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elizabethgunther2286

The Romance Reader

I like to read a little bit of everything, but my main focus is romance, especially romantic suspense and historical romance.

Currently reading

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Seth Grahame-Smith
Hero
Alethea Kontis
Progress: 18 %

Review of "The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project was chosen as this month's Smart Bitches' book club pick and I tried to wait until the chat date, which still has not been announced, but I just couldn't do it.  I loved this book.  It was as if The Big Bang Theory put Sheldon with Penny, but better because Rosie is closer to Don's intellectual level than Penny is to Sheldon (or Leonard for that matter).

 

Rosie follows Professor Don Tillman, a geneticist, who most certainly has some form of Asperger's Disorder, in his quest to find the perfect wife.  When the book opens, Don explains that he never believed that he would find anyone suitable to be his wife/life partner and that he had been fine with that until a friend, one of the four that he had (although some of his friends *coughcough Claudia and Daphne coughcough* definitely cared more about him than others *coughcough Gene *coughcough*) suggested that he would make a wonderful husband.  This is when he develops The Wife Project, a questionnaire, which in reality is very similar to those used on Match.com and all those other dating sites, because he believes that questions like: "Do you eat kidneys?" will help him find the perfect mate.  (The answer to the kidney question is "Occasionally" because that indicates that someone is willing to eat a little bit of everything.  I'm sorry, but if something is used to filter out urine, I don't want to eat it.  Maybe that's just me.)  My inner geek loved all the "Methods" section buzzwords that were used in the development of the questionnaire--words like Cross Validation and Type I and II Errors.  Took me right back to my Graduate Research Methods Class and that awful paper we had to write about biases in drug laws.  *shudders*  That whole experience still gives me nightmares--don't ever work on a group project if you don't have to: social loafing abounds.  What really surprised me about The Wife Project questionnaire is how many women actually filled it out.  It seemed rather desperate, but then I've done Match.com, E-Harmony, Plenty of Fish, and OKCupid, so I guess it isn't that desperate. 

 

Anyway, Don quickly realizes that his method of finding a wife isn't working because he is too strict with what answers he'll accept, so he makes a few changes, but deep down he still believes in the efficacy of the project.  Then, in walks Rosie.  She is everything that he doesn't want in a wife.  She smokes and drinks, she's a vegetarian, and she's a barmaid, which in his mind meant that she wasn't smart.  However, he promised Gene that he would at least go out with any woman he sends to him (Gene took over the project) and since he believed that Gene sent Rosie to him he went out.  This is the first time you really get to see just how "different" Don is.  When meeting Rosie for dinner at an expensive restaurant, Don misunderstands the jacket requirement at the restaurant and ends up in a physical altercation with a bouncer.  Of course this leads to a very charming first date, which includes the creation of a new time zone: Rosie Time.

 

It is clear very early on (even before the jacket incident) that he is intrigued by Rosie and wants to get to know her, but Don doesn't see his actions for what they are, even when he is unwilling to let her go.  He thinks that it is his scientist's curiosity that keeps him involved in "The Father Project," which is Rosie's mission to find her biological father.  Instead of suggesting Rosie speak to each potential father and asking for a DNA sample, Don and Rosie set out to stealthily obtain samples from each one man and then test them at the University Genetics Lab, despite the fact that this could cause Don to lose his job.

 

I really did love this book, but I had a few problems with it.  I felt as if Gene was taking advantage Don throughout the narrative.  Let's face it, Gene was not a good guy.  He was a serial cheater, covering his infidelity with the idea that he had an Open Marriage, but how open could it be when he was the only one having outside affairs?  Claudia loved Gene despite his huge flaws, but it didn't seem to me like Gene loved her enough not to sleep with other women.  Then there is the whole "Wife Project" thing.  Gene decides that Don isn't going about things right and puts himself in charge of setting him up with several women who sent the questionnaire.  However, he never really does this.  Instead, he uses it to find women for himself.  Don notices more than once that the women Gene is out with are ones that he either met at dating functions or whose picture he had with their questionnaires.  

 

The sad thing is that this is something that could happen to someone along the Autism Spectrum because they tend to be very trusting of others.  That's the part of Autism that truly scares me, as someone with more than one autistic relative.  I constantly fear that people will take advantage of their trust and hurt them.  The scariest part is that there is very little I can do to protect them from people like this.

 

The biggest problem I had with The Rosie Project was the idea that Don could change as quickly as he does.  At one point, he realizes that he wants Rosie as his life partner, which is what he meant by wife, and decides that the only way he is going to get her to love him is for him to change some of the very things that she already loved about him and that made him who he is.  That isn't to say that some of these changes weren't necessary and weren't in his best interest.  My problem is that he changes simply because he wants to and he doesn't even have to really think about the changes.  One morning, he wakes up and decides that his meal system is a little annal and he gets rid of it completely, going to the store to buy whatever is good that day.  This just wouldn't happen.  Not with someone whose routine was so ingrained in him the way it was with Don.  This is something it would take years to change even with appropriate therapy, something that he is not receiving from Claudia despite the fact that she is a licensed psychologist.  In the end, it was more like he had chosen to be different his entire life than that he was "born that way," which is exactly what he was. Don was born with Asperger's and his social awkwardness was as much a part of him as the color of his eyes.

 

Finally, I also had an issue with Rosie, who I did not believe was ready to be someone's wife; she doesn't really even know who she is.  Her entire life has revolved around the fact that she didn't know who her biological father was.  Even Don can see that her decisions were based around her father problem (for instance at one point, she mentions that she didn't go into medicine because she didn't want the man who raised her to think that she was choosing her biological father, who was a doctor, over him).

 

I did, however, really like this book.  Don is a very relatable character and it was nice reading a character that wasn't the literary standard.

Review of "Thankless in Death" by J.D. Robb

Thankless in Death - J.D. Robb

I managed to get ahold of Thankless in Death much sooner than I thought I would, and I spent the next few days immersed in New York 2060.  For those that aren't familiar with the series it centers around Lt. Eve Dallas of the New York Security and Police Department and her husband, Roarke, a former Dublin street rat/thief and billionaire.  In this book, Eve is on the trail of a killer, Jerald Reinhold, who killed both of his parents.

 

Jerry is a very much grown up Holden Caulfield, if Holden had never received psychological help for his undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder.  He believes that everyone lies, which, well, duh, but he also believes that everyone is out to get him.  His ex-girlfriend dumped him because she wanted to get involved with someone else--not because he was an asshole, who didn't like to pay the rent.  His high school computer science teacher flunked him because she knew that he was smarter than her--come to think of it, he's the fictional version of Tea Party members; if he doesn't get what he wants, he throws a fit and screws over everyone.  Finally, having enough of his mother's nagging, he kills her and discovers who he is.

 

Unfortunately, Jerry's brand of crazy is slightly smarter than Eve gives him credit for and he manages to catch break after break, staying one step ahead of her for days before one of his victims hands him over to Eve on a silver platter.

 

All this is going on as Thanksgiving is barreling down on them, bringing with it Roarke's family all the way from Ireland, come to celebrate the holiday with them.  Also, present for Turkey day are Richard and Elizabeth de Blass and their family, including Nixie Swisher, the lone survivor of a horrific murder that Eve investigated previously.  It was nice seeing these characters again and I hope we get to see other characters in future books.

 

I know a lot of people had problems with this book, saying that they thought it was ghostwritten, but I don't agree.  As a matter of fact, if anything, I felt this one was a return to form after the underwhelming, Calculated in Death, which took me three tries to finish reading.

Free E-books to Soothe the Pain of Government Shutdown

Since the Republicans in the House of Representatives have decided they wanted a role on the show Hostages and are trying to extort  the president and the country at large, many people out there are not going to be paid.  With all the stress of having to continue to do your jobs (something that Congress doesn't know how to do anymore), you're going to need some escapist literature.  Fortunately, for you, there are a number of e-books available for free from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Ibooks, and other sites.

 

1. The Honeymoon Cottage by Barbara Cool Lee.

 

InD'tale Magazine gives The Honeymoon Cottage 4 stars: "This first novel in the Pajaro Bay romance series promises great things to come! It is written well, with interesting characters that are easy to like. The novel holds the reader's interest with romance, intrigue, danger and murder. The author's theme of redemption and forgiveness is well thought out. One will love getting to know the characters in this story where everyone has a secret! Also, the author has 10% of all profits going to charities. With all that, what's not to love?" You can read the entire review at indtale.com/reviews/honeymoon-cottage

 

Camilla Stewart desperately needs to make a fresh start: her despicable ex-fiancé stole her life savings, embezzled from her job, and then disappeared without a trace--leaving behind nothing but his eight-year-old son, Oliver.

But when she arrives in the little beach town of Pajaro Bay, she immediately runs into local sheriff's captain Ryan Knight, and finds escaping her past won't be as easy as she planned.

 

This book is available on Amazon through October 3rd.

 

2. All the Blue of Heaven by Virginia Carmichael

 

Eight years ago, Allie Hathaway scandalized the wealthy elite of Chicago when she ran away to San Francisco. Now a world-renowned portrait painter, her life is filled with laughter and friendship, including being a mother to her orphaned niece. Life is perfect, so why can’t she forget her first love?

 

Thomas Bradford has come a long way from being the Hathaway family’s carriage boy. A veterinary degree, ambition and hard work have made him one of Chicago’s most sought-after bachelors. If only he could forget those stolen moments with Allie, Thomas might be able to enjoy his success.

 

The Great Quake of 1906 stuns the nation and Allie’s art studio burns to the ground, destroying years of valuable work. She’s forced to return to Chicago with little Janey, the only spark of hope in a life reduced to ashes. Her faith is crushed by her tragic reversal of fortune.

 

Thomas knows better than to fall for the beautiful young painter again, but he’s never been very wise around Allie Hathaway.

 

The carriage man’s son is all grown up and Allie doesn’t expect a second chance at a love that was refused eight years ago. Her life is in shambles and she has a child to support, so why won’t her heart accept the truth?

 

Once their love was torn apart by circumstance, but Thomas and Allie must decide whether to forge a future of hope together.

This book is available through Amazon until October 4th.

 

3. Blood for Ink by L.L. Muir

 

If he unmasks her, she's as good as dead...

As the mysterious writer who exposes gentlemen's secrets, it is not the first time The Scarlet Plumiere has been hunted. But this time it’s different. This time, she interferes with one of the Four Kings, and the brotherhood will not rest until they marry her off and place her securely under a man’s thumb. Only they have to catch her first.

The Earl of Northwick is falling for this writer, sight unseen. Will she be pretty? Will she have all her teeth? In his rush to claim her for himself, regardless of who she might ultimately be, he places her in grave danger — her desperate enemies are watching closely for the moment her mask is removed.

 

This book is available until October 2nd on Amazon.

 

4. The Reluctant Amazon by Sandy James

 

The last thing Rebecca Massee expects on her wedding day is to go from jilted kindergarten teacher to Amazonian Earth warrior. But when she causes an earthquake after her groom says I don’t, she discovers that not only does she possess incredible powers, she is one of four lost chosen sisters who must fight to keep humanity safe from rogue gods and demons. Luckily she has help: ruggedly handsome Scottish warrior Artair MacKay, her protector and teacher.

An immortal, Artair has trained countless warriors for more than four hundred years. He understands Rebecca’s confusion at the new world she’s been thrust into and worries she is too emotionally vulnerable, but that doesn’t stop his growing feelings for the beautiful and fearless woman.

 

When an evil force threatens to destroy the Amazons, Rebecca must claim her full powers — but they come at a cost. Can she sacrifice the man she loves if it means saving the world?

 

2013 Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Awards Finalist
2013 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award Finalist
USA Today Recommended Read

 

This book is available on Amazon and Apple through October 6th.

 

5. Broken Build by Rachelle Ayala

 

Bestselling Technothriller & Romantic Suspense

 

When a woman wrongs a man... can a man forgive and love?

 

Jennifer Cruz Jones thinks she can lay her past to rest. She’s landed her dream job at Silicon Valley’s hottest startup. Instead, she’s caught in a web of blackmail, murder, and broken code.

 

Startup founder David Jewell refuses to dwell on his past. When a man last seen with Jennifer is found dead, he takes a closer look at her. With investors losing confidence and his company in jeopardy, he is forced to protect Jennifer when she is attacked.

Together, David and Jennifer must thwart a killer while rescuing a victim from their past. Love blossoms, but a damaging revelation points straight at Jennifer and threatens to tear them apart forever.

 

Broken Build is a dramatic, multicultural romance mixed with a huge dose of chemistry, an unsolved murder, a missing child, and a relentless adversary.

 

This book is available through AmazonBarnes and NobleAppleSmashwords, and Kobo through October 6th.

 

6. Waking Up Married by Mira Lyn Kelly

 

From USA Today bestselling author Mira Lyn Kelly comes Waking Up Married, a free book in Harlequin’s brand-new contemporary romance collection — Harlequin KISS.

 

Her first thought: “Who are you?”

It’s the morning after her cousin’s bachelorette party in Vegas and Megan Scott wakes up with the mother of all hangovers. Even worse, she’s in a stranger’s penthouse having woken up with something else as well — a funny, arrogant, sexy… husband!

Up until now, finding even a boyfriend had seemed impossible — been there, got the broken heart, sworn off men for good. Then a few martinis with Carter… no, Connor Reed and she’s gone from first meet to marriage in one night!

Megan wants a lawyer. But Connor’s shocking bombshell?

“I don't want a divorce.”

 

This book is available on AmazonAppleGoogleBarnes and NobleSony, and Kobo indefinitely.

 

7. Murder in the South of France by Susan Kiernan-Lewis

 

Maggie Newberry is sheltered, privileged, but also a whip-smart advertising copywriter who’s fast on her feet and a little stunned to realize that she’s 32 years old and still hasn't found “the one.” When her long-missing sister ends up dead, Maggie flies to the south of France to find the little niece that no one in the family even knew existed. Along the way, she finds handsome Laurent Dernier, a sexy if nefarious Frenchman who it’s not clear is there to help or hinder Maggie’s search for the girl. Meanwhile, her sister’s murderer sets his sights on the little girl — and Maggie.

 

This book is available through AmazonAppleBarnes and NobleKoboSmashwords, and Sony until October 11th.

 

Hopefully, the government shutdown will be over long before these deals expire.

Reblog: 10 Reason Why Paperbacks Rule!!!! From epicreads.com

Reblogged from Bookivorous:

 

1. They are lightweight.

 

 

 

Holding hardcovers can be exhausting.

 

 

2. They are flexible.

Why just curl up with a good book, when your book can curl up with you, too?

 

 

3. They are travel friendly.

 

 

4. They are the more socially acceptable book weapon.

 

 

5. They still offer that inviting book smell.

 

 

6. They make better use of your bookshelf real estate.

 

 

 

7. They are a more comfortable eye mask.

 

 

 

8. They allow endless flipbook possibilities.

 

9. And book hearts.

10 Reasons Why We Love Paperbacks

 

10. They welcome affection.

 

 

 

 But, honestly, you love you your book no matter the format. Because you know what really matters is what’s inside.

 

 

From http://www.epicreads.com/blog/10-reasons-why-paperbacks-rule/

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Review of "Love in the Afternoon" by Lisa Kleypas

Love in the Afternoon - Lisa Kleypas

Before starting this review, I have to admit that I could not finish this book, not because it was a bad book, but because it was a good book that kept going when it should have ended.  I really enjoyed Kleypas's voice, the characters, and the fact that it was set during the Victorian Era instead of the Regency Period, which seems to have flooded the historical romance shelves for the last decade or so.  However, I can't help feeling as if this book should have ended much earlier than it did.  Most books consist of a beginning, middle, and end, but this book should have ended a good 100 pages before it did.  Not only are the characters happy, but they're already engaged and all the conflict is over.  Had the book ended earlier, I probably would have given it a much higher grade because up until that point it was a really good book.

 

Love in the Afternoon is the story of Beatrix Hathaway, a member of an eccentric family that had a membership in the Victorian Aristocracy thrust upon them very suddenly, and Captain Christopher Phelan, a soldier sent to fight in the Crimean War.  At the start of the book, Christopher is still out fighting, the only thing keeping him sane is the letters he receives from the beautiful, Prudence Mercer.  The only problem is that Prudence hasn't written him a single letter; the real scribe was Beatrix, having taken on the task when Prudence showed her a letter he wrote about a dog.  Prudence doesn't understand why Christopher is so preoccupied with being a soldier and fighting for Queen and Country, and she no longer wants to have anything to do with him.  However, she doesn't want to give him up, either, because he is proving to be the ultimate accessory, so she asks Beatrix to write to him and sign the letter in her name.  Beatrix, being the kind soul she is, agrees.  It is only supposed to be the one letter, but after Christopher replies, she can't help writing to him more and more until it gets to the point that they are in love with each other.

 

When Christopher gets back to England, all he wants to do is find Prudence.  Not realizing that the woman he knew before the war couldn't possibly be the person he was corresponding with despite the fact that Prudence has the emotional depth of a sponge (one that isn't of the squarepants variety because he has stunning depth for an invertebrate), she is the only thing he can think of.  However, it doesn't take him too long to figure out that she was not the person he thought she was and it takes him an even shorter amount of time to figure out that it was Beatrix that he really wanted.

 

This is about the point where I felt the book should have ended.  Their "Happy Ending" was pretty much guaranteed the moment he found her in the barn and it wasn't necessary to go any further.  They loved each other and they were getting married.  The rest of the book was about how the Hathaways are unconventional and that was something that Christopher really liked.  Cool.

 

Despite this, there were a lot of things I really did like.  I loved Kleypas's prose.  She has a way of drawing the reader in and making it hard for them to want to stop.  Up until the point I closed the book for good, I was laughing at things the characters did or said.

 

I also really liked the way she handled Christopher's PTSD.  This isn't something we see a lot of in historical romances and when we do, it tends to be cured by the magic of love.  Love can do a lot of things, but curing PTSD is not one of them.  I am really glad that Kleypas didn't go that route.

 

What I would have liked to see instead of The Hathaway Saga was Prudence going all Fatal Attraction on Beatrix and Christopher.  It is alluded to that Pru's grip on reality was slipping a bit after Christopher dumped her for Beatrix, and it would have been fun to see her going after Beatrix and her menagerie.  Maybe she does.  I don't know and I'm not going to find out.

 

P.S. Kuddos on the soap opera shout out--Soaps, the original "Love in the Afternoon."

Reblogged from Angels With Attitude Book Reviews:

Books I'm Waiting to Read

Thankless in Death - J.D. Robb The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion The Chocolate Touch - Laura Florand

I've been on a book rut for the last few weeks--in the last month I've finished two books.  Two.  That's a new low for me.  I haven't read this little since before I was in high school, which seems longer and longer ago with each passing day.  I'm currently reading Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Keyplas, but the book I really want to read right now is Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb.

 

It is the one book I've been looking forward to for months, but unfortunately I'm 43rd on the library's waiting list.  Hopefully, in another few weeks (in time for actual Thanksgiving), I'll be able to get my hands on it.

 

I also want to read The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand.  I wasn't crazy about The Chocolate Kiss, but I've heard this one is much better than that one.  As a matter of fact, the people involved in the Smart Bitch's chat really seemed to like it.

 

Last, is the Smart Bitch pick for the October book club, The Rosie Project.  After reading the synopsis on Amazon, I can't help thinking that the hero is going to be a lot like the guys on The Big Bang Theory, and as I love me some nerdy heros, so this should be good.

My Favorite and Least Favorite Novel Tropes

Just Like Heaven - Julia Quinn The Masque of the Black Tulip - Lauren Willig Key of Knowledge (Key trilogy #2) - Nora Roberts Face the Fire  - Nora Roberts Something About You - Julie James About That Night - Julie James Secrets of the Heart - Candace Camp The Secret History of the Pink Carnation  - Lauren Willig

During this last reading slump, I did a lot of thinking about the things that I like and the things that I don't like when it comes to romance novels, and recently I posted about my hatred of all things vampire and were-related.  What I realized is that I am very picky when it comes to the books that I read because there a lot more things that I hate than there are things that I love, and even the things that I love don't always work for me.

 

Things That I Love

 

1. Friends to Lovers:  I am a huge sucker for the friends to lovers thing, which is probably why I shipped the hell out of Monica and Chandler on Friends way back when.  There is just something about two people who have always been there for each other realizing that there is something much deeper than friendship going on.  One of the things that I really liked about Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn was that Honoria and Marcus were friends before they fell in love.  The same goes for Henrietta and Miles from Lauren Willig's The Masque of the Black Tulip (2nd book in the Pink Carnation Series).  These are characters that already understand each other, so they're less likely to be tripped up by some "Big Misunderstanding" and they already have the foundation of a relationship.  What was so sweet about Black Tulip was how much Miles realized Henrietta meant to him once he decided that he couldn't love her because of his friendship with her brother, Richard.  There is one point in the book where he realizes that she matters even more to him than her brother and it is completely sigh worthy.

 

2. Reunited Lovers: I guess this is somewhat related to the friends to lovers thing because these are also characters that have a history with one another; they loved each other once, but for some reason it didn't work out.  One of my favorite books that did this was the 2nd book in Nora Roberts's Key Trilogy, The Key of Knowledge, which is about Dana, a librarian, and Jordan, an author, who had been high school sweethearts, but broke up not long after they graduated.  Nora did this really well in Face the Fire, the third book in the Three Sisters Island Trilogy, as well.  Julie James came very close to this twice--first in Something About You, in which Jack and Cameron got together three years after their first attempt, which ended when he was transferred to Nebraska and called her out in front of the press, and then in About That Night, in which the two main characters ended up canceling their first date ten years previously because Kyle's mother died the day before.  The second book is a bit of a stretch considering they only knew each other for about 30 minutes, but they did know each other and then were reunited later on.

 

3. Surprise, I'm a Spy: Honestly, I'm not really sure if this is really a thing, but if it isn't, it totally should be.  I've read a few books in which the heroine (it is almost always the heroine) finds out that this person she has either known for a very long time or has just met is a spy, who needs her help for some reason.  The first book I read this type of thing in was Secrets of the Heart by Candace Camp, in which Rachel, the heroine, discovers that her husband of 10 years is a spy for the British and has been lying to her since before they got married--the entire time, she thought he was just a really boring guy, who she was forced to marry.  Then, there is The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig, in which Amy sets out to unmask to elusive Purple Gentian and join his spy ring, only to find out that she already knows him.  (In truth, I blame my obsession on this type of thing on True Lies and Chuck.)

 

Things I Don't Like

 

1. The World Is Ending: For awhile everything that was published or released in the movies was about the end of the world--I blame the Myans.  People were really into that, but I can't stand it.  I tried to read the Myan Prophesy Series by Heather Graham, but it was just awful.  It was so awful that Dust to Dust became the very first book that I reviewed on my old blog.  To say I hated it is an understatement.  The only people that could save the world belonged to a vampire conglomerate?  Really?  *Rolls Eyes*.  Then, there was the 7 Deadly Sins series by Allison Brennan.  I got about 10 pages into that book and had to stop, and eventually I donated it to Lady Jane's Salon, hoping that it would at least help some woman learn to read (all books collected by the Salon go to Women In Need).

 

2. Angsty Vampires: Ever since Twilight became popular, everyone and their mother jumped aboard the vampire train, and as I blogged a few weeks ago, I am sick of it.  Some of the books were good (The Valley of Silence by Nora Roberts and the Jaz Parks series by Jennifer Rardin), but most of them were trite, repetitious copies of Twilight for adults.   Why is it that every single vampire has to be angsty?  Can't they be happy about being immortal?  It is so depressing.

 

3. Rapist Heroes: Thankfully, this is something that has started to become obsolete--very few authors make the mistake of thinking women find rapists sexy or romantic--but back in the 70's and 80's it was common to find a heroine to marry the man that raped her.  That's just sick.  Unfortunately, those books are still out there, waiting to be picked up by some unsuspecting person.

 

4. Consanguinity: I know that in the past, family members married each other with some regularity (FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt were cousins) and it was something that was done by members of the British aristocracy as a way to keep titles in the family, but that is just a little too reality for me.  I don't want to read a book in which the main characters are related in any manor nor do I want to read anything about step-siblings marrying each other if they grew up together.

Review of "Calculated in Death" By J.D. Robb

Calculated in Death - J.D. Robb

I have to confess that I had to start this book three times to get into it, which is something that I've never had to do with one of the In Death books before.  I, honestly, don't know if it was me or if it was the book, but I just couldn't get into it either of the first two times I tried to read it.  I finally managed to finish it on the third try (I guess they say "the third time's the charm" for a reason).

 

I had a few problems with the book.  First, it was really slow to start.  Eve had absolutely no suspects; everyone seemed clean.  Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't want to know who the killer was right off the bat, but no one is as clean as these characters appeared to be.

 

Second, the focus was on the case more than it was on the main characters.  Personally, I like my characters to grow and change, but they can't do that if the relationships take a back seat to the case.  What there was of the relationships was really good.  I loved the fact that Baxter wants Trueheart to take the Detective's Exam and I really liked hearing what Trueheart had to say about Eve's current case.  It was nice to see him growing into his job and getting rid of some of his green, as Baxter put it.

 

Third, I did not like the fact that Eve was willing to put civilians in harm's way in order to catch the killer.  I felt this was very out of character for her and I don't understand why she couldn't just arrest all parties before the big Icove premiere.

 

Let's face it; I will always love this series.  The characters are great and it always feels like coming home when I jump into one of the books.  That doesn't mean that some of the books aren't going to be clunkers.  At 30+ books that would be a miracle.  I am holding out a lot of hope for Thankless in Death because Roarke's family are going to be back in that one and I love seeing Eve off kilter, which is sure to happen with all those people.

Review of Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund

Secret Society Girl  - Diana Peterfreund

I hereby confess...

My college experience was nothing like Amy Haskel's, but then again I don't think that many people could say that theirs was. Eli University Junior, Amy Haskel is surprised to find that she has been tapped by Rose and Grave, the most prestigious Secret Society on the Eli campus, especially since it is rumored to only accept men. (She was expecting Quill & Ink, a less prestigious, but still cool society.) At first, she's not quite sure what is going on and she's somewhat certain that she is being punked. She finally realizes that it isn't a trick and decides to go with the flow, for possibly the first time in her entire life. (Her friend with benefits told her to stop over-thinking things, so she agrees to be tapped.) From there, things get a bit...surreal: i.e. parties with rich people and pop stars, where they drink champagne, eat lobster dinners, and go swimming in their underwear--not to mention to sudden threats made by the society's alums, a minority of whom do not want women in their society (cause in their world women only want to have sex and then cry rape).

At first, I wasn't sure what to make of this book. It isn't what I normally read and until I got about 2/3 of the way done with the book I wasn't sure I was going to keep reading. It wasn't until all the crap with the Patriarchs (the oh-so sweet Society leaders that somehow think that it is still the 19th century) that I really got pulled into the book--not that I had to force myself to read up until then, but I just wasn't willing to commit to the book (I guess that makes me a bit like Amy since she kept vacillating over whether to (1) joint Rose & Grave and (2) fight to stay in it once the Board decided to nullify her entire class's membership). Once I got into the book, however, I couldn't put it down and ended up finishing it in less than 24 hours.

The one thing that I didn't really like was that I felt the end was a little rushed. As soon as the Society's current class confronted the board, everything was good again. It didn't sit right, which is why this book only got 4 stars instead of 5. I am, however, going to give the next books in the series a try--as soon as my library gets them to me.

Review of What I Did For Love by Susan Elizabeth Philips

What I Did for Love - Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Over the last few years I have heard a lot of good things about SEP and so when I saw What I Did for Love (henceforth known as WIDFL mostly because I don’t want to keep writing the entire title out) at my local library last week I decided I would give her a try.  Never have I ever regretting starting a book the way I do for this one.  WIDFL is the novelized version of the Jennifer Aniston/Brangelina saga–and not even a particularly good novelization either.

 

Georgie York had it all.  She was America’s sweetheart from the time she was 15 when she began starring in the much lauded sitcom Skip and Scooter (I shit you not) opposite Bramwell Shepherd.  For 8 seasons, Georgie’s Scooter got into one crazy situation after another only to be saved by young Skip, but just as the titular pair were to get together the network canceled the show because Bram was having WAY too much fun with his celebrity status (read lots of drugs and sex).  Ah, but Georgie didn’t let that get her down.  She started starring in bad romcoms and found herself married to a movie hunk named Lance.  (Someone seriously needs to talk to SEP about her name choices.)  After finally finding happiness, her entire world came crashing down when Lance leaves her for some bimbo named Jade, who liked to engage in a lot of humanitarian endeavors–well, hello, Angelina Jolie!  But that wasn’t all.  Nope. Brad–I mean Lance–told the press that the reason they broke up was because Jennifer–I mean Georgie–didn’t want to have kids and that he did, which we are told is not the truth.

 

Shortly before the book starts, it comes out that Lance and Jade are having a baby (aw, hi, Shiloh!) and the press begins their Georgie pity party, which, unfortunately, isn’t anywhere near as big as the one that Georgie throws for herself.  Georgie doesn’t know what to do and so she runs to her closeted gay best friend forever (GBFF) and asks him to marry her–that way the press would leave her alone.  What a sweetheart.  She spins it as if she would be doing the friend–whose name escapes me–a favor because he needed a beard in order to keep getting the role of Frat Boy in Chief (because no gay actor has ever successfully played a straight horndog–someone better go tell that to Neil Patrick Harris).  Thankfully, GBFF turns her down, but not before Bram overhears the conversation, allowing him to be a total and complete asshole to both Georgie and GBFF, who is apparently one of his GBFF’s as well.

Next, Georgie decides to have some girl time with her friends–all of whom have starred in their own SEP novels–and it is decided that she would go to Vegas for a girls’ weekend.  Of course she gets stood up by her friend and of course Bram shows up and the two of them get completely drunk and get married.

This is where I got off the SEP train.  There were a lot of problems with this book, the least of which was the fact that it was a thinly veiled poke at the whole Aniston/Brangelina mess.  If this was written as a tongue in cheek deal, I might have been able to get through with it, but alas it was not.  SEP was totally serious with these characters and we as readers were not meant to make the connection.  Unfortunately, this reader did.

 

Also unfortunately, I didn’t like the main characters.  Georgie was no Jennifer Aniston.  She was a self-centered little bitch, who cared more about what the press was saying about her than about anyone or anything else.  That is so not Jennifer Aniston.  At all.  Then there was the fact that Georgie acted much younger than her age.  She is supposed to be 31, but her actions are more that of an 18 or 19 year old.  She doesn’t care about anyone other than herself and she expects everyone else to be just as concerned with her welfare as she is.  The strangest thing is that she seems to have a problem separating reality from the fictional world of Skip and Scooter.  There were a few too many instances of her referring to times that Bram had to save her from things that happened between their characters on the show.  It was very disconcerting to see someone over the age of 10 not understanding that fiction is not real life.  It also seemed as if Georgie never got over the crush she had on the self-destructive, teenaged version of Bram.  At 18, that was one thing, but at 31… Not really.  (At one point, Georgie lies to Bram about the number of lovers (inflating it to make herself look better in his eyes) she has had since the one time that they screwed at some party that he threw when he was 20 and she was 18.)

 

Then, there was Bram.  We don’t get much information on him at all because most of the 70 pages I managed to read were told from Georgie’s perspective, so anything we learned about him was colored by her feelings towards him–none of which were good.  I feel that if Bram had a bigger part of the narration he would have turned out to be a better guy that he was being portrayed, but we didn’t get that at all.  The only thing we got were a bunch of flashbacks to Skip and Scooter and none of them portrayed Bram in the best light.  Maybe if I was able to get passed the 70 page mark, I would have gotten more insight into Bram, but since that didn’t happen I am going to assume that we didn’t–it doesn’t fit with the way the first 70 pages were written.

Even with all of this, I was still willing to read on, but then came the line.  The line that made me go, “Oh, no she didn’t.”  It was just so offensive that it made me wonder what type of person SEP is that she thought it was okay to put it in her book.  What was the line, you ask?  Well, it turns out that Georgie doesn’t want to “drive to LA with a hoard of photographers chasing us. AS PRINCESS DIANA WOULD SAY, ‘BEEN THERE DONE THAT.”  In what universe is it okay to even joke about the fact that Princess Diana died in an awful car wreck brought on by paparazzi who were chasing her car through the streets of Paris.  Yes, it was 1997, but it is still TOO SOON.  It will still be too soon in 2097.

 

In the end, I couldn’t bring myself to finish reading this book, which is why I have to give it ZERO STARS.  I would really like to give it negative stars, but that would probably be a bit too much

Review of "Ask Wendy" by Wendy Williams

Ask Wendy - Wendy  Williams

I don't usually go in for advice books--or non-fiction books period--but I decided to give this book a shot since I got it for free at a taping of The Chew (airing 6/7/13), so i figured i had nothing to lose. Like a lot of others have said, I don't agree with everything that Ms. Williams has to say, but i like the way she said it. This was a very fast read--maybe 1.5 hours--and it doesn't make you feel like you're a piece of crap while you're reading it. There may be instances when she calls out the person who wrote to her for advice for doing stupid things, but she never makes it seem as if she thinks that the person writing to her is stupid, which can be hard to do.

 

What I liked about this the most was that it really felt like i was reading one long magazine article. The down to earth, tell it like it is style feels like it is right out of Cosmo or Redbook and that makes it very easy to read.

Midnight in Austenland: A Novel - Shannon Hale I was told that Midnight in Austenland was much better than Austenland and I have to agree. The first book in the series was fun, but I didn't really like Jane and I didn't know much at all about Henry Jenkins/Mr. Nobley, so it was hard to care about their happily ever after. That is not the case with this book.

Charlotte Kinder was cheated on by her shithead ex, James, who took her money and slept with some bimbo named Justice--seriously, JUSTICE?! Who names their kid JUSTICE? I would rather be Apple or Suri than Justice. Anyway, feeling down about her real life, she decides to go on a vacation to Austenland, a British estate that is made into a Regency Era home, where women come to be romanced by Mr. Darcies for two weeks. Charlotte is given a whole new persona (Mrs. Charlotte Cordial, a widower visiting her brother Mr. Edmund Grey) and a man to woo her (Mr. Mallery--not a spoiler). While Austenland was very obviously Pride and Prejudice (even to someone who has never read a single Austen novel), this book is very much Northanger Abbey complete with an actual whodunit--Charlotte finds an actual dead body while playing a game very similar to one I played at a classmate's halloween party in 1994 (I was 7 going on 8 at the time--not in my 30's like Charlotte).

It was fairly obvious early on just who Charlotte was going to end up with, although from my experience reading Austenland, I wasn't going to trust anyone at Pembrook Park--no one is ever who they appear to be. In the end, I was right about the relationship, not to mention pleased with how the romance played out (I still have issues with the non-development of the Jane/Henry Jenkins relationship, so I was very happy to see a real build up between Charlotte and her suitor).

That said, I did have some problems with this book and it is completely the fault of Shannon Hale's world building. In creating Pembrook Park, she also created a type of prostitution house--even if no one is actually having sex. The ick factor of having women pay exorbitant amounts of money to be wooed by gorgeous men, who are being paid to be there, never really goes away. Charlotte even mentions the gigolo factor at one point. The other problem I had comes from having read Austenland. Because of the Martin twist in the end of that book, I found it very hard to trust anything the characters had to say. I was always suspicious of Eddie and even Lydia. The only one I never doubted was Miss Charming and that was only because of her presence in the first book. Not being able to trust the characters in a novel are being truthful is a big problem for me; it is the main reason that I do not like first person novels (you can never quite tell when the narrator is honestly representing events the way you can with the omniscient 3rd person narrator).

All in all, I liked Midnight in Austenland, and I would recommend it to anyone.

3.5 Stars
The Way Back Home - Barbara Freethy 3.5/5.
Love Irresistibly - Julie James A few weeks ago, I was walking around Barnes and Noble, feeling really good about a job interview I had just been on (unfortunately that didn't work out) when some random woman saw me looking at the shelf of Julie James books and started talking about how good her books were. Of course, I had heard of Julie James before and I had been told several times how good she was, but I'd never read any of her books before and how much she loved this book. I stood there, trying to decide between this book and the new Victoria Dahl (I chose the Dahl) when I looked at the page count. 274 pages. I couldn't remember the last time I read a book that short, and I wasn't sure about spending $7.99 on a book with less than 300 pages, so instead of buying the book then, I decided to borrow it from the library first. (I quickly realized that it was the latest in the series and that there were 3 others that came before it. I decided to read those first, and I am really glad because I am not sure that I would have continued with the series if I started with this one.)

I had a two problems with this book.

1. Too much build up, not enough pay off. Almost the entire book was about how neither Cade nor Brooke were willing to commit to a real relationship because they were both gun shy (although in different ways), and by the time they both realized that they wanted more than just sex, there was only about 50 pages left--50 pages in which they spent almost no time together. (At one point, I looked up at the page number and realized there were only 5 pages left and I found myself wondering how there was going to be a HEA when the characters barely knew each other.)

2. The main characters couldn't communicate. I liked both Cade and Brooke--I really did, but they didn't spend quality time together. It seemed that if they weren't being sarcastic they were fucking like bunnies. Don't get me wrong, the sex scenes were hot, but in a romance novel, the sex is supposed to complement the love story not take the place of it, which is what this felt like. Neither of them were willing to talk to the other. They both wanted more than what they had, but they were too afraid to say anything about it. Cade, at least, knew there was something wrong with him. Brooke, for some reason, didn't. Her boyfriends all told her that she wasn't a "big picture kind of girl," but she and her friend, Ford, both insisted that the problem was with them and not her. However, that is not the case. She wasn't looking for the big picture; she claimed she was, but she wasn't. Then when the last boyfriend, the Hot OB, left her, she used it as an excuse to try casual relationships. Unfortunately, she didn't tell Cade that. From the very beginning they were on two different pages, although Cade figured out what she was getting at pretty quickly. Never once did they talk about their relationship--not until the very end when they declared their feelings.

In the end, I do like James's writing style, but this book is not a keeper. (I did eventually buy it after realizing that there were a lot of people on the library's waiting list.) At least now I have a book to donate to Lady Jane's Salon next month.

(If you want a good book by Julie James--a book that involves a real emotional arc, you might want to try About That Night, which is the book before this in the series, although all 3 of the previous books were really good.)
Out of the Shadows (Shadows, #3) (Bishop/Special Crimes Unit, #3) - Kay Hooper Out of the Shadows is my favorite Bishop/SCU novel to date. For those that aren't familiar with the series, the SCU (or Special Crimes Unit) is the part of the FBI that gets called when conventional methods have been exhausted. This is because the SCU is made up mainly of psychics that have been brought together by Noah Bishop, the head of the SCU. Out of the Shadows, is the last book in the first trilogy (the series is written in trilogy form--Shadows, Evil, Fear, and Blood). Those that have read the first two books in the series know that Bishop has been searching for Miranda for years (ever since a case they had worked on together went bad and her parents and 2 of her sisters were killed). In this book, the SCU is called into a small town in Tennessee by the sheriff, who is trying to solve a series of murders, in which teenagers have been bizarrely killed. Believing that the sheriff is Miranda, Bishop gets a team together, and heads down South, where he finally comes face to face with his long lost love. However, Miranda holds herself distant from Bishop and his team, endangering herself and all of the other psychics working the case.

What I liked about this book was that it used psychics in a believable fashion. They aren't tarot card reader or into reading palms--they have actual ESP, and very rarely do they have the same ability. I also like that they don't solely rely on their psychic abilities; there is actual detective work going on at the same time, something I haven't really seen before.

At the end of the book, I was completely satisfied with how everything was resolved (including the overarching storyline about Miranda's family), and I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a paranormal series that is grounded in reality.