Friday, October 28, 2011

Eagerly Anticipating


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review: The Bad Always Die Twice by Cheryl Crane

In the first of a wildly entertaining mystery series set amid the bright lights, big egos, and Botoxed brows of Hollywood, Cheryl Crane—daughter of legendary movie star Lana Turner—introduces a smart, hilarious, and utterly loveable heroine in realtor-turned-amateur sleuth, Nikki Harper.

For Nikki Harper, realtor to the stars and daughter of 1950s screen goddess Victoria Bordeaux, Hollywood is home. A completely dysfunctional home populated by a cast of crazies, true, but home nonetheless. While Nikki's no stranger to scandal, she's shocked to receive a hysterical phone call from her business partner, Jessica Martin, saying that TV has-been Rex March has been found dead in Jessica's bed.

More shocking than Rex's death is the fact that, as far as anyone knew, Rex was already dead. Six months ago, the star of the seventies sitcom Shipwrecked Vacation was supposedly killed when his plane crashed in the Mojave Desert. Nikki and Jessica recently sold his mansion on behalf of his widow, Edith. It's obvious to Nikki that Jessica is being framed, but by whom? And why? And how on earth can Rex be dead a second time?

In search of answers, Nikki turns to the one person she can always count on. From her pink boudoir in her Beverly Hills mansion, the ever-glamorous Victoria suggests Nikki focus her sleuthing on Rex's not-so-grieving widow. And there's a veritable casting couch full of other candidates, including Edith's boy-toy lover, Rex's scheming lawyer (like there's any other kind), and the diner waitress with whom Rex was having one of his numerous affairs. But with the killer readying for a repeat performance, Nikki will have to act fast—before her own screen fades to black. . .

As a person formerly addicted to Hollywood gossip blogs, I really liked the nudge-nudge-wink-wink effect of The Bad Always Die Twice.  The scene was set; the players were all in place; the posh addresses referenced therein.  Once the narrative began, I was surprised by how much I wanted Nikki to find the real murderer.  Add in her mother, Victoria Bordeaux, a name and face whom everyone in Hollywood knows, and Nikki is able to use her minor celebrity status to play amateur sleuth.  The twists and turns lead to more uncertainity about who had actually killed Rex March, and once the murderer was revealed, I was surprised I hadn't guessed it. 

The Bad Always Die Twice was a great mystery featuring a charmingly fun novice gumshoe in Nikki Harper.  I can only hope the subsequent books in this series are as good as this one. 

(A very special thank you to Kensington Books who provided me with an ARC of The Bad Always Die Twice.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Review: Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell

Take a dashing hero with a heart of gold and a mullet of awesome. Add a heroine with a bustle and the will to kick major butt. Then include enough contrivances to keep them fighting while getting them alone and possibly without key pieces of clothing, and what do you have? A romance novel. What else? Enough lessons about life, love, and everything in between to help you with your own happily-ever-after.
Lessons like:
Romance means believing you are worthy of a happy ending
Learning to tell the prince from the frog
Real-life romance is still alive and kicking
No matter how bad it is, at least you haven't been kidnapped by a Scottish duke (probably)

Straight from the heart of influential romance blogger Sarah Wendell, this inventive gift book provides the best wisdom about love that the romance genre has to offer. Laced with signature witty commentary and peppered with thoughts from bestselling romance authors (Nora Roberts, Jennifer Crusie, Debbie Macomber, Eloisa James, Robyn Carr, and lots more) and avid readers, these pages will reveal what every romance reader already knows: while romances are certainly steamy, they have more to offer than just a sexy hero. In fact, they might have more to say about love than we give them credit for. Sarah Wendell is cofounder of one of the top romance blogs,

This book is about celebrating romance novels for every important thing they teach us about ourselves, the people we love, and the relationships we value--and the sex we have.  

Amen!  And I loved every minute of it. 

I'm not a regular Smart Bitches reader, but when I do go for a visit, I'm always glad I did.  Everything I Know About Love... is exactly like that -- I'm glad I read it, and feel a little happier for it.  A book about promoting the positives of romance and romance reading, Everything I Know About Love... is a humorous yet poignant guide to romance, both the highs and lows.  Ms. Wendell's thought-provoking romantic ideals mixed with reader and/or author opinions was a great way to spend an afternoon.  It's a whole lot of fun that ended way too quickly.   Can I get a sequel? (Hell, yeah!)  

(A very special thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca who provided me with an ARC of Everything I Know About Love...)
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