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Archive for January, 2014

Adult Paranormal Review – Beauty’s Beasts

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Beauty’s Beasts by Tracy Cooper-Posey

 

Review by Cynthia F. (frazerc)

 

This is an erotic ménage paranormal romance with all the trimmings: sex toys, a little bondage, a little anal and all the games that three people can play… Yeah, it’s that kind of book – so if that sort of stuff [and the language that goes along with it] bother you – stay away!

The heroine is Riley, a somewhat battered survivor of the foster care system, who is suddenly confronted by two men who claim to be there at the request of her parents, the parents she knows nothing about. Of course they aren’t really men but vampires who knew her parents – make that her killed-in-the-line-of-duty demon-hunting parents. Yeah, she’s shocked too. They coax her to New York with them with promises of information about her family. Their goal is to train her and have her help them kill the gargoyles that killed her parents.

Admittedly everybody has issues in this book: Riley with being left to the foster care system, Nicholas with his walls around his heart, and Damien who wants to heal the breach with Nicholas and perhaps for them all to be together… For an action based plot there’s a huge dose of relationship going on. There are definitely some hankie moments.

The sex scenes are well written, the relationships are intense, and the plot kept me going.  This is the second book in the Stonebrood series. I haven’t read the first one – Carson’s Night (only available as an ebook)  – which didn’t seem to be a problem.  All in all a good read-once.

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Monday – The High Window

Monday, January 27th, 2014

 

The High Window by Raymond Chandler

 

 

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

 

In the third novel featuring LA PI Philip Marlowe, our series hero is hired by a mean old rich lady to recover a rare coin that was allegedly stolen by her daughter-in-law. Later a killing baffles everybody, since the person of interest didn’t even know the victim. A second killing makes no sense either. Readers like me will be relieved that the plot is not as convoluted as The Big Sleep or Farewell My Lovely. Rousing action is on the skimpy side. Nor does the private eye do much detecting. Chandler, always experimenting with language and going beyond the conventions of the mystery genre, focusses on setting, character and theme.

Marlowe’s investigations take him to locations ranging from ritzy to sleazy. On the first page, we get a sense of the tasteless consumption of Pasadenans in the boom years during WWII. The client’s mansion is decorated with “a stained glass window about the size of the tennis court.” We are then introduced to the mean old rich lady, with her “pewter-colored hair set in a ruthless permanent, a hard beak and large moist eyes with the sympathetic expression of wet stones.” No fault of Chandler’s that many writers imitated these dazzling expressions, too often not with as much literary taste.

The poor and middle-class characters don’t act better than they should either. Of a dubious dealer in old coins: an “elderly party in a dark grey suit with high lapels and too many buttons down the front… Fuzz grew out of his ears, far enough to catch a moth … a Hoover collar which no decent laundry would have allowed on the premises nudged his adam’s apple  and a black string tie poked a small hard knot out of the bottom of the collar, like a mouse getting ready to come out of a mousehole.”

Our hero Phil Marlowe is the only likeable character, although we readers are happy when in the scene we find Merle, a young secretary who has lost faith in herself. Her broken appeal is believable and moves the plot. Tough and resourceful, Marlowe can deal with all types of crook, such as the drunken stick-up artist Hench and the smooth villain Vannier. But Marlowe has a profound side too. He relaxes by doing chess problems. When he delivers Merle back to her parents back in Kansas he thinks, “I had a funny feeling … as though I had written a poem and it was very good and I had lost it and would never remember it again.”

Chandler brought serious themes to mysteries. In this one he examines the effect of power and coercion of human relations. For instance, his mean old client runs roughshod over her son and secretary and thus blights their lives for no discernible end. Chandler looks at the corrosive effects of infidelity on marriage. Marlowe’s sensitive relationship with the police is subtly and intelligently handled here than in most mysteries.

 

 

 

Fiction Review – An Irish Country Doctor

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

 

An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor

 

Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

 

Almost two years ago my in-laws came for a visit and my MIL brought me a bag full of books.  Her sharing books with me all the time is just one of the many reasons she is an awesome MIL…and there’s no sarcasm intended here, she really is awesome. Anyway, I digress.  In the bag were about 15 books, several of which were part of the Irish Country Doctor series by Patrick Taylor.  I had never heard of the series but thought they seemed interesting.  So I put the bag of books next to the bookshelf with the best of intentions, things got busy, other books got read, and recently I rediscovered the bag and decided to give the first book of the series, An Irish Country Doctor, a try.

The story, set in the 1960s, reminds me of two of my favorite television shows: BBC’s Ballykissangel, which aired from 1996-2001, and the CW’s current hit Hart of Dixie. I know this may sound strange but hear me out.   I won’t provide in depth descriptions of both tv series here…you’ll just have to take my word for it or take the time to watch both series and judge for yourself.  Just as in Ballykissangel, the new doctor in Ballybucklebo (the novel’s rural Irish town) has to learn, and come to accept and/or tolerate, the way things are done there.  And just as in Hart of Dixie, the new doctor has to realize practicing medicine in a small town is different than the city; people want their doctors to do more than just heal and prescribe medicine and the role of the doctor takes on new dimensions. And the quirky characters of a small village in Ireland and a small town in Alabama are strangely, humorously similar.

So back to the book itself. Dr. Barry Laverty is recently out of medical school and looking to gain experience in the profession.  He is drawn to small Ballybucklebo and the opportunity to be an assistant at Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly’s practice.  In the beginning of An Irish Country Doctor, Dr. O’Reilly seems to be just a crotchety old doctor who is stuck in his ways.  Within a short period of time Dr. Laverty comes to see Dr. O’Reilly in a different light.  I won’t tell you what situations bring Dr. Laverty to this conclusion because that would just spoil things.

The quirky characters, funny doctor-patient visits, heartwarming moments, and bits of wisdom crafted by Taylor all come together to make this book an enjoyable retreat.  I look forward to visiting with the doctors again in the next installment of the series.  And I’m hoping my MIL may have some new books to share in the future; she has great taste.

 

 

 

Children’s Book Review – The Castle Tower Lighthouse

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

 

The Castle Tower Lighthouse – Edgar Font’s Hunt for a House to Haunt, Adventure One

by Patrick H. T. Doyle

 

Review by Kelsey O.

 

Sir Edgar Fonts is an eccentric man. That is something that the reader discovers quickly. His two grandchildren, Garrett and Audrey, recall very little of their grandfather except that he always had fantastic stories to tell of his numerous adventures. Even that doesn’t excite them now that they have to spend the entire summer with him at his new home, The Sterling Oaks Retirement Village. To them it equals an entire summer of boredom with a lot of old people.

Upon arriving at the retirement home the witness their grandfather jumping off a balcony. And so begins a summer that they will never forget. Eccentric doesn’t begin to describe Edgar Fonts. He is not ready for the old people’s home yet and so he takes his grandchildren on a epic journey to discover the perfect house to haunt once he passes on. Their first stop is the Castle Tower Lighthouse where they discover there might not be room for Edgar here and instead they might just need to solve the mystery and save the soul that is trapped there.

Patrick H.T. Doyle has an imaginative mind and he uses that to engage the young readers with puzzles for them to solve. Being an explorer himself, the reader is able to pick up on his experience with each new page. This book could easily be enjoyed by readers of all ages and because of the fast-pace at which it is presented, it will hold the young readers attention and have them eagerly picking up the next installment, The Fakersville Power Station (which is next on my TBR pile).

 

 

Read the Book Before You See the Movie, part 3

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

By Vicky T. (VickyJo)

 

For the last few days, I’ve been sharing with you the titles of books that are going to be turned into movies in 2014.  This is the last of the 16 titles, and once again, they all sound very interesting.  Be sure and grab the book before the film comes out!

 

Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand: This is the remarkable biography of Louis Zamperini, a budding juvenile delinquent turned Olympic runner who competes in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.  When war breaks out, Louis joins the Army, manages to survive a plane crash only to be rescued by the Japanese and taken to a POW camp.  His story is incredible, to say the least, and one of my favorite books.  The movie stars Jack O’Connell as Louis; the film is written by Joel and Ethan Coen, and is directed by Angelina Jolie.  It opens in December.

 

 

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner:  Ever since The Hunger Games books hit the scene, readers have been searching for more novels like them.  The Divergent trilogy fits the bill, but so does The Maze Runner, again the first book in a trilogy set in a dystopian United States.  60 boys survive in a completely enclosed environment, with a new boy arriving every 30 days.  Thomas is the new arrival, and is soon involved in planning an escape from the glad through a maze that surrounds their living space.  The film will star Dylan O’Brien as Thomas, and will open in September.

 

The Hundred-Foot Journey, by Richard C. Morais:  This is a debut novel about a man named Hassan Haji and his rise to fame as a Parisian chef.  Haji’s grandfather owns a modest restaurant in Bombay and this is where Hassan’s story begins.  We follow him from India to England to Paris, and watch his culinary star rise to great heights.  The movie stars Manish Dayal and Helen Mirren and is being produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey.  It opens in August.

 

The Giver, by Lois Lowry: First published in 1993, Ms. Lowery won the Newbery Award for excellence in children’s literature with this story of 12-year-old Jonas.  In a world with no poverty, no unemployment, no unhappiness, Jonas is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories.  Once he begins his study, he starts to understand the truth about his world.  The Giver will star Meryl Streep and Taylor Swift.  It should hit theaters in August.

 

 

Serena, by Ron Rash: Newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel to North Carolina in 1929, where George plans on creating a timber empire.  They work hard to make this dream come true in very dark, even violent ways.  Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss in The Hunger Games movies) plays Serena, while Bradley Cooper plays George.  This pair made last year’s Silver Linings Playbook a winner; hopefully their on-screen chemistry continues.  I couldn’t find a definite release date for this film.

 

 

 

 

 

Read the Book Before You See the Movie, part 2

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

By Vicky T. (VickyJo)

 

Here are five more books that are going to be made into movies this year.  You should have plenty of time to read the novel before you see the film.  You know the book is usually better!

 

 

A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby:  Four very different people (a talk-show host, a single mom, a troubled teen and an aging musician) meet on the same roof top on New Year’s Eve and find that they have one thing in common: each one of them showed up on this roof to jump to his or her death.  Dark and yet humorous, you won’t soon forget this novel.  The movie stars Aaron Paul, Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike and Sam Neill.  I couldn’t find a U.S. release date for this film.

 

 

Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn: This is the story of Libby Day.  As a seven-year-old, Libby was the only survivor of her family’s horrific murder.  25 years later, Libby finds herself short on cash and comes up with a unique plan: she will sell artifacts relating to her family’s murder to The Kill Club, a group of true crime enthusiasts who debate famous murder cases.  Libby learns some shocking truths about the terrible event in her past.  The movie stars Charlize Theron as Libby, and is scheduled for release in September.

 

 

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn: Ms. Flynn has hit the Hollywood jackpot as another one of her novels gets turned into a movie starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.  This film should be released in October.  Gone Girl is the story of Nick Dunne, who becomes a prime suspect when his wife Amy disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary.

 

 

 

This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper: This funny novel gives us the Foxman family: Judd, who has just lost both his wife (she was having an affair) and his job (she was having an affair with his boss.)  Judd is called home when his father dies to sit Shivah with his dysfunctional family.  Seven days with this group?  What could go wrong?  The movie stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Rose Byrne and Jane Fonda.  It will be released in September.

 

 

Wild: From lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed: This memoir follows Cheryl as she tries to reclaim her life after the death of her mother and going through a divorce by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  She is inexperienced, but determined.  Is this a good plan, or just another one of her bad life decisions?  The movie stars Reese Witherspoon, Charles Baker and Laura Dern.  No release date has been set yet.

 

 

 

 

 

Read the Book Before You See the Movie, part 1

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

By Vicky T. (VickyJo)

 

There are (at least) 16 books that are going to be made into movies in 2014, and since it’s only January, you have plenty of time to read the book before you see the film.  For the next few days, I’ll share the titles and give you a brief synopsis of each plot.  You may have read some of these, but it never hurts to brush up on the book first.

 

Labor Day, by Joyce Maynard: Labor Day weekend for 13-year-old Henry Wheeler will change his life forever when his mother, emotionally fragile at best, takes in a stranger with a dark secret, and law enforcement on his trail.  The film stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, and opens January 31st.

 

 

The Monuments Men, by Robert Edsel and Bret Witter: The true story of an American platoon during WWII which is assigned the incredible task of going into Nazi Germany to rescue art masterpieces and return them to their rightful owners.  The film will star George Clooney, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett and will be released on February 7th.

 

 

Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead: This is actually a series, with the first novel titled Vampire Academy.  I’m not sure how much the movie will cover, but the first novel introduces us to Rose, half human and half vampire, and Lissa, a vampire princess; both girls attend St. Vladimir’s Academy and must deal with the usual teen angst and problems, plus a few issues unique to vampires.  The movie will be released February 14th and stars Zoey Deutch as Rose and Lucy Fry as Lissa.

 

Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin:  Peter Lake, an orphan and a master mechanic, attempts to rob a mansion in New York’s Upper West Side.  He believes the house to be empty, but to his surprise, it is occupied by Beverly Penn, the daughter of the owner, and a woman who is terminally ill.  The novel is over 700 pages long, so it will be interesting to see it distilled into a few hours of film.  It stars Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay and opens on February 14th.

 

 

Divergent, by Veronica Roth: This first book in Roth’s trilogy introduces us to Beatrice Prior, who lives in a futuristic Chicago, where society is divided into five factions.  All sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will belong…and as you can imagine, nothing ever goes smoothly.  If you liked Hunger Games, you should check out Divergent.  The movie stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Kate Winslet.  It will hit theaters on March 21st.

 

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green: A moving, intense story of two teens, both with cancer, who fall in love with one another and search for answers to the big questions: How will I be remembered?  Does my life, and will my death, have any meaning?  Shailene Woodley also starts in this film, along with Ansel Elgort and Willem Dafoe.  The film will be released in June.