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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Review of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

You don't know how excited I am to have just finished the newest book in the Harry Potter series.  I spent last night at a local Barnes and Noble with friends. I'd never been to a Midnight Madness party before and it was definitely an interesting experience -- adults dressed as Harry, Snape, and Newt Scamander (the girls in my group were very impressed with that guy)!

As soon as I got home, I downloaded my copy of The Cursed Child off of Amazon and got down to reading it.  All told, it took me about 3 hours to read it, the shortest amount of time it has ever taken me to get through a Potter adventure.

Forty year old Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, is all grown up, married to his school sweetheart, Ginny Weasley, and they have three children together.  While he's good at his job with the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, he's quite rubbish at the parenting thing.  Now, more than 20 years after defeating Voldemort in the Battle of Hogwarts, his son, Albus Serverus, is in danger, and Harry with some help from his friends must save his son from the same dark forces that have chased him his entire life.  More importantly, he needs to save his relationship with Albus because not doing so can doom them all.

"I open at the close."  That is a phrase much used in the 7th Harry Potter novel and while it is never once uttered in the new play, it is very much still present.  The play opens with the HEA from the final book of the original series.  We meet Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, and Draco (with their children) on Platform 9 3/4 as Harry and Ginny's sons James and Albus Severus, Ron and Hermione's daughter Rose, and Draco's son Scorpius are heading off to Hogwarts -- all but James are going for the first time.

In The Deathly Hallows this scene is a bit saccharine and I know most fans thought it to be superfluous.  Here, while it is almost the same scene, we get to see a little bit more and it does a good job of setting up the rest of the storyline.

For the most part, The Cursed Child is about fathers and their children.  We get an interesting look at how Harry and Draco are as fathers and how their pasts play into the way they live in the present.  I immensely enjoyed the scenes between these two former enemies -- there is even a wizard's duel in the middle of Harry and Ginny's house -- because when you spend your entire childhood and early adulthood as enemies, it is hard to forgive and forget.  This too plays a big part of the narrative.

The story as a whole is engaging and the format in which it is in is probably the best one for it.  While it would still be just as interesting if it was formatted the same way all the others are, there are aspects of it that I don't think would have played as well.  To borrow a phrase from another British staple, The Cursed Child, is very "timey-wimey."  Yes, there was some time travel in The Prisoner of Azkaban, but that was small potatoes compared to what goes on in The Cursed Child.  A good portion of the narrative takes place in the past, melding the world of the near future (it takes place in Albus's 4th year, so 3 years after the first scene on Platform 9 3/4) with the past.  It was interesting to see what small changes to the past would do to the future and in that way it is very loyal to the original seven books.  Change one thing in the past and completely rewrite the present.

The play isn't perfect -- I would have preferred there to be more for Ron to do than what he was given, but for the most part, it is clever and induces enough nostalgia for the original series to keep all Potter-philes happy for a while.

I find myself wishing that I hadn't finished it so quickly, but that isn't a new sensation when it comes to anything Potter related.  There are rumors that a production of the play might be opening on Broadway by the end of next year.  I hope this is true and I hope that it will eventually end up in San Francisco, so I can go see it without having to fly to New York.

4.5 Stars

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Review of "Sleepless in Manhattan" by Sarah Morgan

I bought this book with the intention of reading it on a plane from San Francisco to New York City last weekend.  Of course I read about 30% before even stepping foot onto the plane and once I was actually on it, I read maybe 5%, listening to the most recent Smart Bitches podcast and watching a few episodes of Charmed on Netflix because I had an awful night sleep the evening prior and was too tired to read.  I finally sat down to read it Sunday and Monday night.

Paige Walker has lived a sheltered life, brought low by a heart condition that had her in and out of the hospital until her late teens, but now in her late 20's she's finally healthy and happy.  She loves her life in Manhattan.  She'd felt stifled in her hometown of Puffin Island and as soon as she was able she moved to New York with her best friends, Eva and Frankie, as well as her older brother, Matt.  On the verge of a promotion at work, she figures she's got it all, but then the rug is pulled out from under her and she's forced to reevaluate her plans.



In walks Jake Romano, her brother's best friend, a player, who broke Paige's heart back when she was a teenager.  They've managed to remain friends, but she's still in love with him, coloring all of their encounters.  Jake knows exactly what buttons to push to get her to react, which is how he convinces her to open up her own event planning company.  Working closely with her, though, puts him in an awkward situation because he's never forgotten that night all those years ago when she offered him everything, forcing him to turn her down when it was the last thing that he wanted.

I've been trying to get my thought in order regarding this book.  There are many good things about it -- things that I absolutely loved, but there are also some things that bother me about it.  That isn't to say that it is a bad book because it is the furthest thing from a bad book.  I loved it.  I truly did just as I am sure most other people who have read it love it.

The Great

Ms. Morgan's prose is outstanding, aside from the random British spelling of words like center, which briefly pulled me out of the story (not that she should change the way she write for an American audience, which is ludicrous), her writing sparkles with wit and pulls you in from the very first page.

The friendship between all of the main characters is so much fun.  They've created their own little community within the larger setting of New York City.  They have movie nights and regularly eat out together.  They're very much a part of each others lives.  This obviously comes from their background growing up in a small town where everyone knows not just your name, but everything you've ever said and done.  Those of my readers that have lived in New York for any period of time know that this is not at all the case (and probably isn't in any big city).  The town in which I spent my teens and most of my 20's in likes to think of itself as a tight-knit community, but it isn't.  My family and their neighbors have lived next door to each other for over a decade and we only just found out the wife's name last week.  Last week.  Another one of the neighbors never corrected my grandmother's incorrect assumption that his name was Jorge (It is Charles, which is nowhere close to Jorge).

I also love the cover.  It makes New York look magical, a place where anything can happen (again, so not true).  The picture of it above doesn't really do it justice -- you really have to see it sitting on a shelf to truly appreciate it.  The week before I left for vacation, I came upon the paperback in a CVS next door to the European Wax Center and was tempted to pick up the paperback version.  (In the end, I decided to use some of my Amazon settlement money and left the paperback in the store.  I regret this, but more on that later).

The Good

I enjoyed the relationship between Paige and Jake.  Second chance romances are definitely my catnip, especially when the couple are also friends still, making it also a friends to lovers story, another one of my favorite tropes.  The only thing that kept this from being great was that there really wasn't much of the romance.  We're already half-way through with the book by the time it shows up at all and even then we don't get much of it.  They're both busy people and on top of that they keep the relationship a secret, so even when they're together they're not acting as a couple.  Not everyone is in the dark, but an important part of their group is, so everyone has to pretend it is not happening, which is hardest on Jake mostly because this is the first time in his life that he's in a relationship that is more important to him than anything else.  

I also feel cheated by the secrecy aspect because we don't get to see how the group's dynamic changes based on Paige and Jake's involvement -- we'll probably get a bit more of this in Sunset in Central Park, but if we're being honest, we should have had that in this book.  Because Ms. Morgan has created a community out of these five characters, it is a shame that we don't get this important part of their lives until almost the very end of the book.  

I usually like the secret affair trope and it took me awhile to figure out why it did not work for me in this book.  My go-to secret affair is Monica and Chandler on Friends.  After they hooked up in London at the end of season 4, the entire first half of season five was about them hiding the relationship from their friends because they were afraid of what would happen once everyone found out.  


For me, the reason it worked on Friends is because we had a whole season (and the rest of the series) to see how the relationship was going to change the dynamics.  From Joey's "I gotta tell someone" to Phoebe's "My eyes" and Ross's "Get off my sister" (not to mention Rachel's annoyance at not being told), we got everyone's reaction and eventually saw how everyone knowing affected Monica and Chandler's relationship:


We don't really get that here.  Sure, everyone finds out the big secret, but nothing really changes.  They are still friends and there is never a question about whether or not this would change that.  Yes, there are some recriminations, but that only lasts about one scene and then it is over.  It wouldn't have even taken all that much to show this -- another 50 pages or so and we would have gotten so much more out of this reveal.


The Bad

I almost cringed when typing that because there really isn't anything "bad" about this book -- just things that aren't as good as other things.  The most egregious is the failure to address Jake's relationship with the biological mother who abandoned him as a child.  This one event influences every single one of his actions later in life and warps his view of love, but it isn't resolved at the end of the book.  There is a scene in which we're shown Jake checking up on her, so it isn't as if he didn't know where she was.  I hate to say this, but it feels like this part of the story is unfinished because his feeling about what his mother did was never resolved.  A quick conversation in which his adoptive mother explains that his biological mother left because she didn't think her love was enough doesn't really cut it.

In a connected vein, Maria, the woman who raised him, is never referred to as his real mother, although in all respects she is -- she loved him, took care of him, made sure he never wanted anything.  Apparently, this isn't what makes someone a real parent.  Only biology does that.  I'm sure many adopted people would argue the contrary.

Finally, my last issue isn't with the book itself, but with the way it is being sold.  As I mentioned above, I originally considered buying the paperback copy, but decided to get the e-book instead, thinking there wouldn't be a difference between the two.  However, that is not the case.  The physical book includes the novella Midnight at Tiffanys, a prequel to the rest of the From Manhattan with Love series, but the ebook does not.  Not only does it not come with the book, you actually have to pay for the digital copy (yes, it is only $2.99, but when there is only a penny difference between the price of the paperback and the ebook version of Sleepless in Manhattan, I shouldn't have to pay $3 more for something that is more or less free to the people buying the paperback -- shame on you Harlequin).

Conclusions

This was my first Sarah Morgan book and while I had a few issues with it, I fully intend to catch the rest of the series (I'm definitely looking forward to Sunset in Central Park (Eva and Matt's book) -- out in August, here in the US).  I will also download her Puffin Island series.  Even with the "bad" parts, Sleepless in Manhattan was better than many other books of its ilk.  If you've never read one of her books, give it a try.  I dare you not to like them.

4 Stars

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Review of "Love and Other Scandals" by Caroline Linden

After I found out I had a bit of extra book spending money thanks to the Apple Settlement last week, I took a look at my wishlist (i.e. my "Want to Read" shelf on Goodreads) and immediately zeroed in on Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden.  I'd heard quite a bit about the Scandal Series and this book in particular, and unfortunately, that ended up being part of the problem.

Joan Bennet was a properly raised young lady in Regency England and at 24, she was almost a spinster.  She was tall, plump, and not at all fashionable.  No one ever wanted to dance with her and so she rarely had fun at any of the balls her mother shepherded her to and from.  One of the few things she enjoyed was reading a scandalous pamphlet detailing the sex life of Lady Constance and her many lovers.  Then, she meets Lord Burke.  He's tall and handsome, and most of all he's a complete rake, who could teach her everything she wants to know about being wicked.

Tristan, Lord Burke, does not like Joan Bennet.  She's a fury -- one that looks like an upside down umbrella.  But she's got a quick wit and soon Tristan finds himself falling for her.  He'd never imagined himself as the marrying kind, but when it comes to Joan he'd be willing to do anything.



I don't want to give you the impression that I did not like LaOS because I did.  Ms. Linden's writing is crisp and the dialogue is witty.  The characters were fun and likable.  None of that was a problem.  No, the problem was the way this book was marketed.  It was basically touted as being 50 Shades for the historical set, which it most definitely is not.  This is directly from the Amazon description:

"Joan Bennett is a breath away from being a spinster. She’s had four seasons without a suitor. After reading a shockingly sensuous book, Fifty Ways to Sin, Joan decides perhaps it’s time to stop being proper and start being sinful, while she’s still young enough to enjoy it. And what better partner than her brother’s drinking mate, Viscount Burke? He seems the type to know how to give a lady a lascivious adventure."
This description makes it seem as if Joan sets out to have an affair with Tristan because she enjoys reading 50 Ways to Sin.  This is not the case.  Yes, the 50 Shades knock off is involved in the plot, but just barely (basically, Joan gets Tristan to buy it for her from a shop, but he doesn't even know what it is until the very end of the book!).  There is no proposition made.  Joan never approaches Tristan about a "lascivious adventure" and for his part, he doesn't offer one until about 70% of the way through the book.  Once I adjusted my expectations and decided to pretend I'd never read the description, I was finally able to enjoy the rest of it -- at least to some extent.

Like I said, I liked both Joan and Tristan.  Their chemistry was pretty off the charts, but their characterizations were a bit inconsistent.  Take Joan, for instance, she's read many an issue of 50 Ways to Sin and at times she seems to know a lot about what exactly goes into relations between a man and a woman, but then at other times she is just as naive as every other Regency romance heroine.  As for Tristan, he's supposed to be a hardened rake, sleeping around, drinking, carousing -- everything an historical bad-boy is supposed to be, but aside from the first chapter when he answers the door without a shirt on, you never see this.  I don't know if he is supposed to be an alpha, but the more I read the more I felt he was a beta hero.

The dialogue, while most of the time was fun and well written, some of it was downright odd.  Take this quote for instance:

"It knows no reason, no caution, no restraint, only that you make it rise, hard and furious, every time you simper at me or deliver a stinging set down or cling to my arm because you fear the ballroom is about to crash" (Kindle Edition, Location 3770)
Yes, this is Tristan talking to Joan about his massive (apparently) erection while having sex for the first time.  I don't know any guy that would go on and on like this, especially when he's got a willing woman waiting for him to do some very wicked things to her.  The bigger issue is that this didn't even sound like Tristan.  He didn't speak like that in any other part of the book, but all of a sudden, he felt the need to wax poetic about his dick and all the things that Joan did that made it do a happy dance in his pants.  It seriously did not make sense.

From the other reviews I read, LaOS is not representative of Ms. Linden's other books, but I tend to be gun shy when it comes to books and I'm not likely to forgive an author of a bad book when that author is new to me.  Maybe I'll try another Caroline Linden book, but it probably won't be for a very long time.

2.5 Stars
 
 
 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Review of "Magnate" by Joanna Shupe

The first thing that intrigued me about Joanna Shupe's Knickerbocker Series (other than the fact that Knickerbocker is the full name of the New York basketball team) was that it took place in Gilded Age New York.  I remember reading about that time period in both my high school and college American History classes and through the 21st century liberal gaze, I saw that period as rivaling our current economic situation (which is true in some respects and utterly false in others).  This alone was reason enough for me to check out this series, but seeing as the hero of Magnate is one of those figments of the GOP's collective imagination -- the self-made man, who struggled out of the slums of Five Points and made his way into the boardrooms and ballrooms of Manhattan (of course, this description is the true difference between the late 19th Century and today, the fact that a boy from the slums actually can become a millionaire) -- my finger deftly pressed the "Buy with One Click" link on Amazon and I found myself the new owner of the first full novel in the Knickerbocker Series (the actual first book of the series is Tycoon, a novella, which should have been a full novel).



Elizabeth "Lizzie" Sloane grew up in the gilded ballrooms of Manhattan society, splitting her time between New York City and Newport, but she never really fit in with the rest of her peers.  She was no more comfortable hanging out with Alva Vanderbilt than she would be sitting with President Cleveland.  Her life bored her.  She didn't want to go to parties and be some man's trophy.  No, what she wanted was to open her own investment firm, but her brother, Will, wouldn't allow it.  Their blood was too blue, too pure to do something so common.  Not to be deterred, Lizzie set her sights on her brother's friend, Emmett Cavanaugh, a ruthless businessman, who had risen from an impoverished childhood to be one of the richest people in the country.  What was the worst that could happen?

Emmett Cavanaugh didn't have the time to deal with blue blooded socialites, but when he learned that Elizabeth Sloane wanted to meet with him, he needed to know why.  Although he had money, they did not travel in the same circles and he knew her brother would not approve of her even being in the same building as him, especially if that building happened to be his home.  Elizabeth quickly surprises him by asking for his help -- she wants him to help her open up an investment firm.  He'd be the public face of the company while she'd be the brains behind it.  It couldn't be done, of course, but that didn't mean he couldn't have some fun with her first.

Before reading Tycoon, I'd never heard of Ms. Shupe, and as my long time readers are aware, I don't tend to pick up new-to-me authors, but for some reason I gave her a shot.  While I enjoyed Tycoon, it was much too short to do the plot justice.  However, I was interested enough in the other members of the Knickerbocker Club to seek out its sequel.  (Currently, only Tycoon and Magnate are available.)

As a whole, the series is about four powerful men, Theodore "Ted" Harper, Emmett Cavanaugh, Will Sloane, and Calvin Cabot.  Each man is involved in one of the major businesses of the Gilded Age -- Ted owns a large, national bank, Emmett runs East Coast Steel, Will is in charge of Northeast Railroad, and Calvin is the publisher of one of the country's largest newspapers.  Tycoon covered Ted's story and Magnate is Emmett's.

As a character, Emmett was intriguing.  He came from a very poor background in which he had to struggle just to get by.  Five Points, immortalized in The Gangs of New York, was not an easy place to grow up and Emmett had to see to the safety of three siblings.  His personality is very much influenced by how he lived and this makes him different from most romance novel heroes, who are usually the bluest of blue bloods and who have never had to struggle for anything in their lives.  What I liked about Emmett was that despite his rough upbringing and the things that he's had to do to become one of the most powerful men in New York City, he is a good man -- not that he would ever see himself that way.

Lizzie was also interesting, although she more closely resembles the archetypal romance novel heroine.  She's rich, pure, and spunky.  She's had everything given to her on a silver platter, but isn't satisfied with the life that the men in her family have always envisioned for her.  This is definitely the current trend, even if women of that time would have been as likely to do anything about that dissatisfaction as Beyonce releasing a country album.

One of the best things about this book is how much detail Ms. Shupe gave to her setting.  It was obvious that she did her research and deftly applied it to her writing.  She talks about the disparity between the "old rich" (the people Elizabeth and her brother grew up with) and the "new rich" (Emmett and his family).  I love the fact that they alluded to the beginnings of the Metropolitan Opera House (the "new rich" built it after being denied entrance to The Academy of Music) and that the characters would talk about the need to please Caroline Astor (or as The History Chicks called her, "The" Mrs. Astor) and Alva Vanderbilt, who I googled and found the very picture that was used in my American History textbook to depict the excesses of the Gilded Age.



My favorite piece of history included in this book was The Great Blizzard of 1888, which buried New York City as well as Brooklyn, which was not a part of the city at the time (it only became incorporated into the five borough system in 1896) in 50 inches of snow and plunged the citizens of those two cities into sub-zero temperatures.  While I was reading, I shared this article on the blizzard on the facebook page.  I found it an excellent account of what really happened and I thought it complemented the scenes in Magnate very well.  The one downside to reading the article after reading Ms. Shupe's version is that it made me wonder how Elizabeth and Emmett would have fared had they actually been stuck in an abandoned office with little food and no electricity during the worst blizzard in New York City history.

There were a few things that bothered me about this book, no matter how much I liked it.  The biggest was the existence of Henry Rutlidge, who is only present in the book as a juxtaposition to Emmett.  Henry was everything Lizzie was supposed to want in a husband -- he came from the same background as she did, was her best friend's brother, and had grown up with her -- and a large portion of the book involved Emmett being jealous of Lizzie's relationship with Henry, even though she'd given him absolutely no reason for that jealousy.  Magnate would have worked equally well without him and we wouldn't have had to deal with a vile scene in which he does something so awful that left no question as to whom Lizzie should pick.

4.5 Stars

Monday, June 13, 2016

Review of "Bay of Sighs" by Nora Roberts

A couple of months ago, I volunteered to read Stars of Fortune, the first book in Nora Roberts's Guardian Trilogy for the Smart Bitches RITA Reader Challenge because ParaNoras are my crack.  If they were illegal, I'd be serving a life sentence for possession/intent to sell a controlled substance.  Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of book 1, but I'd already requested Bay of Sighs, so I felt the need to read it too.  Plus, I liked the idea of a mermaid heroine -- one whose name was not Ariel.  I really wish I resisted reading this.  It was awful.  It took everything I hated about SoF and magnified it to the level that I wasn't able to finish it.

Annika is a mermaid, sent to "the shore up above" to stop an evil goddess from getting the Stars of Fortune.  Together with the five other guardians, she must search for the stars and protect them.  Afterwards, she must return to the sea, which wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't for Sawyer King...

Sawyer has been infatuated with Annika from the moment she walked out of the sea and into his life.  She's gorgeous and fun and everything he ever wanted.  Of course, he can't let him get distracted from his mission -- he's been searching for the Stars for what seems like his entire life, traveling through time and space, hoping to one day find them.

Sawyer, Annika, and the other Guardians have their hands full keeping the Stars safe, but now they've got a new problem.  Their nemesis has lured in another person -- a man with no morals -- to aid her in the quest.

I had so much hope for this book.  I loved the idea of a mermaid and a time traveler -- Ariel + the Doctor?


With the Kindle version, which is priced at the ridiculous amount of $11.99, I'd basically have just been throwing my money at Nora.  Throwing it.  

Thankfully, I got my copy through Netgalley, so it was free.  Do you guys remember seeing those pictures of Germans post-WWI using their Deutsche Marks as kindling?  That's basically what I'd have been doing if I'd paid for this piece of crap.

One of the problems I had with this book was the way Annika was written.  She comes off very naive --very young.  Almost child-like from time to time.  Sure, she's from another world, but she'd been around the other guardians long enough to understand that there are certain things that aren't supposed to be done.

I'd also hoped to learn more about both Annika and Sawyer's lives, specifically what it is like to belong to a world so different from my own.  Annika's life was under the sea.  Was it all seashell combs and Earth debris like in The Little Mermaid?  What was her mer-society like?  Was it a Patriarchy or a Matriarchy.  Unfortunately, in the portion of the book I was able to get through, none of this is explained.  All we get is more of Annika's other-ness.  We get the fact that she doesn't understand that setting the table doesn't mean stacking the plates, cups, silverware, etc. on top of each other to make some odd structure.  I guess this was supposed to make her cute, but all it did was make me annoyed with her.  Bitch, that shit costs money.  Not everyone has a pouch full of money that people dropped into the oceans for the last 1,000 years.

Then, there's Sawyer.  If you've read the first book, then you know that he's a time traveller and uses an old pocket watch to guide him to his destination.  As time travel is one of my favorite tropes, I'd love to know how this particular version works.  Unfortunately, I don't think Sawyer knew how it worked, so I doubt I'd have found out even if I finished reading.

My biggest issue is not with this book in specific, but with the series in general -- it feels more like a rehash of some of Nora's older books, particularly The Key Trilogy, which if you haven't read it, is almost identical in premise: three women are chosen (literally "into each generation"/Buffy-style) to find three magical keys and must keep them away from an evil goddess.  The only real difference between the two series is that the men were not chosen in the Key novels and they were in this series.

I get that NR has been writing professionally for more years than I have been alive, but it seems like she's run out of fresh plots and is just putting plot points from her older trilogies into a hat and pulling them out one by one until she's got enough for a series.  That's no way to write -- or at least it isn't a way to keep your fans.  Sure, some might continue to read for awhile because they're seeking the magic her older books possessed, but it won't be long before they're no longer willing to push aside those feelings of disappointment.  What pisses me off is that I'm not sure if I've reached that point.  I might not be strong enough to resist the final book in this series because Nora has been a part of my life since I was 15 years old -- and it isn't easy to just end a 15 year long relationship.

DNF





 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Review of "Loving You" by Maureen Child

There are some books that make you want to read them over and over again.  They contain a special kind of magic that when you open them up, they invite you into their world and envelop you like an old blanket.  For me, Loving You, is one of those books.  The first time I read it, I borrowed it from the library and sadly it smelled like a sweaty gym sock.  Somehow, I managed to put that out of my mind and finished that book (in almost record time -- maybe because of the smell).  Almost immediately after finishing it that first time, I ordered my very own copy off of Amazon.  I upgraded my copy to digital a few years back, but hadn't re-read it until last week.

Stevie Ryan is lonely.  Her best friend and sister of the heart, Carla, has just gotten married and Stevie feels like she's all alone.  It is a feeling she's well acquainted with, but she'd hoped to never to feel that way again.  She once thought she'd found her happy ending with Carla's brother, Nick, but that relationship ended disastrously.


Paul Candellano has loved Stevie for as long as he could remember, but never acted on it because everyone knew she'd eventually go back to his twin brother, Nick.  Watching his little sister get married, he decided it was time to get over his crush, but that very night is when everything changes and he finally has the chance to have his happily ever after.

One of the things that I love about Maureen Child's books is that she has the ability to make the characters feel like family -- or at least, old friends.  Loving You is no different from any of her other Candellano or Marconi novel.  There's a lot of big, noisy, family dinners -- in this case supervised by Mama Angela Candellano, always ready with a hug or a slap to the back of the head, whichever better fits the situation.

Another thing that I like about this book is that it is a friends to lovers story.  Paul and Stevie have known each other since they were kids and have been friends for just as long.  What intrigues me about this trope is that it always makes the relationship more important because if it doesn't work out, they have to deal with losing not just a lover, but a friend.  This is an integral part of the story and one of the main reasons Stevie is against a relationship with Paul.  She's afraid that this relationship like all of her others is going to fail and that when it does, she'd have lost one of the most important people in her life.

The one thing that bothers me, however, is the depiction of Stevie's younger sister, Debbie, who is a seventeen year old girl with Down's Syndrome.  First off, there is the fact that their mother hid Debbie away as if she was something to be ashamed of rather than a human being.  Thankfully, once Stevie finds out about Debbie's existence, she immediately is disgusted by her mother's actions.  Mostly, she feels this way because Debbie is family and to Stevie family is everything.  Then there's the fact that Debbie is portrayed as being more child-like than a 17 year old girl.  Yes, Down's does have psychological effects, but to me Debbie behaved more like someone on the Autism Spectrum and not someone with Down's Syndrome.

There are a few other little issues that I had, but they're so minor that it doesn't make sense to even mention them.

4 Stars

Video of the Day -- Queen via Ella Enchanted



I've been reading Marina Adair's Need You for Mine, the newest book in her Heroes of St. Helena series.  The heroine, Harper, is constantly accused of "collecting people" because she is trying to fill the void in her life left by a crappy mother, who cared more about herself than her daughter. It is obvious that what she wants is someone to love -- someone who will love her back not in spite of who she is but because of it.

I chose the Ella Enchanted version of this song because it started playing while I was reading yesterday and it totally fit the scene.  Also, I just watched the movie (for like the millionth time) over the weekend.  What can I say, the movie is so much fun.