Friday, July 30, 2010

Review: VISION IN WHITE by Nora Roberts

As children, the four best friends played Wedding Day.  They repeatedly staged play wedding where they married each other, various stuffed animals, a couple of cats and their Labrador.  As adults, the four women run the premier wedding planning company in Connecticut.  Each woman has her own niche in the business.  Mackenzie is the photographer, Emma handles flowers and d├ęcor, Laurel is the baker and Parker manages the details with OCD precision. 

When Carter Maguire attends a wedding consult with his sister who is getting married, he runs into his old high school crush, Mackenzie.  She is artistic and colorful… full of life.  Carter is a Yale educated, English professor who likes to read Shakespeare wear tweed.  While they seem mismatched on the surface, both have depths and flaws in common.  It could be the perfect relationship, if only Mackenzie can get over her cynicism about love. 

This was a sweet book.  I really liked both main characters.  They were both flawed.  Carter was such an unlikely hero—bookish and clumsy—yet he has an inner strength and tough character which shine through.  There is nothing sexier to me than a hot book-nerd.  I think I might be a little bit in love with him! 

Yes, it’s predictable.  Yes, it is a bit fluffy.  Yes, Roberts drones on a bit too much over the details of various weddings.  That being said, I liked it. J

Overall, I give Vision In White

Plot – 2 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 3 bookmarks
Love Story – 3 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured in my head while reading) – Brenda – the red-head chick from last season’s ANTM (Mackenzie), Robert Pattinson (Carter – because he is bookish, would be hot in wire-rim glasses and runs like a girl.)  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review: STARTING OVER by Robin Pilcher

Liz Dewhurst was born and raised on a farm in rural Scotland, near the iconic St. Andrew’s Golf Course.  When her husband publically runs off with another woman, Liz and her son move across the fields and into the farm owned by her father.  Unfortunately, the neighboring farms are tied together financially and both are sinking fast.  When developers offer to purchase the land for a new golf course development, it has the potential for bailing the family out, but at the expense of losing the land they’ve lived on for five generations. 

At the beginning of this story, Liz is bitter and worn out.  She is in desperate need of getting her groove back.  In fact, at the start of this novel all of the characters seems gray and dreary.  (Understandably.  They are dealing with some tough stuff.)  However, through some chance encounters with foreign strangers, the family is given new life. 

I loved the tie to the land that this family had.  Coming from a farming area of the country, I know how the family farms struggle.  It was nice to see how the characters coped with the inevitable demise of their livelihood and sought to carve out new niches for themselves. 

One of the things I thought the author did well was including all of the family in on the story, even Liz’s wayward husband.  The character development of Liz’s father was especially touching.  I have to say though… Liz makes an extremely poor decision near the end of the book that made me want to hurl it across the room.  Oh, well, characters will break your heart sometimes. 

Overall, I give Starting Over

Plot – 2 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 3 bookmarks
Love Story – 2 bookmarks  (This is hard because there are multiple love stories going on at the same time, yet none of them dominate the plot.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Tilda Swinton (Liz), Daniel Craig (Will), Cherry Jones (Roberta)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Review: THE MARRIAGE OF STICKS by Jonathan Carroll

I finished this book a few days ago, but needed to think about it a little longer before posting a review.  Just so you are aware, this will contain spoilers, because I honestly don’t know how to talk about it without them. 

This book is a contemporary surrealist fantasy.  This book is about a woman confronted with her past and forced to accept responsibility for her past wrongs.  This book is about love.  This book is about… vampires?

While the writing was well done and at times brilliant, I found myself disturbed by the story.  In the end, it left me with more questions than answers.  Miranda is a thirty-three year old rare book dealer operating out of Manhattan.  When she goes back to her high school reunion, she discovers her high school boyfriend has died in an auto accident.  A few weeks later, she goes to a dinner party and meets Hugh, a former business acquaintance of her high school boyfriend.  They end up falling in love and moving in together in an old house in the suburbs.  Once in the house, Miranda starts to get strange visions and have ghostly encounters.  Eventually, the people in her visions begin to lead her on a journey to discover something about herself.  In one of the very last chapters of the books, Miranda discovers that she is… a vampire??  WTF?????  Okay, not in the “I vant to suk ur blooood” way, but more like a psychic vampire who takes from others endlessly without giving back.  Oh, and she is immortal in the fact that her soul can be reincarnated endless times, while the humans just fade into nothing at death. 

I have several problems with this book.  To be fair to the author, I don’t do well with surrealist fiction.  It makes me feel like I’m living in one of those dreams that keeps going on and on without connecting in on itself in any linear fashion.  I call it the funhouse effect.  I also have an issue with Miranda’s “selfishness.”  I didn’t think she was that bad of a person.  It seems if the point of the story revolves around her being selfish, we should get more of that up front.  To me she seemed like a normal woman who makes mistakes like everyone else.  I also didn’t understand why certain characters aged (Declan) while others didn’t (Shumda).  And the big reveal at the end that she was a vampire opened up more questions without giving a feeling of satisfaction. 

While I had issues with the books, I have to admit that Carroll is a brilliant writer.  His comments on Irish music and his story of the ill fitting suit were wonderful and I’ll remember them always.  I would say that if you like surrealist fiction, then you would love this book.  I think it was just not my thing. 

Overall, I give The Marriage of Sticks

Plot – 2 bookmarks
Character Development – 2 bookmarks
Writing Quality – 4 bookmarks
Love Story – 2 bookmarks
Interpretation of Vampire Lore – 1 bookmark (Could have been really cool and inventive if given more time in the book.  Instead, it cropped up right at the end and wasn’t fleshed out well.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – The physical looks of the characters were not described to the point that I could get a picture of them.  Here is who I ended up with based on my own thoughts.  Hugh Laurie (Hugh – basically because of the name), River Phoenix (James), Hilary Swank (Miranda).  

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: AND ONE RODE WEST by Heather Graham

I’ve never really read anything remotely Western before.  For some reason, the Wild West period in history just doesn’t appeal to me.  However, I met Heather Graham at RT a couple months ago and found her to be a very nice woman, so when I saw this book on the shelf at Goodwill, I thought I would give it a shot. 

And One Rode West is one of Graham’s earlier novels and the third in her Civil War series.  (No, it is not necessary to read these in order, since each novel follows a different member of the same family.)  The novel opens in the early days after the Civil War has ended and Reconstruction is ravaging the South.  Christa lived through the war in her family’s Virginia plantation house with her sister-in-laws and several freed slaves.  No longer a Southern Belle, Christ is tough and has learned how to survive off the land.  As a Rebel, she has an extreme fear and fear of Yankees.  When some Northerner illegally attempts to take the family home and land from her, Christa is willing to do anything to save it, including convincing her Yankee brother-in-law whom she detests to marry her.  (If a Yankee has legitimate claim to the property, it will prevent the seizure.)  The brother-in-law Jeremy agrees to marry her, but insists it be a “real” marriage.  As a Colonel in the Army, he is being sent to lead troops west into Indian Territory.  He forces Christa to come with him. 

Much of the novel is spent with these two fighting the fact that they love each other.  Christa has a hot temper and can be unreasonable.  She thinks about herself and the South first, always putting her husband’s needs last.  Jeremy is stubborn and gives up trying too easy.  The love story in this book can get rather frustrating.  There were times when I almost wished the Comanche would run off with Christa so Jeremy could find a woman who appreciated him.  As for his attraction to her, it almost seems purely physical.  He is struck by her beauty and his sexual feelings for her.  As a result, she is able to manipulate him with seduction.  I’m just not a big Christa fan. 

One thing I liked about this book was the history involved.  It is obvious that Graham did a lot of research about the Civil War and the Native Tribes of the time.  She also provided a somewhat balanced view, not taking sides between the North and the South.  Instead, she describes both of their arguments and faults. 

Overall, I give And One Rode West

Plot – 2 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 2 bookmarks
Love Story – 1 ½ bookmark
History – 3 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Megan Fox (Christa), Eric Dane (Jeremy)

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Despite the cheesy title, this wasn’t a bad book.  When Ella Varner’s flaky little sister dumps off a surprise new born baby and splits, she is forced head-first into motherhood.  The first task on her agenda is to locate both her sister and the bio-father.  First on the possible baby-daddy list is Jack Travis, an incredibly hot Houston billionaire. (I know.  It’s never the dude working nights and the Kwik Stop.)  After Jack is quickly eliminated from the list of suspects (he never even slept with the sister), he offers to help use his connections and resources to help Ella. 

Yes, I think everyone can predict that they end up together, but there are many other interesting things about this book that make it a good summer read.  First, Ella has a boyfriend at the beginning by the name of Dane.  The story of their relationship and how that played out was different.  There was also the subplot of Ella struggling with caring for her nephew and how her maternal feeling begin to grow, even though she knows she will not be able to keep him in the end.  Ella’s creepy mother and the story of the girls’ upbringing also added a nice dimension.  Lastly, I liked the way Jack and his family were handled.  These were not the materialistic, power hungry types that people with money are often portrayed as.  Their success came from brains and hard work.  The love they had for each other was just what Ella needed. 

Overall, I give Smooth Talking Stranger

Plot – 3 bookmarks (The skeleton has been done a million times, but the subplots save it.)
Character Development – 2 bookmarks
Love Story – 3 bookmarks
Sex Scenes – 2 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Joe Manganiello (Jack), Reese Witherspoon (Ella), Eric Stoltz (Dane)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Review: STRANGE BEDPERSONS by Jennifer Cruise

I had so much hope for this book when I read the back cover.  This is about a Dharma & Greg type match.  Tess is a liberal activist type who had been raised on a commune and speaks in politically correct terms.  Nick is a Republican lawyer whose main goal in life is to achieve partner in his law firm.  Under the age old rule of “opposites attract,” these two are drawn together. 

The best part about this book is the banter between Tess and Nick.  It can be very funny seeing them going at it over seemingly trivial things.  For example, Tess didn’t speak to Nick for six weeks because he refused to have sex with her in a parking lot.  He didn’t want to harm his career by doing something illegal and she was terrified by the prospect of a future sex-life of conventional sex in beds. 

While this book has some cute moments, I found myself irritated with Tess.  She is tactless and selfish.  She rarely considers Nick’s feelings before acting.  One of my favorite parts of the book was when her best friend Gina called her out on this behavior.  While Tess eventually evolves, I found it hard to stay engaged in her story.  I thought Nick could have done much better, and I didn’t buy his attraction to her. 

Overall, I give Strange Bedpersons

Plot – 2 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 2 ½ bookmarks (I liked all characters except for Tess.)
Love Story – 1 bookmark (Didn’t buy it.)
Sex Scenes – 2 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Billy Miller (Nick).  

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review: WHAT I DID FOR LOVE by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Now, this book had everything in it that makes for a good romance.  I devoured it.  Former child stars, Georgie and Bram, had fabulous on screen chemistry, but completely hated each other in real life.  The book begins eight years after their sitcom is cancelled.  Georgie is coming off a string of box office failures and recently was dumped by her action star husband when he ran off with his co-star who is a do-gooder actress type.  (Yes, it is Aniston-Pitt-Jolie all over again, but very fun!)  With both her personal life and career in dire need of a makeover, Georgie runs into her old nemisis, Bram, in Vegas.  After having their drinks drugged, the two wake in bed with each other and a marriage certificate in their pocket. 

While Georgie is concerned with how the quicky marriage would play in the press, Bram is hoping it won’t perpetuate his bad boy image when he is desperately trying to get Hollywood to respect him.  The two decide the best way to handle the situation would be to continue the sham marriage for the public and after six months or so, they can part as friends (at least public friends, they still hate for each other).  The banter between these two goes a long way toward establishing chemistry.  They start by purposely picking at each other to gradually being nicer.  The progression is incredibly well done. 

Aside from the main characters, there are many side characters and sub-plots that are interesting.  Chaz, Bram’s twenty year old punk housekeeper is brilliant.  Under her shell of angst lies a soft heart.  Aaron, the geeky Personal Assistant, is really endearing, as is Laura, Georigie’s agent.  Georgie’s father and manager starts out as an obnoxious stage-dad and grows nicely.  You don’t find a lot of romance novels with multiple layers like this.  It makes me want to read more of Phillip’s books. 

Overall, I give What I Did For Love

Plot – 4 bookmarks (Some of it very familiar, but done in a new and funny way.)
Character Development – 4 bookmarks (Even the sub-characters were multi-dimensional.)
Love Story – 3 ½ bookmarks
Humor – 3 ½ bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Christina Ricci (Georgie), Bradley Cooper (Bram), Brangelina (the ex-hubby and his new woman), Jonah Hill (Aaron), Richard Gere (Georgie’s Dad), and Rachel Melvin (Chaz)

Review: THE BACHELOR by Carly Phillips

This book is the literary equivalent of marshmallow fluff… sweet, but all empty calories and in the end, not all that satisfying.  The Bachelor opens with the mother of three single, adult men who decides she is going to fake heart problems in order to guilt her sons into granting her greatest wish, that they get married and give her grandbabies.  Really?  I read this exact same premise in a really bad historical romance, but at least there with the inherited titles and fortunes it made sense.  In a modern setting, this is stupid.  My mother would like grandkids too, but you don’t see my brother and I rushing to get pregnant.  Anyway, the brothers flip a coin (seriously) to decide which one is going to find a wife and knock her up first.  Roman, the youngest loses and becomes the family sacrificial lamb. 

Of course, Roman, a foreign correspondent for the AP, is ridiculously sexy and every woman in town wants to get in his pants.  However, he only has eyes for the beautiful Charlotte, a lingerie store owner and his old high school crush.  Charlotte wants him too, but she has a hang up about people who travel for a living, which rules Roman out as a potential husband. 

The story tries really hard to be funny, but it seems to try too hard.  Any idiot would be able to tell these people that if they love each other, which they obviously do, they will need to compromise.  A solution for their situation is even mentioned right at the beginning when Roman is offered a full time editorial position in DC.  The reader knows right away how this is going to turn out, but the story just keeps slogging along anyway.  Even the eventual hookup of Roman and Charlotte wasn’t enough to save this book.  Sorry.

Overall, I give The Bachelor

Plot – Zero bookmarks
Character Development – 1 bookmark
Love Story – 1 bookmark
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Jake Gyllenhall (Roman), Catherine Zeta Jones (Charlotte)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Review: GUILTY PLEASURES by Laurell K. Hamilton

It’s almost embarrassing for me, a super vampire lover, to admit that I’ve never read Laurell K. Hamilton.  Her series of Anita Blake, the zombie animator and vampire assassin, is legendary amongst vamp readers.  Anyway, I rectified the situation this week by reading the first book in the series, Guilty Pleasures

Anita’s works for Animators, Inc where she raises and sometimes lays to rest zombies.  Additionally, she moonlights with the St. Louis PD as a vampire slayer.  Vamps are legal and allowed to exist as long as they don’t kill humans.  Anita’s job is to take care of the vamps who don’t play by the rules.  When several powerful vamps are killed illegally in the city, both the police and the local vampire queen task Anita to find out who is doing the killings.  Unfortunately, the vamp queen is an evil crazy bitch who is impatient as hell.  Anita has a weekend to solve the crime or be killed in some torturous way.  With the help of her “friends” Jean Claude the Master Vampire, Phillip the male stripper, the Ware-rat King and Edward the sociopathic killer, Anita is able to bust the case wide open.

I thought this book had a nice mystery and was a good intro book for a series.  I would like to see several characters explored deeper, but I’m sure that will come in time.  I am especially curious to see how Anita’s relationships with both Vamp Jean Claude and Edward the homicidal maniac play out.  Written in 1993, Anita Blake pre-dates most of the popular vampire series.  I can see how its influence can be felt over other books I’ve read in the genre.  I look forward to continuing along with Anita’s adventures. 

Overall, I give Guilty Pleasures

Plot – 3 bookmarks
Characters – 2 bookmarks (Not bad for a first book.  I expect they will be fleshed out more as the series goes on.)
Interpretation of Vampire/Zombie Lore – 2 bookmarks (Nothing really new or inventive.  Typical mythology rules.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Christina Ricci (Anita Blake), Charlie Bewly (Edward), Dakota Fanning (Nikolaos the Vamp Queen), A young Billy Wirth (Phillip)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Review: TRUE COLORS by Kristen Hannah

The is a complex novel about a family living on a horse ranch in Washington State.  Three sisters, Winona (the smart one), Aurora (the peacemaker), and Vivi Ann (the pretty one), are raised by their cold and un-loving father after the death of their mother.  The sisters’ close relationship is filled with jealousies, rivalries and love.  However, when a stranger comes to town, events occur which threaten to tear their family to pieces.  More than a family story, True Colors also makes strong comments about the court system in the US.  At times, this book reads like a courtroom drama that keeps you on the edge of your seat. 

While at times I thought the outcomes of certain plotlines in the book were predictable, I enjoyed reading it.  Hannah’s writing is beautiful and descriptive.  The way she handled Vivi Ann’s love story was amazing.  We should all hope to have chemistry like that with someone in our life.  I also liked how multi-dimensional her characters were.  Winona, Vivi Ann and Dallas were flawed and sympathetic at the same time.  Dallas was scary and at the same time vulnerable.  Very well done!  The inclusion of Noah’s diary was nice.  The voice sounded like a teenage boy.  I guess if there was one character lacking, it would have been Aurora.  At times, I wondered if her character needed to be in the book at all. 

Overall I give True Colors

Plot – 2 bookmarks (Interesting, but predictable.)
Characters – 4 bookmarks (Dallas was the most understated, yet interesting.)
Love Story – 3 ½ bookmarks
Courtroom Drama – 3 ½ bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Cathrine Manheim (Winona), Charlize Theron (Vivi Ann), Chaske Spencer (Dallas), Robert Duvall (Father, don’t remember his name), BooBoo Stewart (Noah)

Review: COMING UNDONE by Lauren Dane

Okay, so this is the third or fourth book by Dane that I’ve reviewed.  If you are a regular reader of my blog, you might be getting sick of it by now, but tough.  I really like Dane’s books.  They are perfect for a summer escape; erotic, yet have great plotlines and interesting characters.

Coming Undone is the sequel to Laid Bare.  It follows Erin’s brother, Brody Brown, the owner of a successful tattoo shop.  When a single mother, Elise, moves in across the street, they strike up an easy friendship.  Neither are looking for anything serious or complicated, but when ghosts from Elise’s past start cropping up, threatening her and her daughter, Brody’s protective instinct kicks in.  To complicate matters, Brody’s ex-FWB, Raven, gets all jealous over Elise and sets out to make trouble for the couple as they set out on the journey toward love. 

I absolutely love Brody.  What woman wouldn’t?  He’s got the whole bad boy image, yet he is responsible, owns his own business and is the patriarch of his family.  This is one man who deserves to find love.  At first, I wasn’t sure about Elise.  A former ballerina who owns a dance studio and a single mother, she seemed almost too “white bread” for Brody, but the more I got to know her, the more I realized she was perfect for him. Like Erin’s dark past in Laid Bare, Elise has her own secrets hiding behind her back in New York.  As a result, she has trust issues that she needs to conquer.   I also really liked the details Dane goes into with Elise’s parenting of her daughter.  Brody raised his siblings after his parents’ deaths.  Good parenting is a skill that they both have and admire in each other.  It gives them something to bond over.  It also helps Brody to understand and respect the boundaries that Elise has to set in their relationship with regard for her kid. 

Overall I give Coming Undone

Plot – 3 ½  bookmarks
Characters – 3 bookmarks
Sex Scenes – 3 ½  bookmarks
Love Story – 4 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Anna Camp (Elise), Caitlyn Rund (Rennie), Patrick Swayze like he was in “Road House” (Brody)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Review: RED-HEADED STEPCHILD by Jaye Wells

Oh, I needed this book today.  It was a perfect fit for my mood.  Red-Headed Stepchild has the perfect blend of kick-ass and snarky humor to keep a reader entertained on a lazy holiday weekend.  Sabina Kane is half-vampire, half mage, but has been raised under her powerful, but cold vampire grandmother.  Since mating between the races is forbidden, Sabina is an outcast, even among the vamp community.  She can trust no one.  For this reason, she has become an assassin for her grandmother. 

When her grandmother sends her on an assignment (more like a suicide mission), Sabina makes friends with an unlikely group; a demon cat, a nymph and a mysterious and sexy male mage.  Through the course of the story, truths are revealed to her which make her question her loyalties and who exactly are the good guys. 

One of the things that I enjoyed most about this book was the humor.  Several times I found myself laughing out loud.  The scene where Sabina has to put the demon cat into the kitty carrier was the best!  If they ever make a movie of this, I want to nominate my kitty, Cady, to play the role.  Anyway, I can’t say strongly enough how enjoyable I found this book.  Lucky for me, I have the sequel upstairs waiting for me right now!

Overall, I give Red-Headed Stepchild

Plot – 3 ½  bookmarks
Characters – 4 bookmarks (Original enough.  Sabina was bitchy and snarky without being unlikable.  Adam the “sexy hexy” was a perfect balance for her, and Giguhl the demon cat can come hang out at my house anytime he wants.)
Fight Scenes – 4 bookmarks.  (There is plenty of action.)
Interpretation of Vampire Lore – 4 ½ bookmarks.  (I love the history of where the supernatural races come from.  Wells put a lot of thought into it.  Her use of apples was interesting and made for an inventive twist.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured in my head while reading) – Emma Watson (Sabina Kane.  This might seem like a weird choice, but Watson has really grown up.  She’s beautiful and can drill a person with her eyes when she flashes a dirty look.  Give her some fight training and a wig and she’d be perfect.), Charlie Bewly (Adam), Ashley Green (Vinca), Cady the Kitty (Giguhl the Demon Cat).

Review: LEAD ME ON by Victoria Dahl

On the surface, Jane Morgan is the kind of girl who blends into the wallpaper.  She is professional, slightly tough and the office manager in an  architecture firm.  With her tied up hair, glasses and business suits, she looks like the typical librarian; however, beneath her carefully manicured disguise lies an embarrassing family and a checkered past.  Once she reached eighteen, Jane moved from home, changed her name, changed her appearance and made every effort to escape her past. 

Billy Chase is the owner of a successful excavation company… he blows things up for a living.  With his tattoos, steel-toed boots and t-shirts wrapped over his fabulous body, Chase is exactly the kind of guy Jane wants, but also the kind of guy she is trying to avoid. 

As you can probably predict, Chase falls for Jane, and Jane tries to ignore her feelings for him in favor of a more “suitable” guy.  While part of me can sympathize (I have my own demons in the past that I prefer to keep buried.), I found myself strongly disliking Jane.  I found her prissy act to be annoying.  The way she treated both her step-father and Chase was snobbish and cruel.  Several times through the course of the book I wanted both men to ditch Jane and channel their love to someone more appreciative.  I think it is okay to give your main character flaws, but they still have to be likable.  I just didn’t like Jane.  She is not someone I would be friends with in real life. 

Considering my feelings about the heroine, it should be no surprise that I’m lukewarm at best over this book.  Chase was cute and his sweetness carried the book for me.  Since I grew bored and apathetic to the secrets in Jane’s past, I thought the more interesting plotline was the one involving her slacker brother suspected of murder. 

Overall, I give Lead Me On

Plot – 1 ½ bookmarks
Characters – 1 1/2  bookmarks (Zero for Jane and two for the other characters.  I then deducted a ½ for Chase’s poor choice in women.)
Love Story – 1 bookmark
Sex Scenes – 2 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Wentworth Miller (Chase), Any stereotypical naughty librarian type (Jane)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Review: ONE RECKLESS SUMMER by Toni Blake

For a book that is stereotypical, predictable and comes directly out of Romance 101, I didn’t find One Reckless Summer to be that bad.  “Good girl” Jenny returns to her hometown in Ohio after her divorce and meets up again with “bad boy” Mick Brody who lives in the “wrong side of the lake.”  Everything about these characters is stereotypical.  Jenny is a blond, former cheerleader who is too moral to be adventurous.  Mick is the dark, handsome and muscley type who was abused as a child, committed petty crime as a teen, but has learned from his mistakes now and is deeply misunderstood by the good citizens of the town.  Even the secondary characters and storylines were stereotypical. 

Sounds pretty bad right?  I don’t know.  I wouldn’t go that far.  For some crazy reason (maybe I was in a romantic mood), I didn’t hate the characters as much as I thought.  Jenny had one trait that I could totally relate to, which I’m not proud of… Mick swore her to secrecy over some pretty heavy things, but she just HAD to tell her best friend.  I do this too.  Although, if it is a serious secret like this one, I would have kept my mouth shut.  Anyway, seeing that Jenny’s big character flaw is the same as mine, caused me to cut her some slack. 

And then there is Mick.  I hate his name and that he calls Jenny “pussycat” all of the time (smarmy!!!), but he is seriously sexy in that bad boy way.  And really, don’t you think it should be a constitutional right that every woman should be allowed at least one animalistic roll in the woods with someone completely inappropriate for her?  I liked Mick because he was strong, mysterious, dirty and a great Alpha male.  This gruff exterior makes it truly lovely when he drops his guard and gets emotional.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing soft about him, but he has to deal with some pretty heavy stuff in his life.  he is allowed to lose it once in a while. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this book makes a good summer read at the beach, but don’t expect literary magic out of it. 

Overall, I give One Reckless Summer

Plot – 1 ½ bookmarks
Characters – 1 bookmark
Love Story – 2 ½ bookmarks (It’s a nice fantasy.)
Sex Scenes – 3 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Anna Camp (Jenny), Ryan Kwanten (Mick)

Review: “The Host” by Stephanie Meyer

They say the first step in confronting addiction is to admit you have a problem.  So, I am going to be complete honest with myself and anyone else who might be reading this blog.  Not only am I a reading addict, but Stephanie Meyer is like my own personal gateway drug.  Seriously.  I used to be a lit snob in the worst way.  Last summer when I was laid off, someone suggested I read the Twilight books.  Other than a brief stint with Ann Rice as a teenager, I had no experience reading vampires, YA or romance.  Twilight changed me.  I became a new person… someone I didn’t recognize.  Suddenly, I couldn’t get enough of the blood sucking vamps.  I started perusing the YA sections of the local book stores.  I even went to started attending RWA meetings and went to the Romantic Times Convention.  This I blame on Stephanie Meyer. 

Now, about The Host – I first picked up a used copy about a year ago when I was getting into her vamp books, but knowing that it is a sci-fi, I wasn’t too motivated to read it.  I don’t read sci-fi.  Honestly. However, given my recent experience with The Passage, I gave The Host a shot.  And the result?  I’m falling back in love with fictional characters!!!!  Ian makes me feel like Edward did.  I couldn’t put the book down, and I never wanted it to end. 

One of my fears with reading sci-fi is that I was afraid it would be hard for me to get into, but Meyer sucked me right in to The Host world.  In summary, this is the story of Earth after a group of parasitic aliens take over the human race.  These centipede like parasites are implanted into the brains of a host human and they take the body over.  Most human “souls” just fade away, leaving their memories for the parasite.  However, when an alien named Wanderer is implanted into a host named Melanie, something goes wrong.  Melanie doesn’t fade away.  Her strength of character and love for her boyfriend and little brother urges her to hold on.  Now, there are two souls in one body.  Wanderer has the gut wrenching decision of whether to switch bodies, thus killing Melanie, or helping Melanie find her lost human family. 

This might sound confusing… and as a writer, I can’t imagine taking on the task of two separate souls in one body while showing both thought processes… but Meyer pulls it off brilliantly.  She uses different fonts to keep the reader from being confused and it all flows really well.  Perhaps Meyer’s biggest talent comes in her ability to handle complex and confusing emotions.  Melanie’s love her Jared and Jamie bleeds over into Wanderer and causes her to feel the same things.  At the same time, when Wanderer gets close with Ian, Melanie begins to feel close with him also.  These feelings cause the women to be jealous of each other, while at the same time, they form a bond of love themselves.  It is all really much easier to understand when you read the book.  Don’t let me two minute summary scare you off from this book.  I strongly recommend it.

Overall, I give The Host

Plot – 4 bookmarks (Very original and complex.)
Character Development – 5 bookmarks (I can’t express enough how well these characters were written.)
Love Story – 4 ½ bookmarks.  (Again, very complex.)
Age Appropriateness – This is not supposed to be YA, but lots of teens will want to read it because of Meyer’s other books.  I don’t think there is a lot in it that would be objectionable to parents.  There are some intense make-out scenes, but no real sex to speak of.  There is some violence, but the context excuses some of that.  Keep in mind though, this is meant for adults, so teens might not like it as much as they might hope to. 
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Rachel Bilson (Melanie/Wanderer), Ian Somerhalder (Ian O’Shea), Kellan Lutz (Kyle O’Shea), Jared Leto (Jared), Mariska Hargitay (The Seeker)