Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Twice as Wicked by Elizabeth Bright

Product Details

I was offered Twice as Wicked in e-reader format by NetGalley in exchange for a review. I chose it because of my long-lasting, slightly-loath-to-admit love for Regency romances. ;)

This is a nice and easy rendition of the classic Regency. Alice is a twin, whose sister has passed away, sent away in shame to give birth out of wedlock. Her sister refused to name the father, and Alice spends a while in mourning. When she finally decides to go through her sister's things, she finds a clue to the identity of the father and decides to find him and exact revenge for her sister's abandonment and subsequent death.

However, when she finally meets and finds the seeming culprit, Nathaniel Eastwood, a peer (of course), she is confused. He doesn't seem like a heartless rake, and she rather enjoys his company. He has his own troubles - it seems quite clear that someone is trying to murder him, and he suspects that Alice is part of that plot.

General romance book confusion ensues, along with the need to figure out who's really got murder in mind, but it's well-written and the characters are pretty well developed. Alice winds up doing a lot of soul-searching on how to be a twin without a sibling, and Nathaniel's relationship with his family is a growth experience. I enjoyed the plot, though the ending seemed a bit rushed, and I was wrong about something I suspected would occur, which was disappointing.

In a quick search, it seems like it's this author's first book, but I notice that the cover reads "Wicked Secrets Series" so there may be more on the way. If there are more, I'll keep reading.

The book will be released on Monday, 10/9/17, and it looks like will offer it on Kindle for $.99, which is a great deal - it doesn't feel like a "cheap" read.

Fans of historical romance should like this one. Pin It

Sunday, September 24, 2017

How I'm Spending my Afterlife by Spencer Fleury

I was afforded the opportunity to read this book with an Advanced Reader Copy from NetGalley, prior to its publication on October 3rd.

The description intrigued me - a lawyer who is under investigation by the FBI has decided the best way to escape is to fake his death. He's got some money stowed away, he has some set aside for the wife and daughter he's leaving behind, and he's got a plan to head to Costa Rica. But even from the get-go, the reader realizes he's kind of an ass.

We've all probably at some moment or another wondered what our own funeral will be like. Alton gets the chance to actually see his, and what he finds is not at all what he expected. Because of this, he just can't quite seem to get gone.

Told as if he and his wife, Nicole, are being interviewed - either by the same therapist or possibly a therapist for her and an investigator for him? - the narrative switches between their first-person viewpoints.

I feel that this is meant to be a comedic take on the unreliable narrator trend that started with Gone Girl. Alton starts off seeming pretty normal, if a bit of a jerk, but as he goes along, you find yourself in disbelief that this guy graduated law school. Stupidity barely seems to cover it. Nicole definitely seemed like a more sympathetic character at first, but she also isn't close to perfect.

I personally didn't much like this book. While funny at times, I found both narrators to be so unsympathetic that I almost didn't care enough to finish. The problem, of course, of knowing that they're telling the story as past tense (and Alton gives away pretty early on that people find out he's faked his death, so there's no premise that he may get away with it) is that, well, you know he doesn't get away with it. That took away any kind of urgency I had to get to the end of the story.

The only person I really liked in the story was the four-year-old daughter, and we don't ever get to read her thoughts...

I was a little afraid that I was judging harshly, so I read a couple of reviews on other sites, just to get a sense of what other readers are saying. The reviews I read seemed to be overwhelmingly written by guys who thought the book was really funny... I don't normally think of myself as having too much of a girly personality or someone who doesn't appreciate what men like (I'm surrounded by males in my everyday life) but just maybe this is one of those stories that appeals more to guys, because women would want to smack him every step of the way. ;)

Unfortunately, I can't recommend this one. Pin It

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

Sisterland: A Novel by [Sittenfeld, Curtis]

This is not a new book, but I finished it yesterday afternoon and I'm still thinking about it today.

I was browsing at the library the other day, and ran across a book named Eligible by the same author, which is supposed to be a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, one of my all time faves. But I hesitate to read re-tellings of actual books sometimes - I think I've mentioned that I like re-tellings/re-imaginings of fairy tails, though I'm not sure why it's different - because what if it ruins the original? So I saw that the author (I was assuming it was a "he" at that point - oops) had a few other books, and I took to the shelves. Once there, I realized that a) she's a she, and b) I had read her American Wife many years ago when it was first published, and I remembered liking it. After reading a few dust jackets, I decided that Sisterland looked to be the most intriguing.

Violet and Daisy are identical twins growing up in St. Louis in the 80's - I think we find out at some point that they'd fall in about 3 years younger than I am - which was a pull in the first place, since St. Louis is one of my favorite places. Their home life isn't awful, but it's not ideal, either - they conspire to help their very unnaffectionate (though not abusive) mother hide her depression from their somewhat cold father. They aren't well-off, but they're not poor. Vi and Daisy are very insular - the book is narrated in first-person by Daisy, and she mentions that she wouldn't have thought of Vi as her best friend, necesssarily, just that they didn't have or even want anyone else.

The most unusual thing is that Vi and Daisy both seem to have a form of ESP. Daisy dreams of tragedies before they happen. We don't know much about Vi's abilities as they are growing up, but at one point, Daisy is befriended by the cool girl clique and opens herself up to using a Ouija board. She senses a "dark presence" that does help her know things. Being teenage girls, they mostly find out about the ringleader's love life, but she also has some darker knowledge.  Being teenage girls, they have a falling out, and Daisy's social life is somewhat ruined as they are outed as "witches." Daisy, however, tries her best and eventually is mostly treated as "normal" and really downplays her "senses", while Vi embraces the weird and notoriety.

Daisy can't wait to get out of St. Louis. When the time comes, she goes to Mizzou and Vi heads to the west coast to a small private college.Vi isn't gone long, though, before she drops out/becomes too socially awkward/fails? and crashes Daisy's life (who is now going by her middle name, Kate) . They have a fairly major falling out, and the rest of the story often deals with their contentious relationship, along with Kate's marital life.

The story is told jumping around from the "now" - the fall of 2009-  to childhood, to college, often as a backstory to something going on in the present. That part is handled well - the timeline and pacing didn't suffer by being too chopped up.

The storyline - though the book is truly a novel about relationships more than anything else - is that Vi, now making her rather meager living as a psychic, has predicted a major earthquake, and the story is picked up by the national (then international) media. Kate, despite trying to disregard and even destroy her senses, also gets a feeling about a particular date. Kate is married to a professor, a scientist who has always said he believed her about her premonitions, but doesn't really REALLY believe. Kate is exasperated by Vi's willingness to share the "weird" and concerned for Jeremy's career when her husband's closest colleague is tapped to be the "anti-Vi" on TV - made worse by the fact that she lives a half a block away, and their families are absolute best friends.

Will the earthquake happen? Will her husband believe her or drive her to a stubborn impasse? Will Vi embarrass the heck out of Kate and ruin Jeremy's career?

But again, this is really just a novel about relationships. How can two people who truly were once one egg want such opposite things? Kate's relationship with her husband is tested and explored. Her relationship with her parents is examined. As a mother of two young children, she worries about what her children will think of her, given what she thinks of her own parents, and Vi's rather sour outlook on her perfect suburban life does ring a bell or two for her, even as she's usually happy.

For me, the book was very well written. I liked Kate as a character and understood why she took a lot of her actions, even as I disagreed strongly with several of her decisions. Disagreeing with her made me feel almost guilty about liking her, but then, that can happen in life, too. Most other characters were well developed - I didn't get a great sense of the wife of the other couple and her motivations - but mostly you got enough to be invested and to care. The pacing was good and kept me interested.

I read some reviews last night, and if you're expecting a book purely about psychic twins, this won't satisfy you. If you're looking for a thriller about earthquakes, also not the right book. But if you enjoy books that explore human relationships, this was a good one. The line that keeps resonating with me today is one where Kate thinks "how shocking it still is to realize that someone else doesn't want what you want, or wants what you desperately don't." It just reminds me that, no matter what we have in common or how well we know a person, we don't all think or dream the same, and a step back to see another perspective might not be all bad. Pin It