The Reason for this Blog

Although I track my books on Goodreads, I wanted a place of my own to talk about books.  I will post reviews for the most part, but I reserve the right to ramble.

 

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The Maid by Nita Prose

The MaidThe Maid by Nita Prose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: The Maid
Author: Nita Prose
Series: n/a
Pages: 304
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Date: January 4, 2022

Summary:

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

Review:

I have read a few books in which the main character does not relate well with people to the extent that it makes them seem odd or mentally disabled. The Maid is another of these books.

Molly does an excellent job as a maid in an upscale hotel. Her boss values her, she has friends (and an enemy) that she works with, and she has a friend that turns out to be using her. In other words, she is like a lot of us.

I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t love it. The plot and writing are excellent. There are things I saw coming and others which were a complete surprise. To me, that’s a mark of a well-written book.

What I didn’t love was how Molly was treated. She was made fun of and looked down on. In other words, the author was realistic. It hurt me to see how lonely she was. She had work friends, but she did not have anyone she could hang out with outside of work. It was just so sad.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely! I think it would be a wonderful book club book.

Will I read it again? I doubt it. Even though things worked out well, it hurt to get there.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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How to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan

How to Love Your NeighborHow to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: How to Love Your Neighbor
Author: Sophie Sullivan
Series: n/a
Pages: 352
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Date: January 18, 2022

Summary:

Interior Design School? Check. Cute house to fix up? Check.

Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.

Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree and her dream job. Most importantly, she’ll have a place to belong, something her harsh mother could never make. When an opportunity to fix up—and live in—a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.

Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. As a real estate developer, he knows when he’s found something special. Something he could even call home. Provided he can expand by taking over the house next door–the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.

With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is.

Review:

I have read this book twice and it was definitely better the second time. I think that is because Noah is not a likable person at the beginning of the book. Knowing how much he grows emotionally made the second reading more enjoyable.

Both Grace and Noah have relationship issues due to each of them having parental horrors for parents. Grace’s mother lets the men in her life define who she is and never takes responsibility for any of her problems. Now that Grace is an adult, her mother expects her to be the one to bail her out financially whenever the need arises.

Noah’s father is a millionaire who collects trophy wives. He uses his money and influence to control his sons. Noah, finally, has had enough and moves from New York to the west coast. Unfortunately, what he knows about relationships, he learned from his father. He thinks any problem can be solved by throwing money at it.

As I said to start with, Noah is not a likable person. However, the changes he makes are what made me really like the book on the second reading.

Although Grace has issues to work through, she is a strong character from the beginning. She has friends and knows how to be a friend. She knows what she wants and is willing to work as hard as necessary to meet her goals.

I liked Grace a lot, but it is the way that Noah grows that makes this book so good. As a reader, I have a hard time overcoming a negative impression of a character. Noah is an exception.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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The Family You Make (Sunrise Cove, #1) by Jill Shalvis

The Family You Make (Sunrise Cove, #1)The Family You Make by Jill Shalvis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although I always enjoy books by Jill Shalvis, I have to say this is my favorite so far. The main characters, Jane and Levi, are wonderful, but it is the secondary characters that I adore. Charlotte is my favorite with Levi’s family coming a close second. Cat, aka Alley Cat, is perfect. She (spoiler alert: “he” is really a she) is a typical cat. The expectation is for all those around her to serve her needs.

Everyone in the book has issues with relating with others, but the love comes through no matter what. Even Levi’s dad opens up a little. I like that it’s obvious that blood family is not the only type of family that exists and is not necessarily the most important type.

My only negative response to the book is the section with the gondolas. I’m already scared of the things. I may never ride one again.

As always, I can’t wait for the next book. As I said, I always enjoy them.

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Review: Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir by Brent Spiner

Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True EventsFan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events by Brent Spiner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Fan Fiction: A Mem-noir Inspired by True Events
Author: Brent Spiner, Jeanne Darst
Series: n/a
Pages: 256
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date: October 12, 2021

Summary:

From Brent Spiner, who played the beloved Lieutenant Commander Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, comes an explosive and hilarious autobiographical novel.

Brent Spiner’s explosive and hilarious novel is a personal look at the slightly askew relationship between a celebrity and his fans. If the Coen Brothers were to make a Star Trek movie, involving the complexity of fan obsession and sci-fi, this noir comedy might just be the one.

Set in 1991, just as Star Trek: The Next Generation has rocketed the cast to global fame, the young and impressionable actor Brent Spiner receives a mysterious package and a series of disturbing letters, that take him on a terrifying and bizarre journey that enlists Paramount Security, the LAPD, and even the FBI in putting a stop to the danger that has his life and career hanging in the balance.

Featuring a cast of characters from Patrick Stewart to Levar Burton to Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, to some completely imagined, this is the fictional autobiography that takes readers into the life of Brent Spiner and tells an amazing tale about the trappings of celebrity and the fear he has carried with him his entire life.

Fan Fiction is a zany love letter to a world in which we all participate, the phenomenon of “Fandom.”

Review:

“Fictional autobiography” – That’s how the blurb describes this book and it’s actually the only problem I have with it. I want to know what parts are true!

As a longtime Star Trek fan, I really enjoyed this book. Next Generation was never a favorite of mine, but who could not love Data.

This book is for Star Trek fans. The tidbits about various actors and Gene Roddenberry grabbed me because Star Trek is so much a part of my life. The story itself was engrossing and some of the packages “Data” received were simply gross.

Mostly, this book was fun. Even when bad things happened, I was reminded of a Three Stooges skit, rather than feeling any sense of suspense.

Yes, I enjoyed this book BECAUSE I am a Star Trek fan and that’s my one reservation about recommending it. I can’t imagine anyone who is not a Trekkie caring about it at all.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Review: When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

When Sparks FlyWhen Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: When Sparks Fly
Author: Helena Hunting
Series: n/a
Pages: 320
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Date: September 21, 2021

Summary:

Running the Spark House, a hotel/event space that has been in her family for years, has been Avery Spark’s lifelong dream. After years of working hard and making personal sacrifices, Avery and her two younger sisters have turned the Spark House into the premier destination in Colorado Springs. Avery is living her best life—she works with her sisters and loves every minute of it, she has a great group of friends, and she lives in a fantastic condo with her best friend Declan. She might not have any love in her life, but she’s happy.

But everything comes to a screeching halt when Avery is in a car accident, leaving her immobile for weeks. After nearly losing Avery, Declan insists that he will be the one to take care of her while she recovers. However, as Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, lines begin to blur.

Avery and Declan have been best friends since college and always had an attraction to one another, but when she ended up dating his best friend, Sam, they successfully stamped down any feelings they may have ever had for one another. Now, as Declan and Avery spend more time together, they each begin to wonder what would’ve happened if she’d dated him instead of Sam. What starts as a friend helping out another friend turns into foreplay and, before they realize it, they recognize how deeply they care for one another. But when things get serious their past threatens to destroy everything they have built.

Review:

I have mixed feelings about this book. I only gave it three stars, but I think it’s because I’m the wrong audience for this book. First of all, though, I want to say what I liked about it.

From the description, it’s obvious it’s a friends to lovers book. I like Avery, Declan – not so much, but I love Avery’s sisters. I’m looking forward to their books even though I was not thrilled with this one. That’s it. That’s what I liked – Avery’s sisters.

The book is written in first person, alternating between Avery and Declan. That way, the reader gets a lot of information that would be hidden if it used a third person narrator. And that brings me to one of the two things I really didn’t like about it. I don’t like first person and I really don’t like alternating viewpoints. As I implied earlier, it’s a personal taste issue.

However, my real issue with the book is Declan is an immature jerk. He’s thirty-years-old, but acts more like he’s still in college. He makes stupid decisions that hurt other people. He regrets them and accepts his responsibility, but still!!!

Finally, in parts of the book, the dialogue is overblown. Declan and Avery talk to each other like they are sitting in a counselor’s office. No one talks like that in real life.

So yes, three stars, but I will read the sequels. As I said, I want the sisters’ stories.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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A Good Day for Chardonnay (Sunshine Vicram, #2) by Darynda Jones

A Good Day for Chardonnay (Sunshine Vicram, #2)A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: A Good Day for Chardonnay
Author: Darynda Jones
Series: Sunshine Vicram, #2
Pages: 416
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date: July 27, 2021

Summary:

Running a small-town police force in the mountains of New Mexico should be a smooth, carefree kind of job. Sadly, full-time Sheriff–and even fuller-time coffee guzzler–Sunshine Vicram, didn’t get that memo.

All Sunshine really wants is one easy-going day. You know, the kind that starts with coffee and a donut (or three) and ends with take-out pizza and a glass of chardonnay (or seven). Turns out, that’s about as easy as switching to decaf. (What kind of people do that? And who hurt them?)

Before she can say iced mocha latte, Sunny’s got a bar fight gone bad, a teenage daughter hunting a serial killer and, oh yes, the still unresolved mystery of her own abduction years prior. All evidence points to a local distiller, a dangerous bad boy named Levi Ravinder, but Sun knows he’s not the villain of her story. Still, perhaps beneath it all, he possesses the keys to her disappearance. At the very least, beneath it all, he possesses a serious set of abs. She’s seen it. Once. Accidentally.

Between policing a town her hunky chief deputy calls four cents short of a nickel, that pesky crush she has on Levi which seems to grow exponentially every day, and an irascible raccoon that just doesn’t know when to quit, Sunny’s life is about to rocket to a whole new level of crazy.

Yep, definitely a good day for chardonnay.

Review:

Read the first book! Do not read this book without reading the first book! Believe me. Take my word for it. READ THE FIRST BOOK!

Oh, yes, the first book? The title is A Bad Day for Sunshine. It leads right into book two: A Good Day for Chardonnay. I can guarantee that you will have no clue what is going on if you do not read the first book.

Are we all clear now? You do understand you have to read the first book first, right?

Now that that is out of the way.

I never thought Darynda Jones could top her Charley Davidson series, but she has definitely done it with the Sunshine books. These books are straight contemporary with a mystery and (will you get on with it?) a romance. Actually, they don’t have a mystery, they have multiple mysteries.

Who abducted Sunshine when she was a teenager?

Who is the father of her daughter?

Who is her Chief Deputy in love with?

Has Randy (the raccoon) been officially deputized?

And a new mystery involving one of Levi’s uncles . . . is he in prison unjustly?

And the thing about Darynda Jones, she can make you feel any of these mysteries are just as important as another.

This book does clear up some of the mysteries, but it definitely introduces more mysteries and problems. The plot is wonderful, but my favorite parts are the one liners.

For example, there is one scene where Sunshine has to climb a ridge. She thinks to herself that she needs more cardio and less Oreo. That could be me talking. No, I mean really. That could be me.

And of course, my absolute favorite parts of the books are her chapter headings. I’ll leave you with my favorite one.

“Donate blood today! Please note: it must be your own blood.”

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Title: The Bookshop of Second Chances
Author: Jackie Fraser
Series: n/a
Pages: 448
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Date: May 4, 2021

Summary:

Thea Mottram is having a bad month. Her husband of nearly twenty years has just left her for one of her friends, and she is let go from her office job–on Valentine’s Day, of all days. Bewildered and completely lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But when she learns that a distant great uncle in Scotland has passed away, leaving her his home and a hefty antique book collection, she decides to leave Sussex for a few weeks. Escaping to a small coastal town where no one knows her seems to be exactly what she needs.

Almost instantly, Thea becomes enamored with the quaint cottage, comforted by its cozy rooms and shaggy, tulip-covered lawn. The locals in nearby Baldochrie are just as warm, quirky, and inviting. The only person she can’t seem to win over is bookshop owner Edward Maltravers, to whom she hopes to sell her uncle’s antique novel collection. His gruff attitude–fueled by an infamous, long-standing feud with his brother, a local lord–tests Thea’s patience. But bickering with Edward proves oddly refreshing and exciting, leading Thea to develop feelings she hasn’t felt in a long time. As she follows a thrilling yet terrifying impulse to stay in Scotland indefinitely, Thea realizes that her new life may quickly become just as complicated as the one she was running from.


Review:

I have read this book twice now and I have to say it was even better the second time. I liked it so much that I changed my 4-star to a 5-star review. I rarely give books a 5-star and never to an author I have never read before.

Obviously, I loved this book. It is a romance, but more than that it is a description of a woman’s recovery after having life kick her in the teeth. As the description says, Thea loses her job and her husband (the rat bastard) in a matter of weeks.

What she doesn’t know is that it will turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to her.

She inherits a house from a great-uncle that she has only met four times. She can’t understand why it was left to her instead of a closer family member. Her uncle explains why in the will.

And this is why I love this book. It has the best lines in it. I could have done an entire review of just great lines. I won’t, but I will include this one.
Uncle Andrew states he left the house to Thea “whom I have only met on four occasions, but who each time was intent on reading rather than talking, which has always been my own preference.”

Since I feel the same way, this really appealed to me.

Anyway, she meets a man who’s a “right arse.” Everyone says so, even him. Fortunately, she just finds him amusing. Of course, she falls for him. I’m not giving anything away. It’s a romance after all, right?

There is no great mystery or secrets to be discovered. This is a book about relationships and is hysterically funny in places. I did have to Google a few terms because I am from the United States and this book is very British. I didn’t always get the slang.

I just have to say, “brown sauce” does not sound at all appealing.

I’ve already recommended this book to friends and my local librarian. It is truly a fun book to read.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.




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Breaking Badger (Honey Badger Chronicles, #4) by Shelly Laurenston

Breaking Badger by Shelly Laurenston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Breaking Badger by Shelly Laurenston

Title: Breaking Badger
Author: Shelly Laurenston
Series: Honey Badger Chronicles, #4
Pages: 368
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Date: August 31, 2021

Summary:

It’s instinct that drives Finn Malone to rescue a bunch of hard battling honey badgers. The Siberian tiger shifter just can’t bear to see his fellow shifters harmed. But no way can Finn have a houseful of honey badgers when he also has two brothers with no patience. Things just go from bad to worse when the badgers rudely ejected from his home turn out to be the only ones who can help him solve a family tragedy. He’s just not sure he can even get back into the badgers’ good graces. Since badgers lack graces of any kind…

Mads knows her teammates aren’t about to forgive the cats that were so rude to them, but moody Finn isn’t so bad. And he’s cute! The badger part of her understands Finn’s burning need to avenge his father’s death–after all, vengeance is her favorite pastime. So Mads sets about helping Finn settle his family’s score, which has its perks, since she gets to avoid her own family drama. Besides, fighting side by side with Finn is her kind of fun–especially when she can get in a hot and heavy snuggle with her very own growling, eye-rolling, and utterly irresistible kitty-cat…


Review:

As always, I was delighted to get a copy of a Shelly Laurenston book. It doesn’t matter which series or which pen name (G. A. Aiken) she is using, her books are my go-to favorites. And I absolutely love the honey badgers.

Many of my favorite characters showed up in this book. Charlie is one of my favorites and she was true to form. However, it is the number of newish characters that bothered me. Most, if not all, of them were introduced in the last book: Badger to the Bone. The new characters include four tiger brothers and their hybrid sister and four honey badger hybrid female friends. They’re all great characters, but that was too many personalities for me to keep track of all at once.

Did I enjoy the book? Definitely! Will I read it again? Of course. Is it one of my favorites? Afraid not.

One thing for sure. You really need to re-read Badger to the Bone before this one. You will be totally lost otherwise.


This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.




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The Ancestor by Lee Matthew Goldberg

The AncestorThe Ancestor by Lee Matthew Goldberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: The Ancestor
Author: Lee Matthew Goldberg
Series: n/a
Pages: 348
Publisher: All Due Respect
Date: August 21, 2020

Summary:

A man wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is, nothing on him save an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He sees another man hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike. After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife and child, except he’s certain they do not exist in modern times-but from his life in the late 1800s. After recalling his name is Wyatt, he worms his way into his doppelganger Travis Barlow’s life. Memories become unearthed the more time he spends, making him believe that he’d been frozen after coming to Alaska during the Gold Rush and that Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt is certain gold still exists in the area and finding it with Travis will ingratiate himself to the family, especially with Travis’s wife Callie, once Wyatt falls in love. This turns into a dangerous obsession affecting the Barlows and everyone in their small town, since Wyatt can’t be tamed until he also discovers the meaning of why he was able to be preserved on ice for over a century.

A meditation on love lost and unfulfilled dreams, The Ancestor is a thrilling page-turner in present day Alaska and a historical adventure about the perilous Gold Rush expeditions where prospectors left behind their lives for the promise of hope and a better future. The question remains whether it was all worth the sacrifice….

Review:

This book has two of my reading preferences: time travel (but not really) and an Alaska setting, both present day and historical. This should have been a four or five star review. As it is, I gave it three stars and I feel like I’m being generous. I liked the premise of the story and it is not something I have read before.

So what didn’t I like about the book? It dragged . . . painfully. I normally read a book in two to three days and this one took me weeks. I couldn’t make myself stick with it. My main problem with the book is none of the characters were likeable. I can understand their motivations, but there was no growth, no improvements. Wyatt was selfish and self-centered in his former life and he carried on the same way in his new life. Travis was no better.

I really wish I had not received this book as an early reviewers copy. Once I started it, I felt obligated to finish. It was not worth the time.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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The Russian Cage (Gunnie Rose; #3) by Charlaine Harris

The Russian Cage (Gunnie Rose #3)The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: The Russian Cage
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Gunnie Rose, #3
Pages: 304
Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press
Date: February 23, 2021

Summary:

Picking up right where A Longer Fall left off, this thrilling third installment follows Lizbeth Rose as she takes on one of her most dangerous missions yet: rescuing her estranged partner, Prince Eli, from the Holy Russian Empire. Once in San Diego, Lizbeth is going to have to rely upon her sister Felicia, and her growing Grigori powers to navigate her way through this strange new world of royalty and deception in order to get Eli freed from jail where he’s being held for murder.

Russian Cage continues to ramp up the momentum with more of everything Harris’ readers adore her for with romance, intrigue, and a deep dive into the mysterious Holy Russian Empire.

Review:

Gunnie Rose used to have a simple life . . . at least by her standards. She transported and/or protected goods, whether they were living or not. She definitely kept out of the way of politics and magic users. Now, in spite of herself, Lizbeth Rose becomes involved with the politics of the Holy Russian Empire. Since that is where the magic users are trained, that means she is also involved with magic users known as Grigoris.

This is the third book in Harris’ Gunnie Rose series and I think it is the best one so far. The world building is pretty much done and the focus is more on the plot and relationships. I love that Lizbeth is developing a closer relationship with her newly discovered sister Felicia. I am also enjoying finding out some of Felicia’s secrets.

Of course, I would recommend this book to anyone who is already a fan of Charlaine Harris’ other series. Having said that, the plotline is totally different from her other works. I think I have read everything she has written and this series is definitely one of her best.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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