Breathless by Louise Marley & A Canterbury Crime by Brian Kavanagh

Couldn’t sleep last night and decided to pull a few more books off of my Kindle.  The first was Breathless by Louise Marley.  There was a lot to like about this, a strong, interesting lead character, well built back story and setting. The plot involving Greg, Will, Zac and Drew ticks along at a nice pace.  I found a couple of the characters actions and reactions off putting or odd.  On the whole, a fun, quick romance with a dash of mystery thrown in to the mix.

 This book is 4th in a series and I did not read 1 through 3, so I hesitate to review because perhaps my thoughts are influenced by that fact.

I found the murder mystery plot interesting, especially the connections to the past and the archaeology aspects that were involved.  Other than that, I really didn’t connect to the characters and found some of parts a little heavy handed.  Perhaps I would have gotten more out of it, if I read the series in order.

All That Mullarkey by Sue Moorcroft

 

Very light romantic read.  Interesting characters and a nice happily ever after ending.  The plot “twist” was very obvious to me early on and that took away from some of the enjoyment of the book.  I simply couldn’t understand how seemingly intelligent characters couldn’t see what was happening.

Overall, well written with enjoyable characters.

Christmas Carol by Michele Gorman

 

A novella that I heard about on a blog and downloaded quite cheaply from Amazon.

A delightful read, touching and heartfelt Christmas story. It was laugh out loud funny in places.   I am only sorry that it was such a short story. Very mood elevating and definitely in aid of getting into the Christmas spirit.

In one scene Carol receives a massage as a gift/bribe from her sister and she is definitely not the type of person who gets massages.  She had just laid face down on the table and the masseur whipped down her panties…

Is this a back massage or is it not a back massage?  Because she’s kneading my cheeks like they’re bread dough.  I’ve watched Mum make loaves since I was a child.  I know what happens next.  They double in size.

If you need a pick me up or are just in the mood for a Christmas romance, this book would be a good fit for you.

The Loyal Servant: A Very British Political Thriller by Eva Hudson

 I read this for my English Kindle Mystery book club on Goodreads and I downloaded it for free from Amazon.    I must admit that Political Thrillers are not a genre that I read normally, so I almost hesitate to say too much about it other than some broad generalizations since some of the things I noted might be the norm within the genre.

This was a very fast paced book, which I assume was part of the thriller aspect, which was fine and kept me turning the pages, however, I found some of the transitions at that pace to be rather abrupt.  At one point, I had to reread to figure out what happened during a transition from one chapter to the next.  The characters were well developed and in my mind (as a former civil servant) very realistic.  In fact, I found the whole scenario realistic in the portrayal of corruption and the ensuing cover up.  Caroline’s family situation was a little bizarre, but  after reading the news for as long as I have been, I don’t find it terribly unrealistic.

Although I am not a big fan of political thrillers (or politics in general), I have to say that this book was very well done and I will probably read the next in the series.

 

 

Weekend Cooking

wkendcooking

 

 

This is a meme hosted by BethFishReads found here.

So far this weekend, we been celebrating some of the autumn flavors, apple, root vegetables, and cider.

For Friday night, I made  BBC Goodfood’s Slow-braised pork shoulder with parsnips and cider and smashed red-skinned potatoes.  The recipe can be found here.  I use the BBC Goodfood‘s site for many recipes and usually find success. I also occasionally pick up the magazine.

This was a perfect autumn dish, the slow braise infused the meat and veg with the apple cider flavor.  I used Angry Orchard traditional dry cider in the recipe.  I gave up doing my own food photography, this image is from BBC Goodfood’s website.

Today, I picked up some root veg: swede (rutabaga), carrots, and parsnips.  I also had half of a head of red cabbage in the fridge that needed using up.   I love all the autumn flavors.   The meal I put together from all this was:

  • Chicken roasted in the oven
  • Tossed the root veg in olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted them in the oven
  • Chopped the red cabbage, thinly sliced a red onion, peeled and sliced a couple apples I found in the fridge and then added 2 tablespoons of whole berry cranberry sauce.  Sweated the onion and apple and then added everything else to the pan, popped the lid on, and let it cook slowly.

Lovely dinner with a bottle of red, probably should have been white, but I prefer red:)

 

 

The One You Really Want by Jill Mansell

 

I finally received this in the mail from worldofbooks, one of Amazon’s vendors.  I read a lot of British women writers and they can be hard to get here in the US.   I subscribe to the UK version of Good Housekeeping magazine and Woman and Home and always scan the book reviews first and add many of them to my TBR list, then I am disappointed when I can’t get the books here easily :(.  Ordering them from the UK, costs a fortune in postage…or so I thought.  When I tweeted about this, Jill Mansell responded and told me about Book Depository UK, so I am definitely going to try them!

I finished The One You Really Want….could be closer than you think last night and loved it! There were several characters, but the main female protagonists  were Nancy, Carmen and Rose.  The women were each well developed with their own personalities and their own concerns throughout the book.  I really enjoyed the multiple story lines throughout the book especially because they were all written to seem important and I cared about each of them.  Sometimes when I read book with multiple characters with their own story lines, there are one that takes precedence or the others just have that feel of not being as well done as the main one (then if it is segregated by chapter I end up just skimming certain chapters).  Definitely not the case here, I connected with all of them.  This was probably because the characters had that quality of seeming like real people, people you might actually meet in your community.

The book is well written and ties together the multiple story lines in the end.  Not to give anything away, but there is a happy ending, which after the week I had at work I really needed!

Recommended read for readers of ….hmmm, now what do we call it.  I just attended the Romance Writer’s Symposium in Princeton last week and this was the issue discussed.  Kay Mussell spoke and discussed the importance of referring to Romances, as Romantic Novels as a matter of gaining some respect for the writers of  romantic fiction.  All the genre fiction related to women’s writing was really put on the table.  Discussions included how marketing drives  this categorizing of books.  Romance and chick lit are seen as pejorative categories, but then other arguments were raised that women’s fiction was for “literary fiction” and then there was a debate about that.  Jennifer Crusie spoke, as did Eloisa James.  Both spoke with a great deal of candor about the publishing industry and the business of writing and selling books.  It has really made me think about how I classify books.

Maybe I’m dating myself but when I grew up there were not that many categories.  You had non-fiction and fiction.  Then, fiction had mystery, romance, adventure and THE CLASSICS, always referred to with that tone of awe.  So, as a school kid basically the first three were the things you wanted to read and the other one was the stuff you had to read.  As was said in the symposium, and I can’t remember who said it  (must take better notes next time), romance is the category that supports financially all the other categories.  Romance books sales allow people like Jonathon Franzen to first get published.

I highly recommend Jill Mansell’s The One You Really Want for readers of good books.