Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Club - March

Since February's meeting was canceled I again was looking forward to March's meeting and attending with Michelle. The book for this month was one we had both read before and really liked. It was "Key of Light" by Nora Roberts and is the first book in the Key Trilogy.

- The Story -
Nora Roberts blends romance and magic into a captivating tale of gods, mortals, love and mystery. Three women from Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania recieve dinner invitations to Warrior's Peak, a castle-like estate outside of town. Their hosts tell them a legend of three sisters, demigoddesses, whose souls are trapped by an immortal sorcerer, and they offer the women a large cash prize to search out the keys that will unlock the sisters' prison. The invites come just as all three women had conveniently fallen on hard times career-wise, and were desperate for a change.

"Key of Light" follows Mallory, an art gallery manager.
"Key of Knowledge" follows Dana, a librarian.
"Key of Valor" follows Zoe, a hair-stylist and single mother.

- The Characters -
Mallory Price manages the art gallery in Pleasant Valley and she loves her job. That is until her boss marries and puts his wife in charge and then Mallory's dream job is no longer a dream. It was easy to like Mallory right from the beginning, she's organized, does well under pressure and while she's got a life plan it's not set in stone and she's all about going for what she wants.

Her opposite is Michale Flynn Hennessy. He is editor of the local paper, a job he was kind of forced into after his mother and step-father have to leave Pleasant Valley for health reasons. He's got a big, unmanageable dog Mo. He owns his home and while he's lived there for a number of years it still looks like he just moved in, with just a couch in the living room and a bag of dog food in the dishwasher. He's Dana's stepbrother and his two best friends, Bradley Charles Vane IV and Jordan Hawke, are set up to be the other two leading men of this series.

The characters are easy to like and you've got a front row seat at watching friendship bloom with these three women as they grow closer together based on true friendship and this quest for the missing keys progresses. The relationship between the men is solid as life long friends should be, when Flynn calls Jordan for help, Jordan comes back to Pleasant Valley.

The relationships between the men and women are also great. Mallory realizes that Flynn is perfect for her and doesn't hesitate to tell him that they will be getting married. You're along for the ride as Mallory fits herself nicely into Flynn's life and he grows accustomed to her proposal of marriage.

- Discussion -
I was unable to make this book club meeting but Michelle went without me. She reported that the general opinion was that last month's book was just as bad as we thought and that everyone liked this book and for the few who had never read it they will be reading the next two books.

This is one of my favorite Nora Robert's trilogies so it was no big deal for me to them again. Unlike last month's book I think these characters are likable, and easy to connect with, you care about hem and hope they succeed in their quest. The supernatural/magic aspects of the story don't make it any less realistic, but add another layer to the story. These characters don't blindly accept the magic but each in turn come to their own understanding and acceptance when the time is right.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Book Club - February

After the success of the January meeting I asked Michelle if she would be interested in joining with me and was looking forward to reading and attending this month's meeting with her. I was really looking forward to going to the meeting with her, we enjoy the same books and enjoy discussing or arguing over them so this was bound to be a good idea. The book for February was "Lady Be Good" by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

I read reviews for this before I started it and everyone really seemed to like the book and just raved about the likableness and realness of the characters. Then I asked Michelle how she was liking the book, she had started it already. She had a list of complaints. The difference in her reactions and the reviews got me wondering what kind of book I was going to be reading. We have both had different reactions to books so maybe this one would be one of those kinds of books.

I was wrong.

- The Story -
Our leading lady is Lady Emma Wells-Finch the headmistress of a all girls school in England and in the role of leading man is Kenny Traveler bad boy of the PGA. Emma needs to find a way to save her school and ruin her image while Kenny needs to clean his image up, so of course they are a perfect match. It sounds like a good set up for a story, there's bound to be humor and enough background to drive the story forward. For me, what I believe was supposed to be humor caused me to groan, multiple times out loud and throw the book down. They find themselves in awkward situation after awkward situation and it all started to seem forced in an effort to move the story forward.

- The Characters -
Emma and Kenny have the potential to be likable characters but somewhere they fell short. I couldn't find one thing I really liked about them so it made it had to connect and care about the development of their relationship or the story. There was nothing realistic about the relationship or their conversations, they seems just as forced as the plot points. Michelle's main issue was Emma, here is a character who we are told over and over again how smart she is and her big idea to save the school is to ruin her image by getting into compromising situations with Kenny?!? How is that smart? The secondary characters didn't help the story and only made the situations and conversations all the more annoying.

I could go on but I'm going to stop.

- The Discussion -
The meeting was canceled due to snow.

Book Club - January

This was the first meeting of the newly launched Romance Book Club. The first book was "The Devil in Winter" by Lisa Kleypas. This is the third book in the Wallflower Series. It is proceed by "Secrets of a Summer Night" and " It Happened One Autumn." The fourth book is "Scandal in Spring."

Seeing as I read all four books back to back I can't quite say if I favored one over the other, the series as a whole was a wonderful read and I might consider reading the related books that tie in with this series. I don't think I ask for a lot when I read a romance novel, I just want a well written and/or believable story and likable characters.

- A story -
The BIG thing I look for is that there is a story beyond the "romance" to keep in entertained. It's not enough to just follow the format for this genre. These books had that story and while it wasn't a big mystery or a murder on the lose it wasn't a forced story to keep the book moving. I wanted to keep reading to find out how these four wallflowers would stick to their pact to find husbands and no longer be wallflowers.

- The Characters -
An author can have a great story concept and write it very well but if they can't write likable, real characters there's no point in writing your story. These characters were likable and together they have great chemistry. The four main girls in the series work nicely together. In this book the main characters are Evangeline “Evie” Jenner and Sebastian, Viscount St. Vincent. Not to make a big spoiler here but by the end of book two you aren't liking Sebastian all that much and to find out he's the hero of book three was shocking. It's the interactions between the two characters that really makes the story, they have a rocky relationship at first but I feel it's because of that they make a strong impression on each other throughout the story.

- Discussion -
The group overall liked the book. Seeing as it was the first meeting a lot of discussion was on romance books in general and talking about general likes and dislikes. One member had the original printing a lengthy discussion on book covers followed.