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