Polly is a great character, kind and optimistic, despite getting knocked down--she bounces back. At first I thought she lacked a bit ofReview Excerpt:
Polly is a great character, kind and optimistic, despite getting knocked down--she bounces back. At first I thought she lacked a bit of a backbone, but I quickly grew to love her. And speaking of love, Polly rescues a baby puffin on her first night in town and although advised by the local vet, not to name him or become too attached as she will need to release him back to the wild, Neil quickly works his way into her heart. How can you resist a baby puffin?! Named Neil?! I want one. Also hard to resist are local fisherman Tarnie and ex-pat American beekeeper Huckle, who bring some potential romance into Polly's life. The book is full of great and lovable characters, the kind you would want for your friends and neighbors--especially Polly's sarcastic best friend Kerensa, Huckle's swaggering millionaire friend Ruben, and Tarnie's loyal fishing boat crew.
I needed something light and fun to read and Little Street Bakery is just that. It's a sweet book, as inviting as a slice of bread, warm from the oven and slathered with butter and honey. It is fun and engaging, especially the relationships between Polly and the other characters and their witty banter--with just the right amount of snark. It has its poignant moments too, and manages to be romantic without being too sappy. A great book to escape, the over four hundred pages just flew by and I found myself wanting more. Goodreads says that there is a sequel--here's hoping it releases soon to the United States. This is my first Jenny Colgan book and I am eagerly looking to read more of her work.
Note: A review copy of "Little Beach Street Bakery" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own. ...more
This review is from re-read for Cook the Books (virtual foodie book club).
I am hosting the February/March round of Cook The Books, ourReview Excerpt:
This review is from re-read for Cook the Books (virtual foodie book club).
I am hosting the February/March round of Cook The Books, our bi-monthly virtual foodie book club with Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl. Comfort Me With Apples covers Ruth's life from 1978 through the late 1980s and her journey from chef to food writer and restaurant critic. t's a memoir that balances Ruth's passion for food and describing it in vivid detail, with tales of her (at times almost soap-opera-ish) life. It is her incredible food writing that pulls me into her books--although I greatly admire her ability to write so directly about her personal life and drama with such honesty--despite how it might make her come across. I was at a writing workshop last weekend and the author who instructed the afternoon creative non-fiction session said that her editor once told her that in writing her memoir, she should write "like everyone you know is dead"--as if it's 100 years from now, so you can be completely and brutally honest. That to me describes Ruth Reichl's style to a T. While never deliberately unkind to herself and others--whether reviewing a chef/restaurant or describing family or a lover, she doesn't pull any punches. Coupled with her ability to put food to words in such a way that you feel as if you are dining with her, as well as including some of the recipes most meaningful to her experiences at end of each chapter, it makes for an engrossing read.
Molly Harper books are one of my guilty pleasure reads--more humor than substance, they never fail to make me chuckle as she excels at loveable but snMolly Harper books are one of my guilty pleasure reads--more humor than substance, they never fail to make me chuckle as she excels at loveable but snarky characters and dialogue. Her Half Moon Hollow series is my favorite of her work and 'The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire' is the latest in that series. There was a novella (I caught the audio version) released months earlier, that sets up the action for this book. You don't have to have read or have listened to it before this book but I would advise it, as well as reading the rest of the series before you start this one. There are so many characters to keep track off, plus the books are all great.
Gigi Scanlon, human sister of fairly newly-turned vampire Iris is on summer break from college and has an internship working on a database for the local Vampire Council that could be a potentially lucrative future career assuming she isn't killed while sharing office space with vampires and scary council head Ophelia, who has a personal dislike for Gigi (even beyond her dislike for most everyone vampire or human beyond her younger sister and mate). The mysterious vampire that popped up and kissed Gigi over Christmas shows up in the parking lot after Gigi's first day and attacks her. Nik (the vampire in question) seems to be under some sort of magic and vacillates between get romantic and getting murderous with Gigi.
The usually HMH characters are there to support, protect or make fun of Gigi and in full possession of their usual wit and snarkiness. Just a lot of fun all around and I was sorry to finish it. I want more Half Moon Hollow and for Molly Harper to write faster. ;-)
Ivory Ghosts is an intense page turner with a strong message--a great balance of mystery/thriller and an in-depth look at elephants, poReview Excerpt:
Ivory Ghosts is an intense page turner with a strong message--a great balance of mystery/thriller and an in-depth look at elephants, poaching, and the illegal ivory trade. I love it when a book not only sweeps me up in a fascinating story but teaches me something along the way. Author Caitlin O'Connell's background and knowledge of elephants and life in Africa make her words ring true and she writes in a way that is very accessible and engaging--nothing is too technical or detailed for non-scientific types or non-world politics experts to understand. Her vivid descriptions pulled me immediately into the book and made me feel like I was flying over Namibia counting elephants along with the lead character. Catherine Sohon is a great heroine--she is strong, independent, and brave enough to fight for the elephants and the people of Africa, but she is not perfect and she's normal enough to find being in the middle of a hyena hunt is terrifying along with being thrilling. (OK, maybe 'normal' would be to find it way more terrifying than thrilling!) ;-) The story had enough twists and turns to keep me guessing about who the 'bad guys' were. I changed my mind several times, which I liked as I enjoy being at least a bit surprised at the end of a mystery. Although there is some romance thrown in, the mystery is the heart of the story and it is a compelling one--your heart can't help but break for the elephants when reading about their senseless slaughter. Ivory Ghosts will appeal to mystery fans, animal lovers, those who like books with strong female leads, and anyone who enjoys a fast paced and well-written thriller. I am looking forward to more Catherine Sohon adventures.
Note: A review copy of "Ivory Ghosts" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own. ...more
Haynes writes books that are intricately plotted; where seemingly separate cases and events are woven together into a larger, usually dReview Excerpt:
Haynes writes books that are intricately plotted; where seemingly separate cases and events are woven together into a larger, usually dark and disturbing picture and keep me guessing as I turn the pages. I was anxiously awaiting Behind Closed Doors and was hoping that it would live up to the high expectations that I hold for her books. It did not disappoint.
The most gripping part of the story is the Scarlett Rainsford case and the story goes back and forth between current time and ten years ago when a then fifteen-year-old Scarlett disappeared. It is told by the perspectives of the main character DI Lou Smith, Scarlett--both during the decade she was missing and present day, and Detective Sargent Sam Hollands, as well as through 'copies' of the various police reports on the cases. Scarlett is a compelling voice and her story had me alternating cringing, holding my breath, and occasionally wiping at tears. Her experience in captivity with sex traffickers is harrowing and gives the book its dark edge. Lou, already caught up in two big cases, has much guilt over failing to find Scarlett ten years ago. As well, she has mixed feelings about her relationship with Jason and struggles as he wants to get closer. I liked the relationship between Lou and Jason in the first book but found myself less absorbed with them and more interested in DS Sam Hollands. We got to know Sam in Under a Silent Moon and get to know her better in Behind Closed Doors. Her ability to get people to open up is one of her strengths as a DS, but it has ramifications when she finds herself becoming too involved with Scarlett and caring more than she should. I hope we have much more of Sam in future books.
Note: A review copy of "Behind Closed Doors" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own. ...more
I really loved Marisa de los Santos's first two novels; Love Walked In and the followup, Belong to Me. I wasn't quite as fond of Falling Together, herI really loved Marisa de los Santos's first two novels; Love Walked In and the followup, Belong to Me. I wasn't quite as fond of Falling Together, her third novel that came out in 2012, feeling as though I didn't connect as much with the three characters in a friendship triangle. The Precious One may just be my favorite of all of the author's work. It is the story of family, centered around two half-sisters Taisy and Willow, who have spent the past sixteen years forming opinions and resentments about the other until they are thrust into each other's lives when their father 'summons' Taisy to come visit. The story is told from the viewpoint of both sisters. Taisy, at 35, has been estranged from her father since he cheated on her mother and started his new family with young wife Caro and daughter Willow. She has spent her life longing for some sign of affection and love from him. Willow, is 16 but not in any way a typical teenager, having been isolated (and in his mind protected) by her father. In many ways naive, in other ways older than her years from the high expectations of her father and the need to take care of her distracted and somnambulist (sleepwalker) mother. Willow has no intention of sharing her place as daughter with Taisy. The author wrote both characters well, with clear and distinct voices, and their relationship is the heart of the book, making the romance(s) secondary.
Marisa de los Santos excels at writing about women and families (those we are born into and those we create) with humor, heart, and great affection. I did miss getting to know the supporting characters more--even Wilson, the father, who was a complete ass without much redemption in my opinion, even once his secrets were revealed. I especially wanted to spend more time with Caro--Willow's mother, and Marcus--Taisy's brother and Willow's half-brother, to understand and appreciate their stories. Hopefully this won't be the last we see of some of these characters. Here's to Marisa de los Santos revisiting them in a followup, like Belong to Me was for Love Walked In. If she does, sign me up please. The Precious One was a good escape that flew by and left me feeling happy at the end.
Note: A review copy of "The Precious One" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own. ...more
I am sad to see this series end--although I just binge read it over the last couple of weeks and probably need a bit of a break from the steampunk setI am sad to see this series end--although I just binge read it over the last couple of weeks and probably need a bit of a break from the steampunk setting.
This final book picks up about two years after book 4--Alexia and Conall are still (secretly) living in Lord Akeldama's closet with him being the adopted father/legal guardian of Prudence (although it is basically a shared custody with her parents). Prudence is a toddler, who is everything you would expect given her parents and legal guardian. Her favorite word is "no" and unfortunately when she touches a supernatural, she takes on their supernatural form (wolf cub or baby vampire) and they become human (until morning or Alexia touches her and sends her back to her normal state).
The eldest vampire queen Matakara has summoned Alexia and Prudence to see her and this has them, along with Conall headed to Egypt under the cover of 'arts patrons' for the Tunstell's acting troupe. It also gives them the chance to investigate why the God-Breaker Plague seems to be expanding and find out how Alexia's father was involved.
As a final book, it wraps up most things but still leaves others not quite resolved. Since there is a series with a grown-up Prudence starting this month, maybe there will be more resolution coming. I most liked Prudence (and her riding mechanical ladybug) and her many antics and especially seeing what two years of 'fatherhood' had done to Lord Akeldama and his drones. Conall 'floating' was also pretty funny. I liked seeing the relationship between Biffy and Professor Lyall develop too.
Favorite quote (out of many) from the book: “I am entirely capable." "Of what, waddling up to someone and ruthlessly bumping into them?”
You can feel AFavorite quote (out of many) from the book: “I am entirely capable." "Of what, waddling up to someone and ruthlessly bumping into them?”
You can feel Alexia's pain in this book at more than 8 months pregnant she is waddling about London dodging vampire attacks (deadly porcupines are just as scary as mechanical ladybugs) and trying to find out who is behind a plot to assassinate the queen that a ghost informs her of. The vampires still want Alexis dead since they are not sure just what manner of creature the baby will turn out to be and the creative solution devised by Professor Lyall, Conall and Lord Akeldama has Alexia and Conall moving into Akeldama's closet.
Conall redeems himself in this book and I love the amount of time we go to spend with him and Alexia, as well as the extra Lord Akeldama time. Lots of action, twists and changes for the characters in this one. It made me laugh more than the last two. ...more
Death by mechanical ladybugs (although they are very cool) is not the way to go and it's only one of the ways the vampires try to murder Alexia who, aDeath by mechanical ladybugs (although they are very cool) is not the way to go and it's only one of the ways the vampires try to murder Alexia who, as we found out in the cliffhanger (SPOILER if you have not read Changeless!), is pregnant. She has become a scandal and estranged from her husband who believes that she must have been unfaithful since as an undead, he is unable to father a child. Having left her husband (who is quite the jerk in most of the book), she leaves her parents (where she has been staying) and heads for Lord Akeldama's house (the first place I would go). Lord Akeldama has mysteriously swarmed and left his home and Alexia finds herself headed to Italy to get answers--mostly to prove to Conall that she is blameless.
What I liked most--Alexia in Italy (she finds it very orange and falls in love with pesto), Madame Lefoux, getting to know Professor Lyall a bit more and that Alexia refers to the baby as the infant-inconvenience. What I didn't like--Conall having such a grand pity party that he doesn't trust Alexia, hurts her and (at least seemingly) leaves her without the pack's protection when it isn't as though there are other werewolf/souless pairing examples to make it inconceivable that the baby is his. (Also Spoiler potential that even once he realizes his mistake, it takes him far too long to go after her with all of the danger she is in and that she takes him back much too easily.)
What a great and inventive collection of stories. I was hooked from the start with Sheila which had me in tears. (A little embarrassingReview Excerpt:
What a great and inventive collection of stories. I was hooked from the start with Sheila which had me in tears. (A little embarrassing since I was sitting in the exam room of my allergist and she walked in to find me wiping my eyes and stuffing the book back into my purse.) I do defy anyone with a beloved pet not to get misty over this story of a judge who will be breaking the law lose his pension if he doesn't have his mechanical springer spaniel put down when robotic pets are outlawed. Animals play a role in several stories--whether loved as aging pets as in Sheila or White Chalk Road, an obligation left by a family member in Tiger Bright, or more sinisterly as in the word-stealing bats in Aleph Bat and when animals and vegetation get the "Fever" in the titular The Thing About Great White Sharks. (Imagine your houseplants, trees along the sidewalk, and family pets attacking you.) Plants actually help in Orchids, one of my favorite stories--where an elderly widow, Mrs. Cynthia Fleisbein is taking care of her friend Roland's orchids and finds more than she bargained for. Another favorite was Storybag, set in 1960 where Ed, a bible salesman, comes across a magical bag that seems to have whatever his potential clients want inside it--and those wants seem tied to fairy tales and folk stories.
Many of the stories have a futuristic or science fiction slant, others touch on war and history like Poland 1952 and Keeper of the Glass, or what happens when the man playing Herman Melville in a production of great writers falls in love with the woman playing Nathanial Hawthorne in Melville Loves Hawthorne. Although I didn't love every story (very common in a story collection) and a couple of them made me scratch my head a bit, I really enjoyed the collection as a whole. Most of the offerings left me wanting more--which I think is the mark of great short story writing. I love the creativity of author Rebecca Adams Wright and her ability to paint such interesting and provocative images with her words. I look forward to reading her future work.
Note: A review copy of "The Thing About Great White Sharks" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own. ...more
I went on a bit of a Parasol Protectorate spree and finished the series this week, mush to the detriment of work, other reading and hosehold chores. ;I went on a bit of a Parasol Protectorate spree and finished the series this week, mush to the detriment of work, other reading and hosehold chores. ;-)
Changeless was not my favorite book of the series although still a quite enjoyable read. It seems sort of a stepping stone to the other books, there's a big cliff hanger at the end and not enough Conall time and not nearly enough Lord Akledama (my favorite character next to Alexia) time. I did like meeting Madame Lefoux and Sidheag having recently come off of the Finishing School series where Vieve (LeFoux) was one of my favorite characters. Being so fresh from those books, it did drive me crazy that the two Sidheag and Vieve didn't know each other or let on that they did when they clearly had at least met in the other series when younger.
Anyway, despite the things I didn't like as much, it was still fun and thankfully, reading it this late, I didn't have to wait before starting the third as the cliffhanger would have annoyed me otherwise. ;-)...more
I liked The Daughter but I didn't love it. I think it had to do with the characters and the pacing. As sympathetic as I was to Jenny'sReview Excerpt:
I liked The Daughter but I didn't love it. I think it had to do with the characters and the pacing. As sympathetic as I was to Jenny's circumstances--the loss of a daughter, the worry of wondering what happened and if Naomi was still alive, and the disintegration of her marriage and the family unit, it was hard to attach to her. The story is told from Jenny's point of view and moves back and forth from the days before and after Naomi's disappearance to a year later, as Jenny has taken refuge in her family's cabin--trying to simultaneously distance herself from her pain, while working to uncover what happened to her daughter. Because the book is so centered on Jenny's experience, the other characters don't make much of an impact, and even as secrets unfold, it was hard to know the rest of the characters and their motivation in any substantial way. I felt that the book started off strong but that the tension that was built so well at the beginning faltered through the middle of the book. That tension picked back up at towards the end as Jenny and Michael, the detective assigned to the case (and who she has developed a personal relationship with), begin to put the clues together, but then the ending left me somewhat dissatisfied. I can't say much about the end--as it would be a spoiler, but it left more questions than answers. I suppose that since real life is never wrapped up in a neat package, it makes sense--but I expected more of a 'big bang' with the ultimate revelation and it just wasn't there.
This is the author's debut novel and I do think she captured the daily life and family drama well, and delved into the mind of a mother who thinks that everything is going well in the lives of her family, then comes to the realization that she has missed the many signs that things are not at all as they seem. I just wish I had felt more of a connection.
Note: A review copy of "The Daughter" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own. ...more