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.

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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.

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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.

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