Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review: An Engagement in Seattle by Debbie Macomber - Part 2

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[An Engagement in Seattle has two books: Groom Wanted and Bride Wanted. For a review of Groom Wanted, please see Part 1.]


Review of Bride Wanted: What do you get when a man from Alaska decides he's go three weeks to find and marry a bride? A funny heart-warming tale of two lonely people finding love under unorthodox circumstances.

Chase is a lonely Alaska pipeline worker who has vowed he will not go through another Alaskan winter without a wife. The loneliness and need for human contact are getting to him. And while thinks he's not asking for much, he's blown away by the number of women willing to answer his ad for a wife on a billboard in Seattle. But not just any woman will do. The one Chase wants is in love with another man.

Lesley's life isn't idea, but she's doing okay. It's not everyone who's strong enough to whether a fiance who dumped her to marry a fellow co-worker. Worse still, they all work together at the same school. Everyday she's faced with the pain and her ex-fiance's "guilt" as he manages to play the martyr. How will she ever be able to move on when he won't release his hold on her heart?

Chase and Lesley meet by chance and the attraction is immediate. She's very interested in him until she finds out he's the man responsible for that ridiculous billboard advertising for a wife. Now Chase must fight and uphill battle for the one woman he wants while interviewing hundreds who will never measure up.

This is one of my favorite Macomber books. Why? The premise is funny and lends to some great moments. But it's the author's ability to make even the most ridiculous story line plausible by showing the vulnerable side to heartbreak and loneliness and what people will do in order to belong to someone, even when they're scared to take that leap of faith.

This story does have a love scene that is a little more descriptive than what I would usually recommend on this site, so read at your own risk. It's not terrible, but it does mention a body part or two, which I found unusual for Debbie Macomber. But since this book was packaged together with Groom Wanted that was clean, I felt a warning was needed for this one.

Book Summary: Bride Wanted - A billboard on the side of a Seattle road is common enough—but one advertising for a bride? It's Chase Goodwin's solution to the problem of finding a wife quickly, a wife to bring home to Alaska. Lesley Campbell has her own reasons for responding…and in no time she's the Bride Wanted in Chase's life!

[Engagement in Seattle by Debbie Macomber, 475 pgs, Mira Books - 2011, Contemporary Romance]

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An Engagement in Seattle by Debbie Macomber - Part 1



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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: An Engagement in Seattle by Debbie Macomber - Part 1

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[An Engagement in Seattle has two books: Groom Wanted and Bride Wanted. For a review of Bride Wanted, read Part 2.]

Review of Groom Wanted: This book was a delightful light read about two people whose marriage of convenience turns into more than either of them bargained form. Macomber has a talent for romance. And while I haven't like every book she's written, I really enjoyed this one. Aleksander may have accepted Julie's offer of marriage to save her company and prevent his deportation, he is still very traditional when it comes to marriage. He expects to have a real marriage with children. He has no romantic notions that this marriage will be based on love, and feels mutual respect and compatibility make a better foundation for marriage.

 Silly man... Doesn't he know he's in a romance novel? Haha! (I couldn't resist.)

Julia has not intention of giving Aleksander the real marriage he expects, even if she did promise him she would. She is scarred and distrusting of men and questions her own choice in men, including Aleksander. But she still must act the part of the loving wife, no only for immigration, but for the ever watchful eyes of Aleksander's sister who believes, like everyone else, that the marriage is real. I have read this book few times now and found it enjoyable every time.

Maybe I'm just a sucker for a man with a sexy Russian accent. Any accent will do. This story does have several love scenes, but they are either few fade to black or non-descriptive. It certainly earns 4 stars in my book for giving me a few hours of enjoyment with a happy ending anyone can enjoy.

Book Summaries: Groom Wanted - Aleksandr Berinksi is a Russian biochemist in the U.S. on a visa that is about to expire. Marriage will allow him to stay—marriage to Julia Conrad. If Julia's going to save her Seattle-based company, she needs him as much as he needs her. There's a Groom Wanted in Julia's life. And not just any groom!

[Engagement in Seattle by Debbie Macomber, 475 pgs, Mira Books - 2011, Contemporary Romance]

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An Engagement in Seattle by Debbie Macomber - Part 2



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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: Time Flies by Claire Cook

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Review: I cannot tell a lie. I normally don't gravitate toward the women's lit genre, but I found Time Flies by Claire Cook to be surprisingly good. My surprise is in no way meant as a disparaging comment on Claire Cook's skills as an author. In fact it is meant as a compliment. She has created a wonderful book in a genre I usually don't like.

The dialogue between Melanie and her best friend, B.J., is witty and real and just the type of banter you'd expect from two women who have been friends since high school. This dynamic makes me long for my own friends in high school with whom I’ve lost contact. But life goes on, as they say, and that is also one of the themes of this book. Whether we like it or not, life goes on. Sometimes it takes us to wonderful places and sometimes we wonder how we ever ended up where we are today.

Melanie comes face to face with where her life has led her, and she must deal with and own up to her part. In many ways this book is the story of a woman finally having her coming of age as an unexpectedly single empty-nester. Ms. Cook does a wonderful showing how Melanie faces (or not) the changes in her life and the confusion with how she's supposed to deal with things. There's no right or wrong answer, but rather finding value in oneself and deciding what is best.

As these two women prepare to attend their long-awaited high school reunion, both realize that their lives are good and they've been lucky so far. And while most of the trip does not measure up to the lofty pedestal Melanie has placed it upon, she comes to realize that the quick fix and rose-colored glasses aren't the best answer to her challenges in life. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story about navigating the twists and turns of life. [Originally posted at The Write Savage on June 13, 2013]

Book Summary: Years ago, Melanie followed her husband, Kurt, from the New England beach town where their two young sons were thriving to the suburbs of Atlanta. She’s carved out a life as a successful metal sculptor, but when Kurt leaves her for another woman, having the tools to cut up their marriage bed is small consolation. She’s old enough to know that high school reunions are often a big disappointment, but when her best friend makes her buy a ticket and an old flame gets in touch to see whether she’ll be going, she fantasizes that returning to her past might help her find her future… until her driving phobia resurfaces and threatens to hold her back from the adventure of a lifetime.

Time Flies is an epic road trip filled with fun, heartbreak, and friendship, and explores what it takes to conquer your worst fears…so you can start living your future.

[Time Flies by Claire Cook, 303 pgs, Simon and Schuster - June 2013, Chick Lit]

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

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Review: Not being a fan of horror and eschewing anything related to zombies, I shocked myself when I not only bought World War Z, but read it. Surprisingly enough, I loved this book, and as long as I didn't read it before bedtime and "cleansed my brain-palate" with another book, I didn't have too many zombie dreams.

World War Z is a well-executed and thought-out book,which appealed to my scientific side that craves exploring every scenario and leaving no stone unturned. Presented in interview format, it tells the story of the Zombie apocalypse through firsthand accounts of those who fought and/or survived the war. I enjoyed how Brooks gave us a realistic view of what would happen to the world if the walking dead were a reality and how the living would react upon first hearing the news. How many of us would actually believe that zombies were real? How many governments would take the threat seriously if someone tried to raise the alarm? And how many mistakes and lives would be lost before we started to get something right? It is a chilling tale. And while it does highlight mankind's dependence on technology and the belief that our government will bail us out, these are the issues that cripple mankind in the fight against the zombies. Eventually the living figure out a better way to fight, but not before we are brought to the brink of near extinction and the loss of most of the civilized world. What is left is a planet that is a mere shadow of what it once was and yet not all the changes are negative.

I particularly enjoyed the socio-economic shift of the United States. The prize jobs went to the blue-collar worker with the skills to rebuild a country while the white-collar worker with little skill outside the boardroom became the janitors and labor crews in the war against the zombies. It's almost enough for me to hone the skills I learned growing up on a farm.... Maybe I'll take up welding as a hobby. [Originally posted at The Write Savage on June 24, 2013]

Book Summary: The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time.World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, "By excluding the human factor, aren't we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn't the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as 'the living dead'?"

[World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks, 420 pgs, Broadway Books - May 2013, Apocalyptic, Horror]

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Review: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

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Review: What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said? I fell in love with The Winter Sea almost from the get go. Kearsley's prose is beautiful and understated as she gently guides the reader through the twists and turns of this story.

At it's core, The Winter Sea is an emotionally satisfying love story and is really two books in one. The dual story line is carefully entwined, each tale supporting the other. I quickly fell in love with the characters in both timelines. Kearsley does a masterful job reining in both stories so that one never overpowers the other for center stage. And while you know the fates of the protagonists in the past are sealed, discovering how those fates unfold is well worth the 500 plus pages. This book is one of my all-time favorites. I laughed, I cried, I cheered and when I reached the end, I wanted to do it all over again.

Summary: In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown. Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write.

But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth-the ultimate betrayal-that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her...

[The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearlsey, 554 pgs, Sourcebooks - 2010, historical, romance]

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Getting to Know You...

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I read books... a lot of books from a lot of genres. Call it an occupational hazard. After bleaching my eyes and brain countless times, I decided it was time to join the blogosphere with an offering of my own--a site dedicated to books free of bleach-worthy content.

Right now you're probably thinking...
A. What a prude!
B. Meh, who cares.
C. Finally!

Answers to that test. (Who said anything about a test!)
A: Keep moving. Nothing to see here.
B: I'd like to think my site will convert you over to the bright side, but the "meh" says it all.
C: You've come to the right place. (It's true! C is the best answer.)

Now that I've go the attention of those who might actually like a site like mine let me just say for the record...
The purpose of this site is to review and promote well-written books for adults that are not erotic romance or erotic in nature. Exotic, yes. Erotic nooooo.
I have nothing against sex. Really... Really. I'm just fed up with reading sex scenes that leave little to the imagination. The market has been flooded with books filled with love scenes that read more like an instructional manual than a well-crafted moment in time.

The books promoted on Booknificent will be free of descriptive sex scenes. Does that mean the characters remain virginal-white as the driven snow? Uh... no. Fade to black love scenes are allowed as long as the scene leading up to the fade isn't of the insert-tab-A-into-slot-B type of description. If the authors says, "They made love," I consider that clean because I didn't have to be subjected to the "ew" moment.

Before you get offended and force me to get out the official "Butthurt Form," I would like to emphatically state that I have nothing against erotic romance and erotic books. I enjoy reading a vast array of books from a plethora of genres. What I'm trying to do is fill a niche in the blogosphere. The number of sites devoted to erotic romance and erotica is more than I can count on my fingers and toes. 

So, feel free to follow me, tweet me, like me, stalk me, invite me to your Bar Mitzvah, or whatever else you want... just don't be hating. If this blog isn't your cup of tea, find one that is.

If by some chance you like my reviews and want to see what I think of those books that did not make the cut for Booknificent, check out my reviews on Goodreads or my personal blog at The Write Savage. For a more detailed version of what you can expect on this site, please see my "About" page.

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