Annajane Hudgens and Mason Bayless got married when they were fairly young. Both their mothers were opposed to the idea but the young lovers didn't ca...moreAnnajane Hudgens and Mason Bayless got married when they were fairly young. Both their mothers were opposed to the idea but the young lovers didn't care; they were in love. Their relationship slowly fell apart due to miscommunication, stubbornness, and the crumbling effect of both their mothers chipping away at them at every opportunity.
Five years after the divorce, Annajane is engaged to another man and attending Mason's second wedding. She finally admits to herself that she cares for him and she has to stop the wedding just as Mason's young daughter gets violently sick in the church aisle. Annajane finds herself with an unexpected opportunity to set things right with him.
I just adore Mary Kay Andrews's books because they are so much fun to read! The characters generally come to life for me, I find myself laughing at the trouble they inevitably get themselves into, and the settings feel real. Spring Fever is no exception.
Annajane is not perfect by any means but I liked her. She's doing her best with her life. She works hard, she's trying to get over Mason, she's trying to deal with her overbearing mother, and she's trying not to let her good sense be overruled by her ticking biological clock. Her best friend, Pokey--who has the best nickname I have ever heard-- is Mason's sister, so the ex-couple have been involved in each other's lives through Pokey whether they like it or not. When Mason unexpectedly brings home an infant daughter from a brief "fling" shortly after their divorce, Annajane is hurt, of course. But she learns to love little Sophie and the feeling is mutual.
I didn't know what to think of Mason at first. We first see him through Annajane's lens of "what went wrong" and he doesn't come out of that looking too good. But as the story moved on, I really started to like him. He's a true, responsible gentleman to be counted on. I pretty much loved him as much as Annajane did by the end!
There were a couple of things that did have me wanting to reach through my car speakers and knock some sense into everyone's heads. I don't want to spoil anything but there was one obvious whopper of a lie that gets told and everyone buys it, hook, line, and sinker. I knew what was going on as soon as the character in question said it! Ugh! There were a couple of other small instances of this too. I get frustrated when otherwise intelligent characters get a convenient case of brain death to further the plot.
I was a little disappointed by the ending. There were three characters who desperately needed a good old karma-slap but they never really got it. Two of them did to an extent, but it happened "offstage." The reader doesn't really get to see it happen, Annajane and Pokey just mention it in the epilogue. Talk about unsatisfying!
I have listened to several of Mary Kay Andrews's books but this is the first one I've listened to that was narrated by Kathleen McInerney. She sounded a bit young for the roles and her accents were uneven to say the least. Otherwise, I did enjoy her narration.
If you're looking for an easy, breezy beach read, you can't go wrong with this book or any of Andrews's other work.(less)
The Penderwicks are going in different directions for two weeks. Mr. Penderwick, Iantha, and Ben are heading off to England; Rosalind is going to New...moreThe Penderwicks are going in different directions for two weeks. Mr. Penderwick, Iantha, and Ben are heading off to England; Rosalind is going to New Jersey with a friend; and the remaining three Penderwicks are going to Maine with Aunt Claire. This arrangement leaves Skye as the OAP--Oldest Available Penderwick--and she is not happy about it. She's not used to keeping her sisters out of trouble! When they arrive, they love the little house they're staying in and even their next-door neighbor--but not his dog, Hoover. But who does neighbor Alec remind them of?
I love this series. It's just so innocently fun! The girls are funny but caring, as are their circle of friends. Girls in their "tween" years should love these books as well.
This installment was just as much fun as all the others. I missed having Rosalind around but without her guidance, the three younger Penderwicks had that many more adventures. Moose- and golf ball hunting, encounters with neighborhood boys, minor injuries, heartbreak, hurt pride, there's a little bit of something for everyone here.
I loved seeing Skye grow into her role as OAP. She gets off to a rocky start but the others have faith in her even when she doesn't have faith in herself.
I was completely surprised by the turn this book took! I thought it was going in one direction and all of a sudden it blindsided me with incredible revelations! I was driving along listening to this and talking to myself, I was so surprised.
I love Susan Denaker's narration of this series. She has voices for characters which are distinct enough that I'm able to follow along but they aren't distracting. She speaks clearly and its almost as if she's smiling throughout her whole narration, its just that homey.
I highly recommend this for any young girls out there and for girls who are only young at heart.(less)
During the siege of Leningrad in World War II, Lev and Kolya find themselves in jail at the same time. After a sleepless night in which they expect to...moreDuring the siege of Leningrad in World War II, Lev and Kolya find themselves in jail at the same time. After a sleepless night in which they expect to be executed the next morning, they instead find themselves facing a Colonel in the Red Army. He will let them go free if they agree to find a dozen eggs for his daughter's wedding cake. Leningrad is surrounded by Germans and people are starving to death in the streets. They don't know how they're going to do it but they undertake the task.
I really think I would have enjoyed this more in print. There was nothing really wrong with Ron Perlman's narration, but the tone of his voice is just so low that it was pretty easy for me to unintentionally tune him out as I was driving.
That said, I did enjoy it. Poor young, serious Lev, to be stuck with Kolya! But I loved Kolya. He's like that one person that you really like even though you're uncomfortable around him more often than not because of the things that he says. He has no idea when to shut up but he's so charming that he generally gets away with saying whatever he's thinking. He thinks a lot about girls and how much he hates the Germans and a book named The Courtyard Hound. He quotes it all the time! I would have been more of a Lev in their situation, terrified of everything, but Kolya kept young Lev going. He kept me laughing and shaking my head.
The novel felt a bit like The Odyssey, with the young man drifting from one insane adventure to the next. While their journey only lasts a week, so much happens that it felt like much longer. Cannibals, sadists, epic chess games, I just never knew what they were going to get into next. I liked that.
What I did not like was the ending. Not one little bit. I can see that it was necessary but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
This was a perfect read during the--what are they calling it? Polar Vortex?--that has chilled most of the US. I'll complain about the cold all day if I can but reading about these young men in the frigid temperatures of Russia, well the USSR at the time, with no food and inadequate clothing helped me keep things in perspective. Settle in to read this when it's cold outside, enjoy it, and be thankful for what you have.(less)
After the recession hits, Clay Jannon finds himself out of a job. He spends hours walking the streets of San Francisco, trying to find something, anyt...moreAfter the recession hits, Clay Jannon finds himself out of a job. He spends hours walking the streets of San Francisco, trying to find something, anything. He wanders into Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and finds himself working as a bookstore clerk. But there aren't really very many customers. Well, there are a few impassioned, odd people who come in and request books from what Clay refers to as the "Wayback List," books he's not supposed to look at. He likes Mr. Penumbra and when it starts to look like Mr. Penumbra might be in some kind of trouble, Clay calls in his friends to help the owner out.
Oh. My. Gosh. I enjoyed the heck out of this audio book! I described it to my husband as "The Da Vinci Code for tech-savvy bibliophiles." (I enjoyed The Da Vinci Code so that's a compliment.) People in robes, secret messages, clues, and only one man to tie them together. What's not to love?
I loved the characters. Clay is pretty funny and I loved listening to his internal monologues. I loved Mr. Penumbra's willingness to do whatever he felt needed to be done. And that he was willing to listen to Clay's crazy ideas without being an old codger. He embraced the technology Clay introduced him to! Clay's friends were all pretty funny and talented in their own unique ways too.
I wouldn't describe myself as "tech-savvy," so I have no idea how much of the technology described in here is real and how much is made up. Some of it was pretty cool. And some of it was a little...not so cool. There were some ideas I wouldn't mind discussing in a book group or something. Like how one character who works at Google seems to think that all information should be shared freely. A good idea in theory but if authors aren't getting paid for their writing, how will they have time to write more books for us to read? Stuff like that.
Ari Fliakos did a fabulous job narrating the audio book. I'm so glad I listened to it! I'm sure his delivery added something to the story.
For a fun, hard-to-describe book, give this one a try, especially on audio. I was thoroughly entertained.(less)
This book's average rating is 4.47 as I write this and I'm rating it 2 stars. Where did I go wrong?
It's been a while si...moreUm, I think I missed something.
This book's average rating is 4.47 as I write this and I'm rating it 2 stars. Where did I go wrong?
It's been a while since I finished so I won't be able to get too specific.
First of all, I didn't particularly care for the writing style. Something about his writing reminded me of H. P. Lovecraft, who I also don't fully appreciate, so that was a negative. I found it to be a little...overwrought at times. I don't think it was the translation because there were many translators throughout the collection and the style was pretty consistent. And then I think Borges is just way too smart for me.
I could see that there was all this philosophical stuff going on in the subtext of his writing, but I didn't care enough to stop and think about it and try to figure out what he was really saying. I was just trying to wrap my head around a world that was created in imagination and then starts to slowly creep into the real world. Or trying to determine which of two characters was the dreamer and which was the dreamed. Or were they the same? And why did this head injury leave this character with a Phenomenon-like memory and intelligence? And what the heck is the point of trying to see if you can perfectly re-write Don Quixote by accident? And if I lived in a never-ending library, would I seriously spend all my time searching for the one book with the answers to Life, the Universe, and Everything (Thanks, Douglas Adams) or would I just sit down with the books I had and leave others to the searching? I think my reaction to this book answers that last question.
I just didn't get it.
Maybe if I had taken everything at face value I would have been happier with the book as a whole. It was just so obvious that there were so many layers of meaning in Borges's writing that I wasn't able to do that.
I'm obviously in the minority so don't let me turn you off. If you're interested, go ahead and give it a try. I'd like someone to explain what I missed.(less)
Ruby McMillan's husband announces out of the blue that he's leaving one morning. She has her initial meltdown, of course, but then she starts getting...moreRuby McMillan's husband announces out of the blue that he's leaving one morning. She has her initial meltdown, of course, but then she starts getting on with her life. Walter has left their finances in a shambles and Ruby has to scramble to hold everything together as he sails off into the sunset with his new lover.
I had a blast reading this book. Even as I knew I should be feeling bad for Ruby, I would have to laugh as her neighbors kept her apprised of Walter's latest exploits via his Facebook poetry. Oh, it was bad. I wanted to slap his face just for the poetry! She tries her best, finds her new groove as a single woman, and has some encounters with some seriously steamy men. What's not to love? While I felt that Ruby moved on awfully fast, the author explains that by saying that Rational Ruby rationally chose Walter as her husband; she was never head-over-heels for him. It was still a little hard to buy. That aside, I enjoyed watching Ruby expand her limits and learn to believe in love.
The one thing I felt was really missing from the book was a recipe section. Ruby is a fabulous baker and it's just not fair to describe all her mouth-watering creations without giving me a chance to try them for myself!
If you're looking for a bit of escapism, Ruby and her kids and friends definitely fit the bill. Give this a try when you need a pick-me-up.
Thanks to the publicist for sending me a copy for review.(less)
Violet Turner owns a vintage clothing shop in Madison, Wisconsin. She's on her own after her rocky marriage ended and she likes it that way. She's alw...moreViolet Turner owns a vintage clothing shop in Madison, Wisconsin. She's on her own after her rocky marriage ended and she likes it that way. She's always dreamed of owning a shop like this and she's happy enough.
Then she finds out that she's being evicted from her building, a good friend asks her to hire a pregnant teenager, and several of her customers' lives are falling apart at the seams as well. Will this circle of friends get each other through these tough times?
I did enjoy this a lot, I just had a good idea where it was going from the beginning.
I did like all of the characters and the strong stances they took. They've made mistakes in the past but they've learned from them. They're going to live life on their terms now. I think women need to be reminded to do that from time to time. April, the pregnant teen, has had a pretty tough life but she's doing the best she can. Amithi's marriage is disintegrating and she's questioning her whole life. Betsy is a do-gooder who's trying to get them all straightened out. Violet is the main character and I liked her a lot. She's caring, pretty spunky, and trying to keep her business afloat. I especially liked her taste in clothes!
I wanted so badly to visit this shop, it was ridiculous! I do actually have a taste for vintage clothes but you would never know it to look at my usual uniform of jeans and tees. I just don't have the patience to dig through all the junk to find the treasure. I need to find a store like this where someone like Violet has done the digging for me! I loved reading the descriptions of the items in the store.
This was a fun read with a good reminder added in. It was a tad predictable but that can be comforting at times. If you're interested, you should definitely give it a try. It's worth picking up for the cover alone!
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.(less)
Renée is the concierge of a very upscale Parisian apartment building. To the families who reside there, she is the very embodiment of all that a conci...moreRenée is the concierge of a very upscale Parisian apartment building. To the families who reside there, she is the very embodiment of all that a concierge should be: she's overweight, she eats smelly food, watches tv all day, and has a spoiled cat. Most importantly, she doesn't have any thoughts about anything except perhaps her immediate duties and what she's cooking for dinner that night. Inwardly, she is a brilliant woman, a reader and thinker who stays in her position because it gives her time to read all the books she wants, exposing herself to different schools of philosophical thought. She also feels that being concierge is her place in the world and she should stay in it.
Young Paloma lives with her wealthy family in Renée's building. Paloma has decided that she is going to commit suicide and burn down her apartment when she turns thirteen next summer. She doesn't feel particularly suicidal but she's looked around at all the adults around her and realized that they're living a lie; they tell children they can grow up to be whatever they want and do whatever they want, but all she sees are adults who look trapped in lives that make them miserable. She's decided to get out of the rat race early.
I hesitated over this book for a long time. I'd somewhere picked up the idea that it involves a lot of Philosophy, which I read as Big, Boring Thoughts That Have No Practical Application to Anyone's Life. Is that bad? Probably. But I came across it in Will Schwalbe's memoir, The End of Your Life Book Club and it piqued my interest. When I needed a short book to help me finish up my own Books in Translation challenge this year, I finally got brave and gave this one a try.
I didn't love it but I definitely enjoyed it. There were philosophical sections that I had to skim as my eyes glazed over, but way less than I had feared. Even in those, I could pull out a few ideas that I really liked. I can't quote any of them, but I liked them.
I identified with Renée to a certain extent. She has almost a pathological need to keep up her crusty concierge appearance, which I did not relate to, but in reserving her true self for her close friends and family? That I get. Her life slowly changes through the book and I was happy to see it happening because I liked her a lot. She's terrified but she goes with it. We eventually learn why she has lived her life the way she has and it broke my heart. I was not at all happy with the ending of the book, but I can see why it had to happen that way.
I liked Paloma too but I couldn't help feeling like she just needed to get out of her own head a little more. Easy for me to say, I know. She just loved wallowing in Big Ideas and looking down on her family (who were pretty awful, at least from her point of view). She's super-intelligent but she needed some kid time. Unfortunately, most of the kids her age are out shopping or listening to music or doing drugs or other things that she has no interest in, so that leaves her with herself for company and too much time in her own head.
The translation by Alison Anderson seemed to be very well done.
If you've been hesitating to read this one, go ahead and give it a try. There is some philosophy but I mostly saw it as a story of two lonely people slowly changing their lives. And that's a story I enjoyed.(less)
Lieutenant Eve Dallas is assigned to lead a high-profile murder investigation into the death of a Senator's granddaughter. But the granddaughter was a...moreLieutenant Eve Dallas is assigned to lead a high-profile murder investigation into the death of a Senator's granddaughter. But the granddaughter was a "licensed companion," i.e. prostitute, and she was murdered in a pretty graphic way. Working mostly alone, Dallas must find the murderer before he kills again.
I had such a love/hate relationship with this book at times. Mostly, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. But then Roarke, the drop-dead gorgeous bazillionaire and number 1 suspect (with an Irish accent, no less!), would do something that was supposed to be all hot and dominating, I assume, and irritate the absolute hell out of me. As a completely made-up example, let me offer this: "No, I'm not trying to seduce you right now, Lieutenant. When I do decide to seduce you, I won't be trying, I'll be doing it. And you'll like it more than you've ever liked anything in your life." Again, that is completely my own fabrication but it is true to how I perceived Roarke. I was hoping Eve would kick him in the balls a few times, just to bring his ego down to size. Either he got better as the book progressed or I resigned myself to him, but either way it didn't bother me as much by the end. I actually liked him a lot when he gave all that crap a rest.
Roarke's ego aside, I have to admit that I couldn't wait to get in my car and continue listening to this book. I don't really read romance novels, I guess because I assume it's all "heaving bosoms," etc. and my sense of humor would get in the way of all that mess. So I started this with some trepidation. I was hooked in the first half-hour.
I really liked Eve Dallas. She's a strong loner who obviously has a pretty messed-up past. She's a woman in a man's world, even in the near future of 2058, but she's doing well for herself. She refuses to be intimidated by the Senator or her own superiors. She is investigating this murder her way and she knows she'll crack it if they'll just leave her alone.
I kind of guessed whodunnit pretty early on. There was much more to it than I expected though and I was honestly shocked when everything was revealed. I do wonder if the narrator may have unconsciously clued me in a little. One voice was pretty creepy with no real reason and that was the person I zeroed in on.
I did love Susan Ericksen's narration. Her characters had voices that were just distinct enough that I could easily keep track of who was speaking without being distracting. I would definitely listen to more books she's narrated.
I found the very, very end to be kind of silly and a little weak. Luckily that was short and followed some pretty intense action.
There was some pretty graphic violence toward women and girls in this book. If that's a trigger for you, you should stay away. It's never gratuitous or presented as anything other than sick and disgusting, but it is definitely there.
Otherwise, I recommend this if you think you can overlook Roarke's raging ego. Eve is a strong heroine and the resolution was a surprise. I'll be continuing the series on audio.(less)
If you've read Cinder, you know where it leaves off. If not, I won't spoil it for you. So let's just say that Cinder's story arc continues. Meanwhile,...moreIf you've read Cinder, you know where it leaves off. If not, I won't spoil it for you. So let's just say that Cinder's story arc continues. Meanwhile, in France...
Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing and has been for about two weeks. Scarlet is worried sick but doesn't know where to start looking for her. None of the villagers are willing to help because they think eccentric Grandma has just finally gone off the deep end and wandered away. A new street fighter shows up in town and he seems to know something about Grandma's disappearance. But can Scarlet trust him?
I didn't like this quite as much as Cinder but I definitely still enjoyed it. By introducing Scarlet, Marissa Meyer managed to avoid my common complaint that the second book in a series is just filler. Had she stayed exclusively with Cinder's story, I'd probably be complaining. By shifting the focus, she fills in a lot of back story without a big info dump and we learn everything in a way that feels very natural. Hats off for that one! It's apparently a hard thing to do.
My problem was with Scarlet herself. She was angry and yelling for at least 85% of the book. At least it felt that way. If she wasn't yelling, she was thinking about yelling, and very occasionally she was crying. The girl goes through a lot of stress, so to a point it felt authentic. But after that point, I wanted Scarlet to grow emotionally and feel something other than anger or sadness. That's a little unfair but not completely so. I'm not sure if that's how the author wrote her or if that was just the narrator's interpretation. And while I'm picking on that end of things, it irritated me that Scarlet was the only character in the book with an accent. There are other French people who don't have accents. I guess it was a way to remind me that this was Scarlet and not Cinder speaking? I don't know but it bothered me.
I really liked the other new characters though. I liked Wolf, the street fighter, a lot. I thought I had him figured out but I was never entirely sure of where he stood or what was going on with him. Even narcissistic Thorne won me over. He is what he is. I appreciate that kind of self-honesty. There are hints that there are bigger things to be seen from him, but right now, we're good.
As for poor Emperor Kai--I just want to tell him that everything's going to be okay, even though I have no idea at this point if it will be or not. He has no idea what's going on with Cinder. He has no idea if his emotions for her are real or if he's been manipulated. But while he's dealing with his own personal pain and confusion, he's doing his best for his people, even at great personal cost to himself. I really, really like this guy.
Other than Scarlet's...anger issues...I still like Rebecca Soler's narration. Her voice is age-appropriate and she gives the characters life and emotion. I'll keep listening to the series on audio, at least for one more book. I may have to switch to print if Scarlet stays this shrill though.
I highly recommend this one for anyone looking for a very different take on some classic fairy tales. This series gets huge points for originality.(less)
Ruby and Easter Quillby are suddenly orphans. Their mom has died of an overdose and their dad gave up his parental rights years ago. They're doing pre...moreRuby and Easter Quillby are suddenly orphans. Their mom has died of an overdose and their dad gave up his parental rights years ago. They're doing pretty well in a foster home though, happy as long as they have each other. But one day their dad, Wade, shows up. He wants his daughters back. The girls' caretaker explains that he'll have to go through the legal system if he really wants them. Wade doesn't understand why he'd have to do that when he's their father, so he just takes them one night. Unfortunately, he's also taken quite a bit of money he happened to "find." As the little family is fleeing from the police for the kidnapping, they're also running from a hit man with a personal grudge, set on getting back the money and hoping to hurt Wade in the process.
Talk about shades of gray! The whole book just drifts around in this nebulous area that left me unsure as to what the right thing to do and the best thing to do really were. I don't think they were ever the same thing. Why should these girls be left in a system that rarely seems to turn out well for anyone when they have a father who wants them back? But can he be trusted not to walk away again? I just couldn't make up my mind about anything. This would be an excellent choice for a book group.
The little family broke my heart in so many ways. I loved Easter's wise, worldly voice but I hated that she was so jaded and only 12 years old. She adored her younger sister Ruby and took excellent care of her. She doesn't know the best thing for them either. She's terrified of being separated from her sister but she can't bring herself to trust the dad she barely knows. Ruby is still pretty innocent but that brings its own heartbreak. She's wide open to being hurt and Easter wants to protect her from that. Sometimes Wade was the saddest character of all. He knows he's messed up in the past but he's trying so hard to make it right. He doesn't see how he's making things worse with this kidnapping and theft. He finds himself in situations he's not even remotely equipped to handle and he knows it but he tries to step up for his daughters. One scene in particular when he stands up for Easter in the only way he knows how just made my chest ache.
The girls also have a court-appointed guardian ad litem who is afraid that the kidnapping is going to become secondary to the theft. There are an awful lot of people looking for that money but he's the only one looking for them. He's an ex-cop who has a big mistake to atone for and he sees this as his chance. I was so glad he was out there, a sort of guardian angel for the Quillby sisters. He struggles with the right thing to do as well. He's a divorced dad who doesn't see his daughter as often as he would like so he can relate a bit to what Wade's going through.
I hated the sections that were told from the hit man's point of view. I was never entirely clear what caused him to hate Wade so much. One incident between them in the past is briefly described but I was still pretty clueless. It's possible that I read it too fast or that it's explained better in the finished book (I had an advanced copy).
This isn't a comfortable book by any means, but it's well-written with characters I was surprised to love so much in so few pages. I highly recommend it.
Thanks to the publisher for allowing me to download a copy for review.(less)