Sunday, February 23, 2014

My take on: Bangkok Transit

There is an air of mystery behind that cover. A woman about to embark on a journey to Bangkok, is that it? What is pulling her there? Is someone pulling her there? But there is much more to the story than just one woman in Bangkok Transit by Eva Fejos.

Seven people are in a state of flux. Seven people are coming to Bangkok to sort out their past, present, and future. One is coming to learn about the place of her birth after being raised by adoptive parents in New York. One could be nearing the end of his life. A mother who has lost everything that matters. There is even more, but I don't want to spoil too much of the book.

I have to say it took me a while to sort out who was who in this book. Some of the chapters start in the past and end in the present, but I didn't see any transition between the two. I was left wondering who I just read about. I had to re-read some passages to keep everything straight. I don't hate books with a lot of characters, I would just like everything to have an easy flow. This a Hungarian-to-English translation and it's entirely possible something is getting lost in the translation.

Of all the characters, I think I connected the most with Lian and Paul. Lian is just 20 years old, she's coming to Bangkok to learn about her heritage. She grew up with loving adoptive parents but there is some strong force pulling her toward Bangkok. It's a journey she has to make alone. There is something mysterious yet inviting about the bustling streets of Bangkok. She's just starting out in life but has to sort out her past before she can move on.

Paul is a man who has spent life as an outsider. Coming to Bangkok is a last resort. Why? You'll have to read the book to find out! But the following words said to Paul stuck with me....

"If you travel to Thailand, you must open your soul."

But is Paul ready to open his soul? Life has been so much easier for him by just being a casual observer, but life has a funny way of working out. Circumstances beyond his control are forcing him to open up and experience a different side of life.

This book isn't perfect, no book is, but there is an emotional and tender side to it that many people can relate to.

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received an e-book as part of a blog tour with Fictionella.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

My take on: Sweet Nothings

After finishing Sweet Nothings by Janis Thomas, I can honestly say this is one of the funniest, endearing, and whimsical books I've ever read. The premise isn't original, but how it's told is just perfect.

Ruby McMillan's husband, Walter, suddenly decides that their marriage is over. He wants to pursue his own happiness -- without Ruby. He's leaving her for another woman. A younger, slimmer, woman with big boobs perhaps? No. It's woman Ruby's age and with a couple of extra pounds. Ruby wonders what he could possibly see in her? What is so appealing about this woman that he's willing to leave Ruby and their two children, Colleen and Kevin, behind? Ruby thought they were happy. Or was she just in denial?

While Walter is off on his personal journey, Ruby is left to pick up the pieces of their life. Overdue mortgage payments, household bills, and moody teenagers all become Ruby's responsibility. It's all too much. Even her beloved bakery, the Muffin Top, isn't a place of refuge for Ruby. The bakery is also in trouble financially. "Stressipes" a.k.a Ruby daydreaming about delicious confectionery delights offer a little respite. I should mention, don't read this book if you're hungry it will make you run out to the nearest restaurant or bakery. I did order a box of chocolate-covered strawberries because of this book!!

Picking up the pieces isn't easy for Ruby, but she has a lot of help and motivation. A to-die-for makeover courtesy of Colleen gives Ruby a renewed confidence and outlook on life. She even begins to wonder what it would be like to kiss Jacob Salt -- the hot new guy in town. He's her age. He's recently divorced. And it must be stressed again that he is extremely cute. But is it too soon to be fantasizing about a new relationship? What about the kids? In their minds, this is just a phase for dad. Ruby knows it is more than just a phase but can't bring herself to tell the kids the truth about their father.

I'm not married nor do I have children, but I felt for Ruby every step of the way. When Colleen pushes her mother to the brink of tears, I wanted to yell at her for being such a brat! Ruby is hurting but her daughter could only think of herself -- like most teenagers. Maybe it was too soon for Ruby to be thinking about Jacob naked, but I laughed every step of the way. She's like a giddy teenager and I loved every minute of it. Ruby is finally starting to enjoy life. She doesn't have to follow a recipe anymore. The second phase of her life is going so much better by not following a set list of rules. So much more can happen if you just go with the flow. It's hard for Ruby to change, but it's just what she needs.

I have never read a book by Janis Thomas before, but I know I will again. Her writing flows so easily. There is just the right amount of sadness, humor, and chocolate in this book!

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy from FSB Associates in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Is a Cake Better Than a Man?

Happy Valentine's Day!! In the spirit of the holiday Janis Thomas, author of Sweet Nothings, is stopping by with a rather funny post!! Hopefully, I will have a review of Sweet Nothings for you soon!!

10 Reasons A Cake is Better Than a Man
By Janis Thomas,
Author of 
Sweet Nothings
     Don't get me wrong. I love men. Especially my husband and Hugh Jackman. Despite the notion that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, and aside from the cold, hard truth that I often think marriage was invented by a bunch of sadists, I cannot imagine my life without Alex in it.

     I could say the same thing about cake. Not that it was invented by sadists, because that would be ridiculous. Obviously, cake was invented by a glorious angelic genius bent on spreading happiness and good cheer throughout the world. But I can't imagine living without cake, either.

     The other day, a friend asked me a hypothetical question which inspired this post. It went something like this:

     If you had to choose between cake and men for the rest of your life, which would you pick?
My husband was seated right beside me, so I quickly answered, "Oh, I'd pick men . . . specifically my man." And I gave his arm a little squeeze. (I think he bought it, although I can't be sure.)

     But the question stayed with me, and I found myself mulling it over late into the night. I actually took out a notepad and created a pros/cons list for each, cakes on one side and men on the other. In so doing, I came to the conclusion that a cake really is better than a man, and here are the ten top reasons why:
10. Extreme heat makes cake smell good.9. There is such a thing as a perfect cake.
8. Cakes don't watch football.
7. Certain parts of a man are more attractive than others, whereas every slice of cake looks gorgeous.
6. Even bad cake is good.
5. A cake won't complain about crumbs on the counter.
4. A great chocolate cake is better than sex.
3. If you marry a cake, your in-laws are butter and sugar.
2. Cakes don't expect you to pick up their dirty underwear.
And the number one reason why a cake is better than a man is:
1. You don't have to talk dirty to a cake to get it to rise.
     I'm not saying that men don't have good qualities too. They do. Men have the capacity for compassion and understanding, whereas cakes don't have feelings. A man is more likely to discover a cure for hair loss than a cake. When you feel sad or upset, your husband will put his arms around you and comfort you, whereas a cake pretty much just sits there. And you certainly can't ask a cake to take out the garbage.

     But, I have to admit, when I'm consuming a luscious red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and shaved dark chocolate curls decorating the top, the last thing on my mind is the overflowing trash bin.
© 2013 Janis Thomas, author of Sweet Nothings

Author Bio: Janis Thomas, author of Sweet Nothings, is a native Californian, lives in Orange County with her husband, their two children, and their dog, Ruby. Janis has written more than fifty songs and (with her dad) two children's books, and is also an avid baker. She is also the author of Something New. For more information please visit, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

Saturday, February 8, 2014

In the name of research, I have done the unthinkable!

For a long, long, long time I have thumbed my nose at a certain series of books. Not because I'm a book snob, but because I've heard toooooooooooo many bad things about it! What series am I talking about?

I'm not a prude. I have no problem reading erotica....provided the story is more than just sex. Tiffany Reisz's Original Sinners series is great. I read the first two books in that series, The Siren and  The Angel. There is a lot of sex in those books, but I didn't find them to be gratuitous. There is a lot of substance in addition to the sex in the Original Sinners series. I fear that the sex scenes in Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James are gratuitous. Why? Bad reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. And the top reason for me not reading this series.............

A year and a half ago, actresses Kathleen Turner, left, and Jennifer Tilly were guests on Watch What What Happens Live (Watch Watch What Happens Live Season 6 | Autobiography or Autoerotically?). If you watch that show regularly, you know that host Andy Cohen has his guests play wacky games. The game on this particular episode had Turner and Tilly reading allegedly "erotic" passages and they had to guess where they came from. This whole episode is hilarious, if you have time do a Google search and you can probably find the whole episode. But the point of this little tale is that Jennifer Tilly and Kathleen Turner both trashed this book upon learning where the passage came from. Their lack of endorsement was enough for me to continue thumbing my nose at Fifty Shades of Grey!!

So why am I changing my mind now? I'm two semesters away (knock wood!) from getting my Masters degree in book publishing. One of the classes I'm currently in is all about romance novels. If I'm going to succeed in book publishing, I need to have an understanding of different genres and markets. I do read some romance books. I'm a big fan of Kristan Higgins, Robyn Carr, and Susan Mallery. But those authors are just a small piece of a rather big pie. Nora Roberts is one of the queens of the romance market and I'm just now starting to read her books.

No class on romance is complete without discussing E L James. While browsing the bookstore, I have read a few sentences of the first book and all I could think was.....

I don't have hope for the book as a whole. To understand why publishers are snapping up books like Fifty Shades of Grey, you have to read the book. To understand why a book series resulted in all Random House (now Penguin Random House) employees getting a $5,000 bonus, you have to read it. To understand why a book series has sold 40 million copies and counting, you have to read it. But I REFUSE to be caught in public with a physical copy of ANY of the books! I have finally realized that because of books like Fifty Shades of Grey, e-readers are a GIFT from God! I'm not going to read the book right away, but I will once I get over the SHOCK of paying actual money for it!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

My take on: Love Water Memory

"She needed to clear her head before she met her aunt. There were so many things to ask, so many things to finally know and understand about who she was, who her family was, and most especially, what had happened to her parents. She would never be a real person until she knew where she came from." Pg. 194

One day you know who you are and what you want. But the next day you slowly lose yourself, until you totally forget who you are. That sounds scary. How do you move forward, if you don't even know where you began? Jennie Shortridge tackles that and more in her book Love Water Memory.

Thirty-nine-year-old Lucie Walker is starting over. She can't remember who she is. She can't remember how she wound up knee-deep in the waters of San Francisco Bay. She is literally a blank slate. But her fiance Grady Goodall knows who she is or at least he thought he knew. When Grady comes to the hospital to pick her up, Lucie learns of the life she once had. She has a thriving career and a wedding fast approaching. Is that all? What about her family? Did anyone besides Grady miss her? Is anyone looking for her? What went so terribly wrong that she can't remember the life she once led?

Grady. Grady. What to make of Grady? He loves her, that's something they both know for sure. But is he with her for the right reasons? That's something they are both unsure of. Surely Grady holds all of the answers to her past. Not really. The Lucie that Grady knew was secretive and she was all business when it came to her past. He knows very little. Her parents are dead, she went live with her aunt Helen and her uncle Eddy, and she left their house at eighteen and never looked back. That's the end of the story. That's all that Grady knows. That can't be it? Lucie wants and needs to know more. She knows that something painful happened in her past. There is an aching in her heart and she doesn't know why. Connecting with aunt Helen, her only living relative, just might be the key to her past. Once all the questions have been answered, will she still be the same Lucie that Grady once knew. Maybe the old Lucie is gone forever and Grady must find a way to love the new person that stands before him.

This book has been on my TBR for a loooooooooong time. I loved the title. Love Water Memory, three little words that hold so much mystery. How do they connect and what do they mean in the overall plot. It all just works. Lucie's mind is a blank slate, but her heart has never forgotten the pain of the past. When I first heard about the plot I was expecting to it be reminiscent of Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. In that book, the main character forgets who she is everyday and her husband has some sinister motives of his own. I kept waiting for the big reveal with Love Water Memory. What is it that keeps Lucie in the prison of her past? What's the big secret? There really isn't one. I could see where the plot was going. At first I was a little disappointed, but then I realized the ending was perfect. If there had been some big reveal or sinister motives at work, it wouldn't have felt organic to the story. The ending is rather open-ended. Lucie is on her way to becoming a new woman and I don't think it should be any other way!!

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Gallery Books). Love Water Memory was the January selection for She Reads