Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Reading Slump

Awww damn. I am in such a major reading slump right now.

I need a rec. Something funny, romantic, funny, quirky. Can have magic. Threesomes okay, eightsomes too much.

Strong heroine. Strong hero. No slut shaming.

Anyone?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Beautiful Music:Josh Groban singing Bring Him Home from Les Miserables


The Liar by Nora Roberts

Well, I have a conundrum. Actually, I have a couple of conundrums.

Conundrum #1 - I thought I was safe buying NR's ... what are they? Romantic suspense? Well, anyway the stand alones she publishes once a year.

Sidebar:  NR publishes five- five - books a year. Two PNRs, two police procedurals as J D Robb, and one stand alone. Which means she writes 5 books a year, probably not the same year as publication, but still. Lord, no wonder there are people complaining of cookie cutter plots and mysterious ghost writers.

Conundrum #2 - I want to rant about this book, but - but - it would be spoilers ahoy and I don't know how to hide things or even if you can on Blogger. So, here's the Carolyn solution.


WARNING! WARNING!

Oh wait! We need a blurb and a cover. So we will take a detour to provide these necessary things. I am a good blogger and strive to please ... um ... well, the last part's true.




Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions …

The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn't just dead. He never really existed.

Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning …



Okay, back to the previously scheduled program:



SPOILERS ... SPOILERS BELOW ... PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!              




Aah, now I can rant.

You saw the blurb, right? The first part of the book is about the heroine discovering her husband's secret life and how he lied to her about everything. And she snaps out of the cowed wife she had been to become this precision minded, competent woman who is selling jewels and clothes and starting spread sheets. Shelby is quite clear that she was verbally abused by her husband and she knew nothing about his business, the household bills, about anything. She snapped to real quickly though and I thought it was pretty damn quick. But I've never been abused in any way, shape or form, so I don't know. It just sort of caught my eye.

But that isn't even the point I wanted to make. After Shelby gets home to Tennessee, murder and mystery and mayhem begin. Why does this bother me? Would it help if I told you her husband died in a boating accident and the body was never found?

Uh huh, I'm just saying ...

This, coupled with missing contraband valued at 28 million dollars that had been scammed from a Florida woman, raised my antenna. No. No, Nora wouldn't. Would she? No, she wouldn't.

Ah, but she did.

I'm not good at solving mysteries; I don't care whodunit, unless it's a character I like. I like all the solving stuff and the relationships made while doing so. Usually I don't know whodunit until the author tells me. But this book? I knew from the first chapter, but I just couldn't believe she'd use that old chestnut.

Ah, but she did.

I bet absolutely no one was surprised. I certainly wasn't.


END OF SPOILERS!!



It's really weird, but all through the book, I was hearing the voices of the women from Steel Magnolias. I kid you not. The heroine sounded just like Julia Roberts; they had the same name and used a lot of 'Mamas'. Lord, there was even a hair salon, or I should say, beauty salon, because all sorts of beautifying stuff went on there. So I kept hearing Darryl Hannah's voice when Crystal talked and Dolly Parton when Granny Vi spoke.

See, this all took place in Tennessee, in the Appalachians, and we all know what that means. It means the Yankees can look down on all of them and they probably will. Granny Vi had her first child at 16, but at least she was married. There's moonshining history on both sides of the family, and all that lovely Scottish red hair and everybody knows everybody else and their business. In short, a typical southern town.

But it would not surprise me if the author had Steel Magnolias in mind when she wrote this.

I felt right at home in Rendezvous Ridge; southern talk, southern manners and it's sad that some reviewers will slap that down, as if every regional character should talk like a colorless TV announcer with no nuances whatsoever. Already caught a hint of this in some lower Amazon reviews. As for the plot, despite some add ons, the plot felt phoned in to me, so this brings me back to Conundrum #1.

I guess I'm through pre-ordering Nora Roberts books of any kind. I'll wait for better prices and definitely look at the reviews before making a purchase. This book cost me $13.00; based on her last books, back to The Witness, I thought the price worth it, but no more.

This is so depressing!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

I've had this book in my Amazon Wishlist for ages (well, hell, it was published in 2008, but I can't remember when this author first came to my notice), all due to pricing; $10.00 for an unknown-to-me author is not something I routinely pay.

Actually, all her books are in my Wishlist. This one, however, The House at Riverton, suddenly and inexplicably (because her next book isn't due until October of this year) went on sale and I discovered it April 9. Of course, I bought it.




Blurb:

The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. It is the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all and kept a secret for decades.

 Grace Bradley went to work at Riverton House as a servant when she was just a girl, before the First World War. For years her life was inextricably tied up with the Hartford family, most particularly the two daughters, Hannah and Emmeline.

In the summer of 1924, at a glittering society party held at the house, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were Hannah and Emmeline and only they -- and Grace -- know the truth.

In 1999, when Grace is ninety-eight years old and living out her last days in a nursing home, she is visited by a young director who is making a film about the events of that summer. She takes Grace back to Riverton House and reawakens her memories. Told in flashback, this is the story of Grace's youth during the last days of Edwardian aristocratic privilege shattered by war, of the vibrant twenties and the changes she witnessed as an entire way of life vanished forever.

The novel is full of secrets -- some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier. It is also a meditation on memory, the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.

Originally published to critical acclaim in Australia, already sold in ten countries and a #1 bestseller in England, The House at Riverton is a vivid, page-turning novel of suspense and passion, with characters -- and an ending -- the reader won't soon forget.

                                                                  ****

Yes indeed, this is not Romance. Far from it. But the whole story fascinated me and I'm not sorry I read it; after all, I knew it wasn't romance before I started reading.

The generational story really appeals to me. I used to read mostly historical fiction and this type of fiction. I adored Susan Howatch (and OMG, I just noticed some of her generational books are in Kindle Unlimited!). I especially like books that take place in the British Isles. (I was born in Canada and compared to Europe, Canada's history is minute.) 

This book wasn't really generational, in that we met only two generations and the older parents did not contribute much to the story. No, the focus was on Grace and the two sisters and how they lived their lives and the secrets they carried to their graves. It tells of the years between 1914, when Grace started her service and 1924, when the above mentioned party provided the climax to this story.

During this time period a woman would turn down love and marriage to remain faithful to her mistress and young men would willingly go to war, full of patriotism, seeing it all as a lark, and be killed and mutilated by the thousands. The effect of this war on these men is at the heart of all the secrets. Lord, they all had secrets!

Grace had a long life and after that climatic party she left service with the Hartford family, got an education, married and had a child. That's what you would see on the surface. But I think her life was always dominated by the memory of her time with the Hartford family, especially Hannah, who she dearly loved.

And it took me awhile, but I suddenly realized they were all so young! All the main characters were so tragically young. Grace went into service when she was 14, so she would have been 24 in 1924. Emmeline was 3 or 4 years younger than Grace, so she'd be barely 20. Hannah and the men were older, I think, but none of them were 30.

Ms Morton writes beautiful prose. Writing of war: 

"... Wars make history seem deceptively simple. They provide clear turning points, easy distinctions: before and after, winner and loser, right and wrong. True history, the past, is not like that. It isn't flat or linear. It has no outline. It is slippery,like liquid; infinite and unknowable, like space. And it is changeable: just when you think you see a pattern, perspective shifts, and alternative version is proffered, a long-forgotten memory resurfaces."

Or at her mother's funeral:

"It's been an age since we buried her. A wintry day in 1922 when the earth was frozen solid and my shirts blew icy against my stockinged legs, and a figure, a man, stood on the hill, barely recognizable. She took her secrets with her, into the cold, hard earth, but I learned them in the end. I know a lot about secrets; I have made them my life."

I neglected to bookmark some of the best passages, for which I apologize. This book, of any book I've written about, deserves to be praised. Beautiful writing, yet down to earth, accessible, not 'flowery' at all. And although most of the book is 3rd person from Gracie's POV, all the characters have depth; you may not like some of them, but you know what makes them tick and why they do what they do.

I'm dying to read more of Ms Morton's books. Perhaps they'll put another on sale. As I said, they're not Romance, but I just felt the urge to read a 'grown up' book (otherwise known as literary). I love romance, but there is so much of it being written now, with content so bare and spare, and a lot of it just plain bad, that I felt the need for a change.  Also, I'm getting tired of erotica. I wanted something besides skin I could get my teeth into. Heh, heh.

Anyway, this is a damn good book if you're in the mood for stiff upper lips and war and drama and such, all beautifully packaged and tied up with a bow.

Good stuff. 


Oh - a link!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Young Heroine

Carolyn and I have talked before about the Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott. We both were blah on book 1 (David and whiny girl), LOVED book 2 (Anne and Mal) and disagreed vehemently on book 3 (Jimmy and Lena) with Carolyn loving it and I hated it.

Book four, Deep, released and Carolyn told me she didn't like it. It's the story of Ben and Liz and I was hopeful for it. Instead I DNF'd it. I found the hero too wishy-washy and annoying and the heroine was a child emotionally.

I don't read NA for a reason and that's because I'm not interested in 20 year olds as heroines. If you've lived for awhile then you know that the best thing about being is your 20s is uh... youth. But the average 20 year old is just beginning their journey and they're learning how to stand on their own two feet and it just doesn't interest me. I like more seasoned heroines. I like people who have been through the wringer and have bruises, or scars.

In Deep, Liz is pregnant from a one night stand with rock star Ben. The condom broke. So Liz decides to quit school and travel with the band and be taken care of because morning sickness is kicking her ass.

Fucking crybaby.

I had to stop reading and then started Silver Bastard by Joanna Wylde. (Funny happenstance, Kylie Scott is acknowledged in Wylde's book and as critique-beta reader. )

Silver Bastard is the story of Puck and Becca and Becca is 21, Puck is 26 (I think). Becca is a kick-ass heroine. She's been through more in her life because of a fucked-up, meth head mother and a sick fuck step-father who raped her repeatedly and then pimped her out as a teenager.

Becca has issues but that doesn't make her a wuss. She's going to school, working, creating a network of friends and family,. Liz in Deep had no real issues except that she let other people take care of her, Becca was self-parenting at a young age and deals with her issues. And she has some big ones.

Loved Becca. Loved her story. Was a little meh about Puck as a hero because he just wasn't that interesting as man-meat, hero bait but damned if I didn't love the book.

Seriously have to pimp Silver Bastard but have to give Kylie Scott a pass. Except for Mal, she's struck out with me every time.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James



This is the fourth book by Simone St. James, and I must say, they just keep getting better and better. Her books are a combination of historical (1920's England), paranormal, mystery, and romance - similar to Gothic but so much better, so much more sophisticated. Someone in an Amazon review said Ms. St. James has created her own genre, and I agree. Here, have a blurb:


London, 1925. Glamorous medium Gloria Sutter made her fortune helping the bereaved contact loved ones killed during the Great War. Now she's been murdered at one of her own séances, after leaving a message requesting the help of her former friend and sole rival, Ellie Winter.

Ellie doesn't contact the dead—at least, not anymore. She specializes in miraculously finding lost items. Still, she can't refuse the final request of the only other true psychic she has known. Now Ellie must delve into Gloria's secrets and plunge back into the world of hucksters, lowlifes, and fakes. Worse, she cannot shake the attentions of handsome James Hawley, a damaged war veteran who has dedicated himself to debunking psychics.

As Ellie and James uncover the sinister mysteries of Gloria's life and death, Ellie is tormented by nightmarish visions that herald the grisly murders of those in Gloria's circle. And as Ellie’s uneasy partnership with James turns dangerously intimate, an insidious evil force begins to undermine their quest for clues, a force determined to bury the truth, and whoever seeks to expose it...

                                                                   ****

I think this book has the least 'horror" aspects of any of Ms St. James' books; there are no ghosts, at least none that form a significant part of the plot as compared to The Haunting of Maddy Clare, where the plot centered around a very real, very dangerous ghost. However, the ending is a different story, which I can't reveal because it would definitely be a spoiler. 

I like Ms. St. James' heroines. They are alone in the world, not an unusual thing for this time period, and some of them are in very dire circumstances indeed. In this book, Ellie's father died at Gallopoli and her mother not long after from cancer. Ellie herself has spent three years being a 'good' girl; no wild parties or dating for her she's learned her lesson. She's smart and strong and has always had a weakness for James, despite his job description. I also thought James' PTSD was handled well; it wasn't overwhelming for him to the point he couldn't handle himself, but he still had his moments. I imagine the majority of soldiers that have been in combat are this way, rather than the high spectrum cases we see in many romances.

So, Ellie and James come to rely on each other all the while they're solving the mystery, while Ellie tries not to get killed. Oh, and Inspector Merriken, the hero from An Inquiry into Love and Death, the second book, is the Scotland Yard detective assigned to the murder of Gloria Sutter and also plays a significant role. I love meeting up again with previous characters, it's like finding an old friend.

I also like mature characters who don't let stupid misunderstandings get in the way of the romance and that's what I got in this book and the others. 

I highly recommend all of Simone St. James' books. They are, in order of publication:

and

And happy reading. I'm going to reread a few of these myself; I do love her voice. Unfortunately, I have a year to wait for the next one.

Dammit!!

This Space For Rent

Maybe...

So Carolyn and I started this blog because years ago when we first got published, we were told every author had to have a blog. And the bond that keeps our friendship strong is that we never suffer alone, we always drag the other kicking and screaming along with.

And we love this blog. We can wax poetic about books, we can talk about things that are on our mind, we can sometimes get as silly as heck and it's all okay. The only problem is that we wanted to do a lot more book "reviews" (we don't consider ourselves reviewers and so sometimes it more squee fests or ragey moments than actual reviews)...

Anyway, we wondered if there's anyone out there reading who would like to try their hand reviewing here? We get maybe 100 hits daily so we're not a huge blog but it would be nice if there's someone out there who wants to talk about books and would like to be an old fart.

Requirements: love books. Love the romance genre. Don't be afraid to dislike a book. And it doesn't have to be romance reviews.

If you're interested you can either leave a response here or email me at LoriSusanGreen@gmail.com

Fingers crossed.