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Sheila's Reads

I love to read. I am very eclectic in my reading but I especially enjoy erotica and erotic romance. I also like movies, live theater and concerts, hockey, and counted cross-stitch.

INTERCOURSE: STORIES by Robert Olen Butler

Intercourse: Stories - Robert Olen Butler

Two page vignettes of what famous couples in history might think during sex.  Some are funny.  Most are not thinking of their partners.  I found this a different way to think about sex.  I enjoyed the stories about the Clintons, Nixons, Bushes, Cleo & Antony, and Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.  It's a fun read.

THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villenueve

The Beauty and the Beast - Minalima Ltd., Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, James Robinson Planché

Beautiful illustrations, pop-ups. and 3D art telling the story of Beauty and the Beast by the first published author the tale.  I enjoyed it.  There are not as many villains in this version but Beauty agrees to take her father's place at the Beast's palace for the rose.  Beauty must fall for the Beast to break the curse on him. His story is told and so is hers.  I was a bit confused at times as no one has a name.  Each person has a description of who she or he is but no names.  This is my favorite fairy tale.


The Jane Austen Marriage Manual - Kim Izzo
Using Jane Austen's books as a guide to making a good marriage, Kate freelances an article on whether it would work in the present day.  Playing the role of Lady Katherine Billingham Shaw, Kate is swept up into the glamorous lifestyle of the rich.  As she researches her article and decides to look for a billionaire to marry, Kate has to choose which path she will walk--money or love.
I enjoyed this book but I had some trouble liking the characters.  My favorite character was Fawn, Kate's "mentor.  Kate made me crazy--sometimes I liked her, sometimes I didn't.  Marianne and Brandon angered me as they criticized her but were the ones who put her into the Lady Kate role and encouraged her to do the research.  As I looked at the other characters and situations in the book, I have to wonder that such cynicism exists.  I feel bad for those who choose this as a way of life.  There was the occasional one-liner that made me laugh but mostly I was shaking my head at the sadness of the lives of those who feel they need to make a marriage because of money.  I am glad Kate finally got it right.  I liked that we found out what happened to Scott, her former fiancé.  What a sad ending for him.


The Lost for Words Bookshop - Stephanie Butland
Loveday has worked in the bookshop since she was 15.  She does not like people very much.  Her life was changed when she was 10 and both her parents left her life.  Raised in foster care, she learns to keep her own counsel.  Now two men enter her life--Rob and Nathan.  Which one can she trust?
I enjoyed this book.  It was not what I expected.  I related so much to Loveday.  Though this was a sad book for me, it also held hope.  It's a book I can pick up again and again and have it speak differently to me each time I read it.  There is so much here to discover.  I got lost in its pages.


Love & Ink: Scratches Down My Back (Love & Ink Series Book 2) - J.A. Howell
Lucy is in town to work on a photo shoot with Niall and Grant.  Niall's brother, Liam, meets her but they don't get on.  Liam has a sleeve of La Belle Dame which is Lucy's alter ego which he does not know.  Spending more time together Lucy hopes Liam is falling for her not La Belle Dame.  When the truth comes out, all hell breaks loose.
I loved this book.  It is as good as the first in the series.  Lucy and Liam are a good fit.  Both have pasts that come back to harm them.  They needed to communicate better but love wins out.  I liked knowing what was happening with the brothers.  I also appreciated the story of the brothers' past. 
I hope there is a book for Niall.  I hate for this series to end.


So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo
This is not a book you can walk away from.  It is a book that you will read many times and get different information from it.  The first time you read to see what she has to say.  The second time to understand what she says.  Then you buy it and re-read it over the years to see how it impacts you or see how you can use it to better understand race and racism and how to better your behaviors and thoughts on race and racism.
I can understand some of what she says.  Other things I can't because I have not experienced it nor lived with those who have.  At times I got mad.  Other times I just got sad as she relates her experiences.  I appreciate that it feels like she is a friend just talking to us on the porch.  She does not preach but she gets her point across--sometimes through plain speaking, other times through humor.  I never felt like I wanted to walk away from this talk.  I wanted to learn--not sure how much I did.  Time and re-readings will tell.


Pride & Prejudice & Assassinations - Leo Charles Taylor
Mr. Darcy is a member of an organization that keeps the nobles and gentry on the straight and narrow.  If they mess up, Mr. Darcy is sent to clean-up how ever he must in this new retelling of Pride and Prejudice. 
I enjoyed this book.  I liked the combination of old familiar characters and new characters.  I loved having Mr. Darcy's point-of-view as familiar scenes show up here.  This was just fun!  I cannot wait to read the rest of the series.


The Only Woman in the Room - Marie Benedict
Starting with Hedy Lamarr as a 19-year-old Austrian actress known as Hedy Kiesler, we see Hedy's life during the escalation of Germany's take over of Europe.  Hoping to keep herself and her family safe she marries arms manufacturer and dealer Fritz Mandl to whom she is a trophy wife.  After escaping a marriage that becomes unbearable Hedy gets to the US where she becomes Hedy Lamarr, Hollywood actress.  Worrying about what she overheard in Austria but did not act upon, she develops a torpedo system for the Navy which is rejected.  That technology is used to create wi-fi that we use today.
Hedy led an interesting life.  She is caught up in the lead up to WWII and meets many historical people through her marriage.  When she escapes she comes to Hollywood and resumes acting.  She is intelligent but, unfortunately, is not recognized for her intelligence.  I liked her.  She was fascinating and talented on so many levels.  She is a role model. 
I enjoyed this book.  I finished it in one day because I was so caught up in the story.  I loved the first person point-of-view.  This is a keeper.

JOHNNY TREMAIN by Esther Forbes

Johnny Tremain - Esther Forbes, Lynd Ward
Johnny is apprenticed to a silversmith but is injured and unable to ply the silversmith trade.  He searches for a new trade but has problems finding something he likes.  He starts to deliver papers for a Whig printer and starts to deliver messages for the Sons of Liberty.
It's been a long time since I read this.  I am glad I re-read it.  Set during the Revolutionary War, it brings the lead-up and the early days of the war to life.  I liked Johnny and those who he came in contact with during his rides.  I like that he formed a friendship with Rab.  I had a clear picture of Johnny's thoughts and feelings.  Written during WWII, it is very idealistic.  It made me think if today's generation/society has the same idealism of freedom and liberty for all. 

ICED CHIFFON by Duffy Brown

Iced Chiffon - Duffy Brown
Reagan's ex-husband, Hollis, is accused of murdering his fiancée.  If Reagan does not find the killer, she may lose her house to attorney fees.  So she starts looking for the murderer and keeps running into Walker Boone, her ex's lawyer.
I laughed throughout this book  I enjoyed it so much and cannot wait to read more of the series.  Reagan is a mess.  I loved her.  Her Auntie Kiki is a riot.  Together the two are a scream.  Totally complement each other.  Hollis is a jerk.  And I think Walker may be sweet on Reagan, although he has a weird way of showing it.  There is a wild cast of characters that make this book memorable.  I haven't had so much fun in a book in a long time.  I was sucked in from the beginning and couldn't wait to get back to this world.  So much fun!

MARY POPPINS by P. L. Travers

Mary Poppins - Mary Shepard, P.L. Travers

 Mary Poppins comes as a nanny to the Banks' children.  They go on adventures with her but are they real?  Only Mary Poppins knows for sure.


Mary Poppins is a curmudgeon.  She can discipline with only a look.  I liked the children.  Their wide-eyed awe is on display.  Every day is an adventure with Mary Poppins.  The story is a series of short vignettes of adventures or stories Mary Poppins tells.  The adults are not prevalent.  They are on the sidelines. This sets up the series of books I want to read because I want to know what other adventures they go on.

THE AU PAIR by Emma Rous

The Au Pair  - Emma Wood Rous
Suspenseful story told from two points-of-view, one in the past, one in the present.  Seraphine discovers a photo amongst her newly dead father's belongings that she has never seen before taken on the day of her and her twin's birth but her mother is only holding one baby.  Why not both?  This leads her to question who she is.  She also learns that the au pair took the photo but she does not remember this au pair.  As she searches out who she is, someone wants to keep her from the truth.
I liked this story.  It had me on the edge of my seat.  I was right with Seraphine on the mystery of her birth.  I enjoyed the two points-of-view, Seraphine in the present and Laura, the au pair, in the past.  I kept trying to guess about Seraphine but I was far along in the story before I figured it out.  I was hooked on this book from page 1.  I had to know what was the mystery behind Seraphine's birth.  Well done!

THE BOOKSELLER by Cynthia Swanson

The Bookseller: A Novel - Cynthia Swanson
Kitty and Frieda own a book store that has fallen on hard times.  They have to decide what to do.  At the same time Kitty starts having dreams about an alternate life where she is married and has children.  As she goes between lives she wonders what has happened to cause certain situations but she does not want to ask anyone because she does not want to appear like she is crazy. 
I liked Kitty.  I also liked her at Katharyn in her alternate life.  She had some interesting ways to figure out the whys and whats of that life.  I liked Lars in her alternate life.  Frieda I was ambivalent about in both lives but I could understand what happened between Kitty/Katharyn and Frieda.  Not sure if I am sympathetic enough about it.  The story held my interest as I wanted to know what no one would talk to Katharyn about.  The questions get answered eventually but it was a drawn out process. 
I enjoyed this book and have gotten more books for the TBR list.

US AGAINST YOU by Fredrik Backman

Us Against You - Fredrik Backman
What a sequel!  It is just as intense and good as Beartown.  Us Against You picks up after Beartown ends with the summer before the next hockey season.  We find out what happens to the characters from Beartown.  The rivalry between Beartown and Hed grows as the first game approaches.  Leaders emerge while those who want to be leaders don't have the necessary qualities to become leaders.  One politician gets very involved in the hockey club and plays everyone against the other.  We see others with new eyes and we meet new members of the community. 
I loved this series.  I would like to see these people in 10 years time and see what happened to them.  I know I kept saying not this one or that one when it looked as if something bad was going to happen.  Not every life is successful.  Some lose what they worked so hard for.  Some find acceptance while others find more alienation.  There was a lot of truth in this book.  Sune was right when he said, "We are the community."  Never were truer words spoken.  Everything that happens, every word spoken, every thought good or bad is in our communities and it is what we foster in words and action that determine what the community is.  Us Against You is a mirror that reflects back what we all are.  Excellent!


The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row - Anthony Ray Hinton
Wow!  This is a book everyone needs to read.  Anthony Ray Hinton was convicted of two murders which he did not do and sentenced to Death Row in Alabama.  He tells of his fight to clear his name and regain his freedom as well as the men he met on Death Row.
This book made me think about the death penalty and what it means.  Does the state have the right to take a life?  Does the state have the right to deny an innocent man another day in court when new evidence comes to light?  Does the state have the right to deny they were wrong?  Mr. Hinton is philosophically about life as he exists on Death Row.  He has some deep thoughts about life, love, choices, death, and God.  I cried at some of the things that happened outside the prison that he could not be part of.  I also cried tears of joy when he was released.  He lost more than 30 years of his life.  I appreciated that he shared his reentry into society.  Some things may never go back the way they were. 
This is one of the best books I have read.

BEARTOWN by Fredrik Backman

Beartown: A Novel - Fredrik Backman
  Wow! What a read! Nothing like I expected. I was expecting something like A Man Called Ove or Britt-Marie Was Here but Beartown is the opposite of them. Told through multiple eyes with a narrator putting his comments in throughout the book, it is a very intense read. There are some good one-liners that made me laugh out loud but there is more about our humanness and how we fail to live up to that humanness in this book. It is the teens who do the teaching here. Some show loyalty by sticking by the offender. Others show loyalty by standing up to those who want them to chose the wrong/evil path. This book so clearly shows how often the female is judged and found wanting while the male is seen as the "poor" victim. No one reverses how the questions are asked or the comments made to show who was in the wrong.

I liked the teens. Too many of the adults were found wanting. Kevin's father is horrible. I loved Maya's solution. I was a little worried there. I appreciated her response to Kevin's mother. She shows so much compassion. Maya's parents, Peter and Kira, do the best they can but come to realize they can't protect their children. They are good complements for each other. I loved Benji and Amat and how they went against the others.

This is a keeper. I cannot wait to read the sequel, Us Against You.