Sparrow by L.J. Shen

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

Troy Brennan

Every southie in Boston knows that name. The son of a dead mobster. The heart throb with steel blue eyes. “The Fixer” who can make or break you in this city.

Oh, and my new husband.

Sparrow Raynes

That’s me. No one seemed to remember my name up until he barged into my life.
But then he caged me.
Kidnapped me.
And killed every chance I had to runaway from the place where we grew up.
Put simply, Troy Brennan clipped my wings.

I have dreams, big ones, but I doubt he’d ever let me chase them. I have no idea why he’d decided to take me as his wife. But I do know this: pissing off this man will not do me any good. At all.

Sparrow is a standalone, full-length novel. It contains graphic violence and adult situations some may find offensive.

Review –

Sparrow Raynes is a survivor. She can’t be caged or caught or forced unless she wants to.  Abandoned by her mother at an early age and caretaker for her alcoholic father, she has learned that life is never going to be easy.  She was never going to have free and easy. She had to work for everything she has. That’s fine. She doesn’t mind working hard for what she loves.  She’s going to cooking school with dreams of owning a food truck one day. Until, everything gets taken from her… yet again.

Troy Brennan knows death. He knows blood and loss and pain.  The son of a murdered mobster. When he was nineteen and Sparrow only nine, his father made him make another promise –to marry and take care of Sparrow.  Another burden that his father heaped on him. He is stuck with her, but he won’t ever love her and she better get used to it.

Troy Brennan is on a mission to avenge his murdered father.  But before he can finish his mission he has to full fill  a promise to his father first.  Marry Sparrow Raynes. Yes, he’ll be stuck with her, but that’s beside the point.  He doesn’t have to like her. He is just full-filling the promise he made to the father the loved. He informed her of their impending marriage by take her from her home, installing her into his apartment, supplying her with take out menus and leaving her to it.  Have a good week.

Marriage is new for him. Feeling are new to him. Her spark of fire and take-no-shit attitude attract Troy. She reminds him of… well, him. He doesn’t really see the point in caring about her. He know their relationship is doomed from the beginning.But he does like to see her occupied and maybe a little happy. (It would get her out of the house and allow him to see his mistress without having the worry about her) So when he finds out that she likes to cook he installs her into his high end restaurant where she meets Brock, right hand man of Troy and restaurant manager.

Sparrow tries to finds her way in the new world that she is trust into.  Working, jogging, meeting with friends.  Living with her awful husband as best she can, but it’s more that difficult.  He cheats on her openly and living with him is a chore.  She tries to connect with him but he takes joy in trying to make her feel small.  Well, good luck with that.  She can’t be taken down by a man like her husband.

As the days go on, Troy watches Sparrow take all of his challenges and rise above them. All of them. She is strong. She proves that daily.  He stops looking at his mistress as the ideal beauty and starts to really see this small, red haired, girl-woman as the true beauty and warrior that she really is.  As he learns more about her life, he finds she has survived much more than he knew.

When she is taken on the street on morning, Troy must finally come to feel and acknowledge the feeling that he hasn’t been dealing with for a few weeks. He has to find her.  He finally sees what his hate has been blinding him to for too many years.  He has to save his wife. He does and fast forward and he frees her from their marriage and eventually she realizes she can not live without him and there is a very HEA.

I loved this book.  I loved the story and the characters, although, Troy at first, not so much!   The pace of the plot is good.  You get to see the couple first hate each other, then slowly find things they liked about each other and then come to love each other in the ways that they can, but so much of this book is about Troy’s mission and Sparrow’s past.  Troy isn’t ever going to be anything but who he is, but once he figures out that he loves her, Troy loves her wholeheartedly.

Loved this book and the narration was great, although might have been plus five stars with the addition of a female narrator.

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Book Description:

Published: November 8, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Review –

Heartless is a prequel to Lewis Carroll’s 1863 classic Alice in Wonderland, being the history of one of the most recognizable characters in fiction; The Queen of Hearts. Set in the kingdom of Hearts, a world of talking animals, animate furniture and occasional bouts of unpredictable magic, the story follows Lady Catherine Pinkerton, the seventeen year old daughter of the Marquess of Rockturtle Cove.

Cath begins the book as sweet, naïve and rather overly sheltered, not to mention very much under her parent’s’ thumb (one reason for my lady’s initial exasperation), however seeing her change, grow and evolve through circumstances is truly a pleasure. Meyer seems to have a gift for character depiction since this is a book where even the minor players turn out to be more than they appear, and as for Catherine rarely have I seen an author write character development in such a pure sense, i.e. taking a character from one place at the start of the book, and showing how they journey to a very different place at the end of it.

I liked how the King of Hearts, despite being cast almost immediately in the role of an unwanted potential husband is neither sadistic nor lecherous. He is simply good natured, foolish, ineffective and not overly endowed in the brain department. While this makes him of course completely out of the question as a match for Catherine, it also makes her position a more unique one than a lot of characters facing forced marriages in modern fiction, since it’s one thing to wish to avoid a vile suitor at all costs, quite another to have to reject an innocent but dim-witted one.

The  character I did feel slightly short-changed by was Jest, the court joker and very obvious love interest. Dashing, clever, accomplished at everything from magic tricks to music and of course hopelessly smitten with Catherine (he even has golden eyes). While Meyer does undoubtedly reveal enough hidden truths about Jest to make him play an interesting part in the plot, I did feel that he was a bit too idealised. 

The final conclusion is a very apt end to the story, employing prophecy, destiny and character revelations. If you know the story of the Queen of Hearts then you know that this story will not end well, BUT you keeping hoping …

Despite its at times slow pace and its rather too obvious Joker I did very much enjoy Heartless. Take a large serving of Lewis Carroll, add a table-spoon of Jane Austin, season with a bit of Gaiman like twisted fairy tales and a likable, if rather sheltered protagonist and you have something sweet, fluffy and delicious on the outside, but with a dark, and troubled centre within.

Loved it!