Monday, May 28, 2018

Review: Marrying Winterborne

Marrying Winterborne Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lady Helen and Rhys Winterborne. Not a match that is apparent to everyone, but I like it. They are like puzzle pieces. Different shapes, but they fit together.

Rhys is a complicated man, but Helen is soft on the outside, with steel in the inside. She's made of strong stuff, folks, and I love her. And I love Rhys, insecurities and rough edges and all. They have some serious ups and downs in this book, but you always know they are destined to be together, and they would never work as well with a different partner.

We get a small dose of Kathleen, Devon, and the rest of the gang in this one, but the true focus is on Helen and Rhys, and this makes me happy. A really great pairing. 3.5 stars (so close to 4, but I think I'm in a mood).

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Review: Lilac Girls

Lilac Girls Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book stirred up a lot of emotions. I had distinct thoughts about all three characters. Oddly, I didn't like any of them but really enjoyed the book.

We are in WWII. Each woman shares her journey in alternating chapters. I like that. Caroline is a former Broadway actress determined to save all of the French orphans. Herta is a Nazi doctor, with all that entails. Kasia is a Polish teenager mildly tied up in the Resistance. We get to see things from their perspectives, and oh boy, are those perspectives different. As they should be, in different parts of the world, different backgrounds, and different motivations.

Like I said, it's an emotional ride. The thing that struck me is I felt all three characters were selfish in their own way. I don't think that was the author's intention, but that is how I felt about them. And the weak tie-in to the lilacs, as well as the misleading cover, made me think I would be getting a different type of story and ending, so I felt let down.

Still recommend to historical fiction lovers. 3 stars.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Review: Cold-Hearted Rake

Cold-Hearted Rake Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Good start to another winning series by Lisa Kleypas. We have Devon Ravenel, who has inherited a legacy, and a debt, that he never expected or wanted. He also has inherited relatives in the form of three distant cousins, as well as the widow of the former Earl, Kathleen. She's been there, quietly taking care of the girls, and trying to deal with her feelings about all of this. Devon arrives on the scene and it is instant hate/sparks/bickering that you know is going to turn to TLA. That's why we read these books, right?

At first, I couldn't figure out why Devon was supposed to be charming. He was a jerk, and Kathleen was rather cold. But as the plot wound on and people were running around in the rain on horses, I was sold. Then we have two interesting subplots, one with Devon's brother and his path to maturity and responsibility, and Lady Helen and Winterborne, which is completely spoiled by the title of book 2. I confess, the ending was one of those that made me set aside my other planned reads to find out what happened next, so well played, Lisa. Well played.

Very enjoyable start to the series. I'll read them all. 3.5 stars.

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Review: The Draining Lake

The Draining Lake The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indriðason
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Inspector Erlender solves them all. Mostly. A lot of red herrings in this one but really enjoyable. The mystery was solid, and the jumps back to the past took a little time to keep all of the characters straight, but ended up making the mystery richer. We also get more glimpses into his partners' lives and I liked that, too.

Erlender's personal life continues to take turns as well. Eva Lind can't seem to get her life together, no surprise there, but we understand her better. We finally get to meet his son and I hope he sticks around too. And the woman from the last book is still around, and in typical Erlender fashion he is taking things so slowly they are almost going in reverse. He's a complicated man, folks. But he's smart and doggedly will finish any case.

This one is about spies, the cold war, East Germany, and the implications when you trust the wrong person.Oh, and a lake that is losing water and no one knows why, but that part is just the vehicle to get the ball rolling. It's another good one from Indridason. 3 stars.

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Review: A Charming Secret

A Charming Secret A Charming Secret by Tonya Kappes
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

So I wrote this whole rant about how much I can't stand June and pretty much the entire town of Whispering Falls, KY, but Goodreads glitched and the review disappeared. Now I can't be bothered.

Basically, June sucks. She makes bad decisions, gets herself into danger, and is in general a huge dummy. The plots are all the same. Someone gets hurt or killed, June is the only suspect, and the whole town immediately turns against her. She strikes out on her own, puts herself in danger, and then the crime is solved and all is forgiven. Throw in terrible dialogue and unrealistic, unlikeable characters and you have yourself this series.

I can't remember what else I said, but basically I'm the only person who thinks these books stink. Seriously, a high 4 star average? WTF? Some of the greatest books ever written have a high 3 star average, therefore showing us you cannot trust the stars people apply to books here. These books are terrible, June should move away from Whispering Falls, and no one should live happily ever after. The end. 1 star.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Review: Never Mind

Never Mind Never Mind by Edward St. Aubyn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this because I love Benedict Cumberbatch and I wanted to watch Patrick Melrose. I might need to pass, though. This book was dark and disturbing. I hated David. I hated Eleanor. No wonder Patrick is so messed up.

The writing was great. But I just hated the characters, the situations, and the decisions. I don't enjoy reading about cruel people. I don't enjoy reading about abuse of any kind: emotional, physical, sexual. No thanks, not for me. Life has enough darkness in it without reading about more.

I may still watch the series, but not sure I will read the next book. 2 stars only because the writing was great.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Review: The Cat Who Could Read Backwards

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lilian Jackson Braun
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Here is where it all began, folks. Jim Qwilleran, clawing his way back from hitting rock bottom, returns to the gritty world of reporting by getting a place on the art beat. He knows nothing about art, but he doesn't let that stop him. He lucks into a sweet apartment for $50 a month (hey, it was 1966) and befriends the pompous, overbearing art critic, George Bonifield Mountclemens III, who eviscerates all of the local artists with his scathing opinions. Everyone hates him but Qwill, who is suckered into becoming an errand boy and cat sitter to the world's smartest cat, Kao K'o-Kung. And I'm sure you know where this is going because this series is all about Qwill and his kitties. No spoilers, though. Just read it.

The ending sets us up for the whole series, where Qwill will be stroking his mustache and putting his mack down on the ladies for years to come, while Koko and Yum Yum yowl disapprovingly in the background. 3 stars.

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Review: I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame by Brené Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brené Brown helps make sense of things that are floating around in my head and heart. Let's be honest: culturally, women have challenges in how they view themselves, their careers, and life in general. Sometimes we feel shame when we absolutely should not. She encourages all of us to change our perspective and our lives by changing our inner dialogue.

If you haven't read anything by her, I encourage you to do so. Her books are messages of empowerment. She encourages people to take control of their lives, take responsibility, and to not be a victim. I love it. My first exposure to Brené was The Gifts of Imperfection. Being a very imperfect being, it really resonated with me. She hands you some real talk, like that best friend who always tells you the truth. You might be a little butt-hurt afterwards, but you appreciate the honesty and you know it's true deep inside.

I always take away a change of perspective after finishing one of her books. 4 stars.

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Review: Emily

Emily Emily by Juliet James
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I just can't with these books, yet I continue to read them because they were free and they fit challenges I am in.

We are back in Come-By-Chance, which is the dumbest name for a town ever. But first we are in Chicago, and Emily just happens to come across a man being strangled to death in an alley, and skips town. She's an orphan, naturally, so it's logical that she would just hop a train to anywhere and meet another woman, also named Emily. There is some nonsense conversation on the train and rich, spoiled Emily, who was headed to Montana to impulsively be a mail order bride after one letter decides to go home and let poor orphan Emily take her place. Yes, this is the actual plot and I am not messing with you right now.

Anyway, more nonsense happens when she arrives, they never really resolve the switched identity plot point, because why would they? And they all lived happily ever after, which is my favorite kind of "ever after" but with these books, who cares?

These books are nonsense, but I will probably read another one because I will literally read anything for a challenge, they are short, and they were free. 1.5 stars. I hope Come-By-Chance gets wiped out in a tornado.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Review: The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home

The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home by Dan Ariely
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Humans are so interesting. Why we make the decisions we do, why we react in ways both predictable and unpredictable, I find it all fascinating. Dan Ariely is a social scientist who had made a living trying to figure us out.

Lots of good takeaways here, from why people think (usually erroneously) that their ideas are best - I'm definitely guilty of this - to seeking revenge (me also) - to adapting to our situations, both good and bad. As I listened to the audio, I kept thinking I need to pull up the ePub and highlight some of these passages for my team at work. So much of it makes sense and can help you in any job where you deal with people, which is almost all of them. By the way, if you have a job where you never have to interact with another human, please call me so I can do the same job.

You should first read Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, then read this. You will learn something about how humans make decisions, both yourself and those around you. Very good read. 4 stars.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Review: O is for Outlaw

O is for Outlaw O is for Outlaw by Sue Grafton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kinsey, girl, one of the things I love about you is that you never change. You are still hanging out with Henry, running 3 miles a day, and taking risky chances. You say the wrong things and have no finesse. You are my fictional BFF.

This time we get a deep look at Kinsey's first marriage to Mickey Magruder. She was young, he was older, they were both cops, and it really sounded like a unhealthy relationship from start to finish. Not that Kinsey has a strong track record in that area, although I did like Dietz. But I digress. Anyway, Mickey has been shot. He's in a coma, and while he can't point the finger at anyone in that state, the cops come knocking on Kinsey's door because a gun registered to her was found at the scene. And that's all it takes to get Kinsey to stick her nose into the past, no matter how tightly she had it all packed away.

Lots of good insights into Kinsey's life before she became a PI, and the story kept a good balance between the past and the present. I always enjoy my adventures with her. 3 stars.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Review: Into the Water

Into the Water Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Paula Hawkins, I gave you a second chance after The Girl on the Train. But I think we are going to have to part ways here. Seriously, it's not you, it's your characters. They suck. Not a likable one in the whole bunch.

You see, I'm a HEA girl, in real life, and in my books. I want to be around likable people who I don't hate. Sadly, you write really terrible people in your books. There was not a single one who I didn't want to slap. And I hated Sean most of all. I couldn't muster up the slightest bit of empathy for these folks--I wanted all of them to go into the water and never come back.

So many people seem to love your books, and this means you will be able to continue to put food on the table. You just aren't the author for me. If I want to be around people I don't like, I will go to work. 1.5 stars, but rounding up to 2 because I'm sure I'm in the minority.

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