Review: Jinxed By Kathryn Leigh Scott

Review: Jinxed By Kathryn Leigh Scott

Jinxed_finalcoverReviewed by Karin

First book Down and Out in Beverly Heels

I really enjoyed this book.

This book takes Meg a bit further down the path from where she was dead broke because her ex-husband was a conman (now in prison) and she was living in her car because that was all she had.

She had had a successful TV series 20 years before where she played Jinx, complete with a magician’s hat. Now she is caught off guard to find they are reprising the show — but not with her. The young actress is surprisingly good, with an interesting voice, and a few secrets of her own. And Meg has been asked to give her lessons on how the hat was used in the old show and how it will be used in the new.

Then she goes missing.

Throw in an extremely irritating first husband; the wealthy woman who lets Meg live in her mansion (complete with paraphernalia from old movies and an old doll collection) … a young man who is talented as a film director who is filming Meg (who wants to further him in the business); a couple of detectives; an older male friend; … Jack, her lover, who is also with the FBI. He’s on a case involving sex rings, which may or may not be part of the missing actress.

And there’s a murder and attempted murder …

I didn’t see it coming (whodunit) … I suspected someone who wasn’t the one (good) …

The book was well written. I would definitely read another of her books.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Jinxed (A Jinx Fogarty Mystery)

Review: Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion

grand centralReviewed by Karin


A war bride awaits the arrival of her GI husband at the platform…

A Holocaust survivor works at the Oyster Bar, where a customer reminds him of his late mother…

A Hollywood hopeful anticipates her first screen test and a chance at stardom in the Kissing Room…

On any particular day, thousands upon thousands of people pass through New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, through the whispering gallery, beneath the ceiling of stars, and past the information booth and its beckoning four-faced clock, to whatever destination is calling them. It is a place where people come to say hello and good-bye. And each person has a story to tell.

Now, ten bestselling authors inspired by this iconic landmark have created their own stories, set on the same day, just after the end of World War II, in a time of hope, uncertainty, change, and renewal….

Very touching and evocative. This book features original stories by best selling authors. Much of it has to do with Jewish refugees — and also Jews who had left Europe for America, at least one had been in concentration camps. It gives a glimpse into what it must have been like to live those early years post war.

My father served in the air force in Europe, so it holds a special poignancy for me.

While there are possibilities — and even love — it is not an easy life or an easy read. It is a world very far removed from where we are now, but not far enough to be in the way distant past. It holds too many memories.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion

Review: Smoking Ruin by D.R. Martin

smoking ruinReviewed by Karin

This book was quite a read and quite different. I liked it a lot.

It is not a typical romantic suspense. It is higher on the suspense level and the who-dun-it is hidden until the last pages. I guessed the right character(s) fairly early on, but I didn’t guess the whole of it or the why of it.

And it is extremely well written, lots of wonderful color, lots of great descriptions that never got old, very good character development. And a mystery with increasing danger and perhaps two intertwined or intersecting plots.

Minneapolis PI Marta Hjelm is the main character as well as the voice of the book. She is at the edge of burnout because of losing a woman to her abusive husband a year before. She and her live-in/live-out boyfriend have just argued over whether she should give it up (he’s a photographer) and when they argue to that level, he goes to his brother’s house, which is where he is for nearly the entire book, although the two interact. Any sex, and there’s not a lot, takes place off page. But there is definitely love.

Out of the blue Marta’s ex-husband shows up and offers her a job with an advertising company. This doesn’t set well with the boyfriend, as you can imagine. Considering she really wants nothing to do with him, why she lets him in and why she accepts the job (the money to help her and her boyfriend with his photography business) — even she can’t figure it out.

And before you know it, her life is in danger — and the lives of others also. It seems like there is a terrorist plot against the advertising company.

In many ways, it’s a setup, and not just for Marta.

Very clever book — there was one word I’d never heard of and a couple that aren’t used very often.

It was a good read. I’d like a second.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Smoking Ruin

Review: Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Maxwell

happily ever afterReviewed by Karin

It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a book so much. It is laugh out loud funny. I really did laugh out loud. This is Maxwell’s first book, but I would definitely read another one, especially if it has the same voice as this one.

The premise of this book sounds silly, and it is impossible, but what the hey! and it combines several genres (romance, erotic and paranormal), which makes it even more clever. Even though you have to suspend reality, it is so easy to do. Finally about halfway through the book I had to mark all the places that were funny, or witty, or poignant.

LRP gave me an uncorrected paperback, but I didn’t see any errors. It was easy to read.

The Story, one of them

Sadie Fuller, a 46 year old divorced mother of an 11 year old daughter, is slightly over weight, living among younger women who are all thin — as Maxwell says of one woman, you’d like to give her a sandwich… She writes erotic romances under a pen name K.T. Briggs. And she is successful. She pays alimony to Roger, her ex, to the tune of $5000 a month. He is still her friend — and gay. Roger has found gorgeous partners, while Sadie has had none.

She places an ad for a sex buddy for her only free time, Friday mornings. It is answered by a sweet guy, Jason, a lawyer, who isn’t chisled. Their sex is funny and sweet as they learn each other. He comes with his own baggage, which makes him endearingly vulnerable, as she is.

Another story

The books starts with almost alternating chapters of Sadie’s story and the new erotic book she is writing, Stolen Secrets.

Things get complicated when she finds she has a greater word count in the morning than how she left it at night. It turns out a witch, Clarissa, has presented the male character, Aiden, with a challenge which he must fulfill in 48 hours.

And Aiden shows up in real life in the Target where Sadie is shopping…it takes a bit before he remembers who he is, and Sadie realizes what is happening.

And Clarissa is a character from an unfinished paranormal book that Sadie set aside a number of years before. Turns out Aiden had been a character in that book under another name and another occupation.

And then…

Jason shows up on the arm of her neighbor (and she shows up with Aiden) at a school fundraiser. Sadie realizes she is jealous, and Jason isn’t too happy either…

The ending (no spoiler)

I loved the ending. Very clever. The end. LOL.

I loved the book. If I could give it 7 * out of 5, I would do it.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Happily Ever After

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Review: I Dare Me: How I Rebooted and Recharged My Life by Doing Something New Every Day by Lu Ann Cahn

i dare meReviewed by Karin

I’m not through reading this book, but wanted to share how much I was enjoying it. It is like having a romance with oneself.

Cahn was 53 years old with a stable marriage, a daughter, and had survived 3 bouts with cancer. But she was not happy, basically depressed, angry, frustrated, with nothing to look forward to. And she has an impressive resume: veteran journalist and eight-time Emmy award winner

Her 23 year old daughter challenged her to do one thing each day that was a first for her — it didn’t have to be big — and to blog about it (with videos). She had never blogged. ( She didn’t even know what it was. The book came out of her experiences.

She started the year with a Polar Bear swim — which was more difficult for her because she had been afraid of the ocean since she was 8. She spent a day without mirrors and a few hours in a wheelchair.

Along the way, she found herself invigorated, engaged with life again, and looking forward to her days. She said it was OK to count as a first if you hadn’t done it in 10 years — and it didn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) anything dangerous or risky.

I have a feeling I tend to live like this anyway, because I’m not afraid to do things on my own (such as take myself to the movies, BTDT, and it is nice to share a smile with the person next to you, even if you miss a scene since movies go so fast now…) And one thing I did solidified my fear of heights rather than eliminating it (overhead at the zoo, more difficult than it sounds — but hey, I tried!)

I give the book 5 * out of 5. A good read, with humor and self-depreciation, as well as exhilaration and joy. Read it if you need a jumpstart on your life. You might be inspired.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: I Dare Me: How I Rebooted and Recharged My Life by Doing Something NewEvery Day

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Review: Love Water Memory by Jenny Shortridge

love water memoryReviewed by Karin

This is a romance, but not your typical billionaire meets servant girl. While those are not my genre to read, I thought this would be more fun or intriguing. Perhaps I expected it to be more reminiscent of Eat, Pray, Love, because of the similarity of the title. No, it is not.

And I expected more of it, because of all the many book jacket blurbs that were hyperboles. Maybe that set me up for a fall.

I thought it might be on a par with Remember Me, but it is not. While I thoroughly enjoyed Remember Me. This book was difficult.

This is a grown up romance, more real — based on dissassociative fugue (but not didactic, even though you may learn more than you’d like about this mental disorder.) While not depressing, it is not a happily ever after story. I can learn about this disorder without having to read it in a novel which I hope to read for pleasure.

From the book jacket back cover:

Acclaimed novel now in paperback.

If you could do it all over again, would you still choose him? [This is more or less an age-old question, that occurs after the ‘hapily ever after’ end of fairy tales.] At age thirty-nine, Lucie Walker has no choice but to start her life over when she comes to, up to her knees in the chilly San Francisco Bay, with no idea how she got there or who she is.”

She doesn’t remember the trauma that has caused her memory loss, a crime she witnessed when she was younger. She doesn’t remember her quiet fiance, to whom she is to be married in two months.

Together they find each other again, but the end is ambiguous. The author has intentionally left it up to the reader to determine how the romance will go. After the ending there are a series of questions to use for a book club, and an interview with the author. Maybe you should start with those first.

While beautifully written, I give it 3 out of 5 stars. (I don’t call it ‘warm’ or ‘brilliant’ or even particularly ‘hopeful’ as some of the book jacket blurbs call it.)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Love Water Memory

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Review: Stay by Allie Larkin

stay-allie-larkinReviewed by Karin

This is a sweet romance. A friend enjoyed the book and shared her copy with me. Here’s the short take: Girl pines for boy-friend; girl gets dog; girl gets other guy.

Savannah ‘Van’ Leone is maid of honor for her best friend Janie, who just happens to be marrying Van’s heart throb, Peter. Van has loved Peter since college, and while it seems he loves her, they never got together once his family realized she was not from money. Peter’s life has been orchestrated by his family. And he is compliant. On the other hand, Peter and Van are best friends. But it is hardly fair to Van.

Van’s mother worked as head housekeeper for Janie’s mother, Diane. But Diane and she were good friends. (Her mother is now dead.) (Warning: breast cancer.) At the same time there were financial constraints that kept Van’s mother there instead of leaving. Van and her mother lived in the carriage house on the grounds, so when Van said she lived in Westchester, she did, but as the maid’s daughter, not the home owner.

So it’s complicated. And it gets moreso, when Peter shows up immediately after the wedding at the carriage house in a maudlin drunken state. She sends him off, but Janie’s mom sees the whole picture, and essentially buys her off. But that doesn’t exactly work. And it isn’t exactly what happened. Maybe.

When Van gets home, she gets soused, and begins to watch a marathon of Rin Tin Tin movies. Before she knows it, she wants a dog, and is searching the Internet. She buys a German Shepherd puppy from Slovakia without even knowing the exchange rate. The puppy ends up being a lot bigger than she anticipated.

And then she meets the veterinarian…

And it’s complicated, but you know it all ends well.

And the dog is very cute, very slobbery, and a real ally to her. She feels less alone. I love how the dog expresses protectiveness, love and concern for her.

There are other peripheral characters, equally interesting and well developed. I especially liked how Peter’s Aunt came through for Van. She is a character in herself. And it looks like she will have a love interest too, which is quite delightful.

Have you read it?

I got tired of reading the dog’s antics. I surely got tired of how much Van drank (which she stops.) I could hardly stand the descriptions of how dirty/messy she lived. I liked how she realized what kind of a man Peter is. I liked how they could all remain friends. I liked how she realizes she no longer loves him and how they resolve that. I like how Peter mans up for her at a certain point. (Other than that he reminds me of Ashley in GWTW.) The parental generation is certainly lacking, but the ‘grandparent’/aunt situation is delightful.) I liked how she stands up for herself and what she needs and deserves. It took her long enough to learn it. Of course, it is always easier to see in someone else’s life. How she gets to that point is the point of the story, which is very well written.

The dog on the cover is the cutest thing ever! And so is the Vet and his ‘grandfather.’

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Stay

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Review: The Love Wars by L. Allison Heller

love warsReviewed by Karin

LRP gave me a copy of the book to review. I’m only sorry it took me so long to get to it. I thought it was very well done. The author herself is also a divorce lawyer, so she undoubtedly knows the ins and outs of divorces, the courts, the defenses and offenses, which she presents articulately.

Molly Grant is on track to get her 5 year bonus which will enable her to pay off her student loans and her parents’ home and other loans.

Then she meets Fern Walker whose wealthy ex-husband has painted her as unfit. He has alienated the children’s affections from her and essentially kept the children from her. Complicating matters is that Fern had postpartum depression after the birth of her second child — which certainly wasn’t made easier by the kind of man her ex-husband is. He’s set himself up with a woman (not married) who calls herself ‘mommy’ — which she emphatically is not.

No one will take Fern’s case. Molly decides she will, because of something that happened with another potential client earlier in her career. But to do this, she has to do it outside of office hours, not within the corporation for which she works.

All’s well that ends well, and you know it will.

Molly is a great protagonist: gutsy, smart, does her homework, learns what she has to learn to defend Fern.

Meantime the ex- is showing his true colors, and Fern has the support of her court ordered therapist and neutral advocate. It’s a good thing!

And Molly finds an ally at the office, as well as true love.

What could be better!

Well, what will happen when the firm finds out? And what decision will Molly make?

Have you read it?

I give it 5 out of 5 star. I would definitely read another book by this author.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Love Wars

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