Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Perils of Paulie by Katie Macalister

The Perils of Paulie by Katie MacAlisterThis whole series has been fairly madcap and this book takes the adventure to TV. Our heroine, Paulie, is the daughter of a floor magnate. A floor magnate with Russian ties. An overprotective super-paranoid floor magnate with Russian ties. Oh, and at twenty-nine-years-old, she's still living at home. Yeah, she tried to leave but her father nearly had a heart attack, literally. But her stepmother, who seems adept at walking the line between Paulie and her father, suggests that Paulie join a reality show. It seems that stepmother is related to Mercy, a character from a previous book. And the reality show is right up Paulie's alley, a modern day remake of the 1908 New York to Paris race and of Nellie Bly's around the world trip, a heroine of Paulie.
Dixon is also on the race, having had a previous relationship with the producer when he was filming at his family's estate on their archaeological dig.
The two immediately feel a vibe. And like the hero of the last book in the series, Dixon has an issue that might make him seem somewhat different than normal. He doesn't like to be touched. And Paulie gets that right away. Which is really nice.
I had some issues with how fast they got together and, damn, Paulie was getting annoying at the end. Also, some parts of the storyline were a little loose, but that is not unusual for McAlister's contemporaries so I don't think regular readers will be disappointed.

Three stars
This book comes out January 3

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Secret Life of Fat by Sylvia Tara

The Secret Life of Fat by Sylvia TaraFor a book that is tackling a  fairly complicated subject, this was a nice, easy read. Normally, I don't like reading one-person examples (they just can't be spread out to the larger public) but this book made it work by peppering the beginning, middle, and end between the more laborious and intensive scientific studies. It gave each of those studies a more personal feel while giving the personal stories more credence.
I'm not sure on the last chapter with the author's experience. She talks about losing her extra weight but it's SUCH an extreme diet. And, again, it's that one-person-one-outcome that I don't love.

Four stars
This book comes out December 27

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Four Weddings and a Sixpence: An Anthology

Something Old by Julia Quinn
The set up of the book. Four girls meet at Madame Rochambeaux's Gentle School for Girls (perfect name for a book about fate and working to choose your own). One day, they discover a sixpence in a mattress and come to decide that it must bring luck. Anne, claims it first even though she's the youngest by two years, because she needs to be married before she's twenty-one (though in the ARC, it says twenty-five in the intro and twenty-one in the story, I assume that will be fixed) leading us into...

Four Weddings and a Sixpence by Julia QuinnSomething New by Stefanie Sloane
I hadn't read Ms. Sloane before but am delighted that I haven't missed many books. As far as novellas go, I'm usually very disappointed in how fast characters have to fall in love to make the story work but she played this meeting and relationship beautifully.
The beginning was a bit rough with the exposition being told to a dog but Anne is delightful as is Rhys, the Duke of Dorset. He respects her and she is smitten with him though neither wants to marry the other, he being far too young (a familiar trope) and she being leery of love after seeing her parents' tempestuous match but they spend more and more time together, eventually falling in love.

Four stars

Something Borrowed by Elizabeth Boyle
In the opening, Cordelia was a wealthy young woman but by the time we get to her story, most of her family's wealth has been squandered by her father who has since died. She has been putting off her aunts' urgings to marry by saying that she's engaged. Of course, that's not true. But her rather unorthodox companion has a solution, just ask her childhood friend Kipp, now the fourteenth Earl of Thornton.
Kipp remembers Cordelia well. He also remembers their hope for adventure in the future. But when his older brother died, Kipp had to step up to try and save the family estate. To that end, he's all but proposed to a wealthy and beautiful cit's daughter. But when Cordelia calls on their childhood promise, he's ready to help.
A little too love-at-first-sight for me but generally a good story.

Four stars

<i>Something Blue</i> by Laura Lee Guhrke
Lawrence Blackthorne is not only friends with Kipp, he is long acquainted with the Daventry family. More specifically, Elinor (Ellie) Daventry. It seems her father is something of a scoundrel and Lawrence wants to make sure that Ellie isn't going to try and ride to his rescue. Especially since she's already given up Lawrence, her childhood sweetheart, because he wouldn't stop from prosecuting her father for his crimes. But that doesn't mean he wants to see her married to a pompous ass just because the ass's father sits on the review board.
I didn't like Lawrence as much as the other heroes we've seen thus far. He is very dictatorial and autocratic. Still, a readable story from an author I enjoy.

Three stars

... And a Sixpence in Her Shoe by Julia Quinn
Beatrice (Bea) was the skeptic among the girls. She didn't think that the coin had any powers and definitely doesn't want to get married; it would mean leaving her aunts on their own. But one day she bumps into a man in the street as she's studying the heavens. It's not the eye patch that startles her, but rather the fact that his uncovered eye is the exact color of the sky.
Lord Frederick doesn't realize this. He assumes she's aghast by his disfigurement. When he then meets her again in a paper shop, the encounter goes a little better but it is outside the the butcher that he shows himself to his best form, thwarting a would-be sixpence thief.
The two start to spend more time together and realize how much they have in common.
A little too insta-lovey for me and I didn't feel like we got to know Bea and Frederick as well as the characters in the other stories but I don't think it will spoil the tale for Ms. Quinn's regular readers.

Three and a half stars

Overall 4 stars
This book comes out December 27

Monday, December 19, 2016

Lady Claire Is All That by Maya Rodale

Lady Claire Is All That by Maya RodaleLady Claire Cavendish is all that is unfashionable, the glasses, the intellect, the gall to be an American. That is why Lord Mowbray chooses her in a bet with Lord Fox to be the woman that Fox can transform her. 
Fox has just suffered a Set Down. He was involved with the most popular woman in the ton, Arabella Vaughn, who jilted him for an actor. An actor. So he decides to salvage his Male Pride (annoyingly in all caps, mentioned frequently) by accepting a bet to make Claire the most popular woman in the ton. But as he gets to know Claire, he stops thinking about Arabella and starts concentrating on what he's learning about this bluestocking. Mainly what he's learning is that he'd very much like to get to know her more.
I mostly enjoyed this book. The Male Pride thing, as I mentioned earlier, was a bit annoying and there was just a teeny bit too much going on so that parts didn't get quite as developed as one might hope. But I'm still looking forward to the story of James and (I hope) Meredith Green, the girls' chaperone.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out December 27

Thursday, December 15, 2016

In The Market For Murder by T E Kinsey

In The Market For Murder by T E KinseyThe book opens with Lady Hardcastle and Florence, "Flo," going slowly as Lady Hardcastle recovers from the gunshot wound she sustained at the end of the last book. Then they're attend a local market where they  meet a man who is later to die under suspicious circumstances. But that's not the only suspicious thing happening in town. There's a ghost, a medium who may or may not be a fake, and the theft of a trophy from the local rugby club.
All of the mysteries are woven together pretty nicely... until the end. Then it feels a little choppy. But overall a fast and enjoyable read.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out December 20
Follows A Quiet Life in the Country
Followed by Death Around the Bend

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Something Foul at Sweetwater by Sandra Bretting

Something Foul at Sweetwater by Sandra BrettingI thought I had read the first book in this series but actually had not. So it was a little interesting jumping into the series mid-stream but it was fairly easy to catch up.
Missy Dubois is a hat designer, specifically wedding hats. I had no idea that someone did that still so it was an interesting premise there. She is very interested in the local mansions and is ecstatic to discover that one is on the market for only $250,000. And the realtor is an old sorority sister. Unfortunately, an old sorority sister who ends up dead. Missy is determined to solve the mystery.
I really liked that there was no ridiculous love triangle in this book. There are two men but one is firmly in the friend category and even encourages Missy to go after the other guy.
Interestingly, Missy is encouraged in her investigations by the main cop, something you don't normally see.
Overall, it was an okay series. But there was a lot going on. A LOT. Especially for a book under 200 pages. I'm not sure if I'll read the rest of the books in this series but I definitely believe there are people who will like this book more than I did. Those who like sweet contemporary cozies set in the South will for sure like this book.

Three stars
This book comes out December 20

Monday, December 12, 2016

Completely Yours by Erin Nicholas

Zach and Kiera would appear to be opposites. She's a certified nerd, a designer for a popular MMOPG called Leokin, and would prefer to spend her days and nights holed up working on the game.
Completely Yours by Erin NicholasZach, on the other hand, is a hero. An EMT who is working not only to save the lives of others, but to try and keep his family together after the loss of his sister. His mother's alcoholism has gotten worse and all his youngest sister does is mope around playing online. He knows that can't be healthy.
But Zach and Kiera meet when her friends drag her out (they promise anywhere she wants to go so she chooses the local gaming Con) and the ceiling of the roof collapses. When Zach sees Kiera, she's literally sparkling from gold paint. And then... it gets a bit ooky. He's described as wanting to be "in the center" where all the action is (this is a real EMT feeling, especially for those who go in because they want to "save lives" rather than help people and fits in with Zach's personality) but then he gets distracted  from his job, his job to save hurt people, by Kiera. Yes, I get that EMTs can't be laser focused the whole time, but most of the ones I've worked with are. At least the good ones and that's what I think Zach is supposed to be set up as.
Don't get me wrong. I liked that he was flawed. And I liked that even though he was trying to save his sister, he was doing it in a wrong way that he didn't see. I also liked that she was trying to save him right back. But the whole way that Zach and Kiera's relationship started was... not good. And I liked that Nicholas included the notion that not always being online is bad because you can form real relationships with people. But Oh. My. God. It was repeated over and over and over again. A lighter touch might have made the message more powerful.
Overall, I really did like this story and appreciated what Nicholas was trying to do. I'm looking forward to reading about Kiera's roommates.

Three stars
This book comes out December 20

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

The Princess Diarist by Carrie FisherI really wanted to like this book better. I've been on a great kick of autobiographies and I love Carrie Fisher IRL so I was looking forward to this story. It was hyped as a book about Fisher's time filming Star Wars but was mostly vague comments about the affair she had with Harrison Ford and some touches of what it was like growing up as the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. There are some excerpts from her journals but, as a nineteen-year-old, Fisher had not yet developed the wit that she has today and a lot of it was more of the vague sighing over a love affair that, the way she writes it, was mainly sex with very little else.

Three Stars
This book came out November 22

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Lake District Murder by John Bude

The Lake District Murder by John BudeInspector Meredith is up against a doozy of a case. A young man, who seems to have everything to live for (a lovely fiancee, a thriving business) is found dead in his home, apparently of suicide. But it doesn't appear that way to Meredith and it turns out he's correct.
This is an interesting story that shows all of the work that Meredith has to go through to get to the solution. We also get to see all of the wrong answers he goes through which is nice, he's not just an omniscient detective.
A decent story that I actually made it through pretty quickly. Nothing fantabulous but just a nice story.

Three stars
This book is re-issued tomorrow

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Miss Silver Mysteries by Patricia Wentworth

I've heard a couple of podcasts from the Classic Mysteries podcast about Miss Silver so I was excited to have a chance to get an ARC from the publisher.

Grey Mask
Charles has been exploring the world after a rather nasty breakup and has just now returned home. Only his caretakers aren't there. But someone else is. It's a man in a grey mask. Charles is able to watch the man unobtrusively and sees and hears what sounds like a plot for murder. And one of the people he sees is his ex-fiancee, Margaret Langton. He follows her and is soon involved in a plot involving an heiress, who may or may not be legitimate (if she's not, her horrible cousin Egbert will inherit), secret societies, and blackmail. He applies to Miss Maude Silver for help.
You might assume that Miss Silver would be similar to Miss Marple. And she is; an older woman, quiet, unassuming, unobtrusive. But she starts the series as a detective. And she is not in most of the book. Instead, the main character is Charles and he's the one our omniscient third person narrator follows around as he tries to figure out what is going on.
It was a nice book; fast, fun, and fluffy with just a touch of the overdramatic. The women in it were rather silly but a lot of that was because they were only being told parts of the story which was incredibly frustrating.

The Case is Closed
An interesting story in which a large part is given through transcripts of a court case.
The book opens with Hilary sitting on the wrong train, fuming because the sight of her ex-fiance put her there. Seeing Henry again threw her off so much that she entered the wrong carriage. Then the woman across the way starts talking and it turns out she was the housekeeper whose evidence went a long way toward putting Hilary's cousin's (Margaret) husband, Geoffrey Grey, in jail for the murder of his uncle. Hilary isn't quite sure why the woman is talking to her but it does send her to the house she lives in with her cousin to read the inquest and try to decipher what Mrs. Mercer was trying to say.
While she start this deciphering, she begins to have hope that Geoff might still be proved innocent. And when Geoffrey's cousin and Mrs. Mercer's husband start trying to make the woman seem mad, it lends credence to this hope.
Ugh. Henry is definitely a symbol of his times, overbearing and rather paternalistic toward Hilary. I was glad that she seemed to stand up to him in the beginning but was wondering how their marriage would actually turn out in the end.

Lonesome Road
Acceding to a promise made on her father's deathbed, Rachel Treherne has changed her will every year. Only this year is a little different. This year, it appears that someone is trying to kill her so Rachel has come to Maud Silver for help. Maud tells Rachel to do two things: go to the police and change her will. Rachel doesn't want to do either since it might hurt her family. Yes, even though it is someone in the family who is probably trying to kill her.
There are several suspects, her sister and brother-in-law and their children, three cousins, and her long-time companion. It will be up to Maud to untangle this tangled  web.
Like the other books in this series, the prevailing attitudes about women are frustrating and the ending is overwrought but it is a nice example of the books of the time.

Three stars
This book came out in June

Thursday, December 1, 2016

This Is Our Song by Samantha Chase

This Is Our Song by Samantha ChaseRiley Shaughnessy is a big time rock star. He recently stepped back from his band to prove that he could handle a solo career. But... he's recently hit a brick wall on his song writing. His label is about to dump him but agree that he can have another chance as long as he participates in a month-long interview that will put him back in the public's eye. And not for being known as the least-talented of his band mates.
Savannah Daly is the reporter picked to do the interview. She's peeved because that means she's going to be bumped from a Cold Play article that she's been researching for the past month. Her first meeting with Riley is an accidental one when he quite literally bumps into her at a restaurant. Then she saves him from a rabid group of fans. When he finds out who she is, he assumes that their meeting wasn't accidental. And this is a continuing theme in their relationship. He assumes that she's all about the job, cools off and acts like a jerk, and then eventually figures out that he's being a jerk. And that was sort of boring. To see Riley make the same mistake over and over again and having Savannah apologize because he's hurt....
I think most regular Chase readers will not be disappointed but I was hoping for a little better from Riley.

Three stars
This book comes out December 6
Follows Always My Girl
Followed by Sky Full of Stars