An update on an earlier post: Shopaholic and Baby paperback version will be released on December 26, 2007 (in the US.) You can pre-order it now on Amazon.com

Amazon.com Shopaholic and Baby Paperback

This could be a great holiday gift to get for yourself. If you order it now, you should get it a couple of days after Christmas, which should help that post-Christmas despression!

Review: Showdown

June 12, 2007

Showdown
by Tilly Bagshawe

Grade: D

Synopsis: Milly Lockwood Groves grew up deep in the racing world of England. Her dad owns a stud farm, and her brother is a jockey, but she is forbidden to ride. Then Bobby Cameron, trainer, stays at their house, and gives her secret lessons. Seeing her talent, he takes her back to California with him to live on his ranch and learn to race quarter horses.

Review: This book was one of the worst I have read in awhile. I nearly didn’t finish it, but I was imagining the review I’d write for it, and I felt obligated to at least finish the book before warning others away.
Personally, I like to read as an amusement or distraction, sometimes it can be an escape after a hard day. You get to know the characters, root for them, and it all works out. Author of this book, Tilly Bagshawe, forgot that her readers have to actually like the characters to care what happens to them. Instead, almost every character in the book is detestable. There are two minor characters that I could fall in love with, but they don’t get much time until the end. Additionally, one of them is supposed to be the supportive friend, but Milly treats her like dirt. Trampling on the feelings of one of the few loveable characters just makes me like Milly less.
Milly is pathetic. She has no backbone, never stands up for herself, doesn’t even manage to be nice most of the time.
Her love interest, Bobby, is rude to almost everyone he meets, so it’s no wonder he ends up with problems. However, he does not learn to be more polite, and instead Bobby’s problems are solved because someone else manages to be even more aggravating than he is. His and Milly’s relationship is based on sheer attraction, and most of the time they know each other they behave in completely unattractive ways.
The writing itself violates the “show, don’t tell” rule, that even small children are taught when beginning write. Milly acts like a brat, has extreme jealousy, and yet Bagshawe writes reactions in of people finding her nice and polite. She wanted her character to be sweet, so she told us she was, while actually writing actions of a self-obsessed spoiled brat.
The plot holes are ridiculous. Her father, a horse lover, forbids her to ride because she hurt herself on a horse once. However, he allows her brother to ride, and allows Milly to spend time around dangerous stallions. Horses are just as dangerous on the ground as they are while being ridden, and a truly horsey person would know that.
Also, one character is described as being 18 years old, but decided she’d get heself some education and so is studying law at Berkley. I don’t know where Bagshawe’s from, but generally you need a bachelors before you get a law degree. Additionally, all through the summer this girl is described as “studying” when it’s kind of difficult to study when you’re not currently taking classes! It’s a vague way to occupy the character, but shows thoughtlessness on the author’s part.

This book just made me depressed–I had no desire for the main character to “win” in the end. I did not find myself sighing at the end of the book about how cute and romantic it was. Note to self: Avoid Bagshawe’s books at all costs!

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
by Kim Edwards

Grade: B-

The Synopsis: David and Norah Henry are a young couple having their first child in the 1960′s. David Henry is a doctor, specializing in bones. Norah goes into labor on a snowy day, and the doctor who planned to meet them at David Henry’s clinic doesn’t make it. David delivers the baby himself, with the help of his nurse Caroline Gill.
Norah gives birth to twins–a boy and a girl with Down syndrome. David gives the baby girl to the nurse and tells her to take the baby to an institution. Instead, Caroline takes the baby herself and raises her.
David tells his wife that the second baby died, and from that point forward, they are never the same happy couple. Norah is torn apart by grief for her dead daughter, and David deals with the guilt of lying and causing her this grief.

The Review: The first chapter of this book gripped me with the story of David and Norah’s meeting and marriage. However, when David gave the baby away I just wanted to stop reading.
I found the book fairly boring and it did not captivate me, apart from the occasionally chapter where things actually happen. Norah flirts with alcoholism, and then nothing comes of it, she just stops drinking. Time moves on, but much of the writing does not move the plot forward. It feels quiet and depressing.
The book covers a serious topic, but I felt that the connection between readers and characters was not very strong. This could be a personal thing on my part, as the character I felt most connected with was the teenage son.
It is a best seller, so perhaps you should judge for yourself, but if you are looking for something fun to read, this book is not it.

Review: Tara Road

May 21, 2007

Tara Road
by Maeve Binchy

Grade: A

Synopsis: This book begin with the focus on one woman, Ria, but the scope of the novel expands to follow the lives of several interesting characters. The story is about love, motherhood, home, friends, and dealing with sudden changes in life.

Review: I loved this book. It is sweet, the characters are loveable and interesting. Maeve Binchy manages to provide deep personalities and stories for each character, even down to the teenage daughter, and the husband’s mistress. The main character is a wonderful woman, who starts out with little self-confidence, but as she grows older she manages her house and children impressively. She’s a woman I wouldn’t mind being like–she’s kind to everyone around her, a good friend, a great cook. The book is fairly lengthy, so it is ideal to take on summer trips, to read by the pool or the beach.

Shopaholic and Baby Cover I was wondering if we were going to see another book featuring Becky Brandon! Of course, this is the logical progression from the one where she got married, and that makes me get the feeling that Sophie Kinsella might be forcing these books out now. It’s been awhile since Shopaholic and Sister was released though, so presumably she’s spent some time doing this right.

The hardcover version has come out already, so this coming soon announcement pertains to the paperback edition.

Hot Item

January 7, 2007

Hot Item CoverHot Item
by Carly Phillips

Grade: B

Synopsis: In the last of Carly Phillips’ Hot Zone trilogy, it is the middle Jordan sister, Sophie, that is to fall in love. The uptight woman who lost her parents at age ten does not want to fall for an athlete. As a partner in the family PR firm, who’s clients are all professional athletes, Sophie has built a wall around her heart, one that no man has been able to climb. That is until Riley, who joins Sophie in her search for a business partner and family friend, Spencer. Riley, a football star, has his own reasons for finding Spencer, but spending time with Sophie is just an added bonus.

The Review: I’ve read that this is the best of Phillips’ Hot Zone trilogy. I don’t know that I agree. While definitely fun, because what could be more fun than athletes (besides firefighters and cops, of course), the book has a few major problems.

First, all three books, but I feel this one most of all, has mistakes. Not spelling or typos, which it does have, but actual mistakes. Some of the details don’t match up. For example, Anabelle, the oldest sister, has a baby. Through most of the trilogy, the baby is female. But on one page in Hot Item, Sophie refers to the child as her nephew.

It was still fun to read. The plot was a little ridiculous. All three books have people who have been attracted to each other for a significant amount of time, think getting together would be a terrible idea, somehow end up away together, hook up and fall in love immediately. But hey, that’s why we read these kinds of books isn’t it? I noticed that, in this book, Riley just assumed Sophie would marry him, without asking her outright (but maybe I just dislike that because it goes against both the romantic and the feminist in me).

There are some interesting characters. Uncle Yank, who raised the girls after their parents’ death, is a stubborn old man who has finally found love. And he’s a little crazy and going blind. Makes for interesting family get-togethers.

So in conclusion, if you’re going to read these, read them in order. But if you miss them, that’s fine. You’ll probably read something similar or have already, anyway.

Blue Flame

December 27, 2006

Blue Flame CoverBlue Flame
by Jill Shalvis

Grade: B+

Synopsis:Jake Rawlins doesn’t know what to do with himself after an accident during a heroic fire rescue. Wanting to get away from the media and the possibility of never being able to fight another fire, Jake heads for the one place no one would look for him: Blue Flame, the ranch his father left him. Callie Hayes is not happy to find her employer wants to spend weeks at the ranch she knows he hates. And she is equally unhappy when things start to go wrong at the place she has made into her home. With everything happening all at once, how can two people with chemestry be expected to keep their distance?

The Review: Now I know I’ve said that I like guns with men, which I do, but everyone knows that of all the people the government pays to keep us civilians safe, firefighters are the hottest. So it’s hard to find fault with Jill Shalvis for writing three books about the San Diego fire department.

Blue Flame, the second book, happens to have the least to do with fire. It seems to focus more on Jake’s healing and learning to love the wilderness than fighting fires, though his skills do come in handy by the end of the book. The plot is similar to many other chick lit books. Jake never had a good relationship with his father, which he may or may not regret, but was left the ranch anyway. Callie lives for the ranch and doesn’t like the idea of Jake selling it to new owners who may force her to leave the home, the job and the people she loves. The two figure out how to love and reconcile. There are some interesting pieces of the plot, such as Jake’s major hero complex, his relationship to his half-brother, the brother’s relationship to the new girl at the ranch, the alcoholic and the character of Michael, Callie’s best friend.

Though I feel like I’ve read the same book before, it was still great fun. At times it was funny, at times it was sweet. It was really everything I could ask for in a chick lit. Maybe not exactly refreshing, but that’s okay.

Shalvis writes in a way that is very engrossing, maybe not the best, but entertaining at least. Though there are definitely plot devices she brings in yet never finishes, the book as a whole was fun to read. And who doesn’t want to read about firefighters?

Are you a romantic?

December 23, 2006

Photo by C.P.Storm

What’s your idea of a perfect date? Out at a romantic restaurant? A quiet evening at home? An exciting sporting event? Is your perfect date different depending on whether it’s the first date, or a later date?

The Other Writer

December 22, 2006

Hello everybody. My name is Hannah, and I’m the other writer. I’ll try to continue to put posts up as much as possible while Kel is away. But I have not yet figured out how to work this site well. I don’t know how to post pictures, so the reviews will be a little colorless until Kel gets back and shows me how to do it. And I also don’t know home to put the post on automatic publish. So they will come out when I have time to write and have read something new that I want to talk about. Thanks everybody. And happy holidays.

Southern Exposure

December 22, 2006

Southern Exposure CoverSouthern Exposure
by Karen Kelley

Grade: B

Synopsis:Jody Dupree didn’t think she would see the sexy stripper she spent one incredible night with again. But she couldn’t stop thinking about their night together. So when he turns up at the police station and is really a reporter wanting to ride around with her and learn about being a cop, she is wary and excited. But as a reporter, Logan Hart wants to find the story in this sexy cop he’s been paired with on his newest assignment. And Jody is not one to give up her secrets. Especially the ones about the day her father was murdered and she was left for dead.

The Review:This is, I think, the second book. It’s not part of a series, but I’ve read a book with some of the same characters by Karen Kelley that tells the back-story of some of the other characters, called Southern Comfort. And there is another one that deals with characters mentioned in Southern Comfort. But these are the kind of books where you don’t need to read them in “order.”

The book itself was fine. There were some sweet moments, but for the most part it is exactly what one would expect. Jody puts up a fight and doesn’t want to get involved because it’s too complicated. But she caves rather easily and the two fall in love in record time. And there’s a lot of sex. More than I thought was necessary.

I have to say, I have a thing for these kinds of book when they involve guns and fighting and cops. I think that’s why I kind of like reading books by Kelley, since all the ones I’ve ever read by her have either one or both of the main characters in law enforcement. I know it’s a little weird. But for people who can get on board with the idea of a sexy man with a gun who can save you, you know what I’m talking about. Not that Logan had a gun in this book. It was Jody, but for some reason it doesn’t matter to me. As long as there are guns.

The other thing I like about this book is that there weren’t any mistakes. At least none that I picked up. The right character names were used, there weren’t any typos that I could find. In my opinion, that moves the grade of the book up significantly, even when the book itself wasn’t the best.