I was first introduced to this novel during my attendance of the advanced writers’ workshop at the 2010 Romantic Times Convention in Columbus, Ohio. One of our instructors (author Mia Marlowe) continually referenced this book when explaining the key points in romance writing.
It took me two years to get around to reading Delicious by Sherry Thomas, but I have finally been able to pick it up and I have much to share about this novel.
Verity Durant is an infamous chef in both London and Paris. But her mouthwatering cuisine is not the only aspect of her life that has made her famous. Madame Durant is also well-known for her scandalous love affairs. After the passing of Bertie Somerset (master of Fairleigh Park and Verity’s former lover) she awaits the arrival of the new master, Bertie’s brother Stuart.
To Stuart, food is merely a means of survival and can in no way be enjoyed with great relish. Haunted by the night of passion he witnessed ten years ago, Stuart is unable to find zeal in anything other than his political campaign. That is, until he tastes the food prepared by Madame Durant. He soon lusts after her meals and the cook. But this lady of mystery has a secret that she wishes to remain hidden, a secret that could be the undoing of them both.
Delicious is a fun and tantalizing read. However, many aspects of this novel are downright unrealistic and just plain silly. The food and the love scenes are depicted in the most alluring way imaginable, making the reader hungry for chocolate custard and the loving of a hunky man.
If readers are able to overlook how unrealistic some of the events within this story are and the way that everything wraps up a little too neatly, this is a terrific read that will keep them on the edge of their seats from start to finish. Not to mention the incredible humor that is presented throughout the novel. There were actually moments (particularly the bath tub scene) where I actually found myself laughing heartily out loud.
Sherry Thomas nails the historic details in this novel as well as the setting, food facts, and love scenes that are so salacious that it will make your toes curl! Overall, Delicious is a unique, enthralling, convivial read that is sure to be a big hit with lovers of all romance genres.(less)
I was lucky enough to meet Mingmei Yip at the 2010 Romantic Times Convention in Columbus, Ohio. She was on a panel for multicultural creative writing along with L.A. Banks and Barry Eisler. From her very first description of her book, Peach Blossom Pavilion, I was hooked. Throughout the panel I learned many things about Mingmei Yip as a writer and a person. I learned that she is quite the Renaissance woman, having written adult and children’s books as well as being a skill Qin player and artist.
I immediately purchased copies of her novels Peach Blossom Pavilion and Petals from the Sky and a grand love affair with her work began. Last summer I was overjoyed to pick up a copy of her book Song of the Silk Road and this year I was over the moon that she actually asked ME to review her latest novel, Skeleton Women. As a longtime fan you can imagine how exciting it was to be personally contacted by one of my favorite authors and to receive an advance copy of the book that I was eagerly awaiting. The works of Mingmei Yip have always captivated me and before I even read the first page I was certain that Skeleton Women would surely enthrall me from start to finish.
In 1930s China, the underworld of mafia was at its peak. Femme fatales (also known as skeleton women) were the secret weapons of gangs, so named because their charms and beauty often brought death upon their victims who became nothing more than skeletons.
Beautiful lounge singer Camilla wasn’t always a rich and respected woman. Her humble beginnings were that of an orphan who was later adopted by Brother Wang (head of the Red Demons gang) for the sole purpose of luring Master Lung (head of the Flying Dragons gang) to his death.
When she is forced to become Master Lung’s mistress she meets two other skeleton women, Rainbow (the head of a gossip column) and Shadow (a magician who rivals Camilla for Master Lung’s affections.) Both of these skeleton women cause Camilla to be on high alert, for her safety and status are soon at risk. But the biggest threat to her mission is Jinying, Master Lung’s son who has returned from Harvard to not only fall for Camilla but to capture her affections in return. The only way that Camilla can escape is to plot the demise of Master Lung, but at what cost is she willing to sacrifice for true love?
As always, Mingmei Yip did not disappoint. Skeleton Women is a dynamic novel jam-packed with action, suspense, romance, lust, scheming, and twists and turns. This was an incredibly well written novel that not only captures the setting of China but it also manages to pull you into the 1930s and make you feel like you are an outsider looking in on the gangs of Shanghai.
The characters are not only complex but also have the ability to evoke an array of emotions in the reader. Some of the characters of lovable, some loathsome, and some are in between. The plot for this book is original and mesmerizes the reader from page one to the very last sentence. Mingmei Yip proves once again why she is a master of creative writing, suspense, and romance.(less)
Back in 2006 I was completing my first year of work at the city library. One day, as I was straightening the shelves, I noticed a very seductive looking cover. A candle and red smoke danced around the silhouette of a young lady with an arched back and flowing hair. I was intrigued. Little did I know that a grand love affair was about to be set in motion. The title of this book was Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur.
The Riley Jenson Guardian series introduced the world to characters like Riley and Rhoan, Quinn and Liander, and Dia and her adorable daughter Risa. Throughout the Guardian series little Risa demonstrates great power that readers just know will develop into full-blown greatness as she grows into adulthood.
The Dark Angels series is a spinoff of the Guardian series and follows the life and times of Risa, who is now an adult with great powers that she has learned to harness and use. The first book in this series is Darkness Unbound.
Risa Jones may be referred to as a half-breed by her peers, but she has the best of both worlds when it comes to powers. Her mother Dia is a genetically enhanced lab-created werewolf with psychic powers and her father is an Aedh, a being that appears to be an angel and aids in the transportation of souls to the afterlife. Risa has a touch of the psychic powers, the sex drive of the wolf, the ability to transform into invisible energy, the ability to walk the grey fields to seek out the dying, and the scariest of all—the ability to see the reapers.
While she would much rather focus on the business she runs with her friends Tao and Illianna, Risa is roped into searching the grey fields for the soul of a little girl in a coma. But what she finds there is beyond horrific. The little girl’s soul did not simply move on, it was ripped from her by an unknown creature.
But this is the least of her worries. A reaper is following her in an attempt to track down her father who has hellacious plans for the control of the gates to hell. Can Risa solve the mystery of the soul stealer and stop her father from wreaking havoc on both the grey fields and the world of the living?
Darkness Unbound is a wonderful introduction in the world of Risa Jones. This novel contained all the elements a reader desires in an Urban Fantasy novel. Action, suspense, terror, sex, love, humor, you name it. The plot is original and the characters are endearing. Old favorites from the Riley Jenson Guardian series make appearances. We bump into Riley, Quinn, Liander, Rhoan, and even Director Hunter.
This novel exceeded my expectations beyond belief. I was nervous to read a spinoff series since the Guardian series is one of my all-time favorites. But Keri Arthur did not let me down.
Darkness Unbound is so wonderful it manages to rival Full Moon Rising. Arthur’s writing style sucks the reader into the book, grabbing them in the first sentence of the book and holding on tightly until the last. Once again, Keri Arthur proves that she is one of the best in the world of Urban Fantasy writing.(less)
I love reading books about food, particularly books about baked goods. And when a fictitious book about food also contains recipes I’m pleased as punch to add it to be to-be-read list.
The Icing on the Cupcake is a tale of family, friends, heartache, mistakes, revenge, love, humor, and cupcakes. Each chapter ends with a different and intriguing cupcake recipe that really sends your appetite into overdrive.
With lovable and loathsome characters, vastly different settings, and recipe after recipe, Jennifer Ross not only paints a candid picture of the New York lifestyle but the Texas lifestyle as well.
Ansley is beside herself with grief. The love of her life, Parish, broke off their engagement because he claimed that she was too mean to like. Her dreams of becoming a Texas housewife have been shattered and she is left confused and in search for a new path to take in life. Her grandmother abandoned her mother and grandfather decades ago to move to New York, leaving Ansley’s mother broken and fragile. But Ansley decides to give her grandmother and New York a chance, hoping to discover a new way of life for herself and ultimately happiness.
Ansley befriends a southern belle named Dot and decides to use her life savings to open a cupcake bakery. Meanwhile, after the death of her husband, Ansley’s grandmother, Vivian, is in the middle of an IRS audit that not only reveals a sinister revenge plot against her but also the feelings that she is developing for Agent #1432 in the process. Can Ansley get her business up and running, save her grandmother from tax evasion charges, forget about Parish, and bring her mother and grandmother back together?
The Icing on the Cupcake is a cute read. Many of the characters are likable and the villains are loathsome. Jennifer Ross paints a quaint picture of Texas and a glitzy picture of New York through her writing. Each of the two settings brought something different and endearing to the novel.
With several recipes included and numerous mentions of food, The Icing on the Cupcake is sure to strike up an appetite for readers. Throughout the novel, the reader witnesses a change for the better in each of the main characters, bringing overall satisfaction to the reader by the end of the book. The plot was typical of its genre, but overall fun to read. (less)
My fascination with Shirley Jackson began at the age of fifteen. My Sophomore English teacher, Miss Randall, created a lesson plan around Gothic literature. Reading tales such as How Much Land Does a Man Need and The Yellow Wallpaper filled my mind with horrific images that evoked the spirit of the writer and horror fan within me. But it wasn’t until we read Shirley Jackson’s gothic tale The Lottery that I learned what true terror meant.
Years later I remain in awe of Jackson’s work and was overjoyed to read We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Just when I thought that her work couldn’t be any more intriguing, this novel comes along and proves once again why Shirley Jackson is a master of Gothic Lit.
Sisters Merrikat and Constance Blackwood live a secluded life in the dingy old mansion. But after what happened to their family what choice do they have? Rumors swirl as reminders of Constance’s trial are beginning to resurface, the trial in which she was acquitted from poisoning the elder members of her family. The girls are happy living a secluded life with their uncle, the lone survivor of the poisoning. But when their cousin decides to pay a lengthy visit, strange and unfortunate things begin to happen, and Merricat must face some truths that have always remained unspoken.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously sinister tale that creeps into the depths of the reader’s soul. This novel grabs the reader at the very beginning and holds on tight until the very last sentence. With lovable and loathsome characters, this novel introduces readers to the world of the Blackwood family and opens a magical yet dark atmosphere through the eyes of Merricat. The plot is original, the characters are powerful, and the setting is one of the creepiest of all time. With such a fantastic melding of characters and events, We Have Always Lived in the Castle will surely make the hair on your arms stand on end.(less)
Any book that has food in the title tends to catch my eye almost immediately. A large slice of yellow cake coated in chocolate icing and topped with a single birthday candle graced the cover of this book and seemed to call to me from afar. But the title, strange as it may be, was ultimately what caused me to take it home from the library—The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. After reading the book synopsis, I couldn’t wait to take this novel home and get started on reading. But there is more than meets the eye when it comes to The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.
On her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein obtains a very unique ability—she is able to taste the emotions of the person who prepares her food. It begins with her mother’s lemon cake with chocolate icing, a cake that leaves Rose feeling empty and sad. Her brother thinks that she is crazy and his best friend continues to help her experiment with taste testing sessions throughout the restaurants in greater Los Angeles.
Over time she grows and her ability grows with her, becoming part of her until she decides that she will only eat food from vending machines and prepackaged meals. Her senses are so heightened that she is able to break down the ingredients into the regions that they came from. Forced to endure the speculation of her brother, her unrequited love for his best friend, her mother’s life outside of their home, and her father’s distant demeanor, Rose must harness her abilities while keeping the secrets that every bite of food reveals to her.
While there are many intriguing aspects of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, I found it to be an unsatisfying read as a whole. There were several aspects of this novel that were quite enjoyable (the humor, the setting, Rose’s point of view, and the quirkiness of the plot) but as a whole it left me feeling like the lemon chocolate cake that Rose’s mother made—unfulfilled. Of all the characters I found Rose to be the only likeable one. The language and grammar utilized by the author makes this book a little difficult to read, it simply does not have a steady flow that keeps you turning page after page. The concept of the book was brilliant, but the execution left much to be desired. Three quarters of the way through the book the storyline takes an unexpected turn and veers into the truly bizarre and unexplained. The book ends with many unresolved issues and unanswered questions which, again, leaves the reader feeling unfulfilled and, in a way, cheated.(less)
Stars: Doll Believer: 4 Stars Doll Suz: 1 Star Doll Kitt: 2 Stars Doll Noa: 1 Star Doll Day: 1 Star Doll Eowyn: 1 Star Doll Chrissy: 1 star Doll Mona: 1 Star - DNF Doll Lil: 1 Star - DNF Doll Alli: 1 Star - DNF
Kitt: See what had happened was... It all started with an innocent inquiry from Alli about Fifty Shades of Grey "Has anyone read it?" From there Day, dratted woman ;p, decided we should all read it. Most of us involuntarily volunteered, but what the hell, we're all game for the challenge. Except how to have one review with ten women that would be different - and short (ha! yes, this is the short version!) - hence the Q&A. All the Dolls were charged with reading Fifty Shades, once completed, were to submit two questions. Here's the result:
Did you finish reading FIFTY SHADES OF GREY? If not, how far did you make it and why did you stop reading? If yes, how did you rate it on Goodreads?
Day: Yes, I finished the first one. I had to keep reading. I kept thinking... "Okay. Any minute now something really amazing will happen and I will realize why so many women are obsessed with this book." That moment never came for me. I rated it a one on Goodreads. (Sorry)
Noa: Day, that was my reaction too! I kept telling myself "maybe the next chapter...maybe the second book...the third?" Then I realized it wasn't going to happen. This wasn't even a one star series for me.
Mona: I stopped at a point shortly after Ana’s graduation. My inner goddess told me she was going to kick my ass if I didn’t give her something less annoying to read.
Eowyn:Yes, I finished the book and felt I liked it a little more toward the end. I only gave it two stars on Goodreads.
BLVR: Devoured all three. I took time off whenever my feelings were too overwhelmed. The first book was particularly emotional for me.
Alli: I have as of yet not finished. It's not because I don't like it, it's just my pregnant brain won't allow me to read for more than 10-20 minute spans before zoning out and thinking about nesting!
Lil: I did not finish it. I tried repeatedly but could not do it. I stopped at Chapter 4 and decided to skip ahead (something I never do). I got through "basic training" and I couldn't keep going. I became angry because I have a TBR full of really good books I was ignoring them to be annoyed by head cocking, murmuring, and one really noisy subconscious. I reluctantly gave Fiddy 1 star because giving Minus Stars is not an option.
Chrissy: Yes I finished reading it despite the fact that I did not enjoy it.
Suz: Yes, I did finish it although I haven't rated it on Goodreads yet because I've been waiting to do this review first. I give all cliff-hanger endings a one star rating because I believe them to be manipulative marketing thievery. This book will get one star when I rate it for that reason. I read all three of the books, back-to-back.
Kitt: Yes, I did. I read the first two - both I gave 2 stars - and then I had other books to read. I may eventually go back to read the last, Fifty Shades Freed, just to see how it ends.
Suz: Did you begin reading FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY with preconceived notions, and if so what were they?
Day: Yes. Due to all the hype I was expecting the "grand poopa" of books. Something that is extremely well written with incredible character development and a new and unique twists on erotica.
Mona: No preconceived notions here. I tend to take every book on its own merits, but this one had more demerits than merits, IMHO.
Noa: I guess I did. It would be very hard not to with everything going on out in the media and social media world proclaiming it as the literary accomplishment of the year if not decade.
Eowyn: I began reading the book expecting it to be extremely racy considering all of the media hype. I must admit, though it is slightly racy, I found it quite tame to what I had been led to believe from all of the hype.
BLVR: Yes, I did. I had heard a lot of media hoopla surrounding this piece, "Mommy Porn" , "BDSM in the Burbs", "Publishing Phenom". I was very intrigued.
Alli: I had heard some talk of the book bringing sexy back to the bedroom on the radio and how all these women just couldn't put it down. I expected it to be amazing.
Lil: I didn't even know the book existed until Day brought it up. I live with my nose in books or at Swimmer Girl's practice or I'm working (not lots of book discussion there) so I missed all the media attention. But I trust Day's opinion so I did go in thinking I was going to regret it. Which of course made me feel guilty for not giving a new author a chance.
Chrissy: I had a few preconceptions. From what I'd seen online it seemed as if 50% of readers loved it and 50% of readers loathed it so I figured it could go either way.
Suz: Yes. I had heard it was fanfic of Twilight and that it also had a lot of BDSM. I assumed the quality of writing, or at least the editing, might be substandard and was therefore skeptical but tried to remain open minded. My biggest concern, however, was that BDSM would be presented as some sort of psychological and emotional work around for the deeply broken. I think that's how it was presented in the movie The Secretary and I was fearful I would find that to be the case here. In all honesty I had not really exposed myself to too much of the hype other than to be aware of its existence. I don't spend a lot of time scouring sources for controversy as I find it unpalatable.
Kitt: Yes, I believe I did. Even though, like Mona, I try to take every book on it's own merit, it's hard to ignore the massive amount of hype surrounding this book. Going in I thought "This must be one of the best erotic books ever"
Day: Have you read other books that are classified as Erotica fiction? If so, how does this compare? If not, will you now read more?
Day: Yes. This one is nothing spectacular when it comes to the genre. There are some that are much better and some worse. In my opinion, 50 Shades is just mediocre.
Mona: I’ve read a LOT of erotica. Heck, I even corrupted Kitt with my choices. FSoG doesn’t even register on my radar.
Noa: I have read Erotica fiction and many of its sub-genres. As with any genre there are books I enjoyed more and books I enjoyed less. If not for me forcing myself to finish it (see answer 1) I would have stopped in the middle and put it in the "Do Not Read" pile.
Eowyn: I have not read other Erotica books. I can't say that I won't read more after reading this but I'm not inclined to run out and check out all of the Erotica books. I have enough Fiction on my TBR list at the moment.
BLVR: Yes. I often read Erotica written by Emma Holly, Portia Da Costa and several authors who might bristle at being labeled Erotica but whose work clearly fits. I am not a huge fan of Erotica for its own sake, instead I prefer erotic themes or events that are part of a larger work.
Alli: I have not read any books that are classified as Erotica. It's just not my style typically, but doesn't mean I'm not open to exploring it as an option later.
Lil: I have been told over and over if I'm going to write then I had to read everything, fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks, Archie and Jughead.... so yes I've read Erotica, I hated it in the beginning, it was torture for my creative juices. Then I discovered Lorelie James and Cat Johnson and what can I say, Giddy Up Cowboy ;). They opened me up to the world of Erotica where there is juicy story line and a plot that makes sense with dominant men and strong women, since then I have found other writers I enjoy but they remain at the top of my list.
Chrissy: Erotica is one of my favorite genres to read. I'm quite fond of the works by Alison Tyler and Rachel Kramer Bussel.
Suz: Yes. This one had comparable heat to other erotica in terms of excessive quantity but the quality of erotica can vary pretty widely and 50 Shades is not exceptional in regards to the quality of the erotica. In fact, given that it was supposed to be kinky I found it to be more than a little tamer than I expected. In terms of quantity I suppose I would praise 50 Shades because the sex scenes were relatively brief and not over written with flowery prose. I did have trouble with suspension of disbelief because the protagonist was a virgin who became multi-orgasmic from her very first experience, but I suppose that’s a trope you could find in just about any romance novel. A wishful thinking trope. As for whether I'll read more, I read a lot anyway and much of what I read is "chick lit." There is often a lot of erotica in that whether it intends to be classified as erotica or not. So I don't think I'll read any more or less than I was reading of it before. I LIKE a bit of sex in my books, I just tend to prefer there to be a STORY with it, too.
Kitt: Mona is one of the worst book pushers! So yes, I've read my fair share.
Mona: After reading FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, do you think people will assume BDSM will magically revive sexual desire, and if so, will they be brave enough to try it? What happens if their partner is offended/disgusted by it?
Day: If readers are naive, they'll believe anything I suppose. The media sure would like us to believe that millions of women have revived their sex lives with BDSM, but I don't think it's likely. And if it has actually sparked a flame in their bedrooms, I think it will be short lived. Good sex has a lot to do with breaking the monotony and in my experience everything gets old after a while.
Mona: I had to ask this question after seeing a news program about the increase in women buying the 'toys' to spice up their marriages. I wondered if any of them actually had any idea what they were getting into, and what their husbands thought about them just coming up with this out of the blue.
Noa: Mona, I was wondering about that too. I have to agree with Day. I'll add a little bit of wisdom I got from my mom: Spicing up the sex life is awesomesauce. So long as both sides are happy with what's happening. But I doubt it will make readers decide to take on the BDSM lifestyle.
Eowyn: I honestly think it might spice up their sex lives but not with the BDSM life style. I think perhaps women are getting a little turned on from reading the book and perhaps making sex exciting again but I'm not so sure they are adding anything other than some possible role play to the mix.
BLVR: I wouldn't classify these acts as true BDSM but it doesn't matter I suppose. I would hope that a reader would be inspired to bring the themes that move them into their own lives and act upon them. Absolutely! Harry Potter can help children feel brave and courageous. There are countless examples of literary characters or scenes giving people solace, hope, courage and inspiration. If 50 Shades helps reignite a romantic spark - I'm all for it! These games are not for everyone and there will be readers who will stop reading or simply enjoy being voyeurs.
Alli: To be quite honest, a book shouldn't be the catalyst to revive someone's sex life. Reading about non-vanilla sex might make them desire sex more with their partner, but would it make them branch out and try something new? Probably not.
Lil: What Day said.
Chrissy: I'm sure that many readers will view it that way but both parties are not always apt to participate. If it works for them then great if it doesn't at least they can say that they tried. Although I agree with Alli, it shouldn't be the catalyst.
Suz: Although 50 Shades uses the correct shibboleths from the BDSM community and suggests the proper forms it’s not, in my opinion, a BDSM book. It’s a slap & tickle bedroom book in which the virginal, inexperienced female protagonist manipulates and controls the highly experienced but emotionally bankrupt dominant throughout. In the BDSM scene they call it “topping from the bottom.” Since there really isn’t any BDSM other than references and props and a bit of spanking and light bondage, I would say it’s not really a BDSM book. Do I think it will help people feel better about wanting to shake up their sex lives and try something “new and naughty?” Yes. It already is. Will that be BDSM? I doubt more than a very few people will find their way into a BDSM community or lifestyle from these books. As for partners that are offended/ disgusted – I suppose they will do what curious partners have been doing from the beginning of time: either forget about it or go exploring on their own.
Kitt: What is there really to add to this that hasn't already been said, except no, I don't think the majority of women will suddenly feel the urge to take BDSM into their bedroom. At least I didn't. However, I do think that this book is having the same effect of other erotic romances by giving the women the urge to have sex more often.
Chrissy: If you enjoy the overall storyline of a book, can you overlook the unnecessary reiteration throughout a novel or does it annoy you? Example: the continuing emphasis on the fact that Ana is a bookworm and that Christian is gorgeous.
Day: Yes. IF I enjoyed the overall storyline those things could be overlooked.
Mona: A book must be really good for me to overlook something that annoying. Oh, my.
Noa: I think it would be very difficult to say. There are just so many things that annoyed me in this book. Ana's inner goddess, Christian's hair, Ana's inner goddess, her other inner character, her inner goddess... See? annoying right? And the storyline didn't help.
Eowyn: I think perhaps I can overlook unnecessary reiteration if I'm really enjoying the book. For most of this book I felt it was strained and I was back in High School.
BLVR: I did overlook it eventually. I found that the character development and story arcs became increasingly interesting enough to make me more generous towards forgiving certain crutches the author employed.
Alli: Probably. I do get annoyed with repetitive themes being beaten into my skull, but if the story is amazing I tend to ignore the nagging voice inside my head.
Lil: No I can't. I tried. Really really hard.
Chrissy: For me, it takes away from the book and can be the difference between whether or not I like a book at all. Writing style is very important to me as both a reader and a writer.
Suz: It depends on the book and whether or not I’m getting properly lost in the story and characters and the world. Generally if it’s annoying me it’s also pulling me out of the “world.” There was a lot of annoyance factor with unnecessary reiteration in this book. In fairness, that does improve a bit as you move through each book but since we’re only talking about the first book I’d have to say it was above average annoying in this book, but not as bad as I have seen in some books by much more established authors.
Kitt: I'd have to really like the book. But like Chrissy, it can make or break a book for me. In Fifty in particular, I couldn't ignore it, like a little electric shock every time she mentioned her inner Goddess, her subconscious, every time she said 'Oh my'
Kitt: What are your thoughts on Anna and Christian in general? Were they well developed or one-dimensional? How about the secondary characters of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY?
Day: Unimpressed all down the board. More development with all characters would have been nice.
Mona: Paper dolls. Repetitive paper dolls.
Noa: There were characters in 50 Shades of Grey? O_o
Eowyn: Character development was lacking.
BLVR: Yes - I believe that James imbued her Ana & Christian with complexity. But Ana could have acheived a higher level of complexity without a doubt. I think James was exceptionally brave in the last book when she gives us Christian's POV of his first meeting with Anna. He is truly unappealing and a cad.
Alli: Like most of the other dolls, I felt that the character development was very one-dimensional. We learn about them at only the most superficial level. I had a hard time connecting to Ana and Christian, which makes me like the story a lot less.
Lil: I didn't really read enough to make an observation about character development. I can say the characters did not draw me in and I didn't find myself invested in them in the least. I guess that made it easier to put the book down.
Chrissy: I strongly agree that the characters were one dimensional.
Suz: It was fairly poor in the first book but improved a bit as you move through the rest of the trilogy, for both the protagonists and some of the secondary characters. In the first book there was so much reiteration and so much mind talk that seemed juvenile and insipid that it left the characters fairly flat. I think that time could have been better spent developing situations to put the characters in that would have shown us their characters.
Kitt: I'm going to agree with Suz here, and some of the other Dolls. As the books continue, we do get to see further growth from both Christian and Ana, but for Fifty Shades by itself, both characters were flat. <laughs at Noa>, I could see how you missed them.
Lil: How did you feel about the POV? Was the inner dialogue helpful to you as a reader or distracting from the story?
Day: My thoughts on Ana's inner dialogue? Annoying. Personally, I wanted to scream at her to shut up about her inner goddess. But that is just me.
Mona: My inner goddess kicked the crap out of her inner goddess….and her noisy subconscious, too. Just shut up and let me read.
Noa: Her inner goddess, her subconscious... I take it back, there were characters in 50 Shades, they were all in Ana's head.
Eowyn: I have to agree with the rest of you on the inner dialogue. I was so sick of her inner goddess! I wanted to scream at her inner goddess and it didn't even make sense to me the things her inner goddess would be doing. I mean really? I think inner dialogue can be helpful but in this book I wanted to scream at it.
BLVR: A-ha!!! I loved it! I really did! Those are the moments and devices that make literature great. A visual medium could not have done those moments justice. James chose a clever way to showcase her character's logic fighting with her libido.
Alli: I teeter-tottered between meh and annoyed with the inner dialogue. By the way, where's my inner goddess these days?
I am not quite sure how I became so interested in the world of Amish romance. My typical choice of books usual...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com.
I am not quite sure how I became so interested in the world of Amish romance. My typical choice of books usually involves steamy love scenes, murder mystery, and paranormal creatures with a lust for violence and accumulating sex partners. When I learned that Amish romance was actually a genre I couldn’t believe my ears. I had to see it for myself. It began with Cindy Woodsmall’s Sisters of the Quilt trilogy and skyrocketed from there. So whenever I need a break from otherworldly creatures and sex kittens, I turn to the world that Cindy Woodsmall has created in Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania.
The Scent of Cherry Blossoms is the Amish romance version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In a world where it is forbidden for Mennonites and Old Order Amish to become romantically involved, childhood friends Annie Martin (of the Mennonites) and Aden Zook (of the Old Order Amish)find themselves drawn to each other in a way that they have never experienced before. After being abandoned by her father in New York and despising the manner in which her mother allows her siblings to behave, Annie must return to Apple Ridge and her grandfather, Moses, to gain a perspective on the life that she leads. Annie couldn’t be happier; she will be arriving just in time for the blossoming of the cherry trees in her grandfather’s orchard. She tries to make herself useful by helping the Zook family run their diner since Roman, Aden’s twin brother who was paralyzed in a farming accident years ago, is assisting his uncle in mechanic work during the busiest time of the year for Zook’s Diner. Annie is overjoyed to see her old friend Aden. But what neither of them counted on was falling in love and the trials and tribulations they must face in order to overcome two worlds that are trying to tear them apart.
The Scent of Cherry Blossoms is a wonderful love story. Combining sorrow, joy, laughter, and journeys to self-discovery, this novel has something for everyone. The interaction between the characters creates tremendous tension while to plot drives them both together and apart.
The characters are endearing, the Amish lingo and history are thoroughly explained, and the setting paints a beautiful image of springtime. (less)
I was first introduced to Laura Childs’ Tea Shop Mysteries when I was writing tea reviews for my college’s newspaper a few years ago. Stumbling upon this series by happenstance, I was a stranger to the world of cozy mysteries. But after reading Death by Darjeeling, the first novel in the series, I was hooked.
Over the past three years I have been following the lives of Theodosia Browning and her trusty sidekicks Drayton and Hayley. And who can forget Earl Grey, Theodosia’s trusty four-legged friend dubbed with a pedigree of “Dalabrador.”
I’ve enjoyed the mysteries and mayhem that this band of friends has endured over the years, felt the heartache of Theodosia’s break ups, and laughed at the wisecracks they’ve made throughout each novel. The world of the Indigo Tea Shop has become a haven of comfort and relaxation for me and many other readers who have become devoted to the series.
Agony of the Leaves, the thirteenth installment in the Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Childs, finds the staff of the Indigo Tea Shop at the Neptune Aquarium in Charleston, where they’ve been hired to cater an opening-day fundraiser. As Theodosia takes in the sights of the beautiful fish and coral, she discovers a new addition to the tank, a dead body. To make matters worse, the deceased happens to be her most recent ex-boyfriend, Parker Scully.
Everyone at the aquarium is convinced that it was simply an accidental drowning, even Detective Tidwell, Theodosia’s ally from the police department, is convinced that Parker slipped and fell into the tank before becoming entangled in a net and drowning. However, Theodosia knows better. Someone wanted Parker out of the way, but who and why? It’s up to Theodosia and her friends to discover who is behind such a sinister murder and why on earth would anyone want to kill Parker.
As a fan of this series, I have never found a single installment that has disappointed me. Yes, some of the novels are better than others, but all deliver excitement and entertainment. Agony of the Leaves is a tad bit different from its predecessors. It is this reviewer’s humble opinion that Agony of the Leaves is by far the best novel in The Tea Shop Mysteries.
Throughout the previous novels Theodosia is faced with solving the murders of people she barely knew or people that were vaguely mentioned as side characters in preceding novels. But for the first time she is faced with the murder of someone she not only knows but someone she also once loved. This simple fact takes both Theodosia and the reader through one heck of an emotional roller-coaster.
The characters are endearing, the plot original, and the setting ideal. This book includes cameos from characters that readers have come to know and love throughout the series (such as Timothy Neville, Delaine Dish, Aunt Libby, Earl Grey, and Miss Dimple) and gives the reader an in-depth look into the world of Charleston, South Carolina.
Agony of the Leaves is an intriguing read that grabs the reader at the very beginning and holds on tightly until the very last page. This book has it all: excitement, sorrow, humor, romance, and of course mystery. This novel is near impossible to put down once you start reading it and takes the reader through an emotional rollercoaster vicariously through the eyes of Theodosia Browning. Once I finished this book I was ready to read the next in the series. Unfortunately, we readers will have to wait until March of 2013 for the next addition to this magnificent series.(less)