**spoiler alert** Although this isn't near my favorite book by Catherine Anderson, it was a very good. I loved Tucker and Samantha. Even though I felt...more**spoiler alert** Although this isn't near my favorite book by Catherine Anderson, it was a very good. I loved Tucker and Samantha. Even though I felt that the balance was a bit off between the mystery/suspense element and the romance development, I did feel their connection and the love between them. Tucker, like most of Catherine Anderson's heroes, is just wonderful. He falls pretty hard for Samantha and does a great job of showing it, although he does something that momentarily feeds into Samantha's residual insecurities from her divorce and bad marriage. Otherwise, a girl couldn't ask for a better hero. Samantha felt true to life, and was a woman that I would admire in real life and possibly become friends with, if we traveled in the same circles. I liked that although she came from money, she was very grounded and a kind, warm person. She loved her horses very much, and it was abundantly clear.
I also loved how Ms. Anderson showed family interactions. That's always a good part of a book to see characters with loving families, although things are not always 100% perfect. Although Samantha's father and brothers were controlling and meddling in Samantha's eyes, you could clearly see that they cared about her and were trying to watch out for her. I could see how Samantha felt stifled and wanted to make her own decisions. I am the youngest daughter and I have family who think loving is telling people what decisions they can make and how to live their lives. It can be frustrating, but this book reminded me to consider that these people are showing love, perhaps in ways that may bother, but love all the same. I was actually pretty envious of Samantha having all those protective older brothers. I always wanted that. Another enjoyable aspect for me, seeing Tucker with this close-knit family. It was nice to catch up with Jake and Molly from Sweet Nothings.
I think that some readers will have issues with the significant degree of the narrative that was focused on the horse aspects. I actually enjoyed that. Although I am a surburban girl who was never around livestock until I went to college, I have become horse-mad later on in life. I think they are beautiful, fascinating animals. It broke my heart to see Samantha's horses poisoned and how they suffered from that. I can't imagine doing something like that to animals for any reason. I cried when she had to bury her horses that died. I loved the medicine aspects, finding it very interesting. With my background in animal medicine, it was sort of a no-brainer that I'd like that, but I could see the descriptions of the medical care that Tucker administered possibly being dry for some readers who are not interested in horses or medicine. I think he was an exceptional vet, really caring and devoted to doing a good job for his patients.
Although I think this could rub a non-religious person the wrong way, I actually liked that Samantha was a person of faith, and you could see evidence of that in her daily life. I think it's important to show a person of faith who does walk the walk, instead of professing something that is not evident through her behavior. I don't feel that Ms. Anderson was too heavy-handed in this book with it. I haven't read many books were the characters were devout Catholics, so that was interesting for me.
I wouldn't rate this book as a five star because of the intrigue plot being a little too much of a focus. I would have liked to see a little more romantic moments between Tucker and Samantha, although I enjoyed what was there. Also I had a little pet peeve with a small part of the story. I am hugely against declawing cats, which is the removal of the last digit of their toes. I find it cruel and unnecessary. It can be done painlessly, but it does cause residual soreness and effects on animals when it's not a crucial surgery. I think it was a little jarring for a major message of this story to be against cruelty to animals, but mention Tucker performing a procedure that I feel is not beneficial and necessary to most cats. I am not saying that a caring, conscientious veterinarian cannot perform this procedure, but my personal beliefs against declawing made it hard to swallow in a story that seemed to speak so strongly against animal cruelty. Most likely, this would not bother most readers. But, it did bother me. I mean no offense against Ms. Anderson, but it's food for thought that I felt necessary to add to this review. Most laypersons do not really understand the mechanics of this procedure, and that it's not necessary, and that was one of my things I tried to educate clients on. I learned to do this procedure, but made a decision not to do it in practice, based on my personal beliefs against it. Sorry for the PSA! This is a subject close to my heart, so I couldn't leave that out of my review.
Another issue I had was how they kept referring to one of Samantha's employee's Carrie, as mannish and homely. Her attempts to pretty herself up were made to seem clownish. That just felt mean to me. I realize this was tied in heavily to the overall story, but it seemed shallow. Not all women are going to be small, delicate, and drop-dead gorgeous. Beauty comes in all shape and sizes. It's hard for me to see people treated badly because they don't fit the popular modes of beauty. Carrie did something truly awful, and I don't let her off the hook for it. But the judgment of her shouldn't hinge on her looks or lack thereof. I wasn't quite comfortable with how that was handled, to be honest.
Despite my issues, and all in all, this was a very pleasant read, and one I will be adding to my keeper shelf with her other books. I love Catherine Anderson's stories because they are full of heart. I was glad to be able to reconnect with the Coulters and to meet the Harrigans. I look forward to reading more of the stories in this series. (less)
This is probably more of a 3.5/5.0, but I rounded up to a 4/5. I liked that the hero was a veterinarian, and he was a really sweet guy. You may not li...moreThis is probably more of a 3.5/5.0, but I rounded up to a 4/5. I liked that the hero was a veterinarian, and he was a really sweet guy. You may not like the hoydenish heroine, but she really did have her reasons for running around in pants: She was trying to protect her horse from her brother's machinations, so she stole him and ran off with him, dressed as a boy. I liked Ariadne, and I felt that her actions were justified, even though she was going against social mores and codes for that time. She was between a rock and a hard place, and her brother was a lowlife. Good thing she encountered Colin, who protected her when she intervened when a jerk was beating a cart-horse to death.
I think my bar was set high because the first book I read by Ms. Harmon was The Wicked One, which I adored, so that's why I couldn't rate this one as high. However, this is a nice, enjoyable read, with a hero who is a working man--a veterinarian. He walks with a limp from an old war injury, and carries some emotional baggage from what he saw during the Napoleonic wars (another point in this book's favor). Yet, he is a very good man that I definitely fell for as a hero. Back in those days, veterinarians didn't have much social caliber (not that this has changed much), but they were very important due to the livestock industry, and the fact that people used animals as transportation. Veterinarians probably did a better job than human doctors at treating illnesses and diseases, because the educational process was better for animal medicine. When I read this, I was impressed, because you could tell that Ms. Harmon did research the horse-breeding and veterinary medicine archives for this period. Kudos to her. Pretty solid read, and worth your time, especially if you have an interest in animals, and beta heroes, for that matter.(less)
As a future veterinarian growing up, I was told by many people to read this book. It is apparently considered a rite of passage for those who want to...moreAs a future veterinarian growing up, I was told by many people to read this book. It is apparently considered a rite of passage for those who want to enter the veterinary field. Finally I did read it when I was in my junior year of college before vet school. It was wonderful. Herriot is a hilarious,heart-warming and talented author. He writes with an ease that is addictive to read. He manages to imbue every chapter with scenes that are laugh out loud funny, but also scenes that will bring tears to your eyes. He shows the foibles and flaws of human nature with a lovable grace that is endearing.
Although I didn't practice in Europe and I wasn't a mixed practitioner, he captured the first year out very well. You are clueless. You know just enough to know you need to learn more. You have to learn to deal with people before you can help animals. You have to learn to trust your abilities and your skills. You have learn to grieve for the ones you lose but keep fighting the good fight. Let me just say, looking back, I can totally identify with the young vet in this book.
You do not have to be a vet or wannabe vet to enjoy this book. If you like slice of life books, or books about people in everyday situations but approaching life with grace and humor, you will love this book. If you like animals, you will also enjoy this book. I have collected the others in the series to read because I want to read more about this character, patterned after Dr. Herriot himself. (less)
Odd and the Frost Giants was a quick, but very rewarding book to listen to on audio. The author himself narrated, and his voice is very pleasant to li...moreOdd and the Frost Giants was a quick, but very rewarding book to listen to on audio. The author himself narrated, and his voice is very pleasant to listen to. He knows his characters best and animated them as richly as he had intended them. The Norse mythology elements were interesting, and I loved how Mr. Gaiman injects a humorous view of the constant strife between the Aesir and the Frost Giants. He embodies the traits of Odin, Thor, and Loki very well, and their animal forms fit what characteristics one would attribute to the three Norse gods. In this story, the frost giants are almost portrayed, but not quite, as the underdogs, caught in a losing war with the Aesir. It cracked me up how afraid of Lady Freya's complaining the lead frost giants were.
I absolutely adored Odd, with his oh-so annoying smile that he put on his face exactly when he wanted to disarm or frustrate someone else. He was a really good guy. I liked that he was able to figure out a way out of most of the scrapes he found himself in, and met obstacles in a calm, thoughtful manner. I wanted everything to work out for this kid, because he deserved it.
I don't have much more to say since this is a pretty short little book. The only thing I could add is that I enjoyed it immensely!
Goodness gracious, I am super late writing this review. My schedule just exploded after the middle of October, and I had no time. Because it's been ne...moreGoodness gracious, I am super late writing this review. My schedule just exploded after the middle of October, and I had no time. Because it's been nearly a month, I don't have the best memory of all the plotlines. But I promised I would write a review for every book I read, so better late than never, and my review will be of the more general sort.
I was fortunate to find this at my library and it fit very well thematically into my October Scare Fest reading. I enjoyed it overall. It's an odd little book, no question about it. I would consider it a bit of a pastiche to the famous literary figures of Dracula, Frankenstein and his monster, Sherlock Holmes, Merlin-type druids, and the Wolfman. I rather enjoyed that about this book. What I loved the most is that the narrators are the familiars, or animal companions of the human (or humanlike characters). They all strike up a strange sort of friendship driven by mutual interest and that old adage that drives too many middle grade friendships, especially among girls: better to be friends with someone than to have them as an enemy.
The story's chapters are broken down into each one representing a day in October. They are getting ready for some very important magical event that will have seemingly profound consequences. It sort of reminded me of the Highlander movie where the various characters are pairing off against each other, but this was more of a semi-good versus evil sort of standoff. Just my take. Forgive me if I am way off here. I didn't quite understand all of that, but I don't think it was as important as the unfolding paranormal mystery as various human (or humanlike) characters start to be picked off, one by one. The main character is a dog, who is the familiar of a male wizard. He's an endearing narrator. I liked how he plays dumb dog when necessary, but he's not the average canine (I truly feel some dogs are incredibly intelligent, so don't assume I'm picking on dogs here). I liked his wry and atypical friendship with a cat, who is the familiar of a witch. Along with the fact that their humans are striking up a courtship that may not end well if they end up choosing opposite sides. There is also a bat, rat, snake, and owl character. I'm sorry I don't remember all their names. I do remember the snake's name was Quicklime, so go figure. Strangely enough, the humanlike character who was most developed was Larry Talbot. Classic horror movie buffs will recognize that name as that of the Wolf Man. He did have the tragic vibe of the character in the movie, but he was quite likable.
This book isn't that deep. I mean it's a short book and probably has some hidden meaning, and I think a very prominent satirical tone that some readers will pick up on immediately. It's not super scary, it's a bit. Enough to make for a nice Halloween read.
I'd say this one is worth tracking down if you can find it at your library. Unfortunately, it's out of print.
A good read for this time of year. And fun for animal lovers like myself.(less)
Yet another lovely book in this ongoing series by Patricia Grasso. Ms. Grasso has a charm to her writing. Even though she has a similar format for mos...moreYet another lovely book in this ongoing series by Patricia Grasso. Ms. Grasso has a charm to her writing. Even though she has a similar format for most of her books, it seems to work. I think it's because I like her characters, and the story that she tells.
Blaze is an adorable heroine. She can communicate with animals, and this sets the tone for her life. She doesn't eat meat, fish, or poultry, because she can hear animals' cries of suffering when they are hurt. She has a big Mastiff named Puddles, who will do as she tells him mentally, but asks for cookies as his payment. She communicates with her filly that her father gave her, Pegasus, and she knows why Pegasus hasn't been winning races. As such, she is able to get Pegasus past this problem. Marriage is not on her agenda, and neither is falling in love. Well, that's just too bad, because Ross MacArthur, Marquis of Awe, is determined to claim her as his bride, by hook or by crook. His courtship keeps me laughing and enjoying this book, as he tries to keep up with savvy and fortright Blaze.
Ms. Grasso is very witty, but it's not in a forced way. Some of the jokes are very subtle, apt to cause smiles, rather than laugh out loud moments. Yet, there is also a little bit of sadness in this story, due to the fact that Blaze's mother was quite a tragic figure, a dispossessed French countess who fled the French Revolution, and ended up being mistress to a married duke and bearing him seven daughters, the Flambeau girls. She was an alcoholic who killed herself. This causes a personal pain for Blaze, because she feels she's somewhat responsible for her mother's death. She is determined not to make the same mistakes, falling into a man's bed and giving her heart away. However, Ross sneaks into her heart, because he treats her as an equal, showing her respect, tenderness, and love. There's also a murder mystery, as someone is preying on jockeys and horses so that the Duke of Inverary and the Marquis of Awe are assured not to twin the Triple Crown horse race.
I wish that all of Blaze's sisters and the Kazanov princes were in this story, but I guess that would make it a lot longer. It was nice to see Raven, her sister who sees the future, Blaze's father, the Duke of Inverary, and his matchmaking, jewelry-loving Duchess, and Aunt Bedelia, who has psychic gifts of her own.
I'm sad that I finished this, and there's not another book in this series coming out soon. They are so entertaining, with a lovely mix of humor, family, animals, and loving couples. Although there is nothing groundbreaking about this book, it was thoroughly enjoyable, so I'd give it five stars.(less)
**spoiler alert** First of all, I want to thank Emery Lee for the opportunity to read her book. This was not a typical read for me, since I don't tend...more**spoiler alert** First of all, I want to thank Emery Lee for the opportunity to read her book. This was not a typical read for me, since I don't tend to read a lot of historical fiction that is not romance. The Highest Stakes was a good stepping stone for me into the historical fiction genre, with a good, strong love story for my romance-loving palate.
I have to confess I did not grow up with horses. I actually never really had contact with them until I was in college. So, I became a equine aficionado later in my life. Without a doubt, The Highest Stakes is a book for horse-lovers. It is very clear that Ms. Lee loves, understands, and respects horses; and is very much an equestrienne. I appreciate the detail that she put into describing people firmly immersed in horse culture, and in giving this horse-racing novice a crash course into the horse-racing industry. Now, don't expect me to be down at the horse tracks every weekend. That's not going to happen. But I must say, I have a lot more respect for what goes into horse-racing. I am just as much a horse-lover as I ever was, maybe a little more after this book. In fact, I loved reading about the details of equine husbandry. I can certainly see how it becomes an obsession that can drive people in many ways, like it did with the three main characters in this story: Robert, Charlotte, and Philip.
On top of the foundation of horse-racing, this is a story about human nature: the dark sides, and the fundamental urges within people that drive them to achieve what they want most in life. For Robert and Charlotte, they just wanted each other. A mutual love of horses was their intial connection, and a great love blossomed between them from that starting point. Their road to happiness was a very crooked, even heartbreaking path. Many times, I felt like I was being twisted into painful knots as I read about all the troubles that this couple faced. I wanted to keep reading, crossing my fingers that things would work out; and at times, I was afraid to read one more page, for fear that their love would be driven past the point of survival. Fate seemed against them at many turns, although there was also a providential guiding hand that kept them working and striving towards their future together. I came to love and respect them both very deeply. I respect Ms. Lee that she was not afraid to put this couple through so much over the course of this book, even if it didn't always make for comfortable reading for me.
Philip was by far the most complex character. I must confess I still don't quite have him figured out. He manages to be a very self-serving person, but at the same time, he has a core of honor. Towards the end of the book, I really wanted to hate him, but I found I could not, because he was such a fascinating person, and truly did want to be a good man. He made some wrong decisions that really hurt two people that he cared about. At the same time, he played an important role in their destinies, and in some ways, helped to drive them to achieve the successes they obtained in the horsebreeding fields. One thing was for certain, he came very close to stealing the show, despite the fact that I really loved Robert and Charlotte's characters.
The writing was very good. Ms. Lee firmly establishes the Georgian period, and she doesn't have to spend a lot of detail describing what the characters wore, or what their houses looked like. Instead, she weaves in a time table of important events that occur in the background of this story, and which involve Robert and Phillip to no small extent. It felt very authentic, yet she always kept this book readable. To be honest, I am not sure that this book would appeal to readers who have no interest in horses. But that's okay. I am glad that Ms. Lee wrote a book about a subject that she clearly has a lot of passion for, and did it well; for her passion for horses is quite infectious to those who have the slightest inclination in that direction.
Quite frankly, this book came very close to being a five star book. I think that for readers who don't mind some very complicated obstacles between the hero and heroine, it probably would be a five star book. Unfortunately, I just don't like when the hero and heroine are together while they are married to other people. I really regretted that Robert and Charlotte's first time together occurs after she is forced to marry Philip. I can see that this was a realistic choice for Ms. Lee to make in plotting her story, but it just left a bad taste in my mouth. I would have preferred for Robert and Charlotte's happy ending to be unmarred by this. I freely admit that adultery is my huge pet peeve and it's hard to get past that when I am reading a romantic story. Despite that fact, I cheered on the couple for being able to get their happy ending. My other issue was that I found the ending to be a little abrupt. I was very glad to see Robert and Charlotte to achieve many of their life goals, but I would have preferred to see a little more page time spent on their reunion and how they dealt with Phillip. I did like the letter. It was a nice, and very fitting way for some of the denouement to be incorporated into the story.
The Highest Stakes was an excellent book. I was emotionally and intellectually involved with this story. It is very clear that Ms. Lee put a lot of heart and soul into this book, making for a great reading experience. Highly recommended to horse-lovers, fans of historical fiction, and those who love a good star-crossed romance.
Mauranie Wells is breaking her back working to keep her family ranch in New Mexico, and living day to day in the shadow of her younger, more b...moreSynopsis
Mauranie Wells is breaking her back working to keep her family ranch in New Mexico, and living day to day in the shadow of her younger, more beautiful sister, Tennyson. Tennyson is constantly angry and demanding more money, when there is little money available. Especially when Mauranie finds out from the bank manager that her father's investments failed since his death and their inheritance is gone. Next she finds out that the mortgage is about to go into default for non-payment.
Mauranie is working to breed and train horses to turn her family ranch into a productive enterprise, but that takes time she doesn't have to meet their overdue mortgage payment. She doesn't have much hope to get through the day until handsome, well-dressed cowboy Stemson Arroyo Smith comes to their ranch. Instant chemistry ignites between her and Stemson, and Mauranie is shocked that he overlooks her more feminine, well-dressed sister to give her the time of day. Mauranie is self-conscious about her hearing disability, which she compensates for, although it makes it difficult to be around other people. Stemson is the new banker in the nearby town of Aqua Gulch. He came to look at her property in order to find a place to stable his horses and genuinely seems to like Mauranie, but Tennyson plants seeds of doubt in Mauranie's mind that he could truly care about her; that he's out to steal their ranch instead.
Mauranie is troubled by the tensions of trying to keep her sister satisfied, and heartsick at the growing distance between the sisters. Can she remain true to her vision for the family ranch, and keep her sister happy? Is a future possible with Stemson, or is that just a distant dream, far removed from the ugly reality of trying to keep their ranch afloat with little help from her sister?
Breaking Point is as much about family as it is a romance. Mauranie has made incredible sacrifices for her sister since her parents died. And her sister seems increasingly ungrateful. Love has made her bend over backwards for her sister. She hates that her sister is always angry and unhappy with her. I felt Mauranie's anguish at the growing gap between the sisters, her desire to succeed at turning their ranch around, and her hope that she could find a man of her own and a family.
I very much appreciated the manner in which Ms. Beggs incorporates Mauranie's hearing issues into the story. Mauranie works hard to live as normal a life as possible, and doesn't allow those hearing issues to get in the way of living a productive life. Mauranie is a great heroine. She is strong, but also loving. Her heart is very good, and she truly cares about others. I hated the way Tennyson treated Mauranie, always demanding and never thanking her for all the sacrifices she made. I was glad that Mauranie did stay true and consistent in her love for her sister; although I wish that she didn't let the younger woman walk all over her the way she did, and would force her to share more of the burdens of running the ranch.
Stemson is an intriguing character. He's a dapper cowboy businessman with a caring, down to earth heart. It spoke highly to me that he could appreciate Mauranie for her unspoiled, unpolished goodness and inner and outer beauty. He also struggles with demons from his family life, although the author focuses less on these overall. The tension between them resides in the trust and self-esteem issues they both have, and in the process of learning to open up to each other. Their loving bond and romantic chemistry kept me reading. I wanted things to work out for Mauranie and Stemson to be together, and I appreciated how the story unfolds on this front as well as with Mauranie's problems with her sister.
Ms. Beggs packs a lot of emotional impact into this short novel. She has a descriptive and emotional writing style that drew me into the story. Her imagery of historical ranch life spoke to the western lover in me. I felt for the characters and rooted for a positive resolution for them all. This was a well-written, enjoyable novella, although I wish it had been full-length; I feel that Ms. Beggs could have explored the issues presented more deeply. I would love to continue reading this series to revisit the characters and see what happens in the future with them.
Merry Anna Dougal is a very passionate animal rescuer who literally stumbles into Grady McGrath in the middle of the forest. She is hunting fo...moreSynopsis
Merry Anna Dougal is a very passionate animal rescuer who literally stumbles into Grady McGrath in the middle of the forest. She is hunting for injured wildlife. McGrath is a bounty hunter and animal cruelty investigator hunting for a bail-jumper with a penchant for abusing animals. McGrath knows instantly that Merry Anna is a woman who needs a protector. Her heart is so big for animals that she doesn't have much of a grip on reality and the danger she is in when someone is trying to kill her. He insists on her staying in his house for 24 hour protection when someone vandalizes her house. They will end up playing house together with a fostered Basset Hound and nearly newborn kitten under their care. That's saying something for two people who don't have good experiences with family or relationships. Will they be able to walk away from each other when the danger is all over for Merry Anna?
Charming Champion is well-named. This is a charming book. Merry Anna has an endearing innocence and earnestness with her passionate love for animals. McGrath is adorable. He's tough and sweet at the same time. He is clearly in over his head for a typical loner who falls head over heels for a woman who comes with baggage, the emotional and furry kind. He is a protector by nature, a man who was a sickly child who developed his body into perfect fitness and fought to escape from his overprotective mother's fold. As an adult, years of living under his mother's stifling over-protectiveness has made him wary of commitment. However, Merry Anna inspires him to want a woman in his life on a forever basis. It's very cute seeing them together, discovering love for each other.
As an animal lover, I appreciated spending time with Mr. Ponder, the Basset Hound they end up fostering, as well as Snowy, the abandoned newborn kitten they are hand-feeding. Also, I admired the work that both Merry Anna and McGrath do with animals and for animal welfare, although Merry Anna has issues to work through with her single-minded, blind determination to help animals at any cost. Often, I was frustrated at her when she would dive in headfirst trying to help animals, without thinking things through. I could understand how McGrath might have felt, since he usually had to pull her back from the edge.
A shortcoming of this novel is the fact that the suspense angle is lightweight. It definitely ties in with the overall theme of animal welfare, but the villains lacked depth and intensity. I couldn't help giggling at the various altercations with the bad guys.
Charming Champion was a pleasant, fun, heartwarming book. I think I would have rated it higher if the conflict with the animal abusers was stronger and had more impact. It was hard to take it seriously. Nevertheless, the message about care and respect for animals was well received by this animal lover. I enjoyed the romance. It was sweet with just enough sensuality, the chemistry between McGrath and Merry Anna well-written and appealing. I would recommend this to readers who enjoy lighthearted, animal-themed sweet romance.
Wow. This was so fun to read. I am a fan of the Dresden Files urban fantasy series, and it's wonderful to get some visuals to go along with the prose....moreWow. This was so fun to read. I am a fan of the Dresden Files urban fantasy series, and it's wonderful to get some visuals to go along with the prose. Butcher wrote the foreword, and he said he was very happy with the way Harry comes out, that he'd always visualized Harry Dresden in this medium, since he grew up as a huge comic book fan. I'd tend to agree. I think the artist did an excellent job of capturing Harry and also Karrin Murphy and Carmichael. He captures Harry's physicality as well as his self-awareness of both his flaws and strengths. It was interesting to see Harry perform his typical spellwork and see him in action with his blasting rod and staff, and get a glimpse of his beloved VW Bug. While I watched the tv show, and I liked it, there were a few things they changed that I didn't care for, so this was a better way to visualize Harry outside of my own active imaginations, and truer to the plotlines of the books.
The storyline was very good. I loved the infusion of folklore and the underlying concept driving the story. The villain was really quite formidable and very creepy. Harry shows his heroism, even though he is often the underdog in the battle. And he definitely faces some serious obstacles, as always. I liked the secondary characters like Will. Of course, being an animal lover, I enjoyed the fact that this is set in a zoo.
Beautiful artwork, and great storytelling. What's not to like about this? Really glad to see Harry Dresden in the graphic novel medium. Will definitely read more of these!(less)
A huge thanks to Nenia for recommending this when I asked for a Nerd Romance. This was exactly what I wanted and more. I can't even begin to classify...moreA huge thanks to Nenia for recommending this when I asked for a Nerd Romance. This was exactly what I wanted and more. I can't even begin to classify this into a genre. It's so distinctive. First of all, it's hilarious! I felt like Connie Willis nailed what it's like to work in Corporate America. I could have changed the name of HiTek to the places I worked and it would have been exactly the same. The complete waste of time exercises they come up with in the hopes that it will increase productivity (when it actually interferes with it), the jive turkey meetings, and horrible acronyms, and the fact that said environment is so fertile for folks like Flip, Desiderata, and even Dr. Bullock. I loved the wry and deadpan humor. I mainly listened to this while I was doing my Wii Fit exercises, and this is one where you can't be quiet while you read. It made the exercise time fly by!
Sandra is a very accessible heroine. While she does have a snarky way of looking at the world, and the narrator has her sounding a bit superior at times, her inner voice is very realistic. You don't always see people in the most charitable ways internally, even when you make an effort to treat others well. Sandra's field of study is fascinating. She's a sociologist/statistician who investigates fads. I loved the facts about various fads throughout the many years of human history. While I feel that she is really a hater of Barbies and I like Barbies, I can't argue with her on most of what she says. I loved how Sandra processed Flip, who is a complete slave to fads and seems about the most useless person on earth. Flip is that person you know who just seems to make your life a living 'you know what', but then you realize that they do have a purpose in your life, and they help you to grow as a person. With that in mind, her sometimes superior way of looking at Flip and folks like her is put into complete perspective. I also loved how Sandra is a big reader and she processes life events in light of what she's read. This book is definitely for bibliophiles.
Can I tell you I adored Bennet? Oh my, he made my Nerd Love meter go off big time. I wanted to hug him with his horribly fashion-challenged self and his adorable Coke Bottle glasses. Man I wish I could find a Bennet of my own. :)
The sheep storyline had me dying of laughter. Yeah, sheep aren't the brightest animals, and you really understand why they need shepherds. I had no idea about the bellwether and it just draws the story together so well when we learn about it.
I tell you, this is a really clever and just wonderful book. It takes a lot of writing talent to take such dissimilar ideas as sheep, fads, Chaos theory and hair bobbing and actually craft a meaningful story around it. A nice sized read. It helped me enormously with my book reading slump because it was just so clever and vivid and kept me interested. I never thought I'd enjoy a book about something so non-specific as research into fads. I surely did. I definitely recommend this to readers who want something different. And for sure to those looking for Nerd Love and satire about the corporate work environment. It hits high on every point, so five stars!(less)
I read this to a handful of preschoolers late last year, and I think I enjoyed it as much as they did. The book is wonderfully colorful, and as an ani...moreI read this to a handful of preschoolers late last year, and I think I enjoyed it as much as they did. The book is wonderfully colorful, and as an animal lover, I was both amused and touched by the antics of the animals in this story, the gorilla in particular. The gorilla mimics the human keeper to the degree of letting all the animals out, who follow him and the keeper home to bed that night. This was a creative and very fun story, and I would recommend it to both young children and young at heart adults.(less)
Disclaimer: I’ve been friends with the author on Goodreads for several years (before she became a published author). I respect her as a human being, h...more Disclaimer: I’ve been friends with the author on Goodreads for several years (before she became a published author). I respect her as a human being, her tastes in books and her thoughtful manner of expressing herself on the books she reads, and now I can add that I respect her as an author.
When she asked me to beta read her novel last year, I said yes. I’m glad I had the opportunity to read “His Heart’s Desire” in its pre-publication form, and I am happy to write a review for it and recommend it to romance novel lovers.
If you’ve been reading romance more than fifteen years, you might be experiencing a longing for the “Good Old Days” when stories were genuinely romantic, and not just an over-emphasis on graphic sex with just enough declaration of love to classify as romance novels. Books that made you feel strongly and made the hours pass away rapidly while you read them. If that is the case, you will probably love this book.
“His Heart’s Desire” does read like a fairy tale come true, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I like angsty stories where the heroine has had a tough life, and her dreams come true in more ways than one. In this case, it’s not just getting her prince, but it’s getting a chance to live a life of purpose and fulfillment she always wished for.
Becca made with friends with a guy named Ethan, not knowing that he was impressively wealthy and powerful in his own right. She liked his personality and they bonded over their love of animals. She had no idea that he had fallen head over heels for her, and nursed a long simmering affection for her that she was oblivious to. Becca always knew a guy like Ethan was way out of her league, but she loved spending time with him, and he was one of the few people in the world she felt she could trust and feel safe with.
Ethan loves everything about Becca. He just wants her to be happy. When her mother’s death leads to a colossal mistake, he’s there to pick up the pieces and help Becca rebuild her life after the tragedy and betrayal she suffers. He makes every day a day of joy and simple pleasures, but has to be careful not to trespass on Becca’s long-held belief in self-sufficiency. Becca could never imagine that a man like Ethan could love her that way, but it’s up to Ethan to convince her otherwise.
Ethan is a bonafide Prince Charming, and in the best way possible. He’s not the boring kind of prince that makes me long for a bad boy or a hero to make your heart beat faster. No, he’s the strong, masculine, endearing and exciting, kind of prince who saves the day by loving his heroine genuinely and steadfastly. As you can guess, I loved him. He’s just the right guy for a sweet, somewhat naïve and unworldly young woman like Becca. These two make sense together.
I liked that their relationship is based on the rock-solid foundation of friendship and respect. Becca hasn’t had a lot of reason to open up to people and trust them, but Ethan proves he’s worthy of it. While they have a few bumps in the road, they don’t spoil the story or seem like they are manufactured just to fit the romance novel formula. Instead, their relationship feels genuine.
The sensuality is perfectly tailored to this novel. The love scenes are well-written, steamy and emotional. The best combination for this reader. I like that Ethan respects Becca’s values and her past hurts and he also has a desire to treat her like she's the woman he's been waiting his whole life for. It shows in his every interaction with her. When they consummate their relationship, it feels right.
Overall, the secondary characters are fairly well developed and add to the novel. Lindsay’s character was a bit too ‘evil ex’ for my tastes, but it’s not a deal breaker for me. Ethan’s family dynamic makes sense for his character (shows his values and why he's the man he is), and the tidbits about his siblings make me curious to read more about them. My favorite secondary character is Edna’s Becca’s older neighbor. She’s like a adoptive grandmother and a very good friend to the orphaned, lonely Becca, and she adds some comic relief with some of her dialogue.
His Heart’s Desire is an excellent first novel. It showcases strong writing talent and it is well edited. It's also very emotional and romantic (which is just what this reader loves in her romance novels) It’s nothing less than I would expect from Julianna. She’s a promising writer, and I’m excited to read more books by her.
I recommend this book to true romantics. Becca’s a sweetheart and Ethan truly is a to-die-for hero. I enjoyed reading this immensely.