and the fact that I love him and all that 😉 , I’m giving away a copy of Ally Condie’s Matched and Lauren Oliver’s Delirium.

The Books

First, a little bit about these books…

Matched, from Goodreads:

“Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.”

Delirium, from Goodreads:

“Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love — the deliria — blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.”

Now, I know that both of these books are set in dystopian worlds with authoritative governments that divine a citizen’s life partner.  But, let’s focus on the fact that each main character CHOOSES whom she loves, and draw the parallel from there. 😉

The Rules*

So, the giveaway will be pretty straightforward.

It’s open from now till Saturday, April 9, 2011, 11:59PM EST, and I will ship to addresses within the continental US to wherever the Book Depository ships (please see if your country is listed here).

There will be two winners.  The first winner gets first choice of either book; the second winner will get the other one.

Whoever wants to participate, leave me a comment (one entry/comment per person, please).  (For bonus entries, stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog post.)

I will pick the two winners via random.org (unless some bonus entries sway my secret panel of judges otherwise).  Obviously, it’s important that I know your email, or other reliable way to contact you.  If I can’t get a hold of you within 24 hours, I will choose someone else.

That’s it!

If you don’t want to participate in the giveaway, but just want to say hi and wish my husband a happy birthday, feel free to do so as well! 😉

Thank you for celebrating with me, and good luck!

*Any questions about rule details, please contact me to let me know!