Saturday, August 22, 2009

Then Comes Seduction

Then Comes Seduction (Huxtable Quintet, #2) Then Comes Seduction by Mary Balogh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second in a series of four historical romance novels centered on the Huxable siblings, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a perfect summer escapist novel.

Katherine's story begins just after the end of the first book and then skips ahead three years. At the start of this book, she's 20 years old and the focus of a drunken bet: Jasper Finley bets his buddies that he can seduce her within two weeks. It's a wager that comes back to bite them in the backsides three years later when his half-sister's cousin and aunt try to use it as leverage to get control of his sister and her fortune.

There is no real advancement in solving the mystery of Constantine's behavior (a plot thread held over from book #1--First Comes Marriage), but you do see more of him in this volume. I am hoping that book #3 (At Last Comes Love or even #4 (Seducing an Angel) delves into that storyline and resolves it.

It was a fun read, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the quartet.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What's Holding You Back

Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What's Holding You Back Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What's Holding You Back by Brooks Palmer

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

To paraphrase another review of this book, this is not a book about how to de-clutter but rather WHY to de-clutter. Which would be perfectly fine...except that it's not at all what I was looking for when I chose to read it. What I really need is a how-to manual of tips & tricks to get and stay clutter-free.

I am a clutter-magnet, especially for paper, and I know this is primarily because of two reasons: 1) I forget about anything I can't see (apparently I missed a brain development stage as a toddler!), so I can't put something away until I've finished dealing with it, and 2) I'm too tired and lazy by the time I get home every day to deal with most things right then & there. However, my home & my desk at work are merely cluttered, not piled high with accumulated junk--or "treasures," depending on your point of view--like the dozens of people and examples Brooks Palmer talks about in this book.

Palmer's former clients seem mostly to be hoarders, and his stories are about helping people break free of their OCD habits caused by various types of trauma, negative thinking, denial, addictions, etc. The book is cataloged with subject headings like "house cleaning" and "storage in the home," but obviously the person who assigned the subject headings never actually read the book. I would classify it as self-help or therapy. There are a few tips--"exercises"--included in grey-shaded boxes here and there amongst the chapters, but overall it's designed to help readers make the mental shifts necessary for letting go of excess stuff.

If you are a person whose possessions (or even thoughts) have become a prison of sorts, this book might very well rate 4 stars. For people like me who just wanted tips on organizing my living room & office, it's not that useful.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Finger Lickin' Fifteen

Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum, #15) Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There were a few laugh-out-loud moments in this one, but overall, I was disappointed that Evanovich hasn't developed the characters very much. How hard would it be for her to have Stephanie catch a skip as he crawls out a window? Or learn she actually likes some healthy thing Ella has cooked over at Rangeman? Or show some personal growth in one or more branches of the Morelli/Stephanie/Ranger love triangle?

This one felt a bit formulaic to me. And I had a hard time believing that Ranger would ask for Stephanie's help in figuring out how someone is breaching his security codes for his clients. I mean, he's uber-competent, and she's an utter screw-up--what could she possibly have to contribute that he hasn't thought of already?

Still, there were some funny parts, and Lula, Grandma Mazur, and the cross-dressing fireman made me smile. If you're reading it as a fluffy beach-read, it's still a good choice.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Perfect Poison

The Perfect Poison The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Stolen plants from Lucinda Bromley's conservatory kick off this installment in the Arcane Society series. She calls in Caleb Jones, founder of the Jones (investigative) agency, to help her find the thief and prove she did not poison Lord Fairburn. This leads to the discovery of a new attempt to create the infamous "Founder's Formula" that is rumored to enhance psychic abilities but in reality causes addiction, madness, and death.

The seduction/sex scenes often caused me to roll my eyes or wince (they are remarkably similar to most all the other ones in this series), but the overall story was entertaining. I definitely enjoyed getting to piece together more details of the overarching mystery of the "Circles" and the sinister shadow conspiracy tying them all together. I'm looking forward to the next installment in the series.

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First Comes Marriage

First Comes Marriage (Huxtable Quintet, #1) First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me a little while to really get into this novel, but I enjoyed it once I did. It's not my favorite of her books, although I very much appreciated the novelty of a heroine who was NOT stunningly beautiful--she's consistently described as "plain." Vanessa is, however, cheerful and kind and full of laughter, despite being such a young widow, and she marries Elliott so her older sister won't have to (the older sister pines for a man who left her to become a soldier several years earlier).

This is the first in a series, so all sorts of things are left hanging at the end. (I won't say what because that might spoil it for you.)

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