This was more of a transitional book, wrapping up a lot of events and details from the previous book, Dead and Gone. There is less action here and mor...moreThis was more of a transitional book, wrapping up a lot of events and details from the previous book, Dead and Gone. There is less action here and more exploration into family issues for Sookie with Jason and her cousin Hadley's child, plus her fairy side of the family. We also learn more about Bill's family, Eric's maker and even Sam.
I felt like the plot was hinting at latent attraction between Sookie and Sam, but in the end, that thread went nowhere. Alcide is brought back here in a plot that seemed a little out of place.
Dead in the Family isn't the best work in the series by far, but I did enjoy the progression of characters and seeing Sookie make good decisions rather than being the victim. It ended a bit abruptly; I was hoping for a little more.
I listened to the audio version. The narrator is fantastic as Sookie, and decent for most of the other characters, although the tone of voice for Eric and Pam bothered me. There are so many characters in this series, I think it would be difficult to find one narrator who could do a great job with so many different voices. (less)
This was a fast, fun jewel-thief caper. I don't think the cover art matches the tone of the story at all; it would have worked better with a noir-ish...moreThis was a fast, fun jewel-thief caper. I don't think the cover art matches the tone of the story at all; it would have worked better with a noir-ish European scene. I don't get who this shirtless dude is supposed to be. I pass right by books like this in the store all the time, but I received this e-book for free, and I'm glad I gave it a chance. This is more of a popular fiction type mystery with hints of romance. However, there is a pretty graphic sex scene toward the end. It seemed overly detailed compared to the rest of the story, although I do not usually read romance and maybe this is how detailed it gets these days. If you enjoy mysteries with a sassy female lead, this is a good option for you.(less)
This is not my usual genre, and I was ready to give this a 2 or 3 star review. Like a lot of the other commenters, this book surprised me! I like to r...moreThis is not my usual genre, and I was ready to give this a 2 or 3 star review. Like a lot of the other commenters, this book surprised me! I like to read widely and Susan Elizabeth Phillips' name is frequently mentioned as an example of fun contemporary romance. I can definitely see the appeal. Match Me If You Can is light and brisk. Annabelle is a clever woman, and although quirky, she isn't the tripping mess seen in a lot of light women's fiction (specifically chick-flick movies where the women can barely stand up straight because of their oh-so-cute clumsiness). What Annabelle lacks in poise, she makes up for in resourcefulness, and she's a genuinely likable character.
Annabelle inheirits her grandmother's Chicago matchmaking business, and instead of continuing with homespun elderly match-ups, she attempts to reinvent the business into high-end executive matchmaking. Her first big client is a sports agent named Heath, who apparently is featured in an earlier book of this series (the "series" features related characters, but not the same character with varying plot line, so it's not necessary to have read earlier books). Heath is a workaholic success-fiend who has only enough time to fit in 20 minute dates with pre-selected women. Annabelle manages to hook him with a knockout first client, who unknown to him, is already married and is only playing part as bait-and-switch to get him to sign on. Heath is so impressed by Annabelle, or at least impressed by her tenacity since he can tell she's a bit of a trainwreck, he insists she accompany him on all initial meetings with new matches. I think you know where this is going...
The story flips point of view between Annabelle, Health and a competitor matchmaker named Portia. That threw me for a loop since a third character POV seemed uneccessasary (I was already surprised we would hear some of the story from Heath). It was almost a guilty pleasure to hear from Heath's side of the story, it rounded it out in a way that I think worked, when it doesn't always work in books that switch between characters.
I had more fun with this book than I expected. Lots of funny moments, and in places where plot could have veered into ridiculous territory, introspective narrative and realistic conversations among characters helped smooth out the story. Sure, a few aspects are more book-reality than actual-reality, but that's the fun of reading.
My only real issue is related to the audiobook version. I was not a fan of the voice acting, particularly the male voices. Heath sounded dated, and at least 20 years older than his age of 34. I know 34-year-old guys and not a single one sounds like this. It literally sounded like a 50-something guy and I found it hard to imagine him even remotely his age. While this is the perfect type of book to listen to, I had trouble enjoying the romantic aspects because of Heath's characterization. Annabelle was pretty great, though. (less)
Moonglass is an example of an excellent stand-alone contemporary young adult novel. On the surface, it seems like another budding romance story about...moreMoonglass is an example of an excellent stand-alone contemporary young adult novel. On the surface, it seems like another budding romance story about a teenager trying to find herself. What makes Moonglass special is the subtle and unexpected turns the story takes.
Anna's mother passed away when she was 7, and she and her dad have a comfortable but not very intimate relationship. I immediately envisoned her father as a lifeguard version of Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights. The two move further south on the California coast when her father accepts a position managing a beach and a bunch of lifeguards. Their cottage sits directly on the beach, which sounds fabulous. Anna befriends the lifeguards, who her father pre-warned to stay away from his daughter. There's a little rebellious side to Anna, and it's nice to see this balanced with her rather responsible life. Anna learns this beach was where her father and mother first met, and more of the story of what happened to her mother unfolds as she questions the life her mother led there.
The story progresses over the last few days of summer into Anna's first sememster at her new high school. She makes an unlikely friend who could have been a one-note L.A. socialite, but turns out to demonstrate great friendship and dedication to Anna as she sorts through another stage of grief at losing her mother.
I loved how this story felt immediately engaging. I could easily envision the beach, the cottages and all the characters. It felt like a familiar story, but not at all cliche. Anna's reflection on losing her mother is moving without feeling overly heavy for the rest of the story. This is the author's debut novel - what an amazing job!(less)
The less you know going into this book, the more of an impact it will have. I also suggest skipping the handwritten looking prologue prior to the firs...moreThe less you know going into this book, the more of an impact it will have. I also suggest skipping the handwritten looking prologue prior to the first chapter, and I'll go into why later.
Sixteen-year-old Mara Dyer survives a building collapse, but three of her friends are killed. She wakes up in the hospital unable to remember what happened. Shaken to the core, Mara is diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and as a means of moving on with her life, she convinces her family to relocate for a fresh start. Her father makes a job connection with a law firm in Florida, so they move from Rhode Island to Miami in the middle of the school year.
Mara experiences hallucinations of her deceased friends on a daily basis. Some visions seem to be triggered by stress, and other times she will blank out for minutes to hours, losing all concept of time. She is inconsistent with taking her prescription medication which lends to rather trippy storytelling. At night, she dreams in fragments, and finally starts piecing together why she and her friends went to an abandoned building at night and what happened between then and the collapse.
Mara is withdrawn but not afraid to speak her mind when provoked. Right away as the new girl at her small private school, Mara draws the attention of another loner, a rich kid named Noah Shaw who's a transplant from England. Everyone warns Mara that Noah is a player and will use any girl he meets. He's a cocky alpha male who delights in Mara's resistance to his advances. As much as she hates him, she also finds herself drawn to him.
I do have a few issues. I loved the book when I thought it was just Mara's PTSD giving her hallucinations. The truth of what happened to Mara in the building collapse left me a little underwhelmed. Also, her relationship with Noah felt very Edward and Bella at times, with him possessively declaring she was meant for him and belonged with him. Even though Mara is far more feisty than Bella, I wish there had been more resolution to all the rumors that Noah slept with girls and ditched them. Noah tells her it's not true, but it doesn't feel convincing. Events in the last 2/3 of the book really upend the story and I'm not sure I felt like it meshed together. Instead of resolving, the story adds more twists and sets up immediately for a sequel.
The first line of the scrawled note prologue is compelling: "My name is not Mara Dyer, but my lawyer said I had to choose something." Awesome right? This is never touched on in the book. She is not personally involved in a court case, her father is a lawyer but not representing her in any way, and it is never mentioned that she changed her name. This is a really cool intro, but it left me puzzled as to its relevance. I really had no idea this would be a paranormal romance until mid-way through the book. I was hoping for more of a contemporary thriller with exploration of real-life PTSD. Overall, I have mixed feelings on this, although it was a real page-turner and kept me guessing most of the way through.(less)
Making Waves is a fun little caper involving Juli, the conventional woman trying to find herself, who's thrown on a boat with disenfranchised corporat...moreMaking Waves is a fun little caper involving Juli, the conventional woman trying to find herself, who's thrown on a boat with disenfranchised corporate worker bees turned pirates. Yup, pirates! Alex and three of his coworkers decide to take control of their future after a lay-off which drained their pensions after years of service to a company who couldn't care less. They charter a boat and plan to exploit their employer, a shipping merchant, by stealing valuable material in a heist to make up for their lost wages. Juli ends up on their boat after mistakenly boarding what she thought was a day tour while heavily doped up on seasickness medicine. Juli is thrilled to play the part of castaway, she sees it all as an adventure, while the crew thinks she must be some sort of spy.
Juli and Alex meet prior to the pirate mission at the resort that both are (supposedly) vacationing. Juli was asked to spread the ashes of her late uncle in the ocean, but the story hints that Juli is hiding something. Alex is distracted from the heist because of sexual tension with Juli. The two spend a lot of time almost getting together, but there are definitely some steamy scenes - FYI!
The characters frequently crack jokes, and the playful tone detracts from some of the implausibility of the plot. Although maybe it's not a stretch in this economy to believe scorned employees would commit seaside crime in an act of revenge.(less)
The strong points: Carlos Fuentes is another great character who works best when he's devilishly smart-mouthed. His threats of old gang life seemed re...moreThe strong points: Carlos Fuentes is another great character who works best when he's devilishly smart-mouthed. His threats of old gang life seemed realistic, as well as his after school program for delinquent kids. I liked that Alex and Brittany from Perfect Chemistry appear in a sub-story that overall doesn't feel too forced.
Weaker points: I didn't mesh with Kiara at all, the girl whose POV alternates by chapter with Carlos. Her family was strangely lenient, her mother quite clueless, and ... I just wanted a more dynamic character I suppose.
This is an enjoyable read if you liked Perfect Chemistry. The author is at her best writing the Fuentes brothers; it's the other characters that sometimes make the story sluggish.(less)
This is a fun, light read if you like contemporary romance with a side of mystery. It's not as slapstick as the Stephanie Plum books, but it leans tow...moreThis is a fun, light read if you like contemporary romance with a side of mystery. It's not as slapstick as the Stephanie Plum books, but it leans toward funny rather than serious. I know it's pretty standard to have POV switches from the main character to the male "hero" in romance, but I found his thoughts a little distracting. I wished it was all from her point of view. Still a fun read.(less)
I received this book for free recently, and in the back of my mind I remembered hearing really mixed reviews. I decided to skip spoilers and read it a...moreI received this book for free recently, and in the back of my mind I remembered hearing really mixed reviews. I decided to skip spoilers and read it anyway. The writing itself is fine. I wondered what all the hate was about, and then little things started bothering me. Nora is learning about relationships and sex ed in Biology class--wouldn't that be in health class? And possibly not taught by a sports team coach? The teacher says something to the effect of "human sexuality naturally begins with a bit of sleuthing." What??? "Now let's sleuth with your partner and get to know them." Upon which Nora and the mysterious new boy Patch are paired and he starts acting super creepy.
All that is trivial really, but what started to concern me is Patch, aka The Bad Boy. Now, I love a good bad boy. But something all "good" bad boys seem to have is a flash of decency. He's a jerk but he saves a kitten (Save the Cat, anyone?). Patch is mysterious, but in a creepy way. He latches on to Nora in Biology class where he essentially sexually harasses her in front of the class. When Nora tells the teacher/coach she feels uncomfortable with Patch as her lab partner (given how he just teased her in front of the whole class) the teacher ignores her protest and asks her to tutor him after school. While Nora is annoyed by this, it felt really irresponsible for a teacher to pair a female student who was harassed in class WITH her harasser. Now, maybe this sounds overly-sensitive, but that sort of undertone is concerning. Frequently the story finds Nora alone and defenseless with an older, mysterious bad boy who leers at her and promises to rile her up sexually (although this is often stated vaguely). I think it's intended to be playful, but all I got was a creepy slasher fic vibe. Nora feels like a victim here, and that's a tough sell if the narration doesn't seem to get it.
I really like Nora's best friend Vee. Their interactions feel natural and are frequently funny, which is why I wouldn't call this book poorly written. But it is incredibly frustrating that Vee is the voice of reason that no one seems to listen to. Vee warns Nora repeatedly about Patch, and Nora's response is usually something like, "Yeah you're probably right," followed by riding off with Patch on his motorcycle and then finding herself alone with him in an empty house on the edge of town.
What's most troubling for me, and is probably a similar issue many readers have with Twilight, is that Patch/Edward is the "hero" we're supposed to fall for, but both have possessive, stalker-ish behavior. When that behavior goes unchecked, it weakens the female character. Having Nora say she isn't going to put up with it, and then she repeatedly puts herself in situations where she must trust Patch or be alone with him, I lost a bit of faith in Nora's character, and in the overall storytelling. At least Edward saves Bella a bunch of times in Twilight; but simply being an Immortal Hottie is not enough to detract from predatory behavior. I just wish Patch had more redeeming moments--or just one even--earlier on in the book. Overall, what message is this sending to young readers? The fantasy aspects of this book--a fallen angel returning to earth and all the mythology--I'm fine with. It's the surrounding character traits and some of the invented conflict that I had trouble with. I ended up skimming the end to find a little closure. (less)
I had a hard time getting started with this book, but after setting it aside and coming back, I liked it. I've enjoyed the Heather Wells series so far...moreI had a hard time getting started with this book, but after setting it aside and coming back, I liked it. I've enjoyed the Heather Wells series so far--it's Meg Cabot at her best: writing funny, silly, and endearing characters.
Heather Wells--former teen pop star and current residence hall director at a fictional NYC university--is now engaged to Cooper, her off-campus landlord and brother to her ex, another former teen pop star Jordan Cartwright. In this installment, Heather and Cooper haven't yet spilled about their engagement, and Heather is looking forward to a quiet summer maintaining the residence hall while students are on break. Only ex-bf Jordan's wife Tania Trace--a current pop sensation--needs a new locale for her teen rock camp after a series of threats has her scared for her life. I guess Tania didn't pay attention to the first three books where students disappeared or died in "death dorm." So, the teen rock camp moves to Heather's hall, along with the reality show filming Tania and Jordan's life.
Tania has a stalker, and of course, as the series dictates, someone ends up missing or dead. Heather knows the school inside and out, and provides her plucky expertise to the police. Adding a bit more depth to this story, Heather has a health concern, and the typically vapid Tania has more to her backstory than being a spoiled pop star. Still, it's mostly fun and cozy-style mystery solving here. I'd like to see the next book dive a little deeper into Heather and Cooper's relationship, and maybe throw a wrench in there. I hear Meg Cabot is already at work on #5.(less)
This was my first Jennifer Crusie book, which I picked up after hearing so much praise about her take on contemporary romance. I have to agree--she de...moreThis was my first Jennifer Crusie book, which I picked up after hearing so much praise about her take on contemporary romance. I have to agree--she delivers. I really liked this group of friends and how they dissected each other's relationships. The characters are explored so well, I could see how well-rounded and flawed they were, making this story so much more engaging than other bestsellers in romance. This is a good example of taking a standard romance and adding depth enough to transcend the label. Plus, it was fun, and witty and I love a whip-smart character who still needs to learn a little along the way.
The issues I have with this book are minor: I was annoyed how the main character and her friend's constantly referred to a guy as "the beast." It just felt weird. There is a sort of fairy tale theme going on, not too heavy-handed, so I think that was meant to fit in with the theme. I also am not a huge fan of too many character points-of-view. These were all handled well, alternating in scenes, but I just didn't care enough about the "villians" POV enough to read from their perspective. Fortunately, those scenes were few, and for the most part, they did add to the story.(less)
I'll definitely read more of Kristan Higgins' books after this one. I love her take on romance, as I'm not always a fan of the multi-POV hero/heroine...moreI'll definitely read more of Kristan Higgins' books after this one. I love her take on romance, as I'm not always a fan of the multi-POV hero/heroine format, so this story is told in first person from one character point of view. The characters are fully developed, and with so much personality. It's a fun book, but also goes a little deeper. While I have a few minor writerly-nitpicks, I found this contemporary romance refreshing, with more of an updated feel than what I see with some other romance writers. Sometimes I read about a character my age, but they seem more like someone from my age group a generation ago; the way 20s & 30-somethings relate now, is not the same as it was 20 years ago. I think this author gets that and I appreciated it. (less)