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Search tags: tbr-read-down-june-2015
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review 2015-07-06 00:20
Making Waves - Lorna Seilstad

Quick word about the religious aspect: it is pretty superficial, so about a 1 on a scale of 1-5.


This book turned out surprisingly well once I hit the halfway mark (pg. 140). That is when the lies unravel and the truth gets some page space. There are a number of liars in this book:


1. The heroine (Marguerite Westing) - lies so much in this book, it is pathological. Seriously, little fibs, big whoopers, almost any answer to a question is answered in a lie. She sees lying as a way to circumvent society's ideals about womanhood (the story takes place in 1895 and she is upper middle class/high enough in the social standings of the town) and get her fun. Doesn't matter who she hurts (such as the hero or even herself). Until she discovers the truth about the lies others told her, then lying is a big deal to her. In the end, she is tired of the lies all around and decides to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and ends up saving her family from poverty and blackmail.


2. Captain Andrews (father of the hero) - lied to his son about something so important, then tells the truth after the Captain suffers a second heart attack and almost dies. Seriously, his reasoning is a bit selfish, but also not too selfish - I get why he lied, but I don't condone the lying in the first place and definitely not keeping the lie going for as long as he did. The truth seemed to ease the son's feelings and make way for him to forgive heroine for the hundredth lie she told. Son doesn't hold a grudge against the dad, so that relationship is saved/renewed by the truth.


3. Edwin & Camille Westing - and now we know where the heroine gets her lying gene from. Once everything is discovered, their lies pretty much make the heroine a sacrificial lamb to atone for their mistakes. It isn't until Marguerite stands up for herself against the blackmailer that these two decide to confront the lies they told and work to restore their own honesty.


4. Roger Gordon & Clyde Stone - the villains in this story. You kind of expect it from them; however, by the time the reader gets to their lies, it is over kill.


Seriously, the only people in this story that didn't lie at all was Mark Westing (younger brother of heroine and not just a plot moppet - he actually had a point in the story), Trip Andrews (the hero - and in every sense of the word! great character), and Trips' friends/co-workers (Harry, Lloyd, Mel, & Max). So why the good rating?


Those last 50ish pages....exciting, so much truthiness you expect Stephen Colbert to make an appearance, and a believable HEA that was worth the work to get there. I loved that the heroine saved herself and her family, rather than the hero coming to the rescue. This ending helps me feel better about starting book two in the series tomorrow. 3.5 stars.

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review 2015-06-30 23:52
4 stars but with caveats
Sheikh's Desert Duty (The Chatsfield Book 9) - Maisey Yates

I don't normally go for Harlequin Presents, as I find the imprint a little too much rags & riches fantasy for my taste. I would not have read this particular book if it wasn't for Maisey Yates, who wrote another sheikh story that I loved last year. She had bookish capital with me and continues to do so. So my rating of 4 stars comes with some caveats and biases:


1. It's a HP category, so there is a definite formula in play here. You have the powerful, rich hero and disadvantaged heroine.


2. It is part of THE CHATSFIELDS series, which I loathe after only reading the prequel (from hell). However, neither character is in relation with the hotel or the family, so the story doesn't have anything to do with the series. There is only slight relationship lines tied to the family, which are dealt with in other books.


3. I don't normally read sheikh books, but Maisey Yates has a way of writing them that make these characters addictive. YMMV considerably. Seriously, there is no tokenism, no neon DIVERSITY characters shoe-horned into her stories. Her characters are diverse, but not stereotypical. And those sex scenes are HOT but also highly emotional.


4. Even for a category, this book is awfully short for what is considered a full length book (clocks in 144 NOOK pages, with an additional 24 NOOK pages at the end promoting other works).


So although I really liked the book and gave it four stars, I would not recommend it unless you like to read HP or Ms. Yates.

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review 2015-06-27 20:03
Midsummer Night - Deanna Raybourn

This short story follows the events of Lady Julia Grey's marriage to Nicholas Brisbane. This is the first Lady Julia story I have read and the first by Deanna Raybourn, but I plan on reading a lot more from both in the future.


I like that Julia's family is dysfunctional and quirky without going overboard. I like that Brisbane is non-titled middle class of Roma background. I like pretty much everything there was to read in this fast paced story. The pagan rituals of country folk surrounding Midsummer was icing on the cake. 4 stars.

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review 2015-06-27 17:00
Waste of time
Once Upon a Summer - Janette Oke

Joshua Jones is 13 years old and living in the mid-West Plains area of the US in what I am guessing is the turn of the century or early 20th century. Sounds vague? Yeah, I am still not sure where and when the story takes place as the author doesn't seem to want to nail down those pesky details. The Jones family is a rag tag bunch - Gramps (Josh's great-grandfather), Grandpa (Josh's grandfather), Uncle Charlie (brother to Grandpa, son to Gramps), and Auntie Lou (who is just 5 years older and is the daughter of Grandpa).  Most of the Jones family is dead and Josh has some issues with losing any more loved ones.


The title is misleading - this book begins in late summer, stretches into fall, and finally with the first snow of winter. All we get our vingettes and scenes of a 13 year old boy living on a farm in the mid-West. Josh wasn't all that bratty, but he had his moments where a good stfu was in order.


I had more of a problem with Grandpa's and Uncle Charlie's search for their ideal suitor for Auntie Lou. That was rife with patriarchial nonsense and superficial list of things potential suitors should have for the approval of courting Lou. In the end, Auntie Lou picked her own husband, the new preacher; however, Grandpa and Uncle Charlie only approved because the preacher helped them save their farm and the town from a wildfire. Grandpa was more than happy to believe town rumors about the preacher's family before the fire. Yeah, could see that coming a mile away, especially after she refused to get to know one of the neighboring farmers because he or his family didn't go to church. Auntie Lou had her superficial moments too.


The religious aspects of the book was a 12 on a 1-10 preachy scale, which is weird considering this family only had a superficial relationship with God (going to church once a week and all being around other Christians). 1.5 stars because the dog and Gramps were great.

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review 2015-06-23 19:05
Disappointing ending to a series
Unraveled (The Turner Series) (Volume 3) - Courtney Milan

I rated this book 2.5 stars with a heavy heart, due to my bias in favor of Ms. Milan's work. This book was such a disappointment, especially since coming off the previous (and the best of the series) book.


What I liked:

1. The setting - Bristol added an atmosphere that is often missing from historical romance novels. I loved the water and fog scenes; they added a little gothic flavor to the story.


2. The hero - Smite was a great brooding hero, neither beta nor alpha type. His hard childhood powered his present, and sometimes in positive ways. There was no whiny, woe-is-me paragraphs.


3. The legal system in early Victorian era - reading the author's note at the end of the book was fascinating; I loved how she incorporated historical accuracy into her novel.


What I didn't like:

1. The bloat - there were too many unnecessary characters in this story; in particular, Robbie and Old Blazer - both of these characters could have been edited out and the story would not have been altered at all. The same could be said of the characters Jasper and Jonas - so didn't need to see these characters in the epilogue, which is the only time they were physically present in the story. They were mentioned ad nausem so the author could describe how homosexuality was dealt with during the Victorian era...shoe-horned topic needs shoe-horned characters I guess. The storyline had nothing to do with homosexuality unless the series was planned to be longer, with Richard being the next hero (he was another useless character).


2. The heroine - at times I thought I was reading a Victorian New Adult book. Miranda was red-headed (with streaks of orange, like a sunset) and had green eyes....yep, you guessed it - clichéd heroines for $1,000 Alex! In addition to being "passionate" (didn't see any of the passion, just horny for the hero), she was also impulsive and with a temper. She also had a few TSTL moments. And her penchant for "dangerous men" made my eyes roll every. damn. time. she mentioned it - even though she "learned her lesson after the last time/guy".

Also, virgin mistress.


3. The villain - the early morning fog was way more menacing than this dying woman. Spare me.


4. The feud between Smite and Richard Darlymple - why now in this book does the feud seemed important? To bloat the story of course! Spare me x2.


5. The relationship between Smite and Ash (older brother/hero in book 1) - Ash was a great hero in his book and a good brother to Mark in the third book, but was an embarrassing cliché of the neglected and co-dependent relative. This went on...and on...in all the books but this story was near constant whining on Ash's part. Spare me x3.


6. Margaret being a bitch to Miranda because Miranda agreed to be Smite's mistress. Seriously, Margaret needed to grow up and realize her brothers-in-law will date/marry whomever they wish and she doesn't need to approve of their family line/line of work. Someone needs to be taken down a peg from her high pedestal.


7. The romance - didn't see/feel any chemistry between Miranda and Smite. I skipped the sex scenes altogether (there was one at the opera - to prove to Miranda that Smite could be "dangerous" - gag me). You could have replaced Miranda with a sexy lamp and the romance would have been the same.


Almost 700 pages that could easily been edited down to a nice 300-350 pages if GRR Martin took his editor pen to this mess of a story. 2.5 generous points.

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