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Posts Tagged ‘Book review’

 

I enjoy reading books by Best selling authors. I want to dissect their works to see what ingredient(s) got them to their best selling status. And since, I enjoy westerns, I was doubly excited to read “Coltrane Corners”. To begin with, it had a well crafted back cover blurb and a nice cover.

However, 1/4 of the way through, I was already shaking my head. Few books make me as frustrated to read as this one did. If not for some redeeming qualities, I might have been tempted to give up.

For starters, Elizabeth Coltrane, the main character, has returned home after six years “back east” at some fancy school. It was supposed to turn her into a proper lady, as well as time spent eastward was to help her physically. As far as I can tell, all it did was turn her from a pleasant, fun, and likeable young girl into a childish snob.

She is immature, and not at all likable compared to the backstory provided. Spoiler–six years ago the guy she had a teen crush on said some insensitive things that drove her away. That was six years ago. She was a girl of fourteen. Yet she clings to it like a crutch now, and uses it as a cause to treat Chase Cameron, the male main character, as terrible as possible. I wished she would grow up already and stop looking at that one single event through the lens of a fourteen-year-old.

And truthfully, the men were not much better. Lots of indecision on their parts. It sort of ended up reminding me of the old Life cereal commercial with Mickey and the two boys. The boys kept saying, “I’m not gonna eat it, you eat it.” as they push the bowl of cereal between them, until one finally decides to give it to Mickey to try. Except there is no Mickey in Coltrane Corners to take responsibility for Elizabeth’s flame and her father. So they push the past between them like immature boys.  Personally, if one of them would have grown a pair, and treated Elizabeth like the grown lady she was supposed to be, instead of the child she acted like, the story could have been much less redundant. Truly, Daddy would rather pay his ranch hands to follow his daughter around and spy on her instead of just telling her the truth about a danger around the ranch. Not very mature of anyone.

The redeeming qualities of the story was the language. It was very natural to the time and setting. It seemed well researched and organic. The metaphors were amusing and clearly pictured. Chase was very likeable, from his endless patience in dealing with Elizabeth’s endless tantrums and stunts to his protectiveness of both her and her father. I found myself rooting for Chase, even if he isn’t the strongest hero in print. It seemed he was the strongest one in the book.

Spoiler, my pet peeve is male characters who make macho, chauvinistic, know-half-the-story, stereotypical assumptions. I see red when I read that stuff and want to claw someone’s eyeballs out. I wish we could have bad guys without the assumptions that the woman is naturally a whore. Apparently not if she hasn’t “spread ’em” for that guy.

All in all, “Coltrane’s Corners” was an acceptable read, not something I would want to read again. If one can get past the redundant backstory telling and the chauvinistic arse-holes sprinkled along, the action and dialogue will make up for it.

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The cover, plot, and setting drew me in. I received this story from Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review.

Blind since birth, Abbey Morrison is confident and proficient in her world, the only world she’s ever known. Despite the family and friendships she has in the small fishing village, and her father’s unfailing love, she is still lonely.

Disfigured and scarred from war injuries, Irish immigrant Jeremy McKetcheon, finds work and solitude in self-isolation as a lighthouse keeper on a lonely island. His only companion is a loyal dog and the periodic visits of the kindly mail carrier, Morrison, from the mainland, bringing him supplies and news.

A tragedy brings Abbey to Jeremy’s isolated island. Soon, romance blooms between the two lonely hearts.

Because this is a historical novel, the author did spend a fair bit of time describing food, activities, and period details, thus creating a developed and believable setting, even if the factual timeline was off a little bit. It’s fictions and she is entitled to stretch dates a small amount for the story.

I enjoyed the language of the Irishman, Jeremy. It felt true to his heritage and made him more dimensional. Likewise with his hobby of carving wood figures. I wish Abbey had more depth to her. She seemed a little too perfect, with her only flaw in that sometimes she made a poor choice.

The pacing, however, was awkward in many places. Sometimes it felt jerky or rushed. Characters spanned large periods of time within the same paragraph, leaving a feeling of leaping forward and missing things. A smooth transition between time could have eliminated this.

The reprobates  were believable and thoroughly unlikable, which was the intention. While Abbey didn’t always behave in the wisest of ways, the evil behaviors of the bad guys certainly came across as genuine.

Abbey’s Tale is a good story. It could have been better with more development of Abbey Morrison and better pacing overall and more development between scenes.

 

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This story began with a rough and rocky start. A woman was getting beat–again–by her alleged boyfriend. It left a sour taste in my mouth and I almost stopped reading right there. But I reasoned there was hopefully nowhere else for the plot to go but up, so I turned another page.

To be honest, it was hard to swallow and I wondered why this woman–the story’s heroine–was staying for yet around round of abuse. After a flip of the page, she has left the sod, apparently for good. I let out a ragged breath and turned the page again.

Lauren McCray left Michigan in a haste, fleeing the vile and completely hate-able Clint Jackson. She eventually crosses enough state lines to run into Chase Montgomery, a slow drawling rancher you can’t help but instantly stumble into. Or fall for

Grammatical errors abound, which distracted from the read. It is a good story but I felt it could have benefited from another round of edits. The suspense was tight, the characters–especially the secondary ones–well-developed, and the story line moved along at a nice pace.Yes, there are rustlers involved, and I won’t spoil it except to say it was not exactly who I thought it might be. And there is very fast romance between Lauren and Chase. Personally, considering her terrible track record, I thought she ought to wait a bit before dashing off to love-land with Chase, but sometimes it just happens that fast. And Chase is just the protective rancher that you want to cuddle with and start your day with, and definitely end you day with.

Overall, “Rustlers and Romance” was not a bad book to read, fairly short at 129 pages, and worth spending an afternoon or evening curled up with.

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I began reading The Black Sheep, by Patricia Ryan, because I am unabashedly drawn to the bad boys (a fact that landed me in some trouble when I was young). And honestly, the model’s arresting gaze on the cover whispered to my curiosity. Oh yeah, plus the author is a USA Today bestselling author.

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Plus the nearly 400 Amazon reviews helped cement the decision.

This is the story of Harley and Tucker.  Harley is the house-sitter in charge. Tucker has a 20 year estrangement from his dad.  He arrives home to find the pretty new house-sitter. Now they have a few weeks to spend getting to know one another till  Tucker’s dad arrives.

Harley is organized and a wee bit of a control freak and perfectionist. She is regimental in her duties and habits. For her, it’s rooted in a rough past and how she keeps balance in her life now. Tucker is a true black sheep, in that he’d would rather bolt from any sort of conflict, and well intended truths, then deal with reality. He is also casual and lax in all matters of everyday. Clearly, Harley and Tucker are personality opposites.

Technical stuff, some errors that were not caught in editing that distracted from the reading flow and a few places where the tension sagged, but picked back up again in a page or two. It was not enough to keep me from reading on.

For all of Tuckers obvious flaws, he does have a tender and caring streak a mile wide. The time with Harley gives him chances to show those character traits. Haley, for all her prim and proper, can also harbor a careless streak of her own, taking the reader, certainly Tucker, and perhaps herself, by surprise.

Tucker’s friend adds a comic relief that is needed when sexual interest and tensions rise a little to high. A good dose suspense of wondering what Tucker will do next. Will he and dad reconcile or not? Can he win Haley’s heart?  A good blend of poignant and sass, fun and sexy. I liked the scene where Harley challenges him to catch her in the swimming pool. His prize if he succeeds—her.  That’s some serious stakes.

This is book 1 of the North Moon Bay Book series, by Patricia Ryan.
North Moon Bay Books

The Black Sheep

The Marriage Arrangement

My Best Friend’s Girl

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Timely, real writing, with humor, for serious issues. Good Boy is a Good Job.

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I first began reading A Good Boy because it was set in an area I am familiar with and I was curious to know if the author could credibly write with knowledge or had he simply tossed a dart to a map. I was pleasantly surprised to find he was indeed credible and detailed in the building of the setting. Even those not familiar with the area will become comfortable with the setting.

There are doubtlessly people and churches just like the author portrayed here, as I have known some of each. A dying church is a sad reality, as is teen suicide and questionable parenting; and our hero, Wesley Ames, was tasked with a difficult job. And plenty of obstacles along the way.

The book, while based on the trials and tribulations of a good preacher, is not preachy. The reader will not be lectured to. Non-Christians will appreciate the authentic flavor and humor of a real-life story. I found myself sympathizing for Wesley’s friend Gary Meade as he stumbles through a forced diet by his well-intending and loving family. And holding my breath with dread as I waited for another avalanche of ill-timed misfortune to befall the plucky Preacher Wesley. As he moved from good experiences and unfortunate situations, the guy earned my vote. He is a good guy trying to do the right thing while surrounded by stumbling blocks called people.

Such is the reality of Bradshaw’s writing. I truly hope there will be more books like A Good Boy coming from Mr. Bradshaw in the future.

*Note, I received a copy from Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review.

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The trouble with twins. I just love twin stories and was expecting a lot from Darcy Flynn’s “Double Trouble”. As the tagline reads: “All’s fair in love and getting even”.

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What intrigued me the most was the witty dialogue, especially between the main characters, Clare Sullivan and Will Carrington. The story’s premise is built around a case of mistaken identity (with twins? Really?) and plots of getting even, all told in a fresh manner with two sets of identical twins.  Double the trouble and double the possibilities.

“Double Trouble” is a clean, contemporary, romantic comedy that will keep you laughing one page and shaking your head on another page. The interaction between the well-developed characters is genuine and believable.

I would recommend “Double Trouble” to readers looking for a humorous, fast read.  It took me around three hours one evening to read and enjoy this story. My only complaint was I wish the author had described setting in a little more detail. I’m not familiar with areas Flynn used, and sometimes I was left with a gap due to not fully picturing the setting where it was integral to a given scene. I will still look for more works from Darcy Flynn.

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A love that can never be….

Angela Christina Archer’s “The Woman on The Painted Horse” has been on my TBR pile for a while and this week I treated myself to a long-overdue read.

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Alexandra Monroe is the feisty and gusty heroine, telling the story from her POV, and on the cusp of womanhood, and still pressed on the opposing thumb of her parents. Born into a wealthy Montgomery Alabama family, living during the Civil War, she has prestige, honor and everything a young lady could want or need. Sort of. There are certain fundamental things lacking at home.

And Alexandra is a also a slave smuggler, covertly doing what she can for the area slaves, and risking her life with each run she makes. If her domineering parents only knew of her dangerous exploits. They want her to marry Thomas Ludlow. His family rolls in wealth, rank high in society and marriage between Alexandra and Thomas will both secure their rank in society and provide Alexandra with resources and funds for even more slave smuggling.

Except Thomas is a narcissistic, cruel, bullying, miserable SOB that you would gladly kick into next month. And keep kicking. That kind of guy you just naturally and easily hate to pieces.

Except Alexander has met William Greysden, from the local Indian tribe. Their love will never be accepted by Alexandra’s family, by society or William’s tribe.

What can a young lady of society, and covert slave smuggler, possibly do?

Warning, this is not a fluffy romance, packed with mindless kisses and passionate sex. This is a gritty novel, set during one of our nation’s more turbulent times, written in sometimes a disturbingly comparable turbulence. Alexandra, and those dear to her, endure treatment no human should ever witness or endure. This book can be achingly ugly and cruel in its honesty. Sometimes it just hurts to read it.

And it also is a beautiful love story, of a love that could be and should not, and a love that should be but cannot. Which one will finally win? It is an honest story, one I will not spoil, as the reader will turn pages till the end, wondering.

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