Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Flawless Skin of Ugly People

The Flawless Skin of Ugly People: A Novel The Flawless Skin of Ugly People: A Novel by Doug Crandell

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I tried to get into this book, but the more I read, the weirder the book got.

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How to Marry a Duke

How To Marry A Duke How To Marry A Duke by Sandy Blair

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This was a quick and mindless read. Exactly what I needed during a stressful week. The stories weren't well written - although that's usually my opinion about short stories because there isn't enough room for development, the author dumps all this information on the page and the reader is supposed to believe it.

Pub. Date: February 2005

Synopsis: To Woo a Duke by Debbie Raleigh Scandalous! A school has been founded to teach the daughters of rich merchants how to marry into the peerage, though Ms. Dobson, the headmistress, is no more than a scheming fake. Hopin to expose the fraud, journalist Shevon Quinn enrolls at once. She proves to be an excellent student, quickly learning the fine art of flirting, with unexpected results. The most dashing duke in London, Lord Damon Morrow, has declared himself madly in love with the divine Miss Quinn.

The Accidental Duchess by Sandy Blair Rachel O'Leary, a destitute governess, finds shelter in a shuttered London townhouse, knowing nothing of its owner or why it stands empty. But when Connor Kenroe, the eighth Duke of Killgory, returns from his long sojourn abroad and steals into his chamber at midnight, he is surprised beyond belief to find a lovely slip of a woman asleep in his bed - and he's instantly smitten.

A Touch of Magic by Regan Allen Deciding that love is a will o' the wisp that's not worth chasing, Stephen Anthony, Duke of Longford, plans to propose to an heiress for whom he cares nothing. But a mysterious guest at his celebratory house party has other ideas. Tes Dewood's elfin charm is like no other - and her enchanting beauty is a temptation too sweet to resist.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Without Reservations

Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a good book. Alot less about life, places and customs than I was expecting and more introspective. The author used her travels to find meaning to her own life. This book was very well written.

Pub. Date: March 2002

Synopsis: "In many ways, I was an independent woman," writes Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Alice Steinbach. “For years I’d made my own choices, paid my own bills, shoveled my own snow.” But somehow she had become dependent in quite another way. “I had fallen into the habit of defining myself in terms of who I was to other people and what they expected of me.” But who was she away from the people and things that defined her? In this exquisite book, Steinbach searches for the answer to this question in some of the most beautiful and exciting places in the world: Paris, where she finds a soul mate; Oxford, where she takes a course on the English village; Milan, where she befriends a young woman about to be married. Beautifully illustrated with postcards from Steinbach’s journeys, this revealing and witty book transports you into a fascinating inner and outer journey, an unforgettable voyage of discovery.

Recommended Reading:
Educating Alice by Alice Steinbach
Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Gelman
A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena De Blasi
Immoveable Feast by John Baxter

Friday, January 15, 2010

Season of Strangers

Season Of Strangers Season Of Strangers by Kat Martin

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I tried really hard to get into this book, but it was just too weird. Alien body snatching, probes and poor writing made this book very disappointing.

Pub. Date: June 2008

Synopsis: Dedicated, driven real estate agent Julie Ferris is enjoying a day at the beach with her sister Laura when a strange, almost undetectable charge fills the air. Then, under the hot Malibu sun, time stops altogether.

Neither sister can explain their "lost day"--nor the blinding headaches and horrific nightmares that follow--but Julie chalks it up to the stress she's been under since her boss's son took over Donovan Real Estate.

Patrick Donovan would be a real catch if not for his notorious playboy lifestyle and matching attitude. But when a cocaine-fueled heart attack nearly kills him Patrick makes an astonishingly fast--and peculiar--recovery. Julie barely recognizes the newly sober Patrick as the same man she once struggled to resist. Maybe it's the strange beach experience fueling her paranoia but she can't help sensing something just isn't...right.

As Julie's feelings for Patrick intensify she's about to discover how that day at the beach links her newfound happiness with her wildest suspicions....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Garden Spells

Garden Spells Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm torn between wanting to hate this book and absolutely loving it. The plot was nothing unexpected or even original, but the characters were charming and quirky. There was a lot of personality in this book and I adored it for that reason. I didn't like the poor (and in some places, corny) writing. This was a good, light-hearted read and for that reason I gave it three stars.

Pub. Date: April 2008

Synopsis: The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants - from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys - except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down - along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy - if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom - or with each other.

Recommended Reading:
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas

Sunday, January 3, 2010

An Echo in the Bone

An Echo in the Bone (Outlander, #7) An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It's always hard to review a DG book. She packs so much into each story - the details amaze me! The book was amazing, to say the least. Although I did find some of the medical scenes a little gruesome. DG took the storyline in a different direction - we followed not only Claire and Jamie's perspectives, but also Brianna and Roger, and William (Jamie's illegitimate son) and John Grey. There were many references to past characters that I couldn't remember, which means I should be re-reading the series in the near future. The book ended with a cliffhanger, but I am far from dissatisfied with the ending. I'm still mulling over things in my head.  If anything, I'll be counting the days until the next book is released.

Pub. Date: September 2009
Series: Outlander Book 7

Synopsis: Jamie Fraser, former Jacobite and reluctant rebel, is already certain of three things about the American rebellion: The Americans will win, fighting on the side of victory is no guarantee of survival, and he’d rather die than have to face his illegitimate son–a young lieutenant in the British army–across the barrel of a gun.

Claire Randall knows that the Americans will win, too, but not what the ultimate price may be. That price won’t include Jamie’s life or his happiness, though–not if she has anything to say about it.

Meanwhile, in the relative safety of the twentieth century, Jamie and Claire’s daughter, Brianna, and her husband, Roger MacKenzie, have resettled in a historic Scottish home where, across a chasm of two centuries, the unfolding drama of Brianna’s parents’ story comes to life through Claire’s letters. The fragile pages reveal Claire’s love for battle-scarred Jamie Fraser and their flight from North Carolina to the high seas, where they encounter privateers and ocean battles–as Brianna and Roger search for clues not only to Claire’s fate but to their own. Because the future of the MacKenzie family in the Highlands is mysteriously, irrevocably, and intimately entwined with life and death in war-torn colonialAmerica.

Recommended Reading:
A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander Book 6) by Diana Gabaldon
The Fiery Cross (Outlander Book 5) by Diana Gabaldon
Voyager (Outlander Book 3) by Diana Gabaldon
Drums of Autumn (Outlander Book 4) by Diana Gabaldon
Dreamfever (Fever Book 4) by Karen Marie Moning

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 in Review

Wow. Is it over already? Well, let's take a look at what got accomplished in 2009.  I had a book goal of 60 books and finished the year with 61. I also had a goal to cut my TBR shelf in half. That didn't happen. I did manage to drop the number from 69 to 51, so as long as the problem isn't worse... Oh, and those books I'm hiding in my closet? Still there.

For 2010 I'm not setting the bar too high. My books read goal is 61. I'd like to get my TBR shelf down to 30. I'd also like to get rid of all the books in my closet, but I'll settle for getting rid of one tote at the annual library benefit sale. And now, on with the book reviews.

I started out the year with Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier. I'm holding this as one of the favorites for the year. I often find myself remembering passages and calling to mind scenes from the book. To me, that's the mark of a good book.

The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer caught me by surprise. I read the series twice during the year and enjoyed it both times. I'll be re-reading them again in 2010.

The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning. Even though I have two books left in this series, I have complete confidence that they'll live up to my expectations. The Fever Series brought KMM back to the business of writing and I look forward to becoming a fan again.

And finally, my favorite for the year: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. I can't say enough about this book. I can't wait to read more by this guy.

I can't wait to see what 2010 is going to bring for surprises!