Jade Island

Lowell, Elizabeth. Jade Island. New York: Avon Books, 1998.

Reason read: to continue the series started in April in honor of Lowell’s birth month.

Jade Island is the second book in the Donovan series but it doesn’t follow Amber Beach’s plot line all that much. When we left the Donovan clan in Amber Beach, Kyle Donovan had been rescued from near death after his amber hungry girlfriend sold him down the river and nearly had him killed. Now, Kyle is chasing jade and an impossibly beautiful Asian-American named Lianne Blakely. Kyle certainly knows how to pick ’em. Lianne is the illegitimate child of Chinese Johnny Tang and all American Anna Blakeley. Lianne wants nothing more than to belong to the Tang clan and is more than happy to appraise and evaluate jade trades for them. But what happens when Tang jade starts to disappear and Lianne is the prime suspect? Kyle must decide between his head and another piece of his anatomy. Is Lianne innocent or is he falling in love with a criminal? What I appreciated with Jade Island was there was none of the coy games played between the two impossibly beautiful protagonists. Lianne enjoyed Kyle’s company and they got along really well despite the sexual tension.

It is not necessary to read Amber Beach to understand Jade Island. Lowell makes references to details from the previous book but the plot is not dependent on it.
Author fact: Lowell writes with her husband. It’s funny I should learn this after reading Jade Island because I had written myself a note that Lowell sometimes writes like a woman (fashion, appearances, emotions) and other times she writes like a man (sexual appetites, violence, lust).

Book trivia: Jade Island is the second book in the Donovan Series. There are two more.

Nancy said: nothing.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Romance Novels: Our Love is Here To Stay” (p ).


May Has Her Reasons

This is the first month since September that I don’t have some kind of race looming. It feels weird to not worry about the run. I guess I can concentrate on the books:

Fiction:

  • Landfall: a Channel Story by Nevil Shute – in honor of the month the movie was released.
  • Main Street by Sinclair Lewis – in honor of Minnesota becoming a state in May (AB).
  • Bruised Hibiscus by Elizabeth Nunez – on honor of the Pan Ramjay festival held in May.
  • Adrian Mole: the Cappuccino Years by Sue Townsend – in honor of Mother’s Day.

Nonfiction:

  • Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer – in honor of the failed Mount Everest climb in May 1994.

Series continuations:

  • Jade Island by Elizabeth Lowell – to continue the series started in April in honor of Lowell’s birth month.
  • Warding of Witch World by Andre Norton – to continue the series started in March to honor the month of Norton’s passing.

Something new! I just discovered archive dot org! They are brilliant! I have been able to find a bunch of the books I have on my Challenge list, including two for this month. That means I will be able to leave the print at home and still read on my lunch break!


Amber Beach

Lowell, Elizabeth. Amber Beach. New York: Avon Books, 1998.

Reason read: Lowell was born in April. Read in her honor.

If you have been keeping up with this blog you know that romance novels are not really my thing. I think by reading Amber Beach I figured out exactly what annoys me so much. I don’t care for the coy I-Hate-Your-Guts attitude the characters put on right up until the angry yet passionate Rip-Your-Clothes-Off-And-Have-Wild-Sex-With-You routine. Amber Beach is exactly that kind of novel. Honor Donovan is a feisty, beautiful, smart, and courageous sister of one missing Kyle Donovan. In other words, she is perfect. Her one flaw is that she has no idea what happened to beloved brother Kyle and will stop at nothing to find him.  Enter two other brothers and family secrets. Honor doesn’t know of the rumors concerning Kyle. One story is he stole a crap load of valuable amber, killing someone in the process. Now it is believed he’s in hiding along with that millions of dollars worth of amber. But that’s not how the rest of the Donovan clan see it. Their story is they think Kyle was killed by his business partner, Jake “Jay” Mallory. Sexy, brooding, strong as an ox, smart as a whip, perfect specimen of a man, Jake only wants to clear his name. Okay, and find the precious amber. His side of the story is simple, he thinks he’s been framed by his friend and business partner, Kyle Donovan. Jake cleverly answers Honor’s ad for a fishing guide (lie). In reality she wants to learn how to run Kyle’s boat so she can search for him. Jake pretends to be a fishing guide but really wants to teach Honor how to run Kyle’s boat so he can get to Kyle first. Naturally, they fall into bed together before they can learn of each other’s mutual betrayal. Will their mutual attraction survive the lies? Will they find Kyle? Who is the guilty one, Kyle or Jake?

No quotes to quote.

Author fact: Lowell also writes under the name A.E. Maxwell.

Book trivia: Amber Beach is the first book in the Donovan Series. Lowell cleverly makes reference to the next book in the series, Jade Island by calling one character a “Jade” man. Well played, Lowell!

Nancy said: Pearl put Amber Beach in the category of  “Action Suspense” (p 204).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Romance Novels: Our Love is Here to Stay” (p 203).


Milk in My Coffee

Dickey, Eric Jerome. Milk in My Coffee. New York: New American Library, 1998.

Reason read: Cow Appreciation Day is tomorrow – 7/14/16. I kid you not.

The premise is Jordan and Kimberly are supposed to each take turns telling their side of their seemingly doomed romance. While I tagged this “chick lit” it isn’t. Not really. It’s the story of two people trying to overcome the color of their skin and their deep rooted opinions. I appreciated Jordan’s ingrained racism that spoke to a long standing tradition of passing prejudice through history. He continually referred to the South unapologetically, as if that’s just the way it will always be, like it or not. His perceptions of Kimberley as a white woman are generations old. There was more drama in this story expected but that didn’t take away from the story.

Milk in My Coffee is broken into four parts. The first eleven chapters are from Jordan Green’s point of view. Every chapter is titled “Jordan Greene” before it switches to Kimberley Chambers (for one chapter). Wouldn’t it have been simpler (and I would have preferred this) to have one giant section of Jordan Greene narrative?
This isn’t a huge deal, but Milk in My Coffee contains references that date the plot. I didn’t know Erica Kane or Nurse Rachid so I didn’t get the jokes referencing them. Luckily, I know Barney, Vanna White, and Eartha Kitt so they were not a great mystery.

Everyone knows I am nit picky when it comes to dialogue. I want the characters to talk to one another as if they really know each other and are authentic with one another. It bothers me when conversations don’t make sense. To be honest, that only happened once in Milk. Jordan asked what Kimberly was doing for the holidays. She explains about how holidays and her birthday bring her down. They then go off on a mini tangent about birthdays. After that, without missing a beat Jordan asks again about the holidays as if he never asked and she answers in a completely different way.

Dickey is full of cheesy analogies:

  • “More purple than Barney”
  • “More tracks than a Hot Wheels set”
  • “Like microwave popcorn”

Quote I liked (yes, there was only one), “I didn’t know her well enough to earn any heartbreak, but I felt it anyway” (p 14).

Author fact: Dickey’s bio reads like Superman: engineer, stand up comic, able to develop software, best selling author…

Book trivia: Milk in My Coffee is a best seller. Did I mention that?

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “African American: He Say” (p 12).


July on Deck

July. Summertime. Lots of music (starting with you guessed it, Phish). Lots of running (hopefully all outdoors). Lots of travel, lots of play. Plenty of reading:

  • Milk in My Coffee by Eric Jerome Dickey (in honor of National Cow Appreciation Day on the 14th. I kid you not.)
  • Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill (#3 – to continue the series started in May in honor of Rocket Day)
  • The Last Battle by Cornelius Ryan (#3 – to continue the series started in June for D-Day)
  • Cranford (AB) by Elizabeth Gaskell (in honor of Swan Upping. If you don’t know about this day, check it out. It’s fascinating. Or you can wait for my review when I’ll explain the practice.)
  • Black Faces, White Faces by Jane Gardam (in honor of Gardam’s birth month)

As an aside, I have read the last two Cotterills in a day each, so I know I need to add at least one or two more books to the list. I’m off to the great unknown for vacation so when I get back I’ll probably have to revisit this list.

Also, I should note that I won another Early Review book from LibraryThing, but since its not here yet I won’t promise to read it. 😉

 


Family Man

Krentz, Jayne Ann. Family Man. New York: Pocket Books, 1993.

Reason read: Krentz birth month is in March

Three annoying things about this book: first, the physical book was literally falling apart while I was reading it. I had to handle it like it was a centuries old manuscript. Second, this was chick-lit to the hilt and I’m just not a fan of I-hate-you-but-I-want-to-rip-your-clothes-off-all-the-same kind of books. Lastly, (and this is a big one) Krentz loves the name ‘Gilchrist’ to the point of nauseation (my word). More on that last bit later – see book trivia.

In a nutshell: the Gilchrist family empire was built on high-powered real estate deals centered around restaurants. The aging matriarch of this empire now has a problem. Her restaurants are starting to fail and there is no one within her immediate family she can trust to sort it all out. She needs needs an heir. Someone to take the reins. Someone as ruthless as she has been over the years. There is someone. Her grandson, Luke Gilchrist. The only problem? She disowned his parents years ago. Now the only person she truly trusts is her personal assistant, angelic and sweet, do-no-wrong Katy Wade. And since Katy has refused to commandeer the ship herself Queen Gilchrist has ordered her to find someone who will, namely the black sheep grandson, Luke. Luke is a very reluctant heir and it’s up to Katy to convince him it is worth his while to come back. His mettle is tested early as every Gilchrist seems to get into some kind of trouble. One Gilchrist was involved in a real estate scam. Another Gilchrist was caught in a blackmail trap. Every Gilchrist comes to Luke via Katy (as the Gilchrist “guardian angel”) for help. The big hook of this story should be Luke. Why does he agree to come back to help the failing empire? Are his intentions true or is he out for revenge? Krentz could have made the storyline far more suspenseful and mysterious and tension filled had she kept Luke more in the shadows.

Author fact: Jayne Ann Krentz also writes under the pen name Amanda Quick.

Book trivia: As I mentioned earlier – You gotta love the name Gilchrist or you will be in trouble. When I am annoyed I start counting things. I got annoyed by Krentz’s (over)use of the name Gilchrist to the point where I started counting…over 200 times in the first 100 pages. Drove me NUTS!

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Romance Novels: Our Love is Here To Stay” (p 206).


Center of the World

Sheehan, Jacqueline. The Center of the World. New York: Kensington Books, 2016.

Reason read: Here’s a confession. I met the author at my father-in-law’s book signing event. I was embarrassed that I didn’t recognize Sheehan (or her work) despite her being  deemed a “best selling author” by the New York Times. In my defense, I would never buy her books for the library I manage. I highly doubt it will be on anyone’s syllabus soon.
My in-laws loaned me Center of the World and since it’s a signed copy I felt obligated to read it asap!

The concept for Center of the World is interesting. Kate, a budding scientist researching water quality in third world countries, finds herself in Guatemala during a civil war. After witnessing a horrible massacre Kate discovers there was only one other survivor, a Mayan toddler by the name of Sofia. Fearing for their lives as witnesses, Kate steals the child out of the country and raises her as her own. Twelve years go by and it looks as though Kate has gotten away with this illegal adoption, thanks to all the lies she has told over the years. However, her husband decides everyone, including Kate, needs to learn the truth. Add a government cover-up, a lost love interest, and a doting grandfather to round out the plot.

Small disappointment – I wanted to get to know Kate more. There were plenty of moments for further character development. For example, Kate leaves behind a lover in Guatemala. Supposedly Will is the true love who got away but there aren’t many opportunities for Kate to really demonstrate that loss. I would have liked to been a guest at her wedding to Martin. The hesitation before marrying the man who wasn’t her Guatemalan romance would have spoken volumes.

Book trivia: Sheehan is careful about dates. Each section of the novel is dated to set the reader in the appropriate place on Kate’s timeline. But, there is one detail that has me confused. In 1990 Kate meets Will, a “Peace Corp looking” kind of guy. After this initial meeting we jump into Will’s history (albeit without a benefit of a timeline, but we can assume it’s pre-Peace Corps; pre-Kate meet up). Here’s the rub – Will has a gift for learning languages and in talking to someone the language learning software Rosetta Stone is mentioned. Rosetta Stone, the learning tool, came about in 1992. Even if the man name-dropping Rosetta Stone was in the know way before 1992 Will shouldn’t have gotten the reference. Instead, he should have been confused by it.