All in with the Duke

Ava March

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I usually enjoy reading m/m romance, but this one left me feeling sort of ‘meh.’ The romance seemed unlikely, and neither of the characters were worth the time I spent reading about them. I didn’t like either one, and the sex scenes weren’t particularly appealing.

Nevertheless, it was well-written, and I might be willing to risk another $1.99 on one of her other books. Or not.

 

 

 

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The Pool Boy’s Beatitude

D.J. Swykert

The Pool Boy's Beatitude

Jack is a walking contradiction. He has a master’s degree in particle physics, yet he works as a pool cleaner. He is married, yet has affairs with any woman willing to give him the time of day. He drinks and takes any drugs he can get his hands on. He’s the type of guy you would run from in real life, yet in this book he is charming and likeable.

He takes a chance one time too many, and it lands him in jail for drunk driving. Fortunately one of his lady friends is rich enough to hire him a decent lawyer, and he gets minimal time in jail. Unfortunately, she is not his true love. That would be Sarah. Not his wife. She is named Elle.

I got dizzy trying to keep track of all his women. His one saving grace is that he is a good cook. He make delicious meals for Sarah. That’s almost enough to redeem him in the reader’s eyes. He’s a charming scamp who refuses to grow up, and that is his charm.

By the end of the book, there is some hope for him.

Midnight Crossroad

Charlaine Harris

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I think people who are looking for another Sookie Stackhouse-type book will be disappointed. People who are willing to let it go and enjoy Midnight for what it is, will enjoy the series. Me, I’m in the second group.

Harris has a gift for writing quirky, enjoyable characters. Each one of the residents of Midnight, Texas, a one-stop small town, has something just a little off about him/her. I really liked Manfred, the computer psychic, and Fiji, the sort-of witch. All the rest of the characters have their own secrets, and we learn about them, bit by bit. There is enough to explore about the history and present of all the characters to fill a series. I’m reading the second book now, and it fulfills the promise of the first.

Mind of My Mind

Octavia Butler

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This is the second of four books in the Patternmaster series, although it was written first. For  4,000 years Doro has implemented his breeding program. Until now, no one has opposed him. His ‘wife’ Emma has struggled with him, attempting to wake some humanity in him. Now she has produced a daughter that has powers that challenge him, leading to the ultimate struggle for domination.

Although Emma is not as fully realized as she is in the first book (written after this one), she is still a dynamic character. It is Butler’s gift as a writer to make her people seem real and engaging. I look forward to the next two books to see where she will take me.

 

Homeless Bird

Gloria Whelan

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It seems this book has generated a bit of controversy among people saying that it isn’t a true picture of India. I don’t know enough to judge their arguments.  I would say that if you think they are right, it doesn’t take away from the quality of the writing or of the story. Thirteen-year-old Koly is married off to a sickly boy, whose family needs the dowry money to make a pilgrimage hoping for his healing.

Instead, he dies, and his father dies shortly after. Her mother-in-law, not wishing for another person to support, abandons her in a city where she knows no one. Resourceful Koli soon makes her way and obtains work by embroidering her original designs on quilts.

Read as a story of one young woman’s struggle to survive and thrive, this story is enjoyable.

The Tuscan Child

Rhys Bowen

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In 1944 an English pilot is shot down over San Salvatore. Badly wounded, he seeks shelter in a bombed-out monastery. With the aid of a beautiful woman, he hides from the Germans. 30 years later, his daughter finds an unopened letter to the woman among her father’s effects.

Determined to ferret out the truth, Joanna Langley goes to Tuscany to seek out anyone who can help her find the woman who helped her father, but everyone denies any knowledge of her father or the woman.

Bit by bit she unravels the mystery and the final shocking conclusion. Along the way she finds healing for herself and love.

Thanks to Netgalley for ARC.

Murder on a Midsummer Night

Kerry Greenwood

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A Phryne Fisher novel is a treat, especially in the winter doldrums, and this is no exception. Whether we are spending time reading about her wonderful wardrobe, the delicious meals that magically appear on her table, or the delicious men who appear to share her bed, it all adds up to a good time.

This time Miss Fisher is asked to solve the mystery of an antique dealer found drowned on a beach. Although the police are willing to pronounce it a suicide, Phryne demonstrates that few suicides on the beach have bath water and soap in their lungs. Using this as a jumping off place, she proceeds to solve the murder and bring the perpetrator to justice.

Phryne is a delight.

A Boy Made of Blocks

Keith Stuart

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A difficult subject handled with sensitivity and insight, this book draws us into the world of Alex, Jody and their autistic son Sam. Given to frequent rages and upset at any change in his routine, Sam present unique challenges to his parents. Alex can escape into the world of work, but Jody carries the responsibility of day-to-day care for Sam. The stress is having its affect on their marriage. Then Alex loses his job.

This novel shows the attempt and ultimate success of Alex’s tries to enter the world of his son. The entree comes when he starts to play a computer game called Minecraft. Able to connect person-to-person through the game, Alex discovers the real person his son is. Ultimately he heals his relationship with his wife and son, and he is able to relate to his child through the medium of the game. The boy takes on some social skills and makes friends.

The author has a son on the autism spectrum he was able to relate to through the medium of computer game, so he knows from personal experience what he is writing about.

Lost Season of Love and Snow

Jennifer Laam

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A fictionalized life of Natalya Pushkin, the famous Russian poet, this novel tells the story of their relationship through the eyes of Alexander Pushkin’s wife, one of the most beautiful women in Moscow. Only 16 when they first met, she immediately caught his eye, and eventually his heart.

Their life together was not easy. Alexander was jealous, Natalya liked to flirt. She thought it was harmless, but eventually it led to Alexander’s death in a duel fought for her honor.

Taking these handful of facts, Ms Lamm weaves a web of enchantment around the early 19th-century Moscow. A life of glittering beauty and underlying jealousy, hatred, and fear comes alive as I read.

The Extra Woman

Joannna Scutts

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Marjorie Hillis is hardly a household name today, but in the 1930s everyone knew her as an editor at Vogue. Her private life was just that—private. Then in 1936 she wrote a best-selling book called Live Alone and Like It: A Guide for the Extra Woman. Not until Sex and the Single Girl was there such a sensation. Ms Hillis put forth the idea that the single life was something to be enjoyed, not endured. With tips on decorating and entertaining on a budget, she showed millions of American women how to make the most of the single life. Overnight the career woman entered popular culture, from books to movies.

I believe a novel I read recently, Mrs Boxfish Takes a Walk was inspired in part by Marjorie Hillis, showing that her influence lives on well past her death. If she was anything like her fictional counterpart, it is easy to see why she was such a wonderful role model.

Enjoying life as a single woman takes stamina and courage. In an age where everyone supposes you are on the hunt for a man, it takes something special to swim against the tide and declare yourself free.

And then, of course, she married. Some people felt betrayed, but Hillis declared she had nothing against marriage. Her attitude was to enjoy life in whatever circumstance you find yourself, single, married or widowed.

A fascinating look at life as a single woman in the 1930s.