Friday, May 24, 2013

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

Babycakes (Cupcake Club 3) by Donna Kauffman -- Contemporary romance/women's fiction

Kit Bellamy has come to Sugarberry Island, Georgia to start fresh after losing her family business. With some help from her business friend Charlotte and Charlotte's friend Lani, Kit will help start a mail order cupcake business. Also new to the island is Morgan Westlake, scion of the family that helped ruin Kit. Morgan is the black sheep or white knight of his family. He has bucked tradition and come to the island to raise his newly orphaned niece, Lilly. The little girl needs to be close to both sides of her family and have some stability and comfort in her life. She finds joy in helping at a sea turtle sanctuary where she and Uncle Moggy meet Kit who has come to volunteer. Kit's heart warms to the kind and gentle man and the sweet little girl, but she's wary of trusting someone new since her greedy brother-in-law stabbed her in the back. Her friends are pushing her towards something she may not be ready for. Can she take a chance on love? Morgan knows Kit is THE ONE almost from the moment he sees her. For some reason she seems to have an aversion to him. He's determined to pierce her armor and make her see they belong together. I loved the small town charm of this novel. The characters are interesting for the most part and somewhat quirky. I haven't read the first two books in the series and I don't feel I have to. This book introduces those characters and summarizes their relationships. I loved Alva, the Betty White of Sugarberry. I also loved the cupcakes because who doesn't love cupcakes?! This book needs to come with a warning label: May cause serious cupcake cravings! (Luckily, my mom already planned to order some for my graduation party next weekend) There are even recipes included in the back for the Bellamy family recipe for peanut pie and some of the cupcakes mentioned in the novel. The hero and heroine are decent for modern characters. I felt really bad for Kit but at the same time felt she was a bit whiny and underdeveloped. Morgan is too good to be true. Do men like him actually exist? He truly is a white knight and easy to fall in love with. I kept waiting for some more depth but he remains 100% perfect throughout. Lilly is a little unrealistic in the beginning but once fairies are introduced, then she becomes a typical 5 year old. I know an almost 5 year old who is obsessed with fairies (princesses, ballerinas and romantic pretty clothes, too) who asks a million questions so I felt Lilly became more normal as she became more comfortable on the island. I usually don't like children in novels but she managed not be too obnoxious. That's the good... now for the bad... the romance is a little silly. The characters fall in love at first sight but it takes 3/4 of the novel for them to admit it. What happens in between is very slow moving with lots of dialogue. I like when characters talk to each other but this book has way too much dialogue and it's repetitive. The story drags on for what seems like forever and it could have concluded several times before it actually does. After the first kiss, there are a couple of semi-graphic love scenes and a few more issues to get through before the conclusion. I would have ended it with the first kiss and made it a very sweet romance. Those who enjoy sweet romances should end the book after the first kiss. The love scenes aren't too bad, the first one is kind of sweet, and they do help break down some of the trust issues Kit has but aren't really necessary. I'm interested in the series enough to read the next one but not the first two. 

The Portrait of Doreene Gray: A Chihuahua Mystery (A Tripping Magazine Mystery)
by Esri Allbritten -- Contemporary Cozy Mystery/Paranormal Mystery

The staff of Tripping Magazine, a paranormal travel magazine, heads to Port Townsend, Washington, a sleepy Victorian town, to investigate the mystery of a portrait that ages while the owner grows younger. They crash a press conference when they learn that Doreene Gray is about to sell the infamous portrait her twin sister Maureene painted of her many years ago. Doreene and Maureene won't talk to the press, but Doreene's Brazilian boy toy Renaldo is scared of the portrait and believes it is evil. The housekeeper/cook Lupita, is also worried about spirits of the dead and a strange man is hanging out in a white Imapala outside Dorreene's home. Angus, the founder of the magazine, smells a paranornal mystery he can't wait to put in the magazine, but Michael, the chief writer, is skeptical and believes in a logical explanation. Suki, the sarcastic, goth photographer, is just interested in snapping pictures and making sure Gigi, Doreene's Chihuahua is taken care of. The trio can't help but get involved when strange things start happening and someone ends up dead. Their nosiness may help the police get to the bottom of the mystery, but do they really want to ruin the fun for their readers? This is a quirky, unusual sort of book, very different from my usual fare. I was attracted by the literary allusion to Oscar Wilde's story The Picture of Dorian Gray, but mostly I liked cute dog on the cover. Unfortunately, the dog plays a minor role in the story. She mostly just dances around and whines and does dog things without being an active player in the story. That was very disappointing to me. I love a good, well-written doggie companion/sleuth. None of the characters are likeable. The magazine trio are like paparazzi, not caring what happens as long as they get the shot they want and a good story to tell. The other characters are selfish and mean which don't endear them to the reader. Renaldo is a stereotype of a stupid and gullible but extremely sexy young Latin man, and he is the only one of the characters, besides Gigi, I had any sympathy for. The mystery was so interesting, I couldn't put it down! I had no idea where it would end up and stayed awake far too long trying to finish the book. It's hard to tell you how I felt about the story without spoiling it, so read at your own risk! I was a little bit disappointed in the outcome of the mystery. I was expecting something much different from family secrets and lies (though I guessed one of the secrets and I don't even LIKE paranormal stories). The story is somewhat darker than I expected from the reviews on the cover. I liked it enough to want to read the first one and it made me wanted to read Oscar Wilde's original story.

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