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Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Other Side by J.D. Robb et al.

The Other Side is a collection novellas by J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Patricia Gaffney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas. The stories all have some supernatural element to them. I had not read any of the authors, other than J.D. Robb, before this book. I am happy to report that I enjoyed all the stories except for one, and that I look forward to reading more from these authors.

Possession In Death by J.D. Robb

The book starts off with a bang with a novella by J.D. Robb from her Eve and Roarke series. The story takes place after the case from Indulgence In Death wrapped up. J.D. Robb does a nice job – all our favorite characters make an appearance in a BBQ hosted by Eve and Roarke. When Eve takes Father Lopez home from the BBQ, she sees a stabbed woman dying on the street. Turns out the woman is a gypsy and Eve accidentally received the gift of seeing the dead from her when she promised to find her missing granddaughter. The suspense was well written. The story and characters well developed. The novella was a satisfying read, leaving me wanting more of Eve and Roarke.

The Other Side of the Coin by Mary Blayney

This was the only story I was meh about. The story is set in 19th century London. Harry and Bettina, lord and countess something, accidentally make wishes on a magical coin. Bettina wishes Harry would know how it feels to be in her shoes and Harry wishes his suspicious wife would trust him to be faithful. So the coin switches their bodies a la Freaky Friday.

First of all, it was weird reading it from Harry and Bettina’s POV with the role reversal. Second, the stuff Harry and Bettina go through seem very stereotypical. For example, Harry experiences menstrual cramps. OoooO, yes, this is what being a woman is all about! What Harry does come to realize, is that being a mother is a lot harder than what he thought. This, as a new mom, I could appreciate, and wishes my husband could appreciate as well. Bettina, on the other hand, gets to drink, smoke, watch his friends pee outdoors, because that’s what being a man is all about! Finally, it was weird reading the sex scenes with the role reversal. The whole concept was a bit icky to me. Like I said, this was my least favorite novella.

The Dancing Ghost by Patricia Gaffney

This one, I wasn’t so much into the story, but I thought the characters were well written and likable. Angiolina Darlington hires spirit investigator Henry Cleland to determine if her house is haunted. Turns out Angie knows there is no such thing as ghosts but wants a finding that the house is haunted to drive away potential buyers while she gathers funds to pay off the house before her cousin sells it. I liked that she is onto Henry’s BS and they end up partners in crime. Henry, in the meantime, is hiding from his past in his new ghost hunting profession. The ending seemed a bit abrupt but overall a good story. I particularly liked Astra, the ghost hunting dog. Heh.

Almost Heaven by Ruth Ryan Langan

This was another enjoyable read. Ted and Vanessa Crenshaw died in a car accident. Before they cross over to the other side, they stay to make sure their kids are okay. Turns out, the guy their daughter Christina is about to marry may not be the man they thought he was, and that their accident may not have been so accidental. The ghosts work to expose the evil fiancé and to play matchmaker to their daughter with a new guy. All turned out well in the end. The story was simple but sweet.

Never Too Late to Love by Mary Kay McComas

This was probably my second favorite story of the bunch. M.J. Biderman wants to tear down the old family house she inherited but the house won’t be torn down because her dead mother and her two dead aunts are still around. They can leave until they each find what they lost. Turns out, what they lost were hope, faith, and love. Her aunt Odelia loved to cook and wanted to publish a cookbook but she lost all hope of ever doing so before she died. Her aunt Imogene lost her young son, and with him, all faith in the ever after. Her mom, Adeline, lost her connection with her daughter, M.J. It was a good read as M.J. figures out what each lost and finds it for them again. The story was sweet and hopeful. Very enjoyable to read.

Phew! Writing a review of a collection of novellas is exhausting! Ok, I’m off to sleep a bit before my kid wakes me up at 3 am.


The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

My first book in 2012!

I put The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants on my ebooks library wait list as a whim. I had enjoyed the movies. Yes, I’ve seen both the movies. I love Alexis Bledel and thinks she is really pretty. And this was before Ugly Betty and Gossip Girl made America Ferrera and Blake Lively famous. In any case, when I saw this book while browsing, I decided to check it out.

My review is going to have a lot of references and comparisons to the movie. Can’t help having some preconceived notions when I have seen the movie before reading the book. I actually really liked the book. I wasn’t expecting to, I guess. But the book draws you into the lives of these girls. Each of them so different and so needy in their own ways.

My favorite is Lena, the shy beauty who is spending the summer in Greece with her grandparents. It doesn’t hurt that she was played by Alexis Bledel, who I think was perfect for the role. Lena has always been praised as beautiful. I liked that instead of having that go to her head, she is instead, introverted and unromantic when it comes to boys and love. But Lena is thrown for a loop when she falls in love for the first time. I also liked her relationship with her sister Effie. Effie was portrayed as more of a pest in the movie. But in the books, the sisters are very supportive. Of each other.

Then there is Tibby, stuck home to work at a Walgreens type store. I don’t remember this in the movie at all, but in that summer, Tibby meets Bailey, a wise 12 year old fighting leukemia. Suffice it to say, Tibby grew up a lot that summer and I went through quite a few kleenexes.

Then there is our narrator Carmen, who was supposed to spend the summer bonding with her dad. Instead, she finds him engaged with two future step kids. Carmen struggles with fitting into this new family, particularly because they are white suburbia all the way and she is part Puerto Rican. Some of her angst is self made, but she does deal with the issues a lt of children of divorced parents deal with.

Finally, there is Bridget, the sporty beauty at a soccer camp in Baja Mexico. Bee is exuberant and full of life, until she runs out of steam. In a way, she is the most fragile of the four, having lost her mother at a young age.

The book was a fast and enjoyable read. I think Ann Brashares painted a very three dimensional set of relatable characters. I’m going to see if the sequel is available too. B+
Ina way,