Friday, September 30, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life by Jesse Goossens

It's a Wonderful Life
I saw this on netgalley and the blurb got my attention because I love classic movies. First: the movie quotes in the books are not just from classic movies.. but from more recent stuff too. The movie quotes come from Wizard of Oz, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Home Alone, The Heiress (I recognized this one!!), Frankenstein, and more. Actually, most of the quotes were from 80s and up. I was a bit bummed about that. And the movie quotes.. well, they don't really tie in to the story. BUT...

It's a good read. It's about this Holland chick who travels to small town Pennsylvania for her summer vacation rather than go with her parents to a nudie colony. She gets a job in a vintage store (where she proceeds to make up cool stories and insinuations about the products being from movie stars), starts a tea corner, meets a young undertaker, and in one month in America learns about a lot of different cultures and DEATH. There's Jewish eating rules, a tribe in Uganda that has a grotesque death custom in which they basically drink the dead body's fluids, Irish handfasting, and Irish funeral fighting. It's really very fascinating. I learned a lot of customs from different cultures and how they deal with death... though it's kinda weird how a story about death ties in with a girl "robot" who "when she hears a word, the weirdest quotes come bubbling right out of her." I can't explain it, but it worked somehow.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I was disappointed with something though.... When Anna gets to go to NYC and visit different movie sites, we don't get the details of that. I was hoping for some fun movie tidbits here. Though I got a great laugh at the story Anna made up about Alfred Hitchcock, blondes, and his cane. (Could be true. Who knows?)
It's a wonderful life by Jesse Goossens
Now, something fun I got from the book (and I'm quoting even though it's an egalley. Pardon me.)

Look up the word ACROSTIC if you don't know what it means and read this gravestone epitaph....

Free your body and soul
Unfold your powerful winds
Climb up the highest mountain
Kick your feet up in the air
You may live forever
Or return to this earth
Unless you feel good where you are

If you got it, you're either laughing or terribly offended. LOL. I laughed. :)

Four stars and I got this from netgalley.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Never Too Late by Christina Courtenay

Never Too LateAnother excellent large print novella from my favorite author... yes, I'm a friend of hers, but I was a fan before I became a friend. 

This was originally sent to me to pass on to my grandmother who loves to read but has trouble finding large print books. (She likes the inspirational ones, but occasionally wants to read a book that isn't trying to send her a hidden message. LOL) Nevertheless, before passing it on to my G-ma, I had to read it myself.. I couldn't resist.

Once again, Courtenay does a superb job putting together a likable hero and a damsel in distress. The damsel in distress (this is NOT a bodice ripper) is Maude. She loved Luke long ago but circumstances.. er, well, people, I should say kept them apart. She ended up marrying his cousin instead. So.. there are some hard feelings here between Maude and Luke.

But Maude ends up widowed and Luke is the new head of her estate. He keeps her on as his housekeeper but he secretly still desires her and this is a difficult situation. She desires him too, but is afraid to say so.. But these two may have to stop tip toeing around each other and confess their real feelings cause... someone wants them dead. There's arsenic poisoning, smashing pots, run away carriages, and kidnapping. These two better figure it out soon or it WILL be too late for them to salvage their earlier feelings for each other.

Superbly done, descriptive where it needs to be descriptive, action where there should be action, and a lovely one day read. It's a clean read (no smut) but no hidden religious messages either. LOL. Conclusion: I did and my grandmother will love it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Eleanor Roosevelt's Life of Soul Searching and Self Discovery by Ann Atkins

Eleanor Roosevelt's Life of Soul Searching and Self DiscoveryThis is a very short biography, not a long and drawn out 500 page thing. It tells the need to know information about Eleanor. By need to know, I mean:

Where she came from: A very dysfunctional family. Her father was a womanizer and a suicidal alcoholic. Her mother felt that she was ugly and did not make a secret of it. Imagine growing up in that environment.

How she rose above it: Went to boarding school, dealt with the death of her parents, slowly began to find herself when she met Franklin and it all came crashing down. She married a man much like her father.
She was a doormat for a long time: to Franklin's mother and Franklin himself. It took a betrayal by Franklin and her best friend to make her wake up and begin being just Eleanor again. Unfortunately, in a way, she lost her children to her mother in law.

She stood up for the little people: She stood up for women:

"Eleanor not only conducts her own press conferences, she flaunts the 'men only' rule at press conferences with Franklin, making hers only for women journalists.Since newspapers want to carry stories about Eleanor, this policy give job assurance for many female reporters. What critics deem conniving, Eleanor sees as leveling the playing field."

She stood up for African Americans in her speeches, her policies, and her actions:

"As she is leaving her hairdresser, an African American youth backs his car into her and knocks her down. This being 1959 Eleanor doesn't want to chance a racial incident and tell the young man to hurry on before people can gather."

She supported the troops during the war:

"She walks to each truck load and wishes the boys good luck. On that day, Eleanor's unpretentious ways make her every soldier's mother. Upholding the written rule, "Don't cry in front of the boys," she bids them each farewell. Although those with Eleanor report, "her voice quavered."
Conclusion: An enlightening biography of a woman who rose from a twisted home to make something of herself and change the world. (Great photos in here too.) Four stars due to one minor annoyance that I found a tad odd for a biography: the use of the present tense. 

I received this book from the author.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I've DoneI don't read futuristic stuff usually, but this really got my attention. 1. A world in which coffee is illegal. (My first thought was, 'OMG! The Mormons took over!) 2. Chocolate is illegal. (Gasp. My curiosity was piqued. How the hell can we possibly survive?) 3. The heroine is part of a mafia (spelled mafiya in the book) family. Those three things were enough to make me step out of my comfort zone and read this YA novel.

I wasn't disappointed. It's a really good, entertaining read with a very likable heroine. The story is told from her POV but she's involved in so much excitement that the first person narrative works well.. At no point does the reader feel as though she's on the outside looking in. I liked the girl's sense of humor, the sarcastic way she tells things, the inner turmoil she deals with.

The turmoils: She's an orphan and pretty much the guardian of her immediate family. Her grandmother is about to die. Her brother has brain damage. She's accused of attempting to kill her ex boyfriend (death by chocolate!!!). Her new boyfriend's dad doesn't want her dating his son. Her family's illegal chocolate business may need her at the helm. Her bff starts dating her ex.... and it just keeps piling up. No end to the drama. Oh.. and she's Catholic and trying to save her virginity till marriage but the new guy is making that hard.

Thoroughly enjoyed it. There were some minor irritations that got on my nerves though. 1. The constant references to things her daddy used to say. One or twice is fine, but 15 times? 2. The whole 'no sex before marriage' moral being bashed over my head. 3. I didn't like how the heroine treats her brother. Yes, he's 'damaged' but the longer you treat him like a child, the longer he will act like one.

Four stars, but if I was 12 to 16, the age group this was intended for, I most likely would have gave it a five.

I received an ARC from the publisher.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vigil by Cecilia Samartin

Vigil by Cecilia SamartinImagine loving a man for twenty years, but not being able to tell him so. Imagine sleeping in a room down the hall from this man you love for twenty years. Imagine having to watch this man interact day after day with his wife and children. Ana watches.. for twenty years before she finally has the opportunity to act on her love.

The story starts in El Salvador during the time of civil war and brutality. Ana loses her entire village and is the only one to walk away. Why was she saved? She was saved not once, but twice. She takes this as sign that she is to have a higher purpose. She believes she is to be a nun. However, many years after escaping to the U.S, a mere 6 months from the time she is supposed to take her vows, she is summoned to the Trellis household. They need a nanny.

Enter an intriguing household full of characters that all need Ana's help. The man rarely leaves his study. The woman is spoiled, indulgent, and a sex addict. Teddy, their child, is spoiled rotten and undisciplined. The cook is an alcoholic widow. Can Ana help this family or will her growing emotions for the man of house make things worse?

The book goes back and forth between past and present, the present being Ana at her beloved's death bed trying to gather his children to his side and the past being the twenty years she has devoted to that family. What sounds like a very simple story became so much more with Samartin's words and prose. It's a very enjoyable book and thought evoking. I was slightly bugged that Ana literally puts her life on hold for twenty years though and doesn't appear to have any kind of life outside of this family. However, the book also explains that.. due to what she went through in El Salvador, Ana likes safety, likes being cocooned. That is what drew her to the rigid, predictable life of the nunnery. I was hoping that Ana would change, I guess, because I was disappointed with the ending.. After being in a box twenty years, I would think that she would want to finally leave the box, to see some of the world, to live outside that selfish family. 

Something else I wondered about... Did Adam really love her or did he just want someone to take care of him in his illness? The timing... It made me stop and ponder. I'm not sure if I was supposed to do this, but I did. And I like books that make me stop and analyze characters and their intentions. 

Four stars and I would like to share two laugh out moments:

"Mama: "what are you going to do if you fall in love with a man who wants to have children? What are going to tell him?" Ana: "I'll tell him that if he really loves me, then I should be enough for him."

'How different from the men in my village who left their women to give birth while they got drunk with the other men in the square. Sometimes it took the new father more time to recover from his hangover than it took the mother to recover from childbirth.'

I received this from the author.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ride for Rights: The Real Life Women Behind the Novel

I'm excited to say that my historical YA novel, Ride for Rights has been through content edits. I now feel it's a good time to talk about it a bit more on here. I want to tell you the story behind the story...

In the fall of 2010, my husband and I took a vacation to South Dakota and of course, we had to hit the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. (My husband is a biker through and through.)

Augustine Van Buren
While browsing this ultra cool museum (that I originally didn't want to go to as I wanted to walk thru a Victorian house instead!), I came across some information about two fascinating "biker chics" in American history, Augusta and Adeline Van Buren. Here is their website: Van Buren Sisters Website

In 1916, these remarkable sisters decided to ride their motorbikes from New York to Los Angeles. Keep in mind, the highway system had not yet been built... They donned trousers, jumped on their Indians, and they rode..  to prove that women could be motorcycle dispatch riders.

The real life women went from Buffalo to Chicago to Omaha to Denver, up Pike's Peak, to Salt Lake, Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

I was excited by this information and I rushed to find my husband and I said to him, "I am gonna find a book on them as soon as I get back to my laptop!" And I did search for a book on them and much to my dismay, I didn't find one. And so I said, "I'm gonna write one!" This is how Ride was born. 

Adeline Van Buren
Adeline Van Buren
In Ride for Rights, a fiction novel loosely based on the amazing Van Buren sisters, Angeline and Adelaide Hanson undergo a similar journey (with different twists and turns) as they travel from Buffalo to Detroit... to Chicago where they are dance hall girls for a night... to  Peoria, Illinois... to St. Louis where they join a touring Suffrage movement to Kansas City where they have a run in with some unfriendly fellows. From Kansas City, the Hanson's head to Dodge and they have problems with the local sheriff.. See, women didn't wear trousers much back then....

Like the real Van Burens, Angeline and Adelaide summit Pike's Peak. The real sisters did this ride only weeks after the road was opened.

The Ride for Rights sisters spend some down time in a castle called Glen Eyrie and then head on to the Salt Lake desert where they get lost... and oh somebody finds them... but is it really a rescuer??

I don't wish to reveal too much of the story so I'm stopping here, but I cannot stress to everyone enough.. check out the real Van Buren sisters website. It's truly amazing what the real women accomplished. They are now in the AMA Hall of Fame and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame.

Bob Van Buren, a descendant of the Van Buren sisters, says, "Although Ms. Chevrestt’s creative tale of these two women is purely fictional, she has accurately captured the spirit and challenges that the Van Buren sisters experienced in their journey in 1916."

I can't possibly express my joy and gratitude to have a descendant of those amazing women say something like that about my work.

Please note once again that Ride is a work of fiction and though I used the real life sisters' ride as a basis, everything that happens to the Hansons is a figment of my imagination. An author's note in the back of the novel separates all facts from fiction.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Persuade Me by Juliet Archer

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2)We've all heard the saying, "when you assume, you make an ass of you and me." In this book, there's a LOT of assuming and thus, a lot of people making asses of themselves... and that's part of what makes this book so funny and entertaining.

Quick summary: Rick and Anna loved each other long ago, but her snotty family convinced her to give him up. She lives in England. He lives in Australia. Ten years after their tragic romance, he is right in her backyard doing a book tour. Do they have a second chance?

The characters... my gawd.. the family of Anna. It is like a comedy sitcom. Walter is so full of himself, it is unbelievable. "He felt a huge sense of achievement (looking in a new fancy mirror) now that he could view his appearance from 360 degrees." Walter's daughters are Lisa, Anna, Mona. Anna is the only sane one among them. Mona is a psycho mom who bosses Anna around. Lisa is a feminine version of her dad. And there's Cleo, a slutty masseuse, William the gold digger, James the mad poet, Lou the slut who throws herself (literally!) at men, and a lot of family. 

And all these people try to keep Anna and her true love, Rick apart. Because nobody really knows what is going and that is that Anna loves Rick, NOT William and Rick loves Anna, NOT Leo, but everybody makes assumptions and they're all wrong and Rick and Anna both misunderstand and every single time one plans to tell the other those three simple words (I love you) and fix the relationship that was so damaged years before, someone steps up and gets in the way. Well Rick is only in England for.. 6 weeks? Time is running out.... 

I, the reader, found myself chuckling on numerous occasions and laughed out loud at least twice. (Walter's Little Problem in That Department!!!! LOL) I was also cheering for the hero and heroine and found myself getting angry at times with certain characters. That's a sign that the book has really sucked me in.

However, I found the heroine, Anna, to be ridiculously spineless at times. Even in the end of the book, I still felt she was a bit too submissive and wall flowerish. As I prefer reading about strong, independent women, this grated on my nerves. She constantly lets people boss her around and rarely speaks up for herself. Thus, despite all the laughter on my part, I give this a four instead of a five. 

Favorite quote: "We can all go on as we are, doing nothing different. Whereas 'hop' is an action word - or should be. Something aspirational, like - how did he put it? - living our dream. But, to achieve it, we usually have to come out of our comfort zone and change in some way." 

I received this from the publisher for pre review. 

Book & Movie Comparison: Catherine the Great

Coincidentally, I happened to have two historical fiction books about Catherine the Great on hand when TCM aired a classic movie about her. Thus, I decided to compare all three for what I hope is a fun blog post.

First book: The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak, January 2012 release (ARC from Vine)

The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the GreatWhat it's about: The last half of Empress Elizabeth's reign and then the first bit of Catherine the Great's. Told in first person POV from the viewpoint of a lady spy who originally spies for Elizabeth and later becomes a friend to Catherine. Chronicles Catherine's mistreatment at Elizabeth's hands, the loss of her children either to miscarriage or to the Empress, her affairs with a Sergei and a Polish man and the Orlov brother, her discord with Peter, and her conspiracy to overthrow him.

Catherine on wedding day
Liked: The narrative being from a lady spy. Terrific idea!! I learned so much about Catherine and this novel, unlike some others, portrays her as a woman that readers can relate to, understand, and sympathize with. I also liked reading about Barbara grappling with feelings of guilt. In one part, she has a dream about Madame Kluge, a woman she got exiled from court. She dreams she is in a carriage and offers Madame a ride. Madame says, "I don't want to go where you are going." This particular scene gave me goosebumps, had me wondering, "where is she going?" It gave the book an ominous feel that worked wonderfully considering all that occurs.

Didn't Like: Starts to drone on and on at times. Bit too overly descriptive. Had me hooked from the get go but then began to lose my interest once Barbara marries. During the period she was away from court, the book grew dull as Barbara's life was simply not interesting without the court intrigue or Catherine. Also feel I missed something.. when did Barbara go from loathing her husband to loving him a little? By the time the man left for war, I felt there was something there and I never saw the change. By page 335, I was utterly bored. I feel the book is unnecessarily long for what it contains. It ends with Catherine obtaining power. After this woman became empress, she proceeded to take over the world. Does that not bear mentioning? Throughout this entire novel, unfortunately, she was just a brood mare, a conniving brood mare, but a brood mare.

My star rating: Three. I liked it, but it had some quibbles.

Second, the movie, The Scarlet Empress, 1934

The Scarlet Empress (The Criterion Collection)What it's about: A young and innocent Sophie travels to Russia, is treated like crap by Empress Elizabeth, loses her name and religion, falls in love with Alexei   asap, beds a random guard in the dark of night, and gradually steals her husband's throne.

Liked: 1. The scene in which she stares down Peter's mistress. Ice, ice baby!! 2. And the scene in which she dons a soldier's attire and rushes off on a horse. 3. The bedroom scene in which she gets Alexei all hot and bothered and then... sends him on his way. Serves him right.

The horrid smile
Didn't Like: 1. Alexei.. that actor is butt ugly. I mean, seriously, if my dog looked like him I would shave its butt and make it walk backwards. That ugly. And just who the heck is he? I didn't find him when researching to find out truth from fiction. 2. Peter the III's character was way over exaggerated. That horrid smile was ridiculous. 3. This movie claimed in the beginning that it was based on Catherine's diary. I seriously doubt it. I find the events of this movie to be so preposterous at times, I question its historical accuracy. I know Peter was a nut, but I doubt he just randomly shot at soldiers out his windows. And Catherine did take lovers, but a random guard on night duty? 4. Some scenes were horribly long, the wedding, the dinner, the horses riding through towards the end...
Marlene Dietrich.. a blonde?

I would like to note a major difference here between this movie and the book above: In Winter Palace, Empress Elizabeth is very fond of Catherine in the beginning. In this movie, it's hatred from the get go. Elizabeth treats her like a brood mare. However, once again, everything ends with her obtaining power. :(

My star rating: Two. I didn't like it.

Third, is the book The Rebel Princess by Evelyn Anthony, 1953

It's also titled Imperial Highness.

The Rebel PrincessWhat it's about: Basically the same stuff that I mentioned above in Winter Palace, minus 200 some pages and minus the lady spy narrative. Also, though the major story line is the same, there are minor differences in plot, such as Catherine seeking permission for her second love affair. This one is told in the third person and doesn't go on and on and on. It also skips the six years that Catherine is held in captivity with her husband while Elizabeth awaits an heir. Really, a good idea as that stuff was so boring in the WP. This book also evoked in me some deeper thoughts: You would think that Peter and Catherine would have hit it off as both came from very similar childhoods. Peter was greatly oppressed by Elizabeth and Catherine was beat down emotionally by her mother.  I also noticed that one thing all three of these books/movie combo have in common is: Princess Johanna, Catherine's mother is a mega beeyotch.

Imperial Highness (Romanov Trilogy, #1)What I liked: We get the whole story without the drawn out details. This book does not take an entire paragraph of colorful words to tell me the Empress loves theater or whatever. Catherine is a sympathetic figure in this. The WP had too many characters at times and they were often called by numerous names. I grew very confused. This book is much simpler and easier to follow along.

Imperial Highness (Romanov Trilogy, #1)The passionate scene between Catherine and Orlov consisted of few words, but impacted me greatly: "With shaking hands Catherine tried to loose the ruby necklace which had been pressed into her skin in that wild encounter in the corridor; for a moment she could find no words for the tumult of emotions which possessed her. Accept his protection, live however briefly in the arms of a man who had stormed and taken her with the ruthless abandon of a marauding Cossack..."

Also loved the part where Catherine leads her troops, commands their respect, and dons male attire. It was a powerful scene. I got goosebumps.

What I didn't like: Again, the story ends just after Catherine takes the throne. However, this is the first of a trilogy and thus, I won't hold this minor quibble against the book. The story does continue, I just have to find the now out of print book that is next.

My star rating: Five. Really liked it. And thus, it wins this comparison. Hands down. And I found this one in a little book store in Montana.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ten Questions from Tara: Interview with Cynthia Ellingsen

The Whole PackageToday, I have the author of The Whole Package answering some questions. The Whole Package is a fiction novel that revolves around three friends who because of, or in spite of, the drama in their personal lives, start a "Hooters" for women, the Whole Package. I previously reviewed this book in mid August and I will provide the link at the bottom of the page for those who may have missed it and wish to know more.

1.  How and when did this idea really strike you?

I was walking on Hollywood Blvd. - I lived in LA for eight years - and watched as a family waltzed into Hooters. There was a mom, a dad and like, three little boys and I thought, “Geez. What are we teaching these kids?” I started wondering what the father would say if there was a restaurant like The Whole Package and the wife wanted to go there with her three little girls in tow. The idea was born.

2. Cheryl is very tomboyish and career oriented. Jackie is in love with finer things and money. Doris is a stay at home mom. Which character do you relate to the most and why?

I’m a little bit of all of them, really. I’ve always admired the Jackie’s of the world and certainly empathize with Doris. Ultimately, though, I’d have to say I’m a Cheryl. Like her, I’m something of a tomboy. I grew up in the country, so I was always running around with the neighbor boy, climbing trees and catching frogs. Plus, I’m an Aries. That should say it all.

3. Cheryl freaks out when her boss gets a hold of her Blackberry because there are files in it she doesn't want him to see. Do you have things in your cell phone you don't want anyone to see? Care to dish as to what it is? :)

Ha! Great question. YES. I have some just horrific pics of me taking self photos, trying to look hot. Come on, you know we’ve all done it. I try to erase after every modeling session but I’m sure there’s one or two super embarrassing ones on there.

4. Hooters is mentioned often throughout the novel. Cheryl tolerates it when her male coworkers want to go there on business trips. How do YOU feel about Hooters?

I think Hooters is comical, in some respects. But when you stop to think about it, it’s a little weird that it’s a socially acceptable restaurant. I mean, come on. It’s called Hooters.

5. Have you been to a male strip club? Tell us a little about the experience.

Hmmm... I can’t remember. Let me reread the scene at the strip club and see if it sparks something. ;)

6.  Speedy Dicks, Early Risers, Welcome to Eat Outs are just some of the restaurant names suggested in the book. Tell me of others that you didn't mention.

Ballers, Balls Out, Long John’s and of course, my personal favorite, Schlong’s. Although Schlong’s did get a cameo.

7.  Who would you rather be served by, Anthony or Gabe? Wearing what?

Ooh, Gabe! No, Anthony... No, Gabe... Geez. That’s the best question yet. I mean, Gabe is goooooorgeous and he would be delighted to give me a makeover. As for attire, is it weird that I’d bring back that light blue scarf he’s flipping around in the fight with Anthony? It really brings out his eyes.

8. What male love interest in the novel is, in your opinion, the “whole package” – Andy, George, or Doug?

Andy. He’s H.O.T. I mean, when he says, “You got a little crush?” I just get all weak-kneed. I am madly in love with Andy.

9. Mandy, Doris’s teenage daughter plays a big role in the book. What do you see her being or doing when she grows up?

Mandy idolizes Jackie, so I imagine her doing something that involves international travel. Or perhaps she could carry on The Whole Package legacy across the globe?

10.  I always ask this. As a dog mom, it’s a must question for me. Do you have any pets? Tell me about them.

I do! I love cats and dogs but have wicked allergies, so I’ve been forced to go furless. In lieu of owning that creepy hairless cat, I’ve carefully selected a life partner in an African Sulcatta tortoise named Hank. He has a face like a little old man. Such a cutie. 

Thanks for joining us, Cynthia. :) 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Culloden Spirit by Anita Davison

This is another author I consider myself a fan of... Davison is very talented, draws me right into the story, and has the perfect balance of telling/showing/fiction/history/ and descriptive details. I read her Trencarrow Secret earlier this year and really enjoyed it. I liked the story of Trencarrow more, but I love the heroine in this one even more than in that one. Again, perfect balance. Carrie Gordon is both feminine and proper, but also brave and strong. She loves her gowns and she behaves with manners and propriety, but when push comes to shove, she's not above eavesdropping, fighting off assailants, or running towards burning fires to save her friends.

In the beginning, she comes across as a bit snotty. She doesn't seem to think of much but herself and her immediate comforts. Gradually, with the help of her sister and just plain ole Scottish hospitality, Carrie begins to change. She sees the servants as people with feelings, people who miss their families, have interests. She friends some gypsies that are permitted to stay on her Scottish uncle's land. She also learns about what love really is. It's not being on the arm of the most eligible or richest bachelor... but something else entirely.

But who is she in love with? Is she in love in with the castle ghost who died in the battle of Culloden? Does her heart belong to Duncan, the Culloden heir? OR is the neighboring laird the object of her affection? Is she even seeing a ghost or is it a prank?

All these thoughts are running through Carrie's mind as she unwittingly becomes involved in intrigue. The laird's employees don't like the gypsies residing on the land for some reason.. Accusations of thievery and poaching begin to fly. Hostile words are exchanged between landowners.. and some major action occurs as a result that could very well determine where Carrie's heart lies.

I've neglected, however, to tell what this story is really about. It's about an American girl accompanying her family to Scotland in 1900 in order to rebuild a very old estate. It's on this estate that Carrie may lose her heart or her life. Cause there's some evil at work....

Favorite quotes:

"Ye could store a month's supplies in those sleeves and how do ye move with yer skirt so straight and tight? Ye must waddle like a duck."

"Some men believe a wild woman lurks in every female subconscious."

Five stars and I received a pdf file from the author in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Hench Woman's Handbook by Tara O'Donnell

The Hench Woman's HandbookI don't read comics... so this was something very new for me. It's not a comic, but it's about a Super Villain's sidekick/woman.. a hench woman. By super villain, I mean like Lex Luthor or the Joker or the Penguin...

There are 5 rules to being a proper hench woman and Marge tells a young girl in black all about each rule. Each rule is accompanied by a story, an experience in the hench woman's life with Master Class, a villain. There's alien bugs, kidnappings, and an irritating woman named Bonnie aka Bon Bon... and in the end, a story of revenge.

Marge is a strong woman, no doubt of that!! My favorite part was the tale about Master Class wooing her back to his side not with a diamond, but with a bomb!

I have one major quibble, however: I thought the bar scene and Marge telling the girl in black her story was a great idea.. but the stories Marge told, I would have preferred to experience like a novel rather than a bar narrative. Maybe Marge could've got a faraway look in her eye and suddenly the reader could be TRANSPORTED back so they could experience the tale for themselves. Something like that.. less telling, more experiencing.

The good stuff outweighs the bad and here are my favorite quotes:

-I rose up and looked him right in the eye. "If you ever want me, just take me. Throw me over your shoulder or have your driver do it, then lock me in the trunk and hold me prisoner until I give in to your demands."

"I've got a big mouth and I'm not afraid to use it. Plus, I have no problem with getting into someone's face if the situation calls for it in in my opinion."

"My Grandma Mavis may have been a bitch on wheels but thanks to her, I know how to make my own clothes and clean blood stains out of anything."

Wow! Three stars and this was a free ebook on smashwords. And I gotta add, is this not a cooler than all get out cover?