Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Booby Trap by Anne Browning Walker

       A fellow reviewer brought my attention to The Booby Trap and I was quite excited to read it.  I liked the idea of research, waitressing, and some fun romance.  The story started off well and my excitement about the possibilities of the book built.  However, the book did not live up to my expectations.
Harvard Ph.D student Bambi is working at The Booby Trap for research purposes for her dissertation and to help pay rent.  She dreams of going to the Annual Women's Studies Conference in London, England.  
Enter Trip Whitley of Belles and Beaux Dating Service - a family owned and operated business.  At a business meeting to ramp up advertising, the PR firm suggests that Trip needs to be seen dating one woman for an extended amount of time to highlight the match making abilities of the company.  Trip's dad threatens that Trip's role at the company will diminish if Trip doesn't agree to the scheme and show up for an ice skating date on Saturday.  I found this situation a bit hard to believe, but I suspended disbelief and soldiered on.
Despite his anger at being forced into a monogamous relationship, Trip and his best friend Pat visit the Booby Trap for Pat's bachelor party.   Bambi is Trip's waitress and he assumes she is a dingbat and decides to drive his dad and the PR firm crazy by hiring Bambi to be his pretend girlfriend.  How better to get revenge that to be seen dating a hot bimbo?  Trip waits outside for Bambi and presents his idea.  She initially says no, but then realizes the money is exactly what she needs to attend the Women's Conference.  She also decides to use their time together to teach him a lesson about making assumptions about women.  I found it hard to believe that a Ph.D student would have time to worry about teaching a rude man a lesson over a 9 month period (the agreed-upon dating period) and be willing to spend her precious time with a man she can't stand.  
A camera crew follow Trip and Bambi on each of their dates and Bambi feels the requisite "tingle" when Trip touches her calf to help put on her skates on their first date.  On the second date, Bambi meets Trip's judgmental parents and then we meet Trip's long lost love - Madison.  Drama ensues from parental involvement and a misunderstanding/scheme by Madison.  Despite a few other issues, Trip and Bambi end up together for a HAE ending.
I so wanted to like this novel and believe the characters.  But, I didn't.  I don't see real chemistry between Trip and Bambi.  I'm not a fan of the "buy a date" trope, so that does color my reading. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Review of The Tidewater Inn by Colleen Cable

Tidewater Inn (The Hope Beach Series)I wanted to read The Tidewater Inn by Colleen Cable for a pretty silly reason – I love stories about hotels, inns, bed & breakfasts, etc.  However, the novel is not really about the Inn. I was a bit disappointed.   Instead, Cable’s novel addresses family bonds, forgiveness, greed, and survival instincts.  The Inn is only a small part of the action in the story.
We start out by meeting Libby Holladay, owner of Holladay Renovations, as she speaks to her partner Nicole on the telephone about a Lifesaving Station they bought to renovate on Hope Island.  An attorney on Hope Island has been looking for Libby because her father recently passed away and left Libby quite a bit of land and the Tidewater Inn.  This comes as quite a shock to Libby because she thought her father had passed away when she was five. (Conflict #1)  Nicole set up an appointment with Libby’s new half-sister to discuss the land while Libby views the meeting via the beach cam.  Before Libby’s half-sister can arrive for the meeting, Libby watches as Nicole is kidnapped by unknown men and taken off the island.  (Conflict #2)  Libby races off to the island to find Nicole, investigate her new property, and meet her new family – family members that are not excited to meet her. (Conflict #3). 
Once on the island, Libby quickly meets Sheriff Tom Bourne and his cousin, Alec.  Sheriff Bourne comes to view Libby as a suspect as Alec views Libby as a possible love interest.  (Conflict #4).  To complicate matters further, Alec’s nephew is causing problems at home and may know where Nicole has been taken.  The town attorney gives Libby a package from her father which causes even more problems between Libby and her new brother and sister.  The brother wants to sell the land and Inn to a developer for $10 million, but his plans are upset when Libby inherits that land. (Conflict #5). 
After various other dramas and conflicts, the conflicts are resolved and we have a happy ending.  I wanted more of the coziness of the inn and less conflict.  Often the anger of the family members seems forced rather than a natural reaction to Libby.  We are told that Libby’s father shared information about Libby, but the siblings act as though she is a new entity with a dubious motive for showing up on the island.  I wanted to like this novel, but the conflicts and over-reactions made the story more antagonistic than interesting or comforting.   
I give the novel 3 stars out of 5.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review of The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules caught my attention because of the intriguing cover art.  
The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden)
I was expecting the usual vampire/supernatural romance, but the novel is so much more.  This is a story about choices, loyalty, family, and judgment.  The book made me think about my beliefs - why I believe what I do and how that impacts the way I see the world.  What would I do if I found out everything I believed was wrong?  How would that change my life?
The main character in the story is an Asian teenage girl named Allison.  She lives on the fringes of New Covington - a Vampire owned city.  The novel is set after the Red Lung Virus kills many humans.  The planet is now inhabited by humans, Vampires, Rabids (mutations caused by the Red Lung Virus that are vampire/zombie/monster hybrids), and other mutated animal monsters.  Some cities are Vampire owned and some are not.  Allison survives as an unregistered (one that does not serve the Vampires) by stealing food and foraging in the dangerous ruins outside the Wall.  The Wall protects all those inside from the Rabids who will kill anything with a pulse.  Allison is in a gang of three other unregistereds that live and work together to survive.  She risks her life by venturing into the Ruins to find food for herself and the gang.  Her life changes dramatically when she takes her gang out to the Ruins to help gather food.  How Allison deals with those changes, the adventures, trials, and people she meets afterwards make up the rest of the novel.
The story unfolds in four parts - human, vampire, monster, and wanderer.  Since the novel is told from Allison's point of view, we see her struggle to survive, struggle with her choices, struggle to understand choices, and then learn to understand and accept her choices.  Allison is not perfect, but she does what she thinks is best.  She cares for others and shows love, loyalty, and forgiveness even when she is not shown the same in return.   
This book is not what I expected and I like that.  The secondary characters are well developed and interesting.  At 342 pages, the book does have complexity and depth, but there are areas where the action and plot seem to drag.  During a few of the side adventures, I found myself wondering why we were on the adventure and what it added to the plot.  
I would recommend the book to my high school students.  Allison is a character many will relate to and enjoy watching her struggle with and learn about her new life.
Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa receives 3 of 5 stars.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Meg-A-Reader Blog Hop Day!

Welcome Meg-A-Readers!!! For my blog-hop day, I want to encourage all of you to read Overbite.
Overbite (Insatiable)

Is it good clean fun?  No.  But, it is fun. :)  I put most of my books into two categories - books I recommend to my mom and grandmother OR book I recommend to my friends.  What is the difference, you ask?  To put it bluntly, sex.  Yes, I know my grandmother and mother knew about sex long before I was born.  But, I don't necessarily need to recommend books to them that include sexual situations.  It just feels weird to me.  I sure as heck don't want to talk about sex with them, so why would I encourage them to read a book with sex in it?  I wouldn't.  I'll let their girl friends recommend those books to them and stay in the safe zone.

Now, on to books that I recommend to my girl friends.  Overbite is one of those books.  I'm kidding with the italics.  Overbite is the second in the series and it's where I decided to jump in.  I will be going back to read the first (Insatiable) and then any others in the series.   Meena Harper is our main character and she has the gift/curse to be able to predict how everyone around her will die.  This is an odd gift, and I applaud Cabot for giving us something just a little different.  The vampire thing has been done so many ways and often the same way for so long, I like a different spin on the story.  Meena works for/with/beside The Palatine Guard - the demon hunting arm of the Vatican.  I enjoy that the Vatican is tied into the story, as well.  Much of the conflict is caused by Meena's feelings for pseudo-bad guy and vampire Lucien AND her feelings for her coworker, the Super-Duper demon hunter Alaric.  Life is further complicated by the arrival of creepy Father Henrique with his own agenda for Lucien, Alaric, and Meena.  The external conflict with the Padre is fine, but it's the story of the love triangle between Lucien, Meena, and Alaric that is the real fun.  I picture Lucien as a Rhett Butler type

Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind trailer.jpg (my first literary crush)


Alaric as somewhere between
Joe Manganiello     


Troy Polamulo        

Now don't insert any reality here and tell me he's blond or something.  This is my imagination; let me live in my little world. :)

Meena, of course, looks like me: .

Again, don't interrupt my fantasy world with reality.  I look like Kate Beckinsale's twin sister.  We'll just all believe that, alrighty?

I feel like I'm supposed to be making a point, but I'm so overwhelmed with my beautiful hair that I can't focus now.

So, who do you think the characters in your favorite Meg Cabot book look like?  How much do you love my Kate Beckinsale hair?  :)

Thanks for dropping by and have a great hop!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Meg-A Reader!

I'm so excited to be part of the Meg-A Readers Blog Hop!  I have been a Meg Cabot fan since The Princess Diaries.  I thought I was Mia - except I have straight hair and live in Texas.  I'm still waiting for my grandmother to visit me and divulge the secret that I am actually royalty.  The Princess Diaries After reading all of The Princess Diaries books, I read other stand alone novels by Cabot but didn't fall in love with another Cabot book until I read Insatiable.  
InsatiableI was a bit afraid to read it because I thought the romance aspect would overwhelm the fantastic voice that Cabot creates with her characters.  I should not have worried. Insatiable was a blast to read and I have recommended it to all of my students and friends.  I will be reading Overbite and Abandon in the next few days and I can't wait!
Overbite (Insatiable)Abandon (Abandon (Quality))

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Werewolf Upstairs - Review

The Werewolf Upstairs by Ashlyn Chase caught my attention during a recent trip to the library for a couple of reasons - 1: the cover art is fun, and 2:  I'm into the werewolf thing lately.  The cover art is lighthearted and romantic in theme with a glitter heart, attractive woman, and werewolf feet set in a library.  I expected a fun brain candy romance, and that is exactly what I got!  There is a bit of mystery to keep the plot moving, but the main attraction is the blush-inducing romance between Konrad and Roz.
The story revolves around Roz, a bored attorney moving into her best friend's apartment complex as a suprise.  We quickly meet the cranky landlady, many eccentric neighbors, and the oh-so-sexy Konrad.  Side note - the spelling of "Konrad" with a "K" continually threw me off throughout the novel.  Why with a "K"?  Back on track - Konrad and Roz are immediately attracted to each other and they move quickly from strangers to lovers.  Konrad wants a committed relationship but cannot reveal a very personal secret to Roz and it threatens the future of their relationship.  We get to see Konrad and Roz try to find new jobs by going on "dates" to classes about photography, cooking, sky diving, etc.  Roz and Konrad are also in the middle of an art theft investigation - seriously in the middle.  The investigation introduces more characters at the art museum and police department.   
I had to suspend my disbelief for most of the novel, but that's part of the fun with romance.  There was a bit too much going on in plot line and I was often pulled out of the fun romance of the novel and back into reality as I tried to remember various small-part characters and some history.  Chase adds several roadblocks to the Konrad/Roz relationship and some I don't believe could be that easily overcome.  The dates to classes seemed a bit like filler and I could have easily lived without them.  The art investigation was at first interesting, but then the conflict seemed more forced and became a bit tedious.  However, the love scenes between Konrad and Roz were NOT tedious.  They were well written - fun, sexy, and day dream worthy.  I was reading the novel in class while my college students finished up their essays and I admit to blushing a few times. 
Overall, the book is a fun, quick read.  At 342 pages (paperback), I was able to read it in 2 days without losing interest.  I recommend the novel for a fun summertime read.  I will be reading more of Chase's novels as I lounge by the pool this summer!
The Werewolf Upstairs

Dead on the Delta - Review

    Dead on the Delta Dead on the Delta is the first book I've read by Stacey Jay.  I found it in the Frisco Library - the best library I've visited in a long time.  The cover art caught my attention - gloomy/supernatural background with a young fierce looking woman sitting down, staring at the reader.  The tag line "If you believe in" made a promise (to me) of good supernatural fun.  After reading the back cover, I thought it would be a quick read along the lines of the Sookie Stackhouse novels - some mystery, some supernatural elements, and some romance.  It was actually a bit more complicated and thoughtful than the usual supernatural romance brain candy I expected.  The story is more supernatural mystery with a dab of romance. 
     The main character of the story is Annabelle.  She is a human that has a rare immunity to fairy bites.  Annabelle uses her immunity to help the government, usually by collecting fairy poop, eggs, and other remnants.  Annabelle's current love interest is Cane and when we first meet the two of them, they are collecting evidence from the body of a young girl that was recently kidnapped and murdered.  During the investigation, Annabelle has to deal with the return of her former lover, Hitch, and his FBI partner Stephanie.   Annabelle is not an ambitious, hard-working fairy poop collector and she has to deal with the consequences of occasionally being a drunk slacker.  The murdered young girl and the discovery of a breeze house (breeze is a new fairy drug) are the plot vehicles for most of the novel. 
     The love triangle of Annabelle, Cane, and Hitch is interesting as well is the interaction between Stephanie and Annabelle.  Annabelle is not a likable character. I don't relate to her world or her choices.  Does Annabelle care about the consequences of her actions?  I couldn't really tell.  Her ambivalence about life made me somewhat ambivalent towards her.  My desire for some fairy carnage kept me reading.  I enjoyed the world that Jay created with the mutant Fairies, but I would like to know more about what caused the mutations and how/why the Delta was the only area that seemed to have the mutated fairies.  To fully believe the angst that Annabelle feels at Hitch's return, I would like more back story and give that back story earlier in the novel.  I'd also like to know more about Cane and why he is so attracted to Annabelle.  What is it about her?  And, because I like zombies, I'd like to know more about people that are bitten by the fairies.  What really happens?  I'd like to SEE that.      
This is an interesting novel and I will read the second book in the series.  I recommend it if you enjoy supernatural mysteries with a bit of romance.  I do hope for more action, carnage, and back story in the 2nd novel.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Beginning Again ?

She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain. (1873) ~ Louisa May Alcott ~ some of you may know, I've been in and out of hospitals and had a crazy time since the beginning of December.  I'm finished with hospitals for a while - mainly because I declare that I am and not so much on the advice of my doctor.  Anyway, while I've been trying to get back to normal physically, I've been reading a bazillion books.  I'm a huge mystery fan but at the recommendation of my girl friends, I branched out into some romance as well.  Since I send reviews to my friends and write up reviews of YA books for my students to help them with their book clubs and self-selected reading selections, I decided to make my book reviews a bit more formal and add them to my blog.  I recently joined NetGalley and hope to begin reviewing for them soon.  I finished a book last night by an author that is new to me.  I'll put my thoughts together and add my review soon.
Forgive me for my absence the past few months.  I promise to be more "present" now that my body is cooperating a bit more.  I will warn you, I'm on lots of medicine, so if I seem a bit giddy on occasion, it's not really my fault. :)
For those of you new to me, welcome!  I'm a caffeine addict, wife, English teacher and professor, writer, voracious reader, crafter, aunt, mommy to 3 adorable lab puppies (they're not really puppies - 6 yrs, 3 yrs, and 15 months), and shoe collector.   
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