Minding Spot

Minding Spot

A Wild Night's Bride by Victoria Vane

Posted: 03 Aug 2012 04:07 PM PDT

From Goodreads - What happens when a struggling actress and a grieving widower come together in a night of unbridled debauchery orchestrated by a bored and machinating rake? Phoebe Scott, alias Kitty Willis, is a struggling Covent Garden actress with a bruised heart and a closely guarded secret.  Sir Edward Chambers, Ned to his intimates, is guilt-ridden over his beloved wife's death and avowed to live out a rustic and mundane life … of celibacy. Devil in disguise, Viscount Ludovic DeVere, is determined to return his best friend, Ned, to the land of the living. His meddling machinations result in a night of mind blowing passion after which "dull dog Ned" awakes to find himself in the King of England's bed! A WILD NIGHT'S BRIDE, a sexy, rollicking Georgian romp!

Oh what fun! I have to say this was a charming, humorous and thoroughly entertaining story that I was just dismayed to see end.  Vane is a very gifted writer whom's characters are vividly portrayed with just the right amount of finesse.  The Georgian setting is thoroughly portrayed, but it's the dialogue that kept me riveted.    I'm not going to go into details and spoil this one for you.  However, Phoebe has a secret, Devere wants to pull his friend Ned out of his guilt and thinks that Phoebe may be just the person to do it, but the way it all transpires and the ideas are just delicious.   I'm thrilled that I have the next one on my shelf to read next! More, more more!!
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.   Honestly, READ THIS ONE!! 

Light From A Distant Star by Mary McGarry Morris

Posted: 03 Aug 2012 02:52 PM PDT

From Goodreads: It is early summer and Nellie Peck is on the cusp of adolescence – gangly, awkward, full of questions, but keenly observant and wiser than many of the adults in her life. The person she most admires is her father, Benjamin, a man of great integrity. His family's century old hardware store is failing and Nellie's mother has had to go back to work. Nellie's older half-sister has launched a disturbing search for her birth father. Often saddled through the long, hot days with her timid younger brother, Henry, Nellie is determined to toughen him up. And herself as well.

Three strangers enter Nellie's protected life. Brooding Max Devaney is an ex-con who works in her surly grandfather's junkyard. Reckless Bucky Saltonstall has just arrived from New York City to live with his elderly grandparents. And pretty Dolly Bedelia is a young stripper who rents the family's small, rear apartment and becomes the titillating focus of Nellie's eavesdropping.

When violence erupts in the lovely Peck house, the prime suspect seems obvious. Nellie knows who the real murderer is, but is soon silenced by fear and the threat of scandal. The truth, as she sees it, is shocking and unthinkable, and with everyone's eyes riveted on her in the courtroom, Nellie finds herself seized with doubt.

No one will listen. No one believes her, and a man's life hangs in the balance. A stunning evocation of innocence lost, Light from a Distant Star stands as an incredibly moving and powerful novel from one of America's finest writers.

Nellie Peck is the middle child, having an older sister, Ruth, and a younger brother, Henry.  Her mom is a hairdresser and her dad owns a hardware store.  His dream though is to finish his novel that he has been writing for years about the history of their town.  While he is dreaming, it's getting harder and harder for them to make ends meet.  So, they rent out a three room apartment that is on the back of their house.

Nellie ends up spending much of her summer watching out for her brother Henry while her parents struggle to survive.  In doing so, she meets a new tenant, a pole dancer, Dolly.  She's beautiful and elusive.  There's a new boy in town, Bucky, who Nellie and Henry befriend, but Bucky could get them into real trouble if they aren't careful.  Then there is Max, the man staying in the loft of the Pecks' grandfather, Charlie's, junkyard.  When one of the new people that Nellie has met over the summer winds up dead, she knows who did it.  The problem is that no one believes her.

Light From A Distant Star is a compelling tale of family, secrets, murder and growing up.  Mary McGarry Morris has a knack for storytelling and you will find yourself entranced with the Peck family and those whose lives intercept them.  From start to finish, the story unfolds at a steady pace, leaving behind memorable characters and a lasting impression.  I loved it!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams

Posted: 03 Aug 2012 07:40 AM PDT

When a reader finishes the last page of a book, there is sometimes sadness, anger, joy, or relief. When I  the closed cover of Kate Williams' novel, The Pleasures of Men, my primary feeling was a sense of disquiet and confusion.

The Pleasures of Men takes place in 1840 in an England rocked by recession. The social classes, the rich and the devastated poor, are at odds with one another. While the poor are working in factories, selling wares, prostituting, and relishing the occasional meat pie (with rather unsavory ingredients), the rich are going on about their business much the way they always have.

Added to this societal pressure is the appearance of a serial murderer dubbed "The Man of Crows". He begins killing young women in the city and the whole populace is terrified.

Catherine Sorgeiul is  a 19 year old woman, living with her uncle. She becomes fascinated with the murders and begins writing about them. Catherine, a rather odd girl, instinctively knows that these writings are not to be shared with her uncle, whose late night visits with a man named Mr. Trelawny, have Catherine perplexed.

Catherine is a very difficult character to decipher. How does she know so much about the murders? What exactly is her relationship with her uncle? Is the story she has been told about her parents' deaths true? And the questions that most perplexed me as I was reading—Is she sane? Is she a reliable narrator? The answers to each of these questions unfolded throughout the book. I found it quite enjoyable to read a novel that had me so perplexed.

The narrative arc of The Pleasures of Men is quite complex. There are many narrators and they are not always identified by name. The timeline is not sequential at all—there are flashbacks and shifts back to the primary storyline. This is a novel that requires the reader's attention and focus. The descriptive details are well done, and the gritty elements of the lives of the poor were gutwrenching.  The identity of the killer is not too difficult to figure out, but there are some surprises thrown in as well.

Overall, The Pleasures of Men was an entertaining, if not an unnerving read. I can't help but think that some of the jumping around in perspectives and the shifting timeline made the book a little darker than it would have been otherwise—and maybe that was the point. I can't say that I loved the book, but I can say that it was an affecting work of historical fiction.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

Winners: No Rest for the Dead & iStencils

Posted: 03 Aug 2012 03:36 PM PDT

Thank you to everyone who entered and to the sponsors! Winners have 48 hours to respond to email or a new winner will be selected.

No Rest for the Dead - Laura Pelkey - confirmed
iStencils - Shanta Spradlin - confirmed