Friday, February 4, 2011

OMG -- Does This Girl Do Nothing But Read??

Here are some short reviews of the books I've read so far this year:

Easily Amused, by Karen McQuestion. When twenty-nine-year-old Lola Watson inherits her aunt's house in the suburbs, she thinks it just may be the cherry on a banner year. After all, she’s happily single, with fabulous friends and her dream job working at a popular magazine. Life is perfect—until her new neighbors make her their new “project,” a heartbroken high school friend crashes indefinitely at her house, and her younger sister announces she’s getting married…on Lola’s thirtieth birthday. Suddenly Lola’s not so keen on her newfound domestic bliss. But when she meets handsome, mysterious Ryan Moriarty, Lola dares to hope she’s found the perfect guy to one-up her sister and add a little spice back into her life. This light-hearted romance is headlined by a charming cast of characters, led by the self-deprecatingly funny Lola. Breezy and fun, Easily Amused serves as a gentle, often amusing reminder that love can often be found in the place we least expect—under our very noses. ( Review). I found this book fun to read. It's the first McQuestion book I've read, and it probably won't be the last. I think her other books are probably not so lightweight as this one. The most fun thing about this novel was the ending.

Don't Look Back, by Karin Fossum. This is another of the Scandinavian mysteries that I like so much. This one is set in Norway. A vital young girl of 15 is found dead on a lakeshore, totally naked but arranged in a position as if she were just sleeping. She was covered with a parka, and her clothes were all neatly folded near her. The medical examiner is a little baffled about the cause of death because she had only a few markings on her and they didn't seem as if they were enough to kill her. Inspector Sejer of the Oslo police finds real clues hard to come by, so he concentrates on the people in her small community, trying to find some connection to her death. After much investigation, annoying many in the community by his doggedness, he slowly uncovers the killer. The novel is complex and I found myself unable to put it down. I think I finished it in record time. Karin Fossum has become one of my favorite mystery authors, and I've only read two of her stories so far!

Trust Me on This, by Jennifer Crusie. Dennie Banks is a society page reporter with aspirations for more serious journalism, going after a big story. Alec Prentice is a government agent working undercover. When they meet by accident in a hotel lobby, Alec takes Dennie as the partner of an elusive con man he's been after for years. Dennie thinks Alec is a con man. Unfortunately, they are instantly attracted to one another. It seems that everything either of them does just deepens the suspicions of the other. They both resist the attraction they have for one another, because Dennie thinks that Alec is running interference for her interview subject, a well-known professor who has just gotten divorced. As their confusion grows, so do their feelings for each other, and what begins as a comedy of errors may just end in the love affair of a lifetime. As usual, Jennifer Crusie comes through with a fun story. This is the first one I've read, though, that does not have a dog in it. The story did not lend itself to the inclusion of a dog. The lack of a dog, however, did not diminish my enjoyment of this novel one bit.

The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir, by Josh Kilmer-Purcell. When the author and his partner are driving home to NYC after a weekend of apple-picking in upstate New York, they come across a lovely Victorian farmhouse near a small, almost deserted-looking village. They stop in what appears to be the only open business, a hotel and restaurant, and find that the place is not deserted after all. They inquire about the farmhouse because they want a weekend place to escape to. Josh is in advertising and Brent works for Martha Stewart. They end up buying the farm, on which the house has already been restored. The story is of their experiences in the country, finding someone to run the place when they are not there, welcoming animals to the farm, building a garden, and just generally working hard and getting their hands dirty. They get to know the locals and are welcomed by them. The memoir is humorous in the first half, but things get tense when Josh quits his job to live on the farm full time, and Brent is "downsized." Their relationship suffers. Josh was about to be let go from his job as well about the time he decided to move to the farm. It was his dream to do that, and Brent wanted to make it happen for him. They struggled financially, although they got help from the herd of goats that Farmer John brought to the property. They made goat's milk soap, started an online business and a blog about the farm. Things were going pretty well, until the fall of 2008, when Wall Street imploded, and people stopped buying so many non-essentials. The story details the struggle, both financially and emotionally, and their triumph over both. It was a wonderful story. It was one of those Amazon recommendations, so I downloaded it to my Kindle and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Dark Lover, by J.R. Ward. This was a departure from my usual reading selections. My sister recommended Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, so I have read the first novel. The good guys in this story are mostly vampires. At first I was a little put off by the hokey spelling of the Brotherhood members' names (Rhage; Zsadist; Tohrment; Phury; Vishous) but after a while I just went with it. The main characters are Beth, a half-breed who doesn't know she's about to become a vampire, and Wrath, the leader of the Brotherhood. Beth's father, whom she never knew, was Darius, who was killed by the Lessening Society in a car bomb attack. The Lessening Society's only reason for existence is to kill vampires. They are the bad guys. They have no souls or hearts. Darius asks Wrath to help Beth through the "transition." Wrath doesn't want to because he doesn't want much to do with females because his main focus is protecting his race against the Lessening Society. Wrath is also the vampire king. But after Darius dies, Wrath knows he must honor his friend's request. He goes to see Beth, watching her from outside her apartment. She sees him momentarily and he nearly scares her half to death. Beth is a crime reporter, but she's beginning to find bright light uncomfortable. Wrath does help her through her transition, because he falls in love with her, although he resists it. Dark Lover is a well-written story with lots of twists and turns. After the minor thing about the spelling, I was able to suspend my disbelief and really enjoy this novel. There are subsequent books, each focusing on one of the members of the Brotherhood. I may or may not read on. There are so many things I want to read, I'm not sure I want to commit to a series. But it was good.

Night of the Living Deed, by E.J. Copperman. Alison Kerby has just bought a grand old Victorian house on the Jersey Shore to turn into a guest house so she can support herself and her daughter. Strange things begin to happen in her restoration efforts and after being conked on the head by a bucket of joint compound, she is able to see the two ghosts who inhabit the house. At first, she's in denial. There is no such thing as ghosts, but these two apparitions will not go away. They want her to investigate and find out who killed them. She resists, and Maxie, the ghost who can pick up solid objects, keeps sabotaging her work on the house. She finally agrees to investigate, especially after she finds out that both her daughter and her mother can see the ghosts. She finds out that there may be a deed hidden in the house with George Washington's signature on it that is worth about a half million dollars. An anonymous caller and e-mailer keeps telling her she has a time limit on finding that deed and turning it over to him/her. She has several suspects, but can't really pin anything solid on them. The caller/e-mailer threatens her daughter and her mother, and Alison becomes rather frantic to find the deed. This is a fun read and I think I'm going to put Copperman's next book on my reading list.

My reading efforts are starting off well this year. I have a bunch downloaded onto my Kindle, and I got quite a few books for Christmas. Right now I'm reading Pat Conroy's My Reading Life and A Year on Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball.

Happy reading!


Bridget said...

A lot of these are new to me - I may have to see if I can find them, they sound interesting. I love hearing what others read, and what they think.

Genie Smith Bernstein said...

impressive list


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