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review 2017-02-27 15:09
Another Clean getaway to Echo Ridge
Silver Screen Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anth... Silver Screen Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology (Echo Ridge Romance Book 3) - Lucy McConnell,Heather Tullis,Rachelle J. Christensen,Cami Checketts,Janette Rallison

Silver Screen Kisses is another anthology set in Echo Ridge, New York. This go around, the gals decided to do a romantic comedy movie theme. Each story is loosely based on one of their favorites, but don't worry, there are plenty of surprises.


You’ve Got Email by Heather Tullis

Brett is such a sweetie! I don’t know if I’ve ever watched the movie You’ve Got Mail, but I enjoyed this story between two people who have developed a relationship online. They’ve been attracted to each other in real life too, but always stayed apart out of shyness, or something. Anyway, I really liked how Brett handled the situation when the time came to meet and everything fell apart. Wise man!


The Princess Bride of Riodan by Rachelle J Christensen

Another swoon worthy story. Elise is so cute and quirky with her non-stop talking. She’s honest to a fault and in the end that’s what saves her heart. Wes is the island god who steals her heart without even trying. I loved the characters and how they fit into the classic royal falls in love with commoner, feels betrayed by something, but all is right in the end trope. I loved that Christensen had them go watch Roman Holiday. That movie does not end well for the romantic of heart! It makes the bumbles and worries all the more pertinent to Elise’s situation.


My Best Man’s Wedding by Cami Checketts

Ah, finally we get Jessica and Gentry’s story. They’ve been around since the beginning of the Echo Ridge collections, and I was even happier to see they were meant for each other. Jessica’s best friend is getting married after a 2 week engagement and she’s determined to save him from it. For herself. Gentry sees his chance to get as close as possible to the woman who stole his heart, and hopefully convince her they belong together. I love Jessica’s confusion as the story progresses. Being a “change is hard” kind of person myself, I understand how someone can hold onto an idea for years with no basis in it being real or right. The end and the scramble to right everything is my absolute favorite part of the story.


While You Were Skiing by Lucy McConnell

Okay, While You Were Sleeping is one of my favorite Rom Coms. I loved the way McConnell twisted this one around a bit. Mia is sweet and loving, Ryder every bit as swoon worthy as she thinks. I loved how she referred to him as her Black Dimond man and all that implied. Both have good hearts and they just needed a chance to get together. Two rambunctious boys are just the ticket they need. Favorite part? Leaning. :) Whoo!


Getting lost in Echo Ridge was a great way to spend my weekend! I give the entire collection a 4.5 and clean rating.


1-5 scale and what it means:

1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad

2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing

3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive

3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love

4: Solid mind candy / worth reading

4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read

5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure


Movie Ratings in relation to my review:

Clean--Hallmark movies, some kissing, no nudity, no sex on or off "screen"

PG--Some innuendo but nothing kids don't hear every day, sex is all closed door

PG-13--some language (swear words not related to sex), more talk about sex, heavy petting, removal of clothing on screen, but sex is closed door.

R--swearing (can be related to sex), feels like the whole story is about the sex and not the relationship or some other plot


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review 2017-02-21 04:27
Pride and Prejudice Sequels: 3 Jane Aust... Pride and Prejudice Sequels: 3 Jane Austen Inspired Novellas - Cheryl Bolen

Three stories that occur after the wedding of Darcy and Lizzie.  The first is Miss Darcy's New Companion.  Georgiana thinks her brother wants her to marry their neighbor who has eyes on her companion, Lucy.  I enjoyed this story.  I liked how Georgiana knew her own mind and knew that she and Lord Fane would not work.  I also liked how Lucy is attracted to Lord Fane but knows he needs an heiress and tries to stay away from him.  Mr. Collins, of course, is a pain in the behind and almost ruins everything.


The second story is Miss Darcy's Secret Love tells of Georgiana's secret love from childhood.  Captain Farrington is the brother of Lord Fane.  He wants to marry a Spanish lady but his troth is not accepted by the lady's father.  Home on leave he realizes where is heart truly is.  I like the easy familiarity between Georgiana and the Captain.  I also like how she tries to do what she thinks her brother wants her to do but eavesdroppers never get it right and, once again, Mr. Collins is in the middle of the action which helps resolve it all.


The final story is The Liberation of Miss DeBourgh which tells of Anne's marriage to Lord Seaton.  He does not treat her as an invalid and she discovers that she is stronger than she suspected.  I liked their mutual like of thoroughbreds.  I liked that Anne could talk intelligently about horses and racing and that Lord Seaton respected her opinion.


The characters were good.  The stories remained in the voice of Austen's time.  Very enjoyable read.

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review 2016-11-07 02:00
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels
First Among Sequels - Jasper Fforde

Um... I don't even know what to say about this one.  Trying to talk about any of the Next novels is hard, but this one has just got too many things going on.  It's not bad, but I didn't like it.  It got better towards the end, but it felt like Fforde was writing this like it was the last one until the last 1/3.  I also got the impression that he was making future book-writing easier on himself:


Destroying the ChronoGuard has to make future plotting easier; some of the time paradoxes that are in these 5 books hurt to read about - I can't imagine creating them.

(spoiler show)


But while a few big issues are tied up in bows (see spoiler above - or don't if you haven't read this yet), there were a LOT of things left unanswered, like the Holmes and Brennen issues and what has he done to Pickwick!!!  


So I didn't like Pickwick's lack of page time and when he was in scenes he was marginalised.  I didn't like the time jump either - I get why Fforde might have done it, but I imagine Thursday as a bit of an action/adventure heroine, and it's rather hard to maintain that image when Thursday is in her 50's trying not to notice her greying hair.  I'm not saying I didn't get there in the end, (I'm in Thursday's demographic myself and I'd like to think I could keep on adventuring) but Fforde made me work harder for it than seems reasonable.  Aornis Hades' manipulation of Thursday added to my struggle to get behind this story. I also didn't like the multiple Thursday Nexts; they were just over-the-top caricatures.  


So really, there was a lot I didn't like.  But I did love the bookworld scenes, and whenever there was any interaction with the book characters, I had a lot of fun.  The final scenes in the Bookworld were excellent too - I really enjoyed reading about TN's time spent on that ship.  I also love how he segued into the next book's plot (and it made me laugh).


So not really a useful review, really - the book is just such a departure in so many ways from the previous 4 books.  I'm still looking forward to the next one but not as much as I looked forward to the earlier books.  

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-11-06 13:17
First Among Sequels (Thursday Next # 5)
First Among Sequels - Jasper Fforde

‘Incredibly enough, reality TV has just got worse.’ ‘Is that possible?’ I asked. ‘Wasn’t Celebrity Trainee Pathologist the pits?’ I thought for a moment. ‘Actually, Whose Life Support Do We Switch Off ? was worse. Or maybe Sell Your Granny. Wow, the choice these days makes it all so tricky to decide.’

Bowden laughed. ‘I’ll agree that Granny lowered the bar for distasteful programme makers everywhere, but RTA-TV, never one to shirk from a challenge, have devised Samaritan Kidney Swap. Ten renal failure patients take it in turns to convince a tissue-typed donor – and the voting viewers – which one should have his spare kidney.’ I groaned. Reality TV was to me the worst form of entertainment – the modern equivalent of paying sixpence to watch lunatics howling at the walls down at the local madhouse. I shook my head sadly. ‘What’s wrong with a good book?’ I asked.

Indeed. What is wrong with a good book? This question goes to the heart of the plot of First Among Sequels. A plot, I should add, that doesn't actually become clear until well into the second third of the book, which for an impatient and plot-loving reader like me, made for rather frustrating reading of most of the book.


Multiple storylines were hinted at throughout the book, but only a few, were actually followed through with in this installment of the Thursday Next series, and one that grabbed my interest in particular was revealed to be addressed only in the next book. That is, maybe. If the author can be bothered to remember.


It's the same situation again as with one of the main twists (the one relating to Pickwick) in Lost in a Good Book (book # 2 in the series), which is not actually addressed again until Something Rotten (book # 4). I understand that this structuring of the story is supposed to keep the series alive, but it makes for a rather unsatisfying reading experience, especially so when most of the book just feels like a filler until the next installment.


What adds to my disappointment with the book is that Fforde changed some of the characters, and it is not clear if this was by design so it fits with the amended backstory

(where Thursday is now the author of books #1 through #4)

(spoiler show)

, or whether the continuity errors are simply because neither author nor editor could be bothered. 


For example, we have Stig's attitude towards chimera's described as follows:

‘Don’t move,’ said Stig in a low rumble, ‘we don’t want to hurt it.’ He never did. Stig saw any renegade unextinctee as something akin to family, and always caught them alive, if possible. On the other hand, chimeras, a hotchpotch of the hobby sequencer’s art, were another matter – he dispatched them without mercy, and without pain.

However, one of the most poignant scenes of the previous book, describes Stig as far more complex and contradicts the statement that Stig did not care for chimera:

The Neanderthal moved closer and held the creature’s grubby hand as its life ebbed away. ‘Sometimes,’ said the Neanderthal softly, ‘sometimes, the innocent must suffer.’


‘Every time we do this it’s like killing one of our own,’ said Stiggins softly.

This is only one example of the changes, but a poignant one. Others would provide spoilers for the previous books, but suffice it to say that Thursday's attitude towards Pickwick and other characters is far from what I would expect from the Thursday of books #1 through #4. 


I got the impression that by one of the plot twists, Fforde tried to explain some of the break with the previous books by justifying the existence of books #1 through #4, but he does it in such a convoluted way, that it makes it difficult to follow.

"I wanted the series to be a thought-provoking romp around literature; books for people who like stories or stories for people who like books. It wasn’t to be. The first four in the series had been less light-hearted chroniclings of my adventures and more ‘Dirty Harry meets Fanny Hill’, but with a good deal more sex and violence."

It also does not answer the more fundamental question of why he includes this plot twist in the first place.

Again, the plotting of this book just really did not work for me. Nor did some of the characters, especially Thursday1-4. The break with the previous books just does not work, and there is not enough explanation of why Thursday1-4 is the way she is. The whole concept of each version of Thursday being a part of each other version just does not work if each version is not given the capability to act like another version. Fforde tried to do it, but not convincingly - a case of too little too late.

Which leaves me with the one redeeming point of the book: the writing. As much as the plot and characters irked me, it is difficult to put a Thursday book down. The story may be convoluted and the characters confused, but in the end, Fforde's imaginative plea for the celebration of literature and his expressions of love for the written and spoken word are nothing but awesome:

The book may be the delivery medium but what we’re actually peddling here is story. Humans like stories. Humans need stories. Stories are good. Stories work. Story clarifies and captures the essence of the human spirit. Story, in all its forms – of life, of love, of knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind. And story, you mark my words, will be with the last human to draw breath, and we should be there, supporting that one last person. 

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text 2016-11-06 12:14
First Among Sequels - Jasper Fforde

‘There are three things in life that can make even the worst problems seem just that tiniest bit better. The first is a cup of tea – loose-leaf Assam with a hint of Lapsang and poured before it gets too dark and then with a dash of milk and the smallest hint of sugar. Calming, soothing and almost without peer. The second, naturally, is a hot soaking bath. The third is Puccini. In the bath with a hot cup of tea and Puccini. Heaven.’

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