Tag Archive | Kensington Books

Chop Chop: Book Review of Antiques Chop: A Trash N Treasure Mystery

Image

I got this surprise in my little envelope from Kensington Books this month. I wasn’t sure why, but settled in to read it anyways.

Oh, My. Gawd!

It’s a great cozy mystery, don’t get me wrong. But what made me say “Awesome Sauce!” was the comments directed at the reader. Because in the world of Brandy and Vivian, they not only solve mysteries, they also write them. And when they comment directly to us, dear readers, it’s hilarious. Their comments about watching language so they can finally (finally!) crack the Walmart market, the notes between daughter (Brandy) and mother (Vivian) and of course, their beleaguered editor…. oh my goodness. And the last chapter— written by hand because they don’t allow laptops in jail.

HA!

I loved this book. I loved all the little nods to them telling a story, the “dear reader” moments. I kept reading fast and faster, trying to catch more of them. This is the latest in a series— I’m going to have to go back and read the other ones too. Whee!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Have you read this series? How many Dear Reader moments are there? Maybe I’ll have to go back and count… on account they are dipped in  awesome sauce.

 

 

Book Review: Just Like Other Daughters

Image

This weeks book, Just Like Other Daughters by Colleen Faulkner, works on so many levels. There’s sorrow and humor and hope threaded through out the novel, just as in real life. At its heart, the book is about a mother’s love for her child. That child happens to have Down’s Syndrome.

The ending of the novel is foreshadowed in the very first line: I lost Chloe twice. Throughout the novel, there are little blips where it switches from first person past to first person present… Those blips are not a slip (and you know me, I’d call ’em out if they were). You need to pay attention to them. As a writer, I find it breath taking how she prepares us, the reader, for what’s going to happen and yet… it still makes you catch your breath on a small sob when it does.

Now, on a more personal note… This book made me look at how tightly I keep my son to me. Granted, he’s only seven years old. However… I started loosening the reigns with him. Because he *can* do it. We went into B&N (you know I love that store), it was just the two of us. He wanted to play at the Lego table. He PROMISED he wouldn’t go anywhere else– not even to the bathroom. And if anyone tried to take him somewhere else, he’d scream.

So I walked away. Like any good mom, I hid behind a book shelf and watched him for a while. He was perfectly fine. I walked away for a few minutes, went back to check and there he was… still happily building at the Lego table. Shopped some more, went back and checked on him. The guy working the Nook desk finally took pity on me and told me “He’s fine. I’m right here, and he’s fine.”

Wow. Am I that much of a helicopter mom? I need to loosen the reigns, I guess, and let him learn to live in the real world instead of the bubble I want to make for him.

At the heart of “Just Like Other Daughters”, that’s what Alicia and Chloe face. Chloe has Down syndrome… and comes home in love one day. How do you let go, how do you protect your child while letting them experience the world… That is what Just Like Other Daughters is about.

 

 

Book review: The Queen’s Rivals by Brandy Purdy

Image

The Queen’s Rivals by Brandy Purdy

 

Ms. Purdy is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. While The Queen’s Rivals doesn’t have the sumptuous words of the previous book that I read (The Queen’s Pleasure), it is a deeply moving novel.

The Queen’s Rivals tells the story of the Grey sisters, cousin to Queen Elizabeth I, from the point of view of the littlest sister. Mary, the youngest, stopped growing at about the age of five or so. Disfigured, she is pragmatic about her prospects in life and how others treat her.

The thing about historical novels is, most of the time you know how they end. We know the story of the bloody road to the English throne. Purdy excels at bringing the names and dates from the history books to life, putting soul into them. We already know how things are going to end. She makes us care, all over again, in a story that keeps moving towards a tragic end for all of the sisters.

But Purdy also does something else: she sparks the imagination. One of Mary’s complaints about her treatment is who would really want her to be queen? Her mother is strict about what she wears lest anyone mistake her for a jester, a clown. She is deprived of dancing for the same reason. (And, actually, because her mother was a witch— but given the time period, on this I think I agree with the mother’s assessment.)

So yes, a story spark is burning right now. One that may or may not flame into a full fledged short story. And that is the greatest feeling of all!

 

Overall rating: 5/5

 

Ta for now, my lovelies. I’ll be back soon with one on the Rain Wilds books by Robin Hobb. I’m currently on book 3/4….Yay!

Review: Scrapped by Mollie Cox Bryan & Suprising Lord Jack by Sally MacKenzie

The two books that I’m blogging about tonight are on the surface completely different. One is a modern day cozy mystery, the other a historical romance. And yet here we are. I always said I was a little ecclectic, so now is when we put it to the test.

Please note: Both books were provided as ARCs from Kensington Books. Both are the second books in a series, but you don’t need to read the first books to get into them.

I was excited about Scrapped by Mollie Cox Bryan, I really enjoyed the first book, Scrapbook of Secrets. This one… I enjoyed the novel, but I’m not sure about where the author is taking a few of the characters. By the end of the book, Annie seems to be headed for some no-no action with Detective Bryant, and Vera is embroiled in a no strings relationship that quite frankly, I just don’t get. They’re still great friends, the mystery moves right along… But I’m not sure I’m going to follow on the next book. The friendships in the novel are still solid, Annie’s involvement in the mystery is a little more believable… overall, it was a good book. My trepidation is a personal thing.

Surprising Lord Jack is the historical romance, and it has all of the conventions that you would expect. But what you don’t really expect is for the heroine, Frances, to be quite as headstrong and as determined as she is. I liked her fire, her spunk. Even though she is perfect for Lord Jack, and you’re rooting for the two of them… You almost wish that they had been in a time/place when she wouldn’t have to marry to save her reputation. However, this one was exactly the way I like them: fast, funny with a strong heroine who isn’t afraid to voice her opinion. It is the perfect building block from the previous novel… but I think I actually like this one a bit more 🙂

So, two stand alone sequels to two very different novels. As readers, I want you all to go out and buy more books. But as a writer, I have to ask…Why is one so much more successful than the other? It’s not genre: even though they are in different genres, both are pretty much what I call bubblegum. Great to read, enjoy, breeze through an afternoon.

I think the main thing is that one (Surprising Lord Jack), takes on 2 different characters, with other characters making a reappearance. The other one (Scrapped) revolves around a group of friends, and the focus has remained on the same characters. This makes it harder for an author, because you not only have to bring your loyal readers along with you— you need to make sure that the characters have some kind of growth and change.

You just have to be careful to keep your readers with the characters as they do it.

For me… I think as a writer I prefer the first way. I’ve tried writing a sequel to one of my (unpublished) novels, and while I love the character… I think I’d have to just forget that I had ever written that first novel. Use it as back story. How about you?

If you have written a series— how do you handle it? If you’re a reader– which way do you prefer? All the same characters with a few new ones thrown in? Or new main characters, with your favorites from stories past making appearances?

Forgotten Queen

The latest book about the Tudor’s to be devoured by me was The Forgotten Queen, by D.L. Bogdan (Kenisington Books). And the title is actually befitting, because she has for the most part been… well, forgotten. As was her older brother Arthur.

Not. A. Clue.

If I had ever known that Henry VIII had an older brother (let alone sisters!), it flew out of my head trying to remember all the wives he had!

Most of the annoying bits in this can be attributed to the main character’s age. She is incredibly young. While Princes are trained to run a kingdom, a princess is trained to be a wife. What then, when her foolish husband goes off and gets himself killed, leaving her regent of an infant king?

From this point on, Margaret’s decisions become… questionable. Yet she deals with them. Perhaps not in the way you and I would, but in the only way she seems to know how. The only way afforded to women in that era.

This one gets 3/5 stars. While it was a solid read, I’m not sure i have the stamina to read her story again. It’s a great ride, and as I don’t remember her except from what I read in this novel, the take on England and Scotland and their relations was fresh.

Ta my lovelies— I’m off to read some books I got from my Barnes and Nobles birthday trip. I’m not sure when I’ll be back on, but by Monday, definately!

Red by Kate Serine (Transplanted Tales)

I didn’t know what to expect when I started Red, by Kate SeRine. The titular character is Little Red Riding Hood, and both The Big Bad Wolf and the Grim Reaper are hanging around, as well as other very familiar characters.

It’s scary reading something like this, especially if you are a writer who has been involved in any sort of writing class, group, etc. Because there’s always, every single dang time, someone who thinks they can take their favorite stories, mash them together, and make something great. *eye roll* please.

Kate SeRine deftly makes the Transplanted Tales work because the characters are so much more than their tales. While their tale might be the popular version of things, it isn’t always the way things are. And you know, the characters are actual people in the here and now, so they’ve grown and changed beyond what everyone thinks they know.

I think that’s the key. You have to pay homage, acknowledge the original while still putting your own spin on the story. Because otherwise you end up with a mish mash of … other people’s words and worlds.

Of course, it also helps if you can write *grins*

So… all in all… it was a great read. I actually picked it up on the Nook while I was sick and it had me both engrossed and laughing so hard I nearly coughed a lung out. If you look for Red on the Nook Book site, you need to go by the author’s name… Kate SeRine. Otherwise it’s a pain in the backside to find.

In other words, go find it! The second one just came out— The Better to See You. I think it’s on sale for the Kindle, but not so the Nook right now. SIGH. But that’s ok, cuz it’s worth every single virtual penny I spent on it.

You should feel sorry for my Words with Friends friends… Cuz I ain’t playing until I finish this book!

I’ll post again later this week— Kim Harrison or Romances? Make your vote now, or forever hold your peace!

The Night Before Christmas Eve

If you’re still searching for the perfect gift, I gotta tell you…. Well, truthfully that it kind of sucks to be you. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for you. I took my mother in law (ex mother in law? how do I address her now?) and two neices to the mall yesterday. Yes, the Saturday BEFORE CHRISTMAS. EEEWWWW….

So. Here’s a hint. If you have a woman who reads, I’ll give you 2 great books to buy and a great e-book (story) to load up on their Kindle/Nook that you’re going to be black mailed into buying them.

1) Mischief and Mistletoe, by Mary Jo Putney, et al.  (Kensington Books, ARC copy)

I love this collection of historical romance,especially the opener: She Stoops to Wenchdom. There were moments where I was really peeved that they were short stories— I wanted to stay with the characters, see what happened next. Lets face it— that isn’t a *bad* thing, either. It’s a pretty darn good thing, and I’ll be looking up a few of the authors and start buying their full legnth works.

2) A Winter Wonderland, Fern Michaels, et al. (Kensington Books, ARC Copy)

These are all contemperary, and there’s a wider variety of types of stories. They are also more of the novelette size, than the short sotries. My personal favorite was “The Christmas Collector,” but as I said, there’s a little something in here for everyone.

The great thing about both of the books above is that they leave you with warm fuzzies. You *know* you’ve been reading a Christmas Book, just like the Hallmark Channel movies leave you feeling all cozy with life. The stories are good, and the writing stands on it’s own… but at Christmas time, we want the warm fuzzies. Lets be adult enough to admit it 😀

Now, for the e-book (short story). You KNOW you want to get my story, Dragon’s Champion (by Wynelda Deaver), and load it on someone’s Christmas Present for them. Don’t cha???

Hehehehehehe

Next week we’re gonna talk about goals and blah blah blah. Normally I don’t do new years resolutions, but we may change that.