Archive | July, 2015

A Window Opens: An Up To the Moment Working Mom’s Tale

31 Jul

Elisabeth Egan, the books editor for Glamour magazine, has written her first novel, clearly drawn from her own experience.  “A Window Opens” tells the story of Alice – a mom of 3 with a lawyer husband whose career has stalled, a daughter with aging & failing parents, and a part-time worker who dives into the full-time madness of an amusingly portrayed digital publishing & retail company (Barnes & Nobel, anyone?).

Elisabeth can write, and in a very contemporary “hip mom” voice. She casually name drops multiple elements of the publishing world because she clearly knows that world well. As a result, the story feels fresh and populated by “real” people. The book was fun to read.

Very much in the vein of “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” the story stays light.  Despite major life changing events – a husband becoming an alcoholic, a father dying, struggling to work in a chaotic job – we never really feel Alice struggle. And maybe that was Elisabeth’s intent.  But when I was done – and digesting and thinking about writing a review – I felt cheated. I’ve lived through some of those major life events and had real moments of despair. This book has the feeling of a rehearsed cocktail party anecdote – drawn from real life but polished. It’s a Nancy Myers movie – all beautiful furniture and easy resolution. It stays on the surface like a friend you don’t share intimate thoughts with. And with Elisabeth’s clear talent, I wanted more. At the end of the book, it feels like Alice has figured it all out – leaving those of us in the real world to wonder where the pain, emotion and growth went.

I would recommend this book because it is a well-written, enjoyable story. And I’m looking forward to seeing more from Elisabeth.

Window

Jane Ashford Classics

30 Jul

This two-title book contains First Season and Bride to Be.

Both feel a little dated but sweet – like reading Georgette Heyer. The author is accomplished and tells interesting and different stories. Reading these two back-to-back inspired me to hunt down additional Jane Ashford Regencies.

While these books were originally published decades ago (1984 for First Season?), the stories and characters are so well developed that the writing holds up for today.

I enjoyed the Bride to Be a bit more than First Season, as I loved the heroine’s avant garde and chaotic family, and how different that made her from the stereotype of a Regency romance character.

Highly enjoyable – great introduction to Jane Ashford for new readers, and a fun look back for existing fans. I love the difference in cover art over the years – see below for the current cover and the older ones.

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first season

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Another Lisa Kleypas Delight: The Brown-Eyed Girl

30 Jul

Delighted by the opportunity to devour another delightful novel by Lisa Kleypas. This is book 4 in her Travis Bros. series – a modern romance set in Texas. As always, Lisa populates her books with real, lively characters with great dialog. Her romances are fresh, sparkling and well-written. Her sex scenes don’t bog down in artificial words & phrases – she focuses on conveying emotions and feelings which are evocative rather than graphic. Having recently moved to Texas, her descriptions of the area are spot on, and were fun to read.

The only downside of reading eBooks is not having that stack of paperbacks to share – this would be one that I’d gift to a beloved friend or sister, secure that they’d enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Keep ’em coming Lisa!

browneyedgirl

The “Wool” series by Hugh Howie – Lives Up To the Hype

23 Jul

I recently signed up for Kindle Unlimited and during the free 30 day trial, found myself thinking there wasn’t much in the back catalog titles that seemed to make it worthwhile to pay $10/month. But Amazon knows all, as scary as that is, and presented me with a spotlight on Hugh Howie – famous as a self-published ebook author who got discovered and who is the poster child for that pathway.
I downloaded the 5 part series that makes up the book Wool and instantly understand why Hugh Howie receives so much acclaim. The man can write! The characters are memorable and strong.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future, where everyone lives in a giant “silo” buried in the ground. We are dropped into this world initially through the character of the Sheriff and then through others. As the richly imagined world comes to life, the action intensifies, turning this into one of those books that you can’t bear to put down.
I’m a total convert – have now downloaded the next two books and can’t wait to dive in.

wool

Celebrate RWA week with Mary Jo Putney’s Not Always a Saint

23 Jul

A fun addition to Mary Jo Putney’s Lost Lords series! Her books are always a guaranteed treat, with interesting characters and plots. In this one, a “saintly” doctor/vicar inherits a title and goes looking for a wife. Jessie, a widow with a dark and mysterious past 😉 is attracted to Daniel but fears that he is too good for her. Naturally, trouble ensues. The book includes appearances from some of the other Lost Lords. Intriguing look into the practice of medicine at the time.
Strongly written characters make this a worthwhile read.

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A Radical Arrangement

23 Jul

As a re-release of a classic Jane Ashford novel, this is a “clean” Regency romance. The best part of the story is the character development of the young, sheltered bride to be, Margaret. Initially, not a likeable character – she has no independent thoughts, she is timid to the point of absurdity. She surprises herself by having the courage to run away rather than get married, and in doing so, she discovers herself. That process was fun to read. Overall, a decent book – not a great one, but a fun quick read by a good writer.

a radicalarrangement

The Cross and the Crown Series – Women in Tudor England

17 Jul

Sarah Kennedy’s series featuring Catherine Haven in the time of King Henry takes the reader into a richly detailed and creatively imagined world, much like The Other Bolyen Girl and Wolf Hall do. Once there, you are swept up in the march of history. The third book, The King’s Sisters, finds Catherine in the household of Henry’s ex-wife, Anne of Cleves. The overwhelming sense of apprehension and danger that people lived under was palpable.The lives of women in this time period are richly fleshed out. I haven’t read the first two books, and while each book is described as being stand-alone, I found myself wishing I had read the prior ones first – so now I’ll backtrack! Great writing, interesting POV into this much described historical period.

Kingssisters