31 January 2011

The Paris Wife


I love the cover of this book! The Paris Wife is a fictionalized story of Ernest Hemingway's first marriage to Hadley Richardson. Hadley narrates the story, starting in October 1920, as she meets Ernest while visiting a friend in Chicago. Her account is gripping from the beginning, but about halfway through the book I felt it dragged a bit in places. Then I suddenly realized it was reading more like a memoir than a novel. I had felt more involved and engaged in the beginning. That feeling did return, however, in scenes where Hadley talks about her life before Ernest, and when Hadley and Ernest are living their lives together without the continual appearances of other writers and literary friends and acquaintances.

I cannot profess to be a fan of Hemingway's work, simply because I've not read anything by him. Nor am I very familiar with the other authors who float in and out of the story, with the exception of Scott Fitzgerald (and Zelda). So that may have contributed to my starting to lose interest when Hadley detailed all their many comings and goings.

Interspersed among the chapters are a handful of very short sections told in third person from Ernest's point of view. I understand their purpose - they give us, the reader, some insight into Ernest and his actions (or reactions). But I found those chapters a little jarring and unnecessary to the story, and I think if I'd skipped them, I wouldn't have really missed anything.

Overall I enjoyed the book. I love the 20's - the music, the clothes, the slang, and following Hadley's life with Ernest was a wonderful glimpse of the times.

(I received this ARC in a giveaway from Random House. The book goes on sale 2/22/11.)

28 January 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Undead


I read the first book in this series, Dead Witch Walking, in April 2008, and have been collecting the other books as I came across them. As I started, I was a little worried that since it’s been two and a half years since reading the first book I might feel a little lost, but as little references to that storyline were mentioned my memory picked up and I was able to get involved in this one very quickly. 

Rachel Morgan is a very likable heroine. She’s young and impetuous, and sometimes leaps into action before giving the situation as much thought as she ought to. Jenks, her pixie sidekick, is enjoyable; Ivy, her living vamp roommate, a little less so. Ivy has been “off the juice” so to speak for some time, but she and her struggle to not bite humans is featured in the plot, and I am a little worried about what will happen to her in future books. It would certainly be unnerving to share a home with someone who could (and has) attack you at any given moment.

I would have liked to see more of Nick, Rachel’s human boyfriend. I know, these aren’t romance novels, but still. He’s another great character. All of Kim Harrison’s characters are great characters. Trent Kalamack is the enemy, and yet, like Rachel, I’m almost drawn to him!

(I received this book through the now defunct Frugal Reader website in November 2008).

26 January 2011

The Next Three Days

Do you know what I love almost as much as books? Movies. Television. A group of us go to the movies every Tuesday night. Last night we saw The Next Three Days.

It was a gripping and intense ride. Part way through I desperately needed to pee, but couldn't bear to leave the theatre for fear I'd miss something important.

This movie is a drama, a thrilling suspenseful drama, but it's a romance at it's core. Everything Russell Crowe's character does is out of love for his wife (the wonderful Elizabeth Banks), his family. And amid all the action and drama is one of the most romantic scenes in any movie. I won't tell you what John says to Lara over the phone while she sits on the other side of the glass staring at him in despair. But I teared up. This is how a man should love a woman.

January 2011 Acquisitions 3

The mail just arrived, and I received a surprise RABCK (Random Act of BookCrossing Kindness)! Ralph's Party by Lisa Jewell, which I put on my wish list in January after reading a review about it. According to the back cover it is "a sparkling romantic comedy about friends, lovers, and other neighbors".

21 January 2011

Sloppy Firsts


I picked this book up at a thrift store in February 2005. I don't remember if I knew anything about it at the time, or if I just grabbed it because it looked like a chick lit book, which I was (and still am) into. When I go on a thrift store shopping binge, I buy a lot of books just from looking at the covers and with no prior knowledge of the contents. Sometimes you get a loser, sometimes you get a winner. This was definitely a winner.

When I opened this book and started reading a couple of days ago, I didn't bother to read the back cover, or the inside cover flap. I just started reading the book. And learned, to my surprise, that it's a YA book, narrated by a teenage girl in diary form. A genre that I kind of got bored with awhile back, somewhere in the middle of the Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison (which I've never finished - I also never finished the Mates, Dates, and... series by Cathy Hopkins). At that point I immediately did read the back cover and the cover flap, just to confirm to myself that it really is a YA novel.

I got caught up in sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling's world very quickly, however, and am really glad that I gave it a shot. The narration is crisp and amusing and self-deprecating. Even though I'm forty-seven(!), I can still relate in my memory to some of her anxiety about school and boys and a best friend moving away (though in my life it was always me moving away from my best friend).

So now I have to add to my ever growing wish list the rest of this series: Second Helpings; Charmed Thirds; Fourth Comings; and Perfect Fifths. So thank you, Ms. McCafferty!

19 January 2011



I finished this last night and I really like it. It was very different than the vampire stuff I usually read, but I'll admit right now that I haven't really read as much as I thought I had, once I started thinking about it. I've read the Anita Blake series up to about the 8th or 9th book (and have gotten a little tired of it), and I'm currently reading the Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands, which of course is vampire romance and very enjoyable. I have not read the Twilight series and may not ever.  Different takes on vamp culture, and then here's Sunshine with an even different take.

The book was very busy, in that there is so much detail tossed in about supernatural stuff, partbloods and charms, etc., sometimes I felt a little like I'd come into a story where I missed the background. But it wasn't terribly complicated, where you can't comprehend the story because you're too confused. It was more conversationally, as Sunshine narrates her story she throws in these little asides.

I definitely want to read more of this author.

(I received this book through BookCrossing as a book ring I participated in.)

18 January 2011

January 2011 Acquisitions 2

Today in my mail - a box of books! Woo hoo! I'd received a Catherine George book from a Book Mooch member not long ago, and she told me she had lots and lots of old romance novels and asked if there were any others I was looking for. So I sent her a list of Catherine George and Linda Randall Wisdom books, and she sent me the ones she had, plus she threw in an Anne Mather.  So I received:

Linda Randall Wisdom:
A Man for Maggie (Harlequin American Romance #350)
Appearances are Deceiving (Harlequin American Romance #293)
Counterfeit Husband (Harlequin American Romance #596)

Catherine George:
Love Lies Sleeping (Harlequin Presents #1016)
Summer of the Storm (Harlequin Romance #3345)
A Brief Encounter (Harlequin Romance #3360)
A Civilised Arrangement (Harlequin Romance #3147)
An Engagement of Convenience (Harlequin Presents #2059)
Dream of Midsummer (Harelquin Romance #2571)
Man of Iron (Harlequin Romance #2924)
Touch Me In The Morning (Harlequin Presents #1065)
Reluctant Paragon (Harlequin Romance #2535)

And Anne Mathers, Cage of Shadows (Harlequin Presents #610). I actually had a copy of this years and years ago, but I gave it away through Bookcrossing.com without having read it.  I did that with a bunch of books when I first joined the site. I rarely do that now though.

Catherine George is probably my favorite Harlequin author. The first book of hers I read was Devil Within (Harlequin Presents #722), and I almost gave it away on BookCrossing without reading it, but at the last minute I had decided to read it over a weekend and mail it out on Monday. I ended up loving it. It reminded me a little of Lucy Walker's books, who I adore. So I wrote a letter to Ms. George to tell her how much I loved it, and she not only wrote back to me, but sent me an autographed copy of City Cinderella!

17 January 2011

January 2011 Acquisitions 1

While at Wal-Mart buying groceries tonight, I walked past a display of Bargain Books, then turned around and went back (of course!). I picked up two trade paperbacks for $3.00 each and a hardbck for $5.00:

True Confessions by Rachel Gibson. I haven't read anything by Gibson yet, but I already have several of her books in my To Be Read pile: The Trouble With Valentine's Day; Sex, Lies, and Online Dating; See Jane Score; Lola Carlyle Reveals All; and I'm In No Mood For Love. Obviously, I'm assuming that I will like this author.

Questions to Ask Before Marrying. After reading and loving The Love Goddess' Cooking School, I'm eager to read more by Melissa Senate.

White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison. This is Book 7 in The Hollows series. I've only read the first book so far (Dead Witch Walking), but have been picking up other books in the series as I come across them.

Needless to say, this makes me very happy!

16 January 2011

The Love Goddess' Cooking School


This is the first thing I've read by Melissa Senate (other than her tweets!), and I absolutely loved it. I lost my grandmother a few years ago, but I could still relate to Holly missing hers, that is a void that can never be filled. Holly is a wonderful character, who feels real and vivid, but I loved just about all the characters, though especially Liam and Mia. Liam's frustrations with his ex-wife and her treatment of their daughter also rang very true and familiar to me with my ex. And of course the descriptions of the food - I'm now craving bruschetta, my favorite appetizer.

My only flaw with the book is the title, which I'm just not crazy about. I get it, I mean I understand where it comes from, but it sounds so chick litty, and this story is so much deeper than your standard chick lit. And it's not that I don't like chick lit, because I do. I just feel that readers who might avoid that genre will not pick this up and will miss out on a great romantic and humorous and emotional read (and yes, I did tear up at the end).

I don't usually think along these lines, but I so pictured Isla Fischer as Francesca in my head!

(I won this book in a Good Reads giveaway hosted by Melissa Senate.)

15 January 2011

The Dive From Clausen's Pier


I loved this book. Loved it! When I picked it up at a thrift store in February 2005, I didn't know anything about it, other than the fact that I'd seen it a lot and it seemed to be popular, and it was a real nice hardback that was cheap. I had no idea what the story was.

In case you don't know what the story is: Carrie Bell, age 23, is engaged to her high school sweetheart, Mike, but has become discontented and is beginning to question their relationship. Then Mike is seriously injured, and Carrie has to decide whether to stay with him or, or put herself first. It is a long journey of self-discovery. Ann Packer's writing just flows across the page. I am always drawn more towards novels that are character driven over plot driven, and this is a wonderful character study. Sort of like Margaret Atwood, and to a lesser extent, Alice Hoffman. I'm very anxious now to find everything else Ann Packer has written.

The book was made into a Lifetime TV movie, starring Michelle Trachtenberg. I discovered this fact while I was about halfway through the book, and immediately put it at the top of my Netflix queue. Unfortunately, I found the movie a little disappointing, though I usually enjoy Lifetime movies. I think if I'd watched the movie first, then read the book, I would have liked the movie much more. But it was just way too much book to cram into a two-hour-minus-commercials-time movie, and there was just too much of the book left out.

(I purchased this book used from a thrift store.)