Monday, November 26, 2012

REVIEW: Up & Out by Ariella Papa

Title: Up & Out
Author: Ariella Papa
Publisher: Red Dress Ink
Publication Date: December, 2003
Genre: Chick-Lit
Rating: 6/10

Description: How long does it take to go from It Girl to on the dole?

TV producer Rebecca Cole has seen better days. Like the day her cartoon creation, Esme, made her a hit and scored her a promotion. That was a good day. But now that her roommate has decided to heed her therapist and appreciate the simpler things in life — outside of New York City — and a corporate takeover at her network has left Rebecca jobless, this food snob has to find a way to afford her rent and her penchant for fine dining. Oh, and she really should start saying no to the break-up sex with her ex.

Surely Rebecca will be able to draw herself out of this mess, and maybe even find a way to eat well in the process?

My Thoughts: This is my first Ariella Papa book and I have two additional Red Dress Ink titles by this author buried in my to be read pile.

Up & Out centers around a young woman named Rebecca, whose life is made up of working at a television network, eating out at as many restaurants as her wallet will allow her and the occasional sexual encounter with her ex boyfriend. Rebecca's life takes a sudden and unexpected turn when she is terminated from her job after the network is taken over by a bank. Left to make ends meet and facing homelessness, Rebecca moves back in with her boyfriend to figure out what direction her life will take her next.

If this was all the story entailed, I would have given up on this book as a waste of time. Fortunately, this story is rich in characters. Surrounding Rebecca are her three best friends, all of whom are going through their own trials and tribulations. I was often left wondering if the stress and anxieties these women were experiencing would bring them closer together as friends or drive them apart.

Rebecca comes off stronger than I initially was led to believe and though some of her choices are not choices I would have made, she manages to land on her feet and better off than where she started. I especially liked that I was surprised at one of her choices where her ex-boyfriend was concerned and they both turned out to be not at all what I was expecting.

Though there is a "boy meets girl" twist in this story, it comes from a very unexpected place and made the story so much more enjoyable. If you like the unexpected and enjoy being surprised, give this one a go.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

REVIEW: Celebrity In Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Celebrity In Death (In Death #34)
Author: J.D. Robb
Publisher: Putnam
Publication Date: February, 2012
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Urban Fantasy
Rating: 10/10

Description: Lieutenant Eve Dallas is no party girl, but she's managing to have a reasonably good time at the celebrity-packed bash celebrating The Icove Agenda, a film based on one of her famous cases. It's a little spooky seeing the actress playing her, who looks almost like her long-lost twin. Not as unsettling, though, as seeing the actress who plays Peabody drowned in the lap pool on the roof of the director's luxury building.

Now she's at the center of a crime scene-and Eve is more than ready to get out of her high heels and strap on her holster and step into the role she was born to play: cop.

My Thoughts: Another fabulous Eve Dallas installment! One of the things that I noticed strongly with this book are how different Eve and Peabody are. They are like night and day but get along together and complement one another perfectly. For that matter, Eve and Roark are the same as well.

Eve is not easily influenced, swayed or impressed by much of anything. She plays her cards close to the chest at all times, shows emotion, but keeps her inner spirit locked down so tightly that most people, even those closest to her, don't know where they stand with Eve or what she is thinking or feeling.

CELEBRITY IN DEATH has Eve and Peabody rubbing elbows and hobnobbing with the glitzy and glamorous Hollywood types while filming The Icove Agenda. Where Peabody is gushing over meeting all the stars, Eve is strongly detached. Eve would much rather put on her favorite boots and coat instead of fancy party dresses and shoes designed to torture one's feet.

I really enjoy seeing Eve outside of her element and comfort zone. Thanks in great part to Roark's presence in her life, Eve holds her own quite well at social gatherings and functions but it's such a joy to see Eve switch gears from high society wife to murder cop.

Still not enough Somerset in this one, but I got my Mavis, Leonardo and Bella fix, so I'm satisfied for now. I always enjoy Eve's interactions with Bella, especially Bella's insistence that Eve give her a smooch.

This case hits a little too close to home for many of the characters. The actress portraying Peabody in the movie has been murdered. Her striking resemblance to Peabody is so acute that seeing her corpse causes many characters to display a strong emotional response.

Unfortunately, the victim is not very well liked by anyone at the party. K. T. Harris has plenty of enemies for Eve to focus on as potential suspects. After a drunken tirade at the dinner party, even Eve is not one of the victim's fans.

Once again, Eve does a fantastic job of ferreting out the most obscure clues that eventually lead her down the path to finding the killer. The speed with which she accomplishes this amazes me even more. It's almost as if the crime scene speaks to Eve, tells her its secrets. Being a cop is all Eve has ever known. It's definitely in her blood, but it's also in her soul. I'm glad Peabody is so different and that she doesn't try to mirror Dallas. She can hold her own just the way she is, but I never get tired of seeing these two wonderful characters in action, two halves of a whole.

I think fans of this series will be very pleased with what CELEBRITY IN DEATH has to offer. A lot of fast-paced action, snappy dialogue, several laugh out loud moments and an intriguing plot makes this one of the best Eve Dallas books out there.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

REVIEW: Pretty In Plaid by Jen Lancaster

Title: Pretty in Plaid: A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomanical, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase
Author: Jen Lancaster
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: April, 2009
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 8/10

Description: In Pretty in Plaid, Jen Lancaster reveals how she developed the hubris that perpetually gets her into trouble. Using fashion icons of her youth to tell her hilarious and insightful stories, readers will meet the girl she used to be.

Think Jen Lancaster was always "like David Sedaris with pearls and a super-cute handbag?" (Jennifer Coburn) Think again. She was a badge-hungry Junior Girl Scout with a knack for extortion, an aspiring sorority girl who didn't know her Coach from her Louis Vuitton, and a budding executive who found herself bewildered by her first encounter with a fax machine. In this humorous and touching memoir, Jen Lancaster looks back on her life-and wardrobe-before bitter was the new black and shows us a young woman not so very different than the rest of us.

The author who showed us what it was like to wait in line at the unemployment office with a Prada bag, how living in the city can actually suck, and that losing weight can be fun with a trainer named Barbie and enough Ambien is ready to take you on a hilarious and heartwarming trip down memory lane in her shoes (and very pretty ones at that).

My Thoughts: When I read a Jen Lancaster book, I have come to expect to be entertained. This author has a unique voice in her writing that draws the reader into her world. I don't feel like I am reading a book but instead am sitting in a Starbucks with Jen Lancaster, laughing and giggling over foo-foo coffee drinks.

In PRETTY IN PLAID, we are given a front seat view into how fashion shaped Jen throughout her life from Girl Scout to college coed to career woman.

From Jordache jeans to designer Prada handbags, this book is an adventure in fashion that will appeal to the girly girl in all of us.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

REVIEW: Die For Me by Karen Rose

Title: Die For Me (Daniel Vartanian #1)
Author: Karen Rose
Publisher: Vision
Publication Date: September, 2007
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 9/10

Description: COME TO ME

The first victim is found in a snow-covered Philadelphia field. Detective Vito Ciccotelli enlists the aid of archaeologist Sophie Johannsen to determine exactly what lies beneath the frozen ground. Despite years of unearthing things long buried, nothing can prepare Sophie for the matrix of graves dug with chilling precision. The victims buried there haunt her. But the empty graves terrify her-the killer isn't done yet.


He is cold and calculating, the master of a twisted game. Even with Vito and Sophie hot on his trail, he will not stop. One more empty grave must be filled, and one last scream must be heard-the scream of an archaeologist who is too close for comfort and too near to resist...


My Thoughts: Another amazing offering by Karen Rose. I enjoyed the revisiting of past characters, Tess Ciccotelli and her brother, Vito. We first met Vito in Tess's story, YOU CAN'T HIDE. I was very happy to see him get his own story and happy to see Tess make an appearance. I especially liked meeting the rest of the Ciccotelli clan.

DIE FOR ME is also the first book in a spin-off trilogy featuring FBI Special Agent Daniel Vartanian, whose involvement in DIE FOR ME sets the groundwork for the next two books.

I didn't really feel much of a connection to Daniel mainly because I was so focused on Vito and Sophie. I'm not too worried about it, however, because I know when I read a Karen Rose book, she always does a fantastic job of creating complex characters that draw you into their lives so effortlessly that it is very easy to forget they are fictional characters.

This story takes place primarily in Philadelphia, where Vito is a homicide detective. Sophie is an archaeologist working for a local museum who is brought in to help unearth several mysterious graves. If that doesn't make her interesting enough, the fact that she speaks numerous languages fluently and rides a Harley should seal the deal. I really liked the dynamic of cop and archaeologist. Neither profession is afraid to get their hands dirty, so to speak. Both are good at digging to find the results. A perfect match that I could see a mile away, but these two need a little more time to get there.

I must warn you that the method of murder deployed by this sadistic villain is quite disturbing, but that's one of the things I really love about this author. She doesn't gloss over the horrifying details. Her stories are very realistic and I am glad they are. As a reader, I hate being patronized so the more realistic the story, the better it is for me as a reader. As disturbing as parts of the story were, I couldn't pull myself away. Danger lurks around every corner and nobody knows who the killer is or the reasons for the murders or who is next.

I highly recommend this book if you like stories full of high octane suspense with a blend of romance and characters that grow on you.


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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)