Tuesday, September 28, 2010

REVIEW: Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Title: Something Borrowed
Author: Emily Giffin
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: June, 2004
Hardcover: 322 pages
Genre: Chick-Lit
Rating: 8/10

Description: Meet Rachel White, a young attorney living and working in Manhattan. Rachel has always been the consummate good girl until her thirtieth birthday, when her best friend, Darcy, throws her a party. That night, after too many drinks, Rachel ends up in bed with Darcy’s fiancĂ©. Although she wakes up determined to put the one night fling behind her, Rachel is horrified to discover that she has genuine feelings for the one guy she should run from. In her wildest dreams (or worst nightmare?) this is the last thing on earth Rachel could ever have imagined happening.

As the September wedding date nears, Rachel knows she has to make a choice. In doing so, she discovers that the lines between right and wrong can be blurry, endings aren’t always neat and sometimes you have to risk all to win true happiness.

My Thoughts: The plot device I hate above all others when I read is infidelity. I put off reading this book for a very long time because of that. When I began reading the book, I was prepared to hate Rachel on sight and judge her as selfish and slutty. What kind of woman would sleep with her best friend’s fiancĂ©? Especially when that woman is also the maiden of honor in the wedding? So, filled with my self-righteous anger and indignation, I began reading this book. And did a complete 180.

Kudos to Ms. Giffin for taking a very difficult situation for anyone to be in and making the perpetrators sympathetic. The story is told completely from Rachel’s point of view. I found myself sympathizing with Rachel; the situation she finds her self in, struggling with trying to make the right decisions, and not wanting to hurt Darcy, though Darcy comes off as a very spoiled and manipulative brat.

Rachel and Dex are very likeable characters. They have known each other since law school and Rachel is the one who introduced Dex to Darcy. They don’t plan on sleeping together and afterward try to make the best of an awkward situation. They don’t plan on falling in love and with the wedding looming over their heads, I was in constant suspense as to what Dex was going to do. Rachel’s anxiety over the situation was very believable and well written. I was on the edge of my seat hoping that Dex wouldn’t turn out to be someone just looking to score before taking the leap. Rachel is someone who has lived in Darcy’s shadow since they were children and I had to admire her strength of spirit in wanting to hold on with both hands the unexpected love she has found with Dex.

With each trip down memory lane, my loyalty and sympathy for Rachel increased as we are shown how spoiled and calculating Darcy has been. Various supporting characters from their past and present also enriched the story for me.

I especially enjoyed the final showdown, for lack of a better term. It was well written and filled with nail biting tension and major surprises. I’m still not liking the infidelity plot device, but I can understand that, as in all things in life, it’s not all black or white. I’m looking forward to the follow-up, Something Blue, to see if Darcy has any redeeming qualities at all.

REVIEW: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Title: Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate, #1)
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: September, 2009
Paperback: 357 pages
Genre: Cozy Paranormal Mystery
Rating: 10/10


First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire --- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

My Thoughts: This book seems to cover several genres at once. Historical romance as it is set during the reign of Queen Victoria when women’s fashion included a bustle and corset and leaving the house with the incorrect hat was an unforgivable social faux pas. And in Alexia Tarabotti’s case, carrying a parasol is a must as well. The romance depicts two characters, a spinster and an earl performing the mating ritual required by Victorian society. This book could also be viewed as a paranormal romance as the characters involved in the romance have a paranormal background. Our hero, Lord Maccon, is the leader of one of the local werewolf packs. Our heroine, Alexia Tarabotti, is a preternatural. She has the ability to reverse the abilities of a supernatural being simply by touching them. Werewolves revert back to human form and vampires become human and are able to go out in sunlight. The only catch is this only works as long as she maintains physical contact. Once the contact is broken, the supernatural being goes back to his former state. Finally, this book could be considered a cozy mystery as there is mystery and foul play afoot. Newly made vampires are appearing without any apparent connection to the vampire hive in London and other vampires, high ranking members of London society are disappearing and someone is also after Alexia as well.

Regardless of which genre you decide to label this book, you will find this story to be highly entertaining. The chemistry between Lord Maccon and Alexia is intense. Besides the sexual tension lying just below the surface, there is a history between them of earlier confrontations and conflict. They definitely get on each other’s nerves. As a spinster, Alexia is not the typical simpering female solely motivated to finding a husband, sipping tea and being brainless. Alexia’s mother and two sisters fill that role perfectly. Instead, Alexia questions everything around her and I found her inquisitive and independent nature refreshing.

Lord Maccon is the type of hero I always enjoy reading. He is very protective of what is his and he is very much the alpha male. Ironically, only an alpha female is suitable as his mate and when it is decided that Alexia will be his mate, he automatically assumes she will take on the nature of an alpha female werewolf. Not being a werewolf, she has no idea what he expects and the results were quite entertaining. A Scottish werewolf…what’s not to love? If you need further encouragement, there is an extended scene when Alexia has to revert him back to human form while he is a werewolf. It was a little scary but in the end having to keep her arms wrapped around a very naked Lord Maccon was quite enjoyable, at least for the reader and I didn’t hear Alexia or Lord Maccon complaining about it either.

The author brings a story laden with humor filled with characters that I enjoyed meeting and found refreshing. I loved the story, the characters, including the brief appearance of Queen Victoria and some of the supporting characters like Lord Akeldama, Ivy and Professor Lyall. The only thing missing to make this experience perfect is having my copy of the next story, Changeless on hand.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

REVIEW: Crime Seen by Victoria Laurie

Title: Crime Seen (Psychic Eye Mysteries, #5)
Author: Victoria Laurie
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: September, 2007
Paperback: 304 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Rating: 6/10

Description: This job is murder.

As a professional psychic, Abby Cooper doesn’t exactly lead a nine-to-five existence. But when she tunes in on a cold case that’s getting hotter by the minute, it looks like it’s time to work out a new schedule…


Abby Cooper, psychic intuitive, is finding that gunshot wounds are bad for business --- especially since she never saw the bullet coming. She’s been recuperating under her sexy FBI agent boyfriend Dutch Rivers’s watchful eye, but Abby’s not the kind of girl who can tolerate much supervision. So when Dutch asks her to check out a few case files, Abby can’t pass up the chance to recharge her intuition --- and her independence.

When she accidentally comes across a closed file that’s dead wrong, Abby knows she’s got to bring the real killer to justice. With an innocent man in prison and no new evidence to free him, her only choice is to go undercover at the murderer’s shady mortgage firm. As a vision of the crime scene plays in her head, and she races to trap the bad guy, Abby realizes that corporate life is even tougher than it seems --- and the hours can be deadly.

My Thoughts: Crime Seen begins with Abby living at Dutch’s place while she heals from the gunshot wounds she received in Killer Insight. Abby seems less sure of herself in the beginning and her business seems to have dwindled down to nothing. While looking at some closed cases for Dutch, she comes across a cold case of a murdered police detective and her radar goes haywire. She’s convinced that the man in prison for the crime is innocent.

Abby’s private investigator friend, Candice, moves to town and she and Abby become business partners. Abby relies on Candice’s P.I. skills and contacts to help her solve the murder. She goes undercover in a mortgage company to try to uncover clues that will reveal the true criminals, which unknowingly puts her in the killer’s sights.

I really enjoy this series, but Crime Seen has been my least favorite so far. Abby shows more uncertainty in this story and though I understand the reasons behind it, I didn’t enjoy witnessing it. Dutch also came across more controlling than usual in this story and I saw a side to Milo I didn’t care for. Fortunately for me, these problems will not prevent me for continuing to read this series and hopefully the next book will be better.

Monday, September 06, 2010

New Additions To The TBR Pile In August

A few new friends found their way into my home.

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate, #1) by Gail Carriger
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Mystery
Published October, 2009 by Orbit
Mass Market Paperback, 373 pages
Description: Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Run For Your Life (Michael Bennett, #2) by James Patterson
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Published February, 2009 by Little, Brown And Company
Hardcover, 400 pages
Description: A calculating murderer who calls himself the Teacher is taking on New York City, slaughtering the powerful and the arrogant. Everyone is his potential student - from the loud-mouthed girl on her cell phone to the city's snooty upper crust. His message to them is clear: remember your manners or suffer the consequences. For some, it seems that the rich are finally getting what they deserve. For New York's elite, it is a call to terror." "There is only one man in the NYPD who can tackle such a high-profile case: Detective Michael Bennett. For anyone else, the pressure would be overwhelming, but Mike is ready to step up - taking care of his ten children has prepared him for the job. As the media frenzy escalates, all of Mike's children fall victim to a virulent flu bug - almost as challenging an assignment for Bennett as tracking down the killer." A secret pattern emerges in the Teacher's lessons, leaving Detective Bennett just a few precious hours to save New York from the greatest disaster in its history.

Real Vampires Don't Diet (Glory St. Clair, #4) by Gerry Bartlett
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Published December, 2008 by Berkley
Paperback, 352 pages

Gloriana St. Clair, curvy, stylish, undead, is spending New Year's Eve alone. And it's all because her boyfriend, Jeremy Blade, is traipsing off to parts unknown to rescue his supposed daughter from the clutches of "dangerous radicals."

Just as Glory settles down to subject her telepathic dog, Valdez, to an evening of chick flicks, she gets a call from the bodyguard of rock star and newly turned vamp Israel "Ray" Caine. Like most guests at a New Year's party, Ray is well on his way to being drunk off his butt, despite the fact that alcohol and turned vampires don't exactly mix.

Glory speeds over to the party to save Ray from himself, and finds the rock star more depressed than drunk. To take his mind off his vamp issues, she asks him for a late-night boat ride. What kind of trouble could they possibly run into out in the middle of a lake late at night?

Would you like a list?

Doom With A View (Psychic Eye Mystery, #7) by Victoria Laurie
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published August, 2009 by Signet
Paperback, 336 pages
Description: Business has been frustratingly slow for Abby. She needs any new commission she can get, even if it means agreeing to a job with the FBI that puts her at the center of a political struggle between two powerful agents, one of whom is flintly lead investigator and confirmed skeptic Brice Harrison. Abby's skills - and patience - are continually tested as she works to convince Harrison that she's the real deal and can help him locate three teens who have mysteriously disappeared.

Abby's intuition tells her these are not random abductions - and she foresees another victim being kidnapped. To get to the bottom of the case, she and Harrison will have to put aside their differences and work together to find the connection between the missing kids. And to do that, Abby will have to win over Harrison while keeping her psychic eye wide-open.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

REVIEW: Learning To Play Gin by Ally Carter

Title: Learning To Play Gin
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publication Date: November, 2006
Paperback: 277 pages
Genre: Chick-Lit
Rating: 8/10

Description: It takes two to play this game.

How does the queen of solitaire fare when someone else is dealing?

Julia James was on a winning streak. The hot self-help author of the single-girls’ guide 101 Ways To Cheat At Solitaire had millions in the bank and a boyfriend on the Hollywood A-list. But when her books drop off the bestseller list and her famous boyfriend moves to L.A., Julia realizes all her good luck could topple faster than a house of cards. Now, she has to head to the West Coast and play the odds or risk losing her dream career and her dream man. But can a woman become famous for being single figure out how to win at a game made for two?

My Thoughts: A great follow-up to Cheating At Solitaire. In this sequel, Julia James has weathered her public exposure of no longer being a single woman and has landed on her feet. She is neck deep in remodeling her home in Oklahoma and her boyfriend, Lance is embarking on a dream come true adventure of being a Hollywood superstar. Unfortunately, Julia’s status on the bestseller list drops and she wonders if or when she will be able to write another book.

Julia finally agrees to fly out to L.A. to spend time with Lance after finding out on the television that he bought a home and is relocating out there. She and best friend, Nina, arrive and though Julia feels a little bit out of her element, Nina takes to her surroundings like a duck in water. Though Julia is famous in her own right, walking the red carpet at a major movie premiere isn’t something she’s experienced in or comfortable with.

Along the way, Julia finds herself struggling to acclimate to the lifestyle that comes with Lance’s star status and meets several characters, including Lance’s parents and begins to question her place in L.A. and in Lance’s life.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought Julia and Lance were likeable characters I could easily relate to. The supporting characters like Nina and Julia’s sister, Caroline, bring an angle to the story that makes their characters stand out and are likeable as well. I thought it was curious that Julia chose an out of the way coffee shop to go to and reflect and that even after getting a car, she still hired a cab. I thought the cab driver, Pedro, was a great character and an excellent addition to the story. He gives Julia a completely different perspective on L.A. than what she had seen up to that point.

The only problem I had with this book is the ending. I didn’t feel there was closure and I have the impression that Lance is giving it all up, which I don’t think he should have to do. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that there will be another book, so I am left to wonder.

Overall, this story is very entertaining and a lot of fun. As the title declares, you may also learn to play gin while reading this book and card skills are always good to have on this journey of life.


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I am not a professional reviewer, but I love to read and share my opinions on my reading with others who are interested. I work full time but my ideal perfect day would be to curl up with a good book. The majority of the books I review here are from my private collection and my reviews are provided purely for entertainment purposes. I receive no compensation whatsoever for sharing my thoughts and review on any book. If you would like me to review your book, please email me at sharalsbooks@yahoo.com Happy Reading! :o)