Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Should I Scoop Out My Bagel?: And 99 Other Answers to Your Everyday Diet and Nutrition Questions to Help You Lose Weight, Feel Great, and Live Healthy by Ilyse Schapiro and Hallie Rich

Should I Scoop Out My Bagel?: And 99 Other Answers to Your Everyday Diet and Nutrition Questions to Help You Lose Weight, Feel Great, and Live Healthy
The puns. Oh. My. God. The puns. My review started with, "Oh, this is a little punny" to "It's unfortunate that so many puns were included" to seriously considering this as a DNF book. The regular writing style is breezy, informative, and interesting. So why so many puns? Especially since they are more annoying than fun-filled and unerringly point to expanding waist-lines rather than health. The most useful (and readable) parts come when the authors are more serious. A few scattered puns? Engaging. Starting, ending, and then scattering up to 3 more in each 1 page section? Infuriating.
This book started off a little smug - in discussing bagels, they say, (19) "the taste may not compare, but we love our asses in our favorite jeans more." It's just a retread of "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." It's tone-deaf in a book that's supposed to be about healthy choices.
But the information about whether to blot your pizza (question 3, the answer is no) is more helpful, as are most of the answers to the (again) pun-filled questions. And that's the most frustrating thing about this book, it's seriously helpful but nearly unreadable. If you're looking for a weight-loss book, this is as good as any other. Unfortunately, I think this was supposed to be a nutrition book and in that regard, fell short.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How to Rescue a Rake by Jayne Fresina

We've met both Diana and Nate in previous Book Club Belles Society books. And it always seemed that they were destined for each other but we find out it is now three years later and, due to a Big Misunderstanding, the two parted ways. Diana is now firmly on the shelf (although wouldn't she have been at 24 as well?) and a bit meeker, a bit quieter than she used to be. She laments often that her good friend Cathy, the other "quiet" one of the group, has married and left town (well, more sad about the latter and happy for her friend about the former).
Captain Nate Sherringham is in town on a piece of business. He's not sure how he got roped into bringing along a rather notorious divorcee (actually, he knows that he's a sucker for helping women) but he's glad that he'll have a chance to show snooty Diana that he's made something of himself.
How to Rescue a Rake by Jayne FresinaThere were misunderstanding on both sides but the two slowly start to realize what those mistakes were and a trip to Bath, where the two meet again and can start anew, might just let them find their HEA.
I really vacillated between a three and four-star review on this one. I had a lot of issues with the book (the Bath scenes are a bit drawn out and seem out of character for Diana) but it was overall not out of the way Fresina has framed this series so I think that people who enjoyed the first two books will really enjoy this one as well.
This book comes out Jan. 5, 2016.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Door by the Staircase by Katherine Marsh

The Door by the Staircase by Katherine MarshMary's life is like a fairy tale. Unfortunately, it's the first part of the tale. She's been orphaned and left to one of the less desirable places to live. There's no hope that she's going to be adopted so she tries to escape instead. She's thwarted by a strange wind which turns out to be a good thing since a strange woman, Madame Z, shows up the next day and wants to adopt Mary. From then on, Mary learns the ins and outs of living with Madame Z and in the strange new town of Iris which seems to be full of tricksters and magicians. But are some of them using real magic? That's not possible. Is it?
I very much enjoyed this story, especially the way some of the usual fairy tale tropes are subverted to make a truly charming tale.
This book comes out January 5, 2016
Four stars

The Lady's Command by Stephanie Laurens

We so rarely get romance books that start at the marriage, I was really excited to read the latest from Stephanie Laurens (well, over and above the usual Laurens excitement level).
Declan and Edwina Frobisher have only been married three weeks when his top-secret government job pulls him back into play. While Declan was happy to marry Edwina and delighted to discover her link to Neville Roscoe ("The Lady Risks All"), he wants to tame some of her more...  adventurous tendencies. Oh, not all of them, just the ones that might lead her into danger.
The Lady's Command by Stephanie LaurensThis one didn't have the... overwhelming sense of urgency running throughout the entire book that many of Laurens' adventure novels have. And yet, I didn't feel like it suffered. And there was only one mention of someone's [adjective] [soul/spirit/etc.] which was a great relief since it got more than a little repetitive even when I first noticed it in Chillingworth's book.
A very nice addition to the Laurens canon and I can't WAIT to read the next one.

Four Stars
This book comes out December 29, 2016

Saturday, December 26, 2015

America's Favorite Holidays by Bruce David Forbes

A look at five holidays that seem to be a major part of the American (at least United States culture); Christmas, Valentine's, Easter, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.
I liked his point about the variety in Christmas celebrations not only being religious vs. cultural but also parts of various branches of Christianity.
America's Favorite Holidays by Bruce David ForbesIt was interesting to read about Valentine's that it was a fully-commercialized holiday long before Hall ever created Hallmark. I also enjoyed Forbes' discussion of how the symbol of the heart became part of our culture and discussion on why it has that particular shape.
All of the holidays had interesting stories and links to various "beginnings." An interesting read with okay writing but sometimes the repetition of specific points or ideas gets to be a bit much.
Three stars.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Death Crashes the Party by Vickie Fee

Death Crashes the Party by Vickie FeeI'm starting to find a divide in the cozy mysteries that feature a perky heroine with a niche job: those heroines that do it smart (let the police in on the clues they find, tell people where they're going, etc.) and those that are idiots. Unfortunately, Liv falls into the latter category. She does some really dumb things like breaking into houses and taking evidence that could have been used in court to nail the bad guys. Basically, hindering the cops. Like, a lot. This may not annoy other readers though. And the premise of having her be a party planner could get her into some interesting places without the author having to contort reasons for her to run into bodies. I did also love the fact that Liv is married (to Larry Joe, how's that for a name?), so no love triangles!
Book comes out Dec. 29, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Anything for You by Kristan Higgins

Anything for You by Kristan HigginsLOVED this book. Loved it. 4 1/2 stars. There was a B story that I felt was distracting and not needed but we finally get to see restaurant owner Connor find his HEA. He's already found his true love. Hell, he found her 21 years ago. But they've had a rocky road and Jessica has very valid reasons for why she doesn't want to have a "real" relationship and we get to see many of those reasons as we skip along their relationship's past. And Higgins once again tugs on the heart strings while creating a truly happy-ever-after.

Four and a half stars
Comes out on Dec. 22, 2015
Follows: In Your Dreams

Monday, December 21, 2015

An Improper Arrangement by Kasey Michaels

An Improper Arrangement by Kasey MichaelsThis book starts off with a Big Secret... which could lead to a Big Misunderstanding and I was a bit trepidatious, but this was Kasey Michaels so I trusted her. And I was so glad I did. She not only had the hero talk to the heroine about the Secret, she gave the heroine a Big Secret of her own and they talked about it. It was so lovely to read.
Okay, so the Big Secret is actually introduced after the prologue wherein our hero and his three friends entrust some instructions for a large battle to a young man who, instead, runs to safety. And then his father bought a medal for him. So Gabriel Sinclair is pissed. Well, not as pissed as he used to be since it's over a year later. Instead, he's more concerned that his uncle, the duke, has retired to his bed. It seems the last five dukes have all died close to their sixtieth birthdays and he is rapidly approaching that age. Meanwhile, Gabe's aunt has just returned from the United States and is bringing a surprise.
Dorothea, "Thea" Neville is twenty-two and this trip seems to be her last chance for marriage. She's not particularly interested in Gabe, even though he's the ducal heir. But there's something about his wit (he feels the same about hers), and their mutual attraction that seems to be pulling them together.
A fast and fun read. I also enjoyed the B plot of Thea's maid, Clarice, being elevated to companion and getting engaged to Gabe's friend Rigby (the requisite "silly" one of the group.)
Next up, is Cooper Townsend, recently given the title of Baron, who also had several pamphlets written about him. He needs to get married so women will stop chasing him. I do love those stories.
Book comes out December 29, 2015.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World's Finest Actor by Robert Schnakenberg

The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray by Robert SchnakenbergI'm not a HUGE Bill Murray fan (I like his work, but am not obsessive) but thought this looked like a fun book offered from NetGalley so I requested it. I guess Murray is pretty darn private so there didn't seem to be anything groundbreaking about the book. I'm guessing that this book might be more geared toward the hard-core fans but I could be wrong. For someone who doesn't know much about Murray other than his general body of work and the fact that he seems to photobomb an ungodly number of people, it was just okay.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Meditations on Intention and Being by Rolf Gates

Meditations on Intention and Being by Rolf Gates
A really interesting read. I loved most of the meditations and even got some ideas for some new ones of my own. There are many that could be adapted for yoga classes or other group settings. I wish there had been a bit more background about meditation but maybe that is more in his first book which I haven't read. Definitely a book that could be read by beginners to expert level.
4 stars
Comes out Dec. 8, 2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Broken Resolutions by Olivia Dade

Broken Resolutions by Olivia DadeBeing a librarian, it can be hard to read a book that has one as the main character because the setting/people are often so far off what a professional librarian would be/do. However, Olivia Dade was a librarian (assuming in a public library since that's where she set her book) so this rings a bit more true. Although few librarians I know would have been able to run as many "risque" programs as Angie. Although she didn't really run the New Year's program this is centered around. She tricks her friend Penelope into it. Penelope is wanting to spend the evening at home with a burger and TV but she trades all of the Saturdays in January for this one evening (assuming that they are both salaried, this could work (What? it's harder for me to suspend disbelief for librarian books, this thought actually crossed my mind). While at the New Year's Eve party, Penelope meets Jack Williamson and they are instantly and majorly attracted to each other. There are library shenanigans as games are played (it's a singles event), all of which are again, risque being fairly focused on erotica.

I was annoyed with the last little twist. Especially considering that they both thought they had found their soulmate after less than 6 hours of first laying eyes on each other but it was overall a fast and fun story and I wanted to know what happened with Angie so I immediately got the next book (review to come on Jan. 12, 2016).

This book comes out Dec. 8, 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Secret Sisters by Jayne Anne Krentz

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Madeline "Maddie" Chase has inherited a B&B empire upon her grandmother's recent death. As the contemporary portion of the book opens, she's breaking up with her current boyfriend with backup provided by her security consultant, Jack Rayner. If you've read JAK before, you can probably figure out who the boyfriend at the end is going to be as well as how the roles for the rest of the main players will fall out. The first chapter shows an incident in her past that ended in death so she has reasons for trust issues in the present. And then the caretaker at the site of that incident calls and says he needs to talk to her. When she gets to Cooper Island, the caretaker has time to gasp out his dying words before he expires. And then it all goes down hill from there.

Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann KrentzOkay. So-- the title. The phrase seems to imply girls that would have a) at least stayed in touch with each other over the years and been very close or b) had more interaction in this book, or maybe even c) been newly discovered siblings after a parent died, but no. Or we could have had some more explanation of how that came to be-- was it actually tied to the opening chapter? But, no, none one of these occurs. It was annoying because throughout the whole book, I just kept trying to figure out why this book was given this title since that part of the story is such a small aspect (though it is occasionally shoe-horned in). Even Maddie's suggestion of "Nightmare at Aurora Point" would have been better-fitting.
I have and always will auto-add any of JAK's books (under any of her pen names) to my TBR books because they're usually so enjoyable. This one... just didn't work as well. I liked both Trust No One and River Road (the latest two new (i.e. not re-released) contemporaries) better. (Actually, that's just based off of my reviews. I'm off to re-read those as well. Just for research ;-) )

There was a LOT going on in this book and it did get a bit hard-going.The B plot of Daphne and Abe was rather well glossed over and I would have liked to see more of it. On the second reading, it was a little easier to pick up all the threads of the plot, but will every reader have a chance for a second reading?
First read for me was 3 stars, second bumped it up a bit higher. And, after working out and thinking about it a bit more, I'm going to bump it up to 4 stars. I really liked Maddie and Jack. I just really wish we had seen more of Daphne and Abe. Maybe a novella from their point of view...?

For all that this is a rather long review, I think that regular JAK readers will enjoy this story. And the excerpt from "'Til Death Do Us Part"? ... I can't hardly wait!

Secret Sisters comes out Dec. 8, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I'll be There by Samantha Chase

I was SO looking forward to the story of Zach and Gabby. Wounded hero and dedicated assistant? And the glimpses of their story in the previous book? HAWT. But then... came the last 60 or so pages. Why? Why were these included. We've seen Zach being an alphahole. We've seen him do it a LOT. So why one more instance? Why not explore more with Gabriella and her family instead of wrapping up a rather large story line in two paragraphs? This was a definite three-to-four star book for me and then... yet ANOTHER Big Misunderstanding. Blergh. Just Blergh.
I'll Be There by Samantha ChaseAfter a climbing accident leaves him in a long recovery, Zach Montgomery is cranky. So cranky that his family is threatening to remove him from his position in their company (but of course, they wouldn't, they love him but want to try and knock some sense into him.) They also want to hook him up with his assistant, Gabriella. The two have been circling around each other for years.
Gabriella isn't sure why Zach went from being a friend to being an asshat and she's tired of putting up with it. But she doesn't want him to lose his job so she decides to help out, just one more time. (and one more time and one more time...)
Two stars.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Controlled Burn by Shannon Stacey

When Jessica Broussard was contacted about her grandfather taking a fall, she was shocked. She knew her father hadn’t spoken to his parents in years. But he wasn’t dealing with the problem and she was curious about the family she’d never known so she hopped on the plane from San Diego, deciding along the way that she was going to help them however she could, even if that meant helping them move into a new home.
Controlled Burn by Shannon StaceyRick Gulotti also thinks that Joe and Marie need to move out, but he doesn’t think they should do it just because some granddaughter they never even knew about is pushing them out. He has been renting their third floor for years and has been taking care of them the whole time. This long-legged blonde from California isn’t pushing them out before they want to go.
This is a romance, so of course they start to find some middle ground. And that does start with some great sex. It was a little… shallow. I never got the sense of a deep connection between the two but that didn’t destroy the book for me. Maybe not as good as the early Kowalskis but still good.
I didn’t finish the first book in the series before reading this one and was just fine with catching up. Quite frankly, I appreciated the light touch of bringing in some of the characters from the first book without being hit over the head with them.

Three and a half stars

Followed by Fully Ignited

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Living Mindfully: At Home, at Work, and in the World by Deborah Schoeberlein David, David Panakkal

Living Mindfully by Deborah Schoeberlein DavidThis book starts off a little slow for those who have practiced meditation in the past or read any books about it. But for those who haven't, this might be a nice way to begin. And the middle section is a fabulous re-read, even for those who have tried these techniques before. The writing and editing make this an incredibly easy read.
I wish that the last chapter hadn't been quite so preachy, but it's overall a book worth reading.
Four and a half stars
This book goes on sale November 24, 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio and Will Staehle

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye by Tania del RioWarren is an unusual little boy with crooked teeth and a face like a toad, but long luxurious blond locks. He lives in a hotel but it is nothing like Eloise. It used to be a rather grand hotel but all that changed when his father died five years ago. Then Uncle Rupert took over. But Uncle Rupert is lazy so eventually all of the guests stopped coming. The only staff member left is Chef Bunion. Even worse, Uncle Rupert married Aunt Annaconda four months ago and she is certain there is treasure hidden somewhere in the hotel, The All-Seeing Eye. 
All of the action starts on a day that an automobile finally comes to the hotel. Who is this mysterious visitor, all wrapped in bandages and only communicating through picture cards? Is he just a guest? Or is he after the treasure? Is he even a he? 
All of this is just the beginning of a rather fun little story with some fantastic illustrations. I had some frustrations related to pages not coming up on my ereader. Since mine was an ARC, that may not happen on other devices but I suspect this books would be more fun as a hard copy anyway.
Comes out November 24, 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Master of the Prado by Javier Sierra

The Master of the Prado by Javier SierraI grabbed this book because something about the description reminded me of "Shadow of the Wind" and I enjoyed that book a lot. I wasn't disappointed. It was like a mix between that and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children with a touch of Da Vinci Code. It's the story of what happened to our first-person narrator punctuated by paintings from the Prado (and some other museums). There were places that dragged and I didn't always follow the logic being told to us by the Master but it was overall an entertaining read.

p. 24 "Following the trail of events like these can lead us to the very origins of our written culture, and can also bring us warnings about the future"

Thus sets our narrator on a trail of what story was being unfolded by the great masters including Da Vinci, El Greco, and more. It is being explained to him by an older gentleman who approaches him at the Prado and leads him down what may or may not be a garden path.

This book comes out Nov. 17, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Death before Decaf by Caroline Fardig

This seemed like almost any fun and fluffy mystery that I've read lately. Main character is down on her luck, her last man (in this case, fiance) left her in the lurch, she's picking up the pieces of her life with the help of friends (potential love interest, Pete, who has her managing his father's coffee shop where she worked in college) but has to solve that pesky murder that she's suspected of perpetrating.

Death Before Decaf by Caroline FardigI think I need to get off the cozy-mysteries-with-a-cute-but-quirky-narrator train for awhile. I've read a LOT of them lately. Maybe cleanse my palate with some romance novels.
So, Juliet returns to the coffehouse near Vanderbilt where she quickly gets herself in trouble by reprimanding the staff rather harshly (and then trying to apologize later which I thought was dumb, she had good reason to say what she did and that staff needed a wake-up call). The one who gives her the most grief, Dave the cook, is, of course, the one who winds up dead in the dumpster. But, luckily for Juliet, Dave wasn't a very nice person (when are they ever?) and had lots of enemies.
A good book but nothing new under the sun. Will still probably try to read the next one to find out what happens with Juliet and Pete.
Comes out Nov. 17, 2015
Three stars

Followed by Mug Shot

Monday, November 9, 2015

How to Bewitch an Earl by Ally Broadfield

How to Bewitch an Earl by Ally BroadfieldThis was a fun little novella, as with most shorter books, I wish it had been longer so we could see more of the development of Isabella and Edward's romance. Also, the plotting was a bit uneven but I will most definitely be looking for the next book in the series.
Edward is somewhat obsessed (we're told that he is but don't really see it) with finding a lost family treasure, a tiara with pink diamonds. But he's been somewhat of a wastrel (again, told, but not seen, we generally only see a good guy who even sets up a fake engagement so that the other ladies at his party can begin to look at the other men for marriage possibilities.
Isabella is more consistently developed with a love for her family and trying to adjust to what she knows is her new station in life. I didn't especially warm to her but I understood her motivations.
Can't wait to see what happens between Thornfield (Edward's friend) and Louisa (Edward's sister).
Three stars.
Comes out on Nov. 30, 2015

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Lady Intrigue by Sabrina Darby

Lady of Intrigue by Sabrina DarbyGah. I remember reading the plot for this book and thinking, "This is not a book I'd like to read" (even though I've quite enjoyed two of Darby's other books) but I must have accidentally hit the "Request" button because it turned up in my NetGalley queue. And I think it was her writing that made me not... hate this book. It took me awhile to get into the book and I never quite connected to Jane and never really got the connection between these two. There's insta-love and then there's insta-love and this just didn't quite make me buy them as a long-lasting couple. There is also the issue a lot of early series book face with trying to introduce at least one of the people who will feature in later books -OR- an overabundance of secondary characters.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2,100 Asanas by Daniel Lacerda

I really liked the beginning of this book, the overview of the history of yoga was very readable and held my interest. I think even beginners would be able to follow it. The pictures were great and having variations on the poses was fabulous. I wish there had been more "regular" folks pictured and not so many yogis. Also would have liked more explanation of how to get into poses but overall a very good book.
Four stars

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Silent Nights edited by Martin Edwards

Containing some well-known favorites (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Blue Carbuncle," Dorothy L. Sayers "The Pearl Necklace," etc." as well as other short mystery stories set around Christmas. Some are more Christmas-sy than others but it is a nice cozy collection that will help get you in the holiday spirit.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Sport of Baronets by Theresa Romain

The Sport of Baronets (Romance of the Turf, #0.5)Hannah Chandler and Bart, Sir Bartlett, Crosby are part of a generations long family feud. So when they both claim a colt that is then stolen, they have to work together to get back a potentially family-saving colt.
For a novella, I really enjoyed getting to know as much of the characters that we got to see. Can't wait for the rest of the series.

Four stars

Followed by A Gentleman's Game

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Irresistible Rogue by Valerie Bowman

The Irresistible Rogue (Playful Brides, #4)The start of this book really didn't draw me in. I felt like it was a bit havey-cavey what with all the action that we're just dropped into the middle of. which can be an interesting way to start a book but didn't work here. And then there's a couple of info dumps that aren't as well done as previous Bowman books.
It seems that Daphne Swift, our heroine, married Rafe Cavendish because she can speak Russian and her brother wanted her to help. 
I'm not sure if I just had a harder time suspending disbelief or if this book truly was as silly as I was finding it. I won't quit reading this author but this book wasn't quite as good as the previous in this series.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Haunt Couture and Ghosts Galore by Rose Pressey

Haunt Couture and Ghosts Galore (A Haunted Vintage Mystery #3)This is definitely not a series to be read quickly one after the other. What is kooky and fun well-spread apart just becomes predictable and repetitive. I really hope our characters move along in the next book because I didn't see much growth from Cookie in this one. It may not have been as annoying if I hadn't read all three within a few months of each other.

But our intrepid ghost-seeing Cookie is back. This time the ghost is a former private investigator who is tied to a hat. And the victim is a not-so-nice fashion designer who ends up dead in an alley with no shortage of suspects.
Three stars

Followed by Haunted Is Always in Fashion

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What Happens Under the Mistletoe -- Anthology

<i>The Heiress and the Hothead</i>by Sabrina Jeffries
Whoa. I mean, whoa. Never has danger boner been so egregious. And yet, still -- this was a solid three and a half star story. Alexandra Keane, Jeremy's sister and a mill owner, is shocked when an unknown man kisses her at her brother's Christmas house party. Even more so when she discovers that he is Lord Stephen Corry (younger brother of sequel bait Warren and, I can only assume, Warren's ward, Clarissa) who is a reformer who writes exposes on various... English mills. So she's immediately suspicious about his motives. But they find out that they might have more in common than they think and that might include love.
>> <i>Twelve Kisses to Midnight</i> by Karen Hawkins
>> Marcus is not happy to see his former fiancée standing at the Christmas house party he's attending. Kenna left him a month before their wedding then married a man nineteen years her senior. It's been ten years but he's having a hard time remembering that.
>> And, of course, they've both changed. Luckily, an unexpected snowstorm gives them time to explore those changes.
>> I definitely liked this, warts and all. 4 stars.
>> <i>By Any Other Name</i> by Candace Camp
>> Rylla is worried about her brother. He's been missing for weeks and she just wants him home for Christmas. So she does what any good romance heroine would do and dresses like a man and heads to a gambling establishment to find him. Luckily, when she is robbed on the way out, she is rescued by Mr. Gregory Rose who not only promises to help her brother, he falls in love.
>> Cute. A bit whirlwind but enough for 3 1/2 stars.
>> <i>Sweetest Regret</i> by Meredith Duran
>> Two years ago, Lucas Godwin started to court Georgie but then abruptly left Munich. She has never forgotten that. But now a diplomatic mission to find a lost letter gives them a second chance at love.
>> A little trite maybe, but a cute story. 4 stars.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Say You'll Love Me by Ally Broadfield

I assumed this was the author's first book because it seems somewhat unpolished (according to Goodreads, it looks like it's her third). Of course, I did read an ARC so maybe some of the jerky story telling will be smoothed out in the final product.
Say You'll Love Me by Ally BroadfieldLady Abigail Hurst is delighted to be engaged to her childhood friend. At least until her engagement ball (when the book opens) and she sees her fiance trying to seduce one of his sister's maids. She's heartbroken. Even more so when the made later turns up dead and her fiance is the main suspect.
There was a LOT going on in this story and some parts of the story seemed like they were just stuck in to various pages. What with Abigail deciding that she's going to investigate the murder and then falling in love with her best friend's brother (a relationship that never felt developed) etc., etc.
Overall, an okay book with bones that make me think that this author might produce some great stories soon.
Comes out 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hot Holiday Nights by Jaci Burton

Hot Holiday Nights by Jaci BurtonHoly menage, Batman! Warn a woman, NetGalley! This book suffered for me because this is NOT one of my favorite romance tropes. I generally like Burton's writing, even if it does get a little more explicit than I like. For the rating, this is my personal opinion. Do I think that regular Burton readers will enjoy the story? Probably. Do I like that Victoria was the leader in initiating this triad? I gave it a whole extra star because of that. I liked that she was confident in herself and her men.
When Victoria Baldwin finally takes a vacation, little does she suspect that she'll be falling in love. And falling in love.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Santa Claus Man by Alex Palmer

The Santa Claus Man by Alex  PalmerGenerally, I try to avoid biographies written by family members who aren't children. People tend to be glamorized. And while that did happen in this book, it was still a well-written book. And an entertaining read about an interesting con man.

Snoopy: Contact! by Charles M. Schulz

Snoopy by Charles M. SchulzSnoopy rides again! Mainly stories connected to the Red Baron, this is a fantastic look at the work of Charles M. Schulz. And so many of the stories still work today. Simple, awesome. Definitely worth a read.

Will come out next week, October 20.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal

Regular Maggie Hope readers will love this book. I think beginners to the series will be able to fall in pretty easily be able to fall in as well.
Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante by Susan Elia MacNealPearl Harbor has been bombed and Maggie's joining Prime Minister Churchill in his trip to help American and Britain become firm allies.
She's relieved to be back in America (partly because austerity measures are not yet in place). She's also excited to rekindle her romance with John... but fate steps in. It seems that Mrs. Roosevelt's secretary has committed suicide. But we readers know that something else entirely has occurred. It seems the secretary was caught up in a scheme to discredit the president's wife (and thus, the president). But was she killed in order to further the scheme or prevent it? It seems that Maggie's skills in protection and detection will come in handy here. She'll also lend her help to defending a black man put on trial (lots of period-consistent but terribly un-PC language used herein) for killing a white man.
A lot of character development in this book. I think some people may be disappointed by some of the movement but I am actually enjoying watching Maggie grow as a person and can't wait to read the next book.

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Winter Wedding by Brenda Novak

Oof. I'm so glad I got to read this book. The last two in the series were hard reads (because Brenda Novak tends to write outside the lines of your stereotypical romance stories, maybe not quite real life but definitely some harder emotions than a lot of romance novels) and this one was no less hard but maybe just a little less on the unending "feels" which made for a nice change-up in the Whiskey Creek series.
In this book, Kyle Houseman finally gets his HEA. And it's not with the quiet homebody that he always thought he wanted. Instead, his life is invaded by Lourdes Bennett, a country star whose star is somewhat on the wane.
A Winter Wedding by Brenda NovakNeither actually wants to get involved with the other. For one thing, Lourdes is engaged to the man (her manager) she's been dating for three years. Even if he has been distant lately and more concerned about an up-and-comer than Lourdes.
And Kyle isn't interested in someone who's almost a decade younger than he is. Especially someone who certainly isn't going to want to live in Whiskey Creek, a place he can't imagine leaving. Besides, he only seems to attract crazy women (e.g. ex-wife, Noelle who can't seem to leave him be) and is still in love with his step-brother's wife, Olivia (even more complicated, she's Noelle's sister).
Like a lot of the books in this series, there is a lot of build-up to what seems to be a fairly fast ending which can be a bit disconcerting. But I'm really glad I've stuck with the series because it's one that doesn't fall into the stereotypical romance lines (which, by the way are most of my favorite books). I really, really hope that we're going to get a Baxter story. There aren't really any other friends in their group left and I'd hate to see him be left out.

Followed by Discovering You

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Adventuress by Tasha Alexander

The Adventuress by Tasha AlexanderJeremy, the Duke of Bainbridge, Emily's dearest friend has finally gotten engaged. To an American heiress no less. But Emily's not sure she can like the girl. Not because she's an American, rather because the woman can't seem to hold an opinion of her own. Instead, Amity (the fiancee) transforms to agree with whoever is talking to her.
The book opens with the death of one of Jeremy's closest friends. The authorities presume suicide but Emily isn't so sure. And there seems to be some darkness lurking underneath the cheerful facade of this honeymoon party.
The story is told in alternating first person (Emily, in the "present") and third person (Amity, snippets of the months leading up to the party). It's an interesting way to sow some red herrings quite nicely into the story.
I think regular Alexander readers will be quite satisfied with this book.
This book comes out next Tuesday, October 13, 2015.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hot Toy by Jennifer Crusie

Hot Toy by Jennifer CrusieNew Crusie book from NetGalley? Unfortunately, I hit "request" before I realized this was actually a novella that had already been published. And for being a 2006 story, this isn't really the Crusie I've come to love and know. And on re-reading... it wasn't any better..

Trudy Maxwell is rushing to find a toy for her nephew so that he can have the latest for Christmas. While at the toy store, she runs into an old associate of her father's and discovers that he too is looking for the season's hot toy. They find one left and Trudy discovers that this may be an extra special toy as it gets her into a mess of trouble with spies who want it almost as badly as she does.
I really did not like Trudy in this story. She is pushed around by her sister and more than a little flaky. Yes, it's nice that she's getting this toy for her nephew for the first Christmas after his father ran away with the secretary but, dear God in heaven, it's a toy. And hold her up to Crusie's uber-competent Agnes (Agnes and the Hitman) or self-confident Minerva (Bet Me) and this story suffers. A LOT.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Mutts Winter Diaries by Patrick McDonnell

The Mutts Winter DiariesA collection of winter strips, all in one place. it makes you realize how great Patrick McDonnell is at recycling jokes but giving them new little twists each time. Earl and Mooch are trying to figure out how to survive the long cold winter. One storyline involves hibernating while others include various types of clothing, or trying to find identical snowflakes. 

A very cute book that any comics reader will enjoy.
Will be published on October 13.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Duke and Miss Christmas by Amelia Grey

Louisa’s sister, Gwen, finds her match in this novella. She just doesn’t know it at first.

The Duke and Miss Christmas by Amelia GreyCrispin, Duke of Hurst, is visiting his uncle when he spies a young girl sitting underneath a tree. Since it’s close to Christmas, and presumably chilly, he walks over to talk to her and discovers that she has injured herself falling out of a tree trying to pick holly to decorate her home. While he’s trying to get the girl on his horse, Gwen (it’s one of her younger sisters he’s helping) comes along, believes that he’s up to dastardly deeds and proceeds to whack him with her basket.

Though this is a novella, Grey deftly adds notes about time passing so this isn’t quite a fall-in-love-at-first-sight-marry-soon-after novel. Nice addition to the series. Three and a half stars.

Comes out October 13, 2015

Follows The Earl Claims a Bride

Friday, October 2, 2015

Perfect Match by E. D. Baker

The Perfect Match by E.D. BakerThis was some interesting world building, setting up Cory Feathering in the land of Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes as a cupid who also does miscellaneous jobs on the side. Oh, and she's dodging the Fairy Guild which is after her because... she caused a problem for her in the first book. I honestly can't remember what at this point. Which, to my mind, is not a good sign. And, oh yeah, this is a sequel, but I don't think you need to have read the first book to enjoy this one.
Here, Cory is trying to figure out what's going on with her woodchuck, housesit for the three bears, and find a match for Goldilocks. These stories (and more), unfortunately start to overlap with each other to the detriment of all of them. I was slogging through some sections and flying through others. And, while I've read other stories where Guilds or similar entities become the Big Bad, for whatever reason, this book made me think of comparisons to the unions which made me wholly uncomfortable, especially in what appears to be a young adult novel. 
Two and a half stars.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Good Earl Gone Bad by Manda Collins

Good Earl Gone Bad by Manda CollinsManda Collins is a 3/4 star writer for me and this book tipped into that four-star territory. The story of an earl, probably a gambler, but not interested in driving, and the first woman invited into the Lords of Anarchy, a driving club, whose gambler father has just lost her new driving pair. To Lord Saintcrow, no less. Who confronts her before her first outing with the club. Of course, her father hadn't bothered to tell her. So when Hermione (our heroine) shows up at Lord Saintcrow's house to find him dead, with the Earl of Mainwaring (our hero), Jasper Fawley, not far behind, she's obviously in a bind. Luckily (?), Jasper has already decided that he wants to save her from her father, so why not from herself as well?
While reading the story, I highly enjoyed it. Thinking about it later has given me some pause but I really enjoyed the fact that Jasper talked to Hermione, thus avoiding many of the Big Misunderstandings that might have made this book a little less enjoyable.
Three and a half stars -- this book comes out on October 6

Followed by Good Dukes Wear Black

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Sound of Murder by Cindy Brown

I hadn't read the first book in this series (at least according to Goodreads, but the character sure felt familiar). I will be looking for "McDeath" to read though because I quite enjoyed this book. There were issues (didn't see a lot of character development (part of the first book?), story was a big convoluted, took some time to ) but I overall liked Ivy Meadows (real name Olive Ziegwart) and her zany antics (car catches fire? No problem, that's why she carries a fire extinguisher.)

The Sound of Murder by Cindy BrownThe mystery is that several residents of a retirement community seem to be committing suicide. And Ivy, as a part-time consultant  in her uncle's detective agency, is asked to help. She's also house-sitting and performing in a mash-up of "The Sound of Music" and "Cabaret." There was a lot going on in the book (also Ivy has a brother (with whom she has a complicated history), she's dating a new guy, and... and... and...). It crossed zany into overwhelming a few times but I plowed through the book in one sitting and was fairly happy when it was done.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Hay

I heard about this story on the Classic Mysteries podcast and was delighted to see it was available on NetGalley. Like many of the books from this time period, it took me awhile to wade through the story, even though the premise hits a lot of my catnips.
The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel HayOld English country house (check), set at Christmas (check), money-hoarding patriarch (check), family that's resentful (check). What's not to love? And I just can't put my finger on why it took me so long to finish this book. Part of it was the varying POVs. It got a bit confusing in the beginning. Especially with so many characters.
All of Sir Osmond's children have some reason to resent him. Whether it's his daughters who are threatened with marrying "suitable" men or being cut off or his sons who can't break free from his reins. Then there's the pretty new secretary and the fact that Sir Osmond is threatening to change his will. What was it that drove someone to dress up like Santa Klaus, hand out some gifts to the children, and then shoot Sir Osmond?
An intriguing mystery, especially if you like 1930s English cozies, but, again, can be plodding in points.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Christmas Cottage / Ever After by Samantha Chase

The Christmas Cottage / Ever AfterThree stars, two stars for the first and second story respectively. Rounded up for the good communication and pragmatism of 3/4 of the characters. Good god, I wanted to take Ava by both ears and just shake her until the stupid fell out. Would I have finished this book if it weren't an ARC? MaybeThree stars, two stars for the first and second story respectively. Rounded up for the good communication and pragmatism of 3/4 of the characters. Good god, I wanted to take Ava by both ears and just shake her until the stupid fell out. Would I have finished this book if it weren't an ARC? Maybe. But you better believe there was a LOT of skimming going on.

The Christmas Cottage
Lacey Quinn is ready to help her friend, Ava Callahan, do anything. Even get married to the wrong man. Even when Ava turns into a Bridezilla. Even when Lacey's long-time crush, Ava's brother, comes back into town... wait, what? Yes, it's been a long time, but Lacey was never more humiliated than when she threw herself at Ean and he threw her back.
But Ean has never forgotten that girl. And he's impressed with the woman she's become. Once they've spent the night in the enchanted family cabin (which, admittedly, neither actually believes in), it's destined to be true love forever.
Ever After
This story was just painful. So painful. I didn't see a copyright date from earlier than 2013 which makes it that... much.. more... painful. 
Ava's a twit. Quite frankly, not someone I'd want to ever meet. She was so self-involved, I was surprised she had time to notice how hard Brian McCabe was chasing her.. But you better believe there was a LOT of skimming going on.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Rogue You Know by Shana Galen

The Rogue You Know by Shana Galen
Since Lady Susanna's brother married Marlowe, a former pickpocket, her invitations to social events haven't dried up completely, but there's a noticeable lack of opportunities. Especially since her mother has clamped down even more. Susanna can't even go to the bathroom alone.
Until the night a man, Gideon Harrow, dives through her window. He's just stolen a necklace that is supposed to get him out of the same gang Marlowe was part of. And now Susanna has it. And she wants adventure in exchange for its return. And adventure she gets, not least because he's run off with the necklace he was supposed to turn over to Beezle (a baddie we saw in the last book) and the necklace's last "owner" is out for his blood as well. 
An okay book. At least "bubbies" were only brought up a couple of times in this one.
Three stars.

Follows: Earls Just Want to have Fun

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Death Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver

Oof. I am loving this series as much for the exploration of Amory and Milo's marriage as the mysteries that Amory keeps tripping into. After the reconciliation of the last book, Milo (seemingly?) continues his amorous ways after only a couple of months.

But the book doesn't start out that way. It begins with a dinner party. One where the hostess, knowing of Amory's involvement in solving a murder, pulls her aside and asks for help discovering who is stealing her jewels. The group that is gathered at her party is comprised of the same people who have been in the house for each theft. An injudicious statement by the hostess' nephew sets Amory and Milo back onto a bumpy road and it's not helped when Amory insists on investigating the death of that same nephew.
While the enjoyment I had for this book makes me desperately ready to read the next book, I truly hope that the push-pull of this marriage and Amory's feelings don't continue past that tome. It's nice now, but it's getting repetitious fast. We either need to see more of Milo's feelings or have Amory actually stick with her resolution at the end of this book.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Last Chance Christmas Ball - Anthology

The Dowager Countess of Holbourne, Lady Holly, is throwing her 50th Christmas Ball (also known as The Last Chance Ball, and is determined that this year's crop of new love will be no different.

The Last Chance Christmas Ball by Mary Jo PutneyA nice Christmas anthology (three stars total), that, at almost 400 pages, will definitely be worth the price of the book.

True Love Hath My Heart by Joanna Bourne
A jewelry designer who doesn't think that she deserves to marry her nobleman lover finds out differently when he helps her carry out revenge against a customer who stiffed her.
Three and a half stars

A Scottish Carol by Susan King
A story of love-lost/love-reunited makes up the second tale. Clary and Henry were once in love when he was the student of her doctor father. But something tore them apart and he left abruptly one day and she ended up marrying her cousin. Now they're back together and exploring what exactly went wrong in their past and if there's some way to correct their future.
A quiet story but mostly enjoyable.
Three stars.

Christmas Larks Patricia Rice
Sarah Jane Langsdale is surprised to discover that Ivo, Lord Harris, has returned to the house his family used to own. At least until his father left it to the local church. But Ivo has sustained a head injury and has no idea that the hose is about to be turned into an orphanage. Luckily, as Sarah Jane nurses him back to health, the two fall in love.
A little too twee for me.
Two and a half stars

In the Bleak Midwinter by Mary Jo Putney
Captain the Honorable Kimball "Kim" Stretton was just a child when he met Roxanne "Roxie" Hayward. Kim has been horribly injured in the war against Napoleon and has been hiding in his room ever since. Roxie is ready for one last ditch effort before she gets engaged to another man.
Three stars

Old Flames Dance by Cara Elliot
Lily Tremaine has lived in India for a long time. But she's returned to England to attend her godmother's Christmas Ball. And to learn if she and her childhood love, Edward, Lord Holborne (Kim's brother and the man  (possibly) about to be betrothed to Roxie) is as handsome as she remembers.
The two have some obstacles to overcome but in the end, love conquers all.
Three and a half stars.

A Season for Marriage by Nicola Cornick
Caroline (sister to Edward and Kim) had always loved her husband Piers. But she felt so guilty about accidentally compromising him into marriage. PIers had never wanted the kind of marriage that his parents had -- where they were so wrapped up in each other that they had no time for their children. Caroline's feelings have scared him into retreating from her. So how can they work their way back to each other?
Three and a half stars

Miss Finch and the Angel by Jo Beverly
As a companion to Lady Holly, Miss Clio Finch has been a complete flop. She knows she'll have to leave soon but she does feel like she's gotten very good at fading into the background. But Gabriel, second son to a duke, notices her. And wonders what he can do to break her out of her shell.
Three stars

Mistletoe Kisses Anne Gracie
Allie is about to leave her family home. Oh, she'd be welcome to stay but she'd be the unpaid help that supervised her cousin's five children. So she's going to have one last Christmas at home, attend Lady Holly'd fiftieth Christmas Ball, and then find work as a teacher. So when an unexpected carriage ride dumps John, Lord Kelsey, and his sister at her door, she's grateful for the Christmas company. And for the chance at something more.
Could have one without the last Big Misunderstanding. Three stars.

The Name of the Game by Jennifer Dawson

The Name of the Game by Jennifer  DawsonI was attracted to this book because of its description on NetGalley. Uptight professor and flighty, sexpot baker are attracted to each other but can't tell because it comes out as fierce arguments. And this book delivered that. Along with a few tropes that will be very familiar to romance readers (neither is what they appear, family and friends know what's going on before the couple do and are smug about it, etc.) but with a lot more sex. A little more explicit than Shannon Stacey but I think there would be an overlap with fans. Something Jennifer Probst fans would enjoy as well. I'm going to head back to the beginning on this series and am also intrigued to see what will happen between Penelope and Evan.
Three and a half stars.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Marry Me at Christmas by Susan Mallery

Jonny Blaze, mega-super-action star, needs help arranging a wedding for his one and only sister. So who does Mayor Marsha pick? Could it possibly be the woman who proclaimed her ever-lasting love for Jonny Blaze in the last couple of books? Madeline Krug? Would it be a romance if she weren't the one? Maybe. But probably not.

Marry Me at Christmas by Susan MalleryMadeline seems like a decent person and so does Jonny. They are friends first which was really nice in a romance. In fact, we really see more of their friendship than of the romance. It's a quiet story (surprising since Jonny's a star. Didn't know that? Oh, well it's mentioned. A lot. So is how surprised he is not to be treated like a star. We're almost bludgeoned over the head with it.)
I may have liked this book a little more if "Thrill Me" hadn't hit such a sweet spot for me but I'm not sure. And, as always, shoehorning in past characters was just painful.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Wedding in Truhart by Cynthia Tennent

This was an okay book. The romance was somewhat underdeveloped as were the characters. There was nothing horrifically wrong with the book, just tiny things like the plot being a little thin. And I quite frankly never warmed to the heroine. She was just... whiny. I get that she was having problems and that she loved her family but good god, it was all so unending. 
Annie is that heroine. She's back in Truhart, MI to help her mom and brother run the family inn. They're just a down-home family, pragmatic while still eccentric. But she, her mother, and her aunt are all currently in Atlanta to celebrate her sister's engagement. Annie is delighted to learn that her high school crush is going to be the best man. And, even though she keeps saying that she's going to "divorce" him from her thoughts, she keeps jumping his bones.
Nick Conrad is happy to see Annie, even if she brings up bad memories of his hometown. And the fact that his problems with the town seem to crop up so fast and get solved the same way. 
I'm guessing this is a first book for Cynthia Tennent (which Goodreads seems to uphold) and, while this book may not have tripped my trigger, I think she's just going to get better.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Little Men by Megan Abbott

The Little Men by Megan AbbottAt 36 pages (according to my ereader; according to Goodreads, it's 71), this is a short, short story. But, oof, is it effective.
As part of the Bibliomysteries: Short tales about deadly books, this story has a short connection to mysteries, especially "Gaudy Night," one of my favorite Dorothy Sayers mysteries.
Penny is an ex-actress who has decided that makeup artistry will be more lucrative. But she is no innocent ingenue, our Penny. She has a past. And in 1953, this is not a good thing. But things are looking up. She's found a good apartment and she has a job. Too bad the apartment has a history. One that Peggy seems doomed to repeat...
Four stars for readability. Four Mwa-ha-has for creepiness factor
Comes out on Sept. 15

Donald Duck: Shellfish Motives by Romano Scarpa, Dick Kinney, Jonathan Gray

Donald Duck #1 by Romano Scarpa, Jonathan H. ...I honestly couldn't tell if this was a vintage story at first (the thugs, the kidnapping, the eyes on the ducks) but the copyright date says 2015 so I'm going with it. A great piece of nostalgia with the main story being about a scientist from Gourmaind coming over to the States and being kidnapped. But reporter Donald Duck is on the case. Thank goodness he's getting some help from his nephews.
Will come out on September 29, 2015.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Scam by Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg

The Scam by Janet Evanovich
Evanovich and Goldberg are really hitting their stride in this book. I tore through every chapter enjoying almost every moment. The absolute craziness of the series all comes together in this story. I liked this one even better than The Chase. Would this be a good stand-alone? I don't know. I feel like the build up of the first three books is nice to have so that you can understand exactly how the utter zaniness of this book (using modified land mines to deter coyotes, Kate's dad taking on a member of the Yakuza, bringing in a driver whose last misdeed was to steal a tour bus... with the tourists on it) is central to the series.
I am also really enjoying the interplay between Kate and Nick. With some series, it's just like "Get ON with it already already!" but I tend to feel that more keenly with love triangles (I'm looking at you, Joanne Fluke). Evanovich and Goldberg have created (probably more the former, based on her other books) a great repartee between the two where the sexual tension is at a nice simmer.
This time, Kate (FBI agent) and Nick (sorta-not-really-reformed criminal) are after a casino magnate who is laundering dirty money for some really bad dudes. It's up to them to infiltrate the casino and bring the bad dudes to justice. AND doing it while meting out justice for a friend of Kate's dad and even managing to have some fun.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Knights Bridge Christmas by Carla Neggers

A Knights Bridge Christmas by Carla NeggersWoot, woot! Another librarian book! Too bad this book suffers from the return of too much backstory. Every time a character is introduced, we're reminded of what happened in a previous. And, actually, it's not just when they're introduced. It's repetitively knocked over the reader's heads.
Clare Morgan is new to Knights Bridge. She's moved to replace the last librarian who is getting married. This is a change from her, from the hustle and bustle of Boston but she's trying to raise her six-year-old son by herself (she's a widow) and isn't interested in romance.
Neither is Dr. Logan Farrell. He loves his job as an ER doctor but, after meeting Clare, he's realizing there might be something more to life.
This was overall an okay story, but it felt so... shallow. Everything was on the surface. Where was more backstory about Logan's grandparents and great-uncle? What was with that limp last sentence before the epilogue? And what was supposed to be the tie-in with the Christmas Carol? It was started but never really followed through. Well, the characters kept bringing it up but... it felt unfinished.
Two and a half stars.