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review 2017-09-03 18:32
The Discreet Hero, Mario Vargas Llosa, trans. Edith Grossman
The Discreet Hero: A Novel - Mario Vargas Llosa,Edith Grossman

This book put me in a bind: while I found the story and characters engaging, fun, even, there are aspects that offended me. As I read, I would wonder: "Is this attitude or behavior endorsed by the author, or just described by him in depicting this place and these personalities?" By the end, I decided that there are definite ideologies at work here, including the beliefs that when it comes to family, blood is all; that the younger generation is responsible for squandering the hard work of their parents'; and the conservative viewpoint that if one only works hard enough, one can be successful. Other troubling attitudes that are questioned by characters but nevertheless feel condoned by the narrative: blaming victims of rape or sexual coercion; treating women as objects; racism; masculine pride as more important than the lives of loved ones.

 

After I finished the book, I read several reviews as I tried to work out my opinion of it. These mention that Vargas Llosa won the Nobel Prize for Literature but that this may not be his best work; that he used to be a social progressive but became a conservative who ran for president of Peru; that some characters appear in other books of his; that some elements are based on real events and his own life.

 

The book is divided between two alternating and converging narratives with separate protagonists, both fitting the "discreet hero" label of the title. The stories take place in two different areas of Peru, one Lima, one provincial, and their plots appear to have no connection. When they link up, it's very satisfying, even though the connection is quite minor. Each plot has elements of a mystery-thriller that propel the story; I found it hard to put down. The characters are often charming and easy to root for (until they're not). In story one, a man who worked his way up from nothing and owns a transport company is anonymously threatened unless he pays for protection; he refuses. In story two, a man on the verge of retirement and a long-awaited trip with his wife and son finds his life upheaved when his wealthy boss decides to marry his servant to punish his errant sons; at the same time, the protagonist's teenaged son is being approached by a mysterious stranger who may or may not be real, the devil, an angel, or just the kid fucking with his parents (this last mystery is left ambiguous).

 

Other elements I enjoyed included the relationship between the second protagonist and his wife, his feelings about art's role in life, the police sergeant from the first story, and learning about Peruvian life across two settings.

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review 2017-08-31 08:10
Review Tour - Ready To Run
 
 
 
Named Best Book of the Month by Amazon and iBooks 
 
 
 
 
READY TO RUN
I Do, I Don't #1
Lauren Layne
Releasing Aug 22, 2017
Loveswept
 


The Bachelor meets The Runaway Bride in this addictive romance novel about a reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.

Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: Luke Elliott, a playboy firefighter who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.

Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.



NOW AVAILABLE!
 
 
 
 

 

Luke started to load up the gear and, realizing he was doing it alone, glanced over his shoulder to see where the hell his partner was.

 

Unsurprisingly, his friend was chatting up City Girl. Neither Charlie nor Ryan seemed to mind in the least that these two fancy pants had swooped into their town to capitalize on Luke’s past.

 

What was more surprising was that Jordan Carpenter was chatting right back, her smile seemingly genuine, her laugh real.

 

Luke ground his teeth.

 

He couldn’t say he’d put much thought into the woman behind the name as he’d been unceremoniously deleting her emails and voice messages, but if forced to assume, he’d have guessed aggressive shrew.

 

He suspected he was wrong there. Because while there was no mistaking the ambition in the woman, it wasn’t the cutthroat, ball-busting kind.

 

Her lean body might be all angles and long lines, but there was a softness to her as well. The way her hair did its own thing. The easiness of her smile, the quick laugh. The small but pert breasts.

 

Damn. He was staring.

 

He slammed the door shut. “Bander,” he shouted at Charlie across the lawn. “Let’s clear out.”

 

Charlie leaned into Jordan, whispering something in her ear that made her laugh, before walking away with a last wink.

 

Luke rolled his eyes. Really? This was happening?

 

Hey, Elliott,” Ryan called. “You want to come over for a barbecue tonight?”

 

Luke crossed his arms and studied his friend suspiciously, waiting for the catch. “Who’s on the guest list?”

 

He saw Jordan and her purple-shirt friend exchange a look. Well, that answered that question.

 

Damn. Ryan never had been able to resist the urge to stir up trouble.

 

It’s no problem if you don’t want to join us,” Jordan called out, lifting her hand to shield the afternoon sun from her eyes. “I’m sure your friends here can fill me in on everything there is to know about Luke Elliott.”

 

All about Luke Elliott’s romantic history was more like it. City Girl wasn’t even pretending to be coy about the reason she was here.

 

All former positive thoughts about her evaporated. Only the worst sort of human would use another’s failed relationships to advance her own career—for entertainment.

 

Luke turned away without another word, hauling himself into the driver’s seat of the truck as he waited impatiently for Charlie to get done shouting goodbye to every single person within earshot.

 

He drummed his thumbs against the steering wheel, refusing to even think about going to the BBQ tonight. If his friends wanted to stir up trouble, they could do so without his cooperation.

 

As for the two New Yorkers, they’d flame out all on their own. Weren’t East Coasters known for being impatient and fast moving?

 

Surely they’d be off to find some other glory-seeking asshole if he ignored them. One of the other guys could play the role for all he cared.

 

As Charlie hauled his ass up, Luke started the truck, his eye catching on Jordan Carpenter, who was watching him with a stubborn, determined look on her pretty face.

 

Damn it. She’d stir up all sorts of trouble unless he ran interference.

 

Luke pulled out his phone to text Ryan.

 

I’ll be there. Have beer.

 

Charlie leaned over, unabashedly reading Luke’s iPhone screen. “Ha. Knew it.”

 

What?” Luke glared at his friend.

 

Charlie grinned wider, gesturing over his shoulder. “You’ve got a boner for the hot blonde.”

 

Are you kidding me with this? She wants me to be the next bachelor.”

 

How were Ryan and Charlie not getting the absurdity of this?

 

Charlie shrugged. “So? Maybe it’d be good for you.”

 

Luke stared at his friend for a moment longer before putting the truck in drive. “The only thing that would be good for me is to push you out of this truck.”

 

Charlie was waving goodbye to Jordan and Simon. “See you tonight!”

 

Luke ground his teeth harder. He was already dreading the BBQ, but not going would only make matters worse. Clearly he needed to have a very blunt conversation with Jordan Carpenter.

 

 

 

  

Ready to Run (I Do, I Don't)Ready to Run by Lauren Layne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jordan is a producer on a TV reality series. She is searching for the perfect man to attract the women. Also, he needs to have left them at the altar. Why would she be attracted to that?

Luke is the man in question. Talking to him, and the folks around him, only brings more questions. If he is a runaway groom - why are the ladies loving him?

This is a seriously sweet and hot story. I love the characters and cannot wait for more in the I Do, I Don't series. So much fun, and yet plenty of heat to still call it romance.

***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review, by Netgalley and its publishers.

View all my reviews

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of romantic comedies. She lives in New York City with her husband.
 
A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career. She signed with her agent in 2012, and her first book was published in summer of 2013. Since then, she's written over two dozen books, hitting the USA TODAYNew York Times, iBooks, and Amazon bestseller lists.
 

 
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-08-26 13:44
Staying
Ready to Run (I Do, I Don't) - Lauren Layne

Jordan is a producer on a TV reality series.  She is searching for the perfect man to attract the women.  Also, he needs to have left them at the altar.  Why would she be attracted to that?

 

Luke is the man in question.  Talking to him, and the folks around him, only brings more questions.  If he is a runaway groom - why are the ladies loving him?

 

This is a seriously sweet and hot story.  I love the characters and cannot wait for more in the I Do, I Don't series.  So much fun, and yet plenty of heat to still call it romance.  I give this book a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review, by Netgalley and its publishers.

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review 2017-08-08 15:37
Boring and Some Stories are Repeated in Other Volumes
Don't Look Behind You - Ann Rule

I ended up really annoyed with this one. Honestly I thought that Rule just threw a bunch of stories together and the second story should have been cut from this in its entirety. It becomes a long meandering story about a man who in all probability killed his wife, but there was no resolution to the case. Some of the other stories in this volume I have read in other Rule books so I did feel a bit cheated after I got past the first two stories.

 

The first story in this one is about a man who I think based on the way the story is written, seemed to be harassing a young woman who was not interested in him romantically anymore. I definitely don't think that is a reason to murder him. But something else seemed to be going on in this story, and it didn't make any sense to me that he was murdered since the murderer didn't seem to get anything out of it besides the guy leaving her alone in the future. The story was honestly not that interesting and I found it really boring. 

 

The second story is about a man who it appears murdered his wife after she filed for divorce. Then Rule follows the family through the years. I honestly think that a good portion of the story could have just been cut. There is no reason why this story needed to be as long as it was since we don't get any resolution to the case. And Rule even goes so far to say that a woman who is cleaning the home for sale may be a sensitive and can feel the anger in the house the deceased murderer lived in before he died.

 

The next few stories were short and not that great. I realized after the fact that one of the stories was one I had read in another volume and so I don't know why it got repeated in this volume again. 

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text 2017-07-26 08:05
Excerpt Reveal - Ready To Run
 
 
A reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: 
a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show. 
 
 
READY TO RUN
I Do, I Don't #1
Lauren Layne
Releasing Aug 22, 2017
Loveswept
 


The Bachelor meets The Runaway Bride in this addictive romance novel about a reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.

Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: Luke Elliott, a playboy firefighter who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.

Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.



PRE-ORDER TODAY!
 
 
 
 
 
Damn. Charlie hadn’t been lying about the hot blonde.
 
The woman walking straight toward him was all tight jeans, high heels, and confi-dence. And hot. Very, very hot.
 
Charlie muttered something admiring under his breath, and Luke’s gaze flicked to the man beside the woman. Tried to place him. Couldn’t.
 
Not too many guys around here who wore light-purple shirts and white pants with the same easy comfort that Lucky Hollow residents wore jeans and flannel.
 
No doubt about it—neither was from around here. Not by a long shot.
 
The man was a half step behind the woman, and Luke assessed that the woman was calling the shots.
 
His eyes narrowed as he realized that she hadn’t once wavered in her approach.
 
She knew what she was after:
 
Him.
 
She got closer and Luke saw that the face matched the body. Wide blue eyes, full lips, sassy shoulder-length blond hair that was just tousled enough to make a man wonder how it had gotten that way—to want to be the one to muss it.
 
Her gaze flicked over him, and Charlie whistled and muttered under his breath. “She just checked you out, man.”
 
She had indeed, but Luke was far from flattered. It hadn’t been the assessment of a woman checking out a man so much as a predator evaluating its prey.
 
As though she was evaluating him for . . . something.
 
Blondie stopped in front of him, and the second her blue eyes locked on his, Luke felt a little jolt of awareness and was irrationally annoyed. It had been a long time since he’d been quite so aware of a woman.
 
Once, he’d enjoyed the feeling—sexual chemistry was almost the perfect combination of pain and pleasure. A subtle punch in the gut that you wanted to experience again and again.
These days, though, he was having a hard time getting past the pain part. The shitty parts had outweighed the good parts just one time too many. Now he mostly settled for casual hookups with a divorcée a few towns over who was even less interested in com-mitment than Luke was.
 
He had zero use for attraction to a pretty, bold woman in high heels.
 
Luke noticed that for a sheer moment she had a slightly off-balance look, as though she too had felt the annoying zip of arousal when their eyes met, but she recovered quick-ly.
Pasting a sunny, generic smile on her face, she stuck out her right hand. “Luke Elliott. I’m Jordan Carpenter. This is my colleague, Simon Nash.”
 
Good manners had him setting down his equipment and extending his own right hand toward hers even as his brain caught on her name. Familiar, and . . .
 
Shit. Shit!
 
He managed to stop from jerking his hand back, but just barely. Instead, he gritted his teeth, gave her hand a perfunctory shake, and then fixed her with a glare. “You’re wasting your time, Ms. Carpenter. And mine.”
 
Blue eyes narrowed. “Aha. So you did get my emails.”
 
Those. The voicemails. The letters.
 
“Sure,” he said with a nod, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Just like I suspect you got the message that I didn’t want to be a part of your show.”
 
Charlie looked from the woman to Luke and back again. “Show?”
 
Ryan ambled over, his shit-eating grin telling Luke that this damn woman had already spilled the beans on why she was here. “Luke’s gonna be a national heartthrob.”
 
“International,” said the blond guy in the purple shirt.
 
Jordan Carpenter didn’t look at her companion, but all three firefighters did.
 
The other man gave the sort of easy smile that probably had him making friends easily. Luke didn’t want a new friend.
 
Especially not one who wanted to use his shitty romantic past for the sake of TV ratings.

 

 
 
 
 
Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of romantic comedies. She lives in New York City with her husband.
 
A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career. She signed with her agent in 2012, and her first book was published in summer of 2013. Since then, she's written over two dozen books, hitting the USA TODAYNew York Times, iBooks, and Amazon bestseller lists.
 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

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