Saturday, November 30, 2013

October 2013 Reviews

Happy Holidays to everybody!

I 'm going to have to change my banner soon with the upcoming Outlander miniseries movie in production!  Sam Heughan is perfect as Jamie Fraser!  This clip is quite swoonworthy!

How to say Sassenach

Now, once your heart has returned to normal, onto the reviews:

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (audio)

Book Description:
In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald's, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children—everything from cousins ("celebrities for little kids") to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”). Reminiscent of Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood, Dad is Fat is sharply observed, explosively funny, and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.

This really was simply hilarious, I didn't want it to end!  I had the pleasure of being in the audience and seeing Jim Gaffigan at the Book Expo this past Spring in New York City.  He talked about how he came about writing the book (with his wife) and read excerpts from it - and he really is a scream.  I'd never really heard of him before then, though my son and husband were fans.  Well, after that, I just had to get the book, though I missed out on getting a free autographed copy since they ran out and I was near the end of the line.  Didn't matter anyway, since I loved it on audiobook.  It's a must for any parent whether they have one or a dozen kids, you will relate.  Even non parents and future parents will relate to it!  On audio it's like listening to a long stand-up routine.  I found reasons to listen to this audiobook every chance I got, I think it took me less than two days to go through it.  Do yourself a favor and read it - a real pleasure!


The Best Man by Kristan Higgins 

Book Description:
The Best Man
Is The One
You Least Expect...

Faith Holland left her hometown after being jilted at the altar. Now a little older and wiser, she’s ready to return to the Blue Heron Winery, her family’s vineyard, to confront the ghosts of her past, and maybe enjoy a glass of red. After all, there’s some great scenery there....

Like Levi Cooper, the local police chief - and best friend of her former fiancé. There’s a lot about Levi that Faith never noticed, and it’s not just those deep green eyes. The only catch is she’s having a hard time forgetting that he helped ruin her wedding all those years ago. If she can find a minute amidst all her family drama to stop and smell the rosé, she just might find a reason to stay at Blue Heron, and finish that walk down the aisle.

This was okay, but not great. My first by this author, it seemed to take forever to really get going between the the two leads and I felt there was a lot of low-brow humor that I didn't really appreciate - nor like.  Just made me uncomfortable.  Much of it I just didn't even think was funny and the heroine was just too cute.  Faith was left at the altar when her fiance came out and admitted he was gay.  Levi, his best man, knew the truth, but didn't do anything about it until right before the wedding.  For that reason, Faith really has it out for him.  Like I said, okay story, Faith reminded me of a cutesy Disney character, but I did like Levi's character.   Frankly, I don't know what he saw in her, no chemistry between them.


Dragon Warrior by Janet Chapman

Book Description:
Maddy Kimble has no time for a suitor—not with caring for her spunky nursing home patients, her shy nine-year-old daughter, her widowed mother, and her rebellious teenage brother. William Kilkenny’s stunning lack of modern dating protocol doesn’t help. The man is uncouth and outrageous—a towering, drop-dead, breathtakingly hot warrior. Who refuses to give up.

William is secretly a ninth-century Irish nobleman formerly trapped in a dragon’s body. All Maddy knows is that lately, she can hardly resist the urge to lose herself in his powerful arms. But as their uncontrollable passion grows, eerie occurrences in her small coastal Maine town begin to rouse Maddy’s suspicions about her lover. He begs her to trust him, but how can she surrender—body and soul—when she fears the danger he poses to her yearning heart?

It's been a while since I've read anything by this author.  I really enjoyed her earlier series, Pine Creek Highlanders, of which this newer series of hers is an offshoot.  I kind of OD'd on highlanders so I took a break for a while.  Here we have in the 2nd installment in the Moonlight Bay series, William's story.  William, believe it or not, used to be cursed and was turned into a dragon.  The curse was lifted in book 1, and now he's in human form seriously attracted to Maddie who works in a nursing home and is Eve's (from last book) best friend. Strange things to say the least are going on in Midnight Bay. I liked this book and the love scenes were steamy, but Maddie was so annoying in the way she just wanted to have sex and kept shying away from a relationship.  Then all-of-a-sudden she comes around and "loves" William.  Frankly, I don't see how she couldn't have fallen for him from the moment he opened his mouth and she heard his Irish lilt. Still, it had a happy ending, albeit an offbeat book and the last 20 pages could have been wrapped up in 2.


The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters (audio)

Book Description:
The Ape Who Guards the Balance begins in 1907 in England where Amelia is attending a suffragettes' rally outside the home of Mr. Geoffrey Romer of the House of Commons. It seems Romer is one of the few remaining private collectors of Egyptian antiquities, and a series of bizarre events at the protest soon embroil Amelia in grave personal danger. Suspecting that the Master Criminal, Sethos, is behind their problems, the Emerson Peabody's hasten to Egypt to continue their studies in the Valley of Kings where they soon acquire a papyrus of the Book of the Dead.

As with past seasons, however, their archaeological expedition is interrupted. The murdered body of a woman is found in the Nile. Ramses, Radcliffe, and Amelia all have their theories as to the origin of the crime, but their own lives might soon be at stake if the cult of Thoth and their ancient book is, indeed, involved.

I never tire of the family of Elizabeth Peabody and Emerson.  Their shenanigans in Egypt never fail to make me laugh.  As the series progresses, Ramses is grown now into a handsome young man, which leads to some very interesting developments.   Ramses and Nefret are still playing this coy game between each other, it's only a matter of time when they will declare their love for one another.  Surprising developments between Daoud and Lia as well, which I kind of found hard to believe.   As usual, the mystery is secondary to me, I find the interactions of all the characters the best part!  On audiobook this is a real treat and Barbara Rosenblat is as fantastic as ever - she IS Amelia and Emerson.


Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (audio)

Book Description:
Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of "disability." She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome--and Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life....

But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of--big surprise--murder. And when one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next...

I finally caved and gave in and started this well-known Southern Vampire series that has been made into the TV series True Blood.  I'm glad I did, eventually I'll check out the series on TV.  On audio, it's a real treat, for I love Sookie's way of talking and you get that real Southern flavor.  She can hear other people's thoughts, which can be a real nuisance and then along comes Bill - the vampire.  In Harris' world, vampires are accepted, though not liked very much.  They can buy blood - even get it in bars.  They are treated as if they have a virus, rather than being the living dead.  This is all just good PR, they really are dead, but to be accepted in the world, the virus story has been created.  Bill seems like a nice vampire, but his friends aren't, as Sookie learns as she and Bill become closer and closer, while trying to find out who or what is killing the women in town with unusual sexual proclivities.  It doesn't help that Sookie's brother is a prime suspect.  I look forward to the rest of the series, narrated well by Johanna Parker, though her rendition of Bill is a little on the boring side.


Heartless by Mary Balogh

Book Description:
Life has taught Lucas Kendrick, Duke of Harndon, that a heart is a decided liability. Betrayed by his brother, rejected by his fiancée, Luke fled to Paris, where he became the most sought-after bachelor in fashionable society.

Ten years later, fate has brought him back home, to the rescue of the very people who had once shunned him. Luke is amused by the advice that a wife will make his takeover of both the title and the family estate smoother, but amusement turns to desire once he sets eyes upon Lady Anna Marlowe.

Unbeknownst to Luke, Anna is also no stranger to pain, but her suffering can't be so easily overcome, not when her tormentor stalks her to the very doors of Bowden Abbey.  Luke and Anna, each made fragile by the past, must learn to trust both each other and their love if they are to have any chance for a future together.

I love Georgian historicals and this one was pretty good, although through much of the storyline you have this awful sense of angst.  It was almost painful to read for you are worried that the heroine and hero cannot be happy because of this awful secret she has (which leaves the reader wondering as well).  Lukas jumps to the wrong conclusions about his bride and he's somewhat cruel to her, which I also found hard to stomach.  Despite the angst, it succeeds in sucking you in to keep reading to see what it's all about and if there is a happy ending.   Still, I enjoyed the book, though I am sick of the storyline in which hero's feel they have no heart and are incapable of ever loving anyone!


The Cowboy Takes a Bride by Lori Wilde

Book Description:
Ex-champion bull rider-turned-cutting-horse cowboy Joe Daniels isn't quite sure how he ended up sleeping in a horse trough wearing nothing but his Stetson and cowboy boots. But now he's wide-awake, and a citified woman is glaring down at him. His goal? Get rid of her ASAP. The obstacle? Fighting the attraction he feels toward the blond-haired filly with the big, vulnerable eyes.

When out-of-work wedding planner Mariah Callahan learns that her estranged father has left her a rundown ranch in Jubilee, she has no choice but to accept it. Her goal? Redeem her career by planning local weddings. The obstacle? One emotionally wounded, hard-living cowboy who stirs her guilt, her heartstrings, and her long-burned cowgirl roots...

Not a bad contemporary Western, set in Texas, about a city girl from Chicago who returns to her estranged father's hometown of Jubilee, TX after his death. Her father was a cutter, as is everyone else in this town.  The first person she meets is a widower cowboy who's still mourning the death of his wife after two years. Both of them have some baggage to get over, with an homage to "Sleepless in Seattle." I liked it and was rooting for the two of them to just get on with their lives and stop worrying so much!  Nice development, but seemed a bit rushed at the end and the title is a misnomer.  One bonus: I learned all about cutting, which I had never even heard of before!


Silver Lining by Maggie Osborne

Book Description:
As scruffy and rootless as the other prospectors searching for gold in the Rockies, Low Down wanted nothing in return for nursing a raggedy bunch through the pox. But when pressed to reveal her heart's wish, she admits she wants a baby. Not a husband, not a forced marriage to the proud man who drew the scratched marble and became honor bound to marry her. To be sure, Max McCord was easy on the eyes, but he loved another woman and dreamed of a different life. Yet they agreed to a temporary marriage that could end only in disaster. But can this strange twist of fate lead to the silver lining that both have been searching for?

A heartwarming, funny tale of an unlikely marriage between Max McCord and Low Down/Louise who meet in the late 1800's panning for gold.  Low Down nursed all the men on the river back to health after a smallpox epidemic.  As a thank you they said they'd grant her greatest wish.  And she says she wants a baby!  This had so much originality!  Their story unfolds as Max is the one that has to marry her.  He takes her back to his family's home but all is not well for his marriage to her sets off a series of ramifications that seem insurmountable, mainly because he has jilted his fiancee and her rich father, who is not happy about it - nor is the fiancee.  Lots of great little tidbits in this story and I'll definitely be reading more by this author.  Memorable.


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