Title: Practical Demonkeeping: A Comedy of Horrors
Author: Christopher Moore
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Summary: In Christopher Moores ingenious debut novel, we meet one of the most memorably mismatched pairs in the annals of literature. The good-looking one is one-hundred-year-old ex-seminarian and "roads" scholar Travis OHearn. The green one is Catch, a demon with a nasty habit of eating most of the people he meets. Behind the fake Tudor façade of Pine Cove, California, Catch sees a four-star buffet. Travis, on the other hand, thinks he sees a way of ridding himself of his toothy traveling companion. The winos, neo-pagans, and deadbeat Lotharios of Pine Cove, meanwhile, have other ideas. And none of them is quite prepared when all hell breaks loose. (from back of the book)
Review: I’ve sort of gone about reading Moore’s books backwards, I think – or, in some sort of sideways rhythm anyway. This is his first book, and yet it’s the fourth of his I’ve read. I mention this because I think my impressions on the book were colored by this fact. This is one author whose writing, wit, repartee, and timing has definitely improved as he’s gone along. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this book – it definitely had it’s moments where I laughed or rolled my eyes along with the characters, but it wasn’t what I had come to expect from him after reading “The Stupidest Angel” or “A Dirty Job” or even my least favorite until now “Bloodsucking Fiends.” There was a review on Amazon that got it right – it said that there were too many people being eaten by Catch, the demon, to really make it amusing even if the way they went was sometimes amusing. It was still well written, the plot was intricate but well laid out and the characters were each and every one well developed and had at least some redeeming qualities – you couldn’t hate them all the way – even Catch. (This is Moore’s ultimate strength I think). Anyway, I’d recommend it, but not above any of the three other Moore books I’ve read.
Rating: Three out of Five Hungry Brains
Title: Very Valentine
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Genre: Drama, romance, family-life.
Summary: Meet the Roncalli and Angelini families, a vibrant cast of colorful characters who navigate tricky family dynamics with hilarity and brio, from magical Manhattan to the picturesque hills of bella Italia. Very Valentine is the first novel in a trilogy and is sure to be the new favorite of Trigiani’s millions of fans around the world. In this luscious, contemporary family saga, the Angelini Shoe Company, makers of exquisite wedding shoes since 1903, is one of the last family-owned businesses in Greenwich Village. The company is on the verge of financial collapse. It falls to thirty-three-year old Valentine Roncalli, the talented and determined apprentice to her grandmother, the master artisan Teodora Angelini, to bringthe family’s old-world craftsmanship into the twenty-first century and save the company from ruin. (from Author’s website)
Review: I should start off by saying that I loved the characters in this book…each and every one of them. The family dynamic was so real that I found myself relating to almost every aspect of Valentine’s life, even though I’m not Italian and don’t have three siblings, but only one. I could still relate. The story was interesting and I kept reading because I wanted to find out how things got resolved. If there was one fault I found in this book it’s related to something that I am completely aware is part of what makes the book so vivid, i.e. it was incredibly detailed. She spent paragraphs talking about the decorations in their hotel, the clothes someone was wearing, the buckle of a shoe, and although in some instances it was important to the plot, usually it wasn’t. Consequently, I sometimes felt it lagged a bit. If it wouldn’t have been because the characters themselves were just as vivid, I might have found something more interesting to do than finish reading this book. I will continue reading the next book of the series, but mostly because I want to find out what else happens with Valentine and Teodora, but am a little wary of having to suffer through that too descriptive narrative again.
Rating: Four out of five hungry brains.
Title: A Most Unusual Governess
Author: Amanda Grange
Genre: historical romance
Summary: The death of her parents has more than the usual devastating consequences for Sarah Davenport. She swiftly answers Lady Templeton's advertisement for a companion and, deemed too young for the role, finds herself instead the governess to Lady Templeton's great-niece.
Trouble looms with the return of the children's guardian, James, Lord Randall, who is angered to find the children are having fun under the outspoken rule of their new governess.
Discovering that she is the target of tutor Mr Haversage's unwanted attentions is bad enough. Worse still, Sarah realizes that she is irresistibly drawn to Lord Randall, who has made it quite clear that he desires a quiet, biddable girl for a wife. (from author’s website)
Review: I picked this book up from the library due to the love I had of this author’s work with the Austen books she’s written (specifically, the Diary series she has, i.e. “Darcy’s Diary” which I loved) and when I was in the mood for some regency romance, I figured she’d be a good bet to go with. The result: it wasn’t bad. It’s not as good as her Diary series, but that’s mostly because it’s predictable. It didn’t have anything that I didn’t expect and I was never once in suspense as to how it would turn out. To be fair, one doesn’t read romances to be surprised by the twists and turns of the plot. Still, come next month or maybe even 4 months down the road, I probably won’t remember that I read this without picking it up and thumbing through it again. None of it is particularly memorable. Although, it was enjoyable enough and a pretty quick read.
Rating: Two and a half out of five Hungry Brains
Title: Victoria and the Rogue
Author: Meg Cabot
Genre: historical romance
Growing up in far-off India, wealthy young heiress Lady Victoria Arbuthnot was accustomed to handling her own affairs -- not to mention everyone else's. But in her sixteenth year, Vicky is unceremoniously shipped off to London to find a husband. With her usual aplomb, however, Lady Victoria gets herself engaged to the perfect English gentleman, even before setting foot on British soil.
Hugo Rothschild, ninth earl of Malfrey, is everything a girl could want in a future husband: he is handsome and worldly, if not rich. Lady Victoria has everything just as she'd like it. That is, if raffish young ship captain Jacob Carstairs would leave well enough alone.
Jacob's meddling is nothing short of exasperating, and Victoria is mystified by his persistence. But when it becomes clear that young Lord Malfrey just might not be all that he's professed to be, Victoria is forced to admit, for the first time in her life, that she is wrong. Not only about her fiance, but about the reason behind the handsome ship captain's interference.
(from the book)
Review: I must say that although this was predictable as well, and whatever, it was enjoyable mostly because of Victoria’s character. She was so funny and you as a reader totally got why her uncle’s shipped her away when she was becoming too vocal about her opinions of their lives and why Jacob wants to either kiss her or strangle her. But here, even though the story was predictable, it was sweet and the characters memorable in their ways.
Rating: Three out of Five Hungry Brains
Title: Sleeping Arrangements
Author: Madeleine Wickham
Genre: chick-lit, romance, drama
Summary: Chloe needs a holiday. She’s sick of making wedding dresses, her partner Philip has troubles at work, the whole family wants a break. Her wealthy friend Gerard has offered the loan of his luxury villa in Spain – perfect.
Hugh is not a happy man. His immaculate wife Amanda seems more interested in her new kitchen than in him, and he works so hard to pay for it, he barely has time for his children. Maybe he’ll have a chance to bond with them on holiday. His old friend Gerard has lent them a luxury villa in Spain – perfect.
Both families arrive at the villa and realise the awful truth - Gerard has double-booked. What no-one else realises is that Chloe and Hugh have a history, and as tensions rise within the two families, old passions resurface. It seems that Gerard’s ‘accidental’ double booking may not be an accident after all… (from author’s website)
Review: This book was vaguely disappointing. I wasn’t sure what I wanted as I read this book, and the way it was wrapped up in the end made me feel that Madeleine Wickham (aka, Sophie Kinsella) must’ve had a bad batch of romance when she wrote this, because seriously, there was nothing romantic about it at all. I’ll chance a small spoiler by saying that part of what the message in the book seemed to be was, ‘be happy with what you got, and you only get one chance at that totally crazy-happy love and if you mess it up with bad choices, you’re out of luck and you’ll be lucky if you find someone else you can love, even if it isn’t that crazy-all consuming love.’ What closure there was seemed half-hearted at best and definitely not aimed toward making you feel good…and sure, that’s life, right? I mean, I get that reality doesn’t always work to give you closure that makes you feel good, but if I wanted to read a book that told me that, I’d grab a drama instead of a romance, seriously. I can't even say that it does much in the way of making me like or dislike any of the other characters either. This book has not improved my perception of Madeleine Wickham OR Sophie Kinsella one bit.
Rating: One out of Five Hungry Brains
Currently Reading Juliet: A Novel, by Anne Fortier.