Sunday, May 29, 2011

More Mini- Reviews

Since I've been letting my reading eye wonder a bit further afield and not doing just required reviews, I've been able to get to some books that just jumped off the shelf yelling "read me read me". One is part of a series I've been wanting to try, and the other is by an author who pleased me with some of her other works. It's wonderful to be able to read just for pure fun.

Title: Invitation to Provence

Author:  Elizabeth Adler
Publisher/Format: St. Martin's Paperbacks (2005), Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Characters: Franny Martin, Jake Bronson, Raffaella Martin
Subject: love, family, life in Provence
Setting: Provence France
Genre: fiction; chick lit, romance
Source: public library

Franny Martin is recovering from the discovery that her boyfriend is a two-timing cheat.  This knowledge was shared by his wife, with whom Franny becomes fast friends.  At the same time, Franny receives an invitation from her aunt Rafaella to come to Provence for a family reunion.  She decides to go and take Helen (the ex-wife) with her.  When follows is rather typical boy meets girl, girl falls, boy doesn't call back, girl discovers boy again in France, other girl meets other boy, etc. etc etc.  It sounds very banal and stereotypical, but the characters in this one have a bit more to deliver, and the romance plot includes a bit of a mystery, a bit of detective work, and some interesting international scenes.  All in all a pleasant read for a pre-summer afternoon.  I really didn't expect that I would get as wrapped up as I did, but I found myself rooting for Franny and Jake, and realized that suddenly the afternoon was over, the book had come to a pleasant conclusion, and I'd spent a relaxing Sunday.

Elizabeth Adler does a credible job with foreign settings (I also remember enjoying her Summer in Tuscany) so if you can't afford to travel this summer, and want to wander through a romantic setting, do try one of hers.
I have several of Susan Wittig Albert's books from this series either in my town library or on my personal shelves.  She's a favorite of our readers.  So when I saw that one was available as an audio, and I was looking for something to lighten up two VERY HEAVY books I was listening to, I nabbed this one.  I am certainly going to be reading some more in this series during my July/August cozy-thon.

Title: Nightshade
Author:Susan Wittig Albert
Publisher: Recorded Book: Lone Star Audio
Narrator: Julia Gibson and Tom Stechschulte
Format: audio  10 hours, 304 page equivalent
Year of publication: 2010
Subject: murder, private investigators
Setting: Texas
Series: China Bayles mysteries
Genre: crime fiction
Source: public library download
Rating: 3..8
Recommended? yes - for mystery buffs

This is actually #16 in the series, where the Protagonist, China Bayles has evidently retired from her law career and is running some sort of herbal tea/catering business.  She has also recently (?) married McQuade - a studly character I'm definitely going to want to become better acquainted with.  This was an enjoyable book, but definitely is one where I know I would have been much better off reading some of the earlier ones in the series.  So this whole China Bayles series has gone onto the cozy-thon list.  It's difficult to 'review' this one because, although I thoroughly enjoyed it, I'm not quite sure who all the players were, and I'm especially interested in some backfill to understand their motivations.

I'll definitely be reading more to catch up- and then probably will re-read this one.
So stand by for more of these later this summer.


  1. China has had a lot going on in her life and yes, you probably should go back to the beginning. She and McQuade have quite a history together. While I haven't read all 19 of the series, I've come close. Happy reading!

  2. ====Kaye....that's great to know. I really did think there was much more I needed to know. I'm off to find some of the earlier ones (would love to start at the beginning) to catch up. These look like great fun.


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