Category Archives: review

Review: Too Hot to Touch

Too Hot to Touch is the first in Louisa Edwards’s new Rising Star Chef series. Set in New York City, the book is about about a group of chefs from a restaurant, Lunden & Sons Tavern, competing in a culinary contest.

When it comes to competitive cooking, Max Lunden is no stranger to winning…though he’s never been great at working with a team. A master chef—and major hunk—he’s traveled the world, picking up new cooking techniques as well as beautiful women. But when the prodigal chef returns home to his family’s Greenwich Village restaurant, he discovers one too many cooks in the kitchen—and she’s every bit as passionate as he is…

Juliet Cavanaugh used to have a crush on Max when she was just a teenager, hanging out at Lunden & Sons Tavern, hoping to catch a glimpse of the owner’s oldest, and hottest, son. Now a chef herself—competing in the biggest culinary contest in the country—Juliet will be cooking side by side with the one man she’s always admired…and desired. But despite their simmering attraction, Juliet is determined to keep her cool—no matter how hot it gets…

 

My thoughts:

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I’m finding it harder to distinguish between all of her books. I think part of the reason is because I find it hard to relate to her female characters. They seem so unlikable: Jule’s mom, Eva (the organizer of the competition), the female judge, and to some extent even Jules. They are either bitchy or so focused (on themselves, their career) that I find it hard to see what draws in the men that are attracted to them. Is it really just their good looks?

Jules seemed too cold. Yes, she’s had a rough past but I didn’t feel like there was enough of an explanation as to why she ran so hot and cold with Max. Danny made a comment about her disastrous boyfriends and I really would have liked to have heard a bit more on that. Because I would have thought that effects of the incident with her mom could have been diminished somewhat by the care that she received from the Lunden family. She was able to see a healthy loving relationship.

I also didn’t get what caused Max to flee and never return for oh so many years. He has a couple of arguments with his father about the direction and the restaurant and just leaves? And his mom has to travel across the world to see him? The explanation was missing something for me.

I did enjoy the supporting characters, Beck, Win along with Danny. The kitchen scenes when the team came together to help one another (or just give each other crap) were funny or touching.

The next book in the series in Danny’s story but it appears that he is being paired with Eva so I may just have to sit that book out until someone tells me the female characterizations improve. I’m tired of bitchy women.

3 stars.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under review

Review: The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris

I’m disappointed to report that I have bailed on David McCullough’s latest book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris. I had been looking forward to this book for quite some time. My schedule has been pretty crazy with work so I opted to listen to the book via audible.

I gave up after getting through about four hours. I just can’t bring myself to listen to any more of this book.

I love Edward Herrmann, it’s not his narration. He does a stealer job – I loved his French. It’s the book. I normally love David McCullough’s writing but this book just seemed scattered to me.

Maybe it’s because most of the histories I’ve read lately have centered on one person. But it didn’t seem like there was a plan. It was like he had all these great stories about all these notable Americans and he just threw them down on the page.

So I’m going to take a bit of advice from that old saying, life is too short to read bad books. I’m moving on to Rules of Civility: A Novel. 

Leave a comment

Filed under review

Review: What Alice Forgot

Thirty-nine year old Alice falls and bumps her head in the health club. When she comes to, she’s lost the last ten years of her life. She doesn’t remember her three children, that she’s separated from her husband Nick or that her relationship with her sister is strained. When she looks in the mirror, she hardly recognizes the woman reflected back. She’s obsessed with working out and in the middle of a bitter divorce.

As Alice stumbles through her days discovering who she’s become, she starts to question her life. Things that were so important become less so.

This book features wonderfully quirky characters. I loved the character of Tom, her son, in particular. The passages with him just made me laugh and smile.

All in all this book is a delightful read. It makes you think about the little decisions along the way can change the direction of your life. I highly recommend it.

Leave a comment

Filed under review

Review: Changing the Game

Changing the Game, is the second in the Play-by-Play series from Jaci Burton.

Sports agent Liz Darnell will do anything to win back her number-one client, baseball pro Gavin Riley. And Gavin’s more than ready- especially when Liz is offering herself as part of the bargain. But when love unexpectedly enters the playing field, neither Liz nor Gavin are ready for the biggest game-changer of all.

I expected to love this book – after all it’s set in the world of major league baseball. I enjoyed the first book and found the character of Gavin to be charming. I was intrigued by the relationship he had with his agent. I know some professional athletes are friends with their representatives but celebrating holidays with the family seemed a bit odd to me. And when his brother’s girlfriend noticed the sparks between Gavin and Liz, I knew this would be an autobuy.

But I found myself frustrated  and disappointed with this book. I’m not a prude but I just felt like there was too much sex. I felt at times like the story took a back seat to the descriptions of the smoking hot sex. I wanted more. I know that they were using sex to avoid having any conversations about what they were doing or where they were headed, but I just wanted more. I also found it highly unlikely that a MLB player would take that much time out of the season for a family illness. There are players who are only gone for a couple of games for deaths in a family. Gavin is supposed to be a star. Would a star really be away from that many games?

I’m hoping the next book in the series, Taking a Shot, about Mick and Gavin’s sister Jenna and pro hockey player Tyler Anderson is more like the Perfect Play.

3.5 stars and mostly because I love the Riley clan.

Leave a comment

Filed under review

Review: Maine

Maine, by J. Courtney Sullivan, is the perfect summer read. But don’t be fooled by the cover of the book, this is not your typical light beach read. It’s about family, secrets, relationships and the complications that occur in every day life.

The story of three generations of women from one Irish-Catholic family, the Kellehers, Maine weaves together events from the past and present to illustrate how the characters came to be. We meet Alice, the matriarch; who is struggling against a profound sense of guilt over the death of her sister. Kathleen, the oldest daughter, is divorced and a recovering alcoholic who fled to California where she owns a successful worm farm with her hippy boyfriend. Her family doesn’t understand her and is embarrassed by her chosen profession.  Ann Marie, the daughter-in-law, has the perfect life. She lives in a huge house, belongs to the right clubs, and her husband is very successful. But she can’t escape that fact that she was born on the wrong side of town, one of her perfect children is a mess and she is attracted to her neighbor. Maggie, the granddaughter, lives in New York City. Her boyfriend is a bit of a loser and and she’s about to have a huge change in her life.

During the course of one summer events occur which bring the four generations of women to live together. Secrets are revealed. There is so much which could be said about this book. The character of Ann Marie alone could keep me busy for days.

As someone from a dysfunctional Irish-Catholic family I found it easy to relate to the story. While my grandmother passed away when I was young, we still have tales of people who were put “in the book” and never spoken about again. What I liked about this book is that it reminds us that while our family can be highly flawed, they are family. We must accept them for who they are. And sometimes, they might just surprise us.

If you are looking for a good summer read, I’d recommend Maine.

4 stars

Leave a comment

Filed under review

Review: My One and Only

Kristan Higgin’s latest book, My One and Only,  made for the perfect escape reading this weekend. The story, about a divorced couple forced to spend time together offered some laughs,  a couple of tears (I’m a sap) and my favorite kind of ending to a book… happy ever after.

Harper is in her 30s with a successful career as a divorce attorney on Martha’s Vineyard and a  (hot) firefighter boyfriend of 2 1/2 years. She’s wants to settle down and have kids and decides now is the time. So she proposes to her boyfriend who isn’t exactly jumping for joy at the idea. Complicating matters she finds out (in the middle of her proposal) that her younger, irresponsible sister is engaged to a man she’s know for only a short period of time. They are getting married in Montana in 2 weeks. And worse yet, the fiance, is Harper’s ex-husband’s brother. (AWKWARD.) Harper is less than thrilled and concerned about her sister. This is her 3rd wedding, they haven’t know it each other for long and Harper has a pretty jaded view of marriage because of her career.  But she loves her sister so off to Montana she goes. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under review

Review: Oldest Chicago

I’ve been a fan of Lake Claremont Press for years. They publish a lot of fantastic books on Chicago history.

The latest book, Oldest Chicago, by David Anthony Witter is a great addition to their catalog. Part history, part guidebook, the book includes information on a wide range of institutions, businesses, restaurants, and theaters. The usual suspects are included (Wrigley Field, Water Tower, Palmer House) but it includes things like Oldest Statue (Standing Lincoln), Oldest Bowling Alley (Southport Lanes), and Oldest Funeral Home – Northside (Jaeger Funeral Home). The book makes references to the City’s tendency tear down it’s landmarks yet it celebrates how each of these institutions was able to survive the years through efforts from an individual family, a neighborhood, or a group of customers. It is an eclectic mix but it helps paint a picture to what makes Chicago so unique and why so many people are drawn to the city.

As a life-long Chicagoan, I was surprised by some of the entries and intrigued by the stories. The book makes me want to go exploring in my home town. I just wish I had this book before. It would have made it planning trips around the city with friends from out of town easier.

If you are from Chicago or planning a trip soon, I would recommend picking up a copy of this book and exploring the city.

4/5

Disclaimer: I received my copy as part of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program.

Leave a comment

Filed under review