I wanted a short, easy no-brainer.  I got everything I wanted in this :

Author : Annette Blair

Date of  Publication : December 2006

Publisher : Berkley Sensation  (Mass Paperback)

ISBN-10: 0786296577

ISBN-13: 978-0786296576

No of pages : 389

The Story :

Vickie, a witch in denial, inherits a wardrobe and opens it to find a beautifully carved carousel unicorn inside.  Desperate to pay her grandmother’s medical and funeral expenses, she advertises its sale on TV.  Rory, a descendant of the  once respectable Mackenzie clan now turned community pariah, sees  the woman of his dreams (I mean, literally) holding the answer to restore the good name of his family.

Long ago, his ancestor, a famous carver,  broke his engagement with a beautiful witch (Vickie’s grandmother) who people said, cast a curse upon the Scottish village.  Regretful all of his life, Rory’s grandfather, before he died,  sent his beloved witch his most splendid creation — a carousel unicorn, part of a merry-go-round that brought prosperity to the village;  but one that would never run again until the curse is lifted.

So, Rory goes to find this unicorn, with a mission to take it, bring it back, rebuild the carousel, and restore the community’s prosperity and his good name.  Only thing, he has to contend with the witch and choose between love and family honor.

The Review :

As I mentioned, I just wanted a short easy read, a no-brainer after “Exile. Well, a real no-brainer is what I got!  I know, I know…the synopsis sounds cheesy and serves me right for picking this out of a sale bin again just because the title was a parody of  “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe“.  I’m not above reading shallow, fun  lit and I thought this was a cute, little romance with some magic thrown into it.  NOT!

The characters were odd and totally without some self-respect, either.  I don’t know what Blair was trying to accomplish. For instance, I think she wanted everything for her main character, Vickie.  She wanted her sexy, yet dressed her in dowdy vintage clothes;  a bold sex siren yet a frightened virgin (technically speaking since she deflowered herself years ago with dildos all named Brock—*shudder, shudder*–but has never been with a man); bohemian, cluttered, and fun but essentially good for nothing — can’t do business, cook, clean, balance books, etc. to save her life!  So here comes the knight in shining armor, the ruggedly handsome Scot who can do everything!  Cook, clean, balance books, organize, repair anything, and make her and others’ blood  boil for want of this stud. Thankfully, he falls short of being perfect by his hermitic attitude.

With amateurish writing, a main character whose personality ridiculously morphs from one thing into another, and annoying minor characters in the mix, you just gotta be drunk to like this trash.

My Mark :  Poor — Laughable;  Don’t Bother

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Author :  Laurell K. Hamilton

Series   :  Book 14, Anita Blake Series

Publication Date :  March 27, 2007 (Paperback Edition)

Publisher :   Jove

ISBN-10: 0515142816

ISBN-13: 978-0515142815

No. of pages : 576

The Story :

Anita Blake thinks she is pregnant but doesn’t know who the father is.  Is it Micah, the wereleopard;  Jean-Claude, her master vampire;  or Richard the werewolf?  She is a human with vampiric powers and a variety of lycanthropic strains — wolf, lion, leopard, etc.  She is supposedly every woman’s erotic fantasy, possessing the powers of the ardeur, which unleashes a sexual desire so great that men cannot resist but fall desperately in lust and in love as well.  Lust is Anita’s food upon which she feeds and her orgasmic delights in turn feed  some of her partners whose very existence rely on her ability to arouse and drink in sexual pleasure.  Thus, her harem of men.

Sex and the ardeur is a necessity so that Anita is not a slut but rather a very important element in the supernatural community.

The Review :

If the synopsis sounds lame and vacuous, that’s because it really is. The thin,  feeble plot seems like an flimsy excuse for providing a story when the book is really just plain porn.   Events always necessitate sex and despite the author’s obvious attempt to imbue deep emotional dimensions on her characters, they come out as pathetically half-baked, sex-starved freaks who just can’t relate with each other without rutting — and rutting in all forms : straight sex, gay sex, threesomes, anal, a bit of SM and animal sex.  And since the story is character driven,  it falls utterly flat on its face with them.

This book practically reeks of sex, so much so that it becomes tiresome and entirely unerotic.  Hamilton comes out as a bad erotic writer (and a bad storyteller,  to boot) and this supernatural piece of porn does not tilltilate but bores.

However, this is the 14th book in the Anita  Blake series and for Hamilton to have published a book this far into her series  makes me  wonder if this particular novel is simply a dud in her  collection, and if her other books are actually great.

To Read Or Not To Read? :

Read, if you :

  • like written erotica  (and you don’t give a damn if it’s artistically done or not)
  • get off on supernaturals
  • are unrelentingly going through each book in this series and so just have to read this one
  • have nothing else to grab for the loo

Otherwise,  ditch this and spend your time on something more worthwhile.  Or get to know the first few novels and see how Hamilton managed to acquire a fan base to make it this far (book # 14).

My Mark :  Poor

Since I’ve been on a voracious path of discovering authors,  Lisa Jackson has been on my list of authors to try.  Her name just  kept popping at me on bookstore shelves;  so finally,  I relented and included her in my growing books-to-read pile.

Author: Lisa Jackson
First Published : 1998
Publisher : Zebra Books
ISBN : 0-8217-7944-3
No. of pages : 451

Synopsis :

Mary Theresa – Marquise – a spoiled, egotistical, only slightly famous actress, suddenly disappears. Maggie McCrae, her identical twin but her total personal opposite, receives a telepathic message from her missing sister, begging for help and warning about Thane Walker.

Thane Walker is one hunky, ruggedly sexy, manly man that Marquise and Maggie have had the hots for, since their teens. The more flamboyant, daring Marquise, predictably,  had snagged the man and had left her twin’s heart in smithereens.

Now, Thane suddenly appears again in Maggie’s life and insists on helping her find Marquise, his ex-wife. Maggie desperately needs to find her twin, who could be in mortal danger. Should Maggie trust the man who had broken her heart?

Finding Marquise will open Maggie up to old hurts and will reveal new secrets about her twin that she’s never known. On top of this she has Thane Walker to deal with…

The Review :

And so goes this suspense-romance that actually reads like a B-movie. And so like one, don’t expect writing that takes pains to develop its characters or convey some dawning life realizations.

The author aims to titillate and she does a very good job with this delectable confection of a romance wrapped in a whodunit-mystery-thriller— the kind of guilty pleasure you don’t want your book-snobbish friends to know you indulge in. 😉

A great companion for the coming summer margaritas and bikinis, Lisa Jackson is another author I wouldn’t mind picking up now and then.

My Mark :  Good; Enjoyable

Author : Lauren Weisberger
Release Date : May 27, 2008
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN-10: 0743290119
ISBN-13: 978-0743290111
Pages: 288

Hey girls, here’s something new from that totally hip writer who gave us “The Devil Wears Prada”. Lauren Weisberger has served up another fun read for those in the mood to indulge in their occasionally bitchy, shallow selves.

Adriana, Leigh and Emmy, three staunch friends with an “approaching 30” crisis, find themselves somehow missing something in their lives. So, two of them make a pact to change their “love style”. Emmy, a monogamist, vows to get laid with as much as one guy per continent; Adrianna, an incorrigible flirt and seducer, promises to choose one man to be devotedly faithful to, with the hope of landing that elusive engagement sparkler. Leigh, having a seemingly perfect life, struggles with her discontent of it.

You’ve got to like these three—sometimes silly, vacuous, ditzy, annoying or just plain funny; but never boring. This is what I like about Weisberger. She always manages to make characters, no matter how selfish or inane, quite fun to get to know.

This may be chick-lit, queridas; but the book is not just one upbeat, funny, vacuous trip. Well….it is that; but Weisberger leaves a little meat in it and it’s this: You are who you are. You’ve just got to know you better.

The book does not come close to the “Devil Wears Prada“; but, it’s still a good one to tote around to the beach… a great chaser to that wonderfully chilled tart margarita.   Oh yeah…!

My Mark : Good — Quite Enjoyable!

Author: Philippa Gregory
Release Date : February 4, 2002
Publisher :
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
ISBN-10 : 0006514642
ISBN-13 : 978-0006514640
Pages : 640

It is the time of the English Reformation — a moment in history when King Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic Church to head the Protestant Church of England. These were the tumultuous times in which we find the heroine, Alys.

The story begins with Alys fleeing from a burning abbey, her home since she was twelve. She had run away from her foster mother, Morach, and her poverty-stricken and loveless life . Morach is the village wise woman, both a healer and a secret dabbler in the dark arts. The ruin of the abbey tragically forces Alys to go back to Morach and her former life of drudgery. But as fate would have it, Alys is sent as an answer to the summons for a healer from the lord of the manor, Lord Hugh, who upon seeing her value in healing and clerkship, makes her live in his castle.

This is where Alys sees the lord’s son, Hugo, and falls obsessively in love at first sight. But Hugo is married to a spiteful, jealous Catherine. And so begins Alys’ spiritual and moral decline in her desire to win and keep Hugo’s love.

Philippa Gregory has written a very dark book. The gloom permeates the entire story in which most of the notable characters are intense sketches of avarice, selfishness, evil, and depravity. There is no respite from the heaviness; but the events will compel one to turn page after page as the suspense mounts. After all, this is a very good story.

Alys is not a historical figure or someone significant in history to be molded according to factual limitations (like some in Gregory’s work – i.e. Anne Boleyn, Katherine of Aragon, et al.). She is the author’s free creation, and therefore shaped to the writer’s unlimited fancy. It is through her, I have come to see and respect Gregory’s remarkable talent in character development.

Alys is a 16-year old who is innately passionate and self-centered, a survivor with an independent streak. With these qualities, the author sets her in a period of gender prejudice and oppression, and throws trial after trial where her character is forced to choose between an expedient but immoral action and an arduously virtuous one. Realistically enough, the character chooses the easier paths; so, with each choice, Gregory chronicles how godly innocence can degrade to vulgar debasement.

The transformation is done gradually and very subtly so that the shift is believable. If this is Philippa Gregory’s aim, then she has succeeded quite well. Moreover, she has created a character that we may not want to see in ourselves but may be lurking, untested and untried, inside many of us with great instincts for self-preservation. Perhaps, she may be challenging us to judge Alys, then to answer truthfully, “If you were in her shoes…”

For those readers who don’t like pervasive pessimistic themes, stay away from this book. This will simply depress you. But for those who don’t mind immersing in such joylessness, reading this will reward you with Gregory’s sheer talent for characterization and of course, you get to read an amazingly good story.

As for the book’s surprising conclusion, again it will be the reader’s judgment that will render it a satisfying end or not. With this note, I’d like to say that A Wise Woman would be great material for your reading circle’s next discussion.

My Mark : Outstanding

This book may not be to everyone’s taste and many may disagree with my mark. If you do so, I would appreciate your opinions.