Saturday, July 9, 2016

Review: Show Me the Way by Jennifer Lauck

Wow.  It's been like four months since I posted anything here.  Well, I'm not dead, but life seems to be getting in my way more than normal.  I'm still working hard at my Jamberry business, which takes up a lot of my spare time, so I am not reading as much as I used to, and I'm certainly not blogging much at all, or even reading others' blogs.  I do miss it, but I love my newest job, too, so I tend to do the thing that brings in money.

I read Jennifer Lauck's Blackbird last year, and then the sequel, Still Waters, and now this third in the series of memoirs.  I finished this back in February, so I have no idea if I can recall enough of the book to do a really solid review, but I'll try.  This installment covers Lauck's experiences in motherhood.  It was both funny and sad, like all of her work.  It was good.  I can't really think of much else to say about it, since I don't remember much.  I remember that I liked it, though.

Four out of five Whatevers.  Recommended for those who have read the rest of the series, for anyone struggling through parenthood, or those who just enjoy memoirs in general.

2016-4

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Review: Downside Girls by Jaine Fenn

This Kindle book was a review copy from Library Thing Early Reviewers.  I'm glad I received it.  I finished this book a month ago, but I've been so busy that I haven't had the time to review it.  It was short, only four short stories that take place in the world Jaine Fenn created for her longer novels.  It's a world in which some folks live on the Topside, where gravity is normal and life is much like it is for us today.  Then, there are the Downsiders, those who live...underneath.  Where, if you fall, you fall into nothingness, so there are nets to catch those who can't hold on.  The two worlds don't often mix, and those on the Topside view Downsiders quite negatively.  Then, there is a third category of people, the Angels.  They impose the will of the people, taking out those in the public eye that have broken the public trust.

These four stories tell of four women who live in this world.  There isn't much to say about plotting.  It is there, and the situations these women find themselves in are interesting, but these are short stories, so plot is only a snippet.  Setting is the main character here, and Fenn does an excellent job drawing one in to this world she has created.  Such a good job, in fact, that I now want to check out one of her regular length novels.

Five out of five Whatevers.  It kept me coming back, took almost no time to read, and has inspired me to look for more from Fenn.

2016-3

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Review: Breaking the Rules by Barbara Taylor Bradford

So, THIS, I believe, is actually the final installment (so far) in the Emma Harte series.  I thought the last one was, but not so.  This book follows M, an unknown young woman (although the reader does suspect she is somehow related to the Harte family, as this is in the series) as she begins her pursuit of a modeling career in the US.  You know that she has left home and family behind, but not why.  It is clear that she is running from something.

I didn't love this one as much as I have others in the series.  It takes a while for the reader to warm up to it, as M is basically a stranger to us for the first half to two-thirds of the novel.  Eventually, her real identity is revealed and the book takes on the more familiar trappings of a typical Barbara Taylor Bradford book, bringing in the other characters we've come to know over the course of the series.

One thing I didn't like about this entry in the series is that things seem to happen way too fast to M.  She meets Larry Vaughan and falls instantly in love with hime.  She becomes a modeling superstar almost overnight.  It's not realistic.  And it's not something I remember from the other books.  Maybe I am forgetting some of that, and maybe it was more glaring in this novel because the beginning of the book was a "mystery" as far as M's true identity was concerned.  Like, maybe when the insta-love and insta-fame happens to a Harte, it's less glaring?  Because the Hartes are clearly the cream of the crop, so it's kind of expected that they will continue to be blessed in every way...

Three out of five Whatevers for this one.  I only really got into it about halfway through, when M's real identity was revealed.  Definitely should be read by completists, intent on finishing the series, but don't read it as a stand-alone, for sure.  The original is still the best...A Woman of Substance is unequalled in the rest of the series.

2016-2

So, we just found out this week that the company I just joined, Jamberry, is expanding into the UK!  I'm really excited.  I'd love to break into this market.  If anyone reading is from the UK and interested in a direct sales business that is really rewarding, come visit my Facebook page, https://facebook.com/alexisvelozijc, to learn more about Jamberry.  Better yet, send me a message and we'll chat, I'll send you a sample, and walk you through the company.  You could get in at the beginning of a business that is really going to explode in the UK!  Okay, I'll cool it for now.  I don't want my blog to turn into a giant Jamberry marketing tool.  I just love what I'm doing right now and am very excited about it.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Review: Fountain of Dreams by Josie Litton

I had gotten the second book in this trilogy from my mother-in-law and accidentally read it first.  Once I realized there were more books, I ordered a copy of this one, the first in the trilogy.  I can't remember if I Mooched it or if I bought it from Amazon or Powell's. I started it mid-January and finished it just six days later.  These little romances are quick reads!

The book follows the love affair of Princess Amelia Darcourt of Akora and Niels Wolfson.  At the beginning of the novel, Princess Amelia is kidnapped from the bedroom of her family's London residence, while they are in town on diplomatic business.  She manages to escape from the kidnappers and is rescued by Niels Wolfson while walking down the wet, dark road back to town.

The two fall in love, but they are from two different worlds.  She is Akoran.  He is American.  She is a royal.  He is a woodsman turned diplomat.  They don't believe they can make a life together, as their differences are too great.  It is pretty cheesy, standard romance novel fare.  But it was interesting, not too intellectually taxing, fast-paced...I don't mind this kind of book every once in a while.  A good romp that I can fly through in preparation for something heavier, more serious, or just lengthier.

Overall, I'd give it four out of five Whatevers for holding my attention.  It was enjoyable, light, good for lovers of general romance novels.  A tiny bit of sex, a good royal-and-commoner storyline, and a strong heroine especially recommend this one.  It's not necessary to read these in order, as they are all just loosely tied in together, based around the imaginary land of Akora.  Some characters from the second book did make an appearance in this one, but it really didn't make any difference in the storyline of the second book that I hadn't read this one first.

2016-1

In other news, I've started a new side business as a Jamberry consultant (see alexisveloz.jamberry.com or facebook.com/alexisvelozIJC for more info), which I am LOVING.  It is a really fun way to make money offering a product I love to other women!  It is taking up a lot of my free time, but it is worth it.  Jamberry, in case you've never heard of it, offers vinyl nail wraps, lacquers, gel polish, and other nail care products.  It's an amazing company and a great way to make a little extra money.

I have continued my streak of reading at least a little bit every day since the first of the year.  I've been managing an hour most days, more or less, but there hasn't been a day where I haven't read anything.  I've finished three books since the beginning of the year (which for me was really mid-January, as I was catching up on my magazine reading before then), so it's really been helping me pump up my number of books read for the year.  I just want to do better than last year's 14, but if I could read 50 this year, that would be amazing!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Review: Still Waters by Jennifer Lauck

Wow.  I've been gone from the blog for a LOOONG time.  Life caught up with me, I suppose.  We were living in a hotel for seven weeks, while our rental home was treated for black mold (which had been there since before we moved in, apparently).  I got a lot of reading done during that time, but mostly magazines.  I did start this book, the sequel to Blackbird, which I read back in April or May of last year, before we got back into our house.  But, when we got back into the house, there was a lot of clean-up to do (the construction workers were not very respectful of our home), then it was Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and we were traveling out of state, and I was reading more magazines, then it was New Year's, and now, here we are.  I will say that my New Year's resolution this year was to read more.  Specifically, I vowed that I would read a little every day.  Last year, there were many days when I wouldn't read a word for leisure.  So I've started taking an hour or so every day to read something for pleasure.  It's helping me get through the rest of the magazines I had piled up, and now I'm almost through my first book of 2016.

So.  Still Waters.  I believe I bought this copy from Powell's online...I can't recall at this point.  I started it while we were still in the hotel, in October, and finished it just after Thanksgiving.  It basically picked up where Blackbird left off.  Jennifer is now an adult, living on her own, and the book follows her search for answers with respect to her brother's suicide.  It traces her quest to heal herself and forgive her family for the hurt she suffered as a child.  It details her relationship with the man who would eventually become her husband, and follows their relationship as Jennifer has children of her own.

It was good.  There wasn't as much ugly crying as with the first one, but there was still some.  Jennifer's struggle touched me.  I was glad, though, that she managed to find some happiness in this book, as the last one was so full of pain.

Four out of five Whatevers.  Recommended for anyone who has read the first book, for people who enjoy memoirs, or for anyone who likes a tearjerker.  I'll be reading Lauck's other two books, also.

2015-14


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Review: The Last Sunset by Bob Atkinson

I received this Kindle version of an Early Reviewer book from LibraryThing.  I've had it for a while, and finally got around to reading it in the last couple of months.  I actually finished it on August 30, after taking over a month to read it.  And it was fairly short.  I'm not sure exactly what the problem was - me?  Things going on in my life?  The book?  But it took me quite a while to get through it and now quite a while to review it.

The book is billed as a time travel romance, although I don't think there was that much romance to it.  It's not a romance novel, per se.  There are some romantic relationshps in it, but not really any sex, and not a deep exploration of any of the relationships in play.  The book deals with several different groups of people, from several different times in history, all transported back to 18th century Scotland - just before the battle of Culloden.  There is an American couple from some time in the future (from our present time); several Vietnam-era British soldiers; two Scottish brothers from WWI; and the book also focuses on many of the Culloden-era people all of these time travelers meet.

The story focuses on whether all of these folks can band together to save the valley they landed in.  It's never spelled out explicitly, but what I took from the book was that a nuclear explosion which basically ended the world during the time of the Americans was the same event that somehow transported all the people back in time.  Not really sure about the physics of that...nothing was really explained, which may account for some of why I was less than impressed with this book.  Anyway, they are all somehow transported to Inverlaragain in Scotland, a few days before, historically, the British army drove everyone out of that valley and slaughtered those left behind.  It mostly focuses on the stand these newcomers make with the valley dwellers.

For me, this book was just okay.  There was too much military stuff at the beginning.  Everyone's names were too similar and there wasn't enough character development for me to be able to tell those similarly-named military guys apart.  As stated above, I never really understood how everyone got to Inverlaragain to begin with.  And I found the way that the (Scottish) author wrote the American dialect to be very distracting.  Do we sound like that to Scots?  Maybe we do, but I had a hard time reading it.  It got better towards the middle, once everyone was in Inverlaragain and had figured out that they had traveled through time, but, in my opinion, the beginning was quite confusing and the author took way too long to reveal to the reader what exactly was going on.  I felt like all the characters held me at arm's length, too, so I didn't really care what happened to any of them during the big battle scene.

Two out of five Whatevers.  It wasn't horrible, but I wouldn't read it again, and I won't be searching out anything else by this author.  Maybe recommended for those who like military fiction (it felt more like that than a romance), or maybe for people REALLY into speculative fiction/time travel novels, or...I'm out of people to recommend this to.  It just wasn't that great.

2015-13

I'm taking a bit of a break from books to catch up on my magazine reading.  I'm way behind, given my slow reading of this book, but also some of that is due to our moving from one rental to another at the end of June, getting the house put together, and then, recently, the discovery of black mold in our current rental home.  (Actually, since we've been in a hotel for the last three and a half weeks, I've gotten a LOT of reading done here, since I have no household chores to do!)  Stressful times the last few months (and that is on top of me starting a new job at the beginning of June), so some days it's all I have the energy to do to come home, eat dinner, get ready for bed, and pass out.  My next book is going to be Still Waters, the sequel to Blackbird, which I read a few months ago while I was unemployed.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Review: Just Rewards by Barbara Taylor Bradford

So I've finally reached the end of the published books in the Emma Harte saga.  I Mooched this copy of the final book in the series (although the ending definitely left it open for a further continuation...but I'm not sure any more books have been published since this one in 2006 or so...okay, I just checked Bradford's website, and it seems that there is another book - which I do have but didn't realize was one of this series).  This book was just as good as the others.  The first will always be my favorite, but this book focuses on Evan Harte and the other members of the new generation of Hartes, Kallinskis, and O'Neills.

In this book, the family is preparing for Evan's wedding to Gideon, but the family's enemy, Jonathan Ainsley, is once again rearing his ugly head.  The book also features India Standish and her relationship with famed painter Dusty Rhodes, which is threatened by the escape of Dusty's ex, Melinda Crawford, from the detox facility where she has been residing.  Can a many-months-pregnant Evan wed her love without interference from Jonathan Ainsley?  Or will he wreak his vengeance on the Harte family?  Will India and Dusty's relationship survive the death of his young daughter's caretaker and the re-emergence on the scene of the dangerous Melinda?

Four out of five Whatevers.  Life has been in somewhat of an upheaval recently:  I was fired from my job in April, spent about six weeks miserably unemployed, then started a new job at the beginning of June, and moved to a new residence just a week ago.  Between starting the new job and the packing and moving, I needed something light that was easy to get into and out of without difficulty.  And something that was able to capture and keep my attention.  Of course one of Bradford's books was just the thing.  Recommended for anyone who has been faithfully reading the series, like I have.

2015-12