Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why Don't We Listen Better? Communicating & Connecting in Relationships

Why Don't We Listen Better? Communicating & Connecting in RelationshipsWhy Don't We Listen Better? Communicating & Connecting in Relationships by James C. Petersen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yes, my mother was right, I DID need to read this book. Actually, EVERYONE should read this book. And now that I've read it, I need to go buy my own copy to keep on hand.

Jim Petersen does a wonderful job of explaining how we go "flat-brained" when we're under stress or under attack, and I love that he also gives concrete steps and techniques to use to recover from that and open communication lines back up by really and truly LISTENING to what other people are trying to tell us. We definitely need the Talker/Listener cards to use in our home, and I may create one to take to work with me, too.

View all my reviews

Anything but Typical

Anything But TypicalAnything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be autistic? After reading this book, I feel like I have a much better understanding of the inner world of autistic children (or at least an autistic 12 year old boy). It was really a fascinating glimpse into the frustrations of a family trying to cope with a child who struggles to communicate, who has a hard time sharing his thoughts and feelings with a world of "neurotypicals," and whose sensory perceptions are attuned so differently from most people's. I sympathized with his mother and at the same time wished I could shake some sense into her because she just didn't get it!

Jason has a hard time relating to the world in real life, but online is a different story. In real life, he is picked on, awkward, and misunderstood. Online, he is an ordinary kid who writes creative stories and gets a crush on the girl who likes them. Imagine his panic as those worlds begin to collide.

For readers' advisors: character and story doorways

View all my reviews

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Other Mothers' Club

The Other Mothers' ClubThe Other Mothers' Club by Samantha Baker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading a novel where the main characters were all struggling with variations of step-parenting, although none of the women's stories matched my situation. I think this would make a good book club selection because I really wanted to discuss it with someone when I finished. (I did not agree with some choices some of the characters made, and it would have been fun to get other readers' perspectives and opinions.)

The premise of the book is that Eve is in a relationship with Ian and is meeting his 3 kids for the first time. The oldest doesn't react well, and Eve turns to Clare, a single mother of a teenage daughter, for support. Clare's idea is to bring her together with Clare's sister, Lily, who's learning to deal with her boyfriend's young daughter. Their support "group" eventually adds 2 more women with slightly different dilemmas.

For readers' advisors: primarily character doorway, with story as a secondary doorway. It's set in London, England, but it could take place anywhere, really.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse NovellaThe Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella by Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3 1/2 stars, actually.

This was a short, fun little glimpse inside the world of the "non-vegetarian" vampire newborns who fought the Cullen clan in the main series. It made me want to go back and re-read Eclipse.

For readers' advisors: story and character doorways

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Week in the Woods

A Week in the WoodsA Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this book for my stepson for Christmas last year, and it turned out to be one of his favorites (hooray!). Both he and my husband recommended I read it, and I can see why. Andrew Clements does such an excellent job of creating multi-dimensional characters, both children and adults. In fact, there is so much to this story, it's hard to know how to describe it. It's a story about a kid and some adults who make some snap judgments that turn out to be wrong. It's a story about a lonely kid finding and home and something (the outdoors) to love. It's a story about being prepared (and an excellent advertisement for REI!).

Ultimately it's a story about getting lost and finding your way back home.

For readers' advisors: character and story doorways, and a great pick for elementary school boys.

View all my reviews

No Talking

No TalkingNo Talking by Andrew Clements

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved it! This book cracked me up, and I love how both the kids AND adults grew up a little over the course of the book. My 9-year-old stepson (and my husband) loved it, too, which is always a good sign. :)

Here is the book talk I just gave for it:

Who talks more?

Boys...or girls?

Do you know?

Could you stop?

Laketon Elementary experimented.

With a contest

Boys vs. Girls

Two silent days

Penalties for speaking

Except to teachers

(Three-word answers)

Kids counted goofs.

Teachers were confused.

And the winners?

Can you guess?

No Talking

by Andrew Clements

For readers' advisors: story and character doorways

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It Happened One Knife

It Happened One KnifeIt Happened One Knife by Jeffrey Cohen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was the second Jeffrey Cohen mystery I read (the first was Some Like It Hot Buttered), and I enjoyed it just as much. Cohen's sense of humor and turn of phrase--especially in his narration--cracks me up.

Elliot Freed's Comedy Tonight movie theater has just reopened after the renovations made necessary in the end of the first book. He agreed to screen his projectionist's ultra-violent Western, despite the theater's comedy-only theme, but afterward, someone stole the only copy of Anthony's gory bloodfest of a student film. That's mystery #1.

Mystery #2 begins after Elliot meets two of his heroes, the legendary comedy team of Harry Lillis and Les Townes. Lillis believes that 50 years ago, Townes murdered his (Townes') wife, actress/comedienne Vivian Reynolds. Elliot sets out to find out if this is true.

I had my suspicions throughout the book as to who did what to whom, but I did not actually figure it all out in advance. :)

For readers' advisors: story and character doorways

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Take the Cannoli

Take the CannoliTake the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I heard Sarah Vowell speak at the closing session of PLA in March 2010, and she was so hilarious, I added her books to my to-read list. This is the first of her books I have read, and overall I enjoyed it. She has a fabulously sarcastic sense of humor, although I think she's funnier in person than in parts of this book. I generally agree with her politics, so I usually got a kick out of her take on things, but she lost me in the chapter on the Chelsea Hotel. I just couldn't make myself finish that essay, maybe because I had never heard of it before picking up her book, but, yeah, a hotel that's filthy on purpose?! Some famous people stayed there at one time, and that's supposed to make squalor exciting or interesting to read about? Um, not so much.

For readers' advisors: character doorway

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Never Less Than a Lady

Never Less Than A Lady (Lost Lords #2)Never Less Than A Lady by Mary Jo Putney

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started reading this book before I knew it was #2 in the Lost Lords series, and I kept feeling like I was missing something, so I put it down and went in search of the first one. Once I finished that one (Loving a Lost Lord), this one made much more sense!

Never Less Than a Lady is the story of Julia Bancroft, abducted by her dead first husband's buddies and rescued by Major Alexander Russell. To protect her--and because there is a reluctant attraction between them--they get married. Then they have to learn how to build a life together.

Mary Jo Putney is one of my favorite romance authors, but this book--like the one before it--left me a little dissatisfied at times. I just felt like it was too easy for Julia to get over her abusive past. Admittedly, I've never been abused (hooray!!), but from everything I've read or heard, that level of torture and abuse doesn't simply melt away over the course of a few months just because you've met Mr. Fabulous. Even though her physical scars are years old, the complexity of her emotional scars should have taken more time, patient work, and pages to heal. The same is true for Benjamin--not even children learn to trust again that quickly. It was just unrealistic.

For Reader's Advisors: story and character doorways

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How Do You Tuck in a Superhero?

How Do You Tuck In a Superhero?: And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising BoysHow Do You Tuck In a Superhero?: And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising Boys by Rachel Balducci

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started reading this while waiting at the Social Security office & DMV. Excellent choice! Short chapters, funny, and easy to put down when my number was called. It's not the parenting book I thought it would be when I checked it out, but it was an entertaining series of nearly random vignettes about the author, her husband, and their 5 sons.

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Loving a Lost Lord

Loving A Lost Lord (Lost Lords, #1)Loving A Lost Lord by Mary Jo Putney

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mary Jo Putney is one of my favorite romance authors, but this is not one of her best books. It has great potential, despite the gag-inducing cover (WHY do publishers do that?!), but the end really felt a little too rushed, and the survival rate of the characters was improbably high. Still, I'll probably read the rest of the series as it comes out, and I'd give the first 80% or so of the book 3 1/2 to 4 stars if I could.

The premise of the book is that Mariah Clarke's father won an estate in a card game, and after he sets off for London to visit his estranged family, the former owner returns to persuade Mariah to marry him, telling her that her father has been killed. He is persistent, and she tells him she already has a husband who is off fighting in the Peninsula. Not long afterward, Mariah rescues a nearly drowned man with amnesia. On impulse, she tells him he's her husband, which does get her unwanted suitor to leave, but proves a complicated lie to maintain.

For reader's advisors: story and character doorways.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sizzling Sixteen

Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum, #16)Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The latest installment in the Stephanie Plum series is pretty much the same formula as the others: Stephanie & Lula bumble their way to rescuing Vinnie from the very angry bad guys who kidnapped him for ransom. A few appearances by Ranger, Morelli, Grandma Mazur, Connie, etc. Standard Stephanie Plum fare. The big laughs in this one come from Mooner & the Hobbits. :D

I wish there were more character development, but...oh well.

For reader's advisors: story doorway

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui

Clear Your Clutter With Feng ShuiClear Your Clutter With Feng Shui by Karen Kingston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came across this book during the course of doing some collection development for my nonfiction "zone" at work (in a public library) and decided to read it because I'm a little bit interested in feng shui and a LOT interested in clearing the irritating clutter from my house. Most clutter-clearing books are either lacking in practical tips or aimed at full-on hoarders (or worse, both), whereas I am a practical girl who can still see most of the floor and countertops in my house most of the time.

What I like best about this book is that it's written in short chunks that feel do-able, largely because Kingston doesn't insist that you get up right this second and sort through everything right here right now until your house looks like a magazine photo shoot. She acknowledges that not everyone has that much time or energy (including emotional energy) and that sometimes it's necessary to do a little bit every day until your newly-tidy spaces motivate you to take on bigger and bigger projects. I really like that she addresses the underlying reasons people have clutter and what it does to the energy of the people and the home.

My biggest qualm about the book is that occasionally Kingston gets a little "out there." She loses me every once in a while when she seems to stray too far into the realm of magical thinking (i.e. a woman putting a bouquet of "abundant-looking" flowers in the prosperity corner of the room leading to the woman's husband coming home and spontaneously giving his wife a $1500 check to spend on whatever she wants). However, these moments are brief, and then I'm right back with her because what she's saying about the emotional effects of clearing out and cleaning up make total sense to me.

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ten Things I Love About You

Ten Things I Love About You (Bevelstoke, #3)Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sebastian Grey returns, this time as the romantic lead. (A note to Bridgerton fans: Cressida Twombley has a cameo in this one as well, and she is her usual nasty self.) Turns out that Sebastian is the secret author of the Sarah Gorely gothic romance novels, including Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron, which had me nearly rolling on the floor with laughter during one scene of What Happens in London.

Sebastian meets Annabel Winslow when she trips over him on the heath one night at a ball. He is awaiting the arrival of a willing widow for a tryst; she is fleeing from his elderly uncle who intends to marry her & who just sexually assaulted her in a hallway. The result? An entertaining tale I stayed up late to finish reading, despite not feeling well the past 2 days. This wasn't as hilarious as What Happens in London, but it did make me grin & chuckle numerous times. I also appreciated the acknowledgment of the existence of PTSD even before it had a name.

For reader's advisors: story and character doorways.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Secret Affair

A Secret Affair (Huxtable Quintet, #5)A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you enjoy a good character-driven historical romance novel, this is a excellent choice. It's the story of how the widowed Duchess of Dunbarton transforms into Hannah in the eyes of her chosen lover, Constantine Huxtable. Likewise, it's also the story of how the Ton's favorite bad boy turns out to be more of an angel than a devil, much to Hannah's surprise.

This was one of those books that made lunch hours seem far too short. By the end of the week I couldn't stand the wait and had to take the book home with me to finish that evening. This is always a good sign. :)

View all my reviews

Friday, August 20, 2010

Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe

Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Stop the Climate Crisis, Heal Our Planet, Feed the World and Keep Us SafeOrganic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Stop the Climate Crisis, Heal Our Planet, Feed the World and Keep Us Safe by Maria Rodale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Maria Rodale is VERY passionate when it comes to organic food & farming. I wish everyone on this planet would read her book and change the status quo. I had no idea how complicated and detrimental the Farm Bill has become! I did know, however, how powerful and insidious the chemical companies are, but I didn't realize the full extent of their greed and control. YIKES. Thank goodness for "Part 3: The Age of Healing," or I might never sleep again.

I HIGHLY recommend this book. The only reason I don't give it 5 stars is that I can see how some people might be put off by Rodale's sometimes-strident tone, and once in a while it felt a little repetitive, but perhaps that's because not everything was news to me.

Not sure how to categorize it for Reader's Advisors. Story doorway??

View all my reviews

Amazing Gracie

Amazing GracieAmazing Gracie by Sherryl Woods

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2 1/2 stars, actually.

I don't know that I've ever read any of Sherryl Woods' books before, but I got this one for free at PLA, so I threw it in my carry-on to read on vacation this summer. It was OK. Characters weren't terribly believable or well-developed, but I liked Aunt Delia.

It's a plot-driven bit of fluff--good for a beach read. The premise is that Gracie quits her job as a fancy-schmancy hotel manager when the new CEO starts penny-pinching & sacrificing quality for the bottom line. She moves to Virginia because she loved the vacation she took there as a child, and she falls in love with an old house that she decides to buy and turn into a B&B. Problem is, the owner isn't interested in selling. He is, however, interested in her. Guess what happens next!

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sleeping Naked Is Green

Sleeping Naked is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 DaysSleeping Naked is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days by Vanessa Farquharson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The title of this book is what originally caught my eye. It should really have dawned on me right then that if she calls herself an "eco-cynic" in the title, the book is probably going to include some snarky, disparaging comments about those of us who give a flying fig about this planet we're all on. Thankfully, the author does by and large grow in to becoming one of us over the course of her year of daily green changes.

My overall impression of this book is that the author is very very young. Not that I'm all that old, mind you, but she is SO young (early twenties??) and still in that phase where she's really out to prove young & hip, primarily. And she seems to be on the verge of alcoholism. But I very much admire her willingness to try things even I would balk at, like getting rid of her car, taking lukewarm showers, taking a butchering class, or using composting toilets. She broke her own rules more frequently than I would like, but at least she TRIED, which is more than most people do, and she raised a great deal of awareness about personal choices and options by sharing everything on her blog, in her book, and in her weekly newspaper column. And because of her, a lot more people are trying to make their own green changes, both small and large, and I am thankful for that.

For Reader's Advisors: character doorway because it's all about the author and her personal development over the course of the year. Be careful when recommending it to uber-conservative types, though, because Farquharson bed-hops (or tent-hops!) a bit, and there is some swearing.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Burning Lamp

Burning Lamp (Dreamlight Trilogy, #2, Arcane Society, #8)Burning Lamp by Amanda Quick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This latest addition to the fictional world of the Arcane Society is both #8 in the Arcane Society series, as well as #2 in the Dreamlight Trilogy. Nothing groundbreaking here, but it is a solid, entertaining read.

The Winters family has a "curse"--every once in a while, one of the men will inherit a tendency to develop paranormal talent at the age of 36 that goes beyond his original talent. He must locate both a dreamlight reader (a woman) as well as the Burning Lamp his ancestor created, and persuade the woman to use her talent and the lamp to prevent him from going mad. Enter Griffin Winters, late-19th-century London crime lord, and Adelaide Pyne, social reformer.

I had a hard time believing Griffin was really a crime lord--he was too honorable and, well, nice. Not brutal or unscrupulous enough. But otherwise it was a fun read. I enjoyed the appearances of other characters from earlier novels, despite wishing I had the previous books at hand to help jog my memory.

For reader's advisors: story doorway.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Snow White and Rose Red

Snow White And Rose Red (Fairy Tales)Snow White And Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is definitely not Disney's Snow White. True, there is no sex or bad language, and violence is only discussed, not really depicted, but that's really where the similarities end. In Patricia C. Wrede's version of the classic fairy tale, Snow White and Rose Red are the daughters of a poor widow who ekes out a living by making herbal remedies to sell to the townsfolk. They live next to a forest, on the edge of the border of Faerie, in the Elizabethan era of England. Living in the village of Mortlak are two sorcerers whom the girls accidentally spy casting a spell that unwittingly traps the spirit of the younger son of the Queen of Faerie in first a lamp and then a crystal. The Queen's sons are half human/half faerie, and the human half slowly transforms into a bear which is then cast out into the human world. The Queen's older son, John, sneaks out of Faerie in search of a way to save his brother, Hugh, meanwhile a trio of human-hating faeries plots to steal the lamp and crystal and break the bonds holding Faerie to the mortal world.

The language is fabulous--very much how I think Elizabethan English might have sounded. Reading dialogue in the novel is like reading Shakespeare (and I mean that in a good way!), especially toward the end when the Puck-like character of Robin is introduced. It's delightful and really adds to the atmosphere of the story and setting.

So for Reader's Advisors, the main doorways are story and language. It's billed as a YA book, but adults will love it just as much--if not more--than teens.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Help

The Help The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It took me a while to adjust to reading the written dialect/accent of Aibilene and Minny, but once I got going, I fell in love with this book. The characters felt like real people--even Hilly wasn't a one-dimensional villain. I was never entirely sure where the story would lead, not even when I guessed a bit of someone's secrets here or there. I had a hard time putting the book down at the end of my lunch breaks because I wanted to find out what happened next.

I kept wanting to put everyone in a room and make them TALK to each other and see how artificial and arbitrary their differences were, founded on ignorance and prejudice. (I especially wanted Minny to talk to Miss Celia.) But then, I was born more than a decade after this book took place and in an entirely different part of the country. I have very little personal experience with racial prejudice. Or domestic help, for that matter! :) I don't know how I would have handled the cruelty and shameful miscarriages of justice. Would I have been brave enough to risk my life to challenge the hateful status quo? It's really amazing to me just how far we've come in a generation. To have improved that much gives me hope that we will be able to continue the progress into--and beyond--the next generation.

For Reader's Advisors: story and character doorways, with setting also pretty important.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Girl Who Chased the Moon

The Girl Who Chased the Moon The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this one in a single evening. It was an enjoyable read, but it didn't captivate me the way Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen did. I thought Allen tried a little too hard to have the characters' back-stories remain mysterious secrets, and that stifled character (and plot) development. I kept wanting them to just spill the beans so they could deal with the past and finally heal & move on with their lives.

The premise of the book is that 17-year-old Emily comes to Mullaby, NC, to live with her "gentle giant" of a grandfather after her mother's death. She knew her mother as a tireless social activist, but the town remembers Dulcie quite differently, only no one will tell Emily why. Meanwhile, the next door neighbor has a secret of her own, which relates to why she bakes cakes with the windows open, and why she can't wait to sell her (father's) restaurant and leave town again. And then there is the mayor's family with the teenage son, Win, who is drawn to Emily, despite his family's animosity toward her.

Win sneaking into Emily's room at night to watch her sleep was just a little too Twilight for me, though. (I loved Twilight, but a teenage boy who sneaks in "just" to watch a teenage girl sleep is creepy and not very believable.)

For Reader's Advisory: character and story doorways

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different--And How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men

Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different-And How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different-And How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men by Steve Biddulph

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If all parents of boys read this book (and learned from it), the world would be a much better place. It's written primarily for fathers, although there is also a chapter specifically for single mothers, but as a soon-to-be-stepmom, I got a lot out of it, too. It explains and confirms so much of what I have observed and experienced! And it gives some practical advice on what to do, how to raise boys at different stages in their lives, so that they grow up to be excellent men. It's easy to read and not terribly long. This is another book I am thinking about buying to use as a reference.

View all my reviews >>

Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices

Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices by Mindy Pennybacker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great book for someone who wants to make better, healthier choices but doesn't know where to start and isn't ready to chuck it all and live in a tent in the woods with no running water or electricity for the rest of his or her life. It's easy to read--the information is broken down into chunks, with really helpful, practical tips and choose it/lose it recommendations, complete with some brand names. I'm actually thinking about buying a copy of the book to use as a reference when I shop. Beware, though: once I read the section on skin and hair care, I started reading labels and felt an urgent need to go to the grocery store to replace all my fiance's toxic products!

My one quibble with it is the inconsistency of the use of grey boxes. Much of the time, they indicate "lose it" lists or warnings. Other times grey is used merely as a section marker/background shade. My brain learned to assume "grey = bad choices," and I had to consciously shift my thinking every time this wasn't the case.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Matter of Class

A Matter of Class A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This slim little novel is not what it seems. Usually, thinner means less depth, more fluff, and a pretty generic plot. I don't want to ruin it for anyone, so all I'll say is that as soon as I finished, I turned around and started re-reading all the "present-day" parts. (The chapters alternate between the past and present, both of which take place in England's Regency period.)

The story begins with Reggie Mason enduring a lecture from his father who is furious about Reggie's extravagant lifestyle and gambling debts. Meanwhile, on the adjoining estate, Lady Annabelle Ashton awaits her irate father's decision regarding her fate now that she has been caught running off with the new coachman. The snobby earl is in dire need of funds. Wealthy Mr. Mason dreams of elevating his family into the "hallowed ranks" of the beau monde. A match made in...?

Definitely story is the primary doorway, but character is a strong second.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A River in the Sky

A River in the Sky (An Amelia Peabody Mystery, #19) A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This latest installment of the Amelia Peabody mystery series actually falls chronologically between Guardian of the Horizon and The Falcon at the Portal. It's set in 1910, mostly in the Holy Land--Jerusalem and thereabouts (Nablus, Jaffa, etc.). Ramses is about 18 years old.

It's a light, fun mystery to read, full of pre-war intrigues and German spies. Like most mysteries, it's story-driven, but since it's part of the Amelia Peabody series, it's also a character-doorway novel.

View all my reviews >>

Rick & Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage

Rick and Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage Rick and Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage by Rick Burgess

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I cannot believe I actually read the whole thing. What a waste of time.

Rick & Bubba are apparently local radio celebrities somewhere in Alabama, and they consider themselves funny. I found their book more irritating than funny most of the time. A few moments were amusing, I suppose. But mostly I wished they'd decide whether they were writing a marriage advice book (with fairly decent advice) or an obnoxious comedy routine about how to be a lousy, lazy husband who doesn't respect his wife all that much. They ricocheted back and forth--often within the same page or chapter--between giving good advice (ex. continue to date your spouse to keep the relationship strong) and ranting about their wives (ex. how they nag or how they get lost because they can't follow directions). It wasn't funny, and I kept wondering why on earth their wives a) had married them in the first place, and b) hadn't yet divorced them.

It only got worse toward the end when they started getting a little preachy, and I realized Rick & Bubba are actually conservative evangelicals. Really, I should have guessed that from the start. I'm a big fan of "God first, spouse second, children third." I'm NOT a big fan of "believe in Jesus or you'll burn in Hell for all eternity." God's not that small or petty.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fired Up

Fired Up (Dreamlight Trilogy, #1, Arcane Society, #7) Fired Up by Jayne Ann Krentz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is both the start of a new spin-off series (Dreamlight Trilogy) as well as a continuation of the Arcane Society series. The hero & heroine are not Arcane Society members this time, but they are still dealing with the nefarious Nightshade organization, and we get to peek a bit more into Fallon Jones' life, which I found interesting. Otherwise, it's pretty much the same formula as the other books in this series: strong paranormal talents meet and must work together to survive and stop the bad guys...while simultaneously falling in love and having mind-blowing, psi-energy-enhanced sex. Not original, but still fun.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, March 29, 2010

Thirteenth Child

Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic, #1) Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series (as soon as Patricia C. Wrede writes & publishes it, that is). It is a delightful story of a young girl growing up in an alternative U.S. in the late 19th century, where magic is ubiquitous and woolly mammoths share the wilderness with dragons. Eff is the thirteenth child--the seventh daughter and the older twin of the seventh son. Until her family moves to the frontier when she is five years old, Eff is tormented by some of her many relatives about being the unlucky #13, destined to turn bad. The psychological scars prove difficult to eradicate and cause Eff to be afraid of her own magical abilities, despite the encouragement of her teachers, parents, and friends.

Once I free up some bookshelf space, I will go buy myself a copy. I already want to reread it!

For reader's advisory purposes: character & story doorways, with setting an important factor, too.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Never After

Never After Never After by Laurell K. Hamilton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK--I have to get this book off my desk and turned back in, so here is my shorter-than-usual review:

These are upside-down romance novellas, with the heroine of each trying to get OUT of marrying someone.

The first two novellas in the book were OK. Laurell K. Hamilton tells a story about a young girl whose father basically sells her to a known pervert/dirty old man/rapist, and she chooses to escape by publicly announcing she's going to rescue an almost-mythical prince, believing it's better to die that way than be tortured by her vile husband-to-be.

Yasmine Galenorn writes about a selkie hiding from the selkie prince who raped her a century ago as a way to force her into marrying him. He finally catches up to her in the Puget Sound area and nearly kills her fiance, her supernatural friends, and her.

I enjoyed the last two novellas the best. Marjorie M. Liu tells of an unconventional princess whose father sells her in marriage to a fearsome warlord in exchange for border protection. She goes on a journey to the magical Tanglewood forest in search of guidance and discovers both some new friends and the dangerous ice queen imprisoned by a crown of thorns. (This story was hard to put down.)

Sharon Shinn's novella, "The Wrong Bridegroom," is the story of a spoiled brat of a princess whose awful father holds a bloody tournament, with the champion getting to marry the princess. The post-tournament journey to meet the future mother-in-law is eye-opening and character-building. (Shinn is a master with character development.)

View all my reviews >>

Friday, January 8, 2010

General Winston's Daughter

General Winston's Daughter General Winston's Daughter by Sharon Shinn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not quite sure how to categorize this book. It's YA because the eponymous character, Averie, General Winston's daughter, is 18 years old. It's fantasy in that Shinn set her story in a made-up world, although no one has magical abilities or rides dragons or has any other trait typical to the genre. Other than has elements of romance, although that's not the focus. It's almost a commentary on war--the complexities of aggression, suppression, and rebellion--but not entirely.

What it is, is excellent, especially if you love character development. The story begins with Averie and her chaperone, Lady Selkirk, sailing to Chiarrin, a hot, dry country recently invaded by the Aebrian army, of which Averie's father is the commanding general. Averie is joining her father and fiance (also an officer in the army) with little understanding of the military and political maneuvering shaping her world. But as she befriends both a lieutenant from the long-since conquered country of Xan'tai and a young Chiarrizi woman, she begins to reevaluate her country's actions, both current and historical.

The climax of the book took me by surprise--it was far bigger in scope than I had anticipated. Which is pretty much all I can say about it without revealing too much.

For reader's advisors: character and story doorways. No sex or bad language, although there are some kisses by moonlight.

View all my reviews >>