Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly is My DIK Reading Challenge book

The Tea Rose: A NovelInnocent heroine: I can't pay the rent!
Villainous Landlord:  You must pay the rent!
Innocent heroine:  I can't pay the rent!  sigh, Woe is me!
Villainous Landlord:  Then I will do dastardly things to you..muuaahhhh!
Innocent heroine:  Oh no you won't.  I am going to run away and be miraculously assisted by strange and handsome men who think my eyes are the most innocent and amazing blue they have ever seen!  Then I will return an heiress and ruin you!
Villainous Landlord:  I will hunt you down and kill you but only after I ravish you in a most heinous and vile manner!

I loved watching Dudley DoRight and Penelope Purebread battle wits against Dick Dastardly as a kid.  One of my most favorite guilty pleasures as an adult is the soap opera  "Days of Our Lives."  This month's DIK Reading Challenge offering is right up there with these tried and true melodramas.  "Tea Rose" was on Sarai's choices in the book list over at DIK.  It was right there on the shelf in the library just waiting for me to pick it up and so I did.

The story is set in the late 1800's in the Whitechapel section of London.  The Ripper is busy doing his thing.  Enter the Finnegans and the Bristows.  Irish families doing the best they can raising their respective families on pittance a day.  The Finnegans are led by the Da who works on the docks.  Charlie the son kicks in with money from his work while young Fiona helps out with her wages as a tea packer.  Mam, who is raising two more small ones, helps by doing laundry.  Their neighbors and lifelong friends have a son who is the love of Fiona's life. Joe is a handsome young devil who could sell ice to Eskimos.  Joe and Fiona plan to open their own shop and marry as soon as they have raised enough cash to open their place.  William Burton is the man who owns the tea factory where Da and Fiona work.  He is a greedy, shifty and dangerous man.

  Now you have the back story and the rest is high melodrama.  Da becomes an outspoken advocate for the unions and is killed in a supposed accident.  Joe is lured away from his vegetable cart by a wealthy merchant who sees his potential as a salesman and who has a daughter who sees his potential as a sexy mate.  Joe explains that he is only going to work for the man to earn their shop faster but Fiona knows better and he ends up getting the daughter pregnant.  Mam is killed by the Ripper while trying to get the baby to the doctor's and Charlie runs off in grief only to be found drifting face down in the Thames.  He is beaten so badly the only way to identify him is by the pocket watch his Da gave him on his death bed. Fiona runs to America with Seamie after overhearing Burton bragging about killing her Da.  She manages to get a hold of some of Burton’s money and helped aboard an Amerca bound ship.

Are you tired yet? I was and this was only the first 100 pages.

“Tea Rose is a classic high melodrama romance in the style of Barbara Taylor Bradford and Barbara Cartland.  The heroine is constantly escaping one tragedy to only find herself in another pickle.  She is ALWAYS rescued by a handsome stranger and even though she becomes involved with other men she will never be out of love with her first, Joe.  She ALWAYS overcomes with a positive attitude and a quick wit, ala, The Unsinkable Molly Brown.
The Winter Rose
I did enjoy this story.  It was a real change of pace from the paranormal and heavy suspense genres I have been reading lately.  It took me back to my early romance reading days when I yearned for a perfect love like the girls I was reading about.  Now that I am older, wiser and a little more jaded “Tea Rose” was an overly sweet treat that is delicious in very small amounts.
There is a sequel to “Tea Rose” called “The Winter Rose” and I do plan on reading it some day, just not very soon.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Kim Harrison's - Black Magic Sanctioned - is a Busy Story

Life has been stressful lately.  Work is busy.  Family members are in crisis.  Money is tight.  Instead of food, alcohol or drugs to cope I turn to books.  I have been reading like mad.  The strange thing is I haven't really been interested in blogging about 90% of them.  They have been fluff.  Light airy, sometimes silly books that don't have enough substance to keep them in my memory long enough to care about reviewing them.  Nora Roberts Bride Series is on that list as well as Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter's offering, "Deep Kiss of Winter." I did however find a book that required a little more effort on my part to pay attention  and that was Kim Harrison's new Rachel Morgan installment, "Black Magic Sanctioned."
Wow!  This book moved like the Wild Hunt was after them.   Rachel is on the outs with the witches, (not unexpected).  She is on the outs with Trent Kalamack, (not unexpected).  She is on the outs with law enforcement, (not unexpected).  No one seems to like her anymore, except for Al the demon, (ok, this one is a bit unexpected).  She has been his student learning ley line magic, curses and trying to get those pesky demon marks off her.  She is broke and broke down.  Her only friends, Jenks and Ivy are supporting her, financially and emotionally.  She is just about at her wits end.  So what happens?  Yep, you know.  She gets into more trouble that she can't control.  Rachel is more powerful than she realizes but others are very aware of her potential.  The white witches coven of moral and ethical standards have a warrant out for her. They consider Rachel a threat to their very existence now and in the future. They want her imprisoned, incapable of reproduction and insentient.  Rachel carries demon DNA.  She isn't a witch but she isn't a demon either.  She is the missing link.  The witches want her to stay missing.
You might remember in her last book "White Witch, Black Curse", Rachel saves Trent's butt by making him her familiar and she switches summoning names with Al.  Both of these will be used to try to control her and kill her in "BMS."  She is surrounded by people and creatures who will either own her or kill her.  She is on the run and kicking butt from page one until the very end.
The story races through ley lines of Cincinnati to a special witches prison in Alcatraz.  Yep, they found a new use for the big house on the rock.  She is forced to accept assistance from her old lover and now nemesis Nick. The problem is for every helping hand moment forward with good Ol' Nick there are 10 steps backward of betrayal.  When is she going to learn!? She gets friendly with her demon mentor Al which is creepy and definitely making me worry for the future.  Thanks to a charm of Trent's that almost kills her she is starting to remember more of her youth.  Pierce, the ghost who took over a dead witch's body is back and playing protector extraordinaire to Rachel's damsel in distress.  There is a scene in a hole in the ground that, for me, epitomizes the creepy wonders of the paranormal genre. Can you say sex in a grave?
All the while her best friends, Jenks and Ivy watch her back and save her on a regular bases. As I type this I can feel my pulse race a little faster just thinking about everything that happens in this book.  Not one of our favorite friends or enemies are left out in this installment.  Tragedy strikes a loved one and they have to come together to get through the grief.  Love strikes in the most unlikely places and this time they are taking a little more time to decide if it is right.
One of my favorite quotes comes from a spaghetti commercial referring to how chocked full something is:  "Like Prego! It's  in there!"  And just like a great plate of pasta "Black Magic Sanctioned" is really satisfying.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Neil Gaiman Interview

Thanks to a chat yesterday with my friend Debbie V.  I have a wonderful little video interview with Neil Gaiman from the CBS Sunday Morning Show. What a lovely and interesting character he is.  Enjoy!

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