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Search tags: 20-books-of-summer
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review 2018-07-16 18:37
Garden Spells - - Magical Realism Done Very Well
Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen

Funny, I love this book, but honestly don't remember the last time I read it. After finishing "Garden Spells" I went and read book two in the Waverley family again so that was a nice and and two punch. Allen does magical realism very well. This book deals with a lot of serious issues, rape, abuse, bullying, and the eccentricities of a small but unusual southern town in North Carolina.

 

"Garden Spells" reunites estranged sisters, Claire and Sydney Waverley. Claire is single and alone making a go of her special catering business in Bascom, North Carolina. She has her whole world turned upside down when she meets a man, Tyler Hughes, who despite her best efforts is interested in her.

 

Sydney has left her abusive partner and taken her daughter Bay back home to Bascom. She has hated Bascom since she left it and never wanted to be one of the strange Waverley's. All she wanted to do was fit in. Still nursing heartbreak over the first boy she ever loved (and lost) Sydney starts to finally embrace being a Waverley.

 

The book focuses not just on Claire and Sydney though. We also have Allen including other characters as well, we follow Claire and Sydney's cousin Evanelle, Sydney's daughter Bay, an old friend (not really friend) of Sydney's, and even Tyler and a potential love interest for Sydney. Allen manages to juggle everyone and keep the plot moving forward. I didn't feel lost about who people were and how they were connected. We also got delicious little comments about which each family is famous for in this book and that was pretty cute. 

 

The writing is magical realism at it's best. Allen makes you feel, smell, and even taste things. If you do things right, you can make the magical elements seem totally natural and Allen does. We hear about the Waverley family home, apple tree, and even how Claire's emotions affect things like having fog in the neighborhood.

 

The flow was very good and the setting of Bascom felt very real.

 

Great first book in the series. 

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review 2018-07-10 20:03
Not Really Chick Lit
Bookends - Jane Green

I finished my re-read of this a few days ago, just didn't have the energy to post a review. I think the main issue I had was that the re-read was a bit of a bust. Probably because this wasn't as chick-lit as I was hoping. There are some serious issues here (discussion of HIV and AIDS) but also there is some mean-girling crap that goes on that just didn't fit the characters who were supposed to be adults in their 30s. The main character of Cath just reads as a doormat throughout this book and I just wanted her to be stronger and push back on people more. The ending was okayish, just not great.

 

"Bookends" has Cath and her best friend Si dealing with being unlucky in love. Living in London they seem to be going through the motions of things. Cath refuses to try her hand at love again after having her heart broken and Si is desperate to meet Mr. Right even though the men he is usually with are terrible.

 

Cath and Si have boring, but familiar get togethers with their college friends Josh and Lucy and things seem to be carrying along fine until a woman (Portia) from their college days pops up again.

 

Most of the book is Cath thinking about Portia and how Portia supposedly held them all together until she broke up their friend group. What gets me though is that when we readers finally get a glimpse of Portia, she's not all that Cath (or Green) makes her out to be. There is no there there, and I wanted there to be better development of her.

 

Cath stumbles upon a love interest that wasn't that interesting and Si ends up with a shocking new way of life after a betrayal. The book just ends up taking too many things on and not doing them well.

 

If the above isn't enough, we also have Cath trying to open a bookstore.

 

The writing is typical older Green (when she wrote her chick lit books taking place in London). This just doesn't read or feel like chick lit. The flow is okay, though going back to past and present was a bit much.

 

I guess I was just put out by the whole lesson to be learned about real friends that people who should be old enough should already know at this point.

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review 2018-07-02 15:13
Iron and Magic: Solid Start to New Trilogy by Andrews
Iron and Magic - Ilona Andrews

Wow. Who knew that I would end up liking Hugh by the end of this book. I am still kind of appalled I like him and am rooting for him and Elara. I know some people would say that you can read this book as a standalone, but I really do think you have to read the Kate Daniels series first just so you can see Hugh in action, and get why many of the characters in the Kate Daniels series are not going to be opening their arms to welcome the guy.

 

The characters were fantastic, I loved the setting up of the marriage between Elara and Hugh. I am still intrigued about what magic Elara is tapping into and went crazy Googling the other day to figure out what power she could have and from what being. All in all I did not want this book to end. I don't know if I can wait until next year for the next installment of the Iron Covenant.

 

Readers should know Hugh by now. After the events in the Kate Daniels series, Roland (Kate's father) tosses him away and now that Hugh is without Roland in his head at all times, he feels alone and adrift. He has started drinking himself into a stupor and doesn't care what happens to him. When his loyal Iron Dogs come to find him, he realizes that if he doesn't step up that the Iron Dogs are going to be wiped out by Nez. Hugh starts looking for a place to settle with his people and then is offered an interesting proposition. He can marry a woman named Elara Harper (or the White Lady) and live among her and her people in a castle in Kentucky.

 

Hugh and Elara dislike each other on sight and though they don't want to marry each other, realize it is the best thing for their people in order to form an alliance against Nez who seems to be hell-bent on wiping out Elara and her people as well with his vampires. 

 

Hugh is messed up, but you get why. I love how Andrews shows how Voron and Roland found him centuries ago and what Hugh's magic abilities allow him to do (heal himself and others). It was indoctrinated in Hugh that Roland was always right, but now he realizes that he is rightfully not trusted by people due to his breaking his word every single time due to Roland's orders. He wants to belong somewhere and living with Elara gives him a chance to do so. 


Elara's mystery has not been totally revealed yet. We know she has access to some magic. She finds herself annoyed by Hugh and their bickering back and forth actually caused me to laugh a few times. What was interesting though is that without realizing when, they both start doing things in sync (almost) with each other. When the times comes to them to fight they both realize that no matter what they have to make sure that their people get out of things alive.

 

We get some insight into the Iron Dogs and also into Elara's people. I can see there being spin-offs in the future since I have so many questions about all of the new characters that we get to meet in this one.


Also there are repercussions to Hugh's actions which I found realistic. We get some characters from the Kate Daniels series that appear here and I was glad that Hugh isn't going to just be able to walk away from what he has done. Hugh actually reminds me a bit of Xena: Warrior Princess. Xena like Hugh did terrible things and spent most of her journey after passing the gauntlet making amends for what she did. 

 

I have to say though my favorite moment was Hugh reading Jim (the new Beast Lord) for filth to some members of the Pack. Sorry, not sorry, I don't care for Jim and am still pissed he betrayed Kate and Curran like that. And I love that even Hugh gets that Curran is always going to be the beast lord no matter what he does (stepping down for Kate).

 

And I love Hugh's slow recognition of his and Kate's relationship. Dude was a dumbass and am glad that Elara helped him out with that whole thing.


The writing was very good and the flow was fantastic. If you have read Kate Daniels you are going to love this one. It takes place in the same world as Kate Daniels so you should be able to follow people/world building as long as you have read Kate Daniels first. 


I will say the only quibble I had was having two plots going on in this one. We have the Nez issue and then a mysterious army that is attacking towns near where Elara and Hugh live. That was  bit too much for the first book, but it ended up working. 

 

The ending was fantastic and I cheered a lot. Elara steps up and she's now my favorite character. Sorry, Kate! I can't help it! It goes Elara, Kate, Curran, Hugh, and from there I would have to flip a coin. Sometimes I like Julie and other times she annoys the crap out of me. 

 

One final note, Andrews let's readers know that "Magic Triumphs" is next (August), but that the next two books in the Iron Covenant series take place before that book. So it sounds like maybe Hugh and Elara are going to appear in "Magic Triumphs". Hope so!

 

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review 2017-07-10 22:03
4 Carly Phillips Books--Lucky Break, Sum... 4 Carly Phillips Books--Lucky Break, Summer Lovin', Hot Number, - Carly Phillips

It sure has been fun, re-reading these older books of Carly Phillips.  I had forgotten how crazy and funny the Costas clan was!

This is the second book in the Costas Sisters series and Zoe Costas' story.  Having recently left the Secret Service, Zoe has now started up a security specialist company along with Quinn and Connor.  She is also living at her parents home since they now are fostering Sam, with the hopes of adopting her.  When a strange guy shows up at Sam's party, they all assume he is the temporary social worker on Sam's case but in reality he is actually Sam's Uncle Ryan.  When Zoe finds out that Ryan is not a social worker, she calls him on it and he tells her that he is Sam's uncle.  Both of them decide not to let the family know who Ryan really is until they get to know more about each other....which neither of them seem to mind because there is definite chemistry going on there!  It is pretty funny how completely opposite these two are!

When someone is threatening Sam, Zoe and Ryan work together to try and figure out what is going on and end up taking Sam to Boston where Ryan's family lives.  The Baldwin's way of life is night and day different from the Costas way of life.  This was such a fun comparison!  While working together, things are definitely heating up between Zoe and Ryan and have both of them feeling things that they have never felt before.  The mystery behind the threats was fun and entertaining.  I really enjoyed how everything played out in the end and really loved Zoe and Ryan's happy ending.  

Overall, this was a fun and entertaining story with some great, colorful characters!

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review 2016-08-31 01:46
Silk Stalkings (Material Witness, #3)
Silk Stalkings - Diane Vallere

This is a good series, with really well done characterisations and a nice cozy small-town setting, but the editors blew it with this one and the story wasn't strong enough to compensate.

 

The story was interesting enough and the murder well-plotted but the sloppy editing not only had characters talking face-to-face and then suddenly hanging up the phone, only to continue chatting face-to-face, but vague references are never followed up on, hints are left dangling and logic trails left from previous edits are left as shadowy dead-ends.  There were quite a few moments where I felt like I didn't have a handle on what was going on, and ultimately that cost this book 1 star.

 

I'll still happily order and read the next one in the series; perhaps the editor will find his/her mojo by then.

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