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Review: Ninth House

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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fabulous debut (adult) fantasy novel from YA author Leigh Bardugo. This engrossing tale of an alternate Yale University where magic is real and needs to be policed by Lethe House is a great cliff-hanger beginning to a new series with unforgettable characters. Alex Stern has had a rough life, to put it mildly, so when she wakes up in a hospital with a strange man in her room who offers her a way out, she grabs it.

I loved Alex. She's a kick-ass heroine, a survivor, and one whose streetsmarts will carry her through tough situations with dangerous frat boys, preppies, professors and townies who all may have had a hand in a tragic murder. I also liked how Bardugo wove Sephardi culture and life into Alex's story, something we don't see enough of in literary portrayals of American Jews. I can't wait for the next book!

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Review: Regency Royal Navy Christmas

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Regency Royal Navy Christmas by Carla Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With a Carla Kelly Christmas Regency collection you know exactly what you're going to get--no dukes or billionaires, but rather ordinary people being good to one another, and finding love along the way. Sometimes, that's exactly what you want. In crazy times you want to read stories that give you hope, and bring the schmaltz, and maybe open a tear duct or two along the way. If that's what you're looking for, then this collection delivers the goods.

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Review: Contracted as His Countess

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Contracted as His Countess by Louise Allen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was different, and enjoyable. Madelyn is raised largely in isolation by a father obsessed with Medieval life. His dying wish is that she marry Jack Ransome, a nobleman in need of a fortune. It's an odd pairing, but they're determined to make it work, even though Madelyn finds much of Society life not to her liking (the fashions are a particular thorn in her side.)

Jack and Madelyn have a great deal to learn about, and from, one another on their road to their HEA, and it was fun to see Regency life through the eyes of someone for whom it's almost a foreign land and language.




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Review: The Bromance Book Club

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The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was such a fun book that I had to give it five stars. Fun, but also very meaningful as it explores the pains and growth of a marriage and the complications that arise when communication goes south.

As it says in the blurbs, "The first rule of Book Club is...you don't talk about Book Club." After all, when a bunch of testosterone laden athletes and bros get together, they don't want anyone to know they're reading historical romance to Get A Clue About What Women Want.

The H&H seemed very real, as were their problems. I liked how the author dealt with the hero's speech impediment, and what that meant to him in and out of relationships. We got a hint at where Lyssa Kay Adams's going to go next with the Bromance Book Club and I can't wait!

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Chanukah sameach (and the Pumpkin Latke Recipe)!

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His mother’s favorite of his pieces was the elaborate Chanukah menorah with the rampant Lion of Judah he’d made when he first started crafting his own designs. The holder for the shammes that lit the oil in the eight other lamps leaned in slightly, but she swore she would have it no other way.

“It’s eager to perform its task,” she’d say every year with a smile as his father lit the first light.
--[WIP] Untitled Chanukah historical novella

Happy Hanukkah! Chanukah Sameach! No matter how you say it (or spell it) the Festival of Lights is a special time around the world. In the Northern Hemisphere the Jews gather at the darkest time of the year to kindle small flames in the cold night, while in the Southern Hemisphere they wait...and wait...and wait for sundown to light the chanukah menorah (and have a cookout at the beach). Regardless of how it's celebrated, the festival commemorates the victory of the weak over the strong, the small against the mighty, and faith in the f…

Review: A Madness of Sunshine

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A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An excellent mystery which kept me guessing "whodunnit" up until the end. At one point I thought I knew who the guilty party was, but I was mistaken. I love it when that happens. The setting of Nalini Singh's New Zealand was also a treat, where the landscape itself becomes part of the story. The heroine was bright and capable, and didn't make TSTL mistakes, the hero was enigmatic and wounded, and his passion for justice helped push the story forward.

I'd definitely read more with these characters, or any future mystery/suspense novels from Ms. Singh. I'm already a fan of her paranormal romances, this adds another level of enjoyment.

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Review: Just Watch Me

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Just Watch Me by Jeff Lindsay
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this more. When Darkly Dreaming Dexter was released I loved it, and told all my friends to read it. After all, not only was it an excellent suspense story, but Dexter had a moral compass. He'd promised his stepfather that when he got the urge to torture and kill, he'd use it to take out the trash--evil people who prey on the weak, and damage society.

Riley Wolfe is missing that moral compass. While I enjoyed the caper aspect of the book, I couldn't feel much for the amoral protagonist who is perfectly willing to murder and harm people who stand in his way. people who would interfere with his heist. Not just bad people, not just the ones who prey on the weak.

To his credit, Jeff Lindsay points out this flaw in Wolfe's character, many times. And yet just as one character at the end rejects Wolfe for his sociopathic tendencies, I'm not sure I would want to read more books about this mast…

Counting your blessings

My car broke down yesterday, and after the first moments of confusion and panic I thought, "I am so fortunate."

This is why I felt that way:

It happened in the parking lot of a grocery store less than two miles from my home, meaning I could have walked home if I needed to. I didn't have a trunk full of melting ice cream since I hadn't gone grocery shopping. I'd finished all my appointments for the day. The dog had been walked within the past two hours and could wait a little longer at home. I didn't have a dog or kids in the car. It was a stunningly beautiful day, perfect for hanging around for the tow truck. I had a book with me and I was next to a used book store. I have a AAA app on my phone to call a tow truck. I can afford a yearly membership to AAA. I had a bottle of water with me. 

Most importantly, I knew if my car needed a new starter (the most likely scenario based on the sounds it wasn't making) I could pay for it. I wasn't one car repair away…