BOOK TALK ON A THURSDAY: Not Quite Over You

We’re back in Happily Inc for another visit! I love Susan Mallery’s small towns, quirky characters, real life emotions, and fun plots.

In NOT QUITE OVER YOU, Silver Tesdal, owner of AlcoHaul (a portable bar that can be towed to wedding and party venues) wants to expand. Her high school boyfriend wants nqoyto invest in her business. And maybe in her life. The only problem is a secret she’s been keeping from him for a few years.

One thing leads to another and pretty soon they’re partners in business and in bed.

Silver knows she has to come clean and when she does, Drew takes the news hard, but comes around pretty quickly.

Drew’s family has been grooming him for a career and there are certain expectations. Those are part of the reasons Silver broke up with him after high school and not much has changed more than a decade later.

NOT QUITE OVER YOU employs some common romance tropes, but in Mallery’s capable hands they don’t feel overused or stale. I enjoyed Silver and Drew’s wrong-side-of-the-tracks story and I recommend it! Especially if you love fun and funny stories!


I received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for a honest review. I honestly loved it.

 

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Book Talk Tuesday: WHY NOT TONIGHT

It’s so much fun to go to my mailbox and find a new book. Whether it’s one I ordered from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or an Advanced Reader Copy from an author I review, or a gift from someone else. I love getting books. I love reading books. I don’t care if they’re hardbound, paperbacks, or electronic versions. I love them all.

It was a sweet day indeed when I found a copy of Susan Mallery’s latest, WHY NOT TONIGHT in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago. It’s the latest addition to Mallery’s new Happily Inc series.

WNT by smRonan Mitchell is the last Mitchell brother to find his one and only. He pulled away from the family–and his brothers, including his twin–after he learned a truth about his father. His brothers are still there for him, but have tired of his continual withdrawal. Ronan and two of the others have inherited their father’s artistic talent. Except Ronan’s having a hard time creating art, and an even harder time enjoying it. He’s been hugely successful and money isn’t an issue.

Natalie Kaleta is also an artist. Part-time. She also works at the gallery that handles Ronan’s art. She’s a glass-half-full-no-heck-it’s-plenty-whether-full-or-empty kind of gal. She’s had her share of heartbreak, but has managed to retain her sunny disposition.

A freak storm and freakier incident with Natalie’s car maroons them at Ronan’s mountain hideaway. Their growing attraction makes the isolation … problematic. At least from Ronan’s point of view.

As the story progresses, the couple become a couple. Ronan responds to Natalie’s optimism. She blossoms under his belief in her talent and her art. They each have issues on their road to happily ever after, but they do make it. Come on, this is a romance, did you have doubts?

I love all of Mallery’s books, and WHY NOT TONIGHT is typical of her romances. Fun and funny and light, but with a deeper message about family and doing what you love and having to pay bills.

I highly recommend it!


I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Book Talk Tuesday: NAKED IN DEATH

I finished J.D. Robb’s NAKED IN DEATH a couple of weeks ago. It’s the first of her In Death series and one I hadn’t read yet.

An AutoChef by Any Other Name 

download (4)It’s a good introduction to the series. I loved seeing Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Roarke’s first meeting and their attraction. Some of the beloved elements in the series were also introduced. We met Mavis, Charles, Nadine, the Auto-Chef (although not called that quite yet), Feeney, and Commander Whitney. Eve hasn’t yet started hiding candy around the office, but she definitely has a predilection for the sweet stuff. And real coffee. And a cat who figures in one of her cases.

The story is about a professional prostitute (in the 2050s, prostitution is legal and regulated and they’re called licensed companions), who is murdered. She’s the granddaughter of a prominent senator. The murder weapon is a gun, something outlawed and no longer manufactured, so the weapon is an “antique,” although it was manufactured in the early twenty-first century, i.e. now. There’s a taunting note left with the body. A week later, another prostitute is killed.

Some of the clues lead Eve to Roarke, already rich and successful and gorgeous. They explore their attraction, with Eve fighting it the whole way. Of course, Eve comes into grave danger. Of course, Roarke rushes to save her. Of course, she saves herself just before he arrives. Some things never change.

Our Protagonist: Before and After

I was interested to see how Eve has changed in some ways during the series, while in other ways she didn’t. She began irritable and broken, and still shows those characteristics. There were a few details that, in my opinion, no longer apply to Eve. She noticed flowers and trees and could name them. The Eve in the later books doesn’t care enough about flowers to name them, much less notice them. The early Eve has a taste for leather and bold colors. Later, she does love a great armored leather coat, but the Eve of 2064 prefers browns and grays and only consents to color when Roarke insists. Those are extremely minor quibbles though.

Overall, I enjoyed NAKED IN DEATH. And when more of the early books join my TBR stack, I’ll gladly read them.

Do you have to start a series at the beginning or do you dive in and just start anywhere?

 

Book Talk Tuesday: Revisiting Favorites

I used to reread books all the time. I’ve read all the Agatha Christie books multiple times. Same with Dick Francis. Nancy Drew. Trixie Belden. Donna Parker. I grew up returning to my favorites like they were meatloaf and mashed potatoes. They were my comfort reads.

download (5)As I got older and found other authors I enjoyed, I reread fewer and less often. Now, I rarely reread books. I don’t have the time any more. I read books for reviews. I read books to judge for contests. Sometimes I go months without reading for purely my own enjoyment.

But before and after our Ireland and UK trip last year, I did revisit some books set in the places we’d be seeing, or had seen,  in person.

I reread a few Dick Francis books, and even read one or two of his newer titles, written with his son. They were great and reminded me why I’d been a fan for nearly forty years.

I revisited Alexander McCall Smith’s Sunday Philosophy Club series, that is set in Edinburgh and with slices of other Scottish towns.

I’ve now pulled out Liz Curtis Higgs’ MY HEART IS IN THE LOWLANDS. I read this several download (6)years ago and didn’t reread it before our trip, because I knew we were headed more to the Highlands. But I opened it up this morning because I was longing for a glimpse of the Scottish countryside.

I’m now actively trying to figure out when we can return to Scotland and visit the Lowlands this time, following in Liz’s steps.

Do you ever reread favorites? Which ones? Recent favorites or older ones? Am I the only one who thinks of them as comfort reads?

Book Talk Tuesday: Catching Up

I’ve decided 2018 is going to be about catching up with my favorite series. The last few months have been filled with some great books, but also some lackluster entries. I realized that I have many favorite authors and their characters that I’ve set aside for other reading.

I’m going to fix that. I’ve made a list of what’s next.

downloadAlexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books are always wonderful, but I hadn’t read one in three years. So I found THE SATURDAY BIG TENT WEDDING PARTY in my TBR stack and read it! It was lovely, of course, although I had a few quibbles with dangling plot points at the end. Next will be LIMPOPO ACADEMY OF PRIVATE DETECTIVES.

From Susan Wiggs’ Willow Lake series, I just requested from the library, RETURN TO WILLOW LAKE. A few months ago, I did read MARRYING DAISY BELLAMY, so that’s one mystery solved.

download (1)

A friend gave me a copy of Alan Bradley’s AS CHIMNEY SWEEPERS COME TO DUST, but that’s three or four stories ahead of where I left off in his Flavia de Luce series. Fortunately, I have a cousin who’s also a fan and she’s loaning me SPEAKING FROM AMONG THE BONES this weekend.

I’ve already read three of Jan Karon’s Mitford books so far this year, and that’s what spurred my impetus to catch up on all my favorite series.  I just finished IN THE COMPANY OF OTHERS, which is set in Ireland. Father Tim and Cynthia visit the ‘auld country and of course find a parish away from home to minister to. Next download (3)will be COME RAIN OR COME SHINE. I read these slightly out of order. Earlier this year I read SOMEWHERE SAFE WITH SOMEBODY GOOD, which is directly after IN THE COMPANY OF OTHERS. I’m trusting that picking up COME RAIN OR COME SHINE next won’t be a problem.

Since Sue Grafton’s death in late December, I’ve also been reviewing her books to make sure I didn’t miss any along the way. I don’t think I did, but I’m definitely behind. So S IS FOR SILENCE is next on my list.

download (2)I have one last Deborah Knott title by Margaret Maron that I’ve been saving, but it seems appropriate to add it to my list. Maron announced LONG UPON THE LAND would be the last Deborah Knott novel. Maron is still writing, but I don’t love her Sigrid Harald books as much as I do Deborah and Dwight and the family.

Finally, my last series to catch up on isn’t a series. I do love Earlene Fowler’s Benni Harper books and I’ve read them all. I haven’t kept up with her stand alones. I added two of those to my list. LOVE MERCY will be up first.

And then Nora Roberts. I haven’t read all of the IN DEATH series and Roberts is far too download (4)prolific for me to attempt to keep up. I’ve decided to go back and read the first in the series, NAKED IN DEATH, and then read whatever is in my TBR stack and whatever crosses my path. The books don’t require being read in order. The characters change slowly enough that it’s easy to pick up anytime. These books are all about the case, although Lt. Eve Dallas and Roark are fascinating and compelling protagonists.

Of course, as my favorite authors release new stories, I’ll add those in. They’re not included on this list because I’m already caught up with everything they’ve written. This includes Susan Mallery, Kristan Higgins, Susan May Warren, Kathryn Cushman, Tamara Alexander. I could keep going, but I’ll stop for now.

Last year I read 100 books. This year, I’m at 37 so far. Looks like I may hit the century mark again.

Expect reviews in the next weeks. And please, ask me how the list is coming along. I estimate I have 27 books to read to consider myself “caught up.” And I’ve pre-ordered several books from my favorites that will be released in the next few months and will have to be factored in.

Gotta go. I’ve got a book waiting!

 

Book Talk Tuesday: A Cold and Lonely Place

I’ve had this one on my TBR stack for quite a while, but I was in the mood for something chilly to offset the hot days to come, so I pulled this one out.

It’s wonderful.

Very atmospheric. The Adirondacks, Lake Placid and Lake Saranac are described in not overly detailed terms, but well enough that if I ever go there, it will feel familiar. I’ve said the same thing about Julia Spencer-Fleming’s books set in upstate New York. When we visited there in 2011, it really did seem like I’d been there before. But only in the pages of a book.

1473581_origA Cold and Lonely Place is described as a “literary mystery,” and I don’t disagree with that description. While it may not be your typical “fair play,” mystery, there is a mystery at the heart of the story. Actually two mysteries.

What happened to Tobin Winslow? And what happened to his brother six years ago? Both drowned, although in vastly different circumstances.

Our “detective,” is Troy Chance, a freelance writer in the Lake Placid and Lake Saranac area. She’s taking pictures of the construction of the annual Ice Palace when a body is found. She recognizes the frozen face, as the boyfriend of one of her roommates, and begins piecing together the last days, months, then years of the victim’s life.

When I started the book, I couldn’t put it down. The chapters were short and engaging and begged me to turn the page and keep going. As the story progressed, it wasn’t quite as compelling, especially as I suspected we weren’t going to receive a villain neatly captured and handed over to the authorities.

But that didn’t lessen my enjoyment. A Cold and Lonely Place is an excellent, engaging, and enthralling story. I’ll read more by this author.

Monday Morning Musings: Book Review

Even though it’s not a Book Talk Tuesday, I’m posting a book review on Monday. I really enjoyed this one, and can’t wait to share about it.

cover-secrets

A few books stay with you after you finish the final page and close the book. SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS is one of those.

The Tulip Sisters are a fun group of women. I wish they lived closer. I wish they were real.

Kelly is the uber-responsible older sister who works the family tulip farm and loves it. She and her dad are close. Her long-time boyfriend recently broke up with her and she’s sad that it didn’t upset her more. What’s bugging her now is that Griffith, her high school crush, is back in town and keeps showing up wherever she is.

Olivia is the flighty younger sister. Or is she? Olivia shows up in town after ten years away, expecting a reunion with her own high school boyfriend. The homecoming is not quite as heartwarming as one might hope. With either the ex or her family.

Helen is Kelly’s best friend, and an honorary sister, with a huge secret of her own.

Life is … if not good, at least acceptable, for all three women. Until Kelly and Olivia’s mother shows up, bringing havoc and leaving a trail of mayhem in her wake.

I love this book! Fun dialogue and situations, believable characters, emotionally engaging writing. It’s going on my keeper shelf.

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I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Which this is.