Book #15

The Sinner on Amazon.com

(Book Binge book #5) The Sinner, book #2 in the Heroes of Heyday series by Kathleen O’Brien. I love a good series, and Ms. O’Brien never disappoints. Book #2 in the Heroes of Heyday series continues the story of a quirky town where zebras run amok owned by three estranged brothers. Brother two, the Sinner Bryce, returns to Heyday after being gone for 14 years to recover from a traumatic experience and get his bearings…and in true Harlequin style, finds love.

I was happy to see what was happening with the main characters from the first book, and glad to know the full story of the second brother. Looking forward to reading about the third brother in The Stranger.

Book #14

The Amber Room by Steve Berry(April Book Binge book #4) The Amber Room by Steve Berry. If I had a star ranking system, this would not get the highest marks. But it would get high marks. I love WWII fiction of all kinds. I love thrillers. I love thrillers with a little history thrown in. So since this book is about Nazi looted art still being hunted by treasure seekers and the people hiding all the secrets, it appeals to me. The fact that the Amber Room is (was) real, and still missing, is pretty cool.

I noticed on Amazon that after 84 reviews, this book only had three stars. It did drag a little. Berry throws in a lot of the actual history and theories surrounding the missing Amber Room, and then repeats the info quite a bit. I bet this book is great as an abridged audiobook :)

One review commented on Berry’s sort of unbelievable female lead character. I won’t call her a heroine, because Berry does not let her become that. But she is irritating. I find her resistance to her ex-husband annoying, her weakness towards Knoll annoying, and her mean outbursts annoying. I don’t want to give anything away, so that’s all I’ll say. I did, however, really like Paul, Karol and McCoy.

If you want a lukewarm thriller set against the backdrop of places in Europe like Austria, the Alps, Prague and Germany – with TONS of detail, try this one.

I happened to listen to The Romanov Prophecy last year on audio book, and it was really good. Something about narration by a good reader that makes the details whiz by. Plus, I love all stories about the Tsars. Also, I think this was Berry’s second (and much better) book. I’m off to read his other books…apparently, I’m a glutton for historical detail.

Book #13

Happily Never After by Kathleen O'Brien(April Book Binge #3) Happily Never After by Kathleen O’Brien. Definitely a departure from Kathleen’s other books. I still loved it and read it very quickly, but the storyline, dialogue, and characters were all very different to me. The one smart-aleky funny character is really what was missing. Not that this book needed one.

This book is about a marriage that never happened because the groom didn’t show up. The bride has been institutionalized and 10 years later, members of the wedding party start dying. The heroine, who would have been one of the bridesmaids (and happens to be in love with the groom) and the hero (the groom) are surprising characters to me. Normally, I would not like these people. But once the story is developed, and you learn all about all the different people involved, you start to cheer for them – in true romance fashion.

Happily Never After is pretty fast-paced. I wanted to know more about some of the people. I would have loved to see the families developed more (like, I want to see more of Adler and Imogene, why is Adler bad, why did Imogene marry him…) I think this book could have been published as a mainstream fiction book – like one of those big generational sagas by Danielle Steele.

Basically, I think Kathleen O’Brien belongs on the bestsellers lists, and I want to see her get there!

Book #12

The Saint by Kathleen O'Brien (April Book Binge, #2) The Saint by Kathleen O’Brien. This book is the first of three in her Heroes of Heyday series. Of course, I’m hooked. I had checked this one out from the library, but I immediately went on amazon and ordered the next two. (The one bad thing about Harlequins…it can be hard to find the older ones at the library.)

So, The Saint dives right into the action in the first 20 pages. I’m not going to tell you what happens, but it’s unexpected and makes you want to read the whole book in one sitting – which I did.

I like this new town, almost as much as Firefly Glen, and I love these characters. The hero, a handsome high school football coach, is one of three brothers in a very rich family. I’m assuming the other two books, The Sinner and The Stranger are about the other two brothers, and I can’t wait to see what Kathleen came up with for their adventures.

I think my favorite thing about this book was the second story line involving the boy in high school. His trouble with his money-grubbing girlfriend and a lecherous older woman were very entertaining, although, it makes me nervous for my own son’s teenage years.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

I found a wonderful blog, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, via my friend Allison’s new book blog, LibraryLove.net.

I had already added them to by blogroll and subscribed to their feed, but I had to add a link to today’s post. They make a good case for romance novels, which I believe everyone should read. Here’s an excerpt:

The judgments people render against romance novels try to dismiss the question of why romance is so popular, and why so many millions of people spend so many millions of dollars on their choice of reading material. But even against the certainty that romance is “dreck,” or “chick porn” or just lowbrow popular culture loved by dim women in puffy paint sweatshirts, the questions that we ask about romance push back against judgment and assumption to celebrate the questions romance novels ask about human emotional and sexual experience.

Check it out!

Book #11

Vegan Virgin Valentine(April Book Binge #1) Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler. Normally a fan of most things YA, I have to say that this book was just alright for me. Good story – I loved the character V, but I wasn’t crazy about the heroine.

Remember how in the Traveling Pants books, you cry a lot? That’s because the characters stories move you to tears. Mara, the main character in Vegan Virgin Valentine does a lot of crying, but I never cried with her. In fact, a couple times, I was annoyed at her crying and wanted to give her a good, “suck it up!” lecture.

That said, I’m a 30-year-old woman, and this book is not directed at me. Perhaps in my wizened (apparently that means shriveled up) years wise old age, I’m able to see what is and isn’t worth crying about – when I’m reading anyway. BUT, many a YA book have made me cry because I was so involved with the characters and their relationships. I did not feel this relationship with Mara.

Now, enough cons, here are the pros. I loved the parents, especially the mom. I would have loved to see more interaction with her, because she seemed great. I also loved V. How about a sequel featuring her senior year?

I’m still going to read Mackler’s other books. I have seen too many recommendations for her to discount, so I’m not giving up. Plus, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things is a great title, and worthy of inspection.

Book Binge

Thanks to BookMama, I’ll be participating in Book Binge – where I keep track of all my books for the month of April, and list them on her blog (and mine, too). Leave her a comment if you want to participate!

Book #10

Quiet as the Grave by Kathleen O'Brien

Update: Check out the comments…I’m the “most awesome fan”!!! Woo hoo! Thanks Kathleen!

Quiet as the Grave by Kathleen O’Brien. Seriously, I thought that the last book was my favorite Firefly Glen book, but this one was the best. Intrigue, creepy people, murder, love, parenting issues…what more could you ask for? I’m glad I waited and read it last.

Now here’s my request for Kathleen. She introduced some of the kids created by all the love matches in the earlier books. I’d like to see some more Firefly Glen books featuring the kids when they grow up. It can be like how on Days of Our Lives, all the kids were babies, then all of a sudden, they were in high school with their own story lines. Now they have kids…you see where I’m going with this.

Come on Kathleen! Hurry and write some more :) No wonder this is a 2007 RITA finalist. I can’t wait until July to see if you won!

Book #9

The One Safe Place by Kathleen O'BrienThe One Safe Place by Kathleen O’Brien – I’m sad to say this is the fourth book in the four-book Firefly Glen series. But rejoice! There is one more! And it’s just made the 2007 RITA list of finalists.

Back to this book, though. I loved that it was a departure from the sweet love stories in the first three books. It was still a sweet love story, but there was a lot more tense, edge-of-your-seat stuff. With the heroine hiding out from a murderous lunatic (who Kathleen made very scary and very believable), it made for an exciting story in addition to the lovey parts. I also loved Spencer and his growth throughout the book. Especially the ending.

Another winner from Kathleen – I’m off to read her 2007 RITA finalist Quiet As the Grave, which I’m super excited about, because it’s got my favorite characters from the Glen.

I can’t say it enough – if you never have, give Harlequin a chance. These books by Kathleen are quick, heartwarming reads. A million thumbs up!

Book #8

Fourth Summer of the SisterhoodForever in Blue, The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood by Anne Brashares. This book had a lot of low points for me, but a few high points too. I’m a big fan of this series. #3 was my favorite. If you haven’t read this one yet, I’m going to try not to give too much away.

As in each Sisterhood book, there are four concurrent stories happening. Each story was frustrating in the way of soap operas. You can see the character obviously making bad choices, but because of pride/love/embarassment/stupidity/etc. they continue on a destructive path. This happened a lot in this book. I don’t remember it being so obvious in the other books.

I was sad that Carmen didn’t figure as prominently in this book, as she’s always been my favorite character. I’d love to discuss this book with someone that’s read it, because I want to talk about how each girls’ story ended – but I don’t want to give anything away.

All that said, I read it in two days. I liked that the author made the girls seem older, through language if anything. Although, sometimes, I didn’t buy that a 19/20 year old girl would think/say the things they were thinking/saying. But still…I recommend it. It’s a satisfying ending to a great series.