Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Review: The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics

The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics by Stephen Coss
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting look into the smallpox epidemic, the early history of vaccinations, and the beginnings of America before the revolution. With a good dose of my boy Ben Franklin and freedom of the press.

Do you think we shouldn't vaccinate people? Please, read this book. Smallpox, and the other eradicated diseases, were no joke. Do you believe the press should be regulated and controlled? Please, read this book. It's so interesting to see how times have changed, yet stayed the same, over the past nearly 300 years. Plus we get a glimpse of the Franklin family and other pre-revolutionary players and the lives they led prior to the revolution coming in 50 short years.

Recommend if you enjoy American history, a look into diseases and epidemics, or the history of early newspapers and politics in America. 3 stars.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Review: A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I truly loved this book. I thought, at the beginning, that I was going to hate it. Ove was crotchy and a really grump about everything. Very unloveable, right? But this book was such a gift. Highly recommend!

Each chapter helped you solve the mystery that is Ove. I kept thinking, Sonya was a saint to live with him for so long. But then the pieces start to fall into place. You see why she loved him. You better understand why he is the way he is. You see him through Parvaneh's eyes, and the eyes of his neighbors, and you are left with a character who is complex, yet exceeding simple at his core. A paradox? Yes, but a good one.

The ending wasn't what I expected, and it made me cry. The real star of the show was the cat annoyance, which is no surprise if you know me at all.

So very glad I finally read it. It gets a very rare 5 star rating from me.

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Review: Lord Dashwood Missed Out

Lord Dashwood Missed Out Lord Dashwood Missed Out by Tessa Dare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Back to Spindle Cove one more time. This one isn't about a resident, but our favorite players make an appearance so we are assured of their HEA.

Miss Elinora Browning, independent, sassy authoress, is invited to read her book to the ladies in Spindle Cove. It sounds more like an essay or editorial, but sure, I'll buy it. She is calling out "Lord Dashwood" for passing her by, a completely fictional character not to be confused with her first love, Lord ASHWOOD. The names are a complete coincidence. Now Lord Dashwood, I'm sorry, Ashwood, is back in the country and very much offended. We get the contrivance of a snowstorm, a silly, underused side plot of our favorite Spindle Cove heroes fighting robbers in an inn, and some steamy scenes.

Wish this one had been a full-length novel, because there was lots more to explore, but we'll take the novella. 3 solid stars.

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Review: Behind Her Eyes

Behind Her Eyes Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not a lot I can say about this book without spoiling it. But man, do I want to tell you everything.

Yes, there are twists. The publisher created a whole media campaign for this book with #WTFthatending, for crying out loud. I almost would have enjoyed it more if they hadn't though. It's a slow plot, winding back and forth from the past and the present, jumping from character to character. At times you have to stop and wonder what is going on--what timeline are we in? Can we believe the narrative? And with a whole host of unlikeable characters, it's easy to take away a star.

I was intrigued through the end, and then it was ruined for me. I was with you, oh dark, psychological suspense. Bad people doing bad things. Never knowing who to trust. But I like being able to piece together the clues afterwards to see what I missed, and I just wouldn't have been able to get there with this one. Much like Adele, this book suffers from an identity crises.

I wanted to give it 4 stars but the ending pissed me off. Sticking with 3 for the gimmick more than anything.

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Review: Countdown

Countdown Countdown by Mira Grant
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Did you ever wonder about the lead up to Feed? Want more details about the mutated virus that ended the world as we knew it? Welcome to Countdown.

It's just a tease of the details. You get a tiny bit of how the Masons came to be who they are, but not really. You get a tiny bit of how the two mutations came to become one, but not enough. Like I said, just a tease. Plus the cuteness of Marigold. Be ready to get just a tiny bit upset once you read it.

I recommend not reading this until you've read the main trilogy, but that's just my opinion. 3 stars.

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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Review: Alone

Alone Alone by Lisa Gardner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Settled in for a re-read of this one. I first read it in 2011 and while I remember liking it, I didn't remember any of the plot details. Sticking with my original rating of 3 stars.

Bobby Dodge, broken knight in shining armor, is called in for his sniper duties in the Boston SWAT team. He's super talented, natch, with a secret darkness inside. He sees a domestic disturbance and does his job. Afterwards, the fallout wrecks his life.

Do you like manipulative characters? This book is full of them. People you wish who were real so you could punch them in the face. Lots of dark, depraved people here, too. People who you wish only existed in print because the alternative is just too much to bear. Crimes against kids and animals really turn my stomach, so be prepared, although it's mostly glossed over, so thanks for that, Lisa. I guess. Also, don't expect too much D.D. Warren even though it says this is book 1. I feel like this was a standalone novel that she built into a series later, and that's ok because I do like D.D.

Anyway, sticking with my three star rating. Give it a read, because it's a solid series.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review: The Duchess Deal

The Duchess Deal The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My goodness, but I loved this book. Exactly my kind of story. If you know me at all, this is no surprise. I'm predictable in that way. Plus it's a slight retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and that is my jam, too.

Emma is great. Strong, sassy, smart, and a talented seamstress to boot. She works hard and speaks her mind. Ash is equally great. He's prickly on the outside. Scarred, both emotionally and physically. He's returned from "the war" you see, and is hideously burned on one side of his body. Scary and monstrous looking. People are screaming and vomiting when they see him. Seriously, this was part of the reason I didn't give it 5 stars. He couldn't have been so monstrous, really. It's not like his nose was chopped off, ala Tyrion Lannister. Anyway, he is a broken, bitter man, but you just know he's a softy inside. And he is. One of those brave protector, alpha males that I love in my fiction. He pretends to be tough but Emma breaks through his asshole exterior, and we are on the road to HEA, which is my favorite destination, friends.

Are there obstacles? Of course, this isn't a 20 page novella. You need them to work for it so the payoff is that much sweeter. The nonsense about the Monster of Mayfair was a stretch, but it's ok. I still was rooting for those crazy kids.

4 stars. Can't wait for book 2.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Review: I Scream, You Scream

I Scream, You Scream I Scream, You Scream by Wendy Lyn Watson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

We get it. You live in Texas. I've lived there, and it's not that great. Calm down.

Welcome to Dalliance, Texas. Did I mention this book is set in Texas? Because it isn't going to let you forget it. And then you will be forced to read so many trite Southern-type sayings. Because if you live in a small town in Texas, you talk like it. Tallulah, who everyone calls Tally, is newly divorced and owns an ice cream shop called "Remember the A-La-Mode". It's clever, I'll give you that. It made me chuckle. Sadly, Tally did not. She was the queen of bad decisions and not thinking things through. Super annoying. But her bad boy high school sweetheart is back in town, and of course sparks fly. He seems way too good for Tally. And Tally's ex seems just as dumb as she is, so I can see why they were married for 17 years. Oh, and if you like pages and pages of descriptions of stupid things like carpeting, drapes, and shoes, you will love this book. Seriously, if you removed the dumb sayings and descriptions this book would be a novella.

Anyway, I didn't want to throw the book across the room at the end, so I am giving it 2 stars instead of 1. It was only ok because of Finn Harper, a shining light in a dim town.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: Reconstructing Jackson

Reconstructing Jackson Reconstructing Jackson by Holly Bush
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, well, well. Some interesting twists and turns here.

Meet Jackson. He's recuperating from his Civil War injuries. He's lost one leg and can't use the other one, so he's in a wheelchair. He has done his best to stay independent and stubborn, though. He also has some long held ideas he needs to let go to make it in post-war Missouri.

Meet Belle. Man, her life is pretty bad. Her family (especially her brother) is crap, she can't read, and she is basically their slave. But speaking of slaves, she befriends some former slaves who love her for who she is, teach her to read, and show her that she can have a different life.

Now throw these two together. Yes, you guessed it; love at first sight. And he's got a reason to live, and she has a reason to stand on her own two feet. And in the end, a very satisfying HEA, because what else would you expect?

3.5 stars. Holly Bush has a formula, but it's a good one.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Review: Silver Storm

Silver Storm Silver Storm by Cynthia Wright
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not bad, not bad. Came for the pirates, stayed for the romance. What? I can't help that I'm a marshmallow inside. Shut up.

This book combines things I love. The Revolutionary War. A fiesty heroine. A strong male with a soft side hidden deep inside. Pirate ships. Battles. And the HEA wrapped up with a bow. I know this makes me cheesy, but I don't care.

Three stars. I'll read the next one.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Review: The Cat Who Moved a Mountain

The Cat Who Moved a Mountain The Cat Who Moved a Mountain by Lilian Jackson Braun
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Qwill and the kitties are away from Moose County again, and it falls a little flat.

Qwill is officially a milllionaire. He stuck it out and has his hands on the Klingshoen fortune. What does this fool of a pompous ass do? He decides to rent a house in a the mountains for the ridiculous amount of $1000 a week to reflect on what his next move should be. Now, please keep in mind that this book is like 30 years old, so with inflation that makes this all the more ridiculous. Qwill is dumb. He waits until the middle of the night to make his long distance calls so it will be cheaper, but spends $1000 on a huge house for him and the 2 cats. Remember when long distance rates were a thing? Remember when we cared about stuff like that instead of using our cell phones with unlimited minutes? Or even made phone calls at all? Also, Qwill does no real reflecting, gets caught up in a mystery, and tries to put his mack down on multiple younger women. Polly is way too good for you, dude. You sicken me. In the end, he heads back to Pickaxe, as he should. With a tiny cliffhanger that I'm sure will be dropped by the time I roll into book 14.

2.5 stars, but I am rounding down because Qwill gets more insufferable by the day. He's an ass, but I stay for the cats and the colorful cast of characters in Moose County.

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Review: The Wife Between Us

The Wife Between Us The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lots of twists and turns here. I confess I was completely thrown for a loop at the end of part 1.

You get a tale of obsession, jealousy, and messed-up relationships. I can't say much because I want you to go in unspoiled. In fact, don't even read the book description, just go in blind. I though it was good, obviously, so go get yourself a copy and dive in. Then let me know what you thought once you are done.

Beware, though. There are some pretty unlikeable characters here. Not to the extent of Gone Girl, which I hated with the fire of a thousand suns. Those characters were the WOOORSSSTTT and got less than they deserved in the end. The mystery hung together well and I was surprised a few times enough to stop and say, "What???" so well played, book. Well played.

3.5 stars but rounding up to 4 because I like being surprised.

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Review: Romancing Olive

Romancing Olive Romancing Olive by Holly Bush
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Just what I have come to expect from Holly Bush. An unconventional love match set in the West. Slow burn. Strong hero, but sensitive inside. He doesn't fall for her immediately. Oh no, but just you wait. They'll get there in the end. There will be drama. Misunderstandings. And some tears. But the heroine is made of steel. Soft on the outside, but strong inside. Yin and yang, folks.

This one is a little different. Olive is a spinster who comes to take her brother's children home to raise. Poor little orphans. Luckily they were taken in by the hot young widower who is raising three children of his own. You can guess the rest, and add in some surprises for spice.

Three stars, as you might expect.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Review: Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a pleasant surprise! I went into this book knowing nothing but it was recommended to me by friends. And they were right. Of course.

It hits all the right boxes for me. Historical fiction, check. Family drama, check. A dash of romance, check. We meet a family living on the river near Memphis during the Great Depression. The unthinkable happens, and then happens again, and the family is torn apart. We alternate between past and present, and you get to see the mystery of what happened unfold slowly, yet mostly satisfyingly. Not all questions are answered, and since this is based on true happenings in Memphis in the 1930s-1950s, not everything should be tied up with a bow at the end.

Highly recommend. 4 stars.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Review: Tell No One

Tell No One Tell No One by Harlan Coben
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harlan Coben, you write good stuff. It fits a pattern, but I like it.

This one begins with a grieving widowed doctor. It's been years, so he's not maudlin all the time, but you can tell he hasn't put his heart away. His wife died in super weird, terrible attack and he was lucky to come out alive himself. But now someone is stalking him with the past and making him doubt his sanity.

Intriguing, right? It's a fast-paced journey with lots of twists and turns. There were times when I couldn't put the book down. But if you have read other Harlan Coben books you can probably guess at some of the the twists, and that's ok. I was still entertained.

4 stars. Good stuff.

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Monday, February 5, 2018

Review: Murder in a Mill Town

Murder in a Mill Town Murder in a Mill Town by P.B. Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book just as much as book 1. Why did I wait so long to read it? No clue, because I love everything about the series.

First, Nell is my favorite type of heroine. She is strong, yet still vulnerable. She isn't perfect--there is quite a past to this lady--but she has come through the flames and made her life her own. Will is my favorite type of man, too. Strong, brave, yet very flawed, with a gooey marshmallow center.

Anyway, in this one Nell continues to be a kick-ass governess and even better amateur sleuth. She's called in to help a friend of the family, gets reunited with black sheep Will, and saves the day. And the ending made me immediately want to get book 3. But you know I will wait, because I can't seem to read 2 books in a row by the same author. I have challenges to finish, people!

Good stuff, and a solid 3.5 stars that I will round up to 4 because Goodreads refuses to listen to reason.

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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Review: Death and Judgment

Death and Judgment Death and Judgment by Donna Leon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Boy, oh boy, do these books make me want to visit Venice.

Guido dives into the dirty underbelly of Venice's sex trade and saves the day. This one stayed with the same successful formula, with interesting twists and turns, and just the right amount of family interactions.

Really looking forward to book 5.

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Review: The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal

The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal by Lilian Jackson Braun
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Qwill and the kitties save the county again! So many bodies following him around, I'm starting to question Chief Brodie's talents.

Anyway, same formula that my gal LJB always follows, and it mostly works. Qwill gets a taste of his own medicine when Polly steps out on him in her own independent, yet innocent way. You saucy librarian minx, you. She buys a bright blue dress, and doesn't tell Qwill. Egads! And she attends a wedding without him and dances the night away, and goes out on a secret brunch date. But all is resolved by the end, as you would expect. And Qwill is happily living in the renovated Apple Barn, which sounds kick ass, and I'm a bit jealous.

As always, 3 solid stars.

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