Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: The Trouble with Harry

The Trouble with Harry  (*****)
by Katie MacAlister

A couple of weeks ago I read and wrote a not-so-glowing review of a Katie MacAlister novel. I didn't hate it, but there was enough to annoy me that I had a hard time enjoying the story. I say this here because I'm now reviewing another of her books, The Trouble with Harry. Why would I read another of her books if I wasn't fond of the last one? Well, I had to - I guess that's what happens when you're in a book group :)

Ok, confession time. I like romances. Not for the dirty, but because they're so much more fun than literary fiction, even other genres. So I go for the romance, whether it's the inspirational titles I devoured in my teens; historicals, contemporaries, or paranormals; or the YA that I've taken up a few years after I left that target audience. My favorite authors write with a sense of humor, their characters are loveable, and the plots are entertaining. When I watch TV, movies, or read a book, I'm looking to be entertained; I have no desire to read or watch anything that's going to bum me out. So yeah, I read romances.

Back to the book. I liked this one a lot better than MacAlister's A Girl's Guide to Vampires. Here you have a 45-year-old man with five little hellions in need of a mother and a 40-year-old woman who really wants a family, but has been kept from having one due to a scandal in her youth. I liked the fact that MacAlister broke away from the norm - a 40-year-old heroine in a Regency? So much better than a 17-year-old. Seriously. This book really could have stood alone on the hero's (Harry) and heroine's (Plum) time getting to know each other and Plum's attempt to get to know and love the little "diablitos," but we end up with two other conflicts - one for each of them. For Harry, his baddy-plot carried throughout the story, but the reader never even meets the baddy until the end of the story, followed quickly by a resolution. Plum's baddy-plot had a bit more umph, and I enjoyed Plum's reaction to and solution to said plot. Her solutions were a little ridiculous, but funny, so I can get on board with that. I also appreciated Plum's mother-bear reactions - no one was going to threaten her family; she wasn't going to sit by and wimper to her man to fix the problem whilst she clutched her handkerchief in fear.

There was one other main part of the plot that I didn't care for. As I mentioned earlier, I don't read these books for the dirty, and frankly, this one had a bit too much. Part of Plum's problem (and this isn't a spoiler, it's revealed in the first few pages) is that she wrote a book that sounds a lot like the Kama Sutra. And a LOT of time was spent describing how Harry and Plum enacted certain scenes from her book. Serious overkill on the part of the author. I don't know if this is her M.O., since I've only read two of her books. Maybe she was trying to show that a hero and heroine in their 40s could make a hot couple (to which I say, duh) and overcompensated. Or maybe none of the above. I don't know; all I know is that she passed the squirmy, uncomfortable line by a couple of feet.

MacAlister hasn't made it onto my list of favorite authors, but I still found this book to be enjoyable, and a big improvement over the last book of her's that I read.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: City of Bones

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
"Don't touch any of my weapons without my permission."
"Well, there goes my plan for selling them all on eBay," Clary muttered.
"Selling them on what?"
Clary smiled blandly at him. "A mythical place of great magical power."

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's Monday: What are you reading? (15)

It's Monday: What are you reading? is a weekly meme from BookJourney.

Finished this week:
A Girl's Guide to Vampires by Katie MacAlister (*****)
I just couldn't like this book, though I tried. See my full review here.

Currently Reading:
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
I'm only a quarter of the way through this book, but I already love it. Plucky heroine faces off against brooding hero. Humor ensues. I do love a plucky heroine...

Dear Fatty by Dawn French
This lovely book is a memoire written in the form of letters to brilliant comedienne Dawn French's loved ones. Fatty, in this instance, refers to the other half of French's British comedy duo, French and Saunders' Jennifer Saunders (you may know her best from AbFab). As for Ms. French, I adored her in the comedy show The Vicar of Dibley. You want to laugh? Check out that DVD; you can find it at Netflix (disc only, not streaming) or possibly at your local library (that's where I found it).

To be read:
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
I've read this a few times already and love it; I'll be reading it again for a book group.

The Trouble with Harry by Katie MacAlister
Another book group pick (a different one this time - I'm a member of three). Hopefully I'll like this one better than the above Vampires.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: A Girl's Guide to Vampires

A Girl's Guide to Vampires  (*****)
by Katie MacAlister

From Goodreads:
"On a visit to the Czech Republic, Joy Randall (a skeptic of all things paranormal), is suddenly thrown into the dark, dangerous world where vampires known as Dark Ones stalk the night. Armed with nothing more than a wicked sense of humor and a bag of rune stones, Joy does her best to untangle the threads involving a serial killer, vampires (both real and pretend), and the handsome, mysterious man who may or may not be what he appears." 

From me: 
I picked up this book with high expectations. My friends who recommended it told me how much they loved it and how they laughed out loud throughout. I don't know why, but the book just didn't do it for me. If it wasn't for the fact that my friends recommended it so highly, I probably wouldn't have finished it. That, and once I got far enough in, I really did want to know how the story ended - I'd gotten that far, I had to know what happened, dang it.

There certainly were some funny moments (something I've been looking for in my books lately), but I got so frustrated with Joy, who bordered on a heroine who's "Too Stupid To Live" (I have an issue with non-sleuthy characters trying to be sleuthy), that the humor couldn't save the story for me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Dear Fatty

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"I do clearly remember when we decided to do a little double-act turn for a talent contest at our school. Was Mr Kitching the headmaster of the school, and was it next to a graveyard which meant I had to hold my breath ALL DAY so that bad spirits couldn't get in me, which meant that sports activities outside were a potentially fatal pastime, since one usually needs to breathe during sports, I find, especially if you're a bit fat, when you need to breathe a lot."
--Dear Fatty by Dawn French (the brilliant British comedienne)

My first library program, graduation from grad school, plus a book review!

Me (as Amy Pond) in the TARDIS
Oh, my poor blog. I've neglected you - again. I promise, I have a good excuse. I just graduated with my Masters in Library Science! The final push in the semester and all the grad events has kept me away from my blog. I have been reading, though, and I'll share my latest review in just a moment, but first let me take the opportunity to gush about the awesomeness of library school and libraries in general.

I have never enjoyed school as much as I have loved the last two years of grad school. It was amazing to spend time with classmates and professors who are all passionate about the things that I'm passionate about. I have no idea why it took me so long to discover this career path, but I feel like I've finally found my niche. I've also discovered a few things about myself: when it comes to librarianship, I am truly excited about programming.
Teens making TARDIS keys, eating fish custard, and discoving their Time Lord names
My dear friend, Lauren (a former classmate and current teen librarian), and I had the opportunity to put on a Doctor Who program for the teens at a local library. It was awesome! We had over 20 teens and tweens (from 4th grade to seniors in high school) participate and we had nothing but glowing responses to the program.
Doctor Who Cubees
Captain Jack Harkness Intergalactic NERF Training
We had a library-wide scavenger hunt, several crafts, Nerf target practice, and food all related to the awesomeness of Doctor Who (if you don't know about the Doctor, it's time to learn - you won't be sorry!). Lauren and I even built our own TARDIS. This was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had in a work-type environment. From that point, I was hooked on programming. I've volunteered at several other library programs, but I'm really looking forward to designing my own.

Teens create their own Journal of Impossible Things
Ok, so back to book my book review. I recently read Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews for one of my book groups. Savannah Blues has it's good points and bad. Andrews does a great job of describing Savannah and it's surrounding areas; I felt like I got to really experience Weezie's Southern home. Unfortunately, I didn't feel like I got to know the characters as much as I would have liked. I got to know Weezie best through her profession as a picker. I found the picker world fascinating, but I couldn't get attached to the characters.

Another issue I had with the story was the quick resolution of conflicts (particularly the last one - nothing really seemed resolved there) and the vast number of conflicts. I'd list them, but I don't want include spoilers here - just know that there are many and they are diverse.

All in all, Savannah Blues is a decent summer/beach read, but don't choose this book if you really want to dig in to something.  (*****)

Thanks for sticking with me! Hopefully I won't neglect you anymore :)  Oh, and support your libraries!!!