Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Death of Mrs. Westaway/ Ruth Ware/ 368 pgs

I've read other books by Ware and enjoyed them. This one didn't quite live up to the excellence of the others. Harriet Westaway is a 21-year-old tarot card reader who is all alone in the world. Her mother, who raised "Hal" on her own, was hit and killed by a car three years ago. Hal has no friends and no money and in the first of many well-trod cliches, owes money to a loan shark. Then, out of the blue, she receives notice that she's been named in her grandmother's will. Except that the titular Mrs. Westaway does not have the same name as Hal's grandmother. Scared and threatened by the loan shark, Hal decides to brazen it out in the hopes of getting a small inheritance. The rest of the story involves her meeting the family, trying to keep her lies straight, figuring out that she is indeed related to the family, and secrets popping up everywhere. The story has a gothic feel to it but the pace is too slow and the secrets too easy to figure out. Hal, despite claiming that she has an inner strength and can face anything, too often ends up fainting, crying, or sitting on a curb at the train station in despair. I was hoping for more "fight" from her.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Irresistibly You/ Lauren Layne/ 252 pgs

This contemporary romance is the first in a series and a fun, quick read. Penelope has moved to NYC from Chicago, mostly to get away from a jerk who stole her work. She's a sports-loving journalist and is vying for a job as sports editor of a men's magazine. Cole already works as a freelancer for the magazine but is also in the running for the editor position. There's nothing too serious here but the characters are likable and the banter is cute. My only disappointment was the way the end played out but I'm going to forgive that lapse and read the next book in the series:-)

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss/ Max Wirestone/ 370 pgs/ audiobook

Once again I had a long weekend drive so I snagged another audiobook from Hoopla. I had heard this book was fresh and funny and I must say that I agree. It's a delightful modern mystery with a funny, quirky cast headed by the titular Dahlia Moss. She's an unemployed twenty-something down on her luck when her roommate introduces her to a mysterious man named Jonah. He offers her $2000 to find a stolen digital bejeweled sword. Yes, digital. The sword exists in an online game and was stolen from Jonah's account. It's obvious from the beginning that there is something off about this setup but then Jonah is murdered and things take off from there. Even though I'm not an online game player, the book explains that world well without being tedious. The narrator for this book (Lauren Fortgang) was awesome. I was amused throughout and laughed out loud a number of times. The solution to the murder mystery itself was nothing revolutionary but for this one, it's all about the journey. Bonus #1: this book, to my surprise, is set in St. Louis. The setting is a little superficial but it was nice to hear about familiar landmarks. Bonus #2: there are two more books in the series. I can't wait to read or listen to them!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Counting on a Countess/ Eva Leigh/ 370 pgs

This was my first time reading a book by Leigh who also writes as Zoe Archer. The story was serviceable but I was rather indifferent to both main characters so it wasn't a favorite. Kit, an earl and a former soldier, finds out he is to inherit a goodly sum of money from an old friend/mentor--but only if he marries. So he sets out to find a bride. Tamsyn is in London from Cornwall. She's a lady but she's also running a smuggling operation out of her village. She needs money to buy back her family's home from an awful relative. She and Kit agree to marry to get the money but neither tells the other that they have plans for the money. After the marriage, the will is read and it turns out that once married, Tamsyn is put in charge of the money. This does not sit well with Kit. As I said, there was nothing wrong with the story or writing, this just wasn't my cup of tea.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Wrong to Need You/ Alisha Rai/ 358 pgs

This is the second book in this series about two families who co-owned a grocery store, but things took a tragic and dramatic turn two people were killed in a car accident ten years. The fallout from that incident is still being felt by the younger generation. In this story, Sadia is a widow with a young son. She's struggling to run the cafe left to her by her husband, the husband who told her he wanted a divorce just before he died. She's also struggling with family expectations, as her parents and four sisters are all doctors or doctors-in-training. Jackson is her former best friend and her late husband's brother. He's back in town after a ten year absence. Seeing that Sadia needs a chef, he stays on to help at the cafe. I really liked the characters in this one and the way their relationship developed. There has been some healing within the family and I'm interested to see what happens in the third book.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Duke in Shining Armor/ Loretta Chase/ 309 pgs

I loved some of Chase's older novels but haven't read a lot of her more recent ones. This one kicks off a new series with three dukes (of course) who are known as Their Dis-Graces for essentially being drunken high school pranksters--only they are all nearing 30. The Duke of Ashmont is set to marry Lady Olympia, a spectacle-wearing book lover. Both, however, drink more than they should to settle their nerves. Olympia runs away, pursued by Ashmont's friend the Duke of Ripley. During a series of slapstick events, Ripley and Olympia fall for each other. There was some Chase trademark witty banter between them but in the end the plot is thin and the characters didn't have enough time to really connect, not to mention grow up.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Catnip: A Love Story/ Michael Korda/ 187 pgs

The author of this "graphic" book is a writer and former editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster. He's also a talented sketch artist and this book is full of little sketches he did for his Margaret in the year before she died. The couple were avid horsepeople and lived on a farm in New England with an assortment of indoor/outdoor/stable cats. Korda drew the sketches to amuse his wife as she dealt with cancer. They are cute, often funny, and sometimes poignant sketches of their cats (and a couple of horses). There are one-page bios on most of the cats, plus a few notes about the Kordas life.