Monthly Archives: February 2013

Only by Chance (Betty Neels)

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is a great example of classic Betty Neels — a sweet, comforting romance where there’s almost as much drinking tea and rescuing stray cats as there is actual romance (also the characters never do more than share a semi-chaste kiss).  Here, we have an unassuming, ladylike young woman with no looks to speak of who is constantly rescued by a successful, handsome doctor.  She falls in love with him almost immediately, while he finds her to be borderline bothersome, but gradually he finds himself more and more drawn to her.

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Posted in Romance

Noah’s Wife (TK Thorne)

5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This book is a wonderfully plotted, concisely written, enthralling blend of adventure, romance, fantasy and (lots-of-creative-license-taken) history. It begins a bit slowly: our heroine Na’amah is a young, innocent girl who takes a bit of patience to get used to initially (she’s just that green and naive). But… and this is a big but… like a classical concerto, it really builds, and though the anticipated flood (the title does after all refer to Noah’s wife) is one of the climaxes, it is not the only highpoint — there are several, very well plotted twists throughout the novel. I thought it began fairly well (like I said, a little slow, but still very readable), built up rather quickly, and by the middle, I was thoroughly entranced. The characters Thorne has created here are wonderfully complex, layered, and memorable, and this is absolutely one of the best books I’ve read this past year.

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Posted in Literary Fiction

2013 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition (Carol Tice, Jane Friedman, C. Hope Clark)

3.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
The detailed and updated list of literary agents, book publishers, and consumer magazines is probably the most worthwhile part of this book (and they obviously know this, as these “indices” account for about ⅔ of 900+ pages). There are nice snippets of information throughout (for example: writing a query letter, how to handle social media/marketing), but as usual with this series, none of the introductory chapters provide any really meaty information and the indices, while very helpful, are nowhere near complete. As an aspiring writer, I feel that it’s still nice to have say, 80% of the information I need gathered in one easy place, but you could definitely recreate any individual chapter by just Googling the topic for a few hours.
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Posted in Nonfiction

The Winning Hand (Nora Roberts, The MacGregors #9)

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
The MacGregors are still, I think, Nora Roberts’s most famous series, and this is my favorite of the MacGregor books. We have a very relatable young damsel in distress (Darcy) whose life is changed suddenly when she wins two million dollars with the very, very, very last of her money. And we have Blade, the more cynical, worldly casino owner who’s trying to protect Darcy from the media attention that surrounds such a fantastical change-of-luck story. It’s got everything I want from a romance: a nice side set of characters (the loving MacGregors), a young woman who really develops throughout the novel, and a very believable, well-paced, we’re-falling-in-love story.
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Mad Skills (Walter Greatshell)

4 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Mad Skills is a near-future sci-fi thriller exploring the possibilities of great intellect being thrust unknowingly upon an individual.  I really enjoyed this book.  It moves along at a good pace, the characters are fairly strong and intriguing, the sci-fi elements are very imaginative and gripping, and the plot has lots of twists and turns to keep you interested.  Unfortunately, it’s one of those books you look back on after finishing and then realize that a few things don’t make much sense once you have the whole picture.  I will still heartily recommend this book, but it is a shame that lack of editing or analysis of the story caused what could have been a great book to merely be very good.
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Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Pat the Bunny (Dorothy Kunhardt)

Recommended, Repeatable

If we had a category that was very recommended, and very repeatable, this book would fill it. Though the story is very, very, simple, and based around a series of small tasks that two siblings can do (put their finger in their mother’s ring, look at the mirror, scratch daddy’s beard), each of set of two pages give children an opportunity to interact with the book and repeat what the characters have just done, feeling the textures. It is perfect for toddlers who are just beginning to appreciate the idea of “being read to” and allows them an opportunity to sit and listen, as well as have something to play with. It’s so repeatable that your toddler will bring this to you, again and again, long after you’re sick of it…

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Posted in Children's/Young Adult

Death’s Head (David Gunn, Death’s Head #1)

4 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Death’s Head is the first in a series of incredibly brutal, violent military sci-fi novels.  This book really isn’t for the faint of heart or people who are offended by lots of violence.  I often criticize books for being built around the promise of having lots of action, sex, and violence which is never delivered, but I really can’t say that this is the case here.  Every other page, people are being blown up, shot to bits, beaten to death, or frantically copulating.  The levels of sex and horrific violence are a bit high for my tastes, but I recognize that others might not feel the same and that this is by far the best piece of military sci-fi I have encountered in a long time.  The characters are strong, the setting is imaginative and fleshed out, and the plot moves along and is well structured.  This book really won’t appeal to everyone, but for fans of the military sci-fi genre this should be a very enjoyable book.
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Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Unlikely Angels (Patti Shenberger, The GAIT Group)

1 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
My biggest problem with this book is that I think it’s misclassified — I don’t think it’s really a romance novel (where you have a hero and heroine and get to see their journey of falling in love with one another)… it’s more… erotica. It’s very creative erotica: John Wayne Western meets paranormal guardian-angels-earning-their-wings meets Debbie Does Dallas… but there’s not really the character development or romantic progression that I expect (and require) from a romance, thus the low rating.
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Referred Pain and Other Stories (Lynne Sharon Schwartz)

3 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Referred Pain introduces us to an eclectic group of protagonists and situations; some are surreal and fable-like. “Twisted Tales” and “The Stone Master” have unnamed protagonists trying to shift their way through imagined and imaginary fears and foes and have traces of Aimee Bender’s fantastical fiction.  The stronger works in this collection, however, focus on the everyday domestic situations and dramas which, often against the will of the readily recognized and empathy-inducing protagonists, are shaped by everyday crises. Like any collection, there are ups and downs, but overall, I laughed and empathized with many of the characters here, making it a worthwhile read.
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Posted in Literary Fiction

A Wallflower Christmas (Lisa Kleypas, Wallflowers #5)

1.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Bah. Humbug. I get that when romance authors have created a great series, there is the temptation to keep it going. Here, Kleypas had set out to do four books (you know, with each girl getting one season, like It Happened One Autumn, etc) and that’s where it should have ended. Each of the four Wallflowers books are excellent; this one, featuring the Bowman sister’s older brother from America… not so much. There’s just too much rehashing of what’s happening in each of the former Wallflowers’ lives, and not enough space to really develop either protagonist in this romance. Ultimately, you don’t care when they fall in love, they’re kind of just the excuse to revisit our former heroines, and though I love Lillian, Daisy, Evie and Annabelle, hearing about their babies and pregnancies isn’t enough to hang a book on.

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Posted in Romance