About 5 years ago I accompanied my aunt (the wonderful Stacey Rourke) to a book signing. I never realized just how much fun that I would have meeting authors and being immersed in the literary field; nor did I realize that I would be starting my very own blog one day. While on this trip I met Elizabeth Kirke (who I totally fell in love with, by the way), so I had to buy one of her books (I have since bought all of her works... support your authors!). I started reading "Semester Aboard" on the drive home and could not put it down.
"Semester Aboard" is a story about a young woman Jennifer going on a trip abroad on a cruise ship, but ssh doesn't know what is in store for her once she is on the ship. (Goblins? Zombies? Handsome strangers with serious trust issues? Pirate-themed lawn gnomes come to life with a thirst for blood?)
I love that this story, it has many different paranormal elements. It's a story about vampires, witches, mermaids, elementals, and werewolves... it's a smorgasbord of fantastical creatures! Kirke writes in such a way that keeps you intrigued and you want to know what happens next. From the very first chapter she has your attention and starts it off with drama. It captures your attention and imagination and has you wanting to continue to read because you want to know what has happened. I know reading the first chapter that I would have reacted the exact same way as Jennifer if...
...I saw someone falling overboard on a cruise ship.
Now, I don't generally care for sappy love stories all that much (however I am a girl and sometimes I love them). It reminds me of high school, usually. But this story has a budding romance that I love. I can feel for Jennifer and what she is going through (personal experiences!). She is finding herself and also finding a friendship in someone that is turning into something a bit more. There is a scene in which Thomas is explaining to her how to do something and she is listening to him, but she also is coming to the realization that she is nervous around him. While following direction she is thinking to herself "hoping I wasn't blushing or anything embarrassing like that. Of all people to have a crush on, why on earth had I picked Thomas? A vampire, seriously?" She admitted that she was "crushing" on him. To see stories and characters develop like this made me want to know more.
But not everything is always peachy, and there are a few negatives that I can say about this book, one being the size. I feel that it could have been broken into two different stories just based on how much happens, but that being said I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out where a sensible break off point would be, and I haven't the slightest clue (so maybe not a negative at all?). Also, and it pains me to say this, but I would have loved to get more of the love story. I wanted the main character to call attention to the flirting and not be so shy... take some action ( not just thinking the thoughts in her head), further this along! Honestly, people, has being shy ever worked? Shyness didn't snag me my husband, that's for sure! And maybe that's one of the reasons I felt this book could have been split somewhere, so that maybe it could alleviate some space for more romance.
That being said, I do love this story and recommend it to anyone and everyone with an interest in paranormal things and fantastical creatures... Or those with a fascination with stories taking place on cruise ships. Me personally? I can't wait to find out more from this series.
I can't help but put myself in a character's shoes and that includes imagining being in the same places and exotic locations as them. So what else but to imagine being on a cruise and ending up in the tropics somewhere? I know that there are many other cruises and they all do not go somewhere warm, my dream cruise would take me somewhere warm. I think that it is only fitting to have a Carribean Jerk Chicken Salad recipe to go along with this book review. You can follow the link here to check out the recipe.
..Before I get started, I must confess something. I love Stacey Rourke with all my heart. She's an aunt, a surrogate mother, and a sister to me all rolled into one, so bear with me as I make my best effort to not scream "fangirl" from every letter of this page. She is an amazing author and an even better friend and I cannot thank her enough for everything she has done, even up to dedicating this book to me. That being said, Stacey is an amazing author that has been able to capture my attention with her writing for as long as I can remember, as you may be able to tell from my "about me" section. But I assure you, I will not be biased in this review (nor any reviews of Stacey's work) because of this. However, I felt it was only fair to acknowledge this from the start... But anyway, on to the book!
I am a big fan of Ichabod Crane and the movie “Sleepy Hollow (1999)” (#JohnnyDeppSwoon)... And listing that date makes me feel so very old now. I love how Stacey has woven the past to the present in this story. She has taken the headless horseman legend and put a modern day twist on it. The way she writes helps make you feel as if you are right there in the action. She paints a clear picture of the scenes so you have no trouble understanding what is happening in the story. The main character Ireland doesn't know what she possesses inside of her. She moves to Sleepy Hollow trying to start over after a nasty breakup; and she finds a new start all right! As the reader you get to accompany her on a journey to becoming the Headless Horseman, and you feel for her and understand in the end why she chooses the path that she does.
Along the way, you meet a few other interesting characters such as Noah and Rip. Here, Stacey has written Noah as a chivalrous man, which I personally love. Rip is from the past and stuck in the future because of a spell, but he doesn’t understand the present time, slang, nor modern technology. This creates a lot of witty humour and banter between Ireland and Rip. Things that will cause you to laugh til you cry. I know I received a few confused and concerned looks from my husband wondering why I was laughing (not to mention the strange looks from our dog...) and my daughter asking if I was mentally ill.
Not too much of a spoiler but something that I find extremely funny... I know that I have been through one of those really bad break ups in the past, one where you change everything about yourself from hair length and color to even tattoos at the extreme ( I can admit that I have done all of the above). Ireland has as well, In this part of the story, Ireland is explaining part of the break up. After explaining why she left her boyfriend, she says "I was too busy trying to maneuver the refrigerator into the hallway." ( I can see a woman trying to do this because they are so pissed off!) Ireland also says "He could ruin my life, but he couldn't take my fridge". This is incredibly funny to me because, quite literally, this happened in my life when I was young... Though it wasn't me that had the fridge! This kind of storytelling, one that pulls from real world experiences, does wonders to grasp at a reader's imagination... and mine especially!
Okay, end spoilers!
This story gives you a female lead that is not afraid to get hurt, that doesn’t need a man to do her bidding. She is strong, independent and has a sense of humor, and I would like to see more stories with females as strong leads that don’t always need saving. It brings me pleasure knowing the ending of the books leaves it open for a second book in the sires. I am very excited to see what is in store for Ireland and what will happen in the next book.
While I am thinking about Sleepy Hollow and Ichabod Crane, I think of fall, with all the pumpkins and apples and it makes me want a fall treat. What's a better fall treat than pumpkin pie? I have the best crustless pumpkin pie recipe. As a forewarning, I am one of "those people" that follows a gluten free diet (out of necessity!), but if you can you can as easily take this recipe and make it with a pie crust (my husband likes my pecan-based crust). So while you read "Crane" you can enjoy this yummy pie!