Friday, June 29, 2007

Newest summer reads

My husband was out of town this week and I had the week off, so needless to say, I got a lot of reading done.

I didn't expect to, but I really enjoyed Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. The story was engrossing and the characters believable. The parts about foot-binding seemed so real that is was hard for me to read. It was a powerful book about friendship and family.
Shannon's Grade: A-

The Memory Keepers Daughter was a good read, but I found the story line a bit hard to believe. A young doctor delivers his own twin babies during a snowstorm and discovers that the girl has Downs Syndrome and the boy is normal. He gives the baby girl to his nurse and tells her to take it to an institution. He tells his wife, who had passed out from ether during the delivery (and didn't even know she was having twins) that the baby girl had died. What I found hard to believe is why he didn't just let her believe she had only one baby. SHE NEVER WOULD HAVE KNOWN! The rest of the book was about how the rest of their lives are shaped by his duplicity. Predictable but not entirely boring.
Shannon's Grade: B-

I think my love affair with Jodi Piccoult is well-known, but we had a little falling out after I read Songs from a Humpback Whale & Nineteen Minutes. Well, after reading Mercy, we're back on! This was a great book, although because of the actions of certain characters, it made me a bit uncomfortable to read. It continues to amaze me how Piccoult can write about an issue; and no matter how strongly your beliefs for or against it, she can make you understand how a person could commit an act of murder or adultry. She doesn't always succeed in this, but she really did in this book. Salem Falls is next...
Shannon's Grade: A

You knew there had to be a romance novel in there somewhere! I admit that I'm obsessed with the Cynster Series. The first 3 that I read where great, but I must say that Scandel's Bride did not measure up. I wasn't crazy about the hero, and the heroine was a complete dolt. She was suppossed to be the "Lady of the Veil", who I guess is like a clan laird in Scotland, only she worships some nebulous god-like "Lady" (I know, huh?). Basically the hero had to respect and follow her orders and religion to get beneath her skirts. Needless to say, it hit a little too close to home if you know what I mean...
Shannon's Grade: C-

I ordered a bunch more of the Cynster series, so there will be more reviews to come!

Monday, June 25, 2007

New Fav Author

I recently stumbled upon Emily Giffins books - which are great! They are written in the "Bridget Jones' Diary" style, but without the diary entries. Although the order is as shown, I would read "Something Blue" before reading "Something Borrowed", although it will give a bit of the ending away - you will like the characters much better.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Book Review: Honor Bound

Despite the fact that this '80's romance was full of romance novel cliches, I liked it. Cliches exist because some people like them, and I will confess here and now that I like the accidental-baby-bringing-the-one-night-stand-couple-together (even though this book wasn't quite a one night stand).

Lucas is a (to borrow a term used over and over again in the book) "half-breed." He's half Native American and half caucasian, although he doesn't recognize his caucasian side. He was convicted of a crime that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, and went away to prison for a few years. But then he escapes! And when Aislinn comes home to her condo one night there is a strange man in her kitchen, with a knife!!! From there the unlikely couple has many, many adventures.

These vintage Sandra Browns are so much cheesy fun.

Lindsey's Grade: B

Book Review: Sarah's Child

I really like Linda Howard sometimes, but I've only really stuck with her romance suspense books. Sarah's Child is, delightfully, an '80's Harlequin-type romance. The general premise is that Sarah has been in love with her best friend's husband for years, even before he met his wife through her (Sarah and Rome work at the same office). Two years before the wife and their two little boys died in a car accident, and although they hadn't spoken to each other since then, Sarah and Rome begin spending time together. Rome likes the convenience of a wife, so he eventually proposes to Sarah, and she accepts, knowing that he won't ever love her like he loved the wife and children he lost, but she's had eyes only for him for years, so she accepts.

In case you couldn't guess from the title, the shit hits the fan when Sarah becomes pregnant because Rome specifically said that he did not want anymore children. How will they overcome this obstacle?

This book was okay, but Rome was a little unbelievable for me because he loved his wife so much, but yet he'd always been physically attracted to Sarah and had lusted after her for years. WTF? He's a retard. But maybe it's not so unbelievable that men could be stupid like that. And Sarah? So boring! Talk about a doormat! Blonde, skinny, and pale, she sounds like she suffers from consumption. I didn't really like either of them, even though I enjoyed the simplistic read.

Lindsey's Grade: C

Book Review: Temperatures Rising

Okay, here is where my love of Sandra Brown '80's romance novels reaches its limit because this book was frackin' retarded! Maybe I've mentioned it before, but I just have something against romance heroines with black hair. I don't really know why, but I don't like it. Especially when it's either (a) really really long, or (b) cut in a pixie style. If I have to listen to one more heroine described as a "pixie" I will go apeshit. Of course, I also have a very strong aversion to short adults. I don't know what's wrong with me.

Anyway, the heroine in this book had long black hair that was practically to her waist. Gross. But she was half-Polynesian so it's a little more acceptable (for some reason it's only black haired caucasian women that annoy me). Yet I still couldn't like her because she was stupid (even though she had a Ph.D. The general plot is that she kidnaps an American engineer who is on her Pacific island home to build a swanky resort. She kidnaps him at gunpoint and takes him back to her tiny village so he can build her people a bridge. WTF? So stupid, so unbelievable. Even more unbelievable that she fell for the hero (I can't remember either of their names) because he was an asshole. No way around it. It was like he thought he was entitled to sleep with her. I didn't like him, especially because he had a fiancee back in the States and the heroine knew it! He was selfish and immoral.

Also, I was supposed to feel soooo sorry for her because she was half-islander and life in the States was soooo hard for her when she was in school because her fiancee broke it of with her years ago when his parents didn't approve of him marrying a non-Caucasian. Give me a break. Even in the '80's I don't think that would have been a big deal. She was supposed to be drop-dead gorgeous and brilliant. I'm supposed to feel sorry for her? Buck up, you wimp. How about you have some real problems? We'll talk then.

A totally asinine book.

Lindsey's Grade: F

Book Review: Desperate Duchesses

I don't really know how to feel about Eloisa James. When I first started reading her books I liked her a lot, but recently I've not been too crazy about her stories (even though I gave Pleasure for Pleasure a good review). One good way for me to gauge if I really like an author is how often I'll re-read their books. I re-read Much Ado About You a fair amount, Kiss Me, Anabel maybe once, and The Taming of the Duke and Pleasure for Pleasure never. I've not even been tempted with those last two. So why do I think I like her so much?

I'm not the only one with this problem. There's something about her writing that we fans seem to recognize as very special, but at the same time, we don't connect with her stories. I think part of it is because James is one of those authors that spends a good amount of time on non-main (secondary) characters. And it's usually pretty obvious that James likes them way better than I do. For instance, I never liked nor cared about Mayne, and she made him the hero in the last book in the Essex sister's series, Pleasure for Pleasure. I also never liked Rafe or Imogen, and they were the main characters in The Taming of the Duke. The other reason for my dislike, I suspect, is the way James seems to craft her books around a theme. A very literary them. I JUST WANT TO READ A ROMANCE NOVEL. NOT HAVE SOME GREAT LITERARY EXPERIENCE.

In this book, the theme is chess. Chess, chess, chess. Out the wazoo. I was so sick of it. Also, I hated Villiers, one of the characters. Unfortunally I think James is going to make him show up again and again in this series, and probably eventually as a hero. Ick. He was just nasty. I didn't like Roberta either, but that was probably because I knew next to nothing about her despite the fact that she was supposed to be the main character. I thought she was kind of a bitch. And I really didn't like the set up between the Duke of Beaumont and his wife, Jemma (more secondary characters, if you're wondering. They're everywhere). I have a sick feeling that James is going to drive their relationship through the mud for the sake of realism and literary conflict, not caring about how messy she gets. Listen, I don't like adultry in romance novels. Ever. Call me a prude, I guess, but I feel like that's where James is going. The way it's set up leads me to think that she will have them eventually live happily ever after, but I don't think that's the best resolution (Jemma's a spoiled, selfish slut, and Beaumont's a hard-working, intellectual politician that should have kept it in his pants, too). All together this book just left me with a bad feeling. I didn't like it at all.

I guess I shouldn't say at all because I really liked the Georgian period James set this book in. It was way more fun that Regency. I may read the other books in the series for that reason alone. I also liked Damon, the hero, but James doesn't spend much time with him so I figured I shouldn't either.

Lindsey's Grade: D

Book Review: Devil's Bride

Quick synopsis:

By far the best Stephanie Lauren's book I have ever read. Likeable hero, more than likeable heroine (I thought she was great). Coherent, interesting plot.

Lindsey's Grade: A-

Book Review: Ricochet

You know, as much as I love Sandra Brown's '80's genre romances, I haven't been too crazy about her recent mysteries, and here's why:

The characters are all the same, just with minor variations.

Her heroines almost all come across as ice queens to me! Ironically, the exception to that is the heroine from Chill Factor. But anyhoo, they're always rich, gorgeous, and aloof. BORING! (They really are. They're boring, no personality). I do like her heros, though, because they're alpha males and alpha males are hot.

In this book the hero is Duncan, a Savannah, GA, police detective. He gets into a verbal argument with a prominent local judge after the judge declares a mistrial in the case of a crime lord that Duncan desperately wants to see behind bars for good. Duncan goes to jail for 48 days on a contempt of court charge because of the argument. When he gets out he goes to a benefit with his partner and spots a cool, elegant, sexy blonde that turns him on at first sight. Turns out she's the judge's much younger wife! He says something sexual to her while drunk.

Cut to about a week later. Duncan and his partner get called to the judge's house because the wife, Elise, shot and killed an intruder in the middle of the night. She says self-defense, but was it really?

Duncan's attraction to Elise made me want to tear my hair out. It is really hopeless for me romantically, apparently. These books just keep reinforcing that men fall in love (in love, not lust) with women just because they're insanely hot. Duncan knew almost nothing about Elise, and he suspected her of murder, and he was obsessed with her sexually! I mean, that's a little far-fetched for me to believe, but okay, whatever, men like sex. But love? He thinks he falls in love with her after only the one encounter (the benefit) between them that was not related to the case! (Okay, so they talked about the case and then had sex once, but still). Elise never really redeemed herself to me, either. She stayed kind of dull all the way through. Where was her spark? Her energy? I never saw it. But lucky for her she can nab a terrific guy because she's got a great rack. So encouraging.

Lindsey's Grade: C+

Book Review: If You Deceive

I'd say this was not as good as If You Dare, but better than If You Desire. I really liked Madeline, the heroine, and Ethan's defrosting was kind of sweet, too.

I've written like eight full reviews already tonight so I don't have much more to say.

Book Review: Iran Awakening by Shirin Ebadi

Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope by Shirin Ebadi

I was drawn to this memoir because she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 and I had never heard of her or her work. I guess that would seem normal as she is Iranian and we are cut off from much of Iran.

Memoirs are memoirs. They either tell us too much or not enough. This one falls into the later category and left me asking several questions. Ebadi is vague about her work and I believe this is because she cannot discuss it in its entirety out of fear for her life. She goes from a stint in prison to winning the Nobel Peace Prize and I found myself questioning why she received it.

I'm not saying that she doesn't deserve it, I just wanted more details on her accomplishments up until that point. I believe the vagueness also has to do with the difficulty of having an Iranian author publish within the U.S. as well. She had to sue the Treasury Department for the right to publish her memoir.

Overall I would recommend this memoir as it discusses the 1979 Iranian Revolution from a female perspective and gives great insight into Iranian politics over the last fifty years.

Kim's Grade: B