Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Bro-Magnet (A Nice Guy Romance Novel) By Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Right from the start, I’ve been a disappointment to women.

As I emerge from between my mother’s legs–all thirteen pounds, eight ounces of me–Alfresca catches me. Then I do the usual baby stuff: I get my cord cut, I’m slapped, I cry, I get weighed and measured, someone wipes the cheesy stuff off my hairy head, and finally I get handed off to my mother.

“Oh,” Francesca says, gently parting the swaddling to examine my body further, “it’s a boy. This wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I was so sure, all along, I was going to have a girl.”

Then she dies.

“If you’d been a girl,” Alfresca says, taking me from my dead mother’s arms as the midwife tries in vain to resusitate my disappointed mother, “this would never have happened.”

This novel had me laughing right from the very beginning. I laughed so much through this whole book that people would laugh because I was laughing, of course not knowing what I was laughing about.

All through Johnny’s life, he’s held a torch for a certain girl named Alice. Alice promptly rejects Johnny every time he asks her to a dance, a date or to be a part of anything he’s involved in. Johnny’s used to it though; Alice isn’t the first girl to feel the way they all seem to.

Johnny Smith and his father–Big John–and his mother’s twin sister, Alfresca, live in a place called Danbury. Johnny’s lived there all his life and is now running his father’s painting business. Although he actually went to school to be a lawyer, because of the guilt over losing his mother at birth and his father having to take on both roles of mother and father, Johnny sacrifices his high-paying lawyer knowledge and goes to work for his father, now having taken over the business.

Johnny makes friends easily…well, guy friends anyway. He’s a Bro-magnet…guys flock to him for his knowledge of all things sports and cars, Best Man speeches and his personality. Girls run away from him…far away from him. He just can’t seem to ever find “the one”. The only woman in his life is his best guy-type girlfriend, Sam, who just so happens to love sports, hates to shop and plays ball for the other team.

Johnny’s been the Best Man at eight of his friends weddings and he’s always given the same speech. It seems he’s always the Best Man, never the Groom.

While at a painting job of a lawyer, he is offered opening day tickets behind the bench of the Yankees. He’s not a Yankee’s fan, but the tickets were free; he didn’t want to pass them up or seem ungrateful, so he goes. While there, he meets Helen…well, rather he sort of lands in her lap while trying to catch a pop-fly. Soon she asks him to come paint her house. He even sacrifices his weekends just to paint her place. He does this over several Saturday’s until he finally gets up the nerve to ask her out.

But because Johnny’s always had bad luck with women, he goes to the one woman that he could never have…Alice. Alice tells him what he should change about himself in order to get the woman. Change his name to John (because Johnny just sounds so boyish) and stop wearing a baseball cap (and for goodness sake, stop wearing it backwards!) and to stop acting like himself.

Does Alice’s advice help Johnny to win the girl? Will the changes that Johnny makes be something that his friends and family can live with? Will he ever be the Groom? You’ll have to get this book to find out.

It wasn’t actually until the last few pages of the book, when I was looking up the title at Amazon so I could get a picture of the cover for this review, that I realized that the author was a woman. The novel was beautifully written in the words of a man, his POV…Things a man would do or say are reflected on every page. I laughed so much in one part that I was crying. Anyone with a sense of humour will love this book.

There are a wonderful array of supporting characters, starting with Sam, his lesbian BFF and of course, Alice (the always unattainable one) that married his male BFF Billy; Alfresca, who always made a point of telling him that if only he’d been a girl, his mother would have lived; and Leo…a man who had been with the same woman for over 70 years. He gave Johnny great advice and insight about the workings of a woman’s mind.

This book was a fun one. I enjoyed it from the very beginning, not wanting to put it down. I laughed through every page and chapter. You will too. I give this book 5 stars!

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To Love A Witch By Debora Geary

Jake suddenly looked very serious. “She’s one of Sentinel’s mentors. Without the royal screw-up in this zone, you’d have been matched with someone like her years ago–someone who could help you access your magic and control it.”

Her control had been fine for years, until some he-man had tried a witch snatch-and-run. “I don’t want to access my magic; I want it to go away.”

“Why?”

She could feel her teeth clench at the gentleness in his voice. “Because all it’s ever done is send my life up in flames.”

To Love A Witch is a novella that I had bought a bit ago, but because it is close to Halloween, I thought I would read this one and review it.

Romy is a former delinquent/now drama teacher who works at a detention center for young kids. She does her best with what she knows best–acting–acting NOT like a witch.

Jake is a Sentinel employee who has taken over for someone (Alvin) who, for forty years, has been covering up the facts when an alarm has been set off by a female witch. Sentinel monitors the energy given off by a witch, even if the witch doesn’t know she’s a witch. Alvin (dubbed Alvin the Asshole) has protected the boys who are witches, matching them up with families that could help them control their particular magic, but he’s let all the girls go south, ignoring the alarms they set off. Like Romy, all those years ago.

Romy is a fire witch. She has a hard time controling her magic, therefore, she tries to deny it. When she sets off an alarm at the detention center, Jake thinks he’s going to be rescuing another young girl.

Romy agrees (against her better judgment) to get some help to control her magic. Carla, another fire witch, takes Romy under her wing, showing Romy that instead of suppressing her magic, she can use her magic.

But when Romy and Jake start getting closer, she burns him by mistake. When she realizes what she’s done, she runs away from him, hurting him worse than her burns.

Can Romy ever get her power under control? Will she ever be able to use it for good and to help others instead of suppressing it? You’ll have to get this short novella to find out.

I give this story 5 stars!

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Scratch By Danny Gillan

I was so buggered I chose not to notice the flash of discomfort that crossed Paula’s face when she realised the only empty seat at the table was next to her. I plopped myself down with a sigh and tried to smile as I raised my pint to my lips (I can’t remember what I’d poured for myself but it wasn’t bloody Moosehead, I know that).

Sammy lifted his glass from the other end of the large round table. ‘Well done, Jim,’ he said. ‘Welcome to the underground.’

‘Cheers,’ I said.

‘Do yourself a favour, though,’ Sammy went on, ‘and stop walloping my favourite barmaid in the tits, okay?’

I cringed, but heard Paula laugh along with everyone else.

‘I’m so sorry about that,’ I said to her as the rest of the table resumed their various conversations.

‘Yeah, don’t worry about it,’ she said, chuckling.

‘Normally I wait till the second meeting before attempting a fondle.’

Well, I can honestly say I learned a few things. I learned what the difference between an idiot and a wanker is…I learned a ton of new words from the UK (and areas) and how to use them appropriately…like giro…that means an unemployment cheque…Thanks to my good UK friend, Tom Conrad Indie Author of Rich Pickings For Ravens http://www.amazon.com/Pickings-Ravens-Afterlife-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B007U7KULA/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1350506711&sr=1-3&keywords=tom+conrad  for his insight into that one…and that life doesn’t always give you want you want.

James Cooper was a thirty-three year old boy who learns to become a man. While working at a call centre for a utilities company in Scotland, Jim realizes that past wrongs can be made up for. While working, he comes across a letter from Simon Fraser, the father of his ex-girlfriend, Paula. If it had been anyone else, he would have given them a song and a dance about how the company couldn’t help him. But, this was the father of his ex-girlfriend. Jim tells Simon the truth, quits his job, sells his flat and goes to live with his less-than-enthusiastic parents. Essentially, starting over by scratch.

Jim has never been able to get rid of the memory of Irish-born Paula. She will forever be the perfect girl. He’s had relationships, but for each one, he keeps comparing them to Paula…and Paula always comes out on top.

Then Paula walks into the pub. The bar that Jim is now working in again after twelve years. Paula informs Jim that she has been married for five years and that, because of a failed business attempt with her husband, they are broke. She moves back in with her parents while her husband stays behind to look after his ailing grandfather.

Jim is on top of the world, thinking that he might have a chance with Paula again. After a night of drinking, he blurts out that he loves her. Lo, she blurts out that she loves him back…that she always has loved him.

Along the way, we meet is-he-or-isn’t-he-gay friend, Terry, Paula’s father Simon (or Joe) who gives him some prophetic life advice, and a wonderful bunch of colourful characters, including gay pub owner, Sam.

Will Paula and Jim live happily ever after? And, what about Paula’s husband? And, what are these prophetic life lessons and advice that Simon (Joe) tells Jim? I dare say you’ll have to buy this book to find out what happens.

I laughed on every single page. Well, more of a titter, I suppose. I found something humorous in every analogy, every remark, every page…well, until the end. Then it kind of fell off.

I even cried a little in one part, but hoped the ending would make up for it. It didn’t. I was quite disappointed. No, I don’t expect the guy to ALWAYS get the girl, but this ending was kind of like, mediocre….blah.

This coming-of-age-a-little-too-late story was worth the read. I have to admit that the rest of the book (sans ending) was great. Well, maybe the characters drank just a bit too much, but after all, most of the book does take place in a pub.

Would I recommend this book? Yeah, for a nice light-hearted read…for the laughs, but be prepared for a less than stellar ending. The author, I think, could have done better.

I’m giving this book 4 stars.

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Interview With A Jewish Vampire By Erica Manfred

“Well, I hope you can deal with Florida weather–for me. I’ll book us a night flight. Now what do we do with your coffin? Do you want to travel in it?”

“Not really. What if it gets lost? What if the airline loses it? We’ll leave late and I’ll ship it separately.”

“Maybe you don’t really need it.”

“I don’t want to take that chance.”

“Let’s experiment before you go. See what you can tolerate. Maybe you just need the dirt from a graveyard nearby and you could sleep in a bed with blackout curtains?”

Sheldon looked terrified. “Sleep without my coffin? It’s my security blanket, I’d have insomnia anywhere else. Goldie reads me to sleep when I’m in it.”

“What a mama’s boy you are!” I laughed.

This book wasn’t what I was thinking it would be when I got it. Yes, it was vaguely humorous and I did laugh in many scenes, but I guess I was thinking it would be more of an “Interview” since that was in the title, and less of another love story. I was thinking that I would get some interesting tibits of information about how a vampire…let alone a Jewish vampire…survives in this world, especially when the blood might not be kosher.

Rhoda works (?) as a journalist…I put the question mark there because it seems Rhoda really doesn’t work all that hard. I’m not exactly sure how she pays her rent because she never went to her actual place of work. But, I digress.

Rhoda is 41, single, a little overweight, and about to meet a vampire through a Jewish dating site. Sheldon is over a hundred years old, and without his facial hair (you know, the really long beards some Jewish people sport) he looks like Jeff Goldblum.

The book starts out with an interview of sorts, but then a relationship builds between Sheldon and Rhoda. But, as with some vampires, they can be aloof. Days and weeks go by and there is no sign of Sheldon…I guess this is where the interview ends…

But, she inevitably finds him and then she is given some awful news from her mother’s doctor…her mother is dying and she refuses to have an operation or treatment that would save her. Rhoda can’t bear to live without her mother, so she asks Sheldon to change her mother into a vampire. Apparently this happens a lot in Florida. There’s a whole orgainization called the Golden Grandma’s, a bunch of vampire old people living there.

So, Sheldon and Rhoda convince her mother to become a vampire…

Yeah, and that’s when the trouble starts.

This book had its moments of funny but it could have been better. There were a lot of editing errors that detracted from the book and I really needed a Jewish to English dictionary since there were lots of Jewish words in it like zaftig, for example…this means fat…I was able to figure this one out, but there were lots that I couldn’t and could have used a Jewish friend to help me out…

Also, the story kind of dragged a little. I wanted to know more about this Jewish vampire and how he lived, but it seemed that the interview was over on the first evening. After that, well, it wasn’t much of a story. The part about Rhoda’s mother becoming a vampire, and the fact that Rhoda asked her “boyfriend” to turn her mother, kind of repulsed me, to be honest. I love my mother, but I couldn’t see her, as an 81 year old woman, becoming a vampire.

With a little polishing, maybe a bit of a Jewish to English vocabulary and a bit more actual interview instead of having sex all the time and changing her mother, maybe I would have liked it better. It wasn’t my cup of tea. Or blood, as the case may be.

I’m giving this book 3 stars.

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