Author: Peter Devine
My first Peter Devine book was True to the Code, a series of short stories that were as much historically educational as philosophically motivating. As much as I enjoyed my first taste of Devine’s prose, Havana Treatment was infinitely more riveting.
Peter Devine has an uncanny ability to put you in the middle of a character’s big moment only to take you right back out again. Each short story in Havana Treatment introduces you to a whole person in a just a few moments or hours, leaving you with a solid understanding of who they are, but wanting more of the story. Described as an exploration of the shelf life of a romance, Havana Treatment doesn’t disappoint, and each story is as compelling and oxymoronically uniquely typical as the next.
The human race is completely infatuated with the idea of love, and after spending time with Devine’s characters, it is easy to see why. A moment with someone can become a lifetime of dedication. A person’s soul can be boiled down to one momentous story that could have seemed so unimportant at the time, but because the encounter was so genuine it shapes someone forever.
Devine has such a strong grasp on these realities. His experience and all the people he has met in his life shape the wisdom in his tales; but in all his travels and worldliness, Devine still captures Americana and our ideas of romance like no other.
Title: Casey of Cranberry CoveAuthor: Susan Kotch
Genre: Teen Fiction
Publisher: Hibernian Publishing
Length: 207 pages
Ice Cream Parlours, boogie boarding, kayaking, sail boat racing, pizza, high school parties, and hunky life guards… mix some teen angsty romance in and you’ve got a cute beach read that is perfect for summer. Susan Kotch delivers the perfect one with surfer girl Casey Whitman playing the role of Gidget.
Casey of Cranberry Cove is a fun read and my only regret while reading is that I wasn’t doing it in the sand, baking on the beach. I love reading on the beach and Casey is a girl after my own heart – a sun-baking reader and go-getter who isn’t afraid to get dirty.
I’m looking forward to future adventures of Casey’s, but I’m hoping she keeps her head on straight and doesn’t turn into a ninny. I’m also hoping she doesn’t leave her beach life behind in all the excitement of growing up. Casey reminds me a bit of the Robin Jones Gunn Christy Miller series my older sister had on her shelf growing up, I think girls that like one series would enjoy the other.
I have a cousin I’ve never met. She married my actual cousin that I grew up playing with on a good chunk of our weekends when we were kids – and special holidays – so she’s not really MY cousin, but I have a habit of adopting people that way. My family is weird, he’s the great grandson of my Grandfather’s sister, but I spent more time with their family than a lot of people spend with first cousins. Unfortunately, he flitted away out of state and I haven’t had a chance to spend time with his lovely bride.
She’s been a published author for quite awhile now, longer than I’ve been running this blog, but I had conveniently lodged that information into some lost corner of my brain – until recently, as he and I played Scrabble over Facebook.
Anjali Banerjee is the lovely woman my awesome cousin chose to spend the rest of his life with and I’m so pleased to finally read one of her books. While reading Haunting Jasmine, I felt like perhaps we were kindred spirits, as we have both written about bookstores, and clearly have a mutual passion for the written word.
She’s just way better at using those words than I am!
Author: Anjali Banerjee
Genre: Women’s Fiction
If you’re in the mood for a haunted bookshop, a fabulous Indian aunt, a god hanging out with Dr. Seuss, Jane Austen, Beatrix Potter, and a number of other ghosts – then you might need to find yourself a copy of Haunting Jasmine. Set in the north west, there’s a nice bit of ocean, some chilly weather, rain, hot tea, and a divorcee you might want to spend a day with in Seattle.
The writing is easy to get into, and she made lucky choice to use the word wafted – we all know how much I love that word, I think.
There’s a bit of a romance, but nothing too over the top to actually place it in the romance genre – it’s more about Jasmine and her journey to understanding herself and the nature of her aunt’s shop.
It’s definitely worth a bubble bath or day off, and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased. 🙂
Author: Lorena Glass
Genre: Fantasy/ Romance
Length: 408 pages
I was sent a free copy of Echo by the author in exchange for an honest review. (I am not otherwise associated with the author.) In my honesty, I must say, I’m not a fan. However, that wouldn’t keep me from recommending it to people I’m sure would be. (That’s one of the joys of being a bookseller, I can find all sorts of things to put into people’s hands that will make them happy even though it’s not my particular cup of tea.)
Other reviewers refer to this as a young adult fantasy story, but I didn’t get that from it at all. The main character is in her twenties and her lover is in his fifties. That’s not really young adult material in my book. There is, however, time travel, undying love, and a number of other fun details that might call to teenage readers these days. I think more than the young adult crowd, though, romance readers who favor Diana Gabaldon’s work or historical fiction gurus that enjoy Bernard Cornwell’s Stonehenge might find Glass’s work enjoyable.
I appreciate all the characters went through to stay committed to each other, but I’m not a fan of the whole soulmate concept – that only one person in the world is meant for you ever. I think that people decide to be soulmates, and that is not just fine, but a beautiful thing. But overall, I found the story awkward and the telling of it a little awkward as well.
The setting is definitely original – you don’t get a lot of Gaul and people speaking Latin in most historical fiction. It was a nice touch to keeping me flipping through to take a look around, so to speak, but I was not as riveted as I would have preferred for such a tale.
Just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean it can’t be for you – check out some other reviews: https://bernieandbooks.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/requested-review-echo-lorena-glass-read-6615/
Sometimes a girl just feels the need to read some check-lit. I read two novels this week that I think fit the bill – one more Anne Tyler – esque and the other a little more Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus.
Title: A Scattered Life
Author: Karen McQuestion
Genre: Women’s Fiction
A Scattered Life embraces the art of telling a story from three different women’s viewpoints. When done well, this is a nice way to allow things to unfold like an onion but still maintain a linear storyline. McQuestion does it well. Time your reading to finish the book right before bed so you can sleep after, because you’ll feel like you’ve lived three lives all at once when you turn the last page; it won’t exhaust you, it’s just nice to immediately fall into a slumber after living so much. McQuestion writes for young adults as well, and I’m looking forward to see what she has to offer when she crosses genres.
Title: Vanity Fare
Book references, pastries, coffee… umm, yeah that’s right up my alley. Except there’s definitely a romance novel chronology to the book that distracted me from my book envy, pastry drooling, and coffee binging. (Ironic, I know, as I am the author of The Bookshop Hotel and the characters totally tried to get romancey on me while I put them to paper.) All in all, good stuff. It’s something I will definitely recommend to lit-snobs who need a break from heavy reading and chronic romance readers who are looking for something less pornographic that will gently encourage them to dip into the classics.
It may sound ridiculous, but one of my favorite love stories of film is in The Fast and the Furious franchise. And it’s not pretty boy Paul Walker’s character Brian O’Connor and his little family-style romance with Mia. They actually annoy me a little. It’s Dom and Letty (Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez) that make me swoon.
And that’s the hottest thing, isn’t it? Being known and still being loved so completely.
Want a panty dropper, date scene at the movies? Leap out of a speeding car on a bridge into the abyss of open air to catch your love as she hurdles to her death – not knowing that either of you will be saved – just knowing you have to catch her. Oh yeah, and she doesn’t remember you, and she shot you in the shoulder earlier, but… you know her, and you love her, and you have a history…
Screw flowers and diamonds, Dom has grand romantic gestures on lock down.
Noooo, I’m not an adrenaline junkie. Not. At. All.
“How did you know that there would be a car there to break our fall?”
“I didn’t. Some things you just have to take on faith.”
Maybe that’s my problem. I swoon over movies like Fast 6. Literally, I swoon. Cars, racing, fight sequences, love that survives gun shot wounds and absences. Sheer will power and stubbornness. This is what romances me. These are the things that speak to my heart.
And yes, I’d let go and fall to my death just to take a shot at the douche bag trying to sneak up on my lover. And for that, I find Han and Gisele utterly romantic as well. What can I say? I’m a sucker.
Other favorites in movie history:
UP: The old man and Ellie. The first 15 minutes of that movie make me bawl like a baby. I love it. I’m living it. A romance born of childhood dreams and companionship.
Persuasion: Based on Jane Austen’s book. Another story of will power and waiting. Add to that Emma and you have the friendship and affection I sought out when I started dating my husband.
Tonight You’re Mine: This is probably one of the rare love stories I am into where the characters have not known each other half their lives. It’s epically reminiscent of my college years, minus being handcuffed to a super star, mind you. But the movie feels as much like home as 1327 does when I see it on screen.
I’m not a speed demon criminal by a long shot, but Dom and I have very similar values. The ultimate romance is always one with your best friend and playmate. Just like Dom and Letty, who met at 15. Things like Titanic – that whole whirlwind of meeting that day and then feigning passionate love forever – never quite do it for it. It rings false every time. I remember seeing Titanic for the first time in the theatres and thinking, “She went on and had babies with someone else, why is she pretending he was the love of her life? He’s just someone she screwed on a boat. What a slut.”
Tonight You’re Mine is the only whirlwind I can get behind… mostly because it was very Pride & Prejudice in nature, there was bickering before companionship, there was an established bond before love. That and there’s the mad rush of music.
My husband thinks I’m a little ridiculous. But if I had amnesia, I’d want there to be someone to fight for me. Someone to tell me where my scars came from. Someone to let me know it’s ok to be me, and that the me I was before was someone worth loving. And if there’s fast cars, a nostalgic house, stubborn wills, and music… all the better.
“I think this is where I belong – among all your other lost things.” – Lang Leav
The tree branches are even still. No rustling.
The kind of night that leaves you staring at the sky, eyes peering through the cool fog in a way a camera lens can never quite capture.
So I retired indoors to read Lang Leav poems, proud of being mature enough for her to not be spoiled by the memory of the one who introduced us. Happy that no one can take the written word from me, no matter how awful they are.
Because I truly adore Lang Leav. She is my favorite currently writing poet, along with her partner Michael Faudet.
Then came Lullabies and Michael Faudet’s Dirty Pretty Things.
My other favorites, if you follow my blog, you know: A.E. Housman, Edna St. Vincent Millay…
Clearly, I enjoy the hint of melancholy mixed with nostalgia.
I like the presence of mind to live in the past, the present, and the future all in one moment. To acknowledge that your experiences have made you and your hopes are what you live for… and right now, this breath, simultaneously deserves all your attention. It’s a beautiful conundrum, balancing it all.
Author: Lindy Zart
Genre: Contemporary Romance (Clean)
Format: Kindle Ebook
I downloaded this ebook because I, too, have a story I’ve written about roommates. Mine is incomplete, along a similar vein, but very different. I was curious. Also, there was a reviewer (Angela) who hadn’t participated in a blog tour (I think) the way they were supposed to and remembered at the last minute. This blogger begged the internet to go apologize on Lindy Zart’s facebook page, I found that endearing and hilarious. I know what it’s like to fill your plate with piles of review copies and promises and then find yourself in a serious time crunch. And we do all this because we love you guys, indie authors and publishers, and I am one of you guys, and the goal is to offer as much support as possible, but sometimes we get a little overzealous in our passions. Then all the passions throw a temper tantrum, stomp their feet, and throw a calender at your head. Figuratively, of course. Really we just sit their dumbfounded and think, “Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap.”
Rather than wait to see if I won a giveaway, I took a $3 chance on an ebook of an unknown author. I highly recommend taking those chances as often as it moves you.
Zart’s romance is written much like the style of John Green’s A Fault in Our Stars, but reminded me more of Caprice Crane. Honestly, it’s got that snarky sarcasm. It’s also sweet and sappy in all the right places, along with a little real world mixed in with the overly sentimental. It’s funny. It would make a blockbuster hit, if it were filmed just right – I’d hold back a little on some of the soliloquies, but who am I to talk – I love a good soliloquy.
I read half the book, took a nap and walked the dogs, then read the other half. It was nice. It’s an easy breezy comedy and I found myself chuckling often at the narrator. All the characters are appropriately dense about their feelings and that of others, while sharply noticing things about the people just outside their inner circle… isn’t that how it always is in real life?
If you’re a parent that doesn’t mind innuendos and cursing, I’d recommend it to older teenagers. The story itself is cleanly written and everything remains in innuendo and summary – no quivering members or moist anythings – thank goodness.
Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Genre: Teen Fiction
Length: 318 pages
I was told not to bother reading this book. It is predictable. It is overly sentimental. It is both those things, but it what telling you that does not include is how adorably witty the banter and narrative are. The characters are clever, and fun, and teenagers, despite their cancer – and this reminds you that even the sick are human, even the terminal have personalities outside their prognosis.
I read the book in one sitting.
I enjoyed every page.
Peter Van Houten was a nice touch – and if you don’t know what that means, I suggest you read the book. No skipping to the movie. Read the book, it’s a quick, smooth read, that may remind you of people you’ve lost. After all, we all have roughly 14.
I read Divergent a while back. It intrigued me enough to know that I wanted to read the rest of the series eventually, but not enough to make too much of a mad rush to get my hands on it. Although now I have read the rest of the series, despite many people telling me not to bother, and I’m glad I did.
So there’s a little too many fingers curling into shirt scenes… it might be the only way Roth has seen or experienced closeness – in the form of people tugging on t-shirts or twining their fingers around fabric in a near desperate manner. That’s ok. As a writer, I have a nasty habit of tucking things places. She tucked this into that. He tucked blah blah blah. My editor gets on me about it all the time. I’m surprised Roth’s editors didn’t nab her for the finger curling. But that’s not the point…
The point is, despite the teen coming of age romance that we’ve seen over and over again, I liked one major thing about THIS romance.
“I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.”
After Twilight and Bella’s helpless infatuation… After The Mortal Instruments and the “to love is to destroy” mantra… After Hunger Games and a PTSD induced marriage of comfort… I’m glad Roth had the guts to write about another kind of choice, the kind that doesn’t happen just once, but every day in every moment.
I think that every true relationship has a little bit of all of those things: infatuation, passion, trust and comfort, and thousands of choices. It’s interesting that in one sub-genre of young adult fiction, all released within a decade of each other, all popular enough to make blockbuster films out of them… we’ve covered such a vast array of relationships in our teen romances. It’s good for young people to see such a variety of examples.
Even though Roth’s aren’t my favorite books ever, I like that she had the courage to write the ending no one wanted, but the one that would be expected in a world such as the one her characters live in.
I still haven’t seen the Divergent movie, but I’m looking forward to the day I do a little bit more, hoping that they stick to the books and don’t go too Hollywood with it. I also look forward to seeing what Roth will write next.