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text 2019-01-25 15:00
Reading progress update: I've read 21%.
Second Street Station: A Mary Handley Mystery - Lawrence H. Levy

I'm starting to wonder if this is a novel or just a who's who of 1880's New York City. So far we've met Edison, Tesla, J.P. Morgan, and the Pemberton's. I've heard about electricity, wine with cocaine, and pop (Soda from those of you outside of Minnesota who use the wrong word.) At this point there's more commercials than the Super Bowl. 


Part of me wants to take the time to do the research to figure out if all of these people were actually in New York for the blizzard of '88. The other part of me wants to keep reading and see if Mary actually gets to solve a mystery or not. 

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review 2018-07-24 05:35
Pretty Broken Girl: An Unconventional Love Story - Jeana E. Mann

Dakota, the daughter of the cook at the Seaforth mansion has set her sights too high in falling in love with the Seaforth's only son, Samuel. This is something Sam's parents won't stand for as Sam will inherit their vast empire and it's bad for appearances if he's married to the cook's daughter. 


But Sam disavows his family's fortune and when turns 18 and is out of high school, he marries Dakota and everything seems to be a happily ever after. Except Dakota's life is super complicated as she's tackling a sick mother and a deadbeat brother who's always on the wrong side of the law. 


Before she can embark on her HEA, Sam's father pays her off to leave his son alone by giving her money and not throwing her worthless brother in jail after he blackmails her with incriminating information. Dakota agrees to abide by the agreement and never see Sam again. She leaves Sam without saying a word, and ten years pass by full of hurt and revenge for both of them. 


Now Sam has bought her company and is her new boss. It will take everything in her power to resist not only Sam's allure, but find a way out of the problems in her life that never stopped plaguing her. Will Dakota turn to Sam this time or will she run away again? 


This read started out all right, but it got tedious fast with the should we - shouldn't we - I love you - I hate you. Ugh! I really wanted to like this book, but it was just too much back and forth at something that should have been so easy to talk through.  Plus, the title is really misleading. Dakota is nowhere near broken to me. I truly expected a BDSM read and this was nothing of the sort. 


Pretty Broken Girl features: 


sexual content



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review 2017-09-01 20:51
The Betting Vow (Unconventional Brides) by K.M. Jackson
The Betting Vow (Unconventional Brides Romance) - K.M. Jackson


The lighter side of love with some serious issues thrown in for good measure.  K.M. Jackson and her band of Unconventional Brides make the grade, as they throw shade and bring on the laughs while finding their heart's desire.  Leila and Carter know that love is a serious business, but with humor and compromise, falling in love can be  a treasure worth waiting for.  The Betting Vow bets on happily ever after and scores big time.

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review 2017-04-30 15:16
Review: To Me I Wed by K.M. Jackson
To Me I Wed (Unconventional Brides Romance) - K.M. Jackson

Two peas in a pod are Lily Perry and Vincent Caro. Both struggling small-business owners who are happy with their relationship-free lifestyles. Lily is a successful event planner who has pulled off amazing parties for her several sisters, living up to the “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” lifestyle. Vin recently opened his own restaurant in memory of his mother who always shared her joy of cooking with him. The pair hooked up a while back, and even though it was an intense evening, neither called for a second chance. However, when Lily sees Vin at her sister’s wedding, sparks ignite and neither can rest until they see the attraction through.


To Me I Wed is the second story in Ms. Jackson’s Unconventional Bride series, and unconventional is the best word to describe Lily’s plans. Doing research, Lily comes across an article how a woman, ready to show the world she’s good just as she is, married herself. At first Lily sees this as a potential business opportunity - which I can appreciate. But then she internalizes it, seeing herself in this woman. She gets swept up in the idea, immediately calling her assistant, Tori, and getting Vin’s restaurant to host it!


I have to say, I struggled with Lily. I understood her desire to show the world she's all good as is. But I had a lot of trouble getting behind the concept of marrying herself. I had hoped it would have been a funny/silly storyline, but Lily was kind of obsessive about her life and the wedding. It was an "I'm gonna show them" kind of thing. She was so serious, not having fun with it at all, which actually made her come off as desperate - not for a man - but for people to believe she’s “okay” as she is.


Similarly, we got a lot of how “okay” Vin is, yet he’s clearly still dealing with his mother’s death and his own father-issues. I loved that he genuinely cares for Lily and pushed her until she gave into her desire. But then their relationship coasts… and when one got too close to the other, they would blow up and push apart. As much as they were falling into one another, they both had serious walls. And we didn’t really see them ever open up to one another. They danced around it, but slammed the walls down hard as soon as one or the other was uncomfortable. They argued about it and instead of moving closer, continually slamming down the barriers. 


The author did include some glimpses of genuine emotion, like when Vin kissed Lily with all his heart and at the point right before the wedding. But those moments were so rare. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I felt even though there is an HFN ending, we never see the couple work things out and get past the messy emotions. 


In the end, To Me I Wed was an enjoyable read, but I struggled getting into the story, and then, I found it was lacking solid relationship bonding. By the end of the book I felt that Lily and Vin *could* be a couple, but they really never shared a scene that shows me they will be able to open up and be there for one another. 


My Rating:  C+ Liked It, but I had issues

Review copy provided by NetGalley

Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About

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review 2017-04-18 21:23
A marmite collection of unique characters and stories.
Homesick for Another World: Stories - Ottessa Moshfegh

Thanks to NetGalley and to Vintage for offering me an ARC copy of this collection that I voluntarily chose to review.

I read Moshfegh’s novel Eileen (nominated for the Booker Prize, read my review here), admired it (perhaps liking it is not the right way to describe it) and I was curious to read more by the same author.  When I saw this book on offer I took the chance.

This collection of short-stories does reinforce some of the thoughts I had about Eileen. Ottessa Moshfegh can write, for sure. If the stories in this collection have anything in common, apart from the quality of the writing, is the type of characters. They all (or most) are lonely, only a few are likeable (they can all be liked, but that’s not what I mean) and easy to relate to, they often have disgusting habits (although I suspect that if our lives were put under a microscope and every last little detail was looked at and written down we might not look very pretty either), and are lost. The characters made me think of Sherwood Anderson and Flannery O’Connor (not the style of writing, though): those people who don’t seem to fit anywhere and are utterly peculiar, although many of the characters in the stories are only peculiar because we get a peep into their brains. One gets the sense that they would appear pretty normal from the outside. A man who lives alone at home, watching telly, and is friendly with the girl living next door. A Maths’ teacher, divorced, who might cheat on the students’ exams. A Yale graduate, who does not know what to do with his life, spends too much money on clothes and gets infatuated with a woman he only met briefly once. A couple of children, twins, telling each other stories. An aspiring actor who can’t get any acting jobs.

Of course, there are other things we discover. The man seems to have a strange interest in the girl next door. The Maths’ teacher drinks so much she keeps a sleeping bag at the school (well, it’s really a room in a church) so she can lie down between classes. The graduate has to sell his clothes in a desperate attempt to get the attention of the woman he is mad about. One of the twins is planning to kill a man. The aspiring actor doesn’t know who Scorsese is (or much about anything) and can’t even kiss a girl on camera. The author digs deep into the characters’ façade and pulls a distorted mirror to them, that like in caricature drawings, emphasises the weirdest characteristics rather than what might make them seem ‘normal’ because normal is a construct after all.

Not many of these stories would fit comfortably into standard definitions of what a short story is supposed to be like. If the author pushes the boundaries with her choice of characters and her descriptions (a lot of them have acne that they squeeze, they are sick or make themselves sick, their bodily functions are described in detail, and some are … well, let’s say ‘alternative’) she does the same with the stories. Quite a few of them seem to be slices of life rather than stories with a beginning, a middle and an end. There are some that have more of a conventional ending (even if it is open ended), but plenty do not and it is up to the reader to decide what, if anything, to make of them. If I had to choose and extract something from the stories (not a lesson as such, but a reflection of sorts) is that perhaps the only characters who end up in a better place or experiencing some sort of happiness (or contentment) are those who don’t try to live up to anybody’s expectations and accept what might appear to be strange alliances and relationships. But perhaps it is just that those are the stories that have stuck more in my head.

Reading the comments, this collection, much like Eileen, is a marmite book. Some people really love it and some hate it with a passion. As I said, the writing is excellent, but you’ll need to have a strong stomach and not mind detailed descriptions of bodily functions and less than flattering individuals (nobody is tall, dark and handsome here, although some characters believe they are). Although many of the stories might feel dispiriting and depressing, this depends on the point of view of the reader and there are very witty lines and funny (but dark) moments.

Here some examples:

‘Oh, okay, there were a few fine times. One day I went to the park and watched a squirrel run up a tree. A cloud flew around the sky.’

‘I had a thing about fat people. It was the same thing I had about skinny people: I hated their guts.’

‘Her face was pinched, as though she’d just smelled someone farting. It was that look of revulsion that awoke something in me. She made me want to be a better man.’

In sum, I wouldn’t dare to recommend this book to everybody, by a long stretch, but if you want to check great writing, have a strong stomach, and don’t mind strange and not always likeable characters and unconventional stories, dare to read on. It will be an utterly unique experience.

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