Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jingles' Rating ★★★★.5
No Place to Run by Maya Banks
(Series:  KGI, #2)
April 16, 2013
Rating: ★★★★.5
What an action packed book!  Sophie comes from a cruel world—one in which she is mercilessly used by her father to lure in former operative and head of KGI, Sam Kelly.    They have a little fling – no questions asked, no promises made …just a little hook up on the side.   Real life soon returns though and Sophie finds herself in a lot of trouble.  She’s pregnant and on the run.  Sam is her only hope.  After Sam’s mission fails, he returns home disgusted and frustrated, remembering the only bright spot during that time – Sophie.  What follows is a great story of action, suspense, and a developing relationship hinging on trust issues for both Sophie and Sam.  Oh, and things get a little hot under the covers!
What I liked:
I loved the complexity of the relationship between Sophie and Sam. There were so many obstacles; it didn’t seem possible for them to ever be together.   I’d already read book #1 of the series though, so I knew there was an HEA in there somewhere.  The journey of getting there was great!
What I didn’t like:
I don’t like that Sam sometimes refers to Sophie as Soph; however, this is really a personal issue so pay no mind. I will say that in doing so, the author clearly defines a state of connection and intimacy between Sophie and Sam before it comes into play.  If it had to be done, it was done in good taste.
Overall it is a 4.5 star read for me, and I am looking forward to book #3 of the series.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What it Takes

What it Takes
by Kathryn Ascher

What It Takes

Camille's Rating: 4*

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley and BQB Publishing.

Meet Kelsey, young aspiring actress who is totally in love with her college boyfriend of two years. She becomes pregnant and things fall apart from there. Fast forward and now meet Kelsey, up-and-coming actress trying to gain ground in Hollywood without becoming jaded. Enter Patrick, the Hollywood hottie leading man with all the right words and moves and the wrong reputation. As they work side-by-side on the next big movie, a romance grows that Kelsey tries to ignore based on her past. Along with her dark secret is an abusive brother-in-law and a horrible mother. 

From the start I liked how the author jumped right into a problem/solution situation. For women, that first real relationship is one that defines who you are for the rest of your life. Kelsey makes the best possible choices for herself and her family. Her supportive sister, Janelle, is a major part of the storyline later. 

The budding romance between Kelsey and Patrick is sweet, yet turbulent in the beginning. Her push/pull with her emotions is a real struggle many women face after a bad relationship. I enjoyed the friends, Veronica and Grayson, and expected something to come from that relationship as well. (Perhaps a sequel??) Ascher wrote great, steamy intimate scenes without being vulgar or obscene. It went well with the feel of their whole relationship. In the end, I did see the twist coming, but not how it all played out. 

This was a quick read and I recommend it as a sweet romance novel.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir

by Frances Mayes

Camille's rating: 4*

This is an ARC I received through NetGalley and Crown Publishing.

Right from the start I knew I was going to really enjoy this book. First, it is written by one of my favorite female authors, Frances Mayes. Her book Under the Tuscan Sun is beautiful and the reason Tuscany is on my bucket list. Second, and most importantly, it is about the South. I was born here, grew up here, and make my life here. It's in my blood, all the good, the bad, and the ugly of it. It's part of me. Mayes says basically the same thing in this memoir. She recounts how no matter how hard she tried to get away from it, it has always called to her.

In many of her stories, I was taken back to my own childhood in the South. I could feel the heat of the summer, hear the noise of the bugs, smell the rain on the dirt, and taste the flavor of sweet tea. She writes beautiful prose about the things that touched her and how these memories are always with her. There were so many incidents she wrote about that I experienced in my own life, almost as if she had written them about me. Many of the places and people were my own with just different names.

Understand that Mayes did not "sugar-coat" the South in this memoir. She told the stories of her youth as they were, whatever the reader feels about that time and place is their own. Even the stories of her parents, whether you take them as good or bad, were told with honesty.

Frances Mayes is a woman who took what she experienced and wrote about it with elegance and truth. 

 That makes me admire her even more. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pressed Pennies

Pressed Pennies by Steven Manchester

Pressed Pennies

Camille's rating: 4*

This is the first ARC I chose and I have to say I made a pretty good choice.

Abby and Rick are childhood friends and sweethearts who are separated by time and life events, yet never forget each other. When they are reunited, they pick up on their feelings where they left off. Life puts obstacles in the way, but they are able to reconnect and find the love they need to move forward together. 

In this story I was able to understand Abby's feelings in such a special way. Her daughter, Paige, has a hard time with the divorce of her parents even though her own father is less than ideal. His drinking puts a wall between them. Paige finally understands that Rick is not like her father. He intends to stay and love her no matter how poorly she behaves. She decides to put her mother's happiness above her own childish, selfish ways and help Rick plan the proposal to Abby. 

For me, this sweet story was pure serendipity. I was able to connect with the characters in a specific way because this, too, is almost my exact story. My husband and I are childhood sweethearts who were separated by 20+ years and lots of life experiences. We reconnected and married in 2010. My own children had such a difficult time and were skeptical of my husband at first. It took patience and love, but he won them over. They realized that he wasn't going to leave them, and he loves them no matter how they behave. In fact, my life mirrors this book so closely that I cried when Paige helps Rick plan the proposal to Abby. My children did the same thing. They were so excited to be in on the "secret surprise". In fact, I cried several times while reading this book because there are so many similarities to my own life story.

Overall, this is a precious story and leaves the reader feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Read it!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mercy Snow

Mercy Snow
Tiffany Baker
Abbie's Rating: 
★ ★★★.25
I received this as an Advanced Readers Copy from NetGalley and the Publisher,in exchange for an honest review. 

Another great book from Tiffany Baker! I found her completely by accident about a year
ago, and am glad I did!

Mercy Snow is about one young girl, who unbelievably, to the town, helps them in the most unexpected ways.
The books starts out with a mystery of a bus crash, killing one young girl, injured an old man, and leading clues to the wrong person. Mercy' s brother. Also a body of the late Gert Snow is discovered, who had disappeared years earlier.The town believes her brother caused the crash, he in turn disappears, only to appear once in awhile to help his two sisters out. 
We met June, who find out her husband was really the person who caused all the havoc, and tries to cause more. June covers up for her husband for love, and later she realises what type a man she is actually married to. 
I must warn you, the end is a real tear jerker! But you should definitely add this one to your reading list.

Description from NetGalley

Monday, February 3, 2014

Elena's Winter Respite Read-A-Thon

Only book I read was Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain.

Great book. Didn't realize there was a program called Eugenics sterilization program. Program targeted the mentally defective n feeble minded inmates in mental institutions n training schools. Sterilization was considered for the public good. This program was 1929 to 1975. North Carolina was the only state to give social workers the power to petition for sterilization

Diane's Winter Respite Read-A-Thon

I started with The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman, #11 in the Tess Monaghan series. I had not read others in the series but grabbed this from the library because I needed books with green covers. Tess is pregnant and has pre-eclampsia which means she is bedridden. This doesn't work well for a private detective and she takes up watching people in the park below her window to keep from going crazy. She notices a woman in a celery green raincoat who walks a dog in a matching coat. After seeing them several days in a row, one day Tess sees the dog running alone and becomes concerned. Some legwork determines who the woman was but her husband is unconcerned, claiming his wife is out of town on business. Then it turns out his two previous wives died under suspicious circumstances. From this point we have an armchair detective novel as Tess sends others to interview, tail or go undercover as she tries to find out what happened to the missing woman. This book had a lot of promise but I thought it got lost in subplots that had nothing to do with the missing woman. Unfortunately the unrelated subplots probably took up more pages than the mystery.

On to a cozy by Joanna Carl - The Chocolate Cat Caper. This is a book that my son and daughter-in-law had on their shelves. Now that we live together it was on mine and had an interesting cover so I picked it up. Lee McKinney has recently divorced a very wealthy husband and refused any money in the settlement. Now she is living with a widowed aunt and helping in her aunt's chocolate store TenHuis Chocolade. McKinney is an accountant by trade and trying to get Aunt Nettie's business back in the black when a prominent lawyer dies from poison with a TenHuis truffle in her hand. Lee is determined to prove someone else poisoned the chocolate and not Aunt Nettie or her employees. I liked the pace of this book and the characters from nasty Clementine Ripley the deceased lawyer to Marian McCoy her equally unlikable personal assistant to Hogan Jones the small town police chief. As is true with most cozies, I was able to identify the culprit about halfway through the book but this did not lessen my enjoyment of it.

Last year I decided to read the Chronicles of Narnia. I have been a fan of C.S. Lewis' nonfiction work but had not read any of his fiction. In June last year I read volumes 1-5 but then lost steam. This week I read book 6 - The Silver Chair. Eustace goes back to Narnia and takes along a schoolmate Jill Pole. Aslan tasks them with finding King Caspian's heir and returning him to take his place on the throne. I thought this was one of the better books in the series. I had to keep reminding myself it was written for children when Eustace and Jill were not recognizing the evil woman in green they had been told about until they saw her for the third or fourth time. The very end, more like an epilogue, was a bit over the top but I'm sure it would be pleasing to the age group at which the novel is aimed.

Back in the 90s I read a lot of Tony Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee mysteries at the recommendation of my mother-in-law. I devoured about a dozen of them in 2-3 months. Then about 3 years ago I came across The Sinister Pig and realized it was one I had not read so I grabbed it. I've started it at least a half dozen times and put it back down. I decided this read-a-thon was my chance to get it finished. I read it in a single day (Friday) and can't for the life of me figure out why I kept putting it down before. Back on the Navajo reservation, the tribal police cover an extremely large territory and now they are down one because Officer Bernie Manuelito has left to join the U.S. Border Patrol. A man with no identification but nice clothing is found shot in the back in a remote area. After some time his rental car is found miles away on a different reservation. So why is no one interested in solving the crime? The FBI takes over but is not investigating as though someone high on the totem pole is keeping the murder hushed. Joe Leaphorn played a significant role in it, Jim Chee is in love again and it may actually work out this time since his love interest is also a Navajo who practices the old ways. I like these characters. I like the insight into a different culture. I'll have to go see if Mr. Hillerman has any others that have escaped my notice.

I finished with another library book, The Exodus Quest by Will Adams. I had checked this out before but didn't get to it before I had to return it. I have to say that if I hadn't noticed it again, I wouldn't have missed anything. This book seems to have its roots in The DaVinci Code, like many other action/thriller books in the past decade. It takes place in Egypt with a premise that Akhenaton was Moses or influenced Moses to teach monotheism to his people. It gets tied up with the Essenes and Gnostics. (If you are confused at why those two groups go together in a sentence, you are not alone.) I thought Adams tried to pull too many disparate groups/sects/theories into one place with this book. The hero was extremely heroic. He gets a concussion, gets beaten, rinse and repeat and just keeps on going. His girlfriend is not so hardy and must spend a good portion of the book in the hospital. The resolution was confusing to me but I didn't like the book well enough to re-read it so I could understand it. I just wanted to get it done and mark this author off my list of potential future reads.