Reading recommendations (because if I made time to read them, you know they’re good)

I don’t always get to read as much as I’d like…

Let me start over – if I read as much as I’d like to, I’d have little time for anything else.  (I’m pretty sure the most important things – eating, drinking, and bathroom necessities I can do with one handed while reading.)  Between school, work, and a limited social life, I don’t get too much time.  But every once in awhile, there comes a glimmer of time – a few days, a glorious week perhaps, in which I can read.

The last two weeks I was able to partake in some blissful reading (YAY!!!!) and I know I’m late to the party on some of these, but here are some of my favorites from the last two weeks.  If you haven’t picked them up yet, you may want to – they’re good for beach reads, train rides, plane rides, or even one-handed necessities of life.  Enjoy!

1. The girl on the train

The girl on the train is a thriller that will take you on a ride (see what I did there, clev-er) 51zHXiTRq3L._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_through the events surrounding a woman’s disappearance told through the eyes of three narrators.  Most of the time we follow Rachel, who is struggling to get her life together after a divorce and gets kind of ….well, a bit obsessed with the disappearance of a stranger.

This booooooook! OMG this book!  I feel like I need to do a whole separate post on topics that sprung to my mind while reading this book.  The writer in me would love to go on about the views of different narrators and reliability of narrators (yes, on and on forever about the technique and why it can be so good when it’s done just right).  Another part of me would like to talk to you about starting over after a divorce and emotional issues.  But, alas, these are topics for another day.

The girl on the train is a great thriller and a very fast read.  Check it out before you go to the beach or travel for vacation, you won’t be disappointed.

 

2. Eligible 

Eligible is a modern day Pride and Prejudice that takes place in Cincinnati.  Liz and Jane 41hnYP26jjL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_flew the nest long ago to go to NYC, but find themselves back in Cincinnati due to their dad’s health issues.  Being back in town puts them the middle of aging parent drama, sibling drama, and oh yes, thrusts them into the paths of Bingley and Darcy. <sigh> Oh Darcy…

I love Pride and Prejudice – I love the original and I love many of the many revamps that have come along recently.  This version had a lot of fresh takes on the old themes and a few new twists and turns – including the reality tv and not friends with benefits.

If you enjoy revamping of P&P or romance novels in general, you should pick this one up (I’m talking to you, Andrea). 🙂

 

3.  Marrying Winterborne

I love romance novels, I really, really do.  I used to call them cotton candy for my brain, 51gjzFcgesL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_fluffy, sugary, and just all around good fun.  If you haven’t read any of Kleypas’ other books, I’d strongly recommend It happened one autumn and A devil in winter.  Marrying Winterborne is a book in a later and somewhat related series.  You don’t have to read the Wallflower series first.  But you should check them out if you like Kleypas’ style.

Marrying Winterborne follows Rhys Winterborne, a self-made man who owns a large and successful department store, and Helen – a woman from old money with a few secrets and who is trying to find (and assert) herself.  A lot of romance novels deal with the beginnings of a relationship – the flirtation, sometimes distrust, the infatuation, and eventual love.  This book instead deals with the deepening of a relationship and finding yourself, which was refreshing. I haven’t read the book before this one (Cold-hearted Rake), where these two actually meet (though it focuses on another couple), but it’s on my to be read list for sure.

 

Happy reading! 🙂

Quotables – Challenge Day 1

Today’s quote is from a poem by Pablo Neruda: “I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”

I took this in Washington D.C. at the height of Cherry Blossom season.

Ah, how I love this quote – it’s so romantic that it makes my chest squeeze.

To me, it means having the kind of relationship where you cherish each other and support one another in becoming what you are meant to be…blossoming like flowers in springtime.

🙂 <Sigh>  What magic we spread with the right words…

Annie at Gentle Kindness tagged me in this quote challenge and I’ve (obviously) accepted – 3 quotes in three days because well, I love challenges…and quotes.  If you want to play, simply put the link to your site in the comments section and I’ll check out your quotable posts. 🙂

 

 

Romance Genre Guide to Getting Over Your Ex

The Romance Genre Guide to Getting Over your Exbecause you might as well take advice from the ladies who always get their happy ending 😉

Everyone is always trying to give advice…what to eat (what the fuck are legumes?), what to wear (please stop, Mom), and now how to date… oh joy, oh rapture. :p

I’ve been going through this divorce bit for several months now, and I think it’s time to explore how romance heroines get over their old relationships…if only to delve into the realm of silliness that I enjoy.   So, here we go:

  • Regency subgenre – After her old beau is revealed to be an evil rogue/engaged/married, the heroine forms an unlikely alliance with a rakish duke/count/viscount who ravishes her on a balcony while everyone else at the party dances the quadrille (be still, my beating heart under this suddenly restrictive bodice).
  • Player subgenre – After a bad breakup, the heroine decides “no strings attached” is the only thing she has time for.  Rakish hero finds this outlook refreshing and then annoying when he accidentally falls in love with her…whoops.
  • Pirate subgenre – Heroine stows away on a pirate ship after a break up… becomes a skilled sailor and swashbuckler, then shares her booty with the captain.
  • Boss subgenre – Heroine throws herself into work by volunteering for a business trip with the boss and then fantasizing about climbing… the corporate ladder.
  • Paranormal subgenre – Vampire Ex – Heroine gets a fabulous tan and starts hanging out with that rugged werewolf pack the ex was always warning her about.
  • Paranormal subgenre – Werewolf Ex – Heroine gets her rabies shot, washes her neck, and goes to late night wine tastings with that emo vampire across the street.
  • Time-travel subgenre – Heroine avoids her ex by going way back in time and shows Mr. Darcy or a kilted hero that feminists are awesome.
  • Yoga subgenre – Heroine finds inner peace at a yoga retreat, added flexibility comes in handy when a rugged yoga teacher takes over her class.  Okay, this isn’t really a subgenre, but it SHOULD be…someone write it. :p

Hmmmmm romance novels give you so many options to move on from your ex. 😉  But more than that, they remind you that if/when you’re ready, there are a lot of adventures waiting for you…both on the bookshelf and in life. 🙂  Happy reading to all!

Review “Playing for keeps”

Ebook Review “Playing for keeps (A Neighbor from Hell Series Book 1),” by R.L. Mathewson

imageYay! I’ve found another good and cheap book series.  The “Neighbor from Hell” series is fun and most of the books are on Amazon for $0.99 each (the only thing better than good smut, is bargain priced smut). 🙂

The first in this series is “Playing for keeps.” Haley and Jason start on the wrong foot – his drunken party guests have tried to skinny dip in her pool, his exes have had screaming fits on his front lawn, and he hardly takes care of the place…

But, an amusing confrontation over flowers causes a swarm of bees to erupt from an underground hive, and Haley and Jason are forced to spend an afternoon together waiting for the exterminator (surprisingly enough, this is hardly the weirdest event that has caused a hero and heroine to get to know each other in romance novel).   Anyway, during the afternoon, the two bond over baseball and Jason decides to take the timid Haley under his wing.

But Jason’s feelings are anything but brotherly, though it does take him a little while to realize it, and Haley is hardly unaware of Jason’s charms. Can Jason and Haley survive taking it to the next level?

Playing for keeps” is a fun start to  R.L. Mathewson’s Neighbor from Hell series. It’s a fast read, with plenty of steam and quite a few giggles as well. Can’t wait to read the rest. 4 out of 5 stars! 🙂

Review “Escorted”

Ebook Review – “Escorted,” by Claire Kent

image In “Escorted,” we meet Lori, a romance novelist in her 20s with a job she needs help with – getting rid of her virginity.  She’s been unlucky in love, so she’s decided to hire Ander to take care of that one little issue for her.

Except it’s too good and once isn’t enough (sigh – isn’t that always the case?).  The more time Lori spends with Ander, the more the lines of their “professional” relationship begin to blur.  Can Lori keep her heart safe during her intense interludes with Ander?

My oh my, is this book steamy and it features a hot, brooding hero.  Yes, it’s true and I won’t apologize for it – I love brooding, yearning heroes.  I don’t know what that says about me as a reader, but there you go. :p

Anyway, Ander has a lot to brood about – a terrible relationship with his father led him to his current profession and he’s never been in a solid, loving relationship. 😦  Then, Lori comes into his life and he has trouble keeping things professional…until he decides to give up all of his other clients to focus on winning Lori over (without her knowledge, of course).

Escorted,” was  a fast, sexy read.  The writing seemed a little awkward at times, but all-in-all, it was a good – with interesting characters and a fun plot.  4 out of 5 stars, highly recommended and very steamy.  🙂

Happy reading. 😉

Review “Suffragette Scandal”

imageEbook Review: “The Suffragette Scandal,” By Courtney Milan

Frederica Marshall (Free) is a bold, young woman who runs her own newspaper and fights for women’s right to vote.

Edward Clark is back in England to protect a childhood friend from his brother’s plot to destroy a woman who spurned his advances – a woman, unlike any Edward has ever met.

Edward offers himself as Free’s personal scoundrel (why can’t I have my own scoundrel?) and quickly partners with her to outsmart his brother’s evil plans to ruin Free’s business and worse.  But Edward isn’t exactly who he claims to be…and if he reveals his true identity to Free, will she stay?

Ah yes, the last book in the Brothers Sinister Series (so named because each book has a left-handed hero or heroine – yay, left-handed people).  As always, Courtney Milan did an excellent job of creating a strong heroine (outspoken, bold, and smart), an interesting and brooding hero (oh, we love the brooding), and an excellent story line in a historical romance setting.  5 out of 5 stars, though I am a little sad to be finished with such a fun series.

By the way – for all of you writers out there, Courtney Milan has a really great blog/website, where she talks about many things, including self-publishing versus traditional publishing options.  Check it out.  🙂

Review – Wallbanger

Ebook Review “Wallbanger (Cocktail Series),” Alice Clayton

image

In “Wallbanger,” we meet Caroline – poor Caroline, who has sadly lost her O.  And how does one lose their O?   Terrible sex, of course.  Poor Caroline.  Girl, I feel your pain.

Anyway, Caroline moves into a fabulous apartment owned by her boss.  All is well until nightfall.  You see, the neighbor next door has a rather interesting sex life.  And has such <ahem> prowess that Caroline can hear his bed banging against the wall (knocking down a picture off the wall at one point) as he spends time with his ladies.

But one night, this becomes too much and Caroline stalks to his door to confront him.  Except she’s wearing a pink nightie and when he opens the door he’s wearing a sheet that leaves little to the imagination.

Caroline and the Wallbanger (real name Simon) meet again at Caroline’s boss’ party….and not surprisingly, they have chemistry.  But, due to Simon’s committed-ish relationship with three women (yes, three, but not in one sitting), Caroline decides that they should only be friends.

…But, Simon has some serious sex appeal (obviously, this is a romance novel after all) and as Caroline gets to know him, she discovers that he’s got a great taste in music, is funny, interesting, and can cook the best meatballs ever.  (Side note:  Men, cooking is sexy.  Very sexy.  Extremely sexy if the food is edible…and not mac & cheese.)

Can Caroline take the next step with him…and can Simon be the man to bring back her missing O?

So, first of all  – this book is written in the first person.  Ages ago, I refused to read any romance novel written in the first person.  But I’m so glad I’ve since reversed my decision.  “Wallbanger” is hilarious and fun – and filled with the witty hero/heroine banter that I love so much.  Alice Clayton’s style in this novel (this is the first of hers that I’ve read) is light, easy, and so fast to read.

Five out of five stars for “Wallbanger.”  🙂

Review: “Dirty Trick”

Ebook Review of “Dirty Trick (A Perfectly Matched Novel),” By Christine Bell

image In “Dirty Trick,” we meet the part-owner of a dating service, Grace Love, and her neighbor/best friend, Detective Trick Mathews.

In Salem, Halloween is a huge deal and Grace finds herself without a date to the best party in town.  Maybe she’ll meet Mr. Right (or hey, maybe Mr. Right Now) on All Hallow’s Eve…

Trick has been coyly trying to prove to Grace that they should take their friendship to the next level and that he is no longer <ahem> a man-whore. If he dons a mask and sweeps Grace off of her feet, maybe he can prove to her that they would be perfect together….

Hmmm…lying to your friend (especially in disguise) is a big no-no.  But, as we’ve learned in the past, in romance novels – anything goes.  Can Trick sweep Grace off of her feet and still keep her trust?

Dirty Trick” was a little different than your average friend romance.  Usually, in this genre, the friends add sex to their relationship for fun and then gradually fall in love (or realize that they’ve been in love with each other for a long time).  In this one, Trick’s disguise allows him to hook up with Grace – which he didn’t plan on, but doesn’t really stop either.  He does feel guilty, but can’t seem to stop himself from meeting her for a second time and puts off telling her the truth…which is a plot device for drama and makes the hero look like a weenie.

It’s a tricky thing, having your hero or heroine lie in a novel – and a very narrow line to walk as an author.  Too many lies (or omissions) or lame motivations for lies and your readers will balk.  In my first novel (which is still in rough draft form), my hero doesn’t reveal his true intentions to my heroine for quite some time.  You see, he aims to steal something from her. This lone piece of my story made me struggle to finish – and struggle to come up with a good reason why my hero would do this.  Now in romance novels, there are heroes that do a great many things that normal people really shouldn’t (this happened in the Wallflower series and I still absolutely loved one of the heroes).  In some novels –  circumstance, charm, or pure writing talent allow us to look past it.  In my case at least, I’m still chewing on how to “fix” the lying issue in my novel.  Or at least let my readers in on the motivations earlier in the story, so they don’t dismiss him entirely.  Ugh.  But alas, complicated heroes make a more interesting story – and also make authors go through several re-writes. :p

As for “Dirty Trick” – the characters have good chemistry, the dialogue is pretty good, the setting of Halloween in Salem is neat, and the story is fairly good…points taken off for a hero that should have come clean sooner or at least a heroine that figured it out on her own!  I give the story a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Side note:  Sorry I’ve been a bit of a slacker with my posts lately.  Life has gotten complicated (as life is wont to do).  But my wi-fi signal is strong and my reading appetite is still un-quenched!  And, I am determined to get back to my regular posting schedule – yay! 🙂

Happy Reading!

Review “Shadow Spell”

Review of “Shadow Spell” (the second book in the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy), by Nora Roberts

image The tricky thing about trilogies is some (this one, for example), really should be read in order.  Not because who they end up with is some great mystery or if they’ll defeat the bad guy is really up for debate (one would assume it will happen in the third book, as Nora Roberts never disappoints).  But because there is a lovely flow of events as the main story, spread across three books, enfolds.  But that’s just me.

In “Shadow Spell,” we follow the story of Connor (a witch and a ladies man) and his very good friend Meara (a tough and smart woman).  The three O’Dwyer cousins and their three friends (and current/past/prospective mates) are still trying to battle to vanquish the evil Cabhan.  But their enemy is a crafty one, who can seep into one’s mind and invade dreams.  In the midst of the planning and fighting, two friends decide to mix a little business with pleasure…

Ah yes, so it’s to be a sweet friend romance for the second book of the trilogy – and I’m quite pleased with it.  Friendship romances tend to be on the softer, gooey-sweet side of the romance spectrum – like a gently toasted marshmallow, so sweet and yummy.  And Nora Roberts plays them perfectly  – not too sweet and silly, not all about sex, but somewhere in the blissful middle – all the while, building up the tension for the final epic battle (and the last love story) of the trilogy.

5 out of 5 starts for the 2nd book of the trilogy and one complaint – why?? Why must I wait for the book that’s going to be soooo delicious with its characters and completion?  The third book in this series (which is sure to have plenty of longing, yearning, and “oh no, I’m not sure we should be together” in it) doesn’t come out until October!  OCTOBER!  Hmph!  I’m going to pout….and in the meantime, crack the binding on another delicious romance novel. 😉