Thursday, September 1, 2011

Review: Tall, Dark, and Lonesome by Debra Dixon

Tall, Dark, and Lonesome by Debra Dixon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got this free via a Twitter giveaway run by Sue Grimshaw with the file supplied by NetGalley. It's part of the relaunch of the Loveswept line and according to the copyright page, it originally came out in 1993.

I have to say, it holds up pretty well. Dixon did a good job of including in just enough technology to make it feel modern without specifying a particular model or brand that would date it today. Sure, you'd think cell phones would be mentioned at least once and it's more likely the heroine, Niki, would be a blogger today, but the absence of these things wasn't too jarring.

Basically, Niki gets drafted by her newspaper editor to go on a cattle drive run by the hero, Zach. Zach, unknown to Niki in the beginning, is a successful businessman and potential politician. Niki is wary of getting involved with him because she's well aware of the scrutiny politicians face and she comes with major baggage. However, the chemistry between them is fierce and they end up together.

If I think about it too much, I'm going to talk myself into dropping the story down a star because there are some plot holes along the way. However, it was exactly what I wanted, something easy to read while I tried to distract myself from the possibility of another ice cold shower because we still have no freaking power. I liked the dogs and found Niki was delightfully spunky at times.

My main quibble is that it was shorter than I expected. The page count on Adobe Digital Editions said 248, but Tall, Dark clocks in at 141 pages. I'm assuming the rest of the file contains previews for other books in the line. I didn't bother reading it. I have to say, I'm definitely glad I didn't buy it, although 2.99 isn't that bad of a price. I would've been pissed if the page count was listed at 248 and I was gypped out of 107 pages of story. That's practically a whole 'nother book! However, if you like the short Harlequin and Silhouette books with a Western flair, you'll enjoy this.

Review: Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle

Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Since we still have no power, I read this book by flashlight and dawn's early light. So not kidding. And it turns out dust bunnies can come off as a little creepy when you're in pitch darkness. I am convinced, by the way, that dust bunnies are actually the evolved form of the aliens who originally colonized Harmony. The way Castle writes them, they seem almost sentient at times and Rex underscores that idea in Canyons.

Canyons is billed as the third book in the Dreamlight Trilogy, but could very easily stand alone, so long as you'd read other Harmony books. I did question the sudden appearance of the Rainshadow Preserve, but I think Castle did try to connect it back a bit to the older Harmony books (Amaryllis, Orchid, Zinnia). It's interesting that Castle/Krentz excludes those books from her list on her website. Are we supposed to think they are separate? Was there a second 'Curtain' that took a whole 'nother bunch of colonists to a separate planet, but allowed them to evolve the same way? I have to re-read them. Maybe I'll go on a Jayne Castle kick since I'm done with my sports craving.

I was mildly disappointed and impressed by this book at the same time. It's not anything new. It's your standard Castle book, complete with psychic peril and off-the-charts powerful characters. I was kinda hoping for the 'childhood friends turned lovers' trope, but that's not what I got. There's this line in the beginning where the hero, Slade, talks about how he's only on the island for six months because he's working on this project. I was all "Oh, that's so sweet, he came back to woo her." Nope, he's starting his own business. It was a tad deflating.

Charlotte started off mildly interesting for me because she had panic attacks when she uses her gift, which is a new one. Castle doesn't usually write heroines who are disabled in some way. It's her heroes that usually the damaged ones. However, it's not really pursued and it remains in the realm of an inconvenient side effect.

Despite the lackluster story between Slade and Charlotte, what impressed me was the way Castle set up the next trilogy. There's the slightest hint of what's lurking in the Preserve. A possible hero is introduced at the very end and we also meet two secondary characters who will likely be very important in the future. I also loved the kid, Dixon Devin, actually, (I don't have the book available at the moment. If I get power back tonight, I'll edit the correct name in). I really hope we see him again. Castle likes to throw in a young, practically an orphan, boy in her stories every now and then, and it would be a treat to actually get to watch one grow up.

Bottom line, I'd either recommend you get it from the library or wait until the first book in the next trilogy is released, whenever that will be. You'll likely need to read Canyons to properly prepare for the next trilogy, but it's not exactly a must-read.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: Notes from the Blender by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

Notes from the Blender

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book gets four stars because it's perfect. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but it was really too perfect. I felt like it was the basis for a teen comedy starring Emma Stone. I mean, I'd pay $9 to see it, but it was a glossy version of normal.

There's a lot of emotion thrown around. Dec is angry at his mother's death. Neilly is overwhelmed by all the changes in her life. Dec is horny and Neilly has a crush. Things could go horribly awry, but how do these teenagers deal with this intense feelings? They talk about them. They go to therapy. They are self-aware and they think things through. They are the most adult, mature, teenagers ever.

Despite the unreality of teenagers who understand and conceptualize exactly what they're feeling, it was a good read. I admit, part of the initial appeal of this book for me was the assumption it was a stepbrother/stepsister romance, which is a favorite trope of mine. Blender avoids that. There's still romantic elements, but overall, it's a light mostly angst-free read.

In short, it's for fans of the movie Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and anyone who wants to believe these are the kind of teens that are going to be the future of our world.

Review: The Game of Love by @jeanettemurray

The Game of Love
The Game of Love by Jeanette Murray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So I have been without power since just after 9am on Sunday the 28th, thanks to Hurricane Irene. As a result, I am tired, cranky, and frustrated. All I want to do is yawn and glare at things. Don't expect great revelations from this review. Fair warning.

Anyways, I really liked this. I've been on a sports kick lately, and I went to another baseball game last night, so I was in the mood for something good. This is an ebook from Carina Press. The hero, Brett, is a former NFL star, now a high school football coach. Chris is the heroine and she is a former tennis pro, now the tennis coach & math teacher for the school (I think it's supposed to be a public school, but it reads like a private). The story is already unique for featuring two star athletes as protagonists.

Game of Love is not really about sports so much as it's about dealing with your past and the value sports can have. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm inclined to agree that sports often take precedence over the arts in high school, but that's not the point of this story. The point is that Chris is gun-shy after getting out of an abusive relationship with a NHL star. She's immediately inclined to think Brett's a misogynistic meathead. Rather than be turned off by her man-hating ways, Brett's intrigued because she's clearly not a 'pro-ho' and she's strong enough to stand up to him.

That, by the way, is the main reason I loved this book. I'm a strong-willed person and I need a guy who has the balls to tell me no. I broke up with my last boyfriend because he was too nice. I walked all over him. So to read about a hero who purposely sought out a strong woman? Hot. Add on the fact that Brett cares about his students and is willing to learn from his mistakes? Scorching.

Another sign of a good book is an immediate desire to seek out more by the author. While reading Game, I wanted to go read Jared's & Katie's story. Also, anything about Brett's brothers. Unfortunately, this seems to be the only book by the author. I wouldn't be surprised if Murray had the manuscripts in a drawer somewhere, but they were too raw for publication. Carina Press is intriguing me lately with its ability to sniff out strong contemporary authors.

In conclusion, I'm giving this a five star review because I felt it was a strong story that would appeal to a wide variety of contemporary readers. Also because it distracted me from my grumpiness for a while. It's not quite Holy Shit worthy, but I still highly rec it. Would appeal to fans of Shannon Stacey and Jaci Burton.