Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The MacGregors: Daniel and Ian

Author: Nora Roberts
Published: March 2007 (Silhouette)
Cateogory: Romance
Series: The MacGregor Family
Rating: 6/10

This was my least favorite of all the MacGregors books. While Daniel is funny as the patriarch of the family, I didn't enjoy the story of his romance with the quietly strong Anna. He's the same as he is 30 years in the future. In fact, I may like Daniel less after reading his story.

The story of Ian was a historical romance about a MacGregor ancestor. I felt like it was blah, nothing special. I prefer stories about the present-day MacGregors. This is definitely a book you can skip for this series.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Olive Farm

Author: Carol Drinkwater
Published: June 25, 2002 (Penguin)
Category: Memoir/Travel
Rating: 7/10

I hit one of those romance walls again, where I can't bring myself to read another romance and have to read something from a different genre. It's like sorbet in the middle of a meal for palate cleansing.

Carol Drinkwater is a British actress and writers, best known for her work playing James Herriot's wife in the UK television series based on his books. In The Olive Farm, she recounts her crazy decision to buy a rundown olive farm olive farm with her fiancé Michel, a French film/TV producer. They'd only known each other a few months and were living separately in France and England, and they weren't rich either, so all of Drinkwater's friends and families thought she was insane for considering the purchase.

Drinkwater's descriptions of life on an overgrown olive farm are beautiful and I know it sounds cliché, but they made me feel like I was standing on her terrace and looking over the wild olive trees and orchard in the heat of southern France. I loved her stories about harvesting the olives and the pressing process. The book isn't just about the olives, but also about her and Michel's growing love and becoming a family.

However, I was annoyed often with the obstacles Drinkwater described. Most of the time, it was about how they didn't have enough money, but I thought they threw their money around irresponsibly. Why buy all these flowers and hundreds of rose bushes when there are more important things to take care of, like a leaking roof? While it is so romantic to buy this house on impulse, I kept thinking that the two of them weren't prepared for owning a summer home that needed so much work. During the summer, Michel flew down from Paris every weekend to be there, and oftentimes, Drinkwater would fly there from England. Just think of all the money spent on airfare!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Hollow

Author: Nora Roberts
Published: May 6, 2008 (Jove)
Category: Paranormal Romance
Series: Sign of Seven Trilogy #2
Rating: 9/10

I've been waiting for this book for so long that I went into a ready slump the week beforehand in anticipation. Then when it arrived, I started reading it and then realized I should reread Blood Brothers so everything would be fresh.

The Hollow focuses on Fox and Layla, who share the ability to look into other people's minds and interpret the present. Cal and Quinn share the ability to see into the past and Gage and Cybil get glimpses of possible futures. While Fox has gotten used to his special power over the past 21 years, Layla has a hard time accepting her newfound power. She's also the odd-girl out, as Quinn and Cybil make a living investigating the paranormal, and all three men have been dealing with the horrors of the Seven since they were ten. Layla was managing a trendy boutique in Manhattan when she started having the dreams about Hawkins Hollow and picked up her life to figure out why she needs to be in this odd town that suffers a week of insanity in July every seven years.

Since, Fox's secretary decided to move away from Hawkins Hollow before the next Seven, he hired Layla to replace her. He just has to remind himself not to jump his hot secretary like some cliche. He takes it slow with Layla, charming her and kissing her in the supply closet when she needs his help reaching for something, then introducing her to his quirky hippie family with some embarrassment (his mom walks in on their first kiss in the supply closet).

It's also interesting to see that Gage and Cybil figured out that the group is pairing off, and perhaps it was meant to be, but they're not exactly thrilled about that, with Gage's "no serious relationships" rule.

Sigh. The final book, The Pagan Stone comes out in December. Why do I have to wait so long? The paranormal events are escalating in frequency and intensity, but I found that I wasn't as creeped out as I was while reading Blood Brothers. Really, nothing beats creepy demon kid peering into your second-story window in the middle of the night.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Thirteenth House

Author: Sharon Shinn
Published: February 27, 2007
Category: Fantasy
Series: Twelve Houses #2
Rating: 6/10

Kirra, serramarra of Danalustrous, has just returned home from rescuing Romar Brendan, the kingdom's regent, and finds out that her younger sister has been made heir to her father, the marlord of Danalustrous. Some people think she should be upset because she's the eldest and it should've gone to her, but others are happy because who wants a mystic shiftling running their House? Kirra understands why her sister was chosen over her, and even agrees to masquerade as Casserah in social tour of Gillengaria. Eventually, she runs into Romar again, and she reveals her true identity to him, and they begin an affair (he's married).

I was a little disappointed in this book because Kirra seemed so selfish for most of it. Does she want to be the kind of woman who breaks a marriage apart? Is Romar the kind of man to set his wife (who has done no wrong) aside? And at the same time, Donnal, her shiftling companion, has loved her always, but watches as she falls for the wrong man. Then Kirra gets jealous of Princess Amalie, who is also on the tour, because Donnal spends a lot of time guarding her.

Good thing: All the characters from Mystic and Rider return, most of the group being present to guard the princess. The bonds between the group members grow stronger, with Justin being the person to finally scold Kirra for her behavior, and Cammon's reading powers seem even more limitless than before. In terms of overall series storyline, I feel like not a lot happened regarding the Daughters of the Pale Mother and their evil leader, the mystic-hunting Lestra.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Natural Born Charmer

Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Published: April 2008 (HarperCollins)
Category: Romance
Series: Chicago Stars #7
Rating: 8/10

Sorry, super short review. It's the usual more than your average romance again. The story is more than just the main couple; it involves Dean's odd and scattered family. It's a funny and poignant love story that isn't just about romantic love, but family love too. Very very sorry about crappiness of this post because it's late August and I read this months ago!