One-Quote Review: Giving It Up by Amber Lin

  • Giving It Up by Amber LinTitle: Giving It Up
  • Author: Amber Lin
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, Suspense
  • Publisher:  Loose Id,  June 2012
  • Source: Amazon, $7.99 ebook (now $6.39)
  • Length: 308 pages
  • Trope(s): Angst, Guilt Issues, Single Mother, Gangsters
  • Quick blurb: Struggling single mother gets more than she bargains for when she hooks up with a gangster’s brother.
  • Quick review: Not quite what I expected, but great writing and a fantastic single mother heroine.
  • Grade: B+

I wanted him for my own, and that wanting was like a chant in my head. A greedy, futile chant.

I wasn’t expecting all the suspense-y stuff, but I loved the depth of the characterizations – in particular, the actually truly realistic and believable single mother heroine. And her kid is not a plot moppet prop. I know, right???

One-Quote Review: The Short and Fascinating Tale of Angelina Whitcombe by Sabrina Darby

  • The Short and Fascinating Tale of Angelina Whitcombe by Sabrina DarbyTitle: The Short and Fascinating Tale of Angelina Whitcombe
  • Author: Sabrina Darby
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Historical (Regency)
  • Publisher:  Avon Impulse, June 2012
  • Source: Digital ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss ($0.99 ebook)
  • Length: 100 pages
  • Trope(s): Beta Hero, Courtesan, Wounded Soldier, Tormented by Guilt
  • Quick blurb: Reclusive war hero’s mother hires courtesan to seduce him out of the ruined castle he’s restoring.
  • Quick review: A bit predictable, and a fairly implausible HEA, but the writing is all passion and emotion.
  • Grade: B

Their nakedness seemed right in the soaring space of the great hall. Stripped of all its earthly trappings, the luxurious and glittering material goods for which she’d strived the last five years.

This novella has temporarily restored my faith in historicals – and in Avon’s Impulse line.

Also: “indolent nakedness” is now on my list of favorite phrases, right under “erotic spectacle.”

One-Quote Review: Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half by Samantha Grace

  • Lady Amelia's Mess and a Half by Samantha Grace (Sourcebooks Casablanca)Title: Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half
  • Author: Samantha Grace
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Historical (Regency)
  • Publisher:  Sourcebooks Casablanca, June 2012
  • Source: Digital ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($4.99 ebook)
  • Length: 416 pages
  • Trope(s): Beta Hero, Widow, In Love with BFF’s Spouse, Big Misunderstandings
  • Quick blurb: Widow reunites with her first love. With a bunch of Big Misunderstandings.
  • Quick review: When I found myself liking the “wanton” BFF and her doofus lover better than the heroine and hero, I figured it was time to stop.
  • Grade: DNF

“Is this for me? Delicate fingers walked down his skin and circled his shaft.

Officially DNF’d at 62%. We had yet to reach whatever the big Big BIG Misunderstanding was going to be, and I didn’t feel like plodding through the remaining third of the Mess – each “conflict” was telegraphed loud and clear a chapter (or even a few paragraphs) before it happened.


Status updates….

07/18 – 20%

Not much going on yet besides the usual.

07/18 – 20%

I had to page back a full chapter to remember what was going on. This is not a good sign.

Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half by Samantha Grace

“How YOU doin’?”

07/18 – 29%

Anachronism Fail: “…but they weren’t playing tiddlywinks under there.”

07/18 – 29% (part 2)

Question, re: “…screeching like a Morrigan.” Would a Regency aristocrat have knowledge of Celtic mythology?

07/19 – 33%

Anachronism Fail AND Bullshit Alert: A character described as a befuddled buffoon is somehow a skilled practitioner of acupressure (yes ACUPRESSURE, or possibly reflexology)), curing widow’s migraine using pressure points on her feet. Of course, he must remove her stocking to accomplish this, so it’s really just a ploy to get up her skirts.

07/20 – 60%

Bullshit Alert: Two hours after proposing to heroine, hero informs his father. Dear old dad pulls out a Very Special Ring that he JUST HAPPENED TO HAVE IN HIS POCKET. A ring that belonged to the father’s Mysterious First Wife.

I Write Snark. About Books. Not Authors.

I posted a few comments on HuffPo Books and tweeted a few (well, a lot of) things yesterday, so I figured I should out myself a Mean Girl (for those who didn’t know that already) and point any newcomers to related documentation in the interests of transparency and accountability:

The “Hell Yeah!” Snark-O-Rama

The Lessons Learned from the “Hell Yeah!” Snark-O-Rama

A little more backstory about the “Hell Yeah!” Snark-O-Rama
(links to Dear Author Thread of Doom)

The Cowboy’s Princess Wife
(in which I aim my Darts of Mockery at the small-press publisher, who later removed the book from their online store, Amazon, B&N and ARe)

Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure
(in which I aim my Darts of Mockery at a Big Six publisher for insulting my intelligence)

Galley Proof by Eric Arvin
(Not as many Darts, but enough to qualify for Mean Girl Status; scroll down to the middle for the snark – but keep reading….)

If you have anything to say – good or bad – I encourage you to leave a comment. I do not (and have not and never will) suppress any comment, with the sole exception of any that include personally identifiable information.

I’m @kelly_instalove on Twitter, KKJ on Goodreads, and you can also email me: kelly d0t instal0ve at yah00 d0t c0m.

One-Quote Review: Wrestling with Jesus by Stephen Osborne

  • Wrestling with Jesus by Stephen OsborneTitle: Wrestling with Jesus
  • Author: Stephen Osborne
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, M/M
  • Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press, April 2012
  • Source: Digital ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($5.38 ebook)
  • Length: 210 pages
  • Trope(s): Beta Heroes, Big Misunderstanding (heh)
  • Quick blurb: Small-time pro wrestler hits the big-time when his under-hypnosis recitation of the Sermon on the Mount in Aramaic is sold to the tabloids.
  • Quick review: The author was able to pull off the satire, but the head-hopping and character inconsistencies drove me crazy.
  • Grade: C

“All I know is that I tried hypnosis to stop smoking, and the next thing I know I’m in a tabloid proclaimed as the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.”

The satirical premise was inspired (heh), with some truly funny scenes and dialogue. If only the rest of the writing held up – every character, no matter how minor, gets a POV, and the language of the internal monologuing is often inconsistent with the character. I kept comparing the main characters to Larry and Al in J. L. Merrow’s brilliant Muscling Through, and Randy and Kyle are just pale imitations.

One-Quote Review: Mercenary’s Perfect Mission by Carla Cassidy

  • Mercenary's Perfect Mission by Carla CassidyTitle: Mercenary’s Perfect Mission
  • Author: Carla Cassidy
  • Series/Category: Romantic Suspense
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, Suspense
  • Publisher:  Harlequin, May 2012
  • Source: Digital ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($2.99 ebook)
  • Length: 217 pages
  • Trope(s): Insta-Love, Plot Moppet, Evil Twin
  • Quick blurb: Mercenary falls for damsel in distress while saving idyllic town from the clutches of his Evil Twin.
  • Quick review: Once again, I manage to join a series already in progress.
  • Grade: B-

He was shocked to realize he somehow wanted to be the hero she’d never had in her life, the man she could depend on to get her son back, to make her world right.

Great premise and good writing, but I would have enjoyed it much more as a longer stand-alone novel instead of part of a series.

One-Quote Review: The Harder They Fall by Trish Jensen

  • The Harder They Fall by Trish JensenTitle:  The Harder They Fall
  • Author:  Trish Jensen
  • Series/Category: Previously published in Harlequin’s Love & Laughter series
  • Genre(s): Contemporary
  • Publisher:  Bell Bridge Books, June 2012 (originally published June 1997 by Harlequin)
  • Source: Digital ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($4.99 ebook)
  • Length: 202 pages
  • Trope(s): Insta-Lust, Lust in the Workplace, I Hate You Except When We Kiss
  • Quick blurb: Klutzy MBA disguised as a waitress tries to prevent her father from selling family restaurant chain to Studly Millionaire.
  • Quick review: An un-funny rom-com that shows its 1990s origins.
  • Grade: DNF

She switched tactics. Smiling, she batted her eyelashes. “Can’t we be friends?” she asked sweetly.

Made it about 20% and didn’t see any hope of ever liking the annoying heroine.