Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Out With The Old, In With The New

With 2010 coming to an end, a very rapid end, it seems like, it is time to reflect on what I have accomplished and what I hope to accomplish in 2011.

Not sure what happened, but 2010 seemed to fly by. Is this a symptom of aging, I wonder? We are all in such a hurry to grow up and then when we do, the time passes at the speed of sound, leaving us bewildered and at a loss as to where it went.

In 2011, I would like time. Time to enjoy life, time to spend with The Scottish Guy, time to laugh, time to read, time to spend with friends. I don't want to worry about how cluttered the house is. I don't want to worry about the politics and drama at work. I don't want to dwell on the past which causes me to worry about what might happen in the future.

In 2011, I would like to read more, laugh more, be thankful for the blessings in my life and not worry about what I don't have.

Reading more should be an easy goal. I hope so. Santa and The Scottish Guy have given me an excellent tool to make it an easy goal.

Here's to a happy and bright New Year!

REVIEW: The Ghost And The Dead Man's Library by Alice Kimberly

Title: The Ghost and the Dead Man’s Library (Haunted Bookshop, #3)
Author: Alice Kimberly
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September, 2006
Paperback: 254 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Rating: 8/10

Description: Sleuth, Nevermore…?

Bookshop owner Penelope Thornton McClure has just received an extremely rare collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s complete works. Rumor has it a secret code, trapped within the books’ leather-bound pages, leads to buried treasure. Well, it looks like they got the buried part right, because as Pen sells off the valuable volumes, everyone who buys…dies.

Once these books go missing from their owners’ cold hands, Pen will need resident ghost and hard-boiled PI Jack Shepard to help crack the case. The police are skeptical that the deaths involved foul play --- so it’s up to Pen and Jack to unravel these shocking endings…

My Thoughts: I’m really enjoying this series. In this installment, Penelope and her Aunt Sadie travel to Newport to acquire a collection of published works by Edgar Allan Poe from a man Sadie used to be romantically involved with. One of the things I enjoyed about this book is the story doesn’t drag and meander. It gets right to the meat and potatoes of the story when just mere minutes after leaving Newport with the books, the previous owner dies under mysterious circumstances. Then before I had time to process that, Penelope sells one of the volumes for $8,000 and the new owner is found dead. Penelope gets arrested and charged with theft, Spencer is being bullied at school, and we learn a little more about Jack and one of the cases he was working on. These side plots keep the story from becoming stagnant and hold my interest in the book.

I also like that, through her dreams, Penelope is able to go with Jack to his time and observe and even participate in what he’s doing. This seems to be the only way she can actually see him. In her time, she can only hear him, but carrying Jack’s buffalo nickel on her person, he can travel outside the store with her. I just wish she could see him in the present and that Sadie and Spencer could too. Jack’s vocabulary is very entertaining as well.

“Pops is laying track, baby. He’s taking you for a rube.”

“Make like the proverbial shepherd, sweetheart, and get the flock out.”

“All that yammering is giving me a headache where I don’t have one --- a head, that is…”

“That scam was old when I was in knee pants.”

I’m hoping that Penelope will learn more about Jack; maybe find his descendants or learn the truth about his murder. In the meantime, Jack’s presence in Penelope’s head brings her confidence and, at times, comfort.

Overall, The Ghost and the Dead Man’s Library is a good installment of the Haunted Bookshop Mystery series. It enlightened me to some unknown facts about Edgar Allan Poe and entertained me with Jack’s gruff personality and quips.

Monday, December 20, 2010

REVIEW: The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer

Title: The Cinderella Pact
Author: Sarah Strohmeyer
Publisher: New American Library
Publication Date: June, 2006
Paperback: 352 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 7/10

Description: Fairy godmother hasn't shown up yet? Maybe it's time to take matters into your own hands....

When magazine editor Nola Devlin is turned down for her dream job as an advice columnist because she's overweight, she decides to become thin --- or, at least, pretend to be. Belinda Apple, the alter ego she creates --- thin, British, hip, and did we mention thin? --- is a smashing success who is offered movie proposals, national television appearances and even dates. Of course, no one’s actually met her in person.

Unfortunately, Nola takes Belinda a bit too far, jotting off a column about how easy it is to lose weight --- a column her friends take seriously. Trapped by her own words, Nola is forced to join the “Cinderella Pact” and drop the pounds.

As the weight comes off, however, Nola’s problems begin to mount. Her magazine launches an investigation into Belinda Apple’s true identity, her friends race ahead of her in the weight loss game, and her younger sister chooses Belinda as her maid of honor. Plus, there’s this mysterious hunk who might be Nola’s prince --- or a rat in coachmen’s clothing. Will this “everygirl” from New Jersey finally find a glass slipper that fits? Or do glass slippers shatter on the feet of real women like us?

My Thoughts: Very entertaining story about a plus size girl who decides to grab life by the horns and chase her dreams. Magazine editor Nola Devlin is like most of us; haunted by her weight problem and her habit of comfort eating and no exercise, she is viewed with disgust or indifference by people around her. Her supervisor practically ridicules her when turning her down for an opportunity to write a column so Nola decides to exact a little retribution and invents a fictional columnist who gets the job instead. Nola doesn’t count on Belinda Apple’s global popularity and when questions begin to arise regarding the validity of Belinda’s identity and resume, Nola is faced with an internal investigation that could cost her not only her credibility but her career and freedom.

While this is occurring, Nola finds herself and her friends treated in a discriminatory fashion at a restaurant when they want to sit closer to a window. The friends make a vow to lose the weight and come back to the restaurant thin, gorgeous and all made up (a la Pretty Woman) to let the snide employee know what a horrible mistake he made in treating them so poorly.

Unfortunately, it’s not just her employer, coworkers and restaurant wait staff who treats her badly. Nola’s mother and sister are convinced that Nola is jealous of her sister’s upcoming wedding and upset that Nola’s sister would invite Belinda to be her maiden of honor. Nola’s soon to be brother-in-law seems to take every opportunity to guess Nola’s weight and makes sure everyone within hearing distance knows too.

After a particularly mortifying day wherein Nola’s car catches fire and she busts out the back of her pants, she accepts a ride home from one of her coworkers, Chip. She likes Chip’s easy-going, laid-back manner and is surprised that he seems to like her as well. She discovers that Chip isn’t who she thought he was, literally. The man she thought he was worked in the technical assistance department but is much shorter and speaks with a Scottish brogue. So now Nola finds herself attracted to a man whose identity is a mystery. Nobody could use the services of a Fairy Godmother more than Nola Devlin.

I really enjoyed the story and loved Nola and her friends Deb and Nancy. I, too, found myself with a bit of a crush on the mysterious Chip. I especially liked that he did not appear to give a flying fig about Nola’s weight. He comes across as liking her for who she is and that scores major points with me. There are a lot of supporting characters that add to the story, such as Nigel, the presumed boyfriend of the fictional Belinda. He ends up saving the day for Nola in more ways than one. There are many laugh out loud moments in this story; my favorite is when Nola rips her pants at work.

The only problem I had with this book was the blatant in my face intrusion of Bubbles Yablonsky into this story. Not all readers may pick up on it, but I did. Having Bubbles show up more than once in this story was like having ice cold water dumped on my head. Her appearance has absolutely no relevance to Nola’s story and it actually pulled my attention out of this book. Bubbles has a series of her own. I’ve read them and enjoy them, but I don’t want to see Bubbles getting air time on someone else’s story.

Overall, I found this book very enjoyable and great entertainment. If you can ignore the party crashing of irrelevant characters, give this one a shot. I enjoyed the way Nola resolves all of the dilemmas she faces without losing her charm.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

REVIEW: Thanks For The Memories by Cecelia Ahern

Title: Thanks For The Memories
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: April, 2008
Paperback: 373 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5/10

Description: How can you know someone you’ve never met? Joyce Conway remembers things she shouldn’t. She knows about tiny cobbled streets in Paris, which she has never visited. And every night she dreams about an unknown little girl with blonde hair. Justin Hitchcock is divorced, lonely and restless. He arrives in Dublin to give a lecture on art and meets an attractive doctor, who persuades him to donate blood. It’s the first thing to come straight from his heart in a long time. When Joyce leaves hospital after a terrible accident, with her life and her marriage in pieces, she moves back in with her elderly father. All the while, a strong sense of déjà vu is overwhelming her and she can’t figure out why …

My Thoughts: Not my favorite from this author, here’s a tale about a woman who receives a blood transfusion from a man she has never met and begins to recall his memories and develops skills and abilities she has never known, like speaking Latin and a knowledge of ancient architecture.

What happens next are several random sightings and near-miss chance encounters as they are being drawn to each other without knowing why or who the other one really is. The story dragged quite a bit for me but I was compelled to hang in there just so I could find out what would happen when Joyce and Justin finally discover who the other one is.

Some interesting characters adding to the story are Joyce’s father, who continuously calls her by her mother’s name; Justin’s brother, Al and his wife, Doris, who are visiting from Chicago and Justin’s daughter who unwittingly plays a pivotal role in bringing Justin and Joyce together.

Not a bad story, overall, but for this author, I recommend P.S. I LOVE YOU, ROSIE DUNNE or IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

REVIEW: Dying To Call You by Elaine Viets

Title: Dying To Call You (Dead-End Job Mystery #3)
Author: Elaine Viets
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: October, 2004
Paperback: 270 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Rating: 1/10

Description: Helen Hawthorne has just found her new a telemarketer. And it's not long before she's disrupting dinners all over the country with her pesky calls. But during a phone survey to the home of Henry Asporth, she's the one who gets an earful when she overhears an argument, followed by a scream --- and then dead air. Was someone being strangled? Or was it just a loud movie? Helen searches the office computer database to learn more about Asporth and the much younger woman he allegedly lived with...before she disappeared. And soon Helen's in over her head, chasing clues and trying to avoid a close call...with a killer.

My Thoughts: Not sure if it's my overall apathy of telemarketers in general that annoyed me in this installment of the Dead-End Job Mystery series, or if I'm losing interest in the series overall but I found the plot hard to focus on. Helen was over the top with too many "too stupid to live" moments. Not even the appearance of Helen's "invisible pot-head" neighbor, Phil, impressed me. He just strikes me as yet another of the many men that have crossed Helen's path that she's better off avoiding. Maybe he will redeem himself later on. But I really don't care at this point.

The problem for me in this series is that Helen is becoming more stupid. I get that she's on the run. I understand why she has to avoid banks and has to work for cash under the table and why she has to sock her money away inside her furniture, teddy bear and suitcase. What pisses me off is that her carelessness costs her a large chunk of this money. On top of that, what she has to endure in order to even acquire the money in the first place to have it gone in the blink of an eye makes me want to chew glass and spit nails.

More stupidity on her part ensues. Questioning people who later end up dead and having your fingerprints all over the place does not make for an intelligent person. She wiped the fingerprints from the doorknob, but she walked inside the apartment leaving DNA evidence all over the place. Oh, and for a finale, let’s go to the killer’s house and search the place for evidence! I don’t mind the forensic inaccuracies but when the lead character jumps from being a mover and shaker drawing in six figures to stupid, careless and foolish, it bothers the hell out of me.

Overall, though this book is definitely the worst of the series, there’s hope that it can’t get any worse. It can only go up from here, right? Then again, Helen’s next dead-end job is in a bridal dress shop. Stupidity, carelessness and foolishness will not mix well with Bridezilla on PMS. As long as Helen’s stupidity isn’t a long term affliction, I can hang around and find out how she does in the next job.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

REVIEW: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Title: Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: August, 2007
Paperback: 332 pages
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal Romance
Rating: 8/10


Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with an unbreakable bond to the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest and most dangerous vampires --- the ones who never die.

The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making her one of them.

After two years of illicit freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. Rose will continue her Dhampir education. Lissa will go back to being Queen of the elite Moroi social scene. And both girls will resume breaking Academy hearts.

Fear made Lissa and Rose run away from St. Vladimir's --- inside the Academy's iron gates, their world is even more fraught with danger. Here, the cutthroat ranks of the Moroi perform unspeakable rituals, and their secretive nature and love of the night creates an enigmatic world full of social complexities. Rose and Lissa must navigate through this dangerous world, confront the temptation of forbidden romance, and never once let their guard down, lest the Strigoi make Lissa one of them forever...

My Thoughts: New author for me and though I was intrigued with the plot premise, the beginning of this series had me feeling lost in the middle. I was expecting more detail and history of the characters, an introduction and getting to you phase, if you will. Instead I am dropped into the story feeling like I tuned in after it had started and had missed much of the beginning. Usually, this alone will be enough of a reason for me to stop reading and throw the book against the wall, but I decided to ride it out and see where it takes me. I’m glad I did. Thankfully, the feeling of being lost doesn’t last long as the author does an exceptional job of bringing the reader up to speed, filling in the gaps while keeping the story interesting and not getting bogged down in a lot of monotonous detail and “blah blah blah.”

Very quickly, I was able to see how close Rose and Lissa are. More than friends and closer than sisters, they share a very strong bond and though the reader doesn’t understand the importance of the bond at first or the ramifications of this bond, it is very easy to see how closely connected they are. Once I understood that, the rest of the story quickly fell into place and I got busy meeting the supporting characters and enjoying Rose’s feisty personality, sharp wit and sometimes biting language.

I really like the premise of a vampire academy. A school for vampires; kind of like Hogwarts for blood suckers; really, how cool is that? Upon further pondering, I feel quite sure this is the first for this theme. Within the halls of the academy, we learn that an entire society of vampires exist, the mortal ones who also possess magical abilities, the Moroi and the evil immortal ones, the Strigoi. Rose is a half human half vampire, a Dhampir. Her duty is to guard and protect the Moroi, of which Lissa is one. Once Rose is fully trained, she will also be expected to lay down her life, if necessary, to ensure Lissa is protected from the Strigoi.

Overall, not a bad beginning to a series that holds a lot of promise. Still a little fuzzy on the details regarding why the Strigoi are hell bent on killing off the Moroi, but I’m hopeful that will be cleared up as I progress through the series. I’m looking forward to seeing how the budding relationships between Lissa and Christian and Rose and Dimitri play out.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

New Additions To The TBR Pile In November

The beautiful thing about audiobooks is that though I add them to my to be read list, they don't take up any room now that I've entered the 21st century and listen digitally instead of on CD or cassette. Just imagine the room I could free up around here if Santa brings me a Kindle or a Nook for Christmas... :o)

Thanks For The Memories by Cecelia Ahern

Description: How can you know someone you’ve never met? Joyce Conway remembers things she shouldn’t. She knows about tiny cobbled streets in Paris, which she has never visited. And every night she dreams about an unknown little girl with blonde hair. Justin Hitchcock is divorced, lonely and restless. He arrives in Dublin to give a lecture on art and meets an attractive doctor, who persuades him to donate blood. It’s the first thing to come straight from his heart in a long time. When Joyce leaves hospital after a terrible accident, with her life and her marriage in pieces, she moves back in with her elderly father. All the while, a strong sense of déjà vu is overwhelming her and she can’t figure out why …

Charley's Web by Joy Fielding

Description: New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Joy Fielding tells the story of an ambitious journalist whose foray into the mind of a killer puts her own family in jeopardy.
Charley Webb is a beautiful single mother who writes a successful and controversial column for the Palm Beach Post. She's spent years building an emotional wall against scathing critics, snooty neighbors, and her disapproving family. But when she receives a letter from Jill Rohmer, a young woman serving time on death row for the murders of three small children, her boundaries slowly begin to fade. Jill wants Charley to write her biography so that she can share the many hidden truths about the case that failed to surface during her trial. Seeing this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Charley begins her jour-ney into the mind of this deeply troubled woman.

Her path takes a twisted turn, however, when the anonymous letters she's recently received from an angry reader evolve into threats, targeting her son and daughter. As Charley races against time to save her family, she begins to understand the value of her seemingly intru-sive neighbors, friends, and relatives. As she discovers, this network of flawed but loving people might just be her only hope of getting out alive.

Filled with complex characters and a plot rich with intrigue, Charley's Web is Joy Fielding at her heart-skipping, mesmerizing best.


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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 Happy Reading! :o)