Friday, June 28, 2013

Big Girl Panties: A Novel

Big Girl Panties: A Novel
by Stephanie Evanovich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.63

4.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars But With Reservations, June 28, 2013

 Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich is a rollicking and poignant romantic comedy about a young widow who decides to get in shape...and winds up getting her groove back—and a whole lot more!

Holly Brennan used food to comfort herself through her husband’s illness and death. Now she’s alone at age thirty-two. And she weighs more than she ever has. When fate throws her in the path of Logan Montgomery, personal trainer to pro athletes, and he offers to train her, Holly concludes it must be a sign. Much as she dreads the thought of working out, Holly knows she needs to put on her big girl panties and see if she can sweat out some of her grief.

Soon, the easy intimacy and playful banter of their training sessions lead Logan and Holly to most intense and steamy workouts. But can Holly and Logan go the distance as a couple now that she’s met her goals—and other men are noticing

This book was confusing for me. On one hand, I liked it and on the other, I really did not. I could see what message the author was trying to convey to us. Te problem was that Ms Evanovich had a bit of a problem communicating that message in a way that was clear and convincing. This book was by no means a comedic book. It dealt with very difficult issues - widowhood, morbid obesity, a lack of self-respect and even bullying.

Holly has never been a thin woman, and with her body type, she never will be. However, the fact that she recently nursed her husband through a long bout with cancer has not been kind to her figure. One day as she is flying home from Toronto, she has the bad luck (or it could be good luck) to sit next to one of the most handsome men she has ever seen. The ticket taker wanted Holly to buy two seats to accommodate her butt, and of course, Mr. Adonis (Logan) sees her as fat, sloppy, pathetic and possibly smelly. Now mind you Mr. Adonis (Logan) is a personal trainer to athletes and fashion models. He is a serial dater of 6-foot tall blonde-haired snotty, stick figure women, sorry I mean beautifully slender models. Holly sits next to Logan they get to talking and by the end of the flight Logan decides to take her on as a client.

Some parts of the book are truly wonderful, there are believable conversations between the protagonists, things happen to move the story in the right direction. Then there are parts of this book that you may be wishing to pluck out your own eyeballs - parts where the protagonists are not acting like the mature adults the reader knows them to be.

The sexual interludes can be hot one moment and downright silly the next. Ms Evanovich decided to make a pair of secondary characters, fetishists and does not do a very good job with it.

The ending is somewhat trite and clichéd, but we finally get to the meat or the heart of the issues that both Holly and Logan have, and while Holly's answer to adversity this time is to walk out and go back to a hated life, things do work out in the end. You will have a bit of difficulty stretching your disbelief for this book and I think that that is the main issue I had with it. I know it is fiction and it is romantic fiction to boot so we get to play in a different playground than other authors play in. But even though it is fiction, the main part of the book still has to be believable and I'm afraid that this book strays just a little too far from credibility for my taste. *E-arc supplied by publisher, paper ARC supplied by Vine*

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

All Out of Love: A Cupid, Texas Novel

All Out of Love: A Cupid, Texas Novel
by Lori Wilde
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19

Book Description:

From bestselling romance author Lori Wilde comes All Out of Love, the sizzling second book in her Cupid, Texas, series, set in a town where every wish for love comes true.

Millie Greenway and her friends have tried for years to keep the Cupid legend alive in their hometown, but she’s not getting much help from her granddaughters. Lace Bettingfield knows the legend is bogus. As a teen, she left a letter at the Cupid statue and got nothing in return but humiliation. But now the guy she dreamed of is back in town, Lace begins to wonder if the tale might just prove to be true.

All Out of Love features the humor and heartfelt emotion that fans have come to expect from the author of The First Love Cookie Club and A Cowboy for Christmas.

3.0 out of 5 stars Hot But..., June 26, 2013

All Out of Love - Lori Wilde

I think that this is the last time I am going to be visiting Cupid Texas. This is the second book I have read in this series and I am a just as unhappy with this one as I was with the first one. The plot device is the same what little plot there is over and beyond the romance is sketchy and flimsy, stuck in as an afterthought. I just had to read a second book to see if it was just the first book or the author.

The book started on a great note - it starts with the heroine being 14 years old, crushing on her brothers best friend who also happens to be the school golden boy. This secret crush has just been revealed to the entire school because she wrote a letter to Cupid - this letter writing stems from a legend about a statue and the town founders. The heroine ends up humiliated and the hero ends up being quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.

In this book, the `heroine' was downright nasty and it seemed to never let up. The hero was insipid and seemed to have the libido and mentality of a sixteen-year-old boy who hasn't gotten his hormones leashed yet.
I DO know that the sex and the lascivious and constant thoughts leading up to the action that both protagonists have, is important to the genre. Nevertheless, I do not think I really need to be hit over the head with these thoughts. Subtlety and brevity would have served Ms.Wilde a little better.

This is yet again another book in which the protagonists spend more time talking to themselves than they do talking to each other or to other people.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Product Details

The Summer Girls by Mary Alice Monroe (Jun 25, 2013)

Book Description
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Three granddaughters. Three months. One summer house.

In this enchanting trilogy set on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe captures the complex relationships between three half sisters scattered across the country—and a grandmother determined to help them rediscover their family bonds.
Set amid ancient live oaks and palmettos, overlooking the water, historic Sea Breeze is Marietta Muir’s ancestral summer home. Her granddaughters once adored vacations there, but it’s been years since they’ve visited. Mamaw fears once she is gone, the family bonds will fray. The Muir family is one of Charleston’s oldest and the blood of their pirate captain ancestor runs strong, so Marietta drops a subtle promise of loot—pearl necklaces, priceless antique furniture, even the house—to lure her “summer girls” back to the lowcountry.
For years, Carson Muir has drifted, never really settling, certain only that a life without the ocean is a life half lived. Adrift and penniless in California, Carson is the first to return to Sea Breeze, wondering where things went wrong . . . until the sea she loves brings her a minor miracle. Her astonishing bond with a dolphin helps Carson renew her relationships with her sisters and face the haunting memories of her ill-fated father. As the rhythms of the island open her heart, Carson begins to imagine the next steps toward her future.
In this heartwarming novel, three sisters discover the true treasures Sea Breeze offers as surprising truths are revealed, mistakes forgiven, and precious connections made that will endure long beyond one summer.

This is the first book in a trilogy and is chiefly about Carson Muir, the half-sister to Harper and Dora.They are the product of an alcoholic ne’er- do -well father, and three vastly dissimilar mothers.  The only thing that really pulls and keeps them together is their Grandmother and she has called them back to Sullivan’s Island ostensibly for her 80th birthday, but in truth, it is to get out into the open, family secrets and lies.

I cannot say that I found this a heartwarming novel.  So many of the main characters were dislikable and I realize that it is because of how they grew up and the issues that still dog them as adults, yet I still could not find much sympathy for them.

This book is mainly Carson’s story, and early on, you can tell that her drinking is a problem.  That problem will soon snowball.  She has also found a relationship, or rather two relationships –one with a dolphin and another with a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)  scientist who is studying dolphins.  Which, had things played out a little differently, should have made for the perfect romance. Moreover, it still most likely work out, we shall just have to see what the next two books bring.

I found this book to be a bit plodding with several of the characters coming off as a bit cookie cutter-ish, especially with this book being of that very specific southern coastal genre.  Ms. Munroe added more fuel to the fires of the sisters each having issues, by giving Dora an Autistic son who does tend to dominate Carson’s book a little. Harper, the youngest of the half-sisters may end up with the most interesting book.  I don’t know why I feel that to be true but I do.  I will be interested to read what happens to Mamaw, Harper and Dora in the next two books.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Heist: A Novel

The Heist: A Novel
by Lee Goldberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.69

5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Just About Perfect, June 19, 2013

This review is from: The Heist: A Novel (Hardcover)
"What we are doing is more like a heist only with a person instead of an object. A successful heist is one that nobody notices until it's over and the thieves are long gone."

If you have ever read the novels by Time Dorsey or the early works by Carl Hiaasen you might like this novel very much. I had hoped that it was going to have the romantic heat and comedic flare as the duet authors of Jennifer Crusie and Bob Meyer did with "Agnes and the Hitman", but in a way "The Heist" was even better.

This was a perfect beach/vacation read; light but not fluffy, funny but not overly slapstick, with a perfect female protagonist. Kate is the perfect blend of hard-edged ex-Navy SEAL and chocoholic with a bit of a crush on Nick. She just cannot admit it to herself yet!

The secondary characters, especially Kate's father Jake, are great foils with none of the overly fluffiness that Janet's secondary characters from her Stephanie Plum series exhibit.

I don't usually say things like this when I review books because most of the books I read would not be apt to appeal to a male audience anyway. However, the way this one was written, with a clever plot and some good butt-kicking will most likely appeal to both sexes equally. This will make this book a good value for couples! LOL!

This seems like this is going to be a very interesting team of writers. I spent some time trying to figure out just who was writing what part, but then quickly gave up as I was pulled into the interesting story of cons and government double-dealing. I did need to stretch my disbelief a little thin in some parts, but I needed to remember that this was entertainment and not deep literature1

The idea of conning the scummy con-men and paying back the people they stole from is just perfect - a sort of modern day Robin Hood at it's loosest and best interpretation!

This was really a fun way to spend a weekend and to get us ready for the next book in this series.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Trail of Dead (Scarlett Bernard)

Trail of Dead (Scarlett Bernard)
by Melissa F. Olson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.97

3.0 out of 5 stars Too Much Naivete and a Lack of Character Growth, June 15, 2013


Book Description

June 4, 2013 Scarlett Bernard
As a null, Scarlett Bernard possesses a rare ability to counteract the supernatural by instantly neutralizing spells and magical forces. For years she has used her gift to scrub crime scenes of any magical traces, helping the powerful paranormal communities of Los Angeles stay hidden. But after LAPD detective Jesse Cruz discovered Scarlett’s secret, he made a bargain with her: solve a particularly grisly murder case, and he would stay silent about the city’s unearthly underworld.
Now two dead witches are found a few days before Christmas, and Scarlett is once again strong-armed into assisting the investigation. She soon finds a connection between the murders and her own former mentor, Olivia, a null who mysteriously turned into a vampire and who harbors her own sinister agenda. Now Scarlett must revisit her painful past to find Olivia—unless the blood-drenched present claims her life first."

This is the second book in a new series, but don't worry as this can be read as a stand-alone. The author goes through great pains doing a lot of rehashing, especially with the main characters.

I did expect some character growth with this novel, unfortunately that did not happen. If anything, Scarlett has taken a bit of a trip backwards on the self-doubt train and is constantly bemoaning about her life and her friends and what her `gift' has done to both and what it will do in the future. There is a lot of Scarlett revisiting her past and a lot of her blaming herself for anything and everything that ever happened to her and her family. It gets to a point that she will purposely walk into sure death if she thinks it will save someone else. Of course, that is if you are looking at things through a very naïve persons eyes and not with some logic!

The plot itself was somewhat interesting, but with a little too much back story and history to keep me sufficiently interested.

What is interesting is that the story is told from two of the main characters - both Scarlett and the human police officer Jesse.

The ending almost made the entire book worthwhile, but you must be a very patient reader to get to that point. There is enough left open to set up for the next book in this series, with both the `love-triangle' and with Scarlett's health and her abilities. Somehow, I have a funny feeling her abilities, beyond her null-ness will be called into question and will be growing to fit the next situation she manages to get herself into. And I think that is what bothers me most of all -Scarlett manages to get herself into these messes and then expects others to get her out of them.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Description

June 25, 2013 Saturn's Daughter
Tina Clancy hardly has a chance to celebrate passing the bar exam when an explosion at Acme Chemical sends a noxious pink and green cloud billowing over Baltimore’s radioactive Zone. It is not as if the place was normal to begin with, but as the poisonous fumes overtake the sky, her neighbors start falling comatose—and Acme is plucking them off the streets faster than Tina and her friends can save them.

Just because Tina’s a lawyer now doesn’t mean she’s going to miraculously morph into a respectable, law-abiding citizen. She once accidentally damned her own boyfriend to hell, for heaven’s sake. Now that Max is back—in the body of his evil cousin, a U.S. senator with family ties to Acme—she needs him more than ever.

And what does it mean to be one of Saturn’s daughters? Tina knows she’s obligated to use her powers to save the Zone, no matter the cost, but there’s a real possibility that victory will happen over her dead body.

One thing you have to know when you first start this book and you really SHOULD read “Boyfriend from Hell” first) is that this series is one you cannot take seriously.  This is quite the cartoonish series.
  Tina Clancy has recently found out that she is one of Saturn’s daughters and will be dispensing justice with just a thought.  This does not bode well for those needing punishment since Tina doesn’t want to take a chance that she isn’t supposed to kill people she is common up with some very creative punishments.  You see, she has no clue just what the heck she is supposed to be doing with her newly found powers, but she has managed to track down another Daughter!

So now there has been a chemical gas cloud covering up the Zone…in the last book it was explained that the chemical spill that originally hit this community was a flood.  So now, we have a flood and a cloud! 

As you can see by the synopsis, Acme is looking for people who the cloud has affected and is grabbing them and eventually you find out just why Acme is doing such a thing.  I won’t say the reason Acme is doing this is trite, but yeah it sort of is.  Naturally, Acme has been working on the perfect disease cure AND war weapons all rolled into one!

There is no character growth and the level of maturity for most of the characters may be a problem for a few readers.

Product Details

Her Last Breath: A Novel (Kate Burkholder) by Linda Castillo (Jun 18, 2013)

Book Description

June 18, 2013 Kate Burkholder (Book 5)

"An extraordinarily beautiful Amish woman, a dangerous femme fatale, is the central figure in a story that reveals a dark side of Painters Mill and its seemingly perfect Amish world
A rainy night, an Amish father returning home with his three children, a speeding car hurtling toward them out of nowhere.What at first seems like a tragic, but routine car accident  suddenly takes on a more sinister cast as evidence emerges that nothing about the crash is accidental.  But who would want to kill an Amish deacon and two of his children? He leaves behind a grieving widow and a young boy who clings to life in the intensive care wing of a hospital, unable to communicate.  He may be the only one who knows what happened that night.  Desperate to find out who killed her best friend’s husband and why, Kate begins to suspect she is not looking for a reckless drunk, but instead is on the trail of a cold blooded killer amid the residents of Painter’s Mill.  It is a search that takes her on a  chilling journey into the darkest reaches of the human heart and makes her question everything she has ever believed about the Amish culture into which she was born."

Release date: June 18, 2013 | Series: Kate Burkholder (Book 5)
Kate Burkholder series
  • Sworn to Silence, Minotaur Books, 2009
  • Pray for Silence, Minotaur Books, 2010
  • Breaking Silence, Minotaur Books, 2011
  • Gone Missing, Minotaur Books, 2012
  • Her Last Breath, Minotaur Books, 2013
I have been following this series since book 1 and I think that this is the best one yet.  While this book can be read as a standalone, I DO recommend that you eventually read the others, just to fill in some of the blanks you may encounter.  Ms Castillo is such a wonderful author and understands the importance of back-story so well that you will have no problems understanding who is who and what is what in this series.

This book starts out with a horrific buggy crash – a car or truck  coming out of nowhere plows into a buggy carrying most of an Amish family (three children and the  father) all but one die at the scene.  The author paints such a vivid word picture that I found myself getting sick to my stomach during some parts of this scene. This was a horrific hit-and-run accident…or was it really?

Along with this story, there is a second story going on that deals with Kate’s childhood, a murder that occurred when Kate was 14 and some of the reasons she may have left the Amish faith.  Her lover, John Tomasetti becomes more involved in this secondary plot and that may not bode well for them as a couple in coming books, but I have faith in Ms. Castillo’s vision for this series.

This exceptional mystery had me guessing right until the last. I think my jaw actually dropped open and hit my chest when things were eventually revealed and circumstances are played out.
The characters each have their own voice, are multi-dimensional (even tertiary characters) and complex.  Kate is a wonderful character that makes mistakes and is still paying for past ones, she is strong and kick-butt, but is not afraid to ask for help.  She has flaws and that is such a relief to read.  I am so tired of the ‘perfect star’ of so many series.

The plot is complex yet when you get to the denouement, you find yourself wondering just how you missed so many clues.    It will prove to you just how complicated and difficult a police officers’ job really is.  Everything is written so very realistically.

This book was a true page-turner and this series is one that you will most likely find yourself re-reading a few times.