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.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Gray Mountain by John Grisham

All I own in this world (minus my jewelry, some bottles of wine and the unity candle from our wedding) is on a truck somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.  While I've been waiting for it to arrive, I've had ample opportunity to read.  And drink coffee.  Sounds heavenly, right? Well, it should be....but it isn't thanks to Mr. Grisham and Gray Mountain.

Everything was right with the world when the book started.  Interesting characters (a hotshot lawyer, his loyal staff and a new female lawyer in town fresh from NYC), a well researched topic (strip mining in rural Virginia), drama in the form of a possible murder....all the classic Grisham was there.  And then with about 100 pages left, I noticed there no way this book was going to wrap up in the usual Grisham way.  As I kept reading,   it became more and more evident.  And I was right.

Look, I read John Grisham because he and his books are something I can count on. They are a constant in my never-constant Army wife world.  When they don't deliver, it makes me mad.  The book can't end without me knowing some very specific details!  Does Samantha stay or go? Does the mining company go after her too or not?  What about Jeff? Does he come back?  Ugh. 

It's frustrating enough that I've had to wait over a week for our household goods.  I don't need one of my go-to authors adding fuel to the fire.  Wait, is that the moving truck I hear?

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Reluctant Duchess by Sharon Cullen

The Reluctant Duchess by Sharon Cullen
I received a free e-copy of this book from in return for a review. 

It has been a while since I tried a new straight Regency romance novel, and I can happily report that I enjoyed this one as a nice and easy romance read.

The plot: Sara, the plain and painfully shy orphaned cousin of a murdered Society star, Meredith, begins receiving letters from a witness to the two-year old unsolved murder - or maybe even from the killer himself - and goes to Meredith's fiance for help. Gabriel Ferguson, the Duke of Rossmoyne (known as Ross) has just returned from a stint in India, where he went to escape his grief over Meredith's death. Sara's aunt and uncle, whom she (somewhat confusingly) refer to as her parents, have fallen apart and are living apart after their daughter's death, and she feels like Ross is the only one who can help. In true classic Regency romance fashion, Ross's partying days are over and he finds Sara's calm and intelligent demeanor attractive, while she realizes that he is not the man her cousin originally fell in love with. Sara knows, though, that her fear of Society and social situations will not work well in the post of a Duchess. Also, of course, they must track down Meredith's killer.

While there is always a certain amount of formulaic plotting in these books, I find I don't mind it if they work well. This one did. Ms. Cullen has created interesting characters whom I liked and rooted for. These particular two are not only reasonable, with at least some true-to-life concerns, they also have social consciences. Sara is correct to worry about whether she could face Society - Ross has to meet Queen Victoria, for example, and any duchess of that time would have to, also. Ross left for India while he still had the reputation of a party animal, so to speak, so even his own mother has doubts of whether he can settle down - and rightly so. The story begins the day he returned from India - it seems reasonable that his mother hasn't realized that he's changed.

The plot moves along pretty quickly and well. The physical romance scenes are steamy without being too explicit. I'm not sure that Ms. Cullen has the correct forms of address for the various levels of nobility (and that's based on research, not just other novels) but other than that, I have no beef with the writing. The grammar and dialogue are good.

This book will be published as a Random House Loveswept e-book on November 10th. I would recommend it to fans of Regency romance looking for a no-brainer read.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Doing it for Love by Cassie Mae

I received an e-book copy of Doing it for Love by Cassie Mae as an advanced reader copy from Net Galley. It will be released on September 29th.

The plot: An engaged woman, Elizabeth, already feels like she and her fiance are "peas and carrots" in bed, rather than chocolate mousse. She makes a challenge with Landon (the fiance) - nothing but kissing until the wedding, and if one caves first, the other gets to pick the honeymoon destination.

Doing a little research on, it looks like Cassie Mae has a fairly good following for YA romance, plus a few other books both on her own and co-authored, all seeming to be set in high school or college. Looking a little further, it does look like this is her first full large-publisher adult contemporary. I had not heard of her before, but the premise sounded interesting and I tried this book. It's going to be a Random House Loveswept line novel when it comes out, so it's a little short and slightly sweeter than I had anticipated based on the blurb.

I don't know, since I haven't read the YA novels, if this is her first foray into full adult romance and "the act" or not, but it kind of seems like it. Sadly, this novel fell very flat for me. Rather than being full of fun and  sexual tension, it felt full of annoyance and whining, and I was over it within the first few chapters.

Elizabeth and Landon live in NYC. Landon is a film-school graduate and has a grant to make a movie, which he works on 20 hours a day. Elizabeth has left college and is only 21 (22?), and works retail. The book begins with some "peas and carrots" sex (if you happen to read this, get used to that phrase. You'll hear it over and over and over) followed by an unexpected proposal. Elizabeth is determined to put the spark back into their love life, and Landon wants their honeymoon to be at the Sundance Film Festival. She has no interest in Utah in February (I do, but hey...) so she comes up with the idea that they can't kiss or do anything below the neck until the wedding night. If she caves, he gets Utah, if he caves, she gets a beach honeymoon.

They are a cute couple when they are not whining, and clearly do love each other. There are some funny best friends, and some humor here and there. But I admit that I am probably not the target audience here. Coming from a middle-aged perspective, they're idiots. Landon's mother is a witch and apparently always has been, and she hates the idea of Lizzie and thinks they are too young. Lizzie's parents are more supportive, but also have age concerns. Frankly, I do, too. One of the major plot points is that they are always broke and at one point, Lizzie breaks a bowl with their last box of mac and cheese and they supposedly have nothing to eat until payday. So, what on earth makes her think it makes sense to get married in the boathouse in Central Park, or plan a beach getaway??? Supposedly she has a lot saved, and she is responsible and wants to keep the nest egg, but to worry about food and not use that? Isn't that what the emergency savings are for? I don't even think I'd care if they went to City Hall, but to plan an elaborate wedding in that situation (yes, the parents save the day. Yay, parents.) seems beyond stupid.

Anyway, that perspective aside, some of the "let's break each other" scenes are funny and hot. Others just feel like a slog. They are totally ignorant of the fact that intimacy can help you feel connected and bonded to your partner, and so they both are just grouchy, all the time. She whines and eats too much and can't fit into the dress she wants. He whines and needs more money for his movie and picks fights. Fun. Not.

The grammar was fine, but the overuse of food metaphors annoying, the characterization thin, the mood blah, and overall, I didn't much like it. Sorry, Net Galley. Pin It

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Good news? I have tons of time to read this summer!

Bad news? I am moving from Virginia to Washington state (thanks, Uncle Sam) and our house will not be ready until possibly Oct. 1. 

Let's just focus on the good news, shall we?

Since I am literally homeless and pinging around this grand country mooching off of friends and relatives for at least another 3 weeks, I've read lots.  And lots.

This week, I was invitied to my mother-in-law's monthly book club.  She had already finished the book, so she dialed it up on her nook for me, I threw the kids in the pool and headed out to the backyard to read/make sure no one drowned.

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry was this month's pick and was a nice little escape in the midst of my nomadic life.  AJ owns a bookstore (who doesn't love a story set in a bookstore?) and is in the midst of grieveing the recent loss of his wife when he finds an infant left to his care.  Left with only a note pinned to her chest, baby Maya and AJ make an unlikely pair.  AJ becomes her foster parent and eventually her adopted father.  The story unfolds as to why baby Maya ended up in the bookstore but not without some unexpected twists.  At one point, I actually put down the nook to go find my MIL and exclaimed, "Can you believe that part about ___? I did NOT see that coming!"

This book was the perfect reminder that I should make more time to read and might even prompt me to start up a book club when I get to Washington.  After we get a house, that is.

**How cool is their club name?

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