A breezy read, but seriously, do women really need to get rescued from controlling mothers all the time? This is the second book I've read by this aut...moreA breezy read, but seriously, do women really need to get rescued from controlling mothers all the time? This is the second book I've read by this author, and both of them have a woman tied to a place for some inexplicable reason, and she needs a man to crowbar her out of her sheltered life. Seriously? Is that what they do in the South?
This is a lovely little magical realism story with a stranger showing up in a woman's closet and another woman who is followed by books all her life, like a magical librarian is watching over her. Entirely predicable (must have a happy ending) but well-written.
Can't recommend it to guys, unless they want to know what women secretly wish for, but it's fine for a slightly too-sweet southern fantasy.(less)
This is a wonderful book, one that has held up well over the decades. There's a little Holly Golightly aspect to the main character, but with a dose o...moreThis is a wonderful book, one that has held up well over the decades. There's a little Holly Golightly aspect to the main character, but with a dose of dark realism that broods under her flightiness.
The first part sets up the characters, the second sets up the drama, and the third part, the last 50 pages or so, make the book absolutely wonderful. Maybe because it reminds me of my wife, but maybe because it's just a compelling read.
So I read this as a little a palate-cleanser between books. I've read the other two books she's got out, and they are all pretty much the same. Southe...moreSo I read this as a little a palate-cleanser between books. I've read the other two books she's got out, and they are all pretty much the same. Southern girl trapped in her little Carolina town by tradition or blood or whatever, too scared to move or change until some guy comes along and breaks the spell. Plot-wise, it's a yawner, but the story moves along just fine. You won't feel smarter after reading it, but you probably won't feel stupider, either. It is a pleasant-enough way to put words across your eyeballs and into your brain as anything.
All this author's books have a nice narrative to them, don't require you to think too hard, and are largely inoffensive. I mean, come on, you know a 30-year old virgin is gonna end up in the sack with the guy and it will solve all her problems. You know the characters are gonna be two-dimensional, and that the whole point of the story is that all the magic the characters use to hide behind will not be effective against love. But you're gonna read it because you want to see how the author weaves all the stereotypes into a working story.
All the characters have some power. One is compelled to give people gifts right before they need them. Another gives haircuts that prevent mechanics from cheating you. A temperamental apple tree with apples that show you the most important event of your life. Apparently the whole "everyday magic" has been done better by other authors, but this isn't really a genre I'm likely to read much of. This story, and the others she's written, reinforces all my stereotypes of the southern novel, where there is a supernatural tinge to everything, but mostly because the people living there are too stupid to look outside their town to experience life. Everybody has a superpower in these books, which means nobody has a superpower. The only reason the main characters have any actual magic is because all the natives think they do.
The books are a little sad (for me) because the solution to the main character's problems is usually to find a good man and everything will be better. But if you are ok with that (after all, that's what's supposed to happen in these books), the story is inoffensive and zips along in a predictable way.
If it were a movie, it would be every Meg Ryan movie ever made. (less)
Read the other reviews for synopses. Here's my impressions:
1) This story is a great follow-up to the first novel. There is character growth, relations...moreRead the other reviews for synopses. Here's my impressions:
1) This story is a great follow-up to the first novel. There is character growth, relationship growth and great action. Apparently, eating all those brains, in addition to keeping you alive, makes you smarter. Angel grows in confidence, as you would expect from anyone who survived a life-changing experience. She still has a lot of self-doubt, but sees that she has support from her coworkers and friends and carries on. She questions her relationship with Marcus but doesn't just dump him or do anything too stupid as she would have done in the past. And she knows how to use her zombie superpowers better.
2) Rowland adds to and explains the whole zombie situation really well. While it is sort of "True Blood" explanation, it makes sense and gives zombies a reason to exist in real life, sort of like the vampires in the Sookie Stackhouse series. I think the way the story ends offers an interesting peek into the traditional zombie story and definitely sets up book three.
3) I really hope there will only be three books in this series. As well-written as the stories are, I'd hate for them to turn into another franchise. Most series are good for three or four books, and then they stop being interesting, usually because the author runs out of ways for the characters to grow or plausible plots (I mean, how many weird murders can one town have before you run out of citizens?) I can see an epic zombie battle for the next book, but what do you do after that? (less)
I really wanted to like this book. After the last one, where Pepper was just a puppet of the author, this story showed a little growth in her relation...moreI really wanted to like this book. After the last one, where Pepper was just a puppet of the author, this story showed a little growth in her relationship with Quinn. The plot was good, the ghost aspect was interesting, the introduction of Pepper's parents, etc was good. But the bad guy? No way. Even with Pepper's propensity to do exactly the wrong thing and trust the wrong people, this one was just too weird.
There was a lot to like about this book, and I thought this was a mostly a good follow-up to the previous book, but did not like the ending. Just a little too out there.
If you like this series, go ahead and read this book. It's not bad enough to want to quit reading the series, but Daniels is just phoning it in now. (less)
This was a pleasant little cozy, and great fun to read. I would have rated it higher, except I just couldn't image that an out-of-town maid-of-honor w...moreThis was a pleasant little cozy, and great fun to read. I would have rated it higher, except I just couldn't image that an out-of-town maid-of-honor was expected to do all sorts of tasks for the brides. Maybe that's a Yorktown thing, but it is not anything I've ever witnessed. However, as a plot device, it kept a few of the recurring gags going, even as it beggared disbelief.
I believe I've read another of these stories, and they are well crafted if a bit silly. If you enjoy cozies with screwball romance, read this.(less)
My lovely wife, the librarian, picked up this audio book (on the advice of a patron) for a long car trip. While I've read some chick-lit that my wife...moreMy lovely wife, the librarian, picked up this audio book (on the advice of a patron) for a long car trip. While I've read some chick-lit that my wife has brought home, I haven't read or listened to any romances, and most historical fiction does not capture my interest. I can safely say that I will not be reading anymore from this author.
Where to begin? The story begins as a basic chick-lit story, then turns into a historical romance, except that none of the social conventions are kept and none of the speech or mannerisms of that time are honored. For someone who allegedly knew some history, the author seems to have a "nudge-nudge-wink-wink" attitude for these overly-long, anachronistic period parts of the book.
One of the main characters is supposed to be a spy who has foiled the French for 10 years. So he knows a bit about spying, you'd think. Yet he gets in long romantic interludes while burgling a bad guy's apartment. No "grab the goods and we'll talk later" professional spy stuff. One look at the heroine and he goes all Spy School for Dummies on us, choosing to cop a feel instead of grabbing the papers.
I figured out who the titular character was in the first quarter of the book. You will, too. So if that's all you want to find out, you can stop reading. You're right.
If you want to see what horror the author can unleash on several genres in one mish-mash of a book, read on. You'll get plenty of exercise rolling your eyes at clumsy implementations of the basic formulaic pieces of chick-lit/romance/historical fiction. That's the only reason I actually finished this book.
I kept thinking that maybe the author was trying for irony. If she was, she failed at that. The story also failed as chick-lit, because the only semi-sympathetic character in the modern part of the book only shows up in a few chapters. The romance was too over-the-top, the historical bits were straight out of a 1930s Hollywood movie. The whole espionage/spy aspect was a farce. Yeah, don't bother with this one. (less)
My wife, the librarian, has brought home all the Phryne Fisher books and I, the dutiful husband, have read them all. After the last one, Dead Man's Ch...moreMy wife, the librarian, has brought home all the Phryne Fisher books and I, the dutiful husband, have read them all. After the last one, Dead Man's Chest, Greenwood gets back on her game with a fairly interesting story. After some boring storytelling in her last Corinna Chapman book and her dreadful Egyptian story, she is back to what appears to be her favorite character.
As Phryne gets a little older, she maintains her style and sense of adventure, but has also been adding strays to her household, and seems to be behaving herself in front of the children. We actually see Phryne despair a bit, but is soon brought back to herself by Lin Chung.
Greenwood explores some uncomfortable territory here, with prostitution, homosexuality, child sex slaves and women's abuse. She walks a fine line between pointing out historically bad treatment of unwed pregnant women and the seamier sides of life with Phyne's calculated casual attitudes towards social mores.
I get the impression that these topics are gaining more prominence in Greenwood's life and are making their way into her stories as social commentaries. I don't mind that so much, but instead of being charmed by Greenwood's awkward libidinous narratives, I see an agenda, and nothing ruins a good series more than an overt agenda.
I've already given up on the Chapman series, and wish I could unread the Egyptian book, so I'm a little worried about where any future Phryne Fisher books may go. (less)
I read the Dead-End Job mysteries because the author is a fellow St. Louisan and a very funny writer. She used to be a columnist for the St. Louis Pos...moreI read the Dead-End Job mysteries because the author is a fellow St. Louisan and a very funny writer. She used to be a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and lived in my neighborhood in the late 80s. She was always able to capture the flavor of a town and give you an idea of what life is like there.
Carl Hiassen and Dave Barry have been writing about Southern Florida and its characters and politics for years, so the plot dreamed up in this one doesn't seem too far off the map. As usual, no plot synopses from me, but the story, with about 4 different plots and subplots, all comes together, a little bruised and battered, but resolved.
If you are a fan of this series, you do want to read this. If you haven't read any of these, this is a pretty good story, but you won't believe the backstory until you read the earlier books. (less)
My wife, the librarian, picked up this audio book for a trip to Chicago.
It is an epistolary novel, told in the form of a series of letters, about a y...moreMy wife, the librarian, picked up this audio book for a trip to Chicago.
It is an epistolary novel, told in the form of a series of letters, about a young, successful author looking for her next story in the days after the close of WWII. A random letter from a person who bought one of her old books leads her to Guernsey, her next story, and love.
It is alternately cheery and grim, full of the promise of life after war, and recollections of both the good and horrifying things that happened during the war. It is at time overly sentimental, yet not unbelievable and not treacly.
The readers on this audiobook were wonderful, and were the main reason I enjoyed the book. I think if I would have read it in book form, I would have considered it a bit of chick-lit fluff. It was a delightful read, and I would recommend it for those long summer vacation drives. Some of the WWII horrors my be too intense for younger readers, but the audiobook was very well done.(less)
Another book my wife brought home. This one is by a St. Louis author, who manages to incorporate a lot of St. Louis factoids, foibles, legends and lan...moreAnother book my wife brought home. This one is by a St. Louis author, who manages to incorporate a lot of St. Louis factoids, foibles, legends and landmarks into a fairly predictable but fun read.
If you are from St. Louis, and read the Post-Dispatch, you will recognize some of the characters, even though the names have been changed; in some cases, the characters are an amalgamation of several people in the news in the past few years.
I'd definitely recommend it for people that like to identify strongly with the story setting, like a spunky, resourceful heroine and don't mind if they figure out whodunit two-thirds of the way through the book. The chapters are short, which makes it great for bedstand or bathroom reading, and compelling enough that you don't feel the need to put the book down.
If this book were food, it would be Prairie Farms Raspberry Sherbet. Not very heavy, not very complex, but refreshing. I'll probably see if the library has a couple more of these. (less)
This is the second Rachel Gold mystery I've read, and one of three in the local library. While I may not be in a hurry to read the next one, I will lo...moreThis is the second Rachel Gold mystery I've read, and one of three in the local library. While I may not be in a hurry to read the next one, I will look forward to it.
Like many popular mystery series, this has a strong female lead, a cast of off-beat friends, and a basic David-vs-Goliath story line. It's like going to a chain restaurant; you are there because you don't want surprises, you just want something predicable and comfortable.
While the book is formulaic with stock characters, I'm giving it 4 stars because the author does a good job of capturing a lot of St. Louis (my hometown) in the book. While many of the names of places and businesses are changed, Kahn makes it very easy to imagine where in St. Louis the action is taking place and what kind of people Rachel is dealing with.
After taking a week or so to finish the last tome, I breezed through this in a day. It's a straight-ahead mystery story, with a silly amount of action, some silly-girl thinking, and a predictable but enjoyable ending.
If you are a St. Louisan and a mystery fan, this is a very enjoyable book. If you don't care for reading much, this is smoothly and simply written. If you like weightier books, this may be a nice palate-cleanser between those NYT critically-acclaimed novels. (less)
I've read the first two books and really enjoyed them, although the second book seemed to spend most of its time setting up the third book.
This book...moreI've read the first two books and really enjoyed them, although the second book seemed to spend most of its time setting up the third book.
This book doesn't really go anywhere. It's sort of like reading "The Two Towers"; you have to read it to get to the next book, but nothing really happens. We have a bad guy that we never really identify, working on a zombie project we don't understand, and a climactic final scene that doesn't seem that dire.
Part of the problem is that all the cool zombie stuff is already out there: long-living, regenerating, living-among-us zombies have already been established. The second book had an evil corporation as the bad guy; we're not really sure who the bad guy is in this book.
Angel is growing as a person and getting her life together, and she gets to do some heroic stuff, but I get the idea that Rowland is just trying to have a zombie Sookie Stackhouse, and that's been done.
I don't know how many books Rowland is on contract for, but I'd like to think we'd get some clue as to why Angel is special and where Pietro's guys are getting all these brains. If there are a couple dozen zombies living in a Louisiana parish, there's a high demand for brains and it's not clear where they are all coming from.
If you liked the first two books, go ahead and read this, but it leaves so many unanswered questions on the table that it doesn't really make me want to read the next one. (less)
What's that? You're a classics fan, and will not brook any attempts to update your favorite stories? Then skip this book. If "O Brother, Where Art Tho...moreWhat's that? You're a classics fan, and will not brook any attempts to update your favorite stories? Then skip this book. If "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "Clueless" are abominations unto the Lord, then skip this book.
But if you understand that what makes Austen great is the stories, and not just her words, and understand that good stories can be told over and over again, and added to and made relevant to new audiences, and if you appreciate good writing, then pick this book up.
If you are not an Austen fan, and wondered what all the fuss was about, then pick this book up.
Trollope does a fine retelling of the Austen story, updating the social conventions and modern lifestyle while keeping the social challenges and tribulations of the Dashwood girls believable and understandable.
I appreciate Austen in the original, but since I haven't paid attention to Regency culture and laws, I don't always appreciate the nature of the problems that women faced in her stories. The obsession with marrying well and the opportunity for ruin doesn't always register with me in an age when not even a sex tape can keep a girl down.
And writing styles have changed. So, just like I enjoy Shakespeare, but find him difficult to read, I like Austen, but have trouble wading through 200-year old literature and still keeping some sense of the story.
Reading this book, like watching a film version of P&P or S&S, sets the plot in my mind, and encourages me to pick up the original. When I read the original, I can recognize the plot twists and story progression, which allows me to appreciate the other aspects of Austen's writing, especially the sometimes-snarky humor she does so well.