Month: December 2016 (page 1 of 8)

Have a Happy New Year!

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May your New Year be merry and bright! I think everyone is just waiting for 2016 to be over (I am at least). Hopefully 2017 brings a lot of light, love, and good reads your way!

Sunrise Point by Robyn Carr

Sunrise Point by Robyn CarrSunrise Point by Robyn Carr
Published by Mira Books on April 24th 2012
Genres: Romance
Pages: 378
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Tom Cavanaugh may think he wants a traditional woman, but in Virgin River, the greatest tradition is falling in love unexpectedly....

Former Marine Tom Cavanaugh’s come home to Virgin River, ready to take over his family’s apple orchard and settle down. He knows just what the perfect woman will be like: sweet, decent, maybe a little naive. The marrying kind.

Nothing like Nora Crane. So why can’t he keep his eyes off the striking single mother?

Nora may not have a formal education, but she graduated with honors from the school of hard knocks. She’s been through tough times and she’ll do whatever it takes to support her family, including helping with harvest time at the Cavanaugh’s orchard. She’s always kept a single-minded focus on staying afloat...but suddenly her thoughts keep drifting back to rugged, opinionated Tom Cavanaugh.

Both Nora and Tom have their own ideas of what family means. But they’re about to prove each other completely wrong... (

You can’t see my face, but my face is just still right now. This was the next to the last book in the Virgin River series and it was such a letdown. I think that having it be about a character we heard about here and there from the previous books was the main issue. I had no interest in Nora from the previous books and I was wondering why she kept popping up. Also Nora being 23 and like I think 5 feet with two kids and her being attracted to Tom didn’t work. Probably because based on what I read, Tom  had to be at least in his late 30s or early 40s. There is no real tension in this book either, it’s just reading about two people kind of doing their own thing but slowly becoming attracted to each other. When we do get a love scene I maybe sort of yawned my way through it. We once again get an epilogue in this book that I was surprised to see. It didn’t really work for me, but oh well.

Nora is a single mother with two little kids doing her best to keep her head afloat. She goes looking for work at Tom’s family’s apple orchard. He initially turns her away thinking she is too young and small to be able to do much good, but his grandmother makes him hire her. Nora starts to think of Tom romantically, but tries not to when he starts dating another woman.

Tom. Eh. He is a former Marine (mostly all of the men in Virgin River are former Marines. Thinks about it, yes I think they are) who is determined to meet and marry a “classy woman”. He decides that type of woman he is looking for is a widow of a friend of his that died in Afghanistan. At least Tom realizes this woman is completely selfish and she and he would not make a good match, but I did get a kick out of his grandmother ready and waiting to throw this woman out of their shared home.

We have references to previous characters per usual. But there is not really a B plot in this book at all. The majority of the book is dealing with Nora and Tom and Nora has a whole host of things going on.

I think the romance was lacking as I already said because I didn’t really get a sense while reading that these two were hot and bothered for each other. Nora was mostly like a little sister to Tom through the whole book so maybe that is why I found it jarring.

two-half-stars

Redwood Bend by Robyn Carr

Redwood Bend by Robyn CarrRedwood Bend by Robyn Carr
Published by Mira Books on February 28th 2012
Genres: Romance
Pages: 377
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
one-star

Former actor Dylan Childress left the L.A. scene behind years ago for a quiet life running an aviation company in Montana. But with business slowing down, Dylan is starting to wonder whether he should take one of the offers Hollywood keeps sending his way. He figures a motorcycle trip to Virgin River with his buddies might help him decide what path to take. But his own troubles are left at the side of the road when he spots a woman stranded on the way into town.

Katie Malone and her twin boys' trip to Virgin River is stopped short by a tire as flat as her failed romance. To make matters worse, it's raining, the boys are hungry and Katie is having trouble putting on the spare. So when some bikers pull up beside them, offering to help, all Katie feels is relief. Then she sees sexy, leather-clad Dylan Childress, and in one brief moment the world turns on its axis.

Katie's a sensible single mother and Dylan's a die-hard commitment-phobe. Neither one is looking for long-term romance. But sometimes it takes only a moment to know you've found something that could change your life forever.

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This was one of my least favorite books in the series. A male and female lead that were lame together and a male lead that sucked. I think Carr was going for a reformed rake story-line taking place in contemporary times, but honestly it didn’t work. And I loathe contemporary romances where the male lead is all I am only here to get laid and am not interested in a relationship and the woman is maybe I can change him. Stop it!

I wish an author would have the woman saying okay I can do that, and having her go merrily on her way after the hook-up. Have that guy chase after her and have her honestly not be interested and not acting as if she is not interested in order to get him to be interested. Did you all follow that?

Dylan sucks. I think that if Katie had been single with no kids I wouldn’t have cared. But she did have kids and I think that it was in Jerry Maguire that Cuba Gooding Jr. said to Tom Cruise’s character, you do not mess with single mothers unless you plan on being there. And I kind of want to know what Katie is thinking since she doesn’t seem smart at all.

Katie has left behind what she thought was a promising relationship with a dentist (poor dentists, the romance world hates you all) and takes her two twin boys to be with her brother Conner for the summer. Katie is also a widow (Virgin River, you strike again) and you would think she would be cautious about introducing her kids to men unless she’s dating them. I try not to get judgey with fictional characters too much (total lie, I am super judgey, I love books but certain things drive me up the wall while reading) but I honestly wanted to tell Katie to find a vibrator and just leave Dylan alone.

Dylan’s plot was laughably bad. He is a former child actor who is trying to keep his flight business in Montana afloat. It’s not doing well so he goes back to acting. After like a 10 year or 20 year break. I can’t even remember because I just rolled my eyes. He’s terrible towards his mother and half brother and sister because he sees them as only being there to just suck him dry and use him to get their own careers back on the track. Besides a few paragraphs here and there that was all you get there dealing with them.

Dylan sticks around Virgin River a bit (even though his business is failing) to get laid. Seriously. He decides he is attracted to Katie though he is not interested in a relationship and based on his dialogue cannot really stand her kids.

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I know there were other people in this book, I just can’t recall them besides Conner and Leslie from the last book. Most of this book really dealt with Katie weeping over Dylan and trying not to show him she missed him and then a curveball is thrown in that  had me vibrating with the urge to dropkick my Kindle. I did not do that since I had a brand new Kindle Fire HD for Christmas from my brothers, and I don’t treat gifts from family like soccer balls. Back to the book, it was a terrible idea to introduce, and I think the only reason why was in order to have this couple be together because even Carr I felt like was not too enthused about them.

one-star

Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr

Hidden Summit by Robyn CarrHidden Summit by Robyn Carr
Published by Mira Books on December 27th 2011
Genres: Romance
Pages: 347
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Sick of running into her cheery ex-husband and his new wife, Leslie Petruso accepts a job at the Virgin River branch of Haggerty Construction and takes the high road right out of town. Now she's got Paul Haggerty's business running like a well-oiled machine. In fact, things are so busy Paul jumps at the chance to hire an extra set of hands.

Just like Leslie, Conner Danson has been burned by love. But if Leslie was disappointed by her relationship going bad, Conner was decimated. He's got no time for women... although he spends an awful lot of time pretending not to notice Leslie. And she's pretty busy "ignoring" the chemistry between them.

According to Conner and Leslie, they have only one thing in common—they're done with love. But everyone in Virgin River can see that things are heating up at Haggerty Construction. And as far as Paul Haggerty can tell, the best thing he can do is hang on to his hard hat and watch the sparks fly!

Ack. I don’t know what to say. This was kind of the beginning of the end of my love for this series. This book had a really ludicrous plot and the resolution to it was kind of laughable to me. I did love the female lead, but the male lead, no, not even a little bit at all.

Leslie Petruso moves to Virgin River to get away from her ex-husband and his new wife. She knows Paul Haggerty due to her working for his father, and she ends up going to work for Paul as his office administrator in Virgin River. The many reasons why I loved Leslie, because she goes after her ex twice in this book, and both times had me howling with laughter. I have had that whole let’s be friends after being dumped by a guy before. I wish I had went after him with a fire extinguisher. I also adored Leslie’s older parents who are still out there doing what they can to enjoy their lives. Leslie’s mom’s comments about her ex had me laughing too. Honestly anything just dealing with Leslie, her family, and ex worked. I did have a bit of a problem with Leslie in the end pitying her ex, he was and is an ass.

Conner Danson…boy oh boy nope. I don’t want to spoil for potential readers, but I have no idea why this was in a romance book. For a minute I thought I was reading about a Lifetime movie that I could have sworn had the same plot. And Conner and his comments about women to himself…ugh. I just didn’t like the guy at all. He has a tie to another Virgin River character (Brie) and I hated their scenes together. He acted like an ass and I wanted Brie to kick the crap out of the guy. I also hated that most of the story deals with Conner lying to Leslie, but she gets over it in like two sentences.

We are introduced to Conner’s sister Katie who will be the star of the next book and also we get a lot of looks at previous characters from the series.

I don’t have much to say unless I spoil the book, but Conner’s whole story-line was the main reason why I just gave this 2.5 stars.

two-half-stars

Books I Read This Month (December 2016)

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I am hoping that everyone had a great December and got through some awesome reads. I am hoping that 2017 gives me some great books. This month I felt a little off and only really enjoyed a handful of books. I also managed to complete 40 books! I am very surprised, but give kudos to the cold that knocked me on my butt and the holiday weekend. We also had Monday off and I took vacation time, so I managed to do a huge push of romance reads the past week.

5 stars:

4.5 stars:

4 stars:

 

3.5 stars:

3 stars:

2.5 stars:

2 stars:

1 star:

DNF:

Our Worst Books of 2016

Obsidian Blue:

Book God 1: Well I guess that now 2016 is coming to a close we can stop torturing Obsidian Blue with terrible books.

Book God 2: Well it’s not like she was able to track us down. I mean she tried, but whatever, I laughed when she finally finished “Hemlock Grove” and she was ready to be done with all books for a month.

Book God 1: Whatever, she loves to read, she can be as mad as she likes, she is never not going to read a book.

Book God 2: Well maybe we can be nicer in 2017. I mean she has had a couple of bad reading months. I mean after a while I was staring to feel a bit bad.

Book God 1: (Pours some tea). Really, I didn’t. I didn’t tell her to try and read “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” she needs to realize the more hyped a book is, the more she’s not going to like it. Besides we have some of her favorite authors putting out books in 2017. She should be happy with that. I mean I am tempted to make the John Scalzi book terrible so she wonders if we are going after her again, but I am going to leave her alone.

Here is my top ten worst of 2016 list. I decided to not include books that I DNF in this top ten list. But if anyone is interested, I will happily add that in the comments later. I had a lot of DNFs this year. I finally started to pull the trigger when I was not enjoying a book instead of force reading. It saved me a lot of wasted time.

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling , John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne. Besides the character of Scorpius everyone in this book was a pale shadow. The main plot was nonsensical, and for this being a play, there was a surprising lack of stage directions and other details that would have made this better. This read like a screenplay and I was not happy with wasting my time on it. Next time, I will wait for a library release before pre-ordering.
  2. Yellow Brick War (Dorothy Must Die #3) by Danielle Paige. Never in my life have I seen a book just totally waste a readers time. There was no point to this third book except to draw things out even more and for a fourth book (which heck no I am not going to subject myself to reading) to come out which I am sure maybe still won’t end things.
  3. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield. My exact quote from the review I posted. “I have started and stopped this review about half a dozen times. I don’t even know where to begin with how much I disliked this book. I love Pride and Prejudice. I was so happy to read that book last year after watching so many adaptations of the book. However, I have noticed lately that a lot of authors out there are always trying to update the book to modern times along with other Austen works and for the most part, I haven’t liked any of these type of books. Maybe because it feels like most of these authors actually don’t have a lot of respect for the source material or maybe totally miss the point of some of the characters in the book.”
  4. Origins (Alphas 0.5) by Ilona Andrews. “I was hoping, truly hoping that maybe Ilona Andrews would pull this one out at the end. Have Karina be a heroine standing tall on her own escaping from a life of being a slave with her daughter. This after she stabs the hero Lucas a thousand times in his neck would have been the best case scenario. If that had happened I would have given this book 5 stars. But no, instead, we get Karina, who up until almost the very end of the book is thinking of ways to escape with her and her daughter finding herself intrigued and seduced by Lucas who is a piece of crap.”
  5. Half Lost (The Half Bad Trilogy #3) by Sally Green. “Good lord I have a headache just thinking about this book right now. “Half Bad” had such great promise, and I absolutely adored “Half Truths.” And then “Half Wild” and “Half Lost” happened and….I certainly did not expect the book to totally belly flop when I expected a perfect or near perfect dive. I don’t know if this is an overall problem with young adult books right now or what. It just feels like everyone is getting pushed to put out a series or trilogy. Heck if the first book is great/good then use I am always happy to see the characters again and again. But I realize that Ms. Green put out a book or novella every couple of months I think since “Half Bad” first came out, and I think that may have been too much going on. Cause the second and third book still have world building problems galore, lack of dialogue, an unsympathetic lead, not that interesting secondary leads/romantic interests, a BS deus ex machina, and the worst ending I can seriously think of for this book.”
  6. The Assistants: A Novel by Camille Perri. “Nope. That’s all I have to say about this not funny at all book about a bunch of assistants who steal from their company because their bosses make a lot more money than they do. The book prologue starts off and you know that something happened but in the end that Tina and her friends end up looking like folk heroes. I guess it was that whole steal from the rich to benefit themselves thing going on.”
  7. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. “All I really have to say about this whole book is that it defies good common sense. I just really could not with the main character, Grace. The story starts off with present and we have a newlywed Grace throwing a dinner party with her husband Jack. Everyone admires the both of them and for how beautiful and perfect Grace is at all times. But of course as a reader you start to realize something is wrong due to how tense Grace is and how worried she is that she may mess up the dinner. And then the author takes the reader back to the past to when she first meets Jack and then back to the present, then to the past, etc.”
  8. A Girl’s Guide to Moving On (New Beginnings #2) by Debbie Macomber. “This is the second book in Debbie Macomber’s New Beginnings series. I previously read book one and just gave it three stars, see Would Have Worked Better if Told from One POV. My main comments about that book also come into play here. Instead of us having the changing narrative of the three sisters, we now have alternating chapters told from Nichole and Leanne (Nichole’s ex-mother in law) POV. And honestly I wish that Macomber had just stuck with one character and that was it. Instead I had two characters who I ended up not giving a good crap about. Apparently getting on with their lives is both of them meeting Neanderthal type men and constantly saying to themselves how much better these men are then the cheating, lying, husbands they left behind.”
  9. The Word for Yes by Claire Needell.  “I have things to do and not a lot of time to go over what made this book a truly awful book that looked at date rape. Focusing on three sisters (college age Jan and high schoolers Erika and Melanie) who live in New York. What can I really say. Ms. Needell did a very bad job of developing any of the characters in this book. For such a serious subject matter I was shocked at how none of the sisters individual stories really flowed with the main plot.”
  10. The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen.  “So this book in the end did not live up to the hype I kept seeing all over the place with it. With shifting perspectives (there were six people to track in this book) and the author choosing to make 5 out of 6 told in the third person there was way too much going on for me to even really care about all of these characters. In addition, due to the plethora of characters, the development of almost all of these characters was shallow. The only exception to this was the character of Cailey. Ms. Whalen shines when she tells Cailey’s POV in the first person. Maybe if she had stuck with her throughout this book it would have worked better.”

Moonlight Reader:

I definitely read some clunkers this year – often for some challenge or another that I was involved in. I did read one really terrible self-published book this year because I needed a book with a character whose name began with the letter “X,” but I’m not going to mention it here, as I pretty much knew it would be awful when I downloaded it, it was free, and I skimmed it. The rest of these books were all pulled out of the slush pile or chosen for publication by someone who should’ve known better.

Although, in fairness, often with an unhappy book experience, it really is not the book, but rather my reaction to it. Except for Zero Day. That book is objectively crap.

1. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova: What a disappointment this book was. I should have loved it, but instead I found it generally bloated, boring and, ultimately, anti-climactic. How can a book about Dracula be so dreadfully slow?

2. Zero Day by David Baldacci: I have no idea how Baldacci is still getting book deals if this is an example of his output. This book was incredibly poorly written, cliched, irritating, and preposterous. The main character is a caricature wrapped in a stereotype surrounded by wish-fufillment. Ugh.

3. The Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie: This wasn’t simply one of the worst books of 2016, it was one of the worst books I’ve ever read. The only thing that I can conclude is that because it had Christie’s name on it, no one read it pre-publication.

4. X Marks the Scot by Victoria Roberts: So, this book was really just sort of lame. It was predictable and cliched. I often love historical romance, but something about this one left me cold. It wasn’t as bad as some of the other books in this list, however.

5. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III: I hated this book and struggled to finish it. It was literary fiction at its absolute worst.

6. The Leaving by Tara Altebrando: Another huge disappointment. This book had a great concept and so much potential, but failed entirely in the execution. Someone needs to write this book again, but better next time, because it could’ve been awesome.

7. This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkampe: Similar to The Leaving, this was just a disappointment. I felt absolutely nothing at the end of it, which is not a great recommendation when the book is about a school shooting.

8. Dying Light by Stuart McBride: I’ve decided that McBride just isn’t my thing. The writing in this book is fine, but it is gritty and horrible and made me want to never go to Scotland.

9. Seal Team Bravo, Raid on Afghanistan by Eric Meyer: I read this for a challenge because I needed a book with a soldier in uniform on the cover, and my father apparently reads this crap so it was on my kindle. I am totally not the audience for this book, so I doubt that my opinion would be helpful to anyone. Having said that, this book is a series of cliches and stereotypes packed into a patriotic pablum that is easily digestible by people who see the world in black and white. If you like your propaganda pre-digested for you, and are seeking books that will leave your jingoistic perspective entirely unchallenged, this one is for you.

So, I can only actually come up with nine really disappointing reads, which is pretty good!

Our Best Books of 2016

Obsidian Blue:

Though it felt like the book gods were laughing at me (and they were) they did manage to throw out a couple of books that I 100 percent adored this year.

Here is my top 10 books for 2016:

1. Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Wow. That is all I have to say. With the illustrations and the main premise about a young girl doing what is necessary to save her family even though she’s scared will leave you breathless.

2. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer. Look, even I noticed some issues here and there, but I got all over it because we got more details about Cinder, Kai, and the rest of their motley crew. Saying goodbye to the Lunar Chronicles was so hard this year. I want more.

3. Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon. This was recommended to me from a Booklikes friend and her recommendation for this was spot on. So many feelings. I maybe cried through most of this book and just wanted to keep re-reading it over and over again. McCammon nails the age between almost a teenager and staring to leave behind what many would consider childish things. There’s a lot of magical realism happening in this book that was so well done it just blew me away.

4. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. I started seeing a lot of plays/musicals the past two years and I would love to see this one in person. The stage descriptions and the dialogue for this play is so perfect it makes one wonder how other playwrights could even touch Williams brillance.

5. Persuasion by Jane Austen. The best fictional love letter ever. Yep, I went there.

6. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Choskhi. Wow. I loved this book focusing on Indian mythology and also entwining it with some Greek mythology as well. I am so excited for the sequel coming out in 2017!

7. Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews. Wow. That’s all I got. I am still wondering how Kate and Curran are going to win the final war with Roland, but the ride to get there has been enjoyable. This book rocked.

8. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I was blown away by this book. Another great representation of magical realism. I know this one started off slow for a lot of readers, but if you stick with it, I think you will love it.

9. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I maybe should  have a rule about an author appearing twice in my best of post, but I don’t really care right now. Gaiman blew me away with this one just like he did with Coraline.

10. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey. I ended up finishing the trilogy this year and was blown away by all three books. A lot of questions were left unanswered, but I ended up feeling so sad for the doctor and Will Henry.

I definitely have some honorable mentions as well. I just could not put everyone on the list that I enjoyed this year. But other books to check out if you have time are the following:

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Joyland by Stephen King

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Moonlight Reader:

So, overall, I give 2016 an F-minus and designate it as the worst year in recent memory. Between the death of Alan Rickman, the election of Donald Trump, and now, just today, the death of the iconic Carrie Fisher, there is little good to say about this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

I apparently – according to Goodreads – read 171 books this year (which is about half as many as Obsidian Blue read, by the way). And in spite of the fact that the year was, overall, an unredeemable shit fest, I read a lot of good books, a few really bad books, and a few books that I absolutely loved. This is the way that it usually is for me – I try to stay away from books that I’m pretty sure will be a disappointment, but a few always sneak in there when the execution doesn’t live up to the promise of the plot summary!

My top ten books for 2016 (in no particular order):

1. The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather: I read 5 books by Willa Cather this year, and while they were all remarkable in their own way, this was the best of the five. It’s also one of her very early works. There is no one better than Willa Cather at describing the American midwestern experience when it comes to immigrants from Germany, Sweden and the other Western European countries. In this book, Cather takes on big themes: artistic genius, womanhood, youth, and passion. It is entirely brilliant.

2. The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler: this was a remarkable book by a prominent black science fiction author. It is rare indeed to find science fiction with a main character of color – not to mention a woman of color – so reading this book was a treat. Butler’s vision of the world is dark, but hopeful.

3. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey: I love fairy tale retellings, and this wintry piece of historical fiction retells a lesser known tale. There is pain and violence and beauty in Ivey’s words.

4. The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman: Cracking open (metaphorically speaking, since I read this on my kindle) a piece of Penman historical fiction is always going to be worthwhile. This is a huge, sprawling book, and is worth the time it takes to read it.

5. The Fold by Peter Cline: this is a follow-up to 14, a book I read and enjoyed a few years ago. The Fold is weird, occasionally confusing, but immersive and crazy entertaining. I’m hoping that we get at least one more by Cline set in this world.

6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: I just adored everything about this book. It is dark and sweet and charming.

7. The Tomorrow When The War Began series by John Marsden: I spent several weeks listening to these books one right after another. They are very well done, and spending much of my summer with Ellie, Homer, and the rest of those amazing teenagers who put their lives on the line for their country was exhilarating.

8. Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kauffman: This was one of the most unique books I’ve ever read – and while it was 600 pages long, the graphics and the incredible pace caused me to devour it in a few hours.

9. The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry: This was another incredibly interesting books. Set in 1241, it tells the story of a mystic, Dolssa who is on the run, pursued by an obsessed friar who seeks to burn her at the stake as a heretic. It is breathtaking, engaging, immersive and magical.

10. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye: a retelling of Jane Eyre as a serial killer. Although, to be quite honest, that’s a bit of an overstatement, since the majority of Jane Steele’s killings occur in self-defense. Anyway, Lyndsay Faye did a tremendous job with this tale, incorporating the British empire and the Sikh culture. I paired this with a reread of the original this year, and while Jane Eyre will always be my favorite, Jane Steele has a place in my heart as well!

Honorable mention to the Steelheart Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, and the reread of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Harvest Moon by Robyn Carr

Harvest Moon by Robyn CarrHarvest Moon by Robyn Carr
Published by Mira Books on February 22nd 2011
Genres: Romance
Pages: 361
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
three-stars

Rising sous-chef Kelly Matlock's sudden collapse at work is a wake-up call. Disillusioned and burned out, she's retreated to her sister Jillian's house in Virgin River to rest and reevaluate.
Puttering in Jill's garden and cooking with her heirloom vegetables is wonderful, but Virgin River is a far cry from San Francisco. Kelly's starting to feel a little too unmotivated…until she meets Lief Holbrook. The handsome widower looks more like a lumberjack than a sophisticated screenwriter—a combination Kelly finds irresistible. But less appealing is Lief's rebellious stepdaughter, Courtney. She's the reason they moved from L.A., but Courtney's finding plenty of trouble even in Virgin River.

Kelly's never fallen for a guy with such serious baggage, but some things are worth fighting for. Besides, a bratty teenager can't be any worse than a histrionic chef…right?

I 100 percent did not get the love story between the two leads (Kelly Matlock and Lief Holbrook). I seriously felt like since they were the last two single people in Virgin River it was the only reason why they did get together. At least Carr didn’t have them jump right into bed together though.  Due to Lief’s backstory both of them were hanging back on being together. But besides a love scene or two, everything else is just referred to after the fact.

I don’t know. I think I was supposed to like Kelly. But I had a hard time when you find out that Kelly is working at a restaurant to be near the man that she is in love with (married chef Luca Brazzi). In fact, I think the only reason why Carr made sure that Kelly and Luca were never together was just so readers didn’t have a hard time rooting for her. But her kissing the guy, but refusing to be with him until he is legally divorced didn’t interest me much anyway. After being confronted by Luca’s wife and passing out, Kelly decides she needs to make a change. Working in the world of restaurants and dealing with abusive managers and chefs is not what she has in mind. So Kelly packs up all of her stuff and heads to Virgin River to go and stay with her sister Jillian. Stopping at Jack’s bar along the way she ends up meeting Lief who does some insta-love/lust nonsense and starts to feel like Kelly is his immediately.

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Lief has moved to Virgin River to give him and his stepdaughter Courtney a chance to start again after Courtney’s mother’s death. I think I said in another review that Virgin River does attract the recently or almost recently widowed.

Besides Lief and Kelly’s POV we also get Courtney’s POV and man oh man I wish that had been cut. Courtney and her therapy sessions and all over horribleness to Kelly was just continuous. I really needed a break and could see why Kelly is 100 percent reluctant to start a relationship with Lief. I would have been out of there so fast.

We do have Kelly and Jillian interacting, but not enough for me. I really wish we had gotten more interaction between the two. They are sisters and definitely have been through a lot. But we just hear that Jillian is up early dealing with the garden, Colin is upstairs painting, etc. All Kelly does by the way is cook/bake through the entire book. Kelly and Preacher even have a cook off at one point that we don’t get a real sense of, it’s just put out there as a throwaway line.

I do think that due for once that so much is going on with the A plot stuff, there was very little B plot going on.

I really thought that this book just like the last one was just repetitive after a while. I was tired of reading about why Courtney had trust issues. I was tired of reading about Kelly and her crush on Luca and how dumb she felt. I was tired of reading about how Kelly’s food was making Colin fat.

The ending for once actually has an epilogue, I think this may be the first one that the series had. It picks up I think 6 or maybe 9 months later and I think that Carr did that to fast forward the series a bit. I think this was the first time I actually even saw a physical date in the books instead of me trying to figure out how much time has passed depending on some of the previous characters kids ages.

three-stars

Wild Man Creek by Robyn Carr

Wild Man Creek by Robyn CarrWild Man Creek by Robyn Carr
Published by Mira Books on January 25th 2011
Genres: Romance
Pages: 361
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
three-stars

Welcome back to VIRGIN RIVER with the books that started it all…

Sometimes love takes root in unexpected places—if you'll only let it grow

Colin Riordan came to Virgin River to recuperate from a horrific helicopter crash, the scars of which he bears inside and out. His family is wonderfully supportive, but it's his art that truly soothes his troubled soul.

Stung personally and professionally by an ill-advised affair, PR guru Jillian Matlock has rented an old Victorian with a promising garden in Virgin River. She's looking forward to cultivating something other than a corporate brand.

Both are looking to simplify, not complicate, their lives, but when Jillian finds Colin at his easel in her yard, there's an instant connection. And in Virgin River, sometimes love is the simplest choice of all…

This was not my favorite. Maybe because I thought that the romance between the two leads (Jillian Matlock and Colin Riordan) was a foregone conclusion, so reading about how Jillian was being so strong and whatever made me roll my eyes. Or maybe I just read too many of these books back to back and it put me in a mood. Hard to know. I love romance novels. Absolutely adore them. But I think I can pinpoint that right around this book or the next I started to see a slide in the series and I was pretty disappointed with the next couple of ones and then the last book in the series.

There is honestly not much to say here except I thought the whole thing that brings Jillian to Virgin River was dancing towards absurd, and her new chosen profession (decides she will start to do an organic farm) came out of nowhere and did not fit her at all. Jillian is a Vice President for Corporate Communications for a software manufacturer and due to a workplace harassment issue, is cautioned to take some time off while her boss/mentor deals with it.  Yeah. Like that would really happen. I bring up Jillian’s job though because I had a hard time reconciling what she does with her later decision to start an organic farm.

I also think that Carr honestly rushed the resolution to Jillian’s backstory and I pretty much rolled my eyes at the guy who shows up (and acts like an ass by the way) since how did he get there, why would he be stupid to do so based on everything that went before, etc. I think it was just a way to have Colin punch the guy or something. I don’t know. It just didn’t work with the story that I think Carr wanted to tell.

Also, I really have a hard time believing that in a matter of weeks that Jillian can just have an organic farm up and running. Apparently Virgin River has magic soil. And I really didn’t get why Jack Sheridan who is renting the house to Jillian is okay with her gardening as much as she is in a house she doesn’t own. Hey I have rented homes before, you can of course ask the homeowner about certain things, but I have never lived in one place that was all yes of course you can grow whatever you want and totally change the grounds.

Colin and his family drove me batty. Maybe because Luke Riordan decides he will be the twin of Jack Sheridan and stick his nose in where it’s not wanted or needed. I was also really tired of the women coming along to have sensible talks with these idiots. It gets old after a while and I know that I was 100 percent sick of it.

Unlike in previous books I don’t think that Carr had much knowledge about painting/gardening. Colin starts painting and apparently is such a great painter/photographer that he can sell his works for thousands of dollars. Jillian is somehow going to turn her farm into a million dollar enterprise though she and only one other person works the grounds? I can’t even recall how many acres Jillian has, but I maybe muttered BS a few times while reading this.

We have a reappearance of Jillian’s sister (who will be in the next book) and of course other characters we have become familiar with. I totally booed the entire story-line with Jack Sheridan and Denny Cutler. It made absolutely no sense, and then towards the end we have Denny throwing out a line about something that made me go wait a minute, what? I think it was an editing error that no one caught, but it bugged me endlessly.

The ending was too much and I really hated the whole woman who is grieving because she told her man to go off and do what he needed to be happy. I was just really over both of them. The romance was so-so and I was happy that the book finally ended.

three-stars

Promise Canyon by Robyn Carr

Promise Canyon by Robyn CarrPromise Canyon by Robyn Carr
Published by Mira Books on December 21st 2010
Genres: Romance
Pages: 342
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
four-stars

After years spent on ranches around Los Angeles, Clay Tahoma is delighted to be Virgin River's new veterinary assistant. The secluded community's wild beauty tugs at his Navajo roots, and he's been welcomed with open arms by everyone in town—everyone except Lilly Yazhi.

Lilly has encountered her share of strong, silent, traditional men within her own aboriginal community, and she's not interested in coming back for more. In her eyes, Clay's earthy, sexy appeal is just an act used to charm wealthy women like his ex-wife. She can't deny his gift for gentling horses, but she's not about to let him control her. There's just one small problem—she can't control her attraction to Clay.

But in Virgin River, faith in new beginnings and the power of love has doors opening everywhere....

This once again showcases a couple I absolutely adored and wanted to keep reading more about in later books. At least we get to see both of them in subsequent books though. “Promise Canyon” follows Clay Tahoma and Lilly Yazhi. Both of these characters are Native Americans and I loved, loved, loved that we finally got a minority couple in this series. I honestly didn’t even realize til after the fact that besides Mike Valenzuela, there does not seem to be any other minorities running around Virgin River.

Clay relocates from Arizona with his son in order to become a veterinary assistant to Nate Jensen. While meeting Nate at his farm he runs into Lily and is instantly intrigued with her, though Lily wants nothing to do with him. Now here’s the thing, I know nothing about Native American groups at all. But it becomes apparent that Carr took her time and did some research and she includes a lot of details about the differences between the Navajo (which Clay is) and the Hopi (which Lily is). I can honestly say that I was intrigued the whole book because it was great to see why Lily wants nothing to with a strong man like Clay who raised Navajo would be more into traditional ways than Lily is.

The romance between the two of them was hands down a crowd pleaser, and you will love it. There’s a backstory to Lily that explains why she is so cautious around Clay, and I did enjoy that aspect of things, though once again at times I could feel myself getting a bit impatient with Lily. She seemed hell-bent on holding Clay responsible for everything every man/boy had ever done to her and even I was a bit sick of it towards the end of the book.

We also of course get sightings from old favorites (Noah, Jack, Preacher, Paul) and we get some updates, but I honestly was not the least bit interested in anyone else since I just wanted to stay focused on Lily and Clay. And can I say that there was way too much other B plots in this book. I of course read the other books so I definitely know that Carr wanted to set up the characters more so that readers would remember them, but boy oh boy I almost pulled my hair out.

We have off the top of my head, a group of women who come to Virgin River to vacation (two of them, Julian and Kelly Matlock will have their own standalone books). One of the town’s residents passes away and that leaves Jack as the unofficial mayor (I maybe booed that whole thing). And one of the Riordan family members (Colin) ends up being shot down while flying a Blackhawk (I am also tired of reading that word in these books, is everyone a Blackhawk pilot) and of course the whole Riordan family and others react to this.

The ending was great and I loved that Lily decides to fully move on with her life and I am disappointed that we readers don’t get to see their wedding ceremony in later books because I think that would have been awesome to include.

four-stars
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