Monday, May 30, 2016

Early Review of Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2) by Lisa Kleypas

Title: Marrying Winterborne
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Paperback; 544 pages
Publisher: HarperLuxe; Lgr edition (May 31, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0062467387
ISBN-13: 978-0062467386
Author's Website:
Notes: I bought this one.

Once upon a time a sheltered, bookish young lady agreed to marry a beast...

Rhys Winterborne is a self made man. He's a little rough--okay, extremely rough to the point of being jagged--around the edges, but is a good man at heart. He's had to fight his way to the top, and his marrying Lady Helen Ravenel will be seen by most as a maneuver to work his way into polite society. He's the kind of man who once he sets his mind on something tends to be unstoppable.

Ever since the last time she's seen him, Helen Ravenel has been haunted by thoughts of the strikingly handsome, sophisticated, and keenly intelligent man with a hint of danger smoldering beneath the surface. When she finds out her sister-in-law, Kathleen, has ended her engagement to Rhys, she decides to take matters into her own hands and do the unthinkable. She walks into a lion's den unescorted.

"You've read the fairy tales. you know what happens to little girls who visit wolves."

Helen turned in his arms. "I do indeed," she whispered, and lifted her smiling lips to his.
I had no idea (but was looking forward to seeing) how Ms. Kleypas would make me go from despising Rhys to being okay with him marrying Helen. One thing she did, which I thought was a brilliant move, was not to return to the nasty scene in 'Cold-Hearted Rake' where he acted so atrociously. I was glad the scene wasn't fresh in my mind as I read or it may have been a little harder to like the man. Rhys is used to going on the defense and, when needed, being ruthless in his dealings with people. Intimidation is his tool of choice and he doesn't always think before wielding it. So explains the scene with Kathleen which led to the dissolution of the original engagement between Rhys and Helen. He verbally lashed out in a very ungentlemanly manner.

One of the things I liked about this couple is that Rhys seems to bring out the best in Helen without holding her back. At one point she wisely states, "I've spent my entire life reading about the lives other people are having," she continued, "My world has been...very small. No one believes I would thrive if I weren't kept secluded and protected. Like a flower in a glass house. If I marry one of my kind, as you put it, no one will ever see me as I am. Only what I'm supposed to be."  After spending the better part of a month getting to know one another as Rhys recuperated from the train accident, Helen had a good feel for how things would be with him. I was rather hoping Ms. Kleypas would revisit that period of time in this book, but alas, it didn't happen. Perhaps she'll write a short story of the two getting to know one another in the future? I would so love that and am crossing my fingers.

As I'm writing this review, it would seem that I've given a lot away, but I really haven't. All that I mentioned above happened either before or in the first quarter of this book. Rhys and Helen still have a lot to learn about each other and, in true Lisa Kleypas fashion, a hurdle to overcome. In this case, one that neither knows anything about at the start of the novel.

Some of my favorite quotes/moments:
"I went uninvited to the store yesterday and demanded to see Mr. Winterborne. I told him that I still wanted to marry him (...) and then I--I had my way with him. She paused realizing how that sounded. "Not in the store, of course."
  Straight-faced, Kathleen said, "Dear me, I hope he didn't put up a struggle."
- "Every hair on your head. Every part of you was made to be loved by me."
- "Love me for who I am...just as I love you for who you are...and our bond will last until the stars lose their shining."

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was a charming, sexy (yes, Ms. Kleypas upped the heat level a bit in this one), and humorous read. It reminded me a touch of Beauty and the Beast as well as Little Red Riding Hood with the big, bad wolf. Additionally, the image and metaphor, "and the Lion will lie down with the Lamb" came to mind as I was reading. Rhys definitely has a hard outer shell, but once you cracked the exterior he was a yummy marshmallow (okay, maybe marshmallow is a little over doing it, but you get what I mean) on the inside. I admit, however, I love when an author can change my opinion of a character as drastically as Ms. Kleypas did with this one. She is truly a talented one of a kind author. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating (too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.) bordering on a SHOWER rating (a cold shower is necessary (need I say more?). Some books should come with a warning - make sure your significant other is handy or your shower is in working order. lol)

Order of the series:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Early Review of Sweet Little Lies (Heartbreaker Bay #1) by Jill Shalvis

Title: Sweet Little Lies: A Heartbreaker Bay Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Heartbreaker Bay
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (June 28, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0062448021
ISBN-13: 978-0062448026
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan of the book for review purposes.

A girl with a secret.
A guy with issues.
One wish made by tossing a coin into a fountain...
and love will find a way.

This is a new series for Jill Shalvis called Heartbreaker Bay. The series takes place in San Francisco where Pru, the heroine of the story, is the Captain of a tour boat. Finn O’Riley, the hero of the novel, is the co-owner of one of the area's local pubs. Both have a lot of baggage, and Pru has some that could end up being a relationship breaker. For some reason, I kept picturing Finn saying, "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine." Granted, this is no Casablanca and Pru doesn't end up in Finn's bar accidentally--she's a woman on a mission--but for some odd reason that scene just kept playing in my head. If you've never read one of Ms. Shalvis' books, you are truly missing out on something special. She combines sexy characters with witty banter, humor, and fun situations that have me grinning as I'm reading and smiling long after I've finished.

Finn is a man with a plan. He's bent on making the business he and and brother, Sean, started a success. Distractions, like Pru, do not fit into his plan, but even though he tries to resist the attraction that exists between the two, he and she keep gravitating towards one another.

Pru is a fun loving individual who wants Finn to be happy. One of the first things we see is her do is make a wish that Finn find happiness. While he's not a sad individual he just isn't really "living" which is ironic because someone later says the very same thing about her. Seeing these two come together against their better judgment was amusing and extremely entertaining.

The song that started playing in my head as I read was 'Call Me Maybe' by Carly Rae Jepsen:

"I threw a wish in the well
Don't ask me I'll never tell
I looked at you as it fell
And now you're in my way

I trade my soul for a wish
Pennies and dimes for a kiss
I wasn't looking for this
But now you're in my way..."

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out 5 roses. It was a fun and sexy tale that left me with a feeling that all was right with the world. Ms. Shalvis was also able to incorporated a tiny heartwarming little tribute to Prince (even though she didn't know at the time of her writing that he would pass) as Pru and her friends sing one of his songs while doing karaoke. It made me smile as I read it.  On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one scored a STEAM  rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I look forward to reading the next in the series.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Timeless Beauty: Over 100 Tips, Secrets, and Shortcuts to Looking Great by Christie Brinkley

    Classification: Adult Non-fiction
    Genre: Beauty/Health/Self Help
    Format: Hardcover; 208 pages
    Publisher: Grand Central Life & Style (November 10, 2015)
    ISBN-10: 145558794X
    ISBN-13: 978-1455587940
    Notes: Library Loan

When I was growing up in the eighties, Christie Brinkley graced the covers of many a magazine. She was beautiful then, and she still is today. As she enters her sixties. she's proving you can grow old gracefully while defying your age every step of the way. "Timeless Beauty" gives you guides, not so much a full out plan, as to how to fight the clock.
So as I sat down to read this book, my son came along and made a comment. He thought it was funny that I was reading a beauty book. I explained who Christie Brinkley was and then told him how old she was and his expression went from a teasing one to a look of surprise. While she makes looking great at 61 (now 62) easy, she has to work at it. Some of the weapons in her daily arsenal include Sunscreen, exercise, a vegetarian diet, exfoliating and moisturizing at night. Some of the less common tools that are picking up in popularity that she and/or her experts deem can enhance what you have include false eyelashes, hair extensions, facial fillers, laser treatments, and cool sculpting. Now while Ms. Brinkley's book talks about all these things, she doesn't specify whether or  not she's done any of the more costly or extreme procedures that are listed. I guess you need to read between they lines and while she writes in the book, "Does she or doesn't she? Only her dermatologist knows for sure!" I'd say a lot of the things her panel of expert dermatologists talk about are probably things she's tried and I must say they are working! While there may be no groundbreaking secrets revealed in this book, I like the fact that someone who seems to have defied the effects of aging without getting an unnatural stretched look about her is divulging some of her secrets as to how she went about doing it.

The book includes hair and makeup tips for aging woman given by experts. It also includes dermatologist recommended skin care treatments and product recommendations. Christie also incorporated some of the recipes she personally uses along with exercise routines and tips. While she plugs her Christie Brinkley make up line, the book doesn't read like an infomercial. She seems to always list a secondary product that isn't from her personal product line for those who might be a bit skeptical of them.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and learned a thing or two along the way. I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. When new expensive procedures come out you always have to wonder if they really work or are just a ploy to get your money. Sometimes they really seem to good to be true and its nice to have someone actually say, "Yes, it works" before I spend my money. I like that Christie asked her dermatologists what people should look for when they seek out a dermatologist. So while we can't all afford the high priced and highly sought after dermatologists Ms. Brinkley uses, we'll be able to use the information provided to find a good one. The main thing I wish had been incorporated with the book. and it seems to be lacking from most beauty related ones, is a more intense tutorial on how to achieve the looks described. I would love to see authors and/or publishers create online videos to show precisely how to get the look being described. For instance, I tried putting on false eyelashes for Halloween last year, and let me just say it was not a pretty sight. Less than an hour after putting them on, the things were falling into my eyes. Plus, I almost managed to glue my eyelids shut using the glue that comes with them. I'd recommend that when creating instructions, use a cosmetically challenged individual for a trial run and see if they can manage it from what is written on the pages.

Christie talking about her book on the Meredith Vieira show:

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Passenger (Passenger #1) by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Passenger
Classification: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Time Travel
Series: Passenger
Format: Hardcover; 496 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (January 5, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1484715772
ISBN-13: 978-1484715772
Notes: I borrowed this book from the library.

Etta thought she had her life planned out. She was just about to start her career as a professional concert violinist. On the day of her debut, however, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Someone she loved was killed, she was knocked out, and the next thing she knew she was waking up on a ship in a time period that wasn't her own. One that was long over and done with before she'd ever been born...

Nicholas knew exactly where his life was going and decided he wanted no part in it. After years of trying to please his father and trying to fit in with his family, he'd finally decided he was done, or so he thought. Upon accepting what he thought would be one last assignment from his grandfather, he found himself more entangled than ever in the family business of time traveling. All because of a girl...

Destiny is a funny thing. Sometimes we're in control of it while other times someone else pulls the strings, controlling and manipulating it. That's when we become merely a passenger trying to survive the crazy and often wild ride.
This was a fast paced story with a lot going on all at once. I found the beginning a bit confusing because I didn't realize this would be a time travel book. I didn't get sucked into the story until about three or four chapters in. That's when the book grabbed me with a fierce voracity and there was no turning back. It sank its talons into me and I was a goner.

The whole concept of Etta being kidnapped from her own time was great way to start the novel. Imagine how powerless you'd feel not knowing exactly where you are, when you are, how you got there, or why someone kidnapped you from your own time. It'd be a little hard to take, yet Etta does so remarkably well. Although, I wish the author had led with this portion of the story instead of starting with Nicholas' prologue section. Don't get me wrong, the prologue is important. It conveyed a defining moment for Nicholas, but it totally confused the heck out of me by having the story jump around the way it did at the beginning. Once I realized who was who and that Etta was jumping around in time, as was Nicholas, trying to figure out what and why everything was happening was really fun. There were quite a few twists and turns with a love story happening smack dab in the middle of all the suspense.

 Etta is a strong, smart, quick thinking, and talented teen. She is perhaps a little too composed as everything unfolds. The only thing that truly throws her is the death of her violin teacher, Alice. Somehow her mind immediately sees time travel as something not to be fazed by, but as an opportunity in the making--“This was the danger, the seduction of time travel, she realized—it was the opportunity, the freedom of a thousand possibilities of where to live and how to start over. It was the beauty open to you in your life if you only stopped for a moment to look.” She begins to wonder if she can use it as a way to save Alice. First, however, she needs to figure out why she was taken and how to get home. She quickly realizes she'll need help, and that Nicholas is the most likely person to give it to her.

Nicholas is the bastard son of Augustus Ironwood. He once thought his family (despite his being born black in a time when blacks were thought of as nothing more than slaves) would welcome him into the fold. He possesses the family talent of time travel--a skill not all inherit. But the promises of grand adventures, magic, money, prestige, and what he'd really wanted, acceptance, hadn't been forthcoming. Instead, he finds himself as nothing more than an indentured servant who would aspire to be nothing more than a valet to his own half-brother. He's trying to get out from under his grandfather's thumb with one last job so he can find his own place in the world. A place where he belongs. When Etta shows up, she turns his world upside down. He, however, has a somewhat cynical outlook on love. From what he's seen, “Love was selfish, wasn't it? It made honest men want things they had no right to. It cocooned one from the rest of the world, erased time itself, knocked away reason. It made you live in defiance of the inevitable. It made you want another's mind, body; it made you feel as if you deserved to own their heart, and carve out a place in it.”  Yet, through his mentor, Captain Hall, he's seen a different side to relationships so he's not altogether opposed to it. He's just very guarded with his feelings.

The time traveling element in the book was fun. Hopping from one place to another and trying to figure out where the two had ended up after making a jump was enjoyable. Their having to figure out how to get to the next place they need to be added some additional suspense and danger. While there seem to be some huge holes in the understanding of how the traveling is done and why only certain people can do it, I'm hoping we'll get answers in upcoming books.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I really enjoyed the tale. I do, however, wish the romance aspect had gone a little slower. It seemed too much too soon. Add in that you've got a modern girl in a not so modern time with no readily available convenience stores to sell "protection" and, yeah, you could say my mommy senses were tingling. Especially when you consider Etta being only 17 and stranded in a time period where things would not end well if she found herself to be with child. While tame by romance novel standards (a definite Blush rating on the Lisarenee Romance Scale; at the beginning stages of romance where something is just starting to be stirred) it still had markedly more than most young adult novels. It didn't detract from the story, however, it just made me feel old. It reminded me of when my mom took me to see an Officer and a Gentleman and covered my eyes when the sex scenes played. While I vowed I'd never do that to my daughter, I wouldn't recommend this one to those under 12. It's much tamer than what you would see in a R rated movie, but it's definitely geared towards a teen audience. I look forward to reading the next in this series and seeing what wonderful things Ms. Bracken will come up with. 

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