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review 2017-09-17 17:25
Head Over Heels (Something New) by Jennifer Dawson
Head over Heels (A Something New Novel) - Jennifer Dawson

 

Ms. Dawson has a talent more magnetic than seduction.  Her knack to find humor in moments that are not always humorous is why I keep coming back for more. Within the pages of her tempting novels are morsels of optimism that touch the heart and characters that set hormones raging.  Head over Heels is an alluring opposites attract tale of intriguing romance and emotional upheaval.  Ryder and Sophie can bring out the worst in each other, but that thunder is morphing into something neither thought possible.  LOVE!  Jennifer Dawson keeps readers guessing with addictive and entertaining tales of romance.

 

 

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review 2017-06-26 11:01
Multi-award winner historical fiction in pre-revolution New York with a fabulous narrator and an intriguing main character
Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York - Francis Spufford

Thanks to Net Galley and to Faber & Faber for offering me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

I had an interesting experience with this novel. In the last few weeks, every time I reviewed a novel that was nominated for an award and checked out what novel had won it, it was Golden Hill (among them, the Costa First Novel Award, The Desmond Elliott Prize, the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2017…) and I thought I had to read it and find out what the fuss what about.

It is not difficult to see why people are fascinated by this novel. It is a historical fiction novel by an author who has written non-fiction extensively and has chosen a very interesting narrative style. (I must confess to being very intrigued by his book called The Child that Books Built. A Life in Reading, especially in view of a recent discussion we had on my blog about books on reading). The story is set in the New York of the late 1740s and is narrated by an anonymous narrator (or so it seems as we read) who tells the story of a man, Richard Smith, who arrives in the New World with a money order for 1000 pounds and acts quite mysteriously. The story is told in the third person, but the narrator breaks the third wall barrier often, at times to despair at being unable to describe a card game, or a fight, at others to decide where we can or cannot enter. Although the book’s language and style are word-perfect (and will enchant those who love accuracy), it appears more sensitive to certain aspects of the society of the time than perhaps a novel of the period would have been (slavery, gender, and race issues…) but the narrating style reminds us of Henry and Sarah Fielding, and in a nod to metafiction, in the book itself there are discussions of novels that include Joseph Andrews or David Simple. I have talked often about my fascination for narrators and this is one of those novels that will keep it alive for a long time.

The book transports the reader to the New York of 1747, a provincial and small place, with only a few streets and a mixture of inhabitants mostly from Dutch and English origins, with a jumble of different coins and bank notes in circulation, what appear to be the equivalent of small-town politics and an interesting judicial system, and dependent on ships from London for news and entertainment. Although I have read historical tracts and fiction from the era, I don’t think any of them managed to give me as good an understanding and a feel for what colonial New York was like.

The story itself is built around the mystery of Smith’s character. Who is he? Is the money order real, or is he a con-man? Is he a magician, an actor, a seducer, a trouble-maker, all of the above? Everybody wants him, or better, his money, for their own goals (political, financial…) and he allows himself to be courted by all, although he is only really interested in the daughter of one of the Dutch businessmen who is holding his money order until they receive confirmation of its true value, Tabitha. Tabitha is my favourite character, a shrew, sharp and witty, and somebody I wouldn’t mind learning much more about.

Smith is a good stand-in for the reader because although he is from the era, he is naïve as to the colonies and the different social mores, politics, and customs there, and keeps getting into trouble. Although his adventures are interesting, and the mystery that surrounds him seemingly propels the story (although half-way through the novel we get a clue as to what might be behind the intrigue), I found it difficult to fully empathise with him, perhaps because of the style of narration (although the story is told by a narrator, and in the third person, at times we get a clear look at what Smith is thinking, but, for me, the hidden information somehow hindered my full investment in the character). There are many other interesting characters, although we do not get to know any of them in a lot of detail. For a great insight into the book and all that it contains, I recommend you read the About the author note I have included above. The man can write, for sure.

The ending… Well, there is an ending to the story and then there is a final twist. If you picked up the clues, the ending will not be such a big surprise. The twist… Yes, it makes one look at the book in a completely different way, although it makes perfect sense.

I highlighted many fragments that I particularly liked, but on checking them again I was worried they might, either give too much away or confuse somebody who is not following the story. So I’d advise you to check the book sample available on your favourite online bookstore and see if you enjoy the style. If you do, it only gets better.

I recommend this book to anybody curious about its reputation, to lovers of historical fiction, in particular, those set up in the colonies prior to the revolution, and to readers and writers who enjoy narrators and look for something a bit different.

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review 2017-05-30 14:10
Review: New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan
New York, Actually: A Romance Novel (From Manhattan With Love) - Sarah Morgan

Unknown to all but four people, Molly is actually the popular relationship expert, Aggie. With a well-liked, successful blog and best-seller to her name, Molly has finally found peace-of-mind after upending her life and moving from London three years ago. As long as nobody discovers her real identity nor the horrors of her past, she’ll be perfectly content with her life and one love, Valentine the Dalmatian.

 

Daniel is a highly motivated, premier divorce lawyer. He loves to be with women - giving them what they want - without strings. And when he sees Molly running with Valentine in Central Park day after day, he goes after her; however, the only way to get her attention is to borrow a dog to walk in the park. Now that he’s got Molly’s attention, he needs to figure out how to get her to open up and let him in.

 

New York, Actually is another wonderful romance in Ms. Morgan’s From Manhattan with Love series. I was concerned at the beginning that I wouldn’t like this book because it has themes that I don’t really enjoy, like dishonesty, holding secrets to “protect” the other, and a set up for potential public humiliation. However, Ms. Morgan eased all my fears and wrote a wonderful story. She never avoided the set up she put in place, but rather allowed her characters to mature and develop genuine feelings for one another. She afforded them the opportunity to feel the angry, hurt, joy, etc. and then let them think about it and come back around. I absolutely enjoyed it!

 

Daniel and Molly are a perfect match. She always breaks hearts and he doesn’t have a heart to break. Due to Molly’s wariness, the couple was forced to take time and start the friendship process before acting fully on their mutual attraction. The missteps and falters were needed, but together, the pair used their hearts, experiences, and their brains to move past the hiccups.

 

I am thankful that Molly’s identity was revealed to Daniel in the middle of the book, rather than at the end. Instead of everything going swimmingly until BAM the big conflict at the end, the pair dealt within increasingly difficult issues until the climax, but by then they were prepared to deal with the issues head on. I also enjoyed all the little tie-ins to the first three titles, yet the book expands into a new subset of friends and experiences.

 

New York, Actually has a lot of heart. It is a little messy, but filled with genuine and caring kindness. It is a feel-good romance which has to work for the HEA, making it all the more satisfying. 

 

My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot

Review copy provided by NetGalley

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

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text 2017-04-29 18:39
Read 88 out of 288 pages - DNF
The New Neighbor: A Novel - Leah Stewart

First book of read-a-thon is going to the DNF pile. Literary fiction just doesn't do it for me.

 

I am slightly upset at losing hours for read-a-thon.

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text 2017-04-27 22:49
Dewey Readathon Reading List - Spring 2017
The New Neighbor: A Novel - Leah Stewart
A Vision of Lucy (A Rocky Creek Romance Book 3) - Margaret Brownley
Deep Deception - Cathy Pegau
Forbidden - Beverly Jenkins

My TBR for the read-a-thon is very eclectic.

 

1. The New Neighbor by Leah Stewart (Pop Sugar challenge - book with eccentric character) (Library Love challenge)

           A story about a nosy elderly lady who investigates her new neighbor and tries to uncover the neighbor's secrets. Literary fiction that I really hope doesn't suck due to having a mystery plotline.

 

2. Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau (Booklikes-opoly)

           F/F romance set in space. New-to-me author, although I follow her on Twitter because she makes life in Alaska look like fun.

 

3. Forbidden (Old West #1) by Beverly Jenkins (Booklikes-opoly)

          New-to-me author, and I wanted to tackle one of her latest books to see if I like her writing style before diving into her backlist.

 

4. A Vision of Lucy (Rocky Creek #3) by Margaret Brownley

        Not in a hurry to read this book. The beginning of the book was silly, with too much damsel in distress action that made me roll my eyes. A good laundry day type of book.

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