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review 2018-12-06 02:52
Better not pout, I'm telling you why...
Better Not Pout - Annabeth Albert

‘Better Not Pout’ is an entertaining, uncomplicated, sexy, fun holiday story that takes one grumpy wanna’ be Scrooge with a slightly broken family and adds in a cute, sexy, twinkish elf with blond curls and a well meaning but meddlesome family then dresses it all up with a small community, some snow and a series of unfortunate events often tinged with humorous moments to create a holiday story filled with the spirit of the season and the best Christmas present ever…the gift of love.

 

At 46 years old Sergeant Major Nick Nowicki is about to retire…whether he’s ready or not and he’s got a plan. Nick’s also a bit of a bah-humbug sort of guy and Karma’s about to mess with him in the form of his CO making a slightly irregular request of him. But Nick’s determined to see it through when she asks him to step into the role of Santa Clause that her husband normally fills. Feeling like he can’t say no, Nick agrees and heads off to Mineral Spirits where he meets Santa’s elf in the form of one sexy, mischievous, blond haired and twinkish elf, named Teddy.

 

Teddy gets one look at his new Santa and he’s ready to climb him like a tree. Nick likes what he sees when he meets Santa’s elf, but he’s determined to get in, do the job and get out...keep it strictly professional. What he’s not counting on is just how much one adorable, feisty elf can melt his heart with nothing more than sincerity, honestly and some adorable blond curls.

 

On paper this pair probably shouldn’t work…there’s a fairy significant age gap, Nick’s a by the book career military man, he’s estranged from his family all but his sister and while they try to maintain a relationship it’s nothing like the closely-knit bonds that Teddy shares with his own family. Nick’s a by the book military man who’s buried himself in his career losing contact with not only his family but friends over the years as well, but Teddy’s all about the family and friends so much so that after college he’s returned to the community where he grew up to use his education in a position that allows him to help out and give back to the community that he grew up in. These two men are even polar opposites physically but in spite of everything they’re drawn to each other.

 

Despite all their differences Nick and Teddy work as a couple. They fit. Teddy knows it and he wants a happily ever after for him and Nick but wishing and wanting doesn’t always make dreams come true especially when one man’s heading for Florida and the other man isn’t sure that he can bring himself to give up his hometown, it’s going to take both men willing to compromise and meet in the middle to give them the holiday happiness that will last throughout the years to come.

 

This is only my second time reading this author and I have to admit I’m looking forward to reading a lot more. I loved the pacing and flow of this story and once again Ms Albert has taken the adage of ‘opposites attract’ and made it into a story that’s every bit as believable as it is enjoyable. This one’s definitely recommended for anyone who’s looking to find out what happens when Santa Clause comes to town!

 

*************************

 

A copy of ‘Better Not Pout’ was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-11-20 15:25
Poorly written detective story.
For Sale In Palm Springs - Albert Simon

 

 

OK - it was free so I get what I deserve. This detective novel has all sorts of issues. Do I need to know how the main character deals with his dinner plate after eating? Do I need to know which streets he drives down in Palm Springs since these will only mean something to someone living there? It seems padded (and it’s a short novel). It was also pretty easy to predict who the perpetrator was – especially if you read a lot of detective fiction. Don't bother with it.

 

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review 2018-11-08 06:02
TOSTONAZO
La jaula de cristal (Áncora & Delfín) - Albert Vitó Godina,Hilary Mantel

Un verdadero rollo. Lo he tenido que dejar a mitad, porque de verdad que es difícil escribir con menos tensión argumentativa. 

La novela cuenta la historia de Frances Shore, una cartógrafa que se traslada a vivir a Arabia Saudí porque a su marido, ingeniero de una empresa británica, lo han destinado allí y le pagan un pastizal.

Lo que se supone que da misterio al asunto es que, el piso de arriba de donde ella vive, lo utiliza una pareja para sus encuentros clandestinos. Pero eso es lo que hemos averiguado casi llegados a la mitad del libro...

Vamos, que hay que escribir con un poco más de brío.

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review 2018-10-03 00:40
The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover
The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover - Susan Wittig Albert

Opie is a female reporter earning extra money to help her family through the depression era. She and the other women of the Dahlias grow vegetables and fruits in the gardens of their "clubhouse" and give to the people who need and earn money by selling to give to people who need. At the same time, there is a mystery of what happened to the husband of a woman in their community.

 

This book is set in 1934 and FDR is president and Huey Long is running against him. What I enjoyed about this story was all the historical information that was provided in this story. After I got far enough I realized what a goldmine it was and hunted down an audio version so I could have my kids listen. We talked about coming out of the depression, putting people to work as they wanted to work not be given handouts. We talked about party line phones and so many other things brought up in this story. I will definitely be looking at the other books by this author to see what else she brings up that will be interesting to my girls for history. 

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review 2018-08-15 15:55
The Fairy Tales Sounded More Interesting Than the Main Book
The Hazel Wood - Melissa Albert

I know that some people mentioned reading this book for Halloween Bingo 2018. It is definitely going to hit some bingo squares if you all are interested in reading this. You got "A Grim Tale," "Supernatural," "New Release", and I would argue "Suspense." Will have to check out the Goodreads tag on that later.

 

"The Hazel Wood" just didn't know what it wanted to be honestly. I think that the idea behind it sounded great. We have a teen girl (Alice) and her mother (Ella) constantly on the move. Bad luck seems to follow the two of them. Alice loves her mother, but often feels upset that her mother is estranged from Alice's grandmother, Althea Proserpine, a very famous and reclusive author. Althea wrote a dark fairy tale collection called "Tales from the Hinterland" that has gained a huge cult following with many fans trying to decipher the meaning behind Althea's tales.  Althea is now in hiding in her home called the Hazel Wood.  When Ella finally marries an awful man named Harold, she and Alice finally stay in one place in New York. When Alice starts to realize that all signs point to bad luck finding them again, she finds her mother kidnapped. Alice's stepsister tells her that her mother told her to stay away from the Hazel Wood. Of course Alice has no intention of doing that and goes on a quest to find and save her mother. 


Sounds interesting right? Not really. The characters do not draw you in at all. Everyone feels rather flat and you can see plot points coming a mile away. We also get information dumps (I loathe that) and just some parts of this book that reminded me a bit of Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" (regarding certain characters--no spoilers) which left me with the feeling that nothing about this was fresh at all. Just felt like very familiar territory that had a lot of overwrought writing going on even when we get to the end of the book. And then Melissa Albert includes a scene involving Alice another character who is black and a police officer and I just don't know what in the world she was thinking there. I wanted to kick the crap out of Alice and she's a fictional character. She may have grown up poor, but that was some white privilege nonsense going on there that took me completely out of the book.  

 

Alice is 17 when the story starts with the story going around in fits and starts. Instead of being a straight forward story, we hear about Alice and her mother Ella and them moving. Then we come to find out that Alice's mother has married. Then we find out she has a stepsister. Melissa Albert doesn't provide this information in a logical way. It just arrives a sentence, paragraph, or chapter after you start reading about something else. I can see why a lot of readers complained about the start of this book, because I had a hard time getting into it. Things don't get smooth until we have Ella kidnapped and Alice off to slay dragons (joking) with her classmate Ellery Finch. Some readers may argue that Albert includes a reason (you find out much later) why Alice may be hard to like and is so offputting to others. I just didn't care at that point and felt like it was too easy to handwave her being self involved for a good majority of this story.


Ellery Finch was actually more interesting to me though I didn't like this character either. Finch as Alice calls him for most of the story is the son of a rich man. His father is fairly absent and his stepmother wishes him gone. His mother was a famous model and loved Finch and then she died (suicide) when she realized that Finch's father had betrayed her. At least that is what I assume happened. Albert dances around things too much with this character. The main reason why Finch is important to Alice is that he has read Alice's grandmother book and she thinks that him knowing about the tales can give her insight into who kidnapped her mother and how to find the Hazel Wood. 

  

There are other characters in this book, but they feel like footnotes. Alice's mother Ella is interesting, and what we hear about her it made me want to read more about her. Same with Althea. We just get some scenes here and there with Alice describing her mother and we hear how important her mother is to her. Althea sounds like an opportunistic person, but once again, we just know that based on what people tell Alice. I wanted to delve in more deeply with these characters.

 

The writing was too much at times. Not quite purple prose, but just had enough of it here and there that it turned me off. Also the main story with Alice is beyond boring. The only time I perked up is when we heard the tales. And we never hear all of them! We only hear about two tales, "Alice-Three-Times" and "The Door That Wasn't There." 

 

The dialogue between Alice and Finch is just exhausting at times.

 

“No, my mom did. I’ll go first, so I can teach you.” He cleared his throat. “Okay, the first item in my memory palace is a … map of Amsterdam. Because Amsterdam is where I lost my, um, my virginity in a public park.”

He laughed self-consciously, like he was already rethinking his brag.

“So, A is for Amsterdam. Now you say mine, then do a B, with a memory attached.”

 

Why would you tell anyone this that you literally just started to even talk to a day or two ago?

 

He said it lightly, without emphasis, but I knew what he wanted. “You remember I’ve never met her, right?” I asked hotly. “Like, ever? Althea figures not at all into my life, and my mom hasn’t talked to her in sixteen years.” “What about when you were little? Where you grew up? What do you remember about that?”

 

I loathe Finch. No matter what Alice says he is so focused on Althea he isn't even listening to her saying nope never met her.

 

“Some bitch? She was my girlfriend for eight months. It’s so ugly when girls call each other that word.”

“Oh, my god, Finch, go get a liberal arts degree.”

 

This is the only time I laughed while reading this book. Finch is insufferable, but so is Alice.

 

And then of course we get into the car incident with Alice, the cop, and Finch and Alice just acted like a straight up ass. 

 

“Car looks okay,” I said. “Was anyone hurt?”

“Sweetheart, I’m gonna need you to turn around now.”

“Sweetheart?”

The cop chewed on something, gum or the inside of his cheek.

“Son, please tell your girlfriend to turn her lights back on and turn the car around, before I write her up.” His voice was mechanical, the metallic eyes of his shades pointed toward Finch. The feeling started in my cheeks, like it always did, and flooded my skin with cold fire.

“You can talk to me,” I said. “I’m right here. Or were you under the impression that a woman can’t follow a simple command?“Just because we’re in whatever shitstain town is under your jurisdiction, it doesn’t mean you get to act like I’m a baby. How dare you treat me like a fuckin’ housewife!"

 

Cue fight between Finch and Alice and Alice acting like she's not privileged cause she's not rich. You wonder why Finch even puts up with Alice after this, but that all becomes clear later. 

 

The book includes some drawings of things fairy tale-esque and also connects to the book, that was cool to look at. I know some readers mentioned the hard copy cover of this book was awesome. If I actually liked this book I would buy it just for the drawings and cover.

The setting of "The Hazel Wood" tries so hard to be dark and it just doesn't work. I don't want to get into spoiler territory here, but the world building in this book makes zero sense after a while and you just go with it. 


The ending was a letdown. Honestly if you are going to do a dark fairy tale, this could/should have ended on a darker note. Albert backs off and throws something in the mix that made zero sense to get this book towards a conclusion. I don't like books that end in cliffhangers, but I do think the way this book ended just seemed like a cop-out for a sequel. Albert could have ended it a different way and then just had the next book follow up with Ella, Finch, etc. Or heck even someone totally new. 

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