Monday, June 26th, 2017
I received this book from NetGalley.
This is a terrific book. Let’s start there. I’ll give you more below, but just know it’s a really good book and you should read it.
So to begin, The Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop by Tracy Corbett and available July 3, is kind of a romance, but while romance is a part of the book, it’s really about people figuring out their lives and going through difficult times and finding each other as friends and family. So if you’re looking for a strong romantic narrative, it’s not going to be coming. Doesn’t matter. It’s a fabulous read.
Back of Book Blurb:
Evie is busy running the Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop and praying for an uplift in sales as soon as possible. She might be in the market of selling romance, but for Evie a new man is the last thing she needs!
That is until plumber Scott Castillo turns up to fix her boiler. She’s definitely not interested. But then, why does she keep ogling his rather attractive forearms? She’s been fooled before – she isn’t about to fall head-over-heels for some smooth-talker, right?
When he isn’t trying to balance paying the bills with caring for his sick mother, Scott has stepped in to help parent his 18-year-old nephew, Ben. Between that and working full time Scott doesn’t have time for romance. Until he meets Evie . . .
Love doesn’t always bloom the way you expect but for the customers of the Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop it might just be the perfect time for romance . . .
Set in Britain, the book follows Evie’s journey back to independence after a bad relationship. She’s running her dream flower shop, but she’s got a time crunch hanging over her head. She’s got only so much time before she’s got to buy the shop or lose out on her dream forever. She’s also got a chip on her shoulder and is terribly suspicious of men. Scott is a delightful guy, but bogged down in several crises of his own. He’s given up his business and his life in London to care for his disabled mother and his nephew, who’s mom–Scott’s sister–can’t seem to be bothered. His ex-fiance blew him off when he decided to care for his mother, and so he’s skittish of new relationships, but he’s also eager to know Evie.
Things quickly go wrong for both. Corbett follows each through their separate lives, then bumps them up against each other, often with disastrous results. Each of them are putting up fronts so nobody knows just what is going on behind the facades and how difficult things have been and are, and both are afraid of what the other might think. Gradually their secrets come to light and they share, growing closer as friends and maybe something more.
Woven through their growing relationships and acting as foils, are the crumbling marriage of Evie’s best friend Laura and her husband Martin, the passionate and devoted relationship of Scott’s nephew Ben and his soon-t0-be bride Amy, the troubled marriage of Patricia and David Robinson, and the quirky and delightful courtship of Josh and Saffy.
Layered on to these relationships are the friendships that help teach each of the characters–not just Evie and Scott–how to grow and how to hold firm to what they most need and desire.
This story is a relatively slow build, but the pacing is really perfect and the story so well woven that the end is incredibly satisfying. You don’t get any of those “too-stupid-to-live” moments, and when Evie seems determined to be blind or to react irrationally, Cordelia or Laura or Saffy or others are there to catch her up short and point out that her reality is different from what she understands. But you sympathize with her because you see that those reactions are realistic for where she’s been and she owns her mistakes and she doesn’t hide from growth. The other characters find both heartache and happiness–but in the end, it’s all perfect.
I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading Corbett’s next book.
Wednesday, June 14th, 2017
I received this book from NetGalley
This one has two elements that really caught my attention: firefighters and Australia. Burning Both Ends by Sinclair Jayne is a contemporary romance and a lot of fun.
Darington Knight has known a lot of loss in her twenty-six years. She can deal, so she resents it when the commander of her Montana smoke jumper unit sends her on a firefighter exchange program in Australia after her unit suffers a double tragedy. Hooking up with a sexy firefighter her first night Down Under improves Dare’s mood considerably until she realizes her hook up is now her station commander and he has a rule book as thick as her arm.
Lachlan Ryker did not make senior station officer as a Melbourne Metropolitan firefighter by the time he was thirty by acting impulsively, but when he meets the sexy, brash American in his favorite pub, his by-the-book, measured approach to life gets kicked to the curb. He and Dare ignite one night of smoldering passion he can’t forget. But before he can call for a second date, Dare strolls into his station newly assigned to him for three months. Lock knows he has to keep his hands to himself. He never breaks the rules. Dare, however, never heard a rule she didn’t want to shatter.
The opening of the book was a lot of fun. Dare and Lock are at a funeral and the follow up wake. Her grandfather–a well-respected firefighter in Australia–has died. She’s been close to him for years, even after a traumatic experience that left her wounded. He was her anchor.
Though she’s from and American branch of the family, she has a ton of relatives at the wake. She’s arranged to serve in a temporary position in Australia to learn some new techniques. These two meet and there are instant sparks. What I like is that it’s totally believable and totally character based.
Of course things go wrong after, and then eventually they are thrown together with him as her boss. The story goes from there, with each learning trust and learning how to reach out to the other. I thought the end was satisfying and both came together in a real and emotional way. Definitely worth reading.
Sunday, June 11th, 2017
I’m doing a fair bit of reading. I’ve discovered some new authors that I enjoy and plan to talk about those soon, but I’m behind on some specific book reviews, so I’m going to get started on them. These books are provided by NetGalley.
Ella’s Ice Cream Summer by Sue Watson
I was in the mood for a romance, and thought this would be more romantic, but it wasn’t. It was, however, well worth reading. It was a delightful read, despite me having a significant level of annoyance at the beginning. I’ll explain, but first, about the book:
Ella’s life just hit rock-bottom, but can a summer by the sea mend her broken heart? When life gives you lemons… make ice-cream!
Life hasn’t always been easy for single mum Ella, but she has just hit an all-time low; she’s jobless, loveless, very nearly homeless and, to make matters worse, now the owner of a pocket-sized pooch with a better wardrobe than her.
Packing her bags (and a bigger one for the dog), Ella sets off for the seaside town of Appledore in Devon to re-live the magical summers of her youth and claim her portion of the family ice-cream business: a clapped-out ice-cream van and a complicated mess of secrets.
There she meets gorgeous and free-spirited solicitor, Ben, who sees things differently: with a little bit of TLC he has a plan to get the van – and Ella – back up and running in no time.
In the beginning of the book, Ella’s up against a really obnoxious family. Her mother and her kids seem to be unredeemably selfish and can’t seem to give Ella the time of day. She’s struggling with finances, with the financial demands of her ex, and losing her job. She gets a lifeline in the shape of an inheritance from her aunt. When she finds out what it is, she’s a bit disappointed, but pretty soon she starts to turn things around. She gets a new focus for her life, a new romance, and starts finding a confidence in herself she never had. She also starts uncovering the secrets of her past, secrets that her mother doesn’t want to come to light.
This book was a lighthearted, but very real journey of a woman to find herself and her past. She comes through it all stronger, and her family becomes stronger for it. I enjoyed this book quite. I really appreciated the deepening of Ella’s character and the way she becomes stronger and becomes the anchor for her family and friends.
This next one is a huge change of pace. Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler not for the faint of heart, either. It’s a psychological thriller and it hits hard. It’s creepy as hell. It very well may give you nightmares. This is a good thing. It’s well written and well constructed. I’m not going to say a whole lot about it overall, because I don’t want to give spoilers. But first, here’s the description:
Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table.
The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.
The offer he makes her is utterly unspeakable.
But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story.
Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, Alex begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind. And then she meets the next victim.
You can tell just by the description that it’s going to be pretty terrifying. It was incredibly frustrating to see how no one believes Alex. The plot was complex and the characters were compelling, especially Alex. The end was satisfying and pulled things together well. I’d definitely read this one if you’re into thrillers.
Lord of Chance by Erica Ridley
Normally I really enjoy Erica Ridley, but I wasn’t all that big a fan of Lord of Chance.
Here’s the description:
Disguised as a country miss, Charlotte Devon flees London, desperate to leave her tattered reputation behind. In Scotland, her estranged father’s noble blood will finally make her a respectable debutante. Except she finds herself accidentally wed to a devil-may-care rogue with a sinful smile. He’s the last thing she needs…and everything her traitorous heart desires.
Charming rake Anthony Fairfax is on holiday to seek his fortune…and escape his creditors. When an irresistible Lady Luck wins him in a game of chance—and a slight mishap has them leg-shackled by dawn—the tables have finally turned in his favor. But when past demons catch up to them, holding on to new love will mean destroying their dreams forever.
So to begin, I didn’t have a lot of respect for Anthony Fairfax. He’s a gambler and he seems to be reckless and stupid. Charlotte is a good character, but I find it a little bit unbelievable that she gambles in a public inn with strange men or that they let her, or treat her like a lady. It just struck me wrong. I also wasn’t all that engaged in their relationship or in the ending. For me, the story just didn’t have the fun and quality of characters that her books usually have.
This next one is paranormal romance and part of a longer series. It’s called Wicked Kiss by Rebecca Zanzetti.
Working as an informant for the DEA, Victoria Monzelle is used to living on the edge. But she’s not a big fan of getting kidnapped. And definitely not by a bunch of bad boy witches with fancy-colored fire to shoot at people. So when Adam Dunne shows up and claims to be a witch enforcer, she’s not going to put her life in his hands based on his word, no matter how smooth and smart and beautifully Irish his words sound. But on the run from a tribunal of witches, she isn’t going to make it far . . .
Before she knows it, Adam’s word is all that stands between her and execution. Sophisticated, just-gotta-ruffle-him Adam has vowed to make her his one eternal mate, wild and unpredictable as she is—to save her from a sentence of certain death. But Tori isn’t interested in being anyone’s pity date. And if they think she’s unpredictable now, they should see what’s coming next . . .
Let me start by saying there’s a lot to love in this book. I’m just not sure they overcome the flaws.
First, Victoria is an informant, but she’s definitely unwilling. I went in expecting her to be more savvy about crime and etc., but really, she’s not at all. But that isn’t really a big issue for me.
The book begins right in the middle of the action and Victoria and Adam have definite chemistry and they definitely don’t get along. This has a great deal to do with the secrets that both are hiding. Now there’s no getting around that Adam is the overbearing alpha type and while challenges him frequently, too frequently for me, she ends up discovering she should bend to him. Now this is a fundamental part of the story because the (steamy) sex scenes are definitely themed with a master/submissive bondage thread. I don’t have a problem with that, except that for me, Victoria comes off as kind of weak because she gives into him sort of against her will (despite being incredibly turned on), and so she has no ability to say no or have boundaries. The idea is that he will know what she needs (submission-wise) and that he knows better than she does what to do and what she should do. That bothers me.
Victoria is constantly doing things that seem strong, but then gives up her power to Adam because I’m not sure why. There is supposed to be this equality between them, a balancing, but I don’t see it.
Plotwise, I liked a lot of what was happening. I thought the whole motorcycle gang thing was a little bit iffy, and I definitely thought Victoria’s “boss” was way out of line. I thought the Witch Council thing was cool and I thought that the story of the drug and the other realms of supernatural were cool. I was annoyed that Victoria had relatively little to do with the resolution of the story–again Adam is dominant. I guess I feel like she kept losing herself and that just didn’t work for me.
I’m torn about my feelings for this book because the writing was so good and the plot was really cool. But. I’m not sure I want to read more of the unbalanced romantic relationships. I just have a lot of trouble with it.
Sunday, June 11th, 2017
I’ve been actively attempting to be, oh, active. I’m starting smaller with just making sure I get so many steps each day with no breaks. I set the count a little low (5K) to make sure I can hit it fairly easily. Working a sedentary job means that I often forget to get up and move. My main goal is to do this every day with no breaking the chain. I’m up to 18 days. My feet and calves and shins are a little bit sore. I need to work on stretching. I keep not doing that. But I’ve been feeling fairly energetic. Pretty pleased with that. I’ve had a few days where I’ve pushed the workout a little bit more, but the main importance is to a) get in the minimum and b) every day. Once I’m not hurting so much and feeling pretty good about it, I’ll push the minimum up.
I got to meet a Swedish Vallhund puppy today. So cute. It’s pretty much a wolf-colored corgi. And so sweet. He was four months old. I didn’t have my boys with me. Wish I had. I took pictures, but they didn’t turn out so well, but here’s a quick picture. I’ve heard of them before but never seen one in the fur, so to speak. He was adorable and so very sweet.
In the meantime, I’m revising books. I’m hoping to have announcements soon. Oh! but I do have one. I’ve a Horngate short story coming out in August in an anthology. It’s got stories by Seanan Mcguire, Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Faith Hunter, and lots more. The anthology is called Urban Enemies, and I’m going to have a copy to give away soon (of an ARC). Keep an eye on this blog and my newsletter for details. If you want to preorder, click here or on the cover:
We’ve also been out digging for petrified wood and finding some really great pieces. Going to be going out and doing more of it soon. The last time we went, a guy found a piece of carnelian limb cast. It was amazingly clear carnelian and it was shaped like a slice of wood. I can’t wait to go back and see what we can find. My husband found this one cool piece that was a little round piece of a limb. It had rotted in little columns through the wood and then those holes filled with agate. The outside is petrified wood. I’m really excited about seeing it polished. That’s something we hope to learn to do this summer. There’s a local rock and gem club we’ve been meaning to join and they offer access to equipment at a low price.
I also want to go hiking around Silver Falls State Park, and to the Tamolitch blue pool on the Mackenzie river. It’s beautiful.
Basically I want to get outside and get moving more. I like to, but I can’t seem to get over entropy sometimes. Which is completely annoying about me. Sigh.
Thursday, May 18th, 2017
I have some book reviews to do, so I will do those soon. Right now I’m working on revising a couple different things, primarily Shades of Memory, the fourth Diamond City Magic book. I’m also working on finishing writing the second Job book. I had gone down a wrong path and I had to chop out ten thousand words, which sucked, but I’ve mostly caught back up and I think the road is better.
I also signed up to be a Chegg Tutor. If you need tutoring or anybody you know does, look for me.
My daughter has strep and has been staying home most of this week. She’s getting better, though, now she’s on antibiotics.
My shoulders and neck are bothering me. Feels muscular, but could be disk. I’m just taking it easy and trying to find comfortable ways to sleep. I’m icing and heating, too, so we’ll see how that goes. Right now I feel better than last night. I want to go out and walk since the weather is so lovely, but feel guilty that I can’t walk the puppies since I don’t want to have them pulling on me at all with my neck and shoulder acting up.
Maybe I should just go hang myself upside down in the closet and see if I can stretch my back and neck that way. I’d probably break myself if I did that, though. Sigh. It’s hard being a klutz.
My peas are covered with blooms and no sign of peas yet. I am sad.
Sunday, May 7th, 2017
Today I went after weeds. I pulled them, and then I sprayed them with vinegar, making my yard smell faintly saladish. We also chopped out the rogue blackberries growing in the yard, and then this other weird weed that has been taking over.
The bad news, seriously bad news, is that our beautiful ash tree in the front has to be cut down. It’s splitting apart and will, probably sooner than later, fall on the house. So there’s no saving it. It totally sucks.
I’m told that the weeds will win. But I shall continue to fight valiantly. And the blueberries are covered with blooms. Looking like a good year for those, the strawberries, the logan berries, and the black raspberries.
Thursday, April 27th, 2017
I’ve been doing some reading off Netgalley recently. I’ve not been getting my reviews up because I’ve been reading. So here’s a bit of a catchup.
The Graves by Pamela Wechsler (May 2 release)
Back cover copy:
Abby Endicott, the chief of the District Attorney’s homicide unit in Boston, returns in the heart-racing follow-up to Mission Hill. Things are looking good for Abby: she’s top pick to be the next District Attorney, and her musician boyfriend Ty has moved in, despite her upper crust family’s objections. But a serial killer is on the loose, and with two college-aged girls dead and another missing, time is running out. When the sons of a prominent government official are linked to the murders, Abby pushes back, stopping at nothing to find justice for the girls. This time, the killer could be right under her nose, and she may be the next victim.
In The Graves, former prosecutor turned television writer Pamela Wechsler delivers a tense and enthralling Boston-set thriller about the intersection of power, privilege, and justice.
I like romantic suspense and serial killer mysteries, and this looked right up my alley. It’s told in present tense, which can be offputting for some readers. Mostly it worked for me, making the tension more immediate, and discovering events as Abby does.
I waffled on whether or I liked Abby or not. She’s smart, but often seemed shallow. A lot is made out of her figuring out how to live without money since she’s been cut off from her parents’ money for dating a man they don’t like. There were times I got bored and annoyed with that, when I just wanted to tell her to suck it up. She’s had to give up luxuries, but she’s doing just fine. It seemed whiny. At the same time, her shopping addiction seems to mask a deeper pain. I think. I was never quite sure.
Abby’s also cutthroat, which she has to be in her line of work. That can be off-putting too, but in the case of Cassandra and Max, I was okay with that.
The investigation and courtroom parts of the novel were very well done. That’s what really wins in this book. It’s sharp and fastpaced and the killer isn’t terribly obvious, plus you have a stirring in of political maneuvering that adds depth.
The major thing I wished for in reading this book was more of Abby’s internal life. I wanted to like her more. I wanted to care more about her choices in life. As it is, she left me a little cold. On the other hand, I’m hooked enough to want to read the next volume in the series whenever it comes out.
Owning It by Leah Marie Brown (May 2 release)
Back cover copy:
The chance of a lifetime . . . or just another bad decision?
Delaney Lavender Brooks needs to grow up. At least, according to her parents. After getting evicted from her apartment and wrecking her car, Laney is almost ready to trade in her paintbrushes and surrender to a more sensible 9-to-5 existence. Almost. Until she’s awarded an internship at a prestigious art gallery in Paris. What else can the free-spirited artist do but follow her dreams? Even if her latest attempt at chasing rainbows might cost her a real future . . .
Once in the city of lights, Laney is almost undone by the glaring truth: maybe she isn’t sophisticated or talented enough to make it as an artist—or an independent woman, for that matter. And when she’s hotly pursued by a seductive Frenchman, she has to wonder if she’s about to be a fool for love, too. Soon Laney’s greatest challenge is not proving herself to her parents, but having the courage to live the life—and love—of her dreams . . .
I know I’ve read Finding It, another in this series, but for the life of me, I can’t find my review. But anyhow . . .
This is a really breezy romance. Laney is a really fun character and I enjoyed her discovery of Paris and her romance with Gabriel. Laney’s quirky and not entirely put together. She’s often awkward, and she is genuine and kind. I came to care about her quickly. I like Gabriel as well, though for me, he was a little bit flat. Or rather, it felt like I didn’t get to know him very well. The book is far more about Laney’s journey and her maturing.
There are only two minor issues I had with the book. The first is that the slang gets a little bit much for me. I get a little bit overloaded. Not a big deal, though. The second is that I’d have liked there to be a little bit more to the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I was looking for just a little bit more personal exploration.
All that said, Owning It was a whole lot of fun. It’s funny and sweet and joyful.
Romancing the Rogue by Erica Ridley (now available)
Back cover copy:
When the new earl inherits, poor relation Miss Rebecca Bond must wed immediately or be out on her ear. The only man she’s ever loved is summoned to hear the will—but he already rejected her so soundly that they haven’t spoken in years. Yet who better than a rakish Viscount to teach her how to snare a gentleman who appreciates her charms?
Daniel Goodenham, Lord North-Barrows, regrets nothing more than the lost friendship with the one woman who treated him like a man, not a title. Fate has given him the perfect pretext to win her forgiveness—even if it means having to matchmake her to someone else. But now that she’s back in his life, he’ll do anything to convince her to choose him instead…
I should start by saying that I haven’t read an Erica Ridley book that I don’t like, and this one’s no exception. It’s an unusual setup and it took a little bit for me to buy the idea that Rebecca had essentially lived like a ghost in the mansion for so many years. Ridley made it believable, though. I thoroughly liked Rebecca. She has a sense of humor, talent, brains, and strength. She’s in a crap position and she knows it, but she keeps fighting for better.
I didn’t like Daniel much at first, mostly because he’d been an ass before the book started and I was irritated with him before I ever met him. He owned it, though, and by the end, he’s redeemed himself. He’s realized what he lost–and it’s not only Rebecca.
Sunday, April 9th, 2017
Maybe not important things, but things nonetheless. I’ve done some seed sprouting and now need to do some transplanting. I’ve also been doing some digging in the dirt, though there’s been a lot of rain. I’ve also been petting dogs and scratching tummies and cleaning up dog pee because all of a sudden, one of them has decided to pee on the rug. I have no idea why. It’s frustrating. The rug is a small area rug and I’m wanting to clean the whole thing and not sure how. I think I’m going to need to wait til the weather warms and I can do it outside with a hose.
I’ve been in an ice cream sort of mood these days. Not sure why. And steak. I have not had any steak, but I’ve been craving it. Weird. My folks come tomorrow. They stay up near us for about five or six months of the year. I’m excited. Hopefully their trip is smooth.
I am planning on cleaning the kitchen and downstairs tomorrow. Things I’ve been avoiding. I’m at least going to do some of it. Been also wanting to get out and start dealing with weeds. They’ve been having a whole lot of fun growing like, well, you know. I’m planning on spraying a whole lot of vinegar, attack with a hoe, and then get some preemergent herbicide down to see if I can get it somewhat under control. And I’ve got to get out and put the hazelnut hulls down in my strawberries and get some fertilizer down, too.
My red dragon contorted hazelnut is leafing out. I’m really pleased about that because it didn’t seem all that happy in the fall. My monkey puzzle tree is doing quite well also. I’ve got a lot of perennials putting on a show also. I’m really pleased about that. My goal has been to pretty much cover all my flower beds in foliage of some kind. I’m still nowhere close, but I’m making the effort.
Writing is going pretty well, though I’m having trouble with getting my days scheduled. Eventually I will . . . just in time for summer vacation. Same ole same ole. Found out that had I stuck it out to see the new administration in my old job, I would not have seen an improvement. Morale is lower than ever, and the leadership, I’m told, is actually worse than previously. I do find myself missing teaching, though. I’d really like to do more of that. I just have to figure out how. I know one thing: Once the boy has his license, the structure of my days will change for the better. Though I’ll have to make sure that I get out and interact with people or I’ll become a crazy hermit. Not a good thing.
Puppy dogs scared us. They had some sort of fungal infection that required shots and three weeks of antibiotic/antifungal pills. They’re still taking those. But they are no longer throwing up or having diarrhea, which is a huge win. They did enjoy the week of rice and chicken they got to eat for their meals. They thought that was a fine menu plan and we should stick with it forever.
A big wind storm came through and took down a lot of trees around. We lost some smaller limbs, but nothing serious. Hate to see trees go down, especially the old ones. Sucks.
Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
Whisper of Shadows is only $1.99.
I’m also working on a client’s manuscript. I also went over the copy edits of the new Horngate story that will be coming out in Urban Enemies sometime this summer (also in the book Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin Hearne, Faith Hunter and many more). I haven’t had a chance to read everybody else’s story, but I’m sure looking forward to it.
I’ve been getting out walking when I can, with the weather. I’ve been not feeling all that well, and so I’ve decided to start on probiotics again and see how it goes. I’ve also given up diet soda again. See, I gave it up for a long time, then started back sometime recently because I like Diet Sprite when my stomach gets upset. So I got sick at some point, had some Diet sprite, and then kept drinking Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper for the caffeine. I tried to go off the other day and got terribly sick with a headache, terrible nausea, and my temperature dropped to weirdly low. It might be the aspartame. Anyhow, I’m hoping the probiotics help.
I’ve been doing some reading, some of it I like. Some less so. I need to write up a couple reviews.
I’m finding Trial and Error really amusing.
I’m also getting mugged by several book ideas. That’s a good thing, but finding time to write! I’ve got so much work to do!
Sunday, March 19th, 2017
Shades of Memory is done! I sent it to my editor and now I await her wisdom. I’m proud of this book. It’s super twisty and cool and I’m so hopeful that I’m not being delusional and that it’s as good as I think.
This week I had visitors from Montana and Washington. It was lovely to visit with both and today, Megan and I went to the Grimm sale (last day) and mostly everything was gone, but we got a few things, though not sure anything was noticeable in the show. But it was cool, all the same. I should have gone up a lot sooner, but today at least everything was 75% off. So there’s that. Ended up with some apothecary jars, a cool metal drawer that was once used for type, it looks like. Don’t know if we’ll ever be able to see it in an episode. I also got this plaque for a doctor with an award for studying nocturnal exertions, which I thought was funny. Other than that, not much.
So it was a lovely weekend, and tomorrow I get back to work and that will be a good thing.