Synopsis Strutting his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug orange tuxedo as this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon feels so very right to Chance César, and yet he knows it should feel so very wrong.
As far back as he can remember, Chance has been “caught between genders.” (It’s quite a touchy subject; so don’t ask him about it.) However, he does not question his sexual orientation. Chance has no doubt about his gayness—he is very much out of the closet at his rural New Hampshire high school, where the other students avoid the kid they refer to as “girl-boy.”
But at the local Harvest Moon Festival, when Chance, the Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper Donahue, the Pumpkin Carving King, sparks fly. So Chance sets out, with the help of his BFF, Emily, to make “Jazz” Donahue his man.
An article in an online women’s magazine, Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You (with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure), becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.
Quirky, comical, definitely flamboyant, and with an inner core of poignancy, Love Spell celebrates the diversity of a gender-fluid teen.
My Review There are so many things to love about Love Spell, but Chance César wasn’t one of them. At least not for me. The story follows Chance as he meets and then falls for Jasper Donahue, who Chance immediately starts calling Jazz. He and his best friend, Emmy, put together a plan for Chance to win Jazz’s heart. And that pretty much sums up my issues with Chance. He doesn’t know Jasper and decides not only to call him Jazz, whether or not Jasper likes it, but to pursue him without even knowing if Jazz is into guys. Plus, Chance constantly talks about his own awesomeness.
Aside from not liking Chance, I got a kick out of the story. It’s filled with quirky characters, witty banter, and real issues faced by teens, including gender identity, bullying, and falling in love. All of it is approached with heart and humor, making it impossible not to love the story despite not loving the main character. But then that was how A Confederacy of Dunces played out for me, too.
The plot centers around the romance between Chance and Jazz and the plan that Chance and Emmy come up with to get Jazz to fall for him. It’s hysterical as Chance tries to take the advice from a woman’s magazine on winning the heart of a guy and apply it to his situation. There are many laugh-out-loud moments involving scents and flavored lip gloss. The entire time, we’re left guessing whether or not Jasper is even interested in boys, right along with Chance.
The characters are what really make this story work. Even though Chance is abrasive, I cannot deny that he’s interesting. Emmy, his best friend, has her own language and is constantly making up new catchphrases, like pie stroll, which is doing something even easier than a cakewalk. Jasper is equally interesting as the potential love interest who doesn’t know what to make of Chance.
World Building The brightly colored world that Chance and his friends inhabit feels like something straight out of a Bryan Fuller television series — I half expected Lee Pace to make a cameo. Although the book is light-hearted, author Mia Kerick does a great job of handling the more serious subjects, like bullying.
Top Five Things I enjoyed about Love Spell: 1. Emmy’s catchphrases. Everything from dooza-palooza to sick- awesome made this such a fun read.
2. The plan. Watching Chance trying to implement the plan was absolutely hilarious.
3. Jasper. I love him. Everything from how great he is with his little sister to how he treats Chance makes him one of the best characters in the book.
4. Emmy. She can be annoying at times, but you never doubt her loyalty to her BFF, Chance (aka Channy).
5. Chance’s sense of style. I may not like his personality, but I have to admit, the dude’s got style!
Bottom Line Love Spell is a romantic comedy with a hilarious cast of characters and colorful dialogue that made me laugh out loud.
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book Title: Love Spell Author: Mia Kerick Publisher: CoolDudes Publishing Release Date: June 1, 2015 Pages: 146 Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Author Mia Kerick
About the Author Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.
Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
Synopsis Comedy writer and middle daughter of Al Gore, Kristin Gore has written a funny and moving debut novel about life on Capitol Hill as seen through the eyes of Samantha Joyce, a twenty-six year old health care analyst to Ohio Junior Senator Robert Gary.
Hard working, idealistic, extremely competent as well as neurotic and prone to daydreaming, Sammy, as she’s known to her friends, has little time for anything, much less a relationship. But in the midst of lobbying and late-night dinners at the office, she meets Aaron Driver, who is hot, smart, and sweet, and who, after a night of binge drinking at a bachelor party, proclaims his love for her.
But how will Sammy balance her seventy-plus hour weeks with her budding romance, while keeping her best friend’s slimy boyfriend from hitting on her, and making time for family, who insist her outfits match the centerpiece.
My Review This debut novel by the middle daughter of former Vice President, Al Gore, is a hilarious, witty, page-turning comedy with a sliver of politics running through it. Twenty-six year old Samantha Joyce is a newly arrived staffer for the junior Senator from Ohio with expertise in health care. Released in 2005, the topic was timely with health care reform front and center, but it’s still as fresh ten years later as it was back when I first read it.
Sammy is idealistic, nervous around members of the opposite sex, a little neurotic, and forever hopeful. As she works on the issues for her boss, she tumbles into a romantic relationship. While billed as chic-lit, this is more than that. It’s equal parts politics, which no doubt Kristin Gore has the experience to accurately portray, and lighthearted romance. I loved the story, the politics, and the characters. I’m looking forward to picking up more by Gore.
The main plot is Sammy’s goal of getting health care reform passed, but a strong subplot is her romance with Aaron Driver, and both are done really well. It’s definitely a fun, light read that moves quickly. The political process is interesting, even if it’s told in a humorous way. Well, let’s face it, politics is pretty much a joke in this country anyway.
Set on Capitol Hill, Kristin Gore has a solid handle on the world she’s set her story in. Considering her parentage, it’s understandable. I love her witty take on D.C, the procedures, and the political infighting.
Sammy is quirky in the best sense of the word. I know a lot of people have compared her to Bridget Jones, but she’s really her own kind of awesome and she comes off adorkably so. The rest of the cast is just as delightful, but much less neurotic.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Sammy’s Hill 1. Sammy’s quirks. She worries about everything and anything, including things that probably would never happen to anyone, but that’s all part of her charm.
2. Capitol Hill. The setting is as fascinating as the characters and often just as colorful and off-balance.
3. Health care. Because even after the Affordable Care Act, it’s still an important topic.
4. Politics. I’m a political junky, so the wonky plotline was pure confection.
5. Aaron Driver. He’s one of the really good guys and it’s nice to see that guys don’t have to be total alpha male types to get the girl.
Bottom Line Sammy’s Hill is a quirky political romantic comedy with fun characters and a timeless plotline.
About the Book
Title: Sammy’s Hill Series: Samantha Joyce #1 Author: Kristin Gore Release Date: June 15, 2005 Pages: 336 Category: Romance, Mystery, Chick Lit Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Author Kristin Gore
About the Author Kristin Gore is an American author and screenwriter. She is the second daughter of Al and Tipper Gore.
Gore has published three novels, Sammy’s Hill (2004), Sammy’s House (2007), and Sweet Jiminy (2011). She co-wrote the screenplay for the 2015 film Accidental Love, and the narration for the 2007 documentary Arctic Tale.
She was also a writer for the animated sitcom Futurama and the long-running sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live.
Two for the Dough (Stephanie Plum #2) by Janet Evanovich
Synopsis Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is still learning the ropes at her cousin Vinnie’s bail bond office, so when she sets out on the trail of Kenny Mancuso–a suspiciously wealthy, working class Trenton boy who has just shot his best friend–the stakes are higher than ever. That Mancuso is distantly related to vice cop Joe Morelli–who is trying to beat Stephanie to the punch–only makes the hunt more thrilling….
Taking pointers from her bounty hunter pal, Ranger, and using her pistol-packing Grandma Mazur as a decoy, Stephanie is soon closing in on her mark. But Morelli and his libido are worthy foes. And a more sinister kind of enemy has made his first move…and his next move might be Stephanie’s last.
My Review Two for the Dough is even more fun than it’s predecessor. Now that Stephanie has one mystery solved, she feels a little bit more confident about her job as a bounty hunter for her cousin Vinnie. Because the characters and circumstances are already established, this installment focuses more on the adventures surrounding Stephanie’s latest case.
There are more hijinks, goofiness, and laugh-out-loud moments, the best of which occurs when Stephanie invites coworker, Ranger, over for a family dinner and Grandma Mazur opens her mouth. I enjoyed watching Stephanie try and fail over and over, each time with hilarious results. Things are heating up with Joe Morelli, too, but these two still have a long way to go before they approach anything even close to resembling an adult relationship.
The plot centers around the mystery and finding Kenny Mancuso. But because this is Stephanie Plum, nothing is ever simple. Nothing goes according to plan and everyone and everything, including Stephanie’s own ineptitude, gets in the way. Throw in not one, but two hot guys, and this is a steamy, spirited page-turner that kept me laughing.
Once again, Evanovich’s depiction of Trenton, New Jersey comes alive with colorful characters and vivid locales in larger than life form. I have no doubt Stephanie’s version of bailbondsmanship isn’t quite the world that Dog the Bounty Hunter inhabits, but there’s just enough realism to keep it from being cartoonish.
It’s fun to see some actual character development in a light-hearted mystery like this. It’s not a lot. I mean, it’s not like Stephanie suddenly gets responsible and becomes a kick-butt bounty hunter, but there is some growth. Plus we get to see more of some of the more interesting characters, particularly Grandma Mazur. Even Ranger, as tight-lipped as he is, opens up a little this time around more.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Two for the Dough 1. Grandma Mazur. She’s a kick in the pants. You just never know what’s going to come out of her mouth next (and I’m not talking about her dentures.)
2. Stephorelli. Okay, it’s my own “ship” name, but it was either that or Morellanie. Whatever you call them, these two are either perfect for each other or will end up killing one another.
3. Ranger. His one word responses say more than a dozen words strung together. He is the epitome of cool.
4. Trenton, NJ. It might just be a town, but it is somehow also becomes a character in the story.
5. The bad guys. Because even they are about as competent at their badassery as Stephanie is at catching them.
Bottom Line Two for the Dough is a solid follow up in an entertaining, light-hearted mystery series, and it’s even funnier than its predecessor.
About the Book
Title: Two for the Dough Series: Stephanie Plum #2 Author: Janet Evanovich Release Date: July 15, 1999 Pages: 336 Category: Romance, Mystery, Chic-Lit Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
Author Janet Evanovich
About the Author Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.