26 May 2018

Out of the Past by Dana Roquet

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Synopsis (written by me): Torie Mills is a successful author and genealogy buff who buys her family's 150-year-old ancestral home in small-town Iowa as a quiet retreat from her hectic life. She hires Dave Cameron, a local renovation expert to help her make the house livable again while respecting the original design of the house. Once the renovation is complete and Torie moves in, she discovers a portal to the past. Soon she is taking Dave along with her and they discover a dark side to their trips into the town's history.

This is one of those books that has been hanging out on my Kindle for a little while, although not as long as some others; I think I found it for free on Amazon about a year ago. Since I'm always on the lookout for a good time travel story, I'm sure that is why I picked it up. Anyway . . .

I made it to the 29% mark before I gave up. The style of writing was uneven to me, what with the heroine's chapters being written in the first person and the hero's chapters being written in the third person. There was a lot of unnecessary details that dragged the book down. The history and genealogy parts, in particular, droned on, a bit like the "begats" in the book of Matthew in the Bible.

The scenes where the author describes the attraction between the hero and the heroine were just good enough to feel like they were written by someone else, especially in comparison to the other scenes. Several reviewers on Goodreads said that the sex scenes in this book made them blush, but the few scenes in the part of the book I read weren't that graphic to me. I later learned that this book has an original version and a PG-13 version where all the sex is toned down. Either I have the clean version or I'm just too accustomed to steamy books!

However, the part that made me abandon the book was the time travel. My favorite style of time travel story is when a person gets dumped into a different time and doesn't know what is going on, so there is a "fish out of water" aspect to it. In this book, the heroine actually inhabits the bodies of different people in her family, so there was definitely the potential for that but the way it was written didn't allow for it. Instead of letting the reader watch the time travel scenes unfold, the author has the heroine give us a synopsis of a few of her trips. It was like a coworker telling you about her latest vacation.

This is the first book of a trilogy and I was really hoping to immerse myself in this world, but I can't do it. As of this writing, the first book is still free on Amazon if you want to give it a try yourself, but I wouldn't recommend it.

04 December 2017

The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens

The Tea House on Mulberry StreetThe Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Format: audiobook from the library

The Tea House on Mulberry Street is a nice, light bit of women's fiction. The plot follows the owners of Muldoon's Tea Rooms and their troubled marriage, as well as several other people who patronize the tea house while trying to work through problems of their own. Unlike a book such as The Friday Night Knitting Club, however, the characters don't all become friends and insert themselves into each other's lives. Because of this, I could have flipped right past the chapters of characters I didn't care to follow because their stories didn't affect other stories in the book. There was a mix of predictable, unbelievable, and a twist or two that I didn't see coming. One of the predictable storylines was still satisfying because I wanted to see certain characters get their comeuppance.

The narrator for the audiobook was very good. I appreciated hearing an Irish accent in a book set in Belfast; I still can't shake the audiobook I listened to that was set in Australia and used Aussie slang, but neither of the readers did an Aussie accent. I'd rather hear a bad accent than no attempt made at all.

The book includes a recipe for cheesecake, but if this book were on the tea house menu, it would more likely be angel food cake -- a sort of retro dessert that I don't see people eating much these days. The book was published in 2003 but it had the feel of a 1980s movie, especially at the end where the author wraps up everyone's situation. It is also not as racy as some women's fiction I've picked up that has been written in the past couple years. I would have no problem handing this book to my maiden aunt or even my friend who only reads Christian romance.

This was my first time reading a book by Sharon Owens, and I'm on the fence. It wasn't a bad book but I'm not compelled to seek out her other work. However, if it was on the free table at work (yes, my husband's job has such a thing) or I was on a cruise without reading material, I'd pick up another of her books.

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