If you can get past the constant name dropping (brand names, that is) and put up with the main character's whiny tone until she starts to mature a bit...moreIf you can get past the constant name dropping (brand names, that is) and put up with the main character's whiny tone until she starts to mature a bit in the second half of the book, "Stork" by Wendy Delsol is a worthwhile read. The contemporary take on Nordic mythology is definitely a nice change in the vampire-flooded YA market. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions and figurative language, although the sarcasm went overboard at times. The characters are well done, too - Hulda was fascinating and mysterious without being too kooky, Monique provided a great contrast (and occasionally mirror) for Kat, and Jack was a refreshing male lead who actually shows some respect for women, a sense of responsibility and a little vulnerability. As I mentioned, Kat's character can be pretty annoying in the first part of the book - her self-centered attitude and snobbery go way beyond typical teen, if you ask me - but I did enjoy watching her grow and develop as she learned what being a Stork was all about and how her actions/decisions could affect those around her.(less)
I'm not yet finished with the book, but I just have to say, the constant mention of Jared "placing" or "tapping" or "drumming" his fingertips together...moreI'm not yet finished with the book, but I just have to say, the constant mention of Jared "placing" or "tapping" or "drumming" his fingertips together is unnecessary, obnoxious and liable to drive me crazy by the time I'm done reading! Olympia's repeated (and delusional) insistence that she is a "woman of the world" is also brought up far too often and serves no other point than to demonstrate her naiveté. It won't stop me from reading the rest of the book, but it's obvious the author is one of those romance writers with so many titles bearing her name (or one of several pen names) that her editors don't bother to give new manuscripts more than a cursory glance before sending it on to the printer.(less)
**spoiler alert** If you want to read/have read the rest of the Hathaways series by Lisa Kleypas, you'll want to read this one for the backstory, but...more**spoiler alert** If you want to read/have read the rest of the Hathaways series by Lisa Kleypas, you'll want to read this one for the backstory, but beyond that it doesn't have much to recommend it. Cam and Amelia spent almost half of the book in the bedroom for scenes that to describe as "steamy" is an understatement. Plus, Amelia is an annoying control freak who hunts down her older brother like a bloodhound because he should be responsible for the family, yet she refuses to let him or anyone else make any decisions about the family. She's also absurdly attached to being a "spinster," while Cam, swoon-worthy though he is, apparently doesn't understand that "no" means "no" when it comes to romance.
Then there's a few other chapters that ignored the main characters completely to focus on Win and Kev. It's nice to switch perspectives sometimes, but these sections felt more like excerpts from the second book rather than a continuation of the one I was reading. Leaving their relationship unresolved, as well as things like Cam and Kev's matching tattoos, essentially forces the reader to track down the second book as soon as the first is finished.
My biggest frustration, though, was Leo - his obnoxious attitude, over-the-top despondency and complete lack of concern for his family is bad enough, but then the reader learns that his fiance's ghost is apparently haunting him, too. The references to a face in the shadows or an unnatural chill in the air are thrown abruptly into the middle of the action, and although it's entirely obvious to the reader what's happening, there's not even a hint of resolution until the very last chapters.
The entire thing just seemed stilted and a bit haphazard to me - not what I've come to expect from Kleypas. Read this book if you must for to set the tone for the rest of the series, but I wouldn't really recommend it.(less)
**spoiler alert** I enjoyed this conclusion to the Hathaways series well enough. As the heroine, Beatrix is as delightful, innocent and charmingly fla...more**spoiler alert** I enjoyed this conclusion to the Hathaways series well enough. As the heroine, Beatrix is as delightful, innocent and charmingly flawed as ever. Her leading man, Christopher Phelan, isn't a dashing rogue like the others in this series, but rather a stubborn, brooding pessimist; a traumatized war hero who hates all the attention he's getting for saving a commanding officer; and the unwilling heir to an estate he has no idea how to run.
Both characters, as well as the rest of the returning Hathaways, are realistic and genuine, and the plot is decently contrived. I especially liked the part of the story told through the exchange of letters between Bea and Christopher. However, once the truth comes out that Bea, not Pru, wrote to Christopher, and the pair admit their feelings, the story falls flat. It's like the climax was in the middle of the book, and then the author prattled on for another 100 pages without saying much of anything. Yes, there are a few twists in the second half that I didn't see coming, but their placement felt like the author was trying desperately to hold the reader's attention until the final resolution. If someone had taken a red pen to the majority of the second half, tightened up the action, rearranged a few things, and just generally shortened the story, it would have been a much better read.(less)
**spoiler alert** When I pick up a book with a cover like this, I'm not really anticipating anything more than a light, predictable, happily-ever-afte...more**spoiler alert** When I pick up a book with a cover like this, I'm not really anticipating anything more than a light, predictable, happily-ever-after love story. "That Perfect Someone" by Johanna Lindsey contains all the elements I would expect, but a suspenseful plot and a few surprises set this book a notch above the typical paperback romance.
Initially, the reader doesn't know much more about Richard (as Jean Paul) than Julia does, and I found myself just as charmed, and curious about his past, as she was. I couldn't help snickering out loud as one fiasco after another throws Julia and Richard (as Jean Paul) together but keeps her from clearly seeing his face and recognizing him as her detested fiance. I have to say, when they each finally realize who the other is, their vehemence toward one another seems excessive but it makes a little more sense after learning about all their childhood confrontations. And of course, it doesn't take long for that anger to transition into another type of passion. As a result, the action gets pretty steamy in a couple of spots, which resulted in my four-star rating instead of five. They weren't long, but they still seemed superfluous and overly detailed. Plus, I don't care at all for those kind of scenes anyway.
As for the characters, they were pretty average on the whole: a feisty heroine; a mysterious, tall-dark-and-handsome hero, and a well-rounded cast of supporting characters. The antagonist was the most well-written. Milton Allen, the Earl of Manford and Richard's father, is entirely and appropriately despicable, an arrogant liar and greedy, selfish manipulator. As Julia said, "There was no room for pity for someone like him." And ooh, when justice was served generously in the final confrontation, I wanted to cheer!
I also enjoyed the voice of the narrator, Laural Merlington. Her range of tones and inflections, her careful accents when reading as Jean Paul, made the story even more interesting. Additionally, although I know this book is the tenth in a series, I didn't feel as if I was missing anything by having not read any of the previous volumes. Her vocal abilities help the transition between regular changes in points of view, too.
Julia and Richard's eventual plan to steal and destroy the contract that has bound them almost since birth is unexpected, daring and, even better, full of potential for things to go wrong - which of course they do. The classic scenario of "I love him/her but he/she doesn't love me back" isn't a surprise in a novel like this, but the added complication of the Earl's greed makes the story more intriguing, though. And the truth exposed just before the very end was truly astonishing. I honestly never saw it coming and it was a brilliant conclusion.(less)
"Fireside" was my first experience with author Susan Wiggs, and I have to say, I'm not impressed. Despite a good premise for the plot and a decent eff...more"Fireside" was my first experience with author Susan Wiggs, and I have to say, I'm not impressed. Despite a good premise for the plot and a decent effort at redeeming plot twists, this book as a whole doesn't merit even a mediocre rating.
The first problem I had with "Fireside" was its use of similes. Yes, illustrative language is important to set the scene, but it shouldn’t be so conspicuous and formulaic, not to mention overly abundant. Plus, they're almost all references to baseball! I understand why - Bo Crutcher is a minor league player hoping to join the Yankees, and his romantic interest, Kimberly van Dorn, is his PR coach - but it felt like the writer pitched in a baseball analogy every chance she got (pun intended).
My second complaint is the sudden intrusion of the secondary plot line. In the middle of chapter 9, the storyline switches focus without warning to a completely new set of characters, and jumps back into the main plot just as abruptly. Ten chapters later, the two threads are tenuously connected, but soon the secondary plot line is dropped again and never returns. Obviously, this whole interlude is a setup for a later book in the series, but instead it only ostracizes those of us who haven't read the rest of the Lakeside Chronicles.
Finally, I couldn’t stand the inconsistencies in the main characters’ personalities; it destroyed their credibility and detracted from what could have been a very likeable cast. Bo's whiny attitude during their snowboarding lessons is a grating contrast to his otherwise playful, adventurous maturity. The demeanor of his 12-year-old son A.J. changes randomly from a bratty but insecure 5 year-old, to a sulky teenage rebel, to a world-weary old man. And at one point, steady, self-sufficient Kimberly inexplicably dissolves into uncontrollable tears - twice in one chapter! Perhaps these variances were meant to give the characters more depth, but it didn't work.
I did like the alternating viewpoints, shifting between Kimberly, Bo and A.J., and I found it interesting how the author dealt with issues like foster care, racism, and immigration. These elements and a few genuinely touching moments kept the book from being a total loss, but unless you've read the previous books in the series and just have to see what happens next, I would recommend leaving this one on the shelf.(less)
I rarely put aside a book without finishing it, but after a disappointing forty-five minutes into the aud...moreThis review is based on the audiobook edition
I rarely put aside a book without finishing it, but after a disappointing forty-five minutes into the audiobook for "Fire and Ice," I was done.
The description on the audiobook jacket sounded promising: Sophie Rose is the daughter of a notorious thief. She's also a reporter, and when her boss at the major Chicago paper insists she write an expose about her father, she quits. Now at a smaller newspaper, she's assigned to a story about a polite but egocentric runner and his upcoming 5k race. Then, when the runner's corpse turns up in Alaska with Sophie's business tucked in his trademark red socks, Sophie heads to Alaska to investigate. There, she learns her father's infamy preceeded her, so she's assigned an FBI bodyguard and "they will soon be fighting more than growing passion," according to the blurb. I assumed it would be your typical romantic suspense novel, with lots of action, a little mystery, and a tidy ending with the hero and heroine living happily ever after. However, "Fire and Ice" was nowhere near reaching even those average expectations.
It begins with a blase description of some academic, scientific study that seemed completely unrelated (although had I finished the book, I'm guessing I would have found the connection). Then the reader is introduced to a single-minded, full-of-himself runner who wears the same red socks in every race. By the way, this is the guy who we already know from the book's cover is going to die pretty quickly, yet the author describes him and his quirks in excess.
By the time the main character is introduced, I'm bored to distraction by the narrator's flat, monotone voice, unimaginative dialogue and otherwise dull word choice. I'm doing my best to keep an open mind, thinking that all this drudgery is leading up to an exciting heroine and her handsome, heroic leading man. Instead, I meet a lifeless Sophie Rose who has no backbone and her rotten, disgusting, obnoxious coworker who, like the runner, gets way too much of the author's attention and adds absolutely nothing of interest or to advance the plot.
Next up, the entrance of our main man, FBI agent Jack MacAlister. Okay, I think, so *this* is where things will get interesting.
The action actually devolves into an even less realistic scenario: Jack interrupts a robbery and takes down the armed thief with "a single shot to the heart." Seriously? A highly trained law enforcement agent doesn't shoot just once; a double tap is standard practice in deadly situations. His partner is worse, drawing his weapon as he deftly slid across the hood of the car. Oh, and the dead robber just happens to be a notorious drug lord. Sounds like a bad cop drama! And don't even get me started on the rampant internet references, which makes it sound as if the author was required to mention certain websites but had zero experience with the concept of social networking.
Maybe reading the physical book, where you're not listening to the drone of a bored narrator, and where you can skim over the excessive descriptions, would be better than the audiobook version. But I doubt it.(less)
The basic concept shows promise: Derek Corwin's fear of a centuries-old family curse kept him from marrying Gabrielle, his high-school sweetheart. Yea...moreThe basic concept shows promise: Derek Corwin's fear of a centuries-old family curse kept him from marrying Gabrielle, his high-school sweetheart. Years later, divorced and struggling to connect with his pre-teen daughter, Derek is caught between fear and passion when Gabby comes back into his life, determined to de-bunk the curse and renew their relationship.
But between immature characters, flat dialogue, a weak resolution and the disturbing, rampant misconception that lust equals love, this book was sorely disappointing. I was interested enough to finish the book, but more out of curiousity for how the villian would be exposed (it's obvious from the first few chapters who the 'bad guy' is).
Throughout the book, an abundance of explanatory sentences seems repetitive or unnecessary, and the dialogue was horribly stilted in many places. A lot of the sentences were choppy, and the constant mention of brand names was just plain annoying. The side story of Gabby's best friend Sharon, who's being blackmailed in order to ruin her fiance's political aspirations, would have almost made a better main storyline if it these characters hadn't been even more shallow than the leads.
The worst part, though, was that all the adults sounded more like teenagers when it came to physical intimacy. The instantaneous, overwhelming attraction between Gabrielle and Derek, the constant mention of sexual tension, and the beyond-steamy bedroom scenes were unrealistic, overblown and entirely unnecessary. Gabrielle especially is obsessed with her goal of sleeping with Derek, equating lust with marriage-quality love, and has no sense of modesty.
I wonder if an editor actually went through the book carefully before publishing, or just skimmed it before giving it the green light, relying on the author's name to give it credence. I give this book one star total - half a star for the original plot idea, and another half for the one character I did like, Derek's loveable daughter Holly. I won't say I regret reading this book, but I will think twice before picking up anything else by Carly Phillips.(less)