Sunday, 29 September 2013

Review: The Benefits of Line Dancing by Edward Shull

From Goodreads:

Jim Morgan is living the life he always wanted. He's a promising young entertainment lawyer, on the verge of representing the Hollywood elite, and engaged to Emily, a beautiful, smart lawyer at his firm. He's so happy, he almost doesn't think about Amanda, the girl who ripped his heart out 8 years ago.

But one phone call changes all that, taking Jim from the glitz of Los Angeles to the small town of Ashford, Alabama, to save Amanda from going to prison. Jim knows he'll need help, so he's bringing the best criminal defense lawyer he knows: Emily, his fiancee.

Jim and Amanda's last chapter has yet to be written. And with Emily in the mix, how can this possibly end well?

My Review:

 Edward Shull, the author, kindly sent me a copy of this novel after I entered a Goodreads contest.  This is my honest review.  I read this novel a few weeks ago, but wasn't quite sure how I felt about it.  Really!  It's not often that I put a book down and don't know what to say, but this was one of those times. 

I really had a hard time getting past the first few chapters - I picked it up and put it down and read a few titles in between.  Knowing that I owed Mr. Shull an honest review however, I made a point of getting through those first few chapters - not that they were ill-written, but because I just wasn't in the mood for this style or genre.   Once I got into it however, I wanted to see how it all panned out. 

Let me tell you that there are many of my friends & acquaintances who will find this novel offensive.  It has a lot of mature themes that will not be comfortable read-through for those who stick to squeaky clean novels.   Skip this one, ladies.  

That said, I did find myself intrigued.  First love, trust issues, commitment issues, drama, conflict, small towns, illness, secrets, Hollywood and lawyers.   This had it all.  The characters were well written and wanting to see the resolution kept me hanging on.  Amanda was a mess.  Emily had a broken confidence.  And, Jim, well I don't know what to say about Jim.  I loved them. I hated them.  I wanted to give them all hugs and sometimes slap them up the head.   The content and some of the elements might not be my exact cup of tea, but there's no denying that Edward Shull is a talented writer and the quirky humour and interesting characters draw you in.

Review: The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

From Goodreads:


A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author. 

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after. 

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life. 

A mesmerizing debut with an idyllic setting and intriguing dual story line,The Violets of March announces Sarah Jio as a writer to watch.

My Review: 

This is my quick and less-than-comprehensive review of The Violets of March as posted on my Goodreads profile.  Sorry for the lack of depth!  

The Violets of March was infused with just enough mystery and romance to capture my attention. It was a quick read and gently written with a bittersweet undertone. I was slightly confused at times - but not completely lost - and all my wondering was answered, you just have to get through the end. Recommended for anyone who enjoys a little heartbreak and a little mystery, a beautiful setting, and a premise that loss, love, and the secrets we keep shape our lives and those around us.

I gave this tile a 4/5 star review - I would recommend it for a quick read that isn't all cheesy romance.  It definitely IS a romance, but it has layers in the overall storyline.

Review: Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

From Goodreads:

Issy Randall can bake. No, Issy can create stunning, mouthwateringly divine cakes. After a childhood spent in her beloved Grampa Joe's bakery, she has undoubtedly inherited his talent. She's much better at baking than she is at filing, so when she's laid off from her desk job, Issy decides to open her own little café. But she soon learns that her piece-of-cake plan will take all of her courage and confectionary talent to avert disaster.Funny and sharp, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café is about how life might not always taste like you expect, but there's always room for dessert!

My Review:

I finished this book earlier in the week.  It wasn't my favourite, by I didn't dislike it either.  I have never read any of Jenny Colgan's novels before, so this was my first foray into her world.  I amparticipating in a group challenge where a partner selects three titles from your to-read shelf at random and you have three months to read them.  This was the first selection from my partner.

I expected Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe to have more of a Sophie Kinsella feel to it than it did.  I found it slow in the beginning, but after a few chapters, I was a little more entrenched in the plot and characters, quirks and all.  It is definitely chick-lit with all the romance, drama, and betrayal you'd expect.  However, it has the added bonus of including recipes that relate to the chapter you're currently reading.  The recipes are written by the Alzheimer-suffering grandfather to his granddaughter embarking on a new course in life and aren't written as recipes.  I think the sweetness with which they're related was one of my favourite parts of this book. 

By the end of the novel, with the inevitable happy ever after, I was smiling and wanted to know what came next - so much so that I checked out the next title in the series through my e-library.  This is not a deep read and some may find it difficult to get into the rhythm of the book.   There were some curse words sprinkled without and it did touch on mature subject matter (I feel like a parental advisory at the beginning of a television show!)  Not for everyone, but it was a quick and often sweet (yes, the pun was intentional) read.

Review: The Housemaid's Daughter by Barbara Mutch

From Goodreads:

Barbara Mutch's stunning first novel tells a story of love and duty colliding on the arid plains of Apartheid-era South Africa

When Cathleen Harrington leaves her home in Ireland in 1919 to travel to South Africa, she knows that she does not love the man she is to marry there —her fiance Edward, whom she has not seen for five years. Isolated and estranged in a small town in the harsh Karoo desert, her only real companions are her diary and her housemaid, and later the housemaid's daughter, Ada. When Ada is born, Cathleen recognizes in her someone she can love and respond to in a way that she cannot with her own family.Under Cathleen’s tutelage, Ada grows into an accomplished pianist and a reader who cannot resist turning the pages of the diary, discovering the secrets Cathleen sought to hide. As they grow closer, Ada sees new possibilities in front of her—a new horizon. But in one night, everything changes, and Cathleen comes home from a trip to find that Ada has disappeared, scorned by her own community. Cathleen must make a choice: should she conform to society, or search for the girl who has become closer to her than her own daughter?

My Review: 

First off, I have to tell you that I won an Advanced Reading Copy of this novel through the Goodreads First Reads program.  The description intrigued me and I thought, "Hey, why not?"   When I received this book in my mailbox last week, I was happy to have a new title to throw in my bag to take to an all day event that would allow for some free time between clients.  I will ashamedly admit that I know next to nothing about the Apartheid or the history of South Africa in general.  

The Housemaid's Daughter is a beautiful book.  It brought tears to my eyes it was so compelling & eloquently written.   It is not my typical light-hearted, quick escape romance, but a rich narrative on a remarkable relationship.  It was a deeply moving tale of love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, acceptance and shame, secrets and triumph, in a time and place when blurred lines could result in unspeakable danger.  

Barbara Mutch did an incredible job of drawing you into the lives, minds, and personalities of the characters.  You will feel like you are in the room with Ada, feel the emotions behind Cathleen's journal entries, and eventually become one of the family yourself.   This story is poignant and beautiful, at times both heartbreaking and heart warming.  My ARC copy was just over 400 pages but I read it in a day - a very busy day - that is how incredibly gripping this story is.   

The Housemaid's Daughter is scheduled for sale December 10, 2013.   Ask your library to order a copy, or order in advance online.  Read it for yourself and give a copy to your friends!  You don't want to miss it.  I highly recommend, especially for those who have enjoyed novels such as "The Help".   

Sunday, 8 September 2013


The last few weeks of summer seemed to pass in a blur.  With two little monkeys ready to cram as much as possible into the August days before school started again and an overwhelming number of work-related orders, we actually didn't have much time to read, let alone review any books!

I am not saying I didn't read - I'd probably be a very difficult person to live with if I didn't have a chance to decompress or get lost in a novel. However, I didn't read nearly as voraciously, and most of the books were a quick escape - fluff, if you will, rather than great literary works.  

Now that the children are back in school and our schedule resembles something with structure, the days are not as crazy and I'm finding time for me again.  I will post reviews or at least a quick synopsis of the books I read and will keep you updated on what I'm reading now.  I received a surprising number of ARCs over the last few weeks and have yet to crack their spines.  I can't wait to get lost in their pages.  

Apologies for the absence!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Review: Three Little Words (Fool's Gold) by Susan Mallery

From Amazon:

Can first love turn into the real deal? Anything can happen in a sizzling new Fool's Gold story from New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery. 

Isabel Beebe thinks she's cursed in the romance department. Her teenage crush, Ford Hendrix, ignored all her letters. Her husband left her for another…man. So Isabel has come home to dust off her passion for fashion and run the family bridal shop until her parents are ready to sell it. Then she'll pursue her real dreams. At least, that's the plan, until sexy, charming Ford returns and leaves her feeling fourteen all over again….. 

Seeing Isabel all grown-up hits bodyguard trainer Ford like a sucker punch. Back when heartbreak made him join the military, her sweet letters kept him sane. Now he can't take his eyes—or his lips—off her. The man who gave up on love has a reason to stay in Fool's Gold forever—if three little words can convince Isabel to do the same.

My Review:

Those who follow my reviews or peek at my Goodreads shelves know that I'm a huge fan of Susan Mallery.  Her romances always provide a quick, warm escape with a sure fire formula she's perfected.   Some days, and I hate to admit this, but I feel like Fool's Gold has run it's course.  The novels don't entrance me quite as thoroughly as the originals, but still, I'm hooked and when I'm reading this series, there's a part of me that wants to hang out with the girls at Jo's and take part in the small town festivals.  It's charming and the characters are sweet, and for that reason, I keep on reading. 

In Three Little Words, we have two leads who were raised in Fool's Gold, but left to pursue other interests, and have now returned for one reason or another.  We have an unrequited young adult crush.  We have failed relationships (that were almost tacky).  We have family history.  We have hidden scars.  That said, in the midst of a fake dating scenario intended to convince Ford's mom (of Hendrix family fame) that he's in a happy relationship, the heroine, Isabel, realises she's always loved him and he has to come to terms with true love. 

This one was cute.  I enjoyed it.  I rolled my eyes a few times, but in spite of some of the elements, I really enjoyed Ford & Isabel's characters and the sub-plot of Kent & Consuelo. I enjoy the portrayal of the characters with all their quirks and imperfectness.  I appreciate how I know that the characters will stumble, will hurt each other, will laugh, will cry, but will ultimately fall in love and stay in love.  This is what makes Mallery's novels charming. 

Give it a go if you enjoy the Fool's Gold series or just merely appreciate an easy to read, quick romantic novel.  Pass if you find anything "controversial" uncomfortable - there is sex and the ex-husband divorced her because he's gay - we're not talking anything X-rated, but this is a Harlequin novel. 

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Review: One Heart to Win by Johanna Lindsey

From Amazon: 

Some young ladies marry for money and social standing, a few lucky ones marry for love, but Tiffany Warren is marrying to end a feud. Honoring her mother’s wishes, Tiffany reluctantly travels west to meet her estranged father and his enemy’s eldest son, rancher Hunter Callahan. Once the Warrens and the Callahans are united by marriage, both clans will stop squabbling over a disputed strip of land. But in the chaos of a train robbery Tiffany seizes a golden opportunity: By assuming the identity of her father’s new housekeeper she can live with the father she never knew while assessing the character of the neighboring cowboy to whom she is betrothed. But the moment she steps off the train, the Callahans steal the “housekeeper” from their rivals, the Warrens! 

Now Tiffany, masquerading as Jennifer Fleming, finds herself living in the enemy camp, under the same roof as her fiancé, a handsome, sweettalking charmer whom she has to fight off because he can’t keep his eyes— or his hands—off Jennifer. After Tiffany’s charade is exposed, she refuses to marry Hunter. How can she wed a man who is in love with another woman? As Hunter goes about claiming his rightful bride-to-be, he knows he loves two women—proper, elegant Tiffany as well as spunky, passionate Jennifer—but he has only one heart to win.

My Review:

I believe my mother-in-law introduced me to the world of Johanna Lindsey - historical romance, dashing and roguish strong male leads, feisty and charming females, a little bit of heat, lots of adventure, overall predictable, but enjoyable.  

This might be the first of her novels that I've found to be just so-so.  It was merely okay, it was a quick read - your typical historical romantic fluff.  Unfortunately, it was a little to "blah" for my liking.  I didn't enjoy the male lead (Hunter) all that much and actually found the side character Degan to be of more interest than Hunter.  Tiffany irked me on some level that can't even pinpoint.

The premise of the story could have been wonderful - sacrificial marriage to end a feud, but really it was one deception after another with a whole heap of trouble caused either by the lies themselves or the revelation of the lies.  The romance was lost in the shuffle of subplots and backstory and I just didn't love it.  It had potential, but was missing some of the Johanna Lindsey magic that will generally capture my attention.   This is a borrow, don't buy - and save it for a mindless read.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Vacation & Janet Evanovich: Stephanie Plum Series Review

I have been MIA over the last few days.  My monkeys and I hitched a ride to Oklahoma with my mom and have been enjoying some lazy days together.  I didn't bring my laptop and internet has been hit and miss. 

My last "Open Book" cover featured Two For The Dough (#2 in the Stephanie Plum series) by Janet Evanovich.  I then got caught up in the series and have been reading in pit stops, stretches of smooth Interstate, and between running around and entertaining the boys.  I'll review the series (thus far) as a whole, rather than an in-depth review of each title.   I just finished Hard Eight, so they are pretty quick stories to get through. 

My Review:

This series by Janet Evanovich follows the antics and misadventures of Jersey fugitive apprehension agent (AKA bounty hunter) Stephanie Plum as she attempts to bring in her man.  The books are full of slightly screwball humour, the characters are off the wall, her family is lovably dysfunctional, and there's always a bit of romance. 

Stephanie Plum might be the worst bounty hunter in history and is constantly finding herself in trouble. Her grandma is crazy, her cars fall prey to catastrophic incidents (my favourite to date is the garbage truck!), she hates her gun, loves her hamster, and has the luck to always apprehend her target with the occasional accidental death.  

The series are rife with mischief, adventure, fun & sexy backup characters.  The zany situations she encounters will make you giggle, and you can't help but relate to some of her outlook on life & pastries.

I enjoy this series as a light (not hard to get into) read and I enjoy the quirkiness of the novels. Some titles are hit and miss, but as a whole, the series is amusing.  Evanovich does include controversial themes and characters, so probably not for the straight & narrow crowd.  They also contain swearing so if crude language offends you, give it a pass.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Review: The Forgotten Castles Series by Jamie Carie

From The Author's Website:

The Forgotten Castles Series is a three book series that follows amateur sleuth, Lady Alexandria Featherstone, as she travels to Ireland (book one – The Guardian Duke), Iceland (book two – The Forgiven Duke), and Italy (book three – A Duke’s Promise) in search of her missing parents. Full of adventure, romance and mystery the three books sweep readers across Europe in pursuit of a famed invention. Along the way, Alexandria develops feelings for her guardian – the brooding Duke of St. Easton, who has recently suffered a physical blow that is changing his life. Gabriel thinks of his new charge as an unwanted complication in a time when his life is coming apart at the seams but soon comes to cherish her letters and admire her faith. Their journey will be fraught with danger as they come ever closer to God’s plan for their lives.

My Review:

I have a love-hate relationship with Christian fiction.  That sounds awful, but it's true.  The books have so very much promise, but usually end up falling flat.  I though this series might be an exception to the rule.  

The first novel in the trilogy, The Guardian Duke, was a re-read for me.  I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time around, but while reading it this time, realised that it's skimpy on the romance - it's more adventure - and I really had my heart on a historical romance without any heat.    I found it a little disappointing the second time around, but I did want to see how the fledgling relationship(s) played out and what truly happened with her parents.

In the first novel, I was intrigued by Alex.  She had charisma, naïvety, she was impetuous, and had her share of flaws, yet she managed to come across charming. Likewise, I loved the moody Duke, struggling with his faith and personal troubles. The supporting characters made me smile.  Overall, this book was the best of the three.

I will state that I find the endings in this series feel incomplete - you have to read the next novel for any sense of closure - and I truly dislike that in a book.  I want to read the next novel because the first was so well written that I've been entirely entranced by the characters and premise. 

The second & third novels, The Forgiven Duke & The Duke's Promise, didn't hold my attention as well.  The second novel expounded on the romance between Alex & the Duke.  It contains mishaps and mystery.  The third novel follows their adventures, still rife with conflict, danger, and the undertone of romance - all in the guise of a wedding trip to see the continent.  

Alls well that ends well - albeit with somewhat predictably.  I also found the last two novels "preachier", I suppose as a result of the protagonists trying to find their faith and battling their doubts and disbeliefs.  The last two novels in this series were more difficult to read - I had to trudge through them and breathed a sigh of relief when done.  I needed to know the end of the story... but found the road to get there was very slow-going.  

Ms. Carie is a wonderful author - these are not the first of her books I've read. Unfortunately, The Forgotten Castles Series just didn't quite live up to it's potential.  Give it a go if you truly enjoy Christian historical and have the time to invest in the series.  Pass if you like your stories with a little more movement.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Review: Secrets of the Realm by Bev Stout

From Goodreads:

Blamed for her uncle's death, fifteen-year-old Annie is on the run. Knowing the perils she will face on the streets of eighteenth century London, she disguises herself as a boy. Her life on the streets is cut short when she becomes Captain Hawke’s cabin boy. 

Not only must Annie work alongside the Realm’s motley crew of outcasts and gentlemen, she must also keep her superstitious shipmates from discovering she is a girl. 

Annie vows she will never leave the Realm, where dreams are chased, shattered lives can mend, and secrets are stowed like keepsakes in an old desk drawer. But when her past catches up with her, can she return to the Realm? More importantly, will she have a choice?

My Review:

First, I must disclose that I received a copy of Secrets of the Realm by Bev Stout from the author herself in exchange for an honest review.  I added it to my to-read short list and was curious about the title, but wasn't expecting to love it. 

Bev Stout has a winner on her hands with this novel.  It's a historical "adventure" written for a young adult audience, but as an adult reader of all genres, this one still captured me completely.  I laughed, cried, and wanted more - the characters felt like long lost friends and the writing was descriptive.  

I fell in love with the heroine.  Annie is absolutely captivating and you can't help but find her charming.  She's brave, tenacious, and absolutely lovable.  She's strong and fragile all rolled into one.  In the midst of rescuing herself from an abusive situation, she finds adventure and heartbreak, and discovers friendships and a place of acceptance - a place of her own.   The supporting characters will also pull you in.

I highly recommend this for any young reader who enjoys a taste of history and loves to live vicariously through the pages of a book.  There are no inappropriate scenes or language, and the romance is mild (more of an unrequited crush or deep friendship).  It touches more on the heroine and the individuals she encounters and enchants amidst her search for freedom.  It's a very quick and easy book to read.   The author could easily write for adults - this novel in particular could become an adult historical - there was ample opportunity to expand upon certain scenes or throw in some more mature content.  That being said, I found it perfect for a safe and entertaining read for it's intended audience.  

Thanks to the author for the chance to read and review!  It's a wonderful story.

Edit:  Updated cover image 02-02-14

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Review: James Patterson/Maxine Paetro - Women's Murder Club 8, 10, 11 & 12

From James Patterson's website:

Lindsay Boxer, Cindy Thomas, Claire Washburn and Jill Bernhardt, the stars of 1st to Die and 2nd Chance, are the founding members of the Women's Murder Club. Later, in 4th of July, Yuki Castellano joins the Club. Together, they solve crimes in their home city of San Francisco, and often meet up to talk about clues and life over Mexican food and drinks at Susie's.

My Review(s):

I just went through a James Patterson overload.  I read (4) of the Women's Murder Club series in a row.   I haven't read from this series in a few summers and couldn't quite remember where I left off.  I started my re-read with #8 - The 8th Confession.   Most of it was familiar, but I got sucked in again and remembered why I loved this series.  The characters are quirky and imperfect, I love the mystery, and the books are a quick and easy read.

I skipped The 9th Judgement as I recognized it within the first chapter and remembered it wasn't one of my favourites. 

I then jumped in to 10th Anniversary with both feet - my kids were gone for a few days and I had some time to spare.  I enjoyed this one.  I felt involved with the characters.  I wanted to shake the teenage mother.  I got caught up in the drama and mystery.   As soon as I finished, I had to load the next title to my tablet. 

11th Hour made me sad.  I didn't like the Joe & Lindsay drama.  I also found the titles in this series when Lindsay was pregnant slightly unrealistic.  I don't think she'd be solving crimes quite so actively... but hey, this is fiction, so who says it has to be true to life?  It was still an enjoyable read. 

Next up was the most recent title in the series:
12th of Never.  This one didn't grab me quite as much.  I felt like the flow between personal lives and the actual crime solving/criminal prosecuting/newspaper reporting wasn't very smooth.  I do realise the lead character (Lindsay Boxer) was going through personal crises and was feeling disjointed herself - maybe the novel as a whole just reflected that.  It was a little more disjointed than I've seen before.  I had my suspicions regarding some of the elements put into play immediately (and was right.)  I was a little disappointed at the conclusion... not enough to give up on the series, just enough to think maybe it's run it's course.

If you enjoy a quick contemporary murder mystery/legal thriller, give this series a go.  Each novel is a quick read and there's a reason Patterson is a best-selling author.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Review: Two of a Kind by Susan Mallery

New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery welcomes readers back to Fool's Gold,
where a one-time fling could become the real thing...

Felicia Swift never dreamed she'd hear a deep, sexy voice from her past in tiny Fool's Gold, California. The last time Gideon Boylan whispered in her ear was half a world away...on the morning after the hottest night of her life. Her freaky smarts have limited her close friendships, and romance, but she came to Fool's Gold looking for ordinary. Gorgeous, brooding Gideon is anything but that. 

Black Ops taught Gideon that love could be deadly. Now he pretends to fit in while keeping everyone at arm's length. Felicia wants more than he can give-a home, family, love-but she has a lot to learn about men...and Gideon needs to be the man to teach her. 

As these two misfits discover that passion isn't the only thing they have in common, they just might figure out that two of a kind should never be split apart.

My Review:

I finally took the time to read Two of a Kind by Susan Mallery (while recovering on the couch from too much sun and not enough water.)  I love Susan Mallery's novels.  I sometimes feel as if my Goodreads ratings don't actually reflect this.  I only give the 3 stars because they're still just fluffy romance that don't require a lot of thought or investment - they're a nice quick escape.  They follow a predictable plot line, generally without any huge surprises.  Two of a Kind followed this successful formula to a T.  If I could grant half stars in my ratings I would.  When you only have 5 stars to deal with, you're protective of the 4 & 5 star ratings.  This does not mean that I don't love her books.  She is, by far, one of my most favourite authors. 

Two of a Kind is the eleventh title in the Fool's Gold series.  Fool's Gold is a charming little town where everyone finds love and happiness.  The characters are lovable and the setting is sweet.  In Two of a Kind, we get to know Felicia better.  I believe she was introduced as a background character in the last book.  She's a slightly sexier version of Dr. Brennan of Bones fame.  She's smart - genius smart - and wants to find a place of her own while overcoming her social oddities.  She's absolutely loveable, intimidatingly intelligent, and stunningly beautiful all at once.   You can't hold it against her though, as she's not perfect, and you realise she hasn't lived a fairy-tale life.

Once upon a time, she had a one-night stand with Gideon, the mysterious voice we hear over the air waves as the late night radio host.  He was introduced earlier in the series as well.   He's ex-military and has had to face his own demons.  He's broody, handsome, and doesn't do long term relationships.  He doesn't want roots. 

Mallery throws in a twist that equals instant roots.  (Sorry, I try not to offer spoilers!)  The characters must wade their way through, risk their hearts, overcome their fears, and in the end, find the place to call home.  It's a nicely told novel of two not-quite-normal neighbours who find that they are loved and accepted for who they are, quirks and all.

It was a sweet, simple romance, perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Give it a go if you want a light read and enjoy Mallery's predictability (which I believe is what makes her books so darn lovable.)  Pass if you find sex scenes offensive - I think this might be one of her steamier tales. 

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Review: Princess Charming by Nicole Jordan

From Goodreads:

In Nicole Jordan's dazzling new Regency series, the scandalous Wilde cousins seek true love by imitating history's legendary lovers... beginning with Ashton Wilde, Marquis of Beaufort, who takes on the daunting role of Prince Charming to an unlikely Cinderella.

My Review:

I'm not sure if I'm just not feeling historical romances this week or if I'm just lucking out on my selections, but Princess Charming by Nicole Jordan fell flat for me.  I almost returned it without reading, but trudged through just because I feel guilty giving up on a book.

This novel had potential.  It's a typical historical romance as a whole. The intimate scenes were awkward.  The romance was not very romantic at all.  He didn't seem to woo her.  I like to be wooed.  Basically, I liked the hero and heroine, but they needed a little more dimension. The story was okay, but it was missing something crucial.  I just didn't fall in love and I wasn't intrigued.  On a positive note, the prologue pulled some heartstrings and the Wilde family as a whole were absolutely loveable. I also enjoyed how much the heroine cared about her stepsisters and vice versa - no wickedness there.

In my humble opinion, if you're bored and can get a copy from the library, it wouldn't hurt to read - maybe I just missed the appeal.  Needless to say, I won't be continuing this series unless the remaining titles on my wishlist are unavailable.

Review: Still Waters by Tami Hoag

First, let me say that I was all set to read Susan Mallery's Two of a Kind this weekend, but I noticed a couple books on my Overdrive shelf about to expire and return to the library unread.  Can't have that now, can we?   So I squeezed in Tami Hoag:  Still Waters & Nicole Jordan:  Princess Charming.  

From Goodreads:

The deepest waters hide the darkest secrets....

When the body of a murdered man literally falls at Elizabeth Stuart's feet, she's able to wash away the blood--but not the terror. Unwelcome newcomers to Still Creek, Minnesota, she and her troubled teenage son are treated with suspicion by the locals, including the sheriff. Yet nothing will stop her from digging beneath the town's placid surface for the truth—except the killer.

My Review:

I typically enjoy Tami Hoag's novels as they perfectly combine elements of mystery, suspense, romance, and drama.  Still Waters was no exception.   I read the eBook version.  I won't rehash the plot & premise of the book, because honestly, if you read the publisher's blurb, you get the point anyhow.  

I enjoyed the feisty attitude of the female protagonist.  Although she was frustrated with her lot in life, but willing to do what it takes to start over.  She was deeply flawed, but had me cheering for her.  Unfortunately, the male protagonist was only so-so - he lacked "something" that kept me from falling in love. The cast of supporting characters had just enough depth to them to add layers to the plot without overtaking the story and confusing us to no end.  There are some dark & scandalous neighbours in this town.  

As to the storyline itself, I had suspicions regarding the "whodunnit," but was kept guessing through out.  Hoag threw in a couple twists that weren't entirely unexpected, but worked to keep things moving and keep you from getting comfortable in your assumptions.  

As this was originally written in 1992 (I was only 11!), the lack of modern technology stands out like the proverbial "sore thumb."  I always find older novels entertaining that way... the descriptors and such are so different from those of today. 

I recommend this as a quick read if you enjoy an easy mystery/romance combo.  Take a pass if you find coarse language and sexual themes offensive.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Review: Surrender by Amanda Quick

From Amazon:

From the dazzling ballrooms of glittering London society to magnificent, cursed estate in the distant wilds of Yorkshire, comes the deliciously wicked story of a thoroughly unconventional courtship—and a thrilling midnight rendezvous that could only lead to love... At four and twenty Victoria Huntington thought herself quite adept at fending off fortune hunters... until she came under siege from Lucas Colebrook, the darkly disturbing new Earl of Stonevale. Amidst the brightly plumed birds of the town, Lucas was a hawk. And when he held out the lure of moonlit rides and wild, reckless midnight escapades, Victoria found herself powerless to resist. But becoming Stonevale's companion in adventure was far more dangerous undertaking than Victoria could ever imagine. For the attractive Earl would use her every weakness to woo her, to win her, and ultimately to wed her. And soon the amber-eyed lady would find herself ensconced in a crumbling mansion deep in the English countryside... where the real reason for her hasty marriage becomes all too apparent...and where the ghosts of her dark-stained past are waiting to rise up in a terrifying plot that will threaten her life, her honor, and the only man she could ever love.

My Review:

This afternoon I finished Surrender by Amanda Quick.  I'm an avid fan of historical novels and don't mind the steamy, scandalous tales or the tamer variety that merely highlight the glitter, glamour and romance.  Surrender, however, fell short for me on both counts.  I struggled through it.  I generally enjoy Amanda Quick, but this one just didn't hold my attention.  

The story was predictable and the mystery wasn't very mysterious.  The hero & heroine didn't have a lot of depth.  I didn't dislike them, but I didn't love them either.  The plot and premise was much like other dime-a-dozen novels  (heroine needs money, seeks an heiress, heiress is curious & unconventional, heroine tries to woo and/or seduce her, seduction ends in scandal, someone is out to get one or the other, mystery resolves itself, they live happily ever after.)  The intimate scenes weren't necessary or romantic.   I don't mind intimate scenes, but these fell flat and, in my opinion, felt like they were added because it's expected.  I skimmed them, flipped ahead, and it had no bearing on the story as a whole.

I like my historicals fluffy enough for a quick escape or so multi-dimensional you have to immerse yourself in it.   Surrender should have been fluffy, but was actually a bit of a bore.  Seriously,  I fell asleep while reading the last chapters this afternoon while the boys were entertained with their LEGO Scholastic Readers.  I'm thrilled it was a borrowed library e-book.

I very much wish my first review on this blog was positive and happy.  Unfortunately, I wouldn't recommend this novel unless you're a huge Amanda Quick fan.  If you don't have access to anything better, give it a go; otherwise, just leave it on the shelf.

New Downloads: To-Read

Last week, Kobo started emailing coupons to me because they "..used to see (me) all the time."  The discount?  90%.   Unfortunately, the fine print seriously limited the selection and I couldn't apply the coupon to certain publishers (Hatchette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Wiley, Zondervan, and all their subsidiaries).  This exclusionary clause meant I couldn't just pull titles off my to-read shelf and download.  There was a lot of trial and error while attempting to check out.   Fun times.  All worthwhile considering I didn't want to shell out actual money to read them.  Did I mention I had a $25 Kobo gift card from Santa that I've been hoarding since Christmas?  Free books... and I can read them at my leisure.

Here, in no particular order, are the titles I chose to download:
I'm not sure how I got so lucky, but any extra books on the bookshelf is a win.  Watch for reviews soon!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Books Are The Air I Breathe

Welcome to NovelTeaseReview!  In case you wondered, that's a little play on words.  Ah, words... a wonderful thing.  Combined in a book, the air I breathe!  For me, a day without reading is a day without the sun, a hug, a smile.  Reading is my addiction, my escape, my safe place, my solace, my hobby, a frivolous novelty that I often refuse to feel guilty about.  Thank God libraries exist or I'd be broke.

Here I will share reviews and opinions on my current reads, create a bookshelf of titles I've inhaled, share quotes favourite passages, link to favourite authors, and in general, post content related to all things biblio.

My disclaimer?  I read for pleasure.  I read fluff.  I read hot and steamy, mysterious and otherworldly, Christian, historical, young adult, chick lit, and everything in between.   History, small towns, intimate scenes, blood, romance, murder, mayhem, heartbreak, hope - I'm okay with it all.  You will not see a single pretentious review and will probably shake your heads at some of the titles I read, insights I share, and how absolutely excited I can find myself in the midst of it all.  My tastes and opinions are not for everyone... and that's okay, because I read for me, and I love it!

I'm a mom of 2 active boys (active:  read loud and rough) so books are my quiet place and I will fit in a read wherever I can - I've been known to stir the soup on the stove with a book in hand.  I'm in my young thirties.  I work from home.  I would rather read than watch a movie.  I used to fall asleep with a light under my covers, book flat on my face.  I have a love-hate relationship with digital books.  We're working on that.  I love the smell of a library, a used bookstore, and have a soft spot for a pretty cover or illustration.   My all time favourite book?  Little Women.  It's a classic for a reason!

Pour a tea, find a blanket, get cozy!  Let's be friends:  you, me, and this wonderful world of books.

~ LB