Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot- One of my favorite series!

Another adventure in “the Death Dorm”!  Heather Wells, onetime pop princess, is now the head of Residential Services at Fischer Hall.  Fischer Hall has been the site of several murders and has acquired the nickname of “the Death Dorm”. Heather is juggling the arrangements for her long awaited wedding to Cooper Cartwright and the tribulations of coordinating the beginning of the school year at New York College. Students are usually running the other way trying not to get into Fischer. This year, Fischer is the dorm to be in this year because of the arrival of a Middle Eastern Crown Prince and that brings a whole other set of problems.  When a RA is found dead in her room, Heather finds herself in the middle of another murder case.
One of the things I love about this series is the sassy attitude Heather has about her job and the upper administration of the college.  Her coworkers are pretty funny for the most part and Heather’s boss, Lisa, is going through a personal crisis in addition to the latest dead body discovery in the dorm. All of the shenanigans pulled by Cooper’s twin sisters to make the wedding fun for Heather add to the mayhem and pluck Heather’s last nerve. I enjoy the give and take between Heather and Cooper and how he is able to keep her calm and focused on their wedding. His character is just such a nice influence but Cooper can be a toughie when needed- usually to defend Heather.
There are all kinds of subplots winding through this latest books and a few red herrings to keep it interesting. Readers of the entire series will enjoy this book and the culmination of Heather and Cooper’s romance.  Newer readers will find enough back story to enjoy the book without feeling lost.  I am looking forward to Heather and Cooper’s future adventures!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

How the Light Gets In- LOVED. LOVED, LOVED IT!!

I would give this book 10 stars or more if I could. When I was approved for the egalley, being the mature professional librarian that I am, I went up to one of my coworkers who also reads the series and basically said “Nya! Nya! I got to read the book early”.  That is the level of devotion that this entire series inspires in its readers.
After the emotional ending of the previous book, I was prepared for this one to be heavy duty but I had no idea how much this emotion this book would evoke. I literally sat on my couch for hours barely able to take a breath because I was so caught up into the story. Looking back at the previous books, one can see all of the clues leading up to the finish of this book but it is absolutely stunning to see how they all come together.
When this book begins, Gamache is seemingly hanging on by a thread.  His agents have been scattered all through the department and he has a group of disrespectful yahoos working for him. But his enemies haven't won the war, only the first skirmish. Gamache still has some fight left in him and he has friends in powerful places. As in all of Ms. Penny's books, there are side stories that seem to have no reflection on the main plot but everything, I mean everything is important!
Inspector Gamache gets involved in the disappearance of a woman who had visited Three Pines and planned to return but never showed up. As he digs deeper into her life, he discovers facts about her life that will surprise all who knew her.  Readers over a certain age will remember the actual situation that inspired this story line and what a huge story it was in its day.
Anyone who has followed this series will be crazy while reading this book, so just leave them alone and be prepared for a lot of emotion after they are done.   While one part of Gamache’s life is resolved, the ending opens up a lot of questions about what the future holds for Gamache and all of us loyal readers!

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank- One of my favorite authors!

Leslie Anne Greene Carter is The Last Original Wife among her husband Wesley’s wildly successful Atlanta social set. His cronies have all traded in the mothers of their children they promised to love and cherish—’til death did them part—for tanned and toned young Barbie brides.

If losing the social life and close friends she adored wasn’t painful enough, a series of setbacks shake Les’s world and push her to the edge. She’s had enough of playing the good wife to a husband who thinks he’s doing her a favor by keeping her around. She’s not going to waste another minute on people she doesn’t care to know. Now, she’s going to take some time for herself—in the familiar comforts and stunning beauty of Charleston, her beloved hometown. In her brother’s stately historic home, she’s going to reclaim the carefree girl who spent lazy summers sharing steamy kisses with her first love on Sullivans Island. Along Charleston’s live oak- and palmetto-lined cobblestone streets, under the Lowcountry’s dazzling blue sky, Les will indulge herself with icy cocktails, warm laughter, divine temptation and bittersweet memories. Daring to listen to her inner voice, she will realize what she wants . . . and find the life of which she’s always dreamed.

4.5 hearts

When a woman falls and spends 45 minutes in an empty catch basin on a trip to Scotland, you know that things are not going to well in her life. Leslie Carter has seen her friends get cast off by their husbands for wife 2.0 until she feels like she is the LAST original wife.  She has had to put up with dinners and events with these younger women and then finds herself on vacation with the replacement wife for her best friend. Her husband, Wesley has dreamt all of his life about golfing at St. Andrews and off the foursome goes to Scotland.  When Les has her accident, the rest of the group keeps walking back to the hotel and doesn’t even realize she is missing. After she is located, Wes leaves her at the hospital so he doesn’t miss his tee time.
Back home, Les realizes that her life has not turned out to be what she expected it to be. Yes, she is still married but it’s a marriage by rote not of passion or caring. Her two adult children are irresponsible and users.  Wes is a controlling guy and has no appreciation for what Les has done for him over the years.  She discovers that financially they are in a much better situation than she was aware of and this is the impetus for her to take a trip to Charleston to visit her brother.   Les has time to think and really assess what her life means and what she really wants to do with her future.
So many books lately feature the discarded wife being screwed by her cheating ex and having to rebuild her life on nothing but pluck.  Then she gets financial revenge and a new man and everything is great.  I love a good revenge plot as well as the next person, (Note: Pawley’s Island by this author is one of the absolute best of that genre) but this book is different. Les decides to take a break from her marriage after a period of reflection and increased self-awareness. She does meet up with an old flame but that is not the answer to her problems. Les needs to see what it is about herself that put her in the position she is presently in.  How did she become ok with settling for less than she deserved? Why does she let other people make her feel that her wants and needs are less important than her husband’s and children’s? Is fear of what your life will be without your marriage a good enough reason to stay?
Wes is not really a bad guy, just self-absorbed and oblivious.   When the couple goes to counseling, the real difference between them is highlighted.  Les wants to find out if this marriage can be saved and Wes just wants his old life back with no changes on his end.
There is an interesting side story about a woman writer from earlier times in Charleston in whose story Les becomes interested. The descriptions of the “Barbie” wives are funny and pathetic at the same time. One of Ms. Frank’s skills is how she defines her characters and integrates the Southern mystique into her books. I thought that this book was a little less South-centric than some of her other books.   That said, I enjoyed reading this book but I expected no less from one of my favorite authors.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Magic of "I Do" by Tammy Faulkner

With the temporary prohibition on magic on the land of the Fae, Claire Thorne might as well go back to the Regency world. The haut ton has just as many annoying rules as her world, but at least they have parties and dances. Plus, the roguish Lord Phineas "Finn" Trimble is there...
When the feisty faerie tumbles into his room through a magical portal, Finn can't believe how completely unpredictable she is. Even before the two stumble into a dangerous intrigue that threatens both their worlds, Finn discovers that his hitherto carefree life is about to go up in smoke... ( synopsi from B&
The Magic of “I Do” is the second book in the Faerie series by Tammy Faulkner. Claire Thorne is the daughter of a faerie and a human.  She has spent her entire life with the Fae being raised by her grandparents.  She is also a mission faerie and came to London on a mission with her sister Sophie.  When the book opens she finds herself in a bit of a pickle. She has been abducted by Lord Phineas (Finn) Trimble, the brother of the Duke of Robinsworth. Claire and Finn are forced to stay at his home when a snowstorm occurs and the sparks fly between them, culminating in Claire losing her innocence to Finn.  She is taken away by a faerie wind before they can talk about what happened.  When circumstances throw them together again, Claire is increasing and worried about what it will mean. Finn, in the meantime, is just happy to see the woman who has been on his mind since they were together.
This was an interesting blend of paranormal and regency. The Rules of the Ton and the Unpardonable Errors of the Fae serve to cause difficulties for the two lovers.  Even though they are attracted to each other, Claire knows from her own life experience that a fae child of a human parent causes problems in both worlds.  Added to the mix, a vengeful Earl is determined to cause Finn and his brother trouble. Claire being a mission faerie and Finn being an Agent mean that they are both headstrong and wanting to rush right in when there is a problem. They are stubborn when it comes to their feelings for each other as well and it takes time for them to realize that they can’t live without the other.
I don’t usually like to read books out of order and I didn’t realize this was a sequel until I had already started it. I was enjoying the story so I kept going. As soon as I finished, I made sure to purchase the first book “A Lady and Her Magic”. The next book in the series “ The Magic Between Us” comes out in January of 2014.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Skinny Bitch in Love by Kim Barnouin

Clementine Cooper is a born vegan, com­mitted in every way to the healthy lifestyle she was raised with on her father’s organic farm. But how bad could a little butter be? Bad enough to get the ambitious and talented sous chef fired when an influential food critic discovers dairy in Clem’s butternut squash ravioli with garlic sage sauce. Though she was sabotaged by a backstab­bing coworker, Clem finds herself unceremo­niously blackballed from every vegan kitchen in L.A.
Like any vegan chef worth her salt, however, Clem knows how to turn lemons into delicious, cruelty-free lemonade cupcakes. She launches the Skinny Bitch Cooking School in hopes of soon opening her own cafĂ© in an empty space near her apartment. But on the first day of class, sexy millionaire restaurateur Zach Jeffries puts a fork in her idea with his own plans for the space—a steakhouse. Clem is livid. For a carnivore, Zach is more complicated than she anticipated. He’s also a very good kisser. But could dating one of the most eligible bachelors in the city—and a meat-eater—be as bad for Clem as high-fructose corn syrup? Shouldn’t she fall instead for a man who seems to be her perfect match in every way—like Alexander Orr, a very cute, very sweet vegan chef?
Clem thought she was open-minded, but as she confronts the challenges of budding entrepre­neurship, old rivals, ex-boyfriends, and tempting suitors, she begins to wonder if she can ever say “I love you” to a man who hates tofu. ( synopsis from
This is a really unique twist on a popular romance theme right now- chef and bakers.  Clementine Cooper is a successful vegan chef until one of her co-workers slips butter into a dish being served to a restaurant reviewer. All of a sudden Clem becomes persona non grata in the vegan cooking world and ends up doing private chef work and holding cooking classes in her apartment. She meets Zach Jeffries when he starts constructing a steak house in the space she has been secretly hoping to rent for her own restaurant.  She’s an unemployed vegan chef and he’s a billionaire meat lover, could there be a more perfect match?
While there is instant chemistry between the two, there is also instant antipathy on Clem’s part. To see her dream restaurant replaced by a total homage to beef and by a guy who thinks his money can buy anything makes her crazy.  She is focused on rebuilding her career and he is focused on getting into her pants. Initially, Zach seems like a bit of a cad with lots of women in his life and a know-it-all attitude.  Zach gets some competition from Alexander, a good looking chef from England but the chemistry isn’t there for Clem.  Things are rocky until Clem understands that for Zach helping out is his idea of a loving thing to do.  Zach has to learn that Clem won’t be happy unless she makes it on her own and sometimes he needs to just shut up.  They do have a torturous journey getting there.
I enjoyed the supporting characters in the book.  Clem’s roommate, Sara, is a slightly plump actress waiting for her big break and ends up in the cooking class.  The other two students also add to the pace of the book with their backstories and their interactions with Clem and Sara.
This was a cute read with some steamy parts to it.  I learned a lot about vegan cooking without being bored. I ‘m hoping that there will be a follow up book that includes Sara or Alexander. As a side note, I am a confirmed meat eater but there were some recipes that sounded really good.  I might have to check out the author’s cookbooks!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ladies' Night by Mary Kay Andrews

Rising media star and lifestyle blogger Grace Stanton’s own life gets torpedoed after she drives her cheating husband’s pricey sports car straight into the family swimming pool in a fit of anger. Soon she’s locked out of her own palatial home, checking account, and blog, forced to move in with her widowed mother who lives above, and owns, The Sandbar, a rundown beach bar. Attending court-mandated weekly “divorce recovery” therapy sessions with a group of three other women—marital misfits whose only common denominator is betrayal—Grace and the women soon ditch their therapist and move their Wednesday “Ladies’ Night” sessions to The Sandbar. They begin to help each other, walking a fine line between revenge and justice, as each one finds closure in ways previously unimagined. Can Grace figure out a new way home and how strong she needs to be to get there? ( synopsis from Mary Kay

I started this book on audio and had to switch to the book because it was making me crazy that it was going so slow. Not the story, just listening to it.  Once I got the actual book, I really enjoyed the story. My only quibble; for a smart person, the heroine was a bit of a doormat after she caught her hubby Ben "being assisted" by her assistant J’Aime.  My aggravation level dropped once she got divorced and had to start rebuilding her life.
Grace loses everything, her husband, blog, and lifestyle after catching her hubby in the act and then destroying his car in a hissy fit (LOL). While she is licking her wounds, he is neatly taking everything away from her and even sabotaging her efforts to recoup her life. She ends up in a touchy feely anger management group with a bunch of other divorced people who had the misfortune of having their cases heard by the same judge. The best part of the story takes place from this point onward as Grace discovers a way to get her self-esteem and even her career back on track.  I like that she realizes that she doesn't need all of the expensive and fashionable things which defined her life and even her blog before the divorce.  Grace gets back to her essential self and rediscovers the joy in rehabbing a  small vintage house not a mcmansion.
She meets Wyatt in her divorce group and they make a real connection after some false starts. He has also been taken for a ride by his ex, but he has a child involved, which makes it worse.  The members of the group start to figure out that there is something fishy going on with their so-called therapist and the judge that heard their cases.  The ways that the group investigates the situation add some real humor to the book.  There are also parts that show just how toxic divorce can really be if the parties don’t work hard to prevent that from happening even after the court hearing is over.
I have to say that Ms. Andrews is a nicer person than I am because I think that Ben and J’Aime don’t suffer enough in the end. But, that is really the lesson that we learn in a divorce.  I remember reading in a book something about the anger you keep in your heart leaving less room for love to come in. Grace learns that lesson and is the better person for learning it.
PS… Now that I have read the book, I am going to re-listen to it because the narrator really did a good job.  It wasn’t her fault that I was too impatient to wait and enjoy the book.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Summer He Came Home- first in a new series by Juliana Stone

Falling asleep in a different bed every night has made it easy for Cain Black to forget his past. It’s been ten years since he packed his guitar and left Crystal Lake to chase his dreams. Now tragedy has forced him home again. And though Cain relishes the freedom of the road, one stolen moment with Maggie O’Rourke makes him wonder if he’s missing out on something bigger than fame.
For Maggie—single mother and newly settled in Crystal Lake—love is a luxury she just can’t afford. Sure, she appreciates the tall, dark and handsome looks of prodigal son Cain Black. But how long can she expect the notorious hellion to stay?
The last thing either of them wants is something complicated. But sometimes love has its own plans. ( synopsis from

Juliana Stones’ series, the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake, starts off with a winner. The Summer He Came Home tells the story of Cain Black, a rock star who has come home to attend the funeral of his childhood friend.  His marriage has broken up and he has just found out his band mate was screwing his ex-wife.  After an on-stage fight, Cain finds out about his friend’s death and heads home.  Suffice it to say, he is not at his charming best when he arrives.  Then he sees Maggie O’Rourke and his life takes a turn for the better.
Maggie O’Rourke is a newcomer in town who works as a cleaning lady.  She supports herself and her young son and pretty much keeps to herself. When she meets Cain, she is attracted but wary. She is keeping a secret about her child’s father and has no interest in complicating her life.
Although the story is a romantic classic, bad boy meets downtrodden woman with a secret, it feels fresh in this book.  There are several plots going on at once, some with Cain, some with Maggie, and others with the secondary characters.  The romantic tension between the two main characters is pretty hot and Maggie fights it pretty hard.  I liked that she put her son first before finally letting herself get involved.  I also liked the fact that Cain kept his grouchy, “I’m an island” persona for most of the book.  It just made the ending so much more satisfying!
There were plenty of hints of the stories that will work into the later books and that just made the anticipation that much more.
Next in the series:

Publication date October 1, 2013