Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall Hannah Dennison

A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah DennisonThis book starts soon after a bang. To be specific, the bang was an Edwardian ceiling falling in at Honeychurch Hall after a pipe burst in an unused part of the manor. Kat has been asked to come and evaluate some paintings in the hope that they might get enough at auction to pay for the damage. While examining one of the possibilities, Kat discovers a secret room. In fact, two secret rooms. The second one being more of a cellar. Unfortunately, the second secret room holds a body, that of American heiress Pandora who disappeared in 1958. Unfortunately, one of the long-held memories of the village is that Kat's mother was one of the last people seen with Pandora and they were arguing.
Add in some missing treasure, long-lost loves, and the rearing ugly head of Kat's ex and this is a perfectly delightful addition to the Honeychurch series.
Four stars
This book comes out May 3

Follows Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall
Followed by Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall

Friday, April 29, 2016

All Murders Final! by Sherry Harris

All Murders Final! by Sherry HarrisSarah Winston started an online garage sale, never dreaming that it would lead her to discovering a dead body. Specifically, that of Margaret More, a woman seemingly beloved by all. At least she was well-respected. Except that she and Sarah had had some words on the garage sale site which makes her a possible suspect. It gets weirder when a picture of Sarah next to the body comes up on her Snapchat-like app. And the pics keep coming; someone is stalking her. Possibly the same person that attacks both Sarah and another garage sale site buyer. As the bodies piles up, it appears more and more like Sarah might be on the list to be the next.
This book again delves into the relationship between Sarah and her ex-husband CJ. She still has feelings for him and can't decide whether or not getting involved again with him is the right thing to do.
I didn't love Sarah in this book. Stubbornly sticking to trying and find the murderer. At least the men in her life didn't keep trying to keep her out of it (not too much). And I'm trying to decide whether or not I liked the very end of this book. I think it's where the series has been leading but I'll hold out until we read more about the future in the next book.
This book came out April 26
Three and a half stars

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Untamed Earl by Valerie Bowman

When she was fifteen, Lady Alexandra Hobbs, second daughter of the Duke of Huntley, encountered Lord Owen Monroe and fell immediately in love. It's too bad that he's such a rogue. With such a bad reputation. And it's really unfortunate that he's going to be engaged to her incredibly sister Lavinia.
Lord Owen doesn't especially want to marry the oldest daughter of the Duke. Hell, he can't even remember who she is. But his father is tired of hearing all the gossip about Owen and wants him to settle down. Owen isn't interested. Especially once he finally figures out who Lavinia is -- her reputation being, possibly, worse than his. But his inheritance is on the line so when Alexandra, who he christens Alex, offers to help, he readily accepts. Too bad he's so much more attracted to her.
The Untamed Earl by Valerie BowmanA good story that regular readers of Bowman will enjoy as will new-to-her readers. The last Big Misunderstanding was solved rather quickly so I'm not sure why it was included and I was a bit frustrated by Owen but overall a good book.
I am very interested to read the next book in the series. Especially since both the decent-seeming Lord Berkeley and Belle of the Season Sarah Highgate both seem to be heading to Scotland.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out May 3
Followed by The Legendary Lord

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Girl from Summer Hill by Jude Deveraux

Deveraux's books for me can be good or WAY too twee. This book was quite fun. Especially with the play on Pride and Prejudice with chapters that were just fun. Of course, knowing P&P made particularly squirm-worthy when Tate Lander's (Mr. Darcy) ex-brother-in-law Devlin manages to pull the wool over Casey's eyes. The phrasing is the same as ever, just a little TSTL, but in a re-working of an old favorite, it really works.
The Girl from Summer Hill: A Summer Hill NovelAcacia "Casey" Reddick is sipping her tea one morning when she's shocked to see a man come jogging into her yard, onto her porch, and then... he strips down. And takes a shower. Then, he runs in yelling at her before storming out again.
Tatton "Tate" Landers (where the HELL do these names come from? I mean, I know where they come from  but as names for romance characters?) is a bona fide Hollywood hunk. He's been typecast into the role of the brooding hero in period pieces. Which is fine as long as the paparazzi isn't following him around taking pictures when he's supposed to be on his down time. Tate's only in Spring Hill as a favor to a long-lost relative who helped Tate buy his family's estate. How annoying that he has to read for Mr. Darcy in the community theater play. But that's what you do for family. And, if you're Tate, that includes family you'd rather forget (i.e. Devlin).
I really dislike the "I'm on the pill so let's forgo condoms" especially in an otherwise very cute novel. I mean, it's nice that it was included but there are SO many other reasons to use condoms than just birth control (all of them STDs). Definitely took me out of the story and knocked it down a half star overall.
Four Stars
Will be published May 3

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Useful Book by Sharon and David Bowers

The Useful Book by David BowersExactly what the title says with few frills and furbelows, this book covers sewing, cooking, metalwork, woodworking, plumbing, electrical, laundry, and more. Each part starts with a picture of all of the items you will need to complete anything in that particular chapter. This might be cleaning items, tools, or any number of items. Then there are three to five-ish descriptions of how to actually accomplish things like sewing on a button or fixing a tile.
Can you find most of these things online? Of course. But this would be a nice collection of all of the things a new graduate might need in order to be a good adult.

This book comes out May 3.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Lost Twin by Sophie Cleverly

The Lost Twin by Sophie CleverlyIvy has been summoned to Brookstone. Her twin sister Scarlet, the more vibrant twin, has died of the flu and Ivy is to replace her. Literally. She is to <i>become</i> Scarlet. But that seems like an impossible mission even before Ivy finds Scarlet's diary. Is it possible that there is more to the story? And what is the mysterious reason that Penny seems to hate Scarlet so very much?
By becoming Scarlet, Ivy finds reserves within herself that she never knew she had. Up to and including standing up to the very mean Penny and the truly terrifying headmistress.
A fast and fun read. A mostly satisfying ending but I was glad to see that this was only the first in a series since there are some threads left undone.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Friday Night Brides by Samantha Chase

It's an interesting book that can weave together the stories of four women (three just falling in love, one in a long-time committed relationship). Of course, it did mean that some relationship issues were skated over rather quickly and the characters weren't super-well developed but for what it was, it wasn't a bad book.
Friday Night Brides by Samantha ChaseHailey, Becca, Ella, and Angie have been friends since they were five years old. And since that time, they've participated in the Friday night shows (ranging from intimate to conference size) that Hailey's mother, a bridal shop owner has put on. They've grown through flower girls to attendants and now brides. Each has her own set of issues concerning romance (that would have been fun to see developed in a full-size or at least novella length for each). Hailey has been infatuated with one of the groom models for over a year but hasn't made a move. Becca's just been dumped by her high school crush after six months of dating (cruelly, and in front of a hipster(!)). Angie met a fantastic man who she had been hooking up with until he ghosted months ago. Ella has been dating her dream man since sixth grade, they're just having problems getting to the wedding of their dreams.
Some grammar issues which I didn't count against the book since it was an ARC but I hope it gets fixed before it's printed. Also didn't love the ending which suffered because of trying to wedge four HEAs into the end of one book.
Three and a half stars
Book comes out on May 3

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fire Bound by Christine Feehan

Major trigger warnings in this book. No seriously. Lots of trigger warning scenes to be had.
Lissa Piner has figured out that she's destined to be paired with a Prakenskii. But that doesn't mean she has to be happy about it. Especially when she finds him posing as a bodyguard at her uncle's house. The uncle that the rest of the women in this series know nothing about. Oh! That's because she has a whole double-life. One that Casimir Prakenskii is going to help her break out of. And, like, 4/5 of the book is them going after her enemies. And then the Big Bad from the rest of the series, the guy that put Casimir and his brothers through these torturous schools? He's met and dealt with in the final 1/5 of the book.
Why did I give this book two and a half? I don't know. I had so many, many... many issues with this book. Issues like the fact that Casimir is a douche. Not even barely likeable. Which makes me wonder about the last book in the series with a hero who seems like he might be douchier. I quite frankly couldn't really tell how his "dominance" was different from that of the supposed bad guy. Another problem I had with this book? The ENDLESS repetition of details. I get that you might have to repeat things once. Twice seems like overkill, so when this happens with more than one point of fact.... blergh.Oh. And there's sex on a horse. So there's that.In a series of crazy-pants stories, this is the craziest-pantsiest of them all. I'll probably read the last book in the series and then lay off Feehan for awhile. Though it is a testament to her writing that I had such HUGE issues and didn't DNF. And that it came out above two stars.

Two and a half stars
This book comes out April 26

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How to Manage a Marquess by Sally MacKenzie

I was so excited for this second book in the Spinster House series and, while it was pretty much a regular MacKenzie romp, I was thrown off by a couple of things. First, the word "cock" was used a lot. A LOT. I have no issues with the word but, Good Golly, how many times does this need to be mentioned. Also, I really didn’t like Anne’s father. I get his storyline as an impetus for Anne to need the Spinster House but it sort of felt forced. Sort of like the way Anne and Nate kept getting forced together.

How to Manage a Marquess by Sally MacKenzieAnne Davenport is twenty-six years old and it appears that her father is about to marry a woman who is twenty-five. She is used to a life of independence and thinks that the Spinster House is a perfect way to keep in control of her life. Too bad her friend Cat wins the draw.

Nate, Marquess of Haywood, is relieved that Cat will be living in the Spinster House. That means she won’t be marrying his cousin, the Duke of Hart. See, there’s this curse… oh, just read the first book. Nate's not interested in marriage for himself because he has to keep his eye out for his cousin. Too bad the tempting Anne Davenport keeps drawing his eye.

Followed by When to Engage an Earl

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Best of My Love by Susan Mallery

I am getting very excited because with numerous mentions of Aidan's brothers being in Happily, Inc. (a destination wedding town) it seems like we might get a similar series to Fool's Gold but one where every-single-character from the series won't have to be added into every-single-book. Ugh.  Although, the wedging is getting more subtle. Which is nice.
Best of My Love by Susan MalleryAnd this whole book was just nice. With Shelby trying to make friends with Aidan Mitchell so that she can heal her psychic scars and figure out how to find a good man. She figures he'll be able to move past seeing women as conquests.
Aidan likes his life. He sleeps with tourists and there is therefore no chance that any of them will be wanting to turn it into anything more. Until one day, one of them returns. And it causes him to take a good hard look at himself. So when Shelby suggests a friendship-nothing-more, he's up for it.
This is a romance novel so the idea of just being friends is a LONG shot. And it would have been nice to see more friendship and less pining but regular Susan Mallery readers won't be disappointed.

Three stars
Comes out April 26, 2016

Monday, April 18, 2016

Pistols and Petticoats by Erika Janik

Pistols and Petticoats by Erika Janik
This is an interesting history but very broad and very shallow. I do enjoy histories like that but there was a lot of sacrificing of a deeper story in order to fit in more information. I really wish this had been two volumes of a hundred or so years each. More details would have made this book more compelling. Instead, it's just story, story, story with no deeper information. But a good book for that all the same.
Women have been detectives in fiction longer than they have IRL. In both streams, it took a long time for them to be more mainstream.
I do wish this had been more chronological as well. It jumped around a bit in time which got a bit confusing. The author marched through the fictional detectives up through the 1950s then jumped back to the nonfictional 1910s. With some fictional touches.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Mug Shot by Caroline Fardig

Juliet Langley is only just beginning to recover from finding a dead body and a murderer in the first book and now she's found another! At least she finds it with her ex, cop Ryder (though why this somehow clears her of suspicion seems odd to me.) The book actually opens with Juliet hanging out with Stan at his grandmother's funeral. She doesn't really like Stan but her best friend Pete is also there with his super snotty girlfriend, Cecelia who is also Stan's sister. Cecelia is a bitch but that doesn't mean it's okay for someone to stick a coffee thermometer in her neck. And it's really not okay that the police seem to think that Pete did it. So Juliet dives feet first into trying to help her friend out so that he can leave jail.
Mug Shot by Caroline FardigI really didn't like Juliet in this book. She made a lot, a LOT of stupid (I started with "questionable" and then realized that wasn't quite right) choices that made me question what kind of idiot she is. And it wasn't just the typical "oh, isn't she kooky" sort of trouble that most contemporary cozy mystery heroines get into. The woman is thirty years old and barging into murder situations all while lying to herself and everyone around her about what she's doing. Even after being physically assaulted and getting not one but two friends in trouble because of her investigations, she still keeps on keeping on.
Even with my dislike of Juliet growing as the book went on, I still mostly enjoyed this book and will probably still read the next in this series because I do like Ms. Fardig's overall style. I just really hope that A) this love triangle finally gets figured out because, really, why? It's just annoying and B) Juliet stops putting herself in such stupid situations.

Three Stars
Book comes out April 19
Follows Death Before Decaf
Followed by A Whole Latte Murder

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

'Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick

There's a preface that states that this book is a little outside the normal Amanda Quick world. I didn't think it was that far (except that it's not Arcane) but that wasn't a disappointment. In fact, I quite enjoyed the book.
'Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda QuickCalista Langley is being stalked. Little memento moris are being left in her house, on her bed. She's starting to get really frightened. And annoyed. Which is why she can't deal with her ex's ish when he shows up, begging her to take him back. And why would she? As soon as he (Nestor's the name by the way, obviously a tool (sorry if there are still any Nestors in the world)) found out that she hadn't inherited her money, she was earning it (gasp! the stain of trade!), he skedaddled right into the arms of another woman. One he's been married to for awhile now. What could make the encounter even worse? Her newest client, famous mystery author Trent Hastings, overhearing it? Yep. That would do it. Oh, and the fact that he's only checking her out because he thinks she's a con artist trying to steal his sister's money? Just icing on the cake.
But there is something more there. Something that brings Trent back right after Calista gets a message explicitly threatening her life. And, being a man not unlike his hero, he steps in to help. Actually, not in an entirely pushy way.
A story that regular Quick readers will adore and a nice glimpse into the Quick world for new readers. I wish there had been more relationship development but there was a nice look at both the characters and I generally liked both Trent and Calista, as well as their siblings.

This book comes out April 19
Four stars

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Elements of Pizza by Ken Forkish

A really well-written book with a history of pizza that felt like it was explanatory and shallow (rather than a super-deep dive into the topic), but still gave a lot of information. Would have liked some more depth on some of the topics and it was a book only about pizza but an okay read.
Unfortunately, the ARC I got from NetGalley actually looked like a galley (had both pages of a book layout on one screen) which made it really hard to read because I had to keep switching pages and text. I didn't count it against my rating but if I had bought this book or gotten it from the library, it probably would have been a DNF because it was so difficult to read. It may be fine on a larger iPad but horrendous on my small Nook and impossible on my phone.

This book come out April 19
Three and a half stars

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Built to Last by Aurora Rey

Built to Last by Aurora ReyI've been trying to expand my reading habits so I requested this book from NetGalley. It was my first F/F book and I, for the most part, enjoyed it. Of course, there was a Big Misunderstanding at the end that threw everything off but generally I enjoyed Ms. Rey's writing. The situation with Gerard... didn't seem like it got resolved. And while I generally liked Joss, Olivia was okay but a bit self-involved and it didn't seem like she changed all that much.
Olivia Bennett has just bought a fixer-upper. But she's a professor at Cornell, not a carpenter. So she hires Joss Bauer to help with updates. But sparks start to fly and soon the two are living together.
I did like that Joss and Olivia's relationship problems were all because of relationship-type-things, not people having issues with their relationship. It was interesting watching them work through their issues.
Three stars
This book comes out April 12

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Cooking Up Trouble by Judi Lynn

Cooking Up Trouble by Judi LynnI honestly can’t remember why I asked for this book from NetGalley, I think I've been trying to branch out and try new authors. If I hadn’t wanted this review to be honest about the whole book, this would have been a DNF for me. The heroine is a definite Mary Sue. In fact, the whole book is. Tessa is supposed to be this sweet heroine who has locked her emotions away after her fiancĂ© cheated on her. Even he can’t be a totally bad guy, stopping around to tell Tessa that she still deserves love. I think it’s supposed to be kind or something but comes off as smug and patronizing. And speaking of smug and patronizing, Tessa’s a romance writer. But she doesn’t write books with sex in them. She writes sweet romances and is aghast at the suggestion. (There is a sex scene in this book though).
Ian is from the “Big City” but has bought the land next to Tessa’s in order to start a vacation lodge. He fits the city slicker stereotype to a T, not being able to change a tire, buying the wrong kind of car, etc.
Everything is wrapped up so quickly and neatly, it’s eerie. Problem-solved, problem-solved. It’s like stack ‘em up and knock up down one at a time. And, good lord, we know Indiana is in the Midwest and that the people in this book have "Midwestern values," but repeating it 8 times in the first 80 pages is a bit overkill.
This book really reminded me of reading Trixie Belden. It was sort of blandly good. I know there are readers out there for whom this kind of romance is a nice read, but definitely not to my tastes.

Two Stars
This book comes out April 12

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Murder on the Hour by Elizabeth J. Duncan

I hadn't read the other books in this series but I only felt a little lost. People were introduced smoothly without too much fanfare. The mystery was interesting and there were some parts of the story that I suspect regular series readers will enjoy.
Murder on the Hour by Elizabeth J. DuncanPenny Brannigan is helping the Welsh version of Antiques Roadshow visit her small village. I have actually had the chance to go to bring some items to the American version when they were in my area and the description is very similar. Unfortunately, something happens during the show and a woman whose life was just starting to open up gets murdered.
A cute little story that was a fast read. There were some B plots that seemed superfluous to this particular book. Not having read the series, they may actually be an overarching story but having read only this book, I wasn't sure why they were there.

This book comes out April 12, 2016.
Three and a half stars

Monday, April 4, 2016

Obsession by Nora Roberts

Oh man. Oh man, oh man, oh man. This. Is. An AWESOME book. I had a couple of issues (no use of condoms, and other spoiler-ish reasons) but this really is a four-and-a-half-star book for me. Even two days later.
When she was twelve, Naomi Bowers followed her father out to the woods and discovered a horrible secret. Setting the girl free led to her father's imprisonment and her own notoriety, something that affects her again and again in the story. (I also wish we had seen more of Ashley but that may have over-bloated the book).
The Obsession by Nora RobertsShe ends up becoming a photographer and traveling around the world but, for reasons she doesn't entirely understand, she's just bought a house. A huge house. A huge dilapidated house. A house that needs a lot of work. And it's a place for her to start putting down roots. Even meeting a great guy.
Xander Keaton (Buffy fans, unite!) owns a garage in Sunrise Cove. He's not school-educated but he loves books. And it's through his love that we get passages dedicated to the love of reading. Happy sigh. Oh. And he's in a band. A smokin' hot band.
The problem being that, of course, Naomi tends to wall off her own heart because of her past and Xander can't help chipping away at it. Also, there's a serial murderer who has started killing in their town. Small detail.
I just re-read Blue Smoke and can see a LOT Of parallels with this story, but I liked this one so much more. There is less time in the past and more on the present. I also liked Xander so much better.
Roberts fans will be in love. People new to Roberts will love this book as well.

The Debutante Is Mine by Vivienne Lorret

It's been awhile since I read a story with a dastardly cousin. And while Lilah's cousin mainly wanders into the periphery of this story, he's still there, all greasy and evil.
The Debutante Is Mine by Vivienne Lorret
Yeah, so Ms. Lorret does a good job of explaining why Lilah has to be dictated by her father's will. Even though this is a trope we've seen often, there's at least some better explanation in this book other than just "Yep. This is the way it is." In order to fulfill her father's wishes, she has to marry a nobleman within three years or be forced to marry her cousin. The issue? This is her third season and  as a certified wallflower who most men don't remember, it's looking like marrying her cousin is a foregone conclusion. Then her eyes meet those of a dashing man on a large horse.
Jack Marlowe is the bastard (but acknowledged!) son of an earl who has had to fight for his opportunities in life, up to and including building his own massive personal fortune. At the end of the last book, his friend asked him to send flowers to Lilah in the hopes that it will help make her more popular and thus help her find a husband. Once Jack meets her though, he suspects that the duke, especially with his last warning away from Lilah, was really pushing them together. Especially since the duke is said to have developed a theorem to help people find their one true love.
There were some themes that I thought were underdeveloped in this book, like why Lilah felt so attached to the tenants on her family's land and what even happened to them. Also, what might keep Lilah and Jack together in the end. And the last Jack "twist" felt a little unnecessary. However, overall, the book built nicely on the first in the series and I'm looking forward to seeing what the backstory is for their friends' feud and how it's going to be resolved.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sex in the Museum by Sarah Forbes

Sex in the Museum by Sarah Forbes
With a nice mix of autobiography and museum history, this book lays out how Sarah Forbes went from anthropology grad student to a museum curator. I like sex, learning about the history of sex, and work fairly closely with our curator so this book was pretty much catnip for me. This book had lovely drops of the history of sex interspersed nicely with the story of both Ms. Forbes and the Museum of Sex (MoSex) in NYC. A nice, interesting book and an easy read.
Four stars.
Comes out April 5

Friday, April 1, 2016

Good Dukes Wear Black by Manda Collins

Good Dukes Wear Black (Lords of Anarchy, #3)
Piers Hamilton, the Duke of Trent, inherited a mess when he became the new leader of the Lords of Anarchy. He's working hard to bring in new members to help supplant the ones who were somewhat less than... salubrious. But his club still has a fairly bad name among the gossips. And that is driven home to him once again when Ophelia Dauntry comes to him for help, accusing his club of assigning her friend to an asylum.
Ophelia is terrified. She's a writer for the Ladies Gazette (she writes about needlework but would like to concentrate on more meaningful stories) as is her friend Maggie. Ophelia knows that Maggie's husband isn't thrilled with their work but she didn't think that the man would consign Maggie to a place as horrible as Dr. Hayes' Clinic.
I didn't love the subplot of Ophelia's mother and didn't quite feel like I got to know Ophelia or Piers but I did like the book overall.

This book comes out April 5
Follows Good Earl Gone Bad