I didn't expect much from a book that cost me $0.99 at Borders; it was on the clearance rack. I was correct in my skepticism. Nothing Personal contain...moreI didn't expect much from a book that cost me $0.99 at Borders; it was on the clearance rack. I was correct in my skepticism. Nothing Personal contained a rather tepid romance with multiple editing errors, which I'm surprised at since I've read other titles from Cerridwen Press that don't contain such mundane errors. Plus, they've often been better stories. Maybe I just got a bad printing or noticed glaring errors that other readers glossed over.
The setting wasn't really important, and to be honest, I can't remember many of the details regarding it. I know that the main characters, Carla and Leo, live in the same apartment complex. Carla works in a beauty salon while Leo is a computer business man (neither of their careers are highlighted very much). There is one scene where Carla is invited to a family gathering, but overall the locations were as mundane as the romance. I really wanted to be drawn into the setting, but the vagueness made it difficult to get lost in the story. Perhaps the author tried to give Nothing Personal a generic and modern-day contemporary setting that any reader could relate to no matter where they lived. That or the setting really wasn't a concern since she wanted to focus on the romance. This was a poor choice, though, because the setting could have helped develop the plot and characters.
There are a few main characters. First, our heroine is a rather meek and annoyingly self-conscious female by the name of Carla. She is thirty-five, works at a dead-end salon job, and is constantly concerned about settling down and having a family. After all, her biological clock is ticking. Let's meet the amazing man of her dreams next. His name is Leo Mark Spencer; I admit that I love this name! He is ten years younger but has known Carla since he was seven years old. Alice, his older sister, is best friends with Carla. Heck, Carla even babysat him with Alice. Leo's family is rather large compared to Carla's, and Carla's been like one of the family for a long time. Little does she know that little Leo has been crushing on her since that tender age of seven. So, he's had a crush on an older woman for around eighteen years. When I consider that long of a crush, part of me thinks it's romantic while another part of me thinks it's a little excessive, especially considering how young he was when the crush first formed.
As for other important characters, there aren't really any worth mentioning. There are a few family members, Carla's and Leo's friends (I especially liked Cameron Murphy since he started to like Carla and presented a point of conflict other than Carla's own insecurities), and Leo's ex-floozies, all women he used to help him forget Carla.
The plot is simple enough-- Carla and Leo are "star-crossed lovers" that have always been destined for each other despite their ten-year age gap. Now that Leo is a mature adult, he's taken up the hunt. He's going to convince Carla to fall in love with him and isn't afraid to use every inch of his body to accomplish this feat. Meanwhile, there is a bit of family muddling, especially from the pregnant Alice and Carla's own self-sabotage that complicates their budding relationship.
One aspect I really enjoyed about Nothing Personal is that it jumps into the story and romance right away. The beginning laundry scene was one of my favorites, with the quote from Carla's mother causing me to crack a smile as I started to read:
If you had any kind of a life at all, you wouldn't be sitting in your apartment building's laundry room at nearly ten on Friday night. Alone (9).
I really wanted to like this story because it contained a novel concept. I'm not used to reading romances in which the female character is older than the male character, and especially not to the degree they are in this book. Plus, there were so many social implications I hoped would be tackled throughout the book-- the stigma attached to beauty and aging women, the immaturity of younger men, the fact that a woman choosing to not have kids right away, or at all, is a valid and important life choice. Unfortunately, all these issues fell flat purely because Elisa Adams was not interested in tackling such heavy concepts in her romance novel. She gave the reader what they typically expect-- pure and utter fluff. No substance. No purpose other than to entertain and provide housewives around the world escape from their dreary realities. Call me a romance snob, but I expect more heart, depth, and meaning to the romances I read. I especially expect more from the female characters than Carla gave.
Carla is just too weak, insecure, and depressingly mundane for me to admire or even like. She whined continuously, cared too much about what others thought, especially in regards to her age difference from Leo's, and is concerned with settling down and having a family, too stereotypical and predictable behavior. Another frustrating point is that Carla's last name is easily forgotten, being mentioned toward the very end of the novel. I completely forgot she had a last name or really any type of identity outside of her relationship with Leo. Carla's full name, Carla Michaels, is mentioned in exclamation by Leo's sister Sophie, who is surprised that the pair are in a relationship. Carla's a nobody loser working a dead-end job in a beauty salon waiting for prince charming to rescue her, situate her into a comfy home where she can stop working and raise their brood of children. Predictable. Boring. Typical. Blah.
Leo is a much more interesting character, and I did appreciate that Elisa Adams alternated chapters and sections from Carla's perspective to Leo's. It gave the reader a more balanced look at how their romance budded and developed. Leo was the main reason the romance didn't suck completely, him and his interesting and laughable family. As I already mentioned, I like his name. He is also a younger guy, which is a different type of a male protagonist from what I'm used to. I liked that he works with computers (a graphic arts designer) because my husband does too. I especially enjoyed how surprisingly mature he was for his age, and the care and fineness he pursues Carla with. He really loves her, more so than he even realizes. Of course, he has his own flaws. He's stubborn, which complicates things with Carla, and he's shielded himself from ever getting hurt by sleeping with every dumb tramp that comes across his path. Of course this turns out to be a good thing because he's developed into an excellent lover.
Being a "fluff" romance, there were no real themes nor motifs other than the usual "love conquers all" attitude. Also, that happy endings are always around the corner, no matter how ugly the situation looks. There are no literary elements utilized in this book because it is not that type of a read.
I've read much better romance novels, and it's books like this that give the entire romance genre a negative stigma in literary circles. There is nothing wrong with having a "fluff" piece to read, but at least have the audacity to write well! If you are looking for some intelligent romances, I highly recommend anything by Amanda Quick and Jo Beverly. My preferred romance setting is anything historical, which is the type of books those two authors write. If you are looking for a good contemporary romance, Jayne Ann Krentz, the same person as Amanda Quick, and Christina Dodd are very apt in that romance style. I've even written a review about one of Dodd's contemporary romances called Tongue in Chic.
There were just too many cons to make this book worth reading. Just look at the cover art. I usually don't put a lot of stock into cover art, but out of all the genres, the cover makes the biggest difference with romances. This one is just plain sloppy. It's computer generated, and it's the scene from the beginning of the book, when Carla and Leo are in the washing room of their apartment building. In my opinion, it doesn't look professional. The shading is all off, and the cover just turns me away from reading it. The only reason I wasted my time on it was because of the inexpensive price, and now I look forward to giving this one away to an interested reader. Any takers?
At least the cover art went with the novel. The title didn't make sense to me. Why Nothing Personal? Who was taking anything personal in the book? Was it the fact that Carla didn't want to date a younger man...you know, nothing personal? I just don't get it.
The entire book had an "I don't get it" feel to it. It was as if Elisa Adams slapped together a novel from a secret hidden fantasy of hers. I've never read anything else by Adams, so I can't compare this to her other writing. I've read, though, that she does have other romances that are better. Maybe this was her first exploration into the contemporary romance genre. Who knows? All I know is that it has weak presentation, writing, and storytelling, especially when compared to other romance giants that I've read.
As for the maturity rating, there are a few love scenes but nothing overly explicit, especially when compared to pieces by Laurell K. Hamilton and J.R. Ward. Because of the content and adult-themed elements, I would recommend this read to anyone that is eighteen years or older.
The book started with some promise, and it even had interesting supporting characters. However, the main female protagonist left me wanting something better and stronger. And you can't have a romance novel without a strong pair of lead lovers. I was disappointed by this tepid romance. I wouldn't read it again, and I would only recommend it to readers that are fans of Elisa Adams' writings. Otherwise, even if you saw this book for free, it's not worth the time it would take to read it.(less)
My mother-in-law bought me this audio book for one of my long driving trips to and from Roseville and Eureka. Unfortunately, we didn't realize that th...moreMy mother-in-law bought me this audio book for one of my long driving trips to and from Roseville and Eureka. Unfortunately, we didn't realize that this was an abridged copy of the novel, so it was only three hours of listening time for $9.99. Still, it was better than nothing, and I did enjoy the nostalgia feeling derived from reading a Mary Higgins Clark book. I used to be a major fan when I was in middle and high school, and I remember reading and solving these mysteries easily.
You Belong To Me was no different from others that I have read. I knew who the perpetrator was early in disc one, which did lessen the enjoyment somewhat. After all, you want a puzzle that keeps you guessing and second-guessing until the very end. Despite this flaw, the story was still interesting purely because the protagonist and heroine Dr. Susan Chandler was a complete buffoon whose inability to consider the consequences of her actions led to the deaths of many innocent people. As I listened to the audio book, I couldn't help guessing who would die next because of Chandler's fumbling.
The story takes place in New York City, and the majority of the action involves Susan Chandler's talk show Ask Dr. Susan. Chandler uses her show to investigate the disappearance of females who took world cruises and never returned home. In the audio book, it's a little difficult to understand why Dr. Chandler gets involved in these missing women cases. During one of her segments, Chandler invites Dr. Donald Richards, a criminologist/psychiatrist/author to talk about his book Vanishing Women and the plight of lonely women who are preyed upon by calculating killers. During this segment, the reader learns that Chandler is specifically obsessed with the latest disappearance of stock analyst Regina Clausen. This is when reading the abridged version limits the listener because, as it turns out, Clausen helped Susan with an investment that made her a lot of money. Thus, she feels indebted to the missing woman and wants to solve the crime for Regina's mother. These and many other "non-pertinent" details are left out in order to keep the pace of the read brisk for an abridged audio book.
There are quite a few characters, and most of them end up dead. The important ones are all the men who want to date Susan Chandler and the ones working for Jane Clausen, Regina's mother. In the abridged book, all the development is superficial. I didn't really care about any of the characters, not even Susan. I did enjoy the interactions between Susan and her sister Dee, who is a terrible sister! Considering that Susan is an ex-district attorney turned psychologist, you would think she could analyze the behavior of her sister as well as the man abducting the women better. Instead, she bumbles around relying on her "feelings" to solve the crime. To be honest, I was very surprised that she had a job let alone a successful talk show.
There were no specific themes, motifs, or literary elements used in this read. It's your typical mystery that follows a generic plot. The only interesting aspect was the changes in narrative perspective. Some chapters are told from the third person perspective of Susan Chandler while other chapters are told from the third person perspective of supporting characters. I did enjoy the use of the song "You Belong to Me," and it's incorporation as part of the mystery. Unfortunately, there was no fancy singing production version included in the audio book, probably because of copyright reasons or the costs to obtain licensing. A very minor character sings part of the refrain, which helps Susan solve the mystery, but it's not the same quality or feel as one of the more well-known singers performing the song.
I did a little research about the lyrics of "You Belong to Me," purely because the book sparked an interest in the song. It was originally a country record. It was covered by many artists including Jo Stafford, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, and Gene Vincent, to name a few. The Duprees had a hit with it in 1958, and it's the version alluded to in the novel. The reason for the use of the song in relation to the missing girls is all mixed up in the abducter's strange and crazy logic, which I won't spoil here. You'll have to see if you can solve the mystery on your own.
There was no unique message to this novel. It's purpose is simple-- to entertain. It somewhat accomplished this fact for me. It's a thriller, suspense, mystery novel that is supposed to keep the reader guessing until the very end. Maybe I am too familiar with Clark's writing style/formula to ever be surprised. This aspect didn't bother me as much as the abridgment did. One of the biggest downfalls of this copy is that the characters are even less developed than usual. To begin with, Clark doesn't go into a lot of depth when it comes to her characters, and many important points were cut out. This makes certain tense relationships difficult to follow or even understand why the relations are so stressed in the first place, such as Susan and her mother, Susan and her sister, or Susan and her father and stepmother. Luckily, the constant changes in perspective for each chapter makes it easier to overlook this failing. The plot and scenery of New York City (traffic, crowds, taxis, restaurants, stores, etc.) make the novel fun, especially for someone who's never been to this city.
This book is very similar to Mary Higgins Clark's other novels. There was even a film made about it, but it's not rated very well online. I haven't seen it myself, so I can't compare the two, but after reading the book, I do think it would make a better film than novel.
The audio book reader is Jayne Atkinson. As far as my experiences with readers, Atkinson was rather boring. She spoke in a quiet, almost psychologist doctor voice, probably emulating Dr. Susan Chandler. It was a novel idea at first, but I got rather bored with that voice as the story progressed. Atkinson didn't make a big effort to change the other characters' voices, minus a couple of Brooklyn or New Jersey accents for some female side characters. A more creative reader would have made this audio book more enjoyable.
Overall, I got what was paid for. There is only a small amount of suspense in You Belong To Me by Mary Higgins Clark and no actual "thrill" factor. I would categorize it as a predictable mystery read. I don't recommend this version of the audio book--please purchase the UNABRIDGED copy! I do recommend the unabridged version to anyone who enjoys mysteries in which the plot moves the story, not the characters. A nice feature of all of Clark's books is that loose ends are usually tied up by the end of the novel (not the case with the abridged audio book).
Don't expect too much from this audio book other than a fast read.(less)
My original review from 2006 was: "I finally read the book and was not too impressed with it. The storyline was predictable and the characters were no...moreMy original review from 2006 was: "I finally read the book and was not too impressed with it. The storyline was predictable and the characters were not very well developed. I prefer Angels and Demons over this book."
Unfortunately, I don't have much to add to this original review. My writing skills have improved, but without reading the book again, I can't comment on the specifics like I normally would. Since I didn't enjoy the book that much, I won't be re-reading it anytime soon if at all.
Keeping that in mind, one of the main reasons I disliked this book was because the main character, Robert Langdon, is not the type of person I want to follow and "get to know" through a mystery series. I find him a pale comparison to similar characters such as Indiana Jones and even Double 007. Langdon is not likable, and I find him pretentious.
I don't mind a lot of the female characters Brown has developed, both in this book and in Angels and Demons; although, the women fall for Langdon too easily. It would be an interesting twist to see Langdon desire one of the women and then have her deny him. I like strong, independent female characters that don't need quick flings with men to feel good about themselves. Unfortunately, part of the charm for adventure male perspective books (in a series) is who the hero will meet and get together with in future situations. So, I don't see Brown changing his writing formula anytime soon.
I did enjoy the setting of the book as well as the descriptions. The religious elements didn't bother me too much even though I'm Catholic. I see most of it as dramatized for the public's sake. Parts could be based in truth but most is for entertainment purposes only. To know the truth, you really have to research these matters. You can't trust someone else's research, especially when it's used for writing a fictional story.
There were many parts I found unbelievable, but what bothered me the most, as I originally stated, was the predictability of the story. Overall, I thought Angels and Demons was more unique and a good way to start the Robert Langdon series. I enjoyed it more than this second book despite the amount of gore.
In the end, I won't read another Dan Brown book because it doesn't seem worth my time. There are better mystery series books that don't read as if they are being written with Hollywood movie producers in mind.(less)
This is an abridged audio version of the third book in a trilogy about an enemy called the Totality. Star Trek fans will enjoy this reading by William...moreThis is an abridged audio version of the third book in a trilogy about an enemy called the Totality. Star Trek fans will enjoy this reading by William Shatner because he brings the characters alive with his engaging impersonations (although he could work on his women's voices). This audio book was like a radio show broadcast with special effects and a musical score that rivals the series.
The main negative aspect to this book is the fact that it's abridged. I recommend reading the print version and then listening to the audio CDs to gain a different experience of the story.
Finally, remember that it's the finale to a trilogy, so try reading the first two books in the series. I didn't realize this fact until after I had finished listening to it. Despite this unfortunate realization, I still throughly enjoyed the book and was able to follow most of the back-story.
This book has an engaging and interesting villain, the Totality, which will draw Borg fans into the depths of the Star Trek universe. Countering the villain's efforts to consume humanoid life in the universe are favorite heroes from various Star Trek series: Captain Kirk, Captain Picard, Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, Chief Engineer Scott, and even Admiral Kathryn Janeway, to name a few. Overall, I enjoyed the interactions between Picard and Kirk the best, many of the scenes were thought provoking or comical depending on the situation. And of course the epic battle between the heroes and the villain had me on the edge of my seat until the interesting conclusion.
Although the entire crew of the Next Generation makes an appearance in this book there was one question left unanswered for me: Where was Data?(less)
I had mixed feelings about what type of a rating I should give this book purely based off my disappointment with the end of the novel, which I won't s...moreI had mixed feelings about what type of a rating I should give this book purely based off my disappointment with the end of the novel, which I won't spoil in my review.
Overall, I enjoyed the mystery. I couldn't solve the ultimate puzzle, which always fascinates me since I consider myself an amateur sleuth when it comes to mystery novels. In retrospect, I fear I was too engrossed in the book to pay enough attention to the clues that would help me solve the puzzles. As a reader, though, I appreciate authors who give me opportunities to solve the crime along with the main characters.
As for Mikael Blomkvist, he was an interesting choice for the lead protagonist and detective of the mystery. His character reminded me of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon. He was the epitome of journalists, a real diamond in the rough.
However, the character who really made the novel enjoyable was Lisbeth Salander. She was tough, quirky, and different. Regardless of whether you thought of her as a protagonist or antagonist, she made Blomkvist seem like an old man. Nonetheless, they created a unique partnership in the book that allowed them to be a crime-fighting duo purely because of their differences. In fact, all the characters developed nicely based on their interactions with each other throughout the year in which the novel takes place.
After the prologue, the beginning of the book is slow. I was a bit confused by the setting because I am unfamiliar with Sweden's governmental system. I couldn't help but wish I had conducted a preliminary reading about the country before tackling the novel. In fact, the book didn't start to engage me until about chapter 4 when Blomkvist meets with Henrik Vanger. Again, the two characters contrasted nicely and made the story more engaging. In fact, the entire Vanger family added important elements to the story that complicated the mystery.
By the end of the novel, though, I was disappointed with all the characters. At first, I thought I could relate to some of them, either because of their past histories or their insistence on justice and freedom. Unfortunately, the ending left no warm feelings for any of the characters. They were all selfish. Perhaps it was my own fault for building the characters to be something they weren't, but I was sorely disappointed that there were no redeeming qualities.(less)
My original review for this book was a few sentences long, so my details are not as precise as I would like. The entry read as follows:
"I enjoyed this...moreMy original review for this book was a few sentences long, so my details are not as precise as I would like. The entry read as follows:
"I enjoyed this novel because the author developed Meredith's character even more than the first one in the series. I was a bit disappointed that Laurell K Hamilton did not elaborate on the relationship between Merry and Frost more, but I am hoping that the third novel will go into more details about it. My only negative comment about this book was the abrupt ending."
Now to expand on my thoughts...this book seals the deal for me: I am determined to read this entire series no matter what (If we are extremely lucky, it won't end for a long time!). It is obvious between the first and second book that Hamilton is writing an amazing series filled with dark ideas, sexual and explicit situations, and an all around creative world very different than most books in a traditional fantasy setting. I appreciate the blending of genres (fantasy, sci-fi, romance, mystery, and suspense/thriller, to name a few) and the witty repertoire of the characters. Ultimately though, This is a dark fantasy series that explores the relationships between the light and dark sides of life.
Book two pulls the reader back from the private detective agency while the politics of the Seelie and Unseelie courts are expanded. Even though I missed some of Merry's original profession, I did enjoy learning more about her character's history. In fact, she becomes even more "bad ass" because of the growth of her Faerie powers as well as her leadership role among the men in her consort. Merry is still focused on her original goal from book one, which is the only way to claim the Unseelie throne, but that doesn't prevent Hamilton from jam-packing the book with endless thrills and side quests.
In comparing the first and the second book, I enjoyed the start to the series just a bit more because it felt more balanced and the ending wasn't as abrupt. Still, the abrupt ending did its job--hooked me to read the third book.
Overall, I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a blend of sex, magic, wit, and romantic dilemma. However if you don't condone polygamous relationships or are easily offended by sex, this might not be the book for you. There are also a wide array of strange and unusual creatures, which can be a bit frightening. In order to truly enjoy A Caress of Twilight (Meredith Gentry, #2), the reader must have an open mind to try new things. If you do, then you won't be disappointed with this purely entertaining novel.(less)
This was my first audio book since around a year ago. It took me two days to finish it; I was listening to it on a car trip to visit my family. It bro...moreThis was my first audio book since around a year ago. It took me two days to finish it; I was listening to it on a car trip to visit my family. It brought back nostalgic memories of Card's classic Ender's Game and made me want to revisit that whole universe again. This is a great novella for anyone who loves science fiction, morality, religious and political debates, and, of course, the writer Orson Scott Card. The reader is introduced to a new character in the Ender saga, Zeck, whose parents' religious beliefs resemble Puritan ideology. You also get to see classic Ender characters such as the entire Rat Army, including Dink and Ender himself. This story is compelling because of the moral debates, the main one being pacifism versus fighting, even "pretend fighting" for a global army. Zeck is an emotionally and physically abused young boy who won't budge an inch on his religious views, even in the face of extreme isolation. This intense belief system is contrasted with extreme hypocrisy, as exhibited by Zeck's preacher father. Juxtaposing Zeck's private battle is the battle of the students, led by Dink, to celebrate their Christmas holiday even though religious and cultural practices are forbidden at battle school. A short poem and pancake in the shape of an F lead to a war of gifts with consequences that can possibly surpass the time at Battle School. Can Ender help Zeck face his past and find peace with himself? The events that lead up to the final conversation between Zeck and Ender reminds me of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, mysteries that need solving. When Vincent D'Onofrio (Detective Robert Goren) confronts the villain of the current criminal case, it is to provide release and vindication for the criminal and her or his victims, just like Ender promises emotional and spiritual release for Zeck. All characters shine in this book and many teach us to never lose hope in faith and friendship. (less)
This was an amazing science fiction young adult novel. The story is about a clone named Matt who struggles with ideas of power, class, and prejudices...moreThis was an amazing science fiction young adult novel. The story is about a clone named Matt who struggles with ideas of power, class, and prejudices to find his place in society. The story's setting mainly takes place in Dreamland, a country between the U.S. and Aztlan, which used to be called Mexico. Ceclia and Tam Lin act as surrogate parents for Matt. His clone father, El Patron, is one really creepy guy. This book has it all: action, adventure, drama, romance, and political intrigue. Much of the novel relates to modern day issues and will open new areas of critical study for any teen or adult. (less)
I had read this narrative before, at least three different times, but the repeat reading only brings more of the details to the reader's attention. Si...moreI had read this narrative before, at least three different times, but the repeat reading only brings more of the details to the reader's attention. Since the previous readings were so long ago, I didn't remember too many of the details of the narrative. It was like I was reading Jacobs' story for the first time. Harriet Ann Jacobs is very deliberate in her language and the way she acts as supplicator and judge. The complexity of the language is often overshadowed by the "flowery" writing of the time period. Jacobs is a complex individual and narrator who tells the story from the first person perspective of Linda Brent, a fictional pseudonym. Even though I read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl for a graduate American literature course, I was inspired to write a research paper about Jacobs' story and present it at a literature conference. This narrative enlightens the reader on many levels and offers a critical examination of one of America's darkest periods of history-- African American slavery.(less)