Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Sharp Hook of Love by Sherry Jones

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The Sharp Hook Of Love

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By: Sherry Jones

[historical/biographical/literary fiction]

Release date: October 7, 2014
at Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books

384 pages

ISBN: 9781451684797

Author’s website | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

“To forbid the fruit only sweetens its flavor”

Among the young women of 12th century Paris, Heloise d’Argenteuil stands apart. Extraordinarily educated and quick-witted, she is being groomed by her uncle to become an abbess in the service of God.

But with one encounter, her destiny changes forever. Pierre Abelard, headmaster at the Nôtre Dame Cloister School, is acclaimed as one of the greatest philosophers in France. His controversial reputation only adds to his allure, yet despite the legions of women swooning over his poetry and dashing looks, he is captivated by the brilliant Heloise alone. As their relationship blossoms from a meeting of the minds to a forbidden love affair, both Heloise and Abelard must choose between love, duty, and ambition.

Sherry Jones weaves the lovers’ own words into an evocative account of desire and sacrifice. As intimate as it is erotic, as devastating as it is beautiful, The Sharp Hook of Love is a poignant, tender tribute to one of history’s greatest romances, and to love’s power to transform and endure.

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All it takes is a “chance” meeting and serenade to ignite a love affair so fierce and passionate, it would inspire many forbidden tales of love centuries to come. 

The Sharp Hook of Love tells the thought-provoking, captivating, heartbreaking, and intensely passionate story of world renowned eleventh century French philosopher Petrus “Pierre” Abelard  and his student,  Heliose d’ Argenteuil. Told achingly through Heloise’s point of view, the love affair begins slowly, until it morphs into a love so tragic it can’t be true. While erotic, passionate, and full of lust, something ever more devastating awaits the forbidden lovers.

Each chapter beginning contains a brief passage from the lovers’ letters. While I enjoyed reading them, most of them were written by Heloise. I had a small problem with this mainly because I felt the reader is already getting one side of the story, why not have at least the chapter epigraphs be alternating, so the reader can get a full sense of the relationship. I did savory each one, though. All so achingly beautiful. Matched the chapters perfectly. I just wish I could have read Abelard’s love letters, or just letters more.

Jones does a meticulous and wonderful job at incorporating parts of their letters into the narrative itself; which I found held me as a reader more. The voice of Heloise kept me interested; often taking me along with her. I felt her love, her pain, and her sorrows. Her journey from a young woman to where she ends in the story was written in such a cohesive way. I didn’t feel lost as the years skipped around a bit; I followed her through. What Jones accomplished, was making me want to be there for Heloise. Chastise her a little bit. Hold her when Abelard scorns her. Be there for her as no one really was for her. Not many authors can successfully do that in a novel, let alone a historical fiction one. I was completely moved.

Then the juicy parts. Oh, the eroticism that was there! My, for the eleventh century, they knew how to express themselves. There is a significant amount of love making going on in this book; this is not the book for you if you cringe and want to pass pages– you will miss something if you do. I enjoyed how passionate the lovers were; but, not just that, I loved how it translated to the page. It wasn’t x-rated in the way that every detail was written. There was no, he moved her this way, then that way. Yes, it was descriptive. It was erotic, passionate, and very realistic. Was it realistic for that century? That I don’t know. There are two or three scenes in where I felt the love making was more modern. I won’t go into details. I will say this though, it was not overly explicit, it was not just thrown in there at random times, nor was it always pretty. There was one scene that upset me, which I won’t spoil for you. A part of me hopes it was out of character, but after some outside research of the lovers, it does fit, which makes me sad.

This love story is tragic. I remember the tales of Tristan and Isolde; Romeo and Juliet. All the fallen lovers. The lovers who tried so hard to be together. Their stories, their made up stories are nothing compared to this true romance. I cried at the end. It was hard not to. Abelard says something to Heloise (that I will wish was true!) and my heart melted. There’s so much beauty and love in this story, yet the pain and, yes, brutality that occurs, somewhat taints it. It’s truly beautiful, no matter how devastating. I truly loved this novel. I hope that all the feelings were true. Pick this book up. You won’t regret it. It’s a love story that should be known and forever remembered. It’s a great example or discourse on what love was like back then, who was allowed to love, what the cost was, and what the reward was. Jones tackles the topic of societal norms and expectations of that era, without deterring from the lovers’ story. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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SHERRY JONES is also the author of Four Sisters, All Queens;
The Sword of Medina;
and her controversial, internationally bestselling debut, The Jewel of Medina.

She lives in Spokane, Washington.

Visit her website. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter , Google +, Pinterest, and Linked In

Subscribe to her newsletter.  Send her an email: sherry [at] authorsherryjones [dott com

Buy the bookS&S  |  Amazon  |  B&N  |  BAM  | IndieBound  | Kindle   | iBookstore  | Nook

And now for the giveaway…

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Physics Meets Suicide: Falling into Place by Amy Zhang Book Review

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Falling into Place

By: Amy Zhang

Released: September 9th, 2014 by Greenwillow Books

Length: 304 Pages

Genre: YA Realistic Fiction- Mental Illness Suicide Attempt

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: BEA

 

Liz Emerson planned the perfect suicide–a car accident. But, she failed to understand the physics of it. Instead of dying, she landed in the hospital, in a coma severely injured.  Narrated by a mysterious person, revealed at the end perfectly, you are taken on a journey through the days before the attempt, the days of her recovery, and brief snapshots of her life as a child. It’s part heartbreaking, part tearjerker, and a hundred percent worth reading.

Despite the sad subject matter, this novel was able to be beautiful. The writing was close to lyrical. Everything about the novel was meticulously done. I am shocked this is a debut novel. I believe Zhang has a bright future in writing ahead of her. If she was able to beautifully capture something like suicide that is often done messy, I can’t wait to see what hard topic she will tackle next. This specific topic is often hard to write about. Yet, the way Zhang wrote Liz made me understand her in a way writers don’t often do. In Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, he tackled suicide in a way that the character blamed everyone; and, even inserted a dead joke. Zhang handled everything delicately from the way her friends, family, and crush reacted, to the feelings and self-destruction of Liz; and, then the act. It wasn’t done brutally. It wasn’t done in a way you would hate the character. It wasn’t graphic, either.

Then there is the narration itself. While I loved the character develop and the way Zhang tackled this sensitive issue, what really captured me was the creative narration. When you discover who the narrator is, it will blow your mind, it’s that creative. I loved the twist. I didn’t expect it at all. It made sense, too.  Made me love the book that much more, too.

I can’t rave enough about this book. I truly loved it.  It’s worth reading.

I Want a Museum of: The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder Book Review

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The Museum of Intangible Things

By: Wendy Wunder

Released: April, 2014 by Razorbill

Length: 302 Pages

Genre: YA Contemporary, YA Mental Illness-Bi polar

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: purchased

 

Hannah and Zoe have been best friends since they were little kids.  Hannah is the practical one. She owns her own hot dog stand. She wants to go to college, even if it’s only at county. She can’t see more for herself. Can’t see past the lake. Zoe is more adventurous. More wild. She’s artistic, creative, free-spirited. Bi-polar. 

On a particularly manic day, Zoe has decided she has had enough of their New Jersey lake town. It’s time they see more. It’s time Hannah stops settling and learns some lessons outside of school. On this adventure is where, on each new day, Zoe teaches Hannah about something–Loyalty. Envy. Obligation. Dreams. Disappointment. Fear. Negligence. Coping. Elation. Lust. Nature. Freedom. Heartbreak. Insouciance. All while have the most epic road trip. 

The Museum of Intangible Things is one of those books that has a pretty cover and is not a let down. There are books that have beautiful covers and when you crack that spine, read those first pages you are immediately disappointed. But the cover is so pretty! This is not one of those books.  I immediately fell in love with this book. First sentence, first page in love. There was something magical that just grabs you without magic. They way Wendy Wunder crafts the words and weaves a story is magic in itself. There doesn’t need to be dragons or princesses. Hannah is perhaps one of my favorite characters I have read/met this year, possibly after Zoe. Zoe was pretty phenomenal, too. They both were great. And, I don’t just like Hannah because we share a name! She is a genuine, tough, real, true to herself character who goes through a lot and comes out strong. She comes out on top. I admired her completely. Zoe was the opposite of her. She was this wild girl. Strong-willed, will-full, and kind of a parent’s worse nightmare. Yet, there was something so special about her. Then, there was her demon–her mental illness.  

Her Bi-polar 1 Disorder with psychosis was prominent in this book. Not in a scientific way or anything. But, there. Let me tell you, never have I read a book so spot on about the illness. There are tons of books, movies, and television shows that portray this serious illness wrong. Completely wrong. It’s not like that terrible medical drama Black Box. It’s mostly like Homeland. And, it’s like this. Zoe’s mania was very, very accurate. Her need for adventure, for something more at an unrealistic pace, all real. I was very impressed. Also, very moved by the end of the novel. It’s a mini tear jerker. I won’t lie. The end. THE END!!

The “lessons” in the book are both universal and true. They are meaningful; some like insouciance are fun while others are more moving. This book really makes you think. Young Adult novels can still do that. This book definitely makes my top ten list of books read this year. I would truly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. There is just this realness and rawness you don’t find too often in any kind of genre anymore.

“Perfect should never be a goal. Perfect just happens if you let it.”

 

Searching for the Great Perhaps in: Looking For Alaska by John Green Book Review

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Looking for Alaska

By: John Green

Published: December, 2006 by Speak

Length: 221

Genre: YA Realistic

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: Gift

 In searching for “The Great Perhaps” Miles “Pudge” Halter finds himself at boarding school with a new life, new friends, and Alaska Young. It all comes to Alaska. The taken Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Miles Halter grew up in Florida with very few friends and a limited existence. It isn’t until he is attending Culver Creek Boarding School in Alabama that his life starts to change. He goes there, inspired to find his “Great Perhaps” the famous last words by poet François Rabelais. Obsessed more with famous people’s last words and biographies, Miles doesn’t know know how to really live until he meets Alaska Young. Alaska Young is beautiful, smart, well read, and completely unattainable. She is moody, careless, reckless, and fun. She is your A-typical Manic Pixie Dream Girl. And Miles “Pudge” Halter is in love. But, there is more to Alaska than he, and even her closest friends, know. 

Split in a before and after an event you don’t find out about until the end of before, Looking Up for Alaska is John Green’s debut novel about a boy learning the ins and outs of growing up, falling in love, and what it all means. It’s a well written story that deserves every ounce of the acclaim it has received. Part humorous, part heart-warming, and part heartbreaking, John Green crafts a universal story of what it means to grow up. How hard it can be at times. And, when something happens, who you can count on. The event that happens is somewhat surprising and somewhat expected. How Green handles it is metaphorical beautiful. It’s all in the title. If I ever have a child, my teen is receiving this book from me hands down. It’s universal. Teaches you about friendship, love, and letting go. Even Miles’s obsession with famous last words was great.

There are two major themes/questions in this book both based off of famous last words. The first, of course, is the Great Perhaps. I loved this immensely. Especially through the eyes of a teenager. You are always looking for something, at that age. It’s not always philosophical,  but it’s something. The depth Green added worked. It was convoluted; nor, was it too heavy to understand or believe. It was perfect. The second major theme was more of a question that was asked by Alaska Young, through the possibly fictional words of Simon Bolivar, ” How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?” That question, which Alaska often repeats and becomes central to the plot, `perfectly sums up her. She forever thinks she is living in a labyrinth; but, she is also one to everyone she knows. You never knew what Alaska you would get that day; what wall you would hit that day. Green crafted her well.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Although The Fault in Our Stars is still my favorite book of his, and Paper Towns was more adventurous, this was more realistic and philosophical. It surprised me. I connected to it more than Paper Towns. And, I can see more of a universality to it. This is definitely a book not to miss. I agree with the hype. Maybe not to the whole extent, but to most of it. It leaves you with something. A good something.

 

Tales of Love told through the eyes of a feathered girl: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Lesyle Walton Book Review

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

By: Leslye Walton

Released: March 25th, 2014 by Candlewick Press

Length: 320 Pages

Genre: YA Fantasy-magical realism

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

Born with feathers, and a silent twin, Ava Lavender narrates the story of the three generation of women in her family that faced love– the fanciful phase, the heartbreak, loss, and everything that comes with it in a moving tone.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is one of those books I couldn’t put down. Full of magical realism, it pulls you in from the beginning. Starting with a very brief detail of Ava’s extraordinary birth, she begins to tell the story of her female ancestors, based on a single emotion-love. And, oh, how these Roux/Lavender women have been affected. And, how unique they all are. After the great-grandfather dies, after being mistaken from someone else and is gruesomely murdered, while the wife maman, and everyone else, thinks he left with another woman begins to almost melt until she literally becomes a pile of blue ashes in their sheets. Then her daughter, Pierette, becomes a bird for the man she loves who never loved her back. A bird! There’s another sister who carves her own heart out after she gives birth to a child whose father is the betrothed to her older sister- Emilienne, all out of love. Emilienne is Ava’s grandmother in the story who lost her husband early on in the marriage, but not before giving birth to their daughter Viviane, Ava’s mother.

Ava takes center stage much later in the novel, but when she does her story shines just as much as the other women. Each, melding into the others so seamlessly. The novel doesn’t necessarily have a plot, which at times I would normally have a problem with, but with this novel I didn’t. I loved how fluid it felt, even without it. The center plot, or theme really, was love and that was the driving collection that made everything make sense and hold a connection. There were no gaps, or holes in the story. Even as each generation of women took center stage in their own way, Ava was always there, guiding and keeping everything together. For a debut novel, this was an ambitious undertaking– to tell four generations worth of stories based on an emotion almost solely told by a person, somewhat of an outsider at certain points. Walton succeeded wonderfully. I look forward to reading her next work.

What I loved most about this novel was the magic in each woman. Not magic like Harry Potter magic. But magic, like something different we can’t explain. Emilienne had hers, where, in the beginning, the people in town thought she was a witch. Then there was Viviane, who could smell things and give emotions to them. Even silent Henry had his own idiosyncrasies. Plus, there was Ava with her wings. It wasn’t completely reminiscent of Sarah Addison Allen, but somewhat. As I am a huge fan of hers, I instantly became a fan of Walton’s. I enjoyed how there was nothing simple or ordinary in this novel. Even the town was special. It was an unique read I couldn’t put down.

Walton stuck to the theme of love very well, her analysis pretty head on. She didn’t take the pretty route. She didn’t show all the good, happy parts of being in love. Didn’t write about all the bad, either; although she wrote a lot on it, but not everything. I enjoyed her take on love; especially how she used it to fuel her plot. Each character found love and its meaning in different ways; and how it could effect them, too. There was so much beauty in the words and descriptions Walton chose, even when love’s ugliness reared it’s head.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It really is a must read. There is something about it that I think makes it one. Not just the words. The characters, the magic, the unsugar coated realism. It’s all there and more. I was initially giving it four stars, but realized I love it so much more. I’m moving it to five. It’s that good. I am planning on buying a copy for myself. There is something about it that just sucked me in. It wasn’t just those feathers. I hope you pick this one up. It’s worth it. It really is.

Greetings from Lost Lake: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen Book Review

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Lost Lake

By: Sarah Addison Allen

Released January 21st, 2014 by St. Martin Press

Length: 302 pages

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Magical Realism

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

You can never the beginning. But you can always change the end.

That one sentence, said by a somewhat minor character staying for one last summer at Lost Lake echoes throughout the entire novel; although it is said closer to the end, it is true throughout the hole book. Each main character, newly widowed Kate, her daughter Devin, Kate’s estranged, great Aunt Eby, Kate’s old childhood friend she spent one good summer with, Wes, they all are stuck and looking to change their ending–they just don’t know it yet. Even the rather minor characters like Selma, who wears a charm bracelet that allows her to marry eight already married men and she’s on her last charm. And, Bulahdeen, who said that heavy statement; her husband has Alzheimer’s, and as many times as she has read novels, she has tried to change her endings.

This novel isn’t just about Eby selling Lost Lake; or Kate “waking up” after a year since her husband died; or Devin befriended an alligator no one thought was on the property, that could only be seen by her, leaving clues; or, each of the three guests at the lake; or, Wes who never stopped loving Kate. It is about creating your own ending that isn’t an ending after all. It’s more of a “in the mean time”.  A “happily ever right now”. Allen creates characters that are somewhat more than broken in many ways and puts them back together in only ways that she can.

Allen still has her Southern charm. And that magical realism that got me when I read my first Sarah Addison Allen book; and, never stopped. I loved the allegory of the alligator. I won’t give away the reason behind him, but the reason is touching, sweet, and really special. Brings the book together. I loved the theme and idea of creating a new ending for yourself. Not really rejecting the one you had, but doing a do-over. A second chance on our own terms. Allen proved, to me, once again, why she is one of my favorite authors. Her voice is so unique and offers something I don’t normally get from other contemporary authors.

I would highly recommend reading any of Allen’s fabulous books. She is so talented. This book is no exception.

When two heartbeats get each other: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

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Heartbeat

By Elizabeth Scott

Released: February, 2014 by Harlequin Teen

Length: 240 Pages

Genre: YA Realistic Fiction

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: Via netgalley

Everything can change in one…

That’s what happened for seventeen year old Emma. Before she went to school her mother was pregnant..and alive.  Now, angry and living with her step dad, Dan, she once loved as her biological, Emma visits her mother everyday in  the hospital as she is brain dead and struggling to keep the baby she struggled two years to conceive alive. At a loss, Emma struggles every day with the fact that her step dad chose her soon to be born brother over her brain dead mother.  Didn’t he know how scared her mom was all the time about being over forty and pregnant? These thoughts constantly run through her head as her grades drop, her anger rises, and she begins to form an unlikely friendship with a druggie and car thief from school, Caleb Harrison. But they share something Emma and her best friend don’t at the moment and won’t for a long time: grief and losing someone you love prematurely and in a bad way.

This was the first Elizabeth Scott book I have read and I absolutely loved it. I mean completely, absolutely, head over heels fan girl loved it. I read it in one sitting until 2:30 in the morning. There was something about Emma that I really related to. My mom may not be brain dead with a baby in her body, but I have lost someone. And have felt this overwhelming grief that some of  my friends haven’t in their life yet.  I see Emma in myself. And, she is wise beyond her years. She’s smart, very feisty, loyal, and beyond everything loving. I would want her by my bedside any day.

Then, there is Caleb Harrison. Oh, Caleb Harrison. Elizabeth Scott, like Sarah Dessen, knows how to craft a male love interest. He reminds me a little of Macon from Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen (has the good Macon qualities, plus the woundedness). He was a redeemable bad boy. But, not really all that bad. Doing “bad” stuff doesn’t necessarily make the person bad. He made wrong choices, but his heart was hurt and so forth.

Everything about this book was done well. The plot was heart wrenching. It really was. It pulls at you, tugs at your moral consciousness, and shows you what you are made of. I mean, how many books are out there, young adult or otherwise, have a mother on a ventilator solely to keep her baby in her belly alive? A baby that may not even make it? Add in brain dead, a devastated daughter, and a hatred/secret love for the baby and you’ve got a whirlwind of emotions called Heartbeat. There just aren’t many books that tackled this subject, in this way or that. Scott did it in a way that was raw, realistic, emotional, and authentic. I felt Emma break each time she said Hi to her mom knowing she wasn’t “there” anymore. I didn’t want to take away her pain, or take it in, I just wanted to listen. And, I did. Such an emotional, rewarding book. Again, I highly recommend it. If you love Young Adult books, or looking for a book that you think maybe your teenage daughter will like or so on, PICK THIS BOOK UP! You won’t regret it.

 

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