Category Archives: Book Review

Summer heat and fun with The Hook Up by Tawna Fenske

Ellie Sanders is over the fairytale, thank you very much. Content with her booming career as a purveyor of Madame Butterfly pleasure aids, she doesn’t need a man for anything—except maybe marketing tips. And, okay, a few fun nights with something that doesn’t require batteries.

Love, marriage, and family aren’t in the cards for Tyler Hendrix. Period. The Navy helped Ty put his tumultuous childhood behind him, but when a sexy single mom walks through the First Impressions door looking to take her business to the next level, he feels his carefully constructed “never-get-attached” walls crack.

As Ty and Ellie maneuver through a minefield of wardrobe malfunctions, plumbing mishaps, and the world’s most awkward accidental dirty talk, discovering they have more in common than scorching sexual attraction threatens to crumble Ty’s walls for good…

Each book in the First Impressions series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Series Order:
Book #1 The Fix Up
Book #2 The Hang Up
Book #3 The Hook Up

I had to laugh once I started reading THE HOOK UP. Not only because it was funny. Holey-double-entendre Batman, it was funny. But because I felt as if I knew our plucky heroine, Ellie the sex-toy selling single mom. Really. Many, many moons ago, one of my employees was a young, blonde single mom with an adorable little boy. She too had a crummy marriage and an ex who didn’t participate in said kiddo’s life.

And she too hosted ladies pleasure aid parties.

Her soiree was the first of the kind I’d been too. Since I was her boss at her regular job, it was a smidge bit awkward. Okay, it was MASSIVELY AWKWARD–I sat next to her MOTHER. But informative. And fun. And this real-life person did indeed have a hook up, but I enjoyed Tawna’s story and hero far more than the real-life version.

So back to that. Ty is a videographer with commitment issues. One thing I like about him (and many of Tawna’s heroes) is that he’s not the typical alpha male. No obnoxious, overbearing testosterone-infused pushiness. Oh, trust me, he’s got testosterone flowing, but it’s pulsing inside a sizzling hot teddy bear. He makes you laugh. And did I mention he falls for the kid, too? Cuteness. Overload.

Ellie is independent, focused on building her business and raising her son and basically has her shiz together. (It’s refreshing to read a romance where neither character is in “need” of the other.) The only thing Ellie and Ty “need” is a hook up. Neither wants commitment, just a few itches scratched.

Of course, it doesn’t work out that way. The chemistry between these two is obvious to us the moment they have their first confusingly hysterical conversation. We know they’re going to work out, even if takes them a little longer.

I’ve read that some romance readers don’t go for the “single mom” storyline, as it’s not a part of their fantasy. (Romances are essentially women’s fantasies.) But I do. I’m a mom. Most of my friends are moms. Some are single again. They’ve been forced back into that complicated dating word and wonder if they will ever find love again. I want to see how these stories can play out. I want to see these women have their Happily Ever Afters.

At 226 pages, THE HOOK UP is just that: a sweet yet sexy and fully entertaining romp. But just like with Ellie and Ty, what starts as a short, no commitment fling will likely lead to something more, and you’ll fall for Tawna’s books, too.

  • Publication Date: July 3, 2017

Cheers to Jill Hannah Anderson and The To-Hell-And-Back Club!

happy pub day jill hannah anderson
I’m ecstatic to wish my critique partner extraordinaire a HAPPY PUB DAY!!!!!

I can’t even tell you how excited I am. When my copy of Jill Hannah Anderson’s THE TO-HELL-AND-BACK CLUB arrived the other day I actually squeed (and I am not a squee girl), did a little dance, and then saluted this beautiful book baby with a celebratory glass of wine.

I’ve been reading Jill’s THE TO-HELL-AND-BACK CLUB for about three-and-a-half years now. Yes, it takes that long (and often longer) to edit a book, re-edit dozens of times, and find a publisher. At least. And even then you have to be a magical mix of lucky and good. This book is good. I’ve had the pleasure of watching this novel grow from it’s early drafts to the shiny work of PUBLISHED women’s fiction it is TODAY. And I’m overjoyed to help share it with the world.

the to hell and back club jill hannah anderson

Back cover:

In this inspiring debut from Jill Hannah Anderson~ Peyton Brooks, a newly-empty nester with a comatose marriage, loses her three best friends in a car crash, and reaches out to women in the To-Hell-And-Back Club, hoping they’ll help resuscitate her life.

Through the “Hell Club”, Peyton learns that it’s never too late to begin again. These been-there-felt-that women use their sense of humor, strength, and support to help pull her off the couch and back to living her life.

She puts an end to her troubled marriage and rebuilds the life she’d put aside two decades ago. But when Peyton digs up time capsules she and her friends buried years ago and uncovers secrets about those she loved, she struggles to keep her own life-changing secret buried.

The “Hell Club” women help remind Peyton of the strength within her. She finds a renewed hope in life and love when she faces the mistakes and guilt that have troubled her for years. When Peyton’s secret is discovered, she’s going to need the “Hell Club” women more than ever.

The To-Hell-And-Back Club is an inspiring book that reminds us that it’s never too late to start over, and that living a life of regrets is no life at all.

The To-Hell-And-Back Club is a heartwarming story about forging a new path in life when you hit a dead end. Just as empty-nester Peyton Brooks musters the strength to leave her floundering marriage she loses her dearest friends in a car accident. A car she was supposed to be in. Weighed down by grief, guilt, and loneliness, she realizes she must find a way to keep going. She finds the women of the To-Hell-And-Back Club. As the name suggests, each woman there has her own heartbreaking tale. But this club is anything but a downer. Together the women lend not only shoulders to cry on and ears to listen, but strength to build up their backbones and open their hearts.

With the help of these women from all walks of life, Peyton deals with secrets her family and dearest friends have kept from her and the truth she’s withheld from everyone, including herself. She may even discover what she’s been missing in life: camaraderie, laughter, and a second chance at love. This story made me wish for my own To-Hell-And-Back Club, a group of brave women who’ve learned that friendship, forgiveness, and heaps of humor are the keys to moving forward in life.

jill hannah anderson Voted “Most Imaginative” in high school, Jill assumed everyone else looked at life with “what-if” questions too. She lives on a lake in Minnesota with her husband in their rarely-empty nest, where they enjoy their six adult children and ever-increasing number of grandchildren when they come to visit.

Jill has worked at a communications company for two decades and also writes part-time for a Minnesota women’s magazine. Her first women’s fiction novel, THE TO-HELL-AND-BACK CLUB, was released in May 2017. She is a member of Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA), and is currently at work on her second women’s fiction novel, CRAZY LITTLE TOWN CALLED LOVE, featuring a character from her first novel. When she isn’t working, writing, or reading, you’ll find her running, curling, biking, and enjoying the great outdoors.

Connect with Jill!

Website  www.JillHannahanderson.com
Facebook  www.facebook.com/jillhannah.anderson/
Twitter https://twitter.com/JillHannahA
Instagram ~ @jillh.anderson

And buy this book!

The Distance Home by Orly Konig

Congratulations!

A quick congratulatory shout out to Orly Konig on the release of her debut novel THE DISTANCE HOME! Orly is a co-founder and past president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association,  a member of the Tall Poppy Writers, and one of the most supportive women out there in the virtual writing world. This one is going to the top of my TBR pile 🙂 Check it out!

orly

The Distance Home
by Orly Konig

“A powerfully heartwarming and introspective story.”―Booklist

Sixteen years ago, a tragic accident cost Emma Metz her two best friends―one human and one equine. Now, following her father’s death, Emma has reluctantly returned to the Maryland hometown she’d left under a cloud of guilt.

Sorting through her father’s affairs, Emma uncovers a history of lies tying her broken family to the one place she thought she could never return―her girlhood sanctuary, Jumping Frog Farm.

Emma finds herself drawn back to the stable after all these years. It’s easy to win forgiveness from a horse, but less so from her former friend Jillian, their once strong bond destroyed by secrets and betrayals. But despite Jillian’s cold reception, for the first time in years, Emma feels at home.

To exorcise the past, Emma will have to release her guilt, embrace an uncertain future, and trust again in the healing power of horses.                                     (from Amazon)

Orly’s website
Orly on Twitter
Orly on Facebook

 

This Time Around by Tawna Fenske

happy pub day tawma fenskeHi y’all! Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while. In addition to going on an editing bender I’ve been planning, prepping, and over-stressing over a dream vacation. Yes, I just returned from a magnificent week in Paris–oh la la!

One of my stress hot buttons: which ONE book should I bring along? (Seriously, being trapped on a plane for eight hours with the wrong book would be worse than being seated between two passengers with B.O.)

Luckily, the Advance Reader Copy of Tawna Fenske’s THIS TIME AROUND arrived in the mail the day before departure. Problem solved.

{Photos of THIS TIME AROUND‘s whirlwind tour of Paris at the end!}

THIS TIME AROUND by Tawna Fenske

Allie Ross is not living the life she once dreamed. Her law career ended before it ever started, her parents landed in jail for running a Ponzi scheme, and she just inherited her grandmother’s B&B—which is nice, even if it is full of extra-toed cats. As for her love life…she’d rather not talk about it.

When Jack Carpenter reaches out to reconnect with Allie, the girl who broke his heart in college, his plan is to impress her with the adult he’s become. Sure, he was a deadbeat then, but life has forced him to grow up. And it’s a relief to find out that things didn’t necessarily go the way Allie expected either.

As Allie and Jack get reacquainted, they rediscover the things they loved—and hated—about each other. But who they are now isn’t who they were then, and secrets—old and new—will test whether they have a future together, or if the past is destined to repeat itself.

318 pages –  Montlake Romance (April 4, 2017)

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I have a thing for second chance love stories. And for Tawna Fenske’s always hilarious take on the contemporary romance genre. Put them together and bam–you have a thoroughly entertaining read.

You’ve read the jacket copy above, so I won’t bore you by restating. TTA hits just the right buttons. We’ve all been left wondering what would happen if we bumped into that certain someone from our past. And maybe your life hasn’t turned out exactly as you’d envisioned. (If your anything like me, that’s the understatement of the decade.) Common themes. But TTA gives it a twist with a sexy single dad, his delightful daughter, a flawed, real heroine, and a couple of quirky sidekicks. (Oh, and I can’t leave out the dozen-plus Hemingway cats the descent of woodpeckers.) Because this is a Tawna Fenske novel, hilarity ensues.

Not that it’s all laughs. The story touches on some tougher issues: losing a spouse, motherless daughters, unexpected pregnancies, parents in prison, and the death of a beloved grandmother. There’s guilt. Heartbreak. Loss of trust.

And that slew of laughs, bawdy double entendres, and the naughty bits of humor Tawna’s books are known for. 🙂  Many of the funny bits sprout from the mouth of the precocious Paige, the curious 10-year-old who has no problem asking questions in public sure to make any adult’s face burn red. (Trust me, kids do that in real life.)

THIS TIME AROUND is a stand alone romance that doesn’t feel like your typical romance, full of heart, humor, and a passel of polydactyl cats.

 And now: THIS TIME AROUND’s book tour through Paris!

 

Ready for takeoff (and 8+ hours of in-flight entertainment)

Ready for takeoff (and 8+ hours of in-flight entertainment)

Admiring the view from our Paris apartment

Admiring the view from our Paris apartment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking in the Seine

Taking in the Seine (with Hubby’s man-hand)

This Time Around on Ile St-Louis Paris

With the stately buildings on Ile Saint-Louis

 

 

At Shakespeare & Co. bookstore!

At Shakespeare & Co. bookstore!

 

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at  Musée d'Orsay

at Musée d’Orsay (the hairy hand is my hubby’s)

 

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THIS JUST IN: Now That It’s You (Tawna’s last release) was just announced as a finalist for the coveted RITA Award! That’s sorta like the Oscars for romance writers. Congrats Tawna!! And for you, dear readers, Now That It’s You is on sale on Amazon for only 99 cents! Deal of the day!

I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Love and Romance à la Audiobook

HappyEndingsGuaranteedWhat better day to celebrate romance than Valentine’s Day?

I’m picky when it comes to fiction audiobooks. And I’d never listened to a romance (see previous statement). But I’ve discovered an author and a narrator who will make anyone fall in love with the spoken language of love.

It all started with PARIS IN LOVE. Nonfiction, on my regular audiobook menu. I’ve been dreaming of Paris, gobbling up books about the city as if they were plump, aromatic fresh baguettes. In PARIS IN LOVE, Shakespeare professor/bestselling historical romance author Eloisa James chronicles the year she and her husband took sabbaticals from their professorships and immersed themselves in Parisian life.

I know, sounds rough. But they had two teen/tween kids. TEENAGE KIDS. That alone is enough fodder to fill a book. Her short piece format reads like blog or Facebook snippets, entertaining with humor, heart, and joi de verve.

If her historical romances were anywhere near as smart and delightful as her, I had to give them a read. (Note: I’m ridiculously late to this party. She’s been writing bestsellers for forever.)

Why not listen?

I downloaded ONCE UPON A TOWER. After five minutes, I was in love–with Eloisa’s clever story, spunky heroine, and the talented narrator, Susan Duerden.

I went for hour-long walks four times last week just so I could listen. It kept me company as I filed my taxes, cleaned the house, and toiled over my 2016 Family Photo book. Pure escapism. Well, until the thirteen-yer-old returned home while I was in the middle of a rather naughty scene…. Oops!

Next came WHEN BEAUTY TAMED THE BEAST. Loved it! Witty banter. A head-strong beauty. A  “beast”  of a Duke. (Okay, he has one physical flaw, but his cantankerous personality is all love-to-hate him Dr. Gregory House.) And the same fabulous narrator Susan Duerden.

I’m officially hooked. And you will be, too. Check out this CBS News story that ran this Sunday:

To her students at New York’s Fordham University, she is professor Mary Bly. But to legions of readers, she’s bestselling romance writer Eloisa James, a reigning queen of romance fiction. Faith Salie discusses the English scholar’s surprising double life, and talks with author Beverly Jenkins and with the writer behind the blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, as she explores the sex, love, empowerment and HEAs (the “happily ever afters”) of romance novels.

 

ONCE UPON A TOWER by Eloisa James

To win her love…
As an extremely wealthy laird, Gowan Stoughton, Duke of Kinross, can have any of the maidens at the ball he attends. The only problem is they are all English and Gowan is not so certain they are suitable. He is accustomed to the hard-working lasses from his Highlands, not these dainty noblewomen who spend their days drinking tea or some other such nonsense. But then he makes the acquaintance of Lady Edith Gilchrist. Utterly bewitched by the emerald-eyed beauty with lush golden locks, he knows he must have her.

He must free her from her tower…

“Edie” had the misfortune of being dreadfully ill at her debut ball and barely remembers what Gowan looks like. Even worse, she accepted his proposal the following day. Edie’s only true passion is playing music – until Gowan writes a scandalous letter and stirs the most irresistible desire. Yet when they marry, Edie realizes her husband needs a lesson and locks herself in a tower. Somehow Gowan must find a way to enter the tower and convince his new bride that she belongs in his arms.

Listening Length: 12 hours and 17 minutes
Publisher: HarperAudio
Audible.com Release Date: May 28, 2013

 

PARIS IN LOVE by Eloisa James 

In 2009, New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James took a leap that many people dream about: She sold her house, took a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor, and moved her family to Paris. This memoir chronicles her joyful year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Eloisa revels in the ordinary pleasures of life—discovering corner museums that tourists overlook, chronicling Frenchwomen’s sartorial triumphs, walking from one end of Paris to another. She copes with her Italian husband’s notions of quality time; her two hilarious children, ages eleven and fifteen, as they navigate schools—not to mention puberty—in a foreign language; and her mother-in-law’s raised eyebrow in the kitchen (even as she overfeeds Milo, the family dog). Paris in Love invites the reader into the life of a most enchanting family, framed by la ville de l’amour.

Listening Length: 6 hours and 38 minutes
Publisher: Random House Audio
Audible.com Release Date: April 3, 2012

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When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James 

Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne is a Beauty… Naturally, she’s betrothed to a Beast.

Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, lives in a castle in Wales where, it is rumored, his bad temper flays everyone he crosses. And rumor also has it that a wound has left the earl immune to the charms of any woman.

Linnet is not just any woman.

She is more than merely lovely: her wit and charm brought a prince to his knees. She estimates the earl will fall madly in love – in just two weeks.

If she decides to be very wicked indeed… what price will she pay for taming his wild heart?

Listening Length: 9 hours and 20 minutes
Publisher: HarperAudio
Audible.com Release Date: October 11, 2011

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Cover Reveal: The To-Hell-and-Back Club!!!

I am absolutely delighted to present the cover for THE TO-HELL-AND-BACK-CLUB, the debut Women’s Fiction title by none other than my critique partner extraordinaire, Jill Hannah Anderson!

to hell and back club full wrapWho can you turn to when your life falls apart? The To-Hell-And-Back Club!

Can you tell I’m excited??

Seriously, folks, I’ve had the privilege of reading more than a few variations of this story (yes, novels go through dozens of drafts) and it’s good. You’re going to want to read this one. So keep your eyes peeled for its May 2017 release by PandaMoon Publishing! (I can’t help all the exclamation points. If I was the type to squee, my family would be deaf now.)

the to hell and back club jill hannah anderson
Isn’t it gorgeous?

kerry ann morgan and jill hannah anderson

Jill has been one of my critique partners for over three years thanks to the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Let me tell you, an honest critique partner is worth her weight in gold…or maybe printer ink? (That stuff costs more than fine wine!) We share the highs and lows of our quests to get the words right and get published, and we’ve been at it so long I’d forget that we’d never met in real life. Fixed that Tuesday. Thanks for visiting Florida, Jill Hannah Anderson, and thanks for always being there to shred my work for me–in purely constructive ways, of course. Now if only our CP Lynne could join us for some sunshine and conversation!

Can you tell which one is from Minnesota and which is a native Floridian? Guess again.


The To-Hell-And-Back Club
by Jill Hannah Anderson
Pandamoon Publishing – coming May 2017
Presale links available soon!!!

Follow Jill Hannah Anderson on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at JillHannahAnderson.com

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My (belated) year of romance novels

romance bookYes, I know I’m late with all these 2016 reading list posts. Better late than never?

Some of my romance reading was for research. All was for pleasure.

My greatest discoveries: I go for smart, spunky heroines and imperfect heroes. And forget about the must have deep dark secrets–my favorite characters must have a sense of humor. Quirkiness is appreciated. Heroines should want the hero ( and whatever hot hanky-panky, money, or fame comes with him) but not need him.

Here are my 2016 Romance Reads via Goodreads. The tally comes in at 24, I have the feeling I forgot to add a few.

2016 romance 2

Do we follow each other on Goodreads? If not, join me here!!!

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2016 – A Year in Audiobooks

I am hooked on audiobooks. Overdrive is one of my best friends. It’s ridiculously easy to download books to my phone, and I always have at least one loaded and one waiting. My “friends” accompany me wherever I go, making commuting a pleasure and keeping me company while running errands.

Most of the audiobooks I choose are nonfiction and I prefer ones narrated by the author. So yes, it really does feel as if they are taking me along with them on their journey, holding scientific discussions with me, or encouraging me on a rough day. (And 2016 had plenty of rough days…)

And you know the best part?  It’s all FREE! If you don’t take advantage of Overdrive, head on over to your local library’s website to find out more. Tens of thousands of audio books at your fingertips. Literally!

The whole family enjoyed listening to Bill Bryson’s A REALLY SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING and Bill Nye’s UNDENIABLE. Though both were heavy on science, they were highly entertaining. The 12-year-old kiddo listened attentively (without playing video games) for the entire 10 hour drive to Washington D.C. over spring break. High praise.

Bill Bryson’s AT HOME kept me company as I painted, refinished, and redecorated my dining room and kitchen. (While laying inside a hutch and painting above my head, he explained how several painters of note died from inhaling lead paint fumes. I could do nothing buy nervously laugh. And wipe paint droplets from my face.)

My favorite of the year was a surprise came as a surprise–Shonda Rhime’s A YEAR OF YES. I loved the book. I loved the message, her messy reality, her determination, passion for creating, and everything about her. Shonda (yes, I feel as if we’re on a first name basis now) gave me one of my favorite books of the year. I actually listened to it twice.

2016 books audioThe Girl with the Lower Back TattooYou Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding YourselfAt Home: A Short History of Private LifeBecause I Said So! : The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its KidsA Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

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HAMILTON: the Book, the PBS Special, the Revolution

hamilton-the-revolution-book

The story of tonight: HAMILTON’S AMERICA premiers on PBS! Those of us with HAMILTON fever have been gleefully waiting for it – a behind-the-scenes look at Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster Broadway musical.  (Just you wait! 12 hours and counting!)

The trailer shows a mix of interviews, history, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and WE HOPE plenty of footage of the live show with the original cast.

HAMILTON’S AMERICA will air on PBS tonight, Friday, October 21 at 9:00 p.m. My DVR is set, my couch cushion reserved. No cable? No problem. It will also stream online through Facebook Live on the Great Performances Facebook page, be available on the PBS Anywhere app, as well as PBS’ website. But if your plan is to watch it online, don’t waste your shot, as rumor has it the documentary will only be available on those platforms for four weeks following the broadcast.

And now, on to the book and soundtrack combo, or how I spent a good eight hours immersed in Hamilton bliss.

You’ve listened to the soundtrack non-stop. Maybe you think you have most of it memorized and sing along with it in the car, at the grocery store, and on your lunch break. (Or maybe that’s just me.)

Get the book.  HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION is a stunning creation, from the detailed behind-the-scenes stories, drool-worthy photographs, and yes, full lyrics for you to read as you listen to the score for the zillionth time.

Even the feel of the book will blow you away. Leather spine, thick, lush paper–it’s a book that will earn a prime spot on your bookshelf for years to come.

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION  by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Eleven Tony Awards, including Best Musical

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country’s origins for a diverse new generation.

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages–“since before this was even a show,” according to Miranda–traces its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.

Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sond­heim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by Presi­dent Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don’t throw away their shot.

Have you read the book? Are you counting the minutes until the special airs tonight?

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#Friday Reads: Bring on the Laughs with Razor Girl and First Star I See Tonight

This week’s theme is humor. I tend to write with a slight sway to what I’m reading, and since I’m pushing towards the end of a contemporary romance that will hopefully be infused with a marbled layer of chuckles, humor I need.

Humor I got.

Book 1: Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen.
Carl Hiaasen is ALWAYS good for a laugh. Wait, no, I’ve known people who have suffered stomach cramps from doubling over in laughter while reading his books. And because truth is stranger than fiction (especially in Florida), many of  Hiaasen’s nut-job characters and insane situations are inspired by news clippings. Here you go: Woman Crashes Car While Shaving Her Privates –your real life Razor Girl. I still haven’t figured out if Hiassen satirizes or merely exaggerates the impossible realities of our beloved screwball state, but as always, his humor hits razor sharp.

Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen

The new full-tilt, unstoppably hilarious and entertaining novel from the best-selling author of Skinny Dip and Bad Monkey

When Lane Coolman’s car is bashed from behind on the road to the Florida Keys, what appears to be an ordinary accident is anything but (this is Hiaasen!). Behind the wheel of the other car is Merry Mansfield–the eponymous Razor Girl–and the crash scam is only the beginning of events that spiral crazily out of control while unleashing some of the wildest characters Hiaasen has ever set loose on the page. There’s Trebeaux, the owner of Sedimental Journeys–a company that steals sand from one beach to restore erosion on another . . . Dominick “Big Noogie” Aeola, a NYC mafia capo with a taste for tropic-wear . . . Buck Nance, a Wisconsin accordionist who has rebranded himself as the star of a redneck reality show called Bayou Brethren . . . a street psycho known as Blister who’s more Buck Nance than Buck could ever be . . . Brock Richardson, a Miami product-liability lawyer who’s getting dangerously–and deformingly–hooked on the very E.D. product he’s litigating against . . . and Andrew Yancy–formerly Detective Yancy, busted down to the Key West roach patrol after accosting his then-lover’s husband with a Dust Buster. Yancy believes that if he can singlehandedly solve a high-profile murder, he’ll get his detective badge back. That the Razor Girl may be the key to Yancy’s future will be as surprising as anything else he encounters along the way–including the giant Gambian rats that are livening up his restaurant inspections.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (September 6, 2016)

Book 2: First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
While many readers may have caught on to Susan Elizabeth Phillips stories a good decade or two ago, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m late to the contemporary romance party. Phillip’s books pretend to fall into the crossover category: they’re released at hardcovers on the mainstream fiction shelves, so readers who are above or afraid to pick up a skinny Harlequin paperback can read without having to explain. But I’ll let you in on a secret: though they are sometimes labeled as “romantic fiction” they are still  romances. Funny, flirty, and zany romances. Why else would Phillips have won the prestigious RITA award four times and be a recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award? Try one, you’ll like it…

 First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

A no-nonsense sports hero and a feisty female detective go head-to-head in this funny, fresh, seductive novel from the award winning NYT bestselling author known for her unforgettable characters, heartfelt emotion, and laugh out loud humor.

He’s the former quarterback of the Chicago Stars football team.

She’s trying to make a success of her very own detective agency.

Her first job? Follow him. Let’s just say it’s not going well.

Not well at all….

Piper Dove is a woman with a dream—to become the best detective in the city of Chicago. First job? Trail former Chicago Stars quarterback, Cooper Graham. The problem? Graham’s spotted her, and he’s not happy.

Which is why a great detective needs a first rate imagination. “The fact is . . . I’m your stalker. Not full-out barmy. Just . . . mildly unhinged.”

Piper soon finds herself working for Graham himself, although not as the bodyguard he refuses to admit he so desperately needs. Instead, he’s hired her to keep an eye on the employees at his exclusive new nightclub. But Coop’s life might be in danger, and Piper’s determined to protect him, whether he wants it or not. (Hint: Not!) If only she weren’t also dealing with a bevy of Middle Eastern princesses, a Pakistani servant girl yearning for freedom, a teenager who just wants to fit in, and an elderly neighbor demanding that Piper find her very dead husband.

And then there’s Cooper Graham,, a legendary sports hero who always gets what he wants—even if what he wants just might be an intrepid detective hell bent on proving she’s as tough as he is.

From the bustling streets of Chicago to a windswept lighthouse on Lake Superior to the glistening waters of Biscayne Bay, two people who can’t stand to lose will test themselves and each other to discover what matters most.

Series: Chicago Stars
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (August 23, 2016)

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