November 27, 2010

365 Thank Yous by John Kralik

365 Thank Yous

John Kralik

Grade: C/C+

While John Kralik hadn't fallen as low as Michael Gates Gill, author of How Starbucks Saved My Life, and is fifteen years younger, both men hit rock bottom in their personal and professional lives when they took unusual actions to save themselves. Gill learned, through menial work once thought beneath him, among people he would otherwise never have met, how to regain his self-worth and get by, happily, with far less than he'd grown accustomed. John Kralik, who years earlier had quit his high-end law partnership to go the noble, Jerry Maguire route, discovered doing the right thing doesn't always end well.

Read this Amazon Vine review in its entirety at Amazon.


November 20, 2010

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

Not That Kind of Girl

Siobhan Vivian

Grade: B-

To be honest, nearly two weeks after finishing Not that Kind of Girl, I can't honestly say I "liked" it. What I can say is that the lead character's drive, focus, and need for control affected me on a deep, personal level, and for that reason alone I recommend it.

Read this Amazon Vine review in its entirety at Amazon.


November 11, 2010

Ain't Misbehaving by Jennifer Greene

Ain't Misbehaving

Jennifer Greene

Grade: C+

When a book by Jennifer Greene showed up in the database for Carina Press, I was surprised; why would a highly established author be writing new material for the digital-only imprint of Harlequin? Because I've enjoyed her in the past - and will never forget that she wrote a Desert Isle Keeper review for me at All About Romance of the classic novel Mrs. Mike - I requested a copy. After downloading it to my Kindle and opening it, however, I realized it was not a new book. Instead it was a book written by Greene as Jeanne Grant, originally published in 1985 by Berkley books. According to an author's letter prefacing the book, Carina Press will be reissuing two of her Jeanne Grant books each month for several months, just about as originally published, albeit without "a few outdated phrases and references." I think Greene's Carina Press editors succeeded in that area, although a reference to a " $500 Savile Row suit" stuck out like a sore thumb.

Both Mitch Cochran and Kay Sanders volunteer in the children's ward of a hospital in small-town Idaho. Each volunteers as payback for previous long-term medical care - her on behalf of her sister, a long-time Crohn's sufferer and him after an infection at age 15 weakened his heart and eventually resulted in multiple valve surgeries that caused him to miss out on much of what young men experience as they mature, including sex. As soon as I read between those lines, I hopped over to AAR's Virginal Heroes list and, sure enough, Mitch Cochran is listed.

Mitch and Kay share a strong attraction, but he worries that his lack of experience will be a problem for a woman who teaches sex-ed, has been engaged twice, and counts as close friends many men. Kay can't quite understand why Mitch runs so hot and cold...he'll kiss her like she's the best thing he ever tasted, but the next moment he'll pull back and disappear. Even when they become close enough that he introduces her to his parents, he won't reveal his secrets, nor will he take things to the next level. She eventually resorts to subterfuge, and once he catches on to her, they become fully intimate. Each professes their love, and that's where the trouble begins.

Kay becomes convinced that, like some of her girlish high school students, Mitch mistakes sex with love while he concludes that he must not measure up to her previous lovers. Although a five-minute conversation might have resolved their issues, this is a romance novel from the 1980s, after all, and these two otherwise mature adults revert to adolescence in how they deal with each other. Because this is a romance novel, though, I don't have to tell you how it all ends up.

I've enjoyed the author over the years, although the rather idiosyncratic writing stye she developed since the 1980s barely registers here. My guess is that Ain't Misbehaving became a fan favorite at the time of its release mostly for the virgin hero angle, which continues to be a draw for readers to this day...hence the fact that we developed a list for them at AAR way back in 1997. If that intrigues you, or if you want to flesh out your backlist for the author - and I'm glad that's becoming easier to do now that e-books are the only growth market in pubilshing - check it out, but if you'd like to try Jennifer Greene, I'd recommend starting instead with Rock Solid, Wild in the Field, or Wild in the Moment. I enjoyed this trip down memory lane with Jennifer Greene, who always writes engagingly and with panache, but didn't find this particularly memorable aside from the obvious.

Ain't Misbehaving will be published on November 15th; I read an advance copy provided by the publisher.


November 5, 2010

Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb

Indulgence in Death

J.D. Robb

Grade: B-

Although I came late to J.D. Robb's long-running futuristic romantic suspense series, it didn't take long for me to become a zealot for it. Seven of the series' titles sit on my all-time keeper shelf, and an additional nine earned B+ grades from me, which adds up, astonishingly enough, to nearly half the series to date. I often hand-sell the first titles at the bookstore, using my sister as an example. I tell potential customers that although the series continues after fifteen years in the making, quality remains high; one of my favorites (Promises in Death), after all, was published just last year. Then I add this as the kicker: "My sister doesn't even like to read and she got hooked on this series, reading them like candy." That said, though, Robb may be at her tipping point with the series. Make no mistake about it - I can't wait to pick up each successive book/story in the series - but "only" two of those B+'s cropped up in the last fourteen titles...while three of the four C range grades appear in that same list of fourteen.

Read this review in its entirety at Amazon.


November 3, 2010

Remington Ac2015 Tstudio Salon Collection Pearl Ceramic Hair Dryer

Grade: B-

Hair Dryer

Amazon Vine just posted my short review of this ceramic hair dryer. It begins...

This Remington 1875 watt hair dryer with feminine pink accents is powerful; my hair dried in a fraction of the time it generally takes. That said, though, the dryer is 50% heavier than my old dryer...I know because I weighed both. The question is, does the speed with which hair dries mitigate how heavy the dryer becomes the longer you need to use it?

Read this Amazon Vine review in its entirety at Amazon.


November 2, 2010

Fifteen Authors Meme

Donna Atkins just tagged me on Facebook for a Fifteen Authors Meme (list fifteen authors in no more than fifteen minutes who profoundly influenced you), and I thought I'd share my list. I actually read hers before going to bed, but my brain started to work on mine rather than letting me relax, so I decided to just do the damn thing and be done with it. It turned out to be a lot more fun than I'd thought, particularly because I remembered so many authors and works I loved long ago.

1. Virginia Woolf
2. William Shakespeare
3. Sydney Taylor
4. Marge Piercy
5. Jane Austen
6. Kathryn Lynn Davis
7. Dr. Seuss
8. John Irving
9. Emily Dickinson
10. Margaret Mitchell
11. Jefrrey Eugenides
12. Homer
13. Christopher Moore
14. Julie Garwood
15. Calvin Trillin

What's your list look like?