Friday, February 24, 2012

Celebrity in Death by J.D. Robb

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. ( Synopsis from B&

Hardcover, Penguin, 400 pages 

Celebrity in Death is the latest book in the Eve Dallas series and it is almost contemplative compared to some of the earlier books. Eve is the subject of a vid that is being made based on Nadine Furst’s book about the Icove case.  A dinner has been planned with the cast members and their real life counterparts to celebrate the near completion of the movie. As usual, Eve is grumpy about getting dressed up and having to attend a fancy social function. All of that changes when one of the actors ends up dead and Eve and Peabody have to solve the murder.
The victim, K.T. Harris, was disliked by everyone who worked with her and even had a tussle with Eve during the dinner. She was playing Peabody in the vid and her resemblance causes Eve and the rest of the NYPSD staff some moments of unease. AS they dig deeper into her life and death, they discover that K.T. had lots of secrets and was doing her best to disrupt the lives of her co-workers by various methods such as blackmail and coercion. It seems to Eve and Peabody that everyone has a motive and with the majority of the suspects being actors it is going to be difficult to really find out what happened.
This book has less of the action that earlier books had but more introspection into Eve and Roarke’s lives. Peabody and McNab have their special moments as well. Eve is moving on from the events that happened in Texas and coming to some measure of peace.  Roarke still worries about Eve but looks back on his life and realizes how much balance Eve brought to him. Their relationship just keeps getting stronger and more loving.  There are thirty four books in this series and they only cover a little over two years which adds to the continuity of Eve’s relationships both personal and work related.  The overlying theme of this book is about choices and how making a certain choice at a particular time has caused events to happen in each of the lives of the characters in the book. This is also the means that Eve uses to finally solve the murder-looking at choices made and how that person’s life was affected by them. It all ties together and makes this a satisfying addition to the series

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!

Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.

What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.(Synopsis from B&

Hardcover, Random House, 448 pages

Poppy Wyatt’s day is really going badly.  She has lost the antique betrothal ring her fiancé Magnus gave her and her phone has been stolen.  She thinks her luck has changed when she finds a perfectly good phone stuck in the waste bin and so she confiscates it.  The phone rings, she answers it pretending to be an automated reply, listens to a cryptic message, and writes it down on an old Lion King program.
The phone belongs to Sam Roxton ( or his PA) and he lets Poppy know that he wants the phone back but she refuses.  She agrees that she will forward all of his messages until she no longer needs the phone.  Thus begins a relationship that is quirky to say the least.  As Poppy gets more and more into Sam’s life via his phone, she starts meddling with good, and sometimes bad, results. In the meantime, Poppy is dealing with the lost ring, her not so happy future in-laws, and a bridal planner from h*ll.
Sam helps with the ring debacle and little by little Poppy becomes part of his life. Sam has some heavy stuff going on at his workplace which Poppy may be able to help him with. There are some interesting twists towards the end of the book.
This is a lovely story of two people literally falling into love.  There is sweetness to the relationship which makes the story easy to read. Both characters are likeable (maybe not Sam at first) and they find themselves leaning on each other for support with their problems. The secondary characters are fleshed out and add a lot to the book.  I especially liked the little footnotes on the bottom of the pages.
This is my favorite Kinsella book since Can You Keep a Secret.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Garden Intrigue ( Pink Carnation # 9) by Lauren Willig

Secret agent Augustus Whittlesby has spent a decade undercover in France, posing as an insufferably bad poet. The French surveillance officers can't bear to read his work closely enough to recognize the information drowned in a sea of verbiage.
New York-born Emma Morris Delagardie is a thorn in Augustus's side. An old school friend of Napoleon's stepdaughter, she came to France with her uncle, the American envoy; eloped with a Frenchman; and has been rattling around the salons of Paris ever since. Widowed for four years, she entertains herself by drinking too much champagne, holding a weekly salon, and loudly critiquing Augustus's poetry.
As Napoleon pursues his plans for the invasion of England, Whittlesby hears of a top-secret device to be demonstrated at a house party at Malmaison. The catch? The only way in is with Emma, who has been asked to write a masque for the weekend's entertainment.
Emma is at a crossroads: Should she return to the States or remain in France? She'll do anything to postpone the decision-even if it means teaming up with that silly poet Whittlesby to write a masque for Bonaparte's house party. But each soon learns that surface appearances are misleading. In this complicated masque within a masque, nothing goes quite as scripted- especially Augustus's feelings for Emma. ( synopsis from

Dutton, Hardcover, 400 pages

Emma Delagardie is an American living in France during the Napoleonic era.  She is a longtime friend of the emperor’s stepdaughter, Hortense and has entrée to the court. Augustus Whittlesby is an excruciatingly bad poet who is also an agent in the Pink Carnation’s network. He and the Pink Carnation have a mission to discover what the newest plot of Napoleon’s is to attack Britain. It apparently involves some sort of new mechanical weaponry and it is essential that they find out. Whittlesby must ingratiate himself into Emma’s circle so he can have access to the right people. Emma is not happy about having to work with Augustus when she becomes responsible for a masque to celebrate Napoleon’s rumored ascension from First Consul to Emperor. Gradually the two discover that they have more than the masque in common and feelings change.  There is added stress to the relationship from Emma’s American relatives trying to pressure her to come back home and a French rogue who is pressuring her to marry him. Augustus has his work cut out for him both in the spy game and in his budding romance.
One of the interesting plot devices that Ms. Willig uses in this series is the going back and forth from the time of the Pink Carnation to modern day England.  By having American researcher Eloise Kelly doing research on the fabled Pink Carnation and having access to the historical papers of the Selwick family, you get to see another perspective on the main couple of the story. I enjoy the story between Eloise and Colin Selwick which has worked its way through all nine books.  While the main story has a resolution, the relationship between Eloise and Colin remains in flux.
I enjoyed the introduction of some American history in this book with Fulton’s steam engine making an appearance. Emma and Augustus have a view of the turmoil that was going on during this particular time in French history and as always Ms. Willig weaves accurate historical facts into a wonderful romance with a hint of mystery. When I finish each book in the series I can’t wait for the next one to come out!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies.
Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love?
The follow-up to reader favorite Austenland provides the same perfectly plotted pleasures, with a feisty new heroine, plenty of fresh and frightening twists, and the possibility of a romance that might just go beyond the proper bounds of Austen's world. How could it not turn out right in the end? ( synopsis from B&

Bloomsbury, Hardcover, 272 pages

Charlotte Kinder’s marriage has gone kaput and she starts reading Jane Austen as a diversion. Her two children are spending their vacation with their father and his new wife so Charlotte decides to go on her own vacation. She ends up going to England and being part of a reenactment type of trip located at Pembrook Park, a stately home.  Reborn as Charlotte Cordial, a widow, she embarks on her adventure. She is one of six guests and is matched with Mr. Mallery, a  moody but hunky gentleman.
As part of the entertainment, the three couples are part of a mystery involving a long ago event at a local abbey, and parts of the story are doled out over several nights. Unfortunately for Charlotte, it suddenly becomes all too real for her and she is left wondering what is really happening at Pembrook Park.  Who can she rely on for help?
I always have wanted to go on one of these Austen trips so the whole premise of this book intrigued me. Charlotte is an interesting character, not the typical dumpee. She has a successful business and seems to be a pretty intelligent woman who ignored the signs that her marriage was imploding. On her vacation she has the typical reactions one would being in a strange country, acting out another period of time, and finding oneself in the middle of something very unsettling. The mystery factor is ramped up in this book and the romance takes a back seat but still has a satisfying conclusion. Ms. Hale solves an obvious problem with a simple but effective plot twist so all can end well.  I enjoyed the first book in the series and this one was just as good.