Monday, March 25, 2013

Off the Bookshelf: OUT ON A LIMB

Is there anything more down-home than a romance in farm country?

Gail Gaymer Martin comes through, as always, with a touching, sweet romance, with a light touch of the Hatfields and McCoys. This novel was a freebie picked up at a book exchange -- don't ask me where or when!

Karen and Eric met many years ago, when they were children visiting their grandparents' farms. Now they're adults, in transition times in their careers, in their lives.

Their grandfathers are feuding, and Karen and Eric keep coming face to face as they try to rein in these cantankerous old poops, constantly playing childish, nasty little tricks on each other. As the tricks escalate, becoming downright irritating (such as putting "for sale by owner" signs on each other's home or car!), Karen and Eric keep getting distracted from resolving their own problems. And figuring out just what they feel about each other.

Gail always comes through with a fun story that gives her characters a chance to shine -- even when they're being nasty, overgrown kids. If you want a light, quick read that will leave you smiling, go for it!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Off the Bookshelf: NORTHANGER ABBEY

Why, you may ask, am I reviewing a book that has probably been discussed to death by reviewers and literary types, ad nauseum?

Because, dear readers, this ain't your granny's Jane Austen!

Yes, this IS Jane Austen's NORTHANGER ABBEY.

But it's Marvel Comics' version. Five issues, published between 2011 and 2012. Sometimes I had to take issue with the ... umm ... caricatures of the characters. Honestly, the exaggerations of expression were funny, sometimes not even human. How dare they treat Jane Austen with such a cavalier lack of respect? But then I thought, hey, I loved "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," so who am I to point fingers?

You can't turn a classic like a Jane Austen book into a comic book without LOVING the story -- so it wasn't lack of respect. More along the lines of "sacred cow makes good hamburger."

I'm still going to read the whole book one of these days. For now, I can honestly say I know enough about the story to want more. If you don't have the TIME to devote to a classic novel, you might want to consider the comic book version, just as an introduction.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Off the Bookshelf: SMITTEN

Perfect title!

Read this collection of four interconnected romances by these four fun authors, and you'll be smitten yourself! I think I picked up this book in the freebie room at RT in Chicago. Perfect place to find a romance novel, don't you think?

Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter were already writing friends. Now they're co-conspirators, creating the charming, quirky must-be-saved town of Smitten.

The word is that the four heroines of the four novellas in this collection are alter egos of our four authors. If that's true ... I wish they were my writing friends. Brainstorming meetings must be a blast!

What's the book about? Essentially, Smitten is in deep trouble -- the mill is closing and without some quick thinking and a new industry, the town will shrivel up and blow away. Enter our four heroines, Natalie, Shelby, Julia and Reese. Their solution? Capitalize on the town's name and turn it into a destination town for romance. While they're renovating Smitten -- and dragging the menfolk, kicking and screaming into the new, romantic version -- each of our heroines gets some renovations in their own love lives.

Major fun. Curl up with a bag of your favorite chocolate and a few handy tissues and prepare for a charming read with smiles, giggles, sighs, some "awwww" moments, and even a few tears.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Off the Book Shelf: SHADES OF DARK

Well, so far, so good. I've been keeping up with my vow -- barely -- to read one book every week of this new year. And be accountable to those of you perusing this blog, by reporting every Monday morning on what I've read.

I'm going to be reporting on a gob of books that have been sitting for years, waiting to be read. I have, on last count, over 130 books in my to-be-read bookrack. I'm trying (and it's painful, believe me) not to buy a new book until I clear off at least 1 of the 4 shelves. Yeah, it hurts when I finally read a book that's been sitting for a while, and I want to buy the next book in the series and keep the "oh, wow, yeah, why-did-I-wait-so-danged-long-to-read-this-one?" feeling going.

Such is the case with SHADES OF DARK, sequel to GABRIEL'S GHOST, by award-winning, always-delivers, SF romance author Linnea Sinclair.

You thought Captain Chaz and Sully got themselves out of a star cruiser's worth of trouble at the end of GABRIEL and deserved a breather? No such luck! If anyone knows how to torment her H/H and make the readers hang onto their chairs and groan and cheer and bite their nails (which makes it hard to hold onto the book!), this is the lady.

Let's see. Chaz is a disgraced (framed) commander in the Fleet. Sentenced to a prison planet, where her enemies intend her to die. She gets rescued by Sully, who she --and a lot of the universe -- thought was dead. Hence the title of the first book. They set off across the galaxy in a sweet little starship that changes identities more often than the Crawley girls change their dresses during Downton Abbey. Sully has a lot of secrets, the biggest one being he's a rare human telepath. He's got members of his own family out to destroy him. The story keeps going in SHADES, as Chaz and Sully and their crew follow up on what they found out in the first book. It's ugly, folks. Treachery on every hand -- including their own crew. Prejudice and genocide, betrayal, and allies who are worse than their enemies.

Not gonna tell you any more than that. Except the expected: You gotta read this book! There are more books in the series, and I highly recommend you get your paws on ALL of them before you sit down to read, because you're gonna want to go from one to the next. I'm going to have a HUGE to-be-bought list by the time I'm allowed to buy more books. It's going to be painful waiting until I can read the next in the series. But why should you suffer? You don't have to. So don't.