Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Gentleman's Game by Theresa Romain

A Gentleman's Game by Theresa RomainNathaniel Chandler, prodigal son (as he self-styles himself), has reluctantly returned to Chandler Hall where he discovers that his father's horses are mysteriously falling ill and his father's (female!) secretary has become even more alluring since he's been gone.
Rosalind Agate knows there is more to Nate than meets the eye. She herself is covering up many secrets while trying to uncover others.
When the two are sent on a mission to make sure that a neighbor's horse makes it safely to his next race, the interest between them sparks into passion.
A nice, steady book. Regular Romain readers will quite enjoy as will regular historical romance readers.
Three and a half stars
Comes out February 2, 2016

Follows The Sport of Baronets

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Fighting Chance by Shannon Stacey

A Fighting ChanceI'm not really an MMA fan but I did like this book. Even if I'm confused why a novella that ends at Christmas is coming out in February.
Seven years ago, Brendan Quinn loved Adeline Kendrick. But when her father pointed out the disparity in their positions (her family was white collar, his father owned a roofing company), he decided that the best thing would be for them to break up. But he didn't ever exactly explain it to Adeline. So when she goes to a casino resort for a bachelorette weekend with her two best friends and sees giant posters  of Brendan's face, she's not well pleased. Especially when Brendan himself walks off the elevator and sees her. And then they talk and reconnect. Well, not reconnect so much as fall back into bed. But over the whole weekend, they do take time to sit down and talk about their futures as well as what went wrong in the past (one person making decisions without really talking to the other...)
As usual, it's hard to really make you care about the characters in such a short story but this one does better than average.
Three and a half stars
This book comes out Feb. 1

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso by Kali Nicole Gross

Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso by Kali Nicole GrossIn 1887, a man out for a walk in his neighborhood noticed some unusual packages. When he opened them up, he discovered a torso; no head, no limbs.  It stymied the Philadelphia police force. They couldn't tell even what race the torso was. And race factors into and is woven throughout this entire story. I wish there more about the wider world. The story just dives right in  with little build up or an explanation of what is going on in the wider world.
I got this as an ARC from NetGalley on a whim. I enjoy micro-histories and thought this might provide a nice look at race relations nearing the turn of the century. It was a disappointment to me that there wasn't more of a discussion there, it was mainly "whites were intimidated by the new freedoms black people enjoyed" which is true, but awfully brief. But that may not be an issue for readers who are more interested in the macabre story of a woman who killed in a manner that (according to popular culture at least) isn't usually a female purview.
Three stars
This book comes out Jan. 28, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Spring at Moss Hill by Carla Neggers

Russ Colton is in Knight's Bridge because Daphne Stewart has an uneasy feeling about the master workshop she's going to be doing there. We met Daphne in previous books (she lived in Knight's Bridge for two years, but as the last surviving family member of the sawmill owners, she has ties to the town. She also had 40 years as a fabulous costume designer in Hollywood, even won Oscars) but Russ is brand new to KB, no ties. He's been assigned to an apartment across from reclusive children's book illustrator, Kylie Shaw.
The Spring at Moss Hill by Carla NeggersAnd why is Kylie reclusive? It's never really explained. Oh, there are throw away sentences about the fact that she just doesn't want people to know, but never WHY. There was no trauma in her past, no wanting to stay out of the limelight. She just didn't feel like it. And then freaked out that the new PI in town was going to discover her identity. It felt like a tempest in a teacup.
Reading through the book, it felt like there were several story lines that ran parallel to each other, but that never really overlapped. As if there were a warp but no weave, if that makes sense. There was no reason for them all to be in the same book.
Overall, it was okay, but not one of the better Knight's Bridge books.
Three stars
Book comes out January 26, 2016

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Presumed Puzzled by Parnell Hall

Huh. I thought I had been keeping up on the Puzzle Lady books but my library is lagging seriously behind. When I got this ARC, I was surprised to see how much time had passed. But that didn't affect my enjoyment of the book.
Presumed Puzzled by Parnell HallBecky , the local lawyer is having trouble finding a client so she asks Cora for help. When Cora finally finds a client, it doesn't go well. Paula Martindale is found over her husband's dead body with a knife in her hand. And she doesn't want to let Becky do her job. The problem with this case is that the more they clear Paula's name, the more it seems that Cora may be the killer.
A serviceable Puzzle Lady mystery. It certainly follows the formula of previous books in the series. Would you have to have read all the other books in the series? No. In fact, it probably helps to have a fresh eye.

Three stars
Comes out January 19, 2016

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My Reckless Valentine by Olivia Dade

My Reckless Valentine (Lovestruck Librarians, #2)Oh man. I really wanted to like this book as much as the first in the series. And I rarely say this, but I think it's because this book would have benefited by being a novella. There was just too much repetition and shenanigans. This is really more of a two and a half star book but I liked the relationship that Angie and Grant had (at least the romance part of it.) They knew what they wanted and just went for it. It's too bad the Big Misunderstanding kept cropping up between them. And except for that one aspect of Angie, I really did like her as a person.
Angie and Grant have one passionate night together before they discover that Grant is Angie's new boss. Their differing styles work well in the bedroom but not as well in the library. Will Angie be able to keep her job but keep her man too?
Come out Jan. 19, 2016

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Friday Barnes, Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt

Friday Barnes, Girl Detective by R.A. SprattThis reminded me very much of the Encyclopedia Brown series. Possibly because it's a children's mystery series, but more the writing. It's a great start to a very cute series. I do wish that Spratt hadn't had every, single, character tell Friday that Ian was treating her like crap because he liked her. Oh yeah, that's a good thing to start teaching little girls.
But the rest of it was a good read that I definitely would have enjoyed during my E.B. reading days. It's fairly clued with just enough bite for a parent to enjoy as well.
I really, really liked the illustrations.
Comes out Jan. 19, 2016
Four stars

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis

This book came out last month so imagine my absolute squee of delight to find out that I was still given an ARC through NetGalley.
My Kind of Wonderful by Jill ShalvisWe met Hudson "Hud" Kincaid in Second Chance Summer. He's one part of the "other families" that his father scattered around the country. He and his twin had a blow-out argument and Hud hasn't really spoken to him since then though he's desperately worried since his twin is in the army and they're never really sure whether he's alive or not. Meanwhile, their mother, never super-stable to begin with is now teetering on the edge of what seems to be Alzheimer's or some sort of dementia.
Bailey Moore has her own issues. She just wants to live life to the fullest and complete her list (not a bucket list, BTW). Though she realizes that Hud's mom might have invited her to paint a mural at the lodge under false pretenses, Hud's family quickly jumps on the idea, throwing Bailey and Hud together. And sparks have been flying since they first met on a double black diamond so Hud doesn't see this as a good thing, spending more time with a woman who is bound to change his life.
But they do get together and there is some give and take. I liked Bailey well enough but I wish we had seen more growth. Hud's hidden edges were a nice touch. I didn't love the end but this is definitely a book that regular Shalvis readers will enjoy.

Follows: Second Chance Summer
Followed by: Nobody but You

Friday, January 1, 2016

Sailor and Fiddler by Herman Wouk

Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old AuthorIt is sad but true that I am a graduated English major who never read any Herman Wouk. Of course, I know of this author; Marjorie Morningstar has long been on my TBR list but the length is... <whew!> prohibitive. But I enjoy biographies and requested an ARC from NetGalley on the basis of this being an autobiography of a 100-year-old man. It is not a biography plumbing the depths of Wouk's life (upon seeing the 100-page notation, I guessed that) but it is a charming (can one call a biography a novella? Maybe it's a novella-length biography?) read nonetheless. For such a celebrated author, Wouk has a rather dry sense of  fame, not falling into the pitfalls of his own press. He also has a wry affection for his long-time wife (who died in 2011) that shines through in every mention of her.
A nice book for those who haven't read Wouk's work and one not to be missed for those who have.
Three stars
Comes out on January 5, 2015