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Currently Browsing: woman’s fiction
Apr
11

Review: Peachy Flippin’ Keen by Molly Harper

Review: Peachy Flippin’ Keen by Molly Harper Peachy Flippin’ Keen Author: Molly Harper Reviewer: Jen Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: I’m going to put this out there right up front… I am giving this book a C+, even though I really liked the main charters, and I found the story engrossing and dialogue sharp. But here is why it’s not getting an A or B… Peachy Flippin’ Keen starts the story of Frankie McCready and Eric Linden, but comes no where close to finishing it. Peachy Flippin’ Keen is a fantastic beginning, but without the closure of the primary plot nor an HEA/HFN.  Told exclusively from Frankie’s POV, we learn about newcomer Sheriff Linden, who inherited a mess and is trying hard to make his office and position respectable again. He’s a bit cold with Frankie, but that’s probably because the weekend before he arrived in Lack Sackett, the pair had a one-night-stand, and Frankie Uber’d her way out in the middle of the night without saying goodbye. I enjoyed watching the pair tiptoe around each other, marking territory and setting the stage for what hopes to be a promising romance. But by the end of the book, the two aren’t even friends.  Equally entertaining and frustrating is the plot surrounding someone playing pranks on the McCready Family businesses. While Frankie is certain it’s a troublesome teen whose parents think the sun revolves around him, there is no evidence as to who may be playing the bothersome jokes. Unfortunately we still have no clue by the end of Peachy Flippin’ Keen.  It’s not that the book is a cliffhanger. It’s not. But it’s not a complete story either. It’s more like the first eight chapters of the next full-length title, Ain’t She a Peach, which is scheduled for release on June 12th. My recommendation is to wait until June to read this one so you can finish Frankie and Eric’s story without the wait.  My Rating:  C+ Liked It, but I had issues About the Book: A prank war erupts in Lake Sackett, Georgia and coroner Frankie McCready has to turn to the gorgeous but surly new sheriff for help in Molly Harper’s newest Southern Eclectic novella, perfect for fans of Kristan Higgins and Amy E. Reichert. The McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop has crickets running rampant in the store and hot sauce in the Snack Shack’s ketchup bottles. But as the county coroner, Frankie has enough on her plate without worrying about...
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Apr
9

Review: A Nantucket Wedding by Nancy Thayer

Review: A Nantucket Wedding by Nancy Thayer A Nantucket Wedding Author: Nancy Thayer Reviewer: Nima Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: A Nantucket Wedding is a story about the family drama that always surrounds large family events like a wedding.  The wedding serves to focus a spotlight on the relationships of key characters.You’d think a book about a wedding would be a romance.  It is romantic, but not a romance.  Everyone in this story is already in an established relationship, some of them rocky. What this book is, is women’s fiction.  I keep trying it and I continue to be disappointed.  This one is better than some I’ve read, there isn’t as much whining and over-thinking every nuance of anything anyone ever said.  Unfortunately, drama aside, there isn’t much in the way of plot.  It’s slice of summer life. Thayer specializes in the island of Nantucket.  That part she does really well.  I felt the sun on my face and the sand under my feet.  I yearned to get in the car and spend the day at the beach.  I was transported back to my summers of family reunions where we rented a house and everyone slept on every surface, we ate too much, played board games on rainy days, and performed ritual sunblock application. Little tip:  Put a bucket of baby powder by the door to take the sand off feet before entering the house.  It does a better job than water.  Then you can rinse the powder.  But I digress… A Nantucket Wedding is billed as a stand-alone, but it didn’t leave me with a satisfying ending.  A stand alone should wrap up all it’s threads in a nice bow.  The resolution of at least one storyline wasn’t happily-for-now, it was just for-now. It was the storyline that probably had to most drama and feeling to it so to have it just sitting there largely unresolved at the end was awkward. My Rating: B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues About the Book: A few years after losing her beloved husband, Alison is doing something she never thought she would do again: getting married. While placing the finishing touches on her summer nuptials, Alison is anxious to introduce her fiancé, David, to her grown daughters: Felicity, a worried married mother of two, and Jane, also married but focused on her career. The sisters have a somewhat distant relationship and Alison hopes that the wedding and the weeks leading up to the...
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Sep
25

Review: Completely by Ruthie Knox

Review: Completely by Ruthie Knox Completely Author: Ruthie Knox Reviewer: Nima Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Like the rest of Knox’s New York Trilogy, Completely doesn’t fall into a tidy classification.  More than the others, however, it wants to tip over into the dreaded women’s fiction category. I think Knox has earned it this time, and I didn’t like it as much as the two (three) previous books being Truly, Madly, and the related About Last Night. About Last Night is probably my favorite book Knox has written so it pleases me that she’s chosen to return to the Chamberlain family with the New York Trilogy and not with the focus on characters one might expect.  Many authors just run through the siblings of a family in a series whereas Knox gives more emphasis to their love stories through the women in their lives.  In Completely, Knox focuses on Rosemary Chamberlain, Winston Chamberlain’s (Madly) ex-wife.  Winston is the older brother of Neville in About Last Night. Rosemary led a tidy, scheduled, polite existence as Winston’s wife, but that’s all she was doing, existing.  She describes herself as “wallpaper.”  Not to put too fine a point on it, but in Completely she struggles to find herself and stumbles upon love in the process.  Unfortunately, it is not as compelling of a read as Knox’s previous books because it starts with a character who is neither likable nor unlikable.  Through shared tragedy she falls in love with a man who works very hard at being desperately private.  As a result, there’s not much for the reader to relate to in either character. I found it difficult to invest myself.  Like its predecessor Madly, the characters don’t seem to go together, maybe even less so.  With a spread of seven years between them, not as many as between Winston and Allie, Rosemary is the older of the two.  No one would mistake her for a cougar.  Rather, she’s a proper, British, would-be baroness. Kalden Beckett, her love interest, describes himself as “brown.”  It’s meant as a skin color reference having a Tibetan mother and an American father, being born in New York, but spending a lot of time in Nepal as well.  Like Rosemary’s wallpaper label, it seems more designed to make him blend in with his surroundings, which in his case is dirt and trees. Getting to know them both literally takes the entire book. One of my favorite characters is peripheral, like Allie’s father...
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Jan
9

Review: It Happened in Scotland by Patience Griffin

Review: It Happened in Scotland by Patience Griffin It Happened in Scotland Author: Patience Griffin Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: I have a soft spot for stories set in the British Isles.  When I think of some of the movies I love, it’s no surprise that The Quiet Man, P.S. I Love You, and the wonderfully quirky The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain are in the top ten.  The scenery is as significant as the story—even part of the story.  I was inclined to like It Happened in Scotland by its location alone. Griffin made a bold move by setting her story during the cold winter months that do not hold the scenic glamor of spring and summer. The bitter winds off the ocean fit the sad, if hopeful beginning to It Happened in Scotland. Rachel had a bad marriage to Joe, Brodie’s cousin.  The two were as close as brothers, and both loved Rachel.  Rachel, not really knowing her own mind at the time had come to Scotland for the wedding.  That’s when she met Brodie and fell in love with him.  Still, she went through with the wedding and lived to regret it.  The couple were in the process of getting a divorce when Joe died unexpectedly. Years later, Rachel is returning to Scotland so their young daughter can get to know her father’s family and country. Rachel realizes almost immediately that she wants a second chance with Brodie who has been simultaneously missing and hating her for six years.  I wanted more about Brodie besides his broken heart and the guilt he carries about loving his cousin’s wife.  What’s Brodie doing out on his fishing boat?  In January?  What does he do with his haul each day?  There’s a discussion about him being able to support a wife and family, but in what manner?  Does he smell like fish or the ocean?  We needed more Brodie details. At its heart, this is a story of second chances.  There was a lot of denial, questioning, and not enough romance between main characters Brodie and Rachel.  It needed about 50% less angst and 30% more description of the scenic town that was so dear, Rachel wants to call it home.  Where’s the verbal brochure? (Probably in the first five books.) Still, Griffin is occasionally wonderfully insightful and I liked her writing style. In the strictest sense, It Happened in Scotland can be read as a standalone book,...
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Jun
21

Review: By the Numbers by Jen Lancaster

Review: By the Numbers by Jen Lancaster By The Numbers Author: Jen Lancaster Reviewer: Nima Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: I was attracted to By the Numbers because I have arrived in the sandwich generation and my older brother is an actuary.  Main character Penny Sinclair is an actuary at the highest fellowship level who’s ready to move on from a painful divorce and embrace being an empty-nester.  Her parents and her children have other plans and issues with appropriate boundaries.  For those of you who don’t know what an actuary is (we had to look it up when my brother came home from college and announced that’s what he wanted to do with his life,) it is someone who analyzes the financial consequences of risk.  They are calculating ninjas.  This kind of work is especially cogent to the insurance industry where most actuaries are employed.  They are the ones who figure out how long you’re going to live. Becoming an actuary is a brutal process.  They sit for multiple, lengthy exams twice a year.  Each exam is like taking the bar and the process can take anywhere from six to ten years to complete.  They make pretty good money because, yeah, math.  We have a family joke that actuaries are the people who didn’t have enough personality to be accountants.  We can say that because my father is an accountant and truthfully, they both have a great sense of humor.  So my interest was piqued to see what Lancaster would do with a female actuary. Penny’s character borders on being a stereotype, but really, since so few people know what an actuary is, I’m not sure the word “stereotype” really applies.  The average reader will see her as financially obsessive compulsive.  She studies statistics and plans accordingly.  She reminded me of my father who, trying to plan for every possibility, actually budgeted for both he and my mother to get one speeding ticket the first year they were married.  The preparedness thing is probably Penny’s most endearing quality. This is how she does her best by her family. The book opens with emails going around among Penny’s family members about the upcoming wedding of her daughter Kelsey.  They are snarky and even rude. Penny’s own mother is described as a “lesser Disney villain.”  I very nearly DNF’d the book because there was no way I could trudge through an entire novel of these self-centered brats.  Thankfully, we got to Penny’s narrative fairly quickly and...
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Sep
15

Review: The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell

Review: The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell The Paris Key Author: Juliet Blackwell Reviewer: Nima Rating: C What I’m Talking About: The Paris Key is aptly named on several levels. I like a good title. In this case it ties together multiple plot points of locksmithing, love, ghosts of the past, and finding a way through to the future.  Main character Genevieve Martin runs away to Paris, following a formal separation from her husband, to take over the locksmith shop of her beloved late uncle Dave.  She will find that Paris holds the key to unlocking personal mysteries as she works to “find herself” during this period of stress and change. The book begins in Oakland, California. It’s especially ironic that Genevieve is running from this location when you consider that Berkeley, directly adjacent to Oakland, is known for its overly supportive community that seems to exist to help people discover themselves. Genevieve even makes a crack about her ex’s life coach.  I was disappointed when this phrase, “…what I really needed to do was find myself” came up because it’s a cliché that has always rubbed me the wrong way, used too often to justify adults abandoning responsibilities and family, even children, on a journey of self-discovery for answers that they believe lay elsewhere.  I think Blackwell is a better author than to throw out clichés. It’s also when I realized that as compelling as this “slice-of-life” story was written, I didn’t especially like it. The Paris Key is well written, tight, has good pacing, character motives that make sense, and I don’t think I saw so much as a single copy edit error.  It’s not a bad book, certainly not really a “C”. I’ve given better ratings to books that weren’t as well written and I acknowledge that.  What it is, is a melancholy book and I felt sad while reading it.  The depression of several characters felt depressing.  It’s to author Juliet Blackwell’s credit that she made me feel those feelings, but it was over 350 pages of depression hanging over the main characters before getting to the potential hope of the ending. Unfortunately the climax is abrupt and short for the length of its lead-up.  Relief was insufficient.  I wanted more hope, more happy.  The author doesn’t leave us in a soup of tears, but even this hopeful ending is still a sad one, including wasted years, wasted effort, hurt and pain.  No one gets through life without hurt and pain, but...
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