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Daily Deals: Contemporaries, classics, and paranormals

Daily Deals: Contemporaries, classics, and paranormals

Instant Gratification Jill ShalvisInstant Gratification by Jill Shalvis. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

Stone Wilder is no less a daredevil bad boy than the rest of his brothers, especially when the thrill of a lifetime is about to arrive in a surprising package. . .The Doctor Is In Deep
Wishful, California, is 3000 miles from Dr. Emma Sinclair’s last job in a New York City ER. Running her father’s clinic for a summer, Emma treats bee stings, stomach flu, and the occasional pet cat. Then there’s Stone Wilder: gorgeous, laid-back, and irritating beyond belief. Emma loathes him. Almost as much as she wants to throw him on her examining table and break every doctor-patient rule in the book. . .
Paging Dr. Sinclair. . .

My favorite in the “Instant” series is the first one–Instant Attraction–which is only $3.99. It was one of the books that Sarah of Smart Bitches Trashy Books and I agreed upon (which is super rare) and one of the books we lauded during that time period back in the day (like 4 years ago) when we lamented there were not enough straight contemporaries. What were we thinking? Yo! the contemporary has been saved. Time to look at reviving other genres.

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The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William GoldmanThe Princess Bride by William Goldman. $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:

Once upon a time came a story so full of high adventure and true love that it became an instant classic and won the hearts of millions. What reader can forget or resist such colorful characters as

Westley . . . handsome farm boy who risks death and much, much worse for the woman he loves; Inigo . . . the Spanish swordsman who lives only to avenge his father’s death; Fezzik . . . the Turk, the gentlest giant ever to have uprooted a tree with his bare hands; Vizzini . . . the evil Sicilian, with a mind so keen he’s foiled by his own perfect logic; Prince Humperdinck . . . the eviler ruler of Guilder, who has an equally insatiable thirst for war and the beauteous Buttercup; Count Rugen . . . the evilest man of all, who thrives on the excruciating pain of others; Miracle Max. . . the King’s ex-Miracle Man, who can raise the dead (kind of); The Dread Pirate Roberts . . . supreme looter and plunderer of the high seas; and, of course, Buttercup . . . the princess bride, the most perfect, beautiful woman in the history of the world.

S. Morgenstern’s timeless tale—discovered and wonderfully abridged by William Goldman—pits country against country, good against evil, love against hate. From the Cliffs of Insanity through the Fire Swamp and down into the Zoo of Death, this incredible journey and brilliant tale is peppered with strange beasties monstrous and gentle, and memorable surprises both terrible and sublime.
With over one million copies in print, S. Morgenstern’s classic fantasy, in the abridged “good parts” version by William Goldman, is a readers’ favorite.

Because while the movie is spectacular, the book is even better.

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Blood of the Wicked by Karina CooperBlood of the Wicked by Karina Cooper. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

When the world went straight to hell, humanity needed a scapegoat to judge, to blame . . . to burn.

As an independent witch living off the grid, Jessie Leigh has spent her life running, trying to blend in among the faceless drudges in the rebuilt city. She thought she was finally safe, but now she’s been found in a New Seattle strip club—by a hard-eyed man on a mission to destroy her kind.

A soldier of the Holy Order, Silas Smith believes in the cause: trawling the fringes of society for the murderous witches who threaten what’s left of the world. Forced into a twisting web of half-truths and lies, he has to stay close to the most sensuous and electrifying woman he has ever seen and manipulate her into leading him to the witch he has to kill: her brother. Silas doesn’t know that Jessie’s his enemy, only that he wants her, needs her, even as he lies to her . . . and must protect her until his final breath.

It looks like the entire series is on sale for $1.99 each

Blood of the Wicked
Sacrifice the Wicked
One for the Wicked
All Things Wicked
Lure of the Wicked

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Highland Rebel by Judith JamesHighland Rebel by Judith James. $ 2.99.

From the Jacket Copy:

A love story set against the backdrop of Restoration England, Jacobite Scotland and Ireland, and the rise and fall of kings, by an award-winning author.

Amidst the upheaval of the first Jacobite war in 17th century Britain, Jamie Sinclair’s wit and military prowess have served him well. Leading a troop in Scotland, he impetuously marries a captured maiden, saving her from a grim fate.

A Highlands heiress to title and fortune, Catherine Drummond is not the friendless woman Jamie believed her to be. When her people effect her rescue, and he cannot annul the marriage, Jamie determines to recapture his hellcat of a new wife.

In a world where family and creed cannot be trusted, where faith fuels intolerance and war, Catherine and Jamie test the bounds of love, loyalty, friendship, and trust…

Judith James entered my consciousness through the dedicated campaigning of Kristie J who absolutely loved Broken Wings. Kristie also got romancelandia to watch North and South. We miss you Kristie J!

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REVIEW:  Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry

REVIEW: Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry

Dear Ms. Henry,

Recently I’ve been stuck at home due to a hairline fracture in my foot. To combat feeling cooped up, I turned to your debut mystery, Learning to Swim, which a friend had described as fresh and exciting.

Learning-to-SwimFreelance writer Troy Chance is taking the ferry from the Adirondacks town of Port Kent, New York to Burlington, Vermont when the opposite direction ferry sails by. Just then Troy spots what appears to be a child falling from the ferry opposite hers into the cold waters of Lake Champlain.

Troy, who has no children of her own (though she is a sort of den mother to the handful of male athletes with whom she shares her Lake Placid apartment) barely spares a second’s thought to the consequences before she dives in after the child.

She manages to rescue the boy, who is five or six and French speaking. The child clams up when she asks him what happened, who his parents are, and where he lives.

Troy is aware that no fuss was raised over the boy’s fall and no search for him has been announced. She recalls that a sweatshirt was tied around him, straightjacket-like, and realizes this was a deliberate attempt at murder.

If Troy reports his disappearance to the police and his parents are contacted, will the boy be safe once returned to them? Or are his parents the ones behind his close call with drowning? Afraid to take a chance with the child’s life, Troy takes him home with her.

In a matter of days, a deep attachment develops between Troy and Paul, as the boy reveals himself to be called. Troy realizes that it will be painful to part with him. But when Paul opens up to her about his parents’ identities, Troy realizes she can’t keep him with her, either.

Can the child’s father, once found, be trusted? Will it be a good thing for Troy to accept an invitation to stay in Paul’s life until he has adjusted to normal life? Is this a chance for a new romance, or is the situation far more dangerous than that for Troy, and for the little boy who has won her heart?

Learning to Swim did what I most wanted a book to do at the time I read it: absorb my attention fully. It’s a page turner and I was grateful for that.

Troy is a warmhearted protagonist. Her family background and lifestyle felt specific to her; she’d escaped Nashville and the family expectations she’d found suffocating there as a teen to go to college early, and then moved to Lake Placid where she made her living writing freelance articles and looking after an apartment with four other housemates.

Some of the small details–such as the mention of Troy’s leaving some dirty dishes in a bag outside the room door of a housemate who hadn’t washed his plates–made Troy come alive. The same was true of Paul, the somber little boy she’d saved. His physical gestures and his tendency to hide made him and his ordeal feel very real to me.

Most of the secondary characters also felt lifelike, but I had a problem with the way the villain’s actions were so very over the top. One thing that helped that go down easier was the writing itself—the dialogue was believable, and even when a character’s actions were out there, there was a normalcy to the way others reacted.

The prose had a simplicity that didn’t appeal to me but I can’t decide how much of that was due to the language itself and how much to the rather heavy-handed foreshadowing (which was especially pronounced near the end of each short chapter). Combined with the very evil villain and the child-in-jeopardy plot, these elements made me feel manipulated.

Then there was the way that Troy’s growth arc was played up in the narration. It’s true that Troy changed over the course of the story; she started out fiercely independent, and her attachment to Paul helped teach her to open up to the people who cared about her and ask their help.

I liked that, but at the same time, I felt more was made of this transformation than was actually shown. Troy kept saying she would never go back to being the same woman she’d been before rescuing Paul, so I wanted this change in her to be shown in depth, rather than just told about over and over.

I liked the sense of place employed throughout the book. Learning to Swim takes place in Lake Placid, Ottawa, and Burlington, and it doesn’t feel as though it could be set anywhere, but rather, located in these specific places.

This is primarily a mystery/suspense novel, not a romance, and the first book in the series too, but there are a couple of romantic possibilities for Troy. I was on board with the way this was handled in terms of what felt right for Troy, but at the same time, I’m not convinced that in a real life situation things would play out that way.

More important than any other relationship is Troy’s connection to Paul. The bond between them was probably my favorite thing in the story, and I loved the early scenes in which she rescued him and cared for him.

The latter parts of the book felt less organic to me, relying as they did on ominous lines highlighting the potential pitfalls for Troy and the dangers to Paul’s well-being and safety. While I loved Troy’s dedication to Paul, and liked Troy herself, I was less keen on the way these whiffs of menace toward Paul pulled at my emotional strings.

I didn’t guess the solution to the mystery. At one point I suspected it, but then I quickly dismissed this suspicion. I see the book as more suspense novel than mystery, because while there were clues and a solution, the greater emphasis was on the danger the characters faced.

Learning to Swim has won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and the Mary Higgins Clark Award, but I am going to diverge somewhat from the award-givers.

Although I appreciate the compulsive readability of this book, its sense of place, the touching connection between its protagonist and the child she saves, and the detail employed to bring the characters to life, I was disappointed by the manipulative elements and the lack of d real depth.

The novel is worth the price I paid for it on a daily deal, but I’m on the fence about paying full price for its sequel. Taking all of the above into account, I’m going to give it a C+.

Sincerely,

Janine

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