Welcome to our January edition of the Second Saturday Review Soup, a delicate blend of genres and tastes.
Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and browse today’s specials.
Reviewed by Debbie Weiss
Originally posted Sept 11, 2011 at the Women’s Book Reviews – For Women Who Like To Read
When We Danced on Water takes place in contemporary Israel, but there are flashbacks to other cities in other times throughout the book. The story revolves around two individuals, Teo and Vivi. Teo was born in Poland but moved to Denmark to attend The Ballet Academy in his late teens. He was a brilliant ballet dancer in his youth and at the age of 85, he is still one of the world’s most influential choreographers. He was instrumental in establishing the Tel Aviv Ballet and is still actively involved in training dancers for current performances. In spite of his artistic successes, Teo’s personal life is almost nonexistent and has been this way for many years. He often thinks that maybe he did not make the right decisions in life and should have taken the time to have a family.
Teo stops off for coffee each morning at a cafe on his way to work and he strikes up a relationship with the waitress, Vivi, a woman in her 40’s who also considers herself to be an artist. Her artistic pursuits are eclectic — painting, sculpting, photography, etc. Vivi is socially isolated, just as Teo is, having had an unfortunate romantic relationship with a German while she was in the army. She has never been able to get over it and move on with her life. These two lonely people have long discussions about the creative process and the concept of passion vs. obsession.
Over time, their friendship deepens and they confide in each other about the darkest secrets of their past. Both spent time in Berlin, but during different years and under very different circumstances. Teo and Vivi care for each other and by revealing their stories to each other, they help each other heal. I thought this was a beautifully written book and I am glad that I read it because it is the kind of book you continue to think about long after you are done reading it.
Young Adult Review
Review by Trish Milburn
Originally posted Jan 10, 2012 at The Romance Dish
This past month, I managed to read a very enjoyable YA book during all the holiday craziness. Ashfall by Mike Mullin is the first in a post-apocalyptic series about Alex, a teenage boy from Iowa, and what he endures after the supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park explodes, sending the planet into a prolonged winter with no sunlight. I’ve always loved stories of survival and that’s what Ashfall is at its core. Alex, who was home alone when the volcano erupted, sets off on a journey to Illinois to find his parents and younger sister, who had gone to visit Alex’s uncle. Along the way, he meets people who help him and others who are a threat to his very life.
When the way we are used to living is sent into chaos, man quickly descends into basic survival mode. With no electricity, dipping temperatures, air that’s dangerous to breathe, no way to travel other than on foot, and the constant search for food and water, Ashfall is an edge-of-your-seat read. It’s one part scary and one part hopeful, particularly when Alex finds people who haven’t lost their humanity or kindness in the midst of the eruption’s aftermath. He has to grow up fast and learns there’s more strength in him than he ever knew. He also finds an unexpected friend, and perhaps more, when Darla, a teenage girl, and her mother nurse him back to health after he’s injured by one of the people bent on taking whatever they want however they can.
The sequel to Ashfall, Ashen Winter, is scheduled to be released in October.
Reviewed by Maxine Davis
The suave and savvy detective superintendent from New Scotland Yard returns to investigate the death of a well-dressed woman—witnessed only by a black cat…
Richard Jury is pulled out of his jurisdiction when beautiful young woman is found dead outside a pub in Chesham. Her Yves Saint Laurent dress and Jimmy Choo shoes suggest wealth and privilege, but no one in the village has a clue who she is. There’s no ID, and the only one close to the scene that night was the pub cat. A similar crime then occurs in London—this time the victim’s shoes were Louboutin—and Jury must confront questions of identities and appearances, both human and feline, before he labels someone a killer…
Martha Grimes is an American author of more than 25 books and can tell a British mystery with the best of them! The Black Cat is a fun read that keeps you guessing—and wondering about the cats and dogs that have their own mystery going. (“If you have friends who like animals, whimsy, and murder, you can’t do much more to brighten their day than put Ms. Grimes’s latest mystery in their lap.”—The Washington Post)
5 Petit Fours
Harlequin American – Romance
Reviewed by Sally Kilpatrick
Review: Lorelei Keller is an actuary, a woman who avoids taking risks by her very nature. She has never felt at ease in her hometown, where she was the nerd, or in the presence of her mother, a woman who leans on the spiritual almost to the exclusion of the practical. When her mother passes unexpectedly, Lorelei rushes home and runs headlong into laconic Sam Travis, a cowboy who often passes through the B&B Lorelei’s mom ran. He can’t understand why Lorelei would stay away from a mother who clearly loved her so very much—especially not when his mother had abandoned him and foisted him on a gruff uncle. When Lorelei’s mom leaves the B&B to Sam, things really start to heat up between two people who are utterly convinced they have nothing in common despite a mutual attraction that threatens to break down their respective defenses. Throw in a nosy matchmaking older lady who liberally spikes her coffee and a demonic cat, and you have a vivid cast of characters in charming Fredericksburg, Texas.
If you like strong and silent cowboys, eccentric Texas characters, a very opinionated cat, and some serious sexual tension, then this book is for you. As always, I’m particularly partial to Michaels’ sense of humor in which Sam becomes “Monosyllable Man” and the cat’s relationship to Satan is often questioned. It’s the end, though, that got me. Both characters have struggled with a great deal of loss, and their struggle to accept love despite a history of loss is especially poignant.
5 Petit Fours/3 Hot Tamales
Harlequin Presents Extra – Romance
Reviewed by Susan Carlisle
With this fling… Successful archaeologist Charlotte Greenstone has no time for men, so invents a convenient one – who bears a highly inconvenient resemblance to sexy stranger Greyson Tyler! To protect her mortifying white lie, Charlotte begs Grey to act as her temporary fiancé…
I thee bed? One glimpse of Charlotte’s killer curves and Grey can’t resist making his own outrageous proposition – he’ll pretend to be her fiancé… if they can enjoy all the benefits of being a couple! Smoking-hot grey is definitely fling material, but Charlotte knows that’s all it can ever be… Isn’t it?
This book has a funny primus to begin with that I was unsure where it was going and was pleasantly surprised by the twist and turn that really worked. I got caught up in the characters’ lives and their desires. Grey is a hot leading man, and Charlotte is someone the reader can like. With this Fling makes a great Sunday afternoon read. I enjoyed.
**The books we review on this site, unless otherwise noted, are our own personal copies. The Petit Fours and Hot Tamales blog members do not accept payment in exchange for a review or mention.**