Friday, September 29, 2006

Book Review: I'm In No Mood For Love

Rachel Gibson is one of those authors I just refuse to give up on. You know, the kind whose first few books you read were really good and so you started reading all her books and buying them as soon as they came out? But then they start writing some not-so-good books but you keep buying them anyway? Hoping for a change? Julie Garwood is that way for me, too. I just have the hardest time accepting that the woman who wrote Ransom, The Wedding, The Gift, and The Secret is really as crappy with contemporaries as Murder List and Slow Burn seem to indicate.

Part of my affection for Rachel comes from the fact that she's from my hometown and often writes stories set there or at least in my state. We neighbors need to stick together. And really, I loved Simply irresistible and See Jane Score, although those are two of her books that DON'T take place in my town. Hmm...

But lately I have been quite dissolutioned with her writing. The heroine in Daisy's Back In Town irritated me. The romance in The Trouble With Valentine's Day just lacked zing and credibility. And don't even get me started on why the hero's attraction to the heroine in Sex, Lies, and On-line Dating was beyond unbelievable. So I have to admit that there was some serious hesitation before I put I'm In No Mood For Love in my Wal-Mart basket. But I'm hopeful.

And she came through! I'm In No Mood For Love is a fairly uncomplicated, simple story about a woman who keeps falling for the wrong kind of man and knows it. She even knows it when she meets the hero and is refreshingly honest with herself. And I could respect her because she wasn't stupid and she stood up for herself. Bravo, Ms. Gibson. That's not as common as you might think in romance novels these days. And I was so glad to see that she didn't throw in some silly mystery plotline like she did in Sex, Lies, and On-line Dating. I know what she was trying to do in that earlier book, but I like this result much better. The hero was very likeable, too. I would have had the hots for him just like the heroine did.

I do have one little bone to pick with Ms. Gibson, though, because it appears she is horribly, horribly directionally challenged. Homedale is west of Boise, honey, west. That means if you're looking at a map, it should be to the lef- well, here, just look.

Does this help? I hope so. Also, one doesn't travel north (or south) on I-84, because technically it runs east and west. As a general rule, all evenly numbered interstates do. I like it when you give us Boise tidbits, but you got to make sure you get them right or you lose credibility.

Lindsey's Grade: B+

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Book Review: Someone To Watch Over Me

One of the things I like best about Lisa Kleypas is that her books rarely disappoint. Sure, there are some that aren't as good as others, but when she's at her best she's almost untouchable in the Regency/Victorian romance genre, with the outstanding Mary Balogh perhaps being the only competitor.

I would put Someone To Watch Over Me firmly between great and good. The basic premise of the story is that the hero, Grant Morgan, is a Bow Street Runner (kind of like a policeman) who is called in one night when an unconscious woman is dragged out of the Thames. She's got a bump on her head and bruises around her throat, leading Grant to correctly surmise that someone tried to kill her. But he recognizes the woman as Vivian Duvall, one of London's most famous courtesans. Vivian had spread unflattering gossip about Grant in the past, so he decides to take her under his roof not only to keep her safe while they try to lure out her attacker, but also so he can somehow get back at her. I'm still not sure how he planned to do that. I think he was going to love her and leave her.

But, in a stunning romance novel twist (note the irony) Vivian has amnesia when she awakens and can't remember anything about her life before the attack, including who attacked her! Dum dum dum! And not only that, she is sweet tempered and modest, very unlike a brazen courtesan. What on earth is going on!

I liked this book despite the cliched amnesia plot because the characters were very likable and their affection for each seemed genuine and believable. And Grant wasn't your typical tough-guy hero that refused to acknowledge when he's in love. I liked that, I thought it was sweet. It was also nice how the climax of the story didn't occur at the very end of the book which is unusual for a romance novel. I like it when there are more than two pages after the characters decide they will live happily ever after.

Lindsey's Grade: B

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Happy Banned Book Week!

Contacts: Larra Clark/Macey Morales
ALA Media Relations
For Immediate Release
September 21, 2006

Harry Potter tops list of most challenged books of 21st Century

(CHICAGO) In anticipation of the 25th anniversary of Banned Books Week (September 23-30), the American Library Association (ALA) today announced the top 10 most challenged books from 2000-2005, with the Harry Potter series of books leading the pack. The 10 most challenged books of the 21st Century (2000-2005) are:

1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

2. "The Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier

3. Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

4. "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck

5. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou

6. "Fallen Angels" by Walter Dean Myers

7. "It's Perfectly Normal" by Robie Harris

8. Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz

9. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey

10. "Forever" by Judy Blume

All but three of these books also were in the top 10 of the most challenged books of the 1990s: The ALA reports there were more than 3,000 attempts to remove books from schools and public libraries between 2000 and 2005. Challenges are defined as formal, written complaints filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.

Now readers can vote online for THEIR favorite challenged book by logging on at The ALA will announce the "winners" Monday, October 2.

Banned Books Week is a time in which schools, libraries and bookstores around the country celebrate the freedom to read with exhibits, readings and special events.

In honor of 25 years of fighting to keep books freely accessible in U.S. schools and libraries, the ALA has expanded the range of resources available to celebrate the freedom to read. Download a free chapter of three frequently challenged books from Search modern classics that have been banned or challenged with Google Book Search. Check it all out at

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the ALA, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores. It is endorsed by the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

For more information, please visit

Monday, September 25, 2006

Book News

As I've mentioned before, I like Linda Howard. I've also said that To Die For is not only one of my favorites among her books, but one of my favorite contemporary romance novels ever. That's why today is such a wonderful day.

She's writing a sequel! And it's coming out before the end of the year! There are not enough words to describe my excitement. Linda Howard is almost untouchable when she writes romantic suspense infused with comedy. And it's about time I get a romance novel I like. Let's hope this one doesn't let me down.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Book Review: Kabul In Winter

Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan by Ann Jones

I looked forward to this book and I even bought it since it wasn't in our library. But I have to say that while reading it I became utterly disgusted with Ann Jones. The book is divided into three parts: in the streets, in the prisons and in the schools. Jones does an excellent job of providing a historical context and in describing women's issues and non-profit work in Kabul. It is these aspects that I appreciated. Jones has a strong background in writing on domestic violence and I would have liked her to use this strength more in her writing.

What turned me off of this book is how she talked about female NGO workers dating and flirting with Afghani men. Jones would go from discussing politics to a conversation about how sexy the cab driver was and wondering if he would consider taking her on as a second wife. It made me lose respect for her as a writer and as a woman. These comments were not needed and they kept taking away from the rest of her experiences of working in Kabul.

Kim's Grade: C Lose the "sexy Afgani men" discussions and focus on Kabul!

Publisher Comments:

A sharp and arresting people’s-eye view of real life in Afghanistan after the Taliban
Soon after the bombing of Kabul ceased, award-winning journalist and women’s rights activist Ann Jones set out for the shattered city, determined to bring help where her country had brought destruction.

Here is her trenchant report from inside a city struggling to rise from the ruins. Working among the multitude of impoverished war widows, retraining Kabul’s long-silenced English teachers, and investigating the city’s prison for women, Jones enters a large community of female outcasts: runaway child brides, pariah prostitutes, cast-off wives, victims of rape. In the streets and markets, she hears the Afghan view of the supposed benefits brought by the fall of the Taliban, and learns that regarding women as less than human is the norm, not the aberration of one conspicuously repressive regime. Jones confronts the ways in which Afghan education, culture, and politics have repeatedly been hijacked—by Communists, Islamic fundamentalists, and the Western free marketeers—always with disastrous results. And she reveals, through small events, the big disjunctions: between U.S promises and performance, between the new “democracy” and the still-entrenched warlords, between what’s boasted of and what is.

At once angry, profound, and starkly beautiful, Kabul in Winter brings alive the people and day-to-day life of a place whose future depends so much upon our own.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Book Review: Sweetness in the Belly

Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb

This is an emotionally charged novel! It involves the Ethiopian Civil War and the struggle to survive as a refugee, separated from everything and everyone you've ever known. The voice of Lilly is so real, so authentic, so rich in ethnic detail that one is immediately drawn into this imagined story of a woman displaced in two worlds.

The daughter of English/Irish parents who spend much of their time in a drug induced haze, young Lilly is very much left to herself, free to find amusement on the streets of Morocco. One day she is abandoned by her parents at a Sufi shrine, saying they will return in three days.

That day never comes as they are found slain several weeks later. With no one to shelter her Lily is taken under the wing of an Englishman who has converted to Islam. At the age of eight the child's life begins anew as she will live in the shrine and spend her days in religious study.

At the age of sixteen when many girls are thinking about buying prom. dresses Lilly travels to Ethiopia where she teaches the Qur'an to local children. Once again the color of her skin betrays her, and she is an outsider there. Nonetheless, she falls in love with a young doctor.

Years later the outbreak of war forces her to seek refuge in London where she is again an outsider. Yet, it is her faith that sustains her.

Sweetness in the Belly offers a telling portrait of a far away world that few of us will ever see. Read, cry and enjoy.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Queen of Babble

A conversation on the book Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot.

Kim: This is the first Cabot book I've read and I think I'm hooked! She is absolutely hilarious! I am not ashamed of loving this book nor of admitting to liking her Princess Diaries. Cabot's character Lizzie was smart, confident, funny and knew what was important to her! I'm so happy you finally finished it! I told you it was a fast read! What did you think?

Lindsey: This was my first Cabot book, too, and I really liked it! A lot of times I get annoyed with characters in these kind of books, but Cabot portrayed everyone perfectly! Lizzie wasn't annoying in the least, and unlike most "Chick Lit" heroines, she was smart and quick enough to see through bull$&*%.

Kim: Yes, Lizzie was honest and realistic. I saw a lot of myself in her. I can actually picture myself ranting to some stranger on a train. What I truly appreciated about Lizzie was that after realizing Andy wasn't right for her she left immediately. She didn't put around or hope that he would change, no--she left that moment and didn't even look back! That is admirable.

Lindsey: I know! That was one of my favorite aspects of her character, too. I'm sick of reading about stupid, stupid women that I'm supposed to like just because they're the heroine of the story. Lizzie was likeable enough that it wasn't hard to understand why Luke would respond to her the way he did. Although, I still think most men would be freaked out by a crying woman on a train who starts to spill her guys. But Luke was no ordinary man...

Kim: Although this may spoil some of the story I also enjoyed how Lizzie wanted that b.j. back! I mean, we all do things that we regret or wish we hadn't done but she was serious about wanting it back! I had more respect for her because of this.

I felt sorry for her, too. That would really suck (no pun intended) to give your first b.j. to a guy that you dumped the next day. Any self-respecting woman would want it back! The way Cabot described Lizzie's thoughts and emotions on the subject was the funniest part of the book - other than the HILARIOUS snip-its from Lizzie's senior thesis on the History of Fashion.

Check out the first chapter of this book here!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Book Review: Digging to America

Digging to America by Anne Tyler

I was very excited to find this in the audiobook section of Hastings several months ago. The book kept popping up on "Must Read Books This Summer" lists, or was mentioned by other notable writers, and was well-reviewed.

So imagine my excitement when I finally had the opportunity to listen to it while driving to Boise! Yeah!

Sometimes life presents us with opportunities to create our own families. This is such a story, one about two families slowly becoming one. It begins at the airport where we see a huge group of people, wearing buttons exclaiming "mom," "dad,"" grandma," and grandpa," and off to the side we see another group, much smaller, in fact, only three people. Both groups are awaiting the arrival of their newly adopted daughters from Korea. Brad and Bitsy Donaldson later invite Sami and Zibar Yazdan over for a "Leaf Raking Party" and the two families begin the process of becoming one.

"Adapting" stands out as one of the book's strongest themes; the notion of becoming comfortable with yourself and others yet allowing a certain amount of turmoil in your life to keep you uncomfortable with yourself and others at the same time. Its also about growth, about how we as individuals change over time. And as we change, so do our friendships.

We all have known a Bitsy Donaldson. A woman who craves multi-culturalism, an environmentalist, and who has no problem telling people how they should live their lives. Bitsy drove me crazy in this book!! I could not believe how she constantly preached to Zibar on how she should raise her daughter. Like suggesting Korean children's stories, soy milk, or looking down on her for changing her daughter's name from Suki to Susan. Bitsy also criticized Zibar for working instead of being a stay-at-home mom like herself.

We've also all known a Brad Donaldson. A husband who will stand behind his wife no matter what crazy ideas she may have. A man who gives everything to his family and friends and asks nothing in return.

Sami and Zibar Yazdan are Iranian-American and are just trying to live the picture perfect American life. They give their daughter Susan every opportunity possible. They want Susan to be very American, yet Susan ultimately grows into an Iranian-Korean-American. As the Yazdans eventually learn, you can't necessarily rid yourself of your background or culture. Maryam Yazdan, Sami's mother, struggles with this the most since she feels neither American (she's lived in Massachusetts for over 30 years), nor Iranian. She constantly feels outside of the group and is easily the most interesting and complex character in the book. She also struggles with the issue of learning to love again so late in one's life. Anne Tyler did a wonderful job of weaving emotion into the blanket of this particular story.

The Arrival Party, the event celebrating the day their daughters arrived, is what eventually brings these families closer and closer together over the years. This relationship evolves, or "digs" to a place where love and family are found in the most unexpected place, and is one neither the Yazdans nor the Donaldsons would give up for anything else in the world.

Kim's Grade: A Witty, funny, heart-warming and annoying. You love to hate some of
these characters at times!

Book Review: Only With Your Love

This Lisa Kleypas book was pretty much your standard romance novel. The good thing about it, though, was there wasn't too much wishy-washyness as far as the character's emotions went. I really hate it when it takes up to the last page of the book for the hero to decide how he feels about the heroine.

There were, of course, some really unbelievable elements. But you know, I've never been kidnapped by evil pirates and then ransomed by a hunky good pirate, so I can't say how I'd react in the situation.

Lindsey's Grade: B-

Friday, September 08, 2006

Book Review: Queen of Babble

Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

My Dearest Lindsey,

I so very much would like to review this book but feel that I simply cannot until you've read it yourself!

Take Bridget Jones and make her a fashion major then send her to Europe!

Absolutely HILARIOUS!!!

So funny I don't want to say anything since it will spoil the surprise!

So, Lindsey, I vow not to talk to you until you've read it! And seeing how we're footballin' it tomorrow...well you've better get crackin'!!


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Book Review: Into the Storm

I love, love, love Suzanne Brockmann. Love her. Sometimes the plots in her books aren't appealing to me, but her writing is just fun and her characters are always fantastic.

Brockmann writes about Navy SEALS, specifically the fictional Team Sixteen, and until I started reading her books I didn't know how hot Navy SEALS could be. For a while there in college I was slightly obsessed until I realized real SEALS are probably nothing like Brockmann's characters who are always smart, funny, and sensitive. Oh, and they always cry when the women in their lives try to dump them. They all seem kind of too good to be true, but then again, they're in the military and their wives and girlfriends probably never get to see them.

In this book the hero was again a SEAL from Team Sixteen, Mark Jenkins, a character who has been mentioned in a number of the prior books in the series. The heroine was named Lindsey (awesome!) and she worked for a private firm that was associate with the SEALS in a complicated way that I don't want to explain now. And since the plot doesn't really matter, I'm not going to waste the time to talk about it. But I will say that it was a better plot than some of her recent work.

Brockmann is fantastic because the relationships she writes about seem very real. The people are flawed, honest, confused, etc. And I like how her dialogue is something that would actually occur in real life. But best of all she's just funny. Jenkins's friend Izzy is hilarious, and even though it isn't laugh out loud, it's just fun to read.

Lindsey's Grade: A-

Monday, September 04, 2006


I used to love Nora Roberts so much that I would make special trips to the store to buy her latest book as soon as it came out. Those were the good ol' days when she wrote things like The Reef, Birthright, and her Chesapeake Bay trilogy (Sea Swept, Inner Harbor, and Rising Tides). But a few days ago when I saw her latest book I took a peak and walked right on by with no regrets.

This is the Barnes and Noble review of Morrigan's Cross, the first book in her latest trilogy:

"Bestselling author Nora Roberts ventures deep into the world of paranormal and fantasy with an action-packed powerhouse of a book, the first in what promises to be a terrific trilogy. The backstory is the stuff of legend: Lilith the vampire turns Cian, the brother of Hoyt (a sorcerer in 12th-century Ireland), into a bloodsucker like herself. Hoyt is charged by the goddess Morrigan to wage a battle against Lilith, using a very specific team of six -- "the witch, the warrior, the scholar, the one of many forms, and the one you've lost."

The gathering of the team is a strong story in itself, but that's just the beginning. As Hoyt puts together the team, he discovers Glenna, a modern-day witch, and their cross-centuries romance begins, thanks to the marvels of time travel. There are some wonderful moments as they fall in love, with Glenna teaching Hoyt about the role of women in the 21st century and demonstrating the use of appliances. Then there's the decision of where they should live -- and by that we mean, in which century. The evolving relationship between Hoyt and his vampire brother, who joins the team, is also moving. Book One closes with an exciting wedding/battle that sets the stage for the next books, Dance of the Gods and Valley of Silence.

As her fans already know, Nora Roberts can take any subcategory in the field and spin it to new heights. This paranormal fantasy proves the point all over again."

-Ginger Curwen

Does that not sound like the dumbest thing you've ever heard of? First of all, I hate time travel romances with a passion that will never die, and I'm not too keen on witches, either. But Nora has been into supernatural stuff lately, and frankly, I'm a little tired of it.