Wednesday, March 13, 2019

California Girls by Susan Mallery-5 Hearts

California Girls is the story of three sisters who experience major upheavals in their lives and how they handle their new normal.
 Finola is a TV host whose husband tells her that he is leaving her for another woman just as she is going on air to interview a young pop princess. Adding to the agony, said singer lets Finola know that she is the one that Finola’s husband is cheating with and makes snide remarks throughout the interview.

Ali works in a garage and is preparing for her wedding when her future brother-in-law, Daniel, comes to tell her that her fiancée Glen doesn’t want to marry her and is calling off the wedding. Daniel becomes Ali‘s support as she slogs through the process of calling off the arrangements and moving on.

 Zennie is content with her life as a surgical nurse and a single woman. She breaks up with Clark, a man she has been casually dating because there isn’t any spark. When her best friend asks her to be a surrogate for she and her husband, Zennie makes a life altering decision.

In most stories the three sisters would bond together and emerge with a sparkling new future. That is not how this story goes. Finola is too wrapped up in her own mess to offer support to her sisters. Ali makes choices that her sisters and mother have problems accepting and Zennie’s pregnancy really throws a curve into the family dynamics. Topping the dysfunctional pyramid is the sisters mother, Mary Jo, who never seems able to be understanding or empathic but who also surprises us every now and then.

To me, this book tells the story of how the people we love and the life we live is not guaranteed. Relationships are work and you can’t take love for granted. Each of the sisters learns things about themselves that they don’t like acknowledging but also find out what their strengths are and how they can move on either alone or with someone. This was an enjoyable and thoughtful read.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

I really enjoy reading romance novels!

I work in a library and I have access to thousands of books of all different genres.  But, when I'm stressed or in the mood for a pick me up, I go to the tried and true romance novel. I enjoy biographies, love a well written mystery, even a nicely photographed cook book. But nothing settles my frazzled nerves like a session with Julia Quinn, or Susan Elizabeth Phillips, or Nalini Singh, or even Jane Austen. Even though it is sometimes considered a low form of literature, millions of  romance readers can't be all wrong!

Today I took a class taught by a very enthusiastic young librarian named Caitlin.  I'd taken previous classes from her on different topics and I looked forward to this one. She did not disappoint and she opened my eyes to a  whole group of new authors that I had never heard of and would have to look up. 

I came away from the class with a new enthusiasm to promote romance in our library. Romance is a billion dollar industry and the genre outsells all other genres of fiction by a large margin.

So, tonight I'm going to settle in a re-read a Georgette Heyer book in celebration of the first romance novel I ever read.

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny- Amazing Read!!!!

When Armand Gamache accepts the position as the new head of the training academy for the Sûreté du Québec , he has to decide who will be accepted into the new class of cadets. He agonizes over one applicant that the prior head had denied. This tattooed, pierced, and surly young lady has a connection to Gamache that she is unaware of.
While in Three Pines, Gamache becomes aware of an old map found in the walls of Gabi and Olivier‘s building that shows topographical information but also has symbols like a pyramid, a cow, and three pine trees.  The map is an oddity because Three Pines is not found on any other paper maps or even with a GPS.  So why was this map made?
At the academy, Gamache fires several teachers, keeps one who is definitely his enemy, and hires the man who betrayed him and all of his officers while in charge of the Sûreté. At the same time, he gives four cadets copies of the map and asks them to investigate it and discover the secrets behind it. One of the cadets is Amelia Choquet, the cadet that Gamache was conflicted about.
What I really enjoyed about this book is the way it addresses one of the loose ends from the big blow up in the Sûreté  in previous books.  The cadet Academy is the last piece of a nasty puzzle that had pieces all over the service and was poisoning it from the inside. By rooting out the poison at the beginning of all of the officer’s careers, Gamache is making a change in the entire force while finally rooting out the last of the bad eggs. When one of the bad eggs is murdered, Gamache has to work even harder to clean up the other baddies while solving the murder.
I also enjoyed the intertwining of the Three Pines map with the Academy goings on.  Introducing the new cadets but pairing them with older characters makes for an interesting blend of old and new. As always the quirky villagers add a touch of humor to a serious mystery but they are also part of a sad history that unfolds as the map’s origin gets uncovered.

Ms. Penny’s books are just so wonderful to read. I found myself reading this one until 2:30AM on a work night because I just could not stop reading it! There are so many little twists and turns but also familiar characters to revisit and new ones to wonder about.  This book is a wonderful mix of mystery, police procedural, and a down home with the family kind of vibe. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Summer at Sea by Katie Fforde- YAY now published in the U.S!!!

Emily has decided to take a sabbatical from her job as a midwife after having a run-in with a local OB at a home birth. The unit she works for is on shaky ground due to opposition from the local Dr's. When Emily is offered the chance to spend the time off in Scotland working as a cook on a puffer (steamboat) she accepts the offer. Her old friend Rebecca owns the boat with her husband and Rebecca's pregnancy is making her unable to keep up with the kitchen on the boat. So, off Emily goes to help out.
All is not perfect on the puffer. Emily has to share a tiny space with sulky coworker Billie. Rebecca seems to be trying to fix up Emily with her brother in law, Alasdair, a slightly dour Scotsman who turns out to be the local GP. A widower, Alasdair has a young daughter who takes a liking to Emily much to Alasdair's dismay. As the time goes by, the two find more common ground and develop a bit of a romance. Still, Emily plans to go back home and Alasdair doesn't want to disappoint his daughter.

I really enjoyed this story. There was a nice blend of medical, romance, travel, even knitting themes throughout the book. I loved the way that Emily and Alasdair slowly find their way towards each other. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the places the puffer travels to as well as the whole idea of traveling by steamboat. As an American, this British vacation style just seems so interesting! Emily's need for a break makes perfect sense and her final decision about her future stays true to her personality. I'm so happy that Katie's books are becoming more available in the US so more readers can enjoy this wonderful author!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Love those Chicago Stars! First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Reading a SEP book is like meeting up with an old friend. You know that when you are done, you are going to feel warm and fuzzy and glad you spent the time with them. In this new book, Piper Dove has bought out her deceased father's detective agency and has her first big client. The job requires investigating former Stars QB Cooper Graham. Unfortunately for Piper, Cooper makes her and she gets fired. The upside is that Cooper hires her to work at his new club after she exposes some shady dealings going on at the site. Since the job includes a free apartment, she agrees and they begin spending a lot of time together. Piper makes some pretty crazy decisions while at the same time giving Cooper some great advice. However, when things get more serious, she can't get over her concern about their different lives.
This is a fun romance with SEP's trademark humor and snarkiness between the couple. The supporting characters are fun too and move the story along. Piper is the feisty chick we wish we could be sometimes and Cooper is that dream guy- gorgeous body but with a nice heart to go with it.
Besides the wonderful main love story, one of my favorite things about a Stars book is seeing older characters pop up in the storyline. This always makes me remember their story and how much I enjoyed it. I especially liked seeing Heath "the Python" Campion in this book. He and Annabelle were one of my favorite couples. The mix of old and new characters was perfect in this book. I hated to get to the end.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer of Love by Katie Fforde

I have loved Katie Fforde's books ever since I read The Second Thyme Around (now called Thyme Out) in 2000. Summer of Love is a wonderful story about Sian, a city girl who moves to the country with her young son. She is settling into village life and meets her neighbor Fiona with whom she develops a strong friendship. When Fiona's son Gus comes home from exploring, Sian realizes he is the one night stand that resulted in her much loved son. 
The results of this news affect Sian's relationships with her new friend and Gus. Fiona is also sorting out her feelings about a man she has met and who she is very attracted to. I enjoyed all of the angst and craziness that ensues while these couples sort out their lives. As always, Ms. Fforde does a great job with her characters even when they aren't behaving their best. 
I'm also excited that American readers can get these great books without having to order from overseas sellers as I have had to do to get the books.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Melting Into You by Laura Trentham

Melting into You is the third book in the Falcon football series. I have enjoyed every book in the series and this one is no exception. Lilliana Hancock has returned to Falcon after a time in New York working on her art. When her father- with whom she had a love/hate relationship- leaves her the crumbling family home, she decides to turn it into a B&B. Standing in her way is Alec Grayson, inspector, HS football coach, and the former pro football player. Lilliana had always had a thing for Alec until her dream seemingly came true in college and they “hooked up”. Sadly, Alec left the next morning with barely a word and Liliana has not been a fan ever since.

When Alec comes early for his home inspection, Lilliana has relaxed with a little homegrown help and the long simmering attraction comes to a head and she propositions him. After incredibly hot sex, Alec gets it in his head that she is trying to “bribe” him into passing the inspection and again leaves her alone and angry.

I was glad that these two could finally talk about what happened and start to have a real relationship. Lilliana makes a conscious decision to not tell him about their encounter in college when it becomes clear Alec doesn’t remember. Alec and Lilliana become involved in the bad home situation of one of Alec’s players and that brings them even closer. Their strong attraction to each other keeps them together through ups and downs and the sex is pretty darn good as well.

The great thing about books in a series is seeing old favorite characters from previous books interspersed in the story. This book could be read on its own but I recommend reading the others as well. I hope we’ll see more of Falcon in future books.