Review: One Year by Mary McDonough 

 One Year. Basically a description of one year of events and growth in the Fitzgibbons clan. 

I’m not going to sugar coat it. This book was terrible. I felt like I was reading a lengthy self-help book, with Mary Bernadette Fitzgibbons’ pride being the principle of the lesson. 

Though I wanted to stop, I kept reading the between-the-lines psychological diatribe on what happens when you try to be perfect/ don’t let anyone in/ assume a prideful posture/ try to control everyone and everything around you. Frankly, it felt patronizing. And even if I didn’t have such an emotional response to the story, objectively I can tell you that reading One Year was tedious. I felt like the author wanted to make a point so she beat it to a pulp, chapter after chapter. 

I liked the subplots, and I liked the characters, but the main thread of Mary Bernadette changing her ways was contrived and unappealing. 

A better use of your time: my most recent favorite read, The Happy Hour Choir by Sally Fitzpatrick (because THAT is how you write a book that shows positive character change and growth). 

-calliope

Review: Asa by Jay Crownover

01 asaPerfect ending to a perfect series. Marked men, inside and out, but they found women who loved them and their marks. Each of them got their happily ever afters, and this book was no exception.

SYNOPSIS
Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t it change its spots and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one luscious arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.

Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.

A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.

Asa was most definitely not the good guy. He was trouble when we first met him, but I knew he was destined to find that perfect girl to keep him out of trouble, as long as that was what he wanted. This sweet talking southern charmer could get any women he wanted, and in this case, the woman he wanted he shouldn’t.

The most ironic part of Asa’s story is that he fell for a cop. Royal didn’t look like your typical cop, but she was the unlucky one to arrest him a few books ago and they’ve been dancing around each other ever since. I find it so funny that he was drawn to her. Night and day. Dark and light. Good and bad. But they say opposites attract, and in this case, they were right.

“I don’t know why you’re here, but I feel like I need to thank any God that might exist that you are.”

While it’s bittersweet saying goodbye to such fabulous characters, I know we’ll catch a glimpse of them every now and then.

~Melpomene

Buy Asa: A Marked Men Novel

Review: The Happy Hour Choir by Sally Kilpatrick

  

Some books are just magical, making me feel like I’m in another world, even though the plot and characters are pretty realistic. Some authors have a way of spinning a story into ethereality. The Crossroads Cafe by Deborah Smith, The Reluctant Prophet by Nancy Rue, and First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen all took me by surprise, embracing me into their twilight. And now The Happy Hour Choir joins the list. 

Beulah is a poor southern young woman, living with a friend, working in a bar, rolling her eyes at religion, and avoiding the church rectory across the street. Until a new, good looking, patient, strong, God-loving pastor comes to town. Beulah certainly notices Luke, and even though she avoids talking about God with him, she appreciates his steadfastness and stability.  

Luke doesn’t try to convert Beulah, but he does guide her in the areas of self-respect and leading others. 

And that’s where the happy hour choir comes in. Beulah uses her connections from the bar to put together a new choir for Luke’s church. And it just happens to meet after Luke’s bible study… Also held at the bar. 

Beulah and Luke wend their way through storms and calm, meeting up and lending support along the way. I loved to see their hearts changing and them shepherding the people around in amazing ways. 

Maybe the magic is in the southern-ness of the story, maybe it’s conviction of faith, or maybe it’s just Luke’s strong silent alpha maleness, but whatever it is left me feeling warm and wanting more. 

-calliope

Buy THE HAPPY HOUR CHOIR

Review: Time and Time Again by Ben Elton

time and timeOkay, I have to say that this book isn’t perfect. Heck I guess no book is. However, I feel like I must give this one 5 stars….even though any book with time travel makes for a book that might have a few logical issues. I mean the whole butterfly effect thing can drive you mental if you dwell on it too long….If you dare to add historical factors in it…well, I’m sure there will be people who nitpick all the way through it and tell you why x, y and z just isn’t possible…..

But I say screw all that….This book was a fantastic read for me because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I continue to think about it now that I have finished the last sentence. I looked for ways to mention this book and the concept in my everyday conversation.

Finally….well….truth be told…it boggles my mind. I don’t mean that it’s hard to follow. I simply mean that the more I think about this book and the possibilities…well, the more I get drawn deep into my imagination. I can’t stop thinking of the ramifications of the concepts this book brings forth.

I’ve read a few time travel books and have always enjoyed them. *Most* of the ones I have read are people trying to change to revisit history for their own gains….In this, Elton has giving us a story of a hero that is trying to revisit history for the greater good of the entire planet.

Let’s face it…this is hard book to review….why? Because my mind won’t shut down. Even now I am still scrolling through the endless possibilities that lie within this novel. Imagining past worlds and future worlds and all of the players that are on the stage of making history….both minor and major players all have their parts….

So really, are people made by history? Or do people make history? Is history just a matter of being in the right place at the right time? If something happens and a key player is no longer there….well, does history still right itself and just call in another key player to take the place of the one who doesn’t show?

I won’t say more than that….you don’t need to know all the details….but you do need to read this book. There are some really interesting stuff that’s going on. I will say that the entire book grabs you from the start and it’s a steady stream of happy reading….but at the last 20% there are lots of twists and turns that I did not see coming and if the book can be called “fast paced”…well the last 20% was turbo speed paced!

Finally this book has loads of great quotes so I wish to leave you with a few…

What fun those long, semi-drunken Sunday afternoons had been. The debates always degenerated into loud, name-calling battles between the Marxists, who contended that much of history was inevitable, the result of preordained economic and material forces, and the romantics, who believed that history was made by individuals and that a single stomach ache or an undelivered love letter could have changed everything

‘Proof? What proof can I give beyond the fact that logic requires it?’ he said, his voice rising. ‘Time is time. It ticks aways from the beginning until the end.’

‘but it doesn’t, you damned fool!’ Newton exclaimed ‘Am I really the only person on earth to have grasped this fact? Time is not linear. It does not go along on a steady course like a road from London to York. It does not have a beginning and it does not have an end, nor is it the same to one person as it is to another, nor to two planets or a million starts. It is different in all circumstances. Because it is relative.’

Such is the terrible irony of bereavement, turning every familiar joy to misery. Each smile a twisting knife. Each thing of beauty an added burden of pain.

‘I really hope you didn’t get me here to suggest I take comfort in religion,’ he growled.
‘Not in the slightest,’ McCluskey replied. ‘I don’t think religion should be comfortable. That’s where it all went wrong for the Anglicans, trying to be comfortable. Deep down people want fire and brimstone. They want a violent vengeful God who tells them what to do and smites them if they don’t do it. That’s why the Prophet Mohammed’s doing so well these days. I’ve occasionally thought about switching myself. At least Allah’s got a bit of fire in his belly. But you see I could never give up the turps.’

Until next time…

Urania xx

Review copy provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now Time and Time Again by Ben Elton

Review: Take Another Look by Rosalind Noonan

511PcSLyRdL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_This latest thriller from Rosalind Noonan had me hooked from the very first page. From the opening scenes until the conclusion, I simply could not tear myself away.

It starts off as sort of a “What would you do?” When Jane finds herself pregnant with twins and in an unhealthy relationship, she makes the heart-wrenching decision to give one of the babies up for adoption. After struggling with just which twin to keep, she makes peace with herself and her choice. She moves away and starts a new life with baby Harper.

Several years later, her past comes back to haunt her when she unwittingly comes face to face with her long-lost daughter, Isabel. Everything she’s struggled to build for both herself and Harper is threatened when she must ‘fess up to Harper.

As if that wasn’t a hard enough task, Isabel’s arrival coincides with some strange happenings. Accidents, missing items, illnesses, truths disguised as lies…Jane doesn’t know who or what to believe. Are these just more of Harper’s typical teenage dramatic outbursts? Or is something more disturbing at play?

This is one of those stories where you might think you know what’s going on. I thought the same thing. And I was right. Partially. It’s a book that leads you on and keeps you guessing. And even when you’ve got it figured out, it’s still one heck of a story!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Take Another Look

Review: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

 

So maybe you’re hanging in on a Friday night (like me), wondering what to read next (like me). Or maybe it’s Saturday and you’d like a book to help you procrastinate, because really, who wants to clean the bathroom right now?  Look no further. Barbara Kingsolver is a five star author. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be reading her instead of doing anything else. 

The first novel I read by Kingsolver was The Bean Trees. Loved it. So clever. I reviewed it on this blog. Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior – even more clever. See, Barbara Kingsolver writes in layers, so I can effortlessly enjoy the superficial layer: Dellarobia and her family living in Appalachia; the beauty of butterflies and the wonder of their migration. 

And then I can look underneath… at the marriage struggles, and the secrets, and the desires to stop the cycle of poverty and ignorance. I can understand the socioeconomic and ecological divisiveness that microcosms create. 

And as I keep reading, the deepest layer peeks out: the hows and whys of nature gone wrong; the right way to be honest with the ones you love; the flight of survival, even when it takes you away from the comfortable, predictable place you’ve always called home. 

There’s even more, of course. Love, religion, education, science,  living off the land… Kingsolver addresses myriad facets of life and polishes them from underneath. She keeps putting pieces together… And when you see the result you’ll be amazed. 

This is a five-star read. 

-calliope

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Review: Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven

01 badEver read a book that’s seems more real than real life? Well, this is that book. Everything flowed perfectly. There was enough banter, but not over the top annoying. There was enough romance, but not not to where I wanted to skim over “yet another sex scene.” There was the perfect amount of sexual tension to curl my toes and keep me on the edge of my seat.

SYNOPSIS
When Cassie Taylor met Ethan Holt at acting school, sparks flew. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy about campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing, Cassie and Ethan’s romance seemed destined. Until he broke her heart and betrayed her trust. Now the A-list heartthrob is back in her life and turning her world around. One touch at a time.

Cast as romantic leads once again, they’re forced to confront raw memories of the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their secret college affair. But they’ll also discover that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks.

The chemistry between Cassie and Ethan was thick. They fought, and loved, fiercely. My heart broke for the hurt they both endured, but I know things will work themselves out. These two people, while they’re far from perfect, are perfect for each other.

I laughed so much in this book. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the comedy worked. I know actors tend to be over the top and sometimes annoying, but Cassie and Ethan never seemed like that. This was real. This is exactly how I would talk to my friends.

Now I’m waiting at the edge of my seat for the next book. Can they move on from the past hurts? Can they have a happily ever after? I really hope so.

~Melpomene

Buy Bad Romeo