Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: Anna Finch & The Hired Gun by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Despite her father’s attempts to marry her off, Anna Finch dreams of becoming a reporter. A chance encounter with legendary gunslinger Doc Holliday gives her the opportunity of a lifetime, but Pinkerton agent Jeb Sanders is about to ruin everything.

Though her father hired Jeb to keep her out of mischief, Anna’s inconvenient attraction to her hired gun only multiplies her troubles. She doesn’t realize Jeb has a score to settle with Doc Holliday, or that her association with the famous outlaw will affect more than just her marriage prospects. Between her father’s desperation to see her wed and Jeb shadowing her every move, getting the story and fulfilling her journalistic ambition just got far more complicated than she ever imagined.

My thoughts:
What a fun read! Anna is completely entertaining and such fun to "follow" around Colorado. She is definitely a spunky gal, and the 1880's setting just makes her behavior that much more amusing! I loved how Anna kept thinking she had outsmarted Jeb (the Pinkerton agent her father hired to keep her out of trouble) by sneaking off, but inevitably Jeb would always step into her path and make himself known just when she thought she'd lost him.

The inclusion of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp originally took me by surprise, but they actually ended up being a cool and interesting addition to the story. It sort of gives you a unique look at the possible lives of these old west legends. I also wanted to mention that I was quite amused by the references to Mae West, the fictional dime-novel heroine, which was a throw-back to the first book in the series. I don't want to give any spoilers, but suffice it to say that I was very pleased and amused when the creator of the heroine was revealed.

Anna Finch and the Hired Gun (really, with a name like that you just KNOW it's gotta be good!) is second in the Women of the West series by Kathleen Y'Barbo, with The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper being first and The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck being third. Though there are references to the first book and a few of the same people in the story, Anna Finch would work fine as a stand alone novel if you don't have access to the whole series. I only wish there were more books with Anna as the main character! 

My rating: 5 stars!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Today I have another review for you, this time it's The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo. This is the first book in her "Women of the West" series.

The future is clearly mapped out for New York socialite Eugenia “Gennie” Cooper, but she secretly longs to slip into the boots of her favorite dime-novel heroine and experience just one adventure before settling down. When the opportunity arises, Gennie jumps at the chance to experience the Wild West, but her plans go awry when she is drawn into the lives of silver baron Daniel Beck and his daughter and finds herself caring for them more than is prudent–especially as she’s supposed to go back to New York and marry another man.

As Gennie adapts to the rough-and-tumble world of 1880s Colorado, she must decide whether her future lies with the enigmatic Daniel Beck or back home with the life planned for her since birth. The question is whether Daniel’s past–and disgruntled miners bent on revenge–will take that choice away from her.

My thoughts:
I was never able to completely "click" with Gennie, but as the story progressed I did become accustomed to her. Her love of all things Wild West seemed maybe a bit overdone, however it definitely made things more fun. There were things I liked and others that I questioned as they seemed a bit drawn out (particularly the situation that occurs when Daniel takes Gennie and Charlotte to Leadville), but overall I enjoyed the book. The author certainly has a nice handle on the time period and dreaming up unique characters!

Each chapter begins with a small portion of "Mae West", who is Gennie's favorite dime-novel heroine. These are somewhat repetitive (same circumstances, different situations), but are sort of amusing as they give a look at Gennie's favorite stories. They are not integral to the plot of the book, however, so if they aren't your cup of tea you could easily pass them over.

Other thoughts:
Honestly I felt like Gennie was out-shined by Anna Finch, her neighbor in Denver. As soon as Anna gets a chance to speak more than a few lines, it's immediately clear that she needs her own book. Fortunately, the next book in the series IS about her! (Anna Finch and the Hired Gun) Yay! I have extremely high hopes for it, and am anxious to find out her complete story.

My rating: 4 stars

Monday, February 13, 2012

Early Edition, A Blast from the Past

Anyone remember the TV show Early Edition? It aired on CBS in the late 1990's on Saturday nights. It ran for 4 seasons, and while it easily could have gone longer, these days 4 seasons certainly isn't anything to scoff at.

Anyway, the premise was fairly straight-forward: Gary Hobson, a Chicago resident, gets tomorrow's newspaper today. This puts him in the unusual spot of seeing tomorrow's headlines and articles a day before they happen, giving him the opportunity to change events before they occur. Deadly shooting? Hit and run? Devastating fire? Thanks to the 'paper, Gary has the means and information to change the future and stop events from happening. Oh, and the paper just happens to come with a cat. No, not a dog, a cat! :)

I've been re-watching the series, well, actually I'm just about finished with it now. But anyway, the episode I watched last night, "Time" (season 4, ep 20) really got me thinking. I remembered pieces of it from it's original airing 12 years ago; for some reason this episode stuck with my then 13-year-old self. For someone who's watched the whole series, it's really an awesome episode with some cool revelations, but I won't get into the details here. What I want to point out, however, is that the storyline from this episode would be absolutely perfect to pull from and create a new incarnation of the series. I don't know if the writers' intended it that way or not, but I have to think they did.

There is a serious lack of good, clean, family television anymore. Honestly, I think Early Edition was one of the last truly family oriented shows. No, it doesn't have kids or a big family in it, but somehow it has appeal for all ages. I liked it when I was 13, and re-watching it now at 25, I like it even more. My parents liked it then (still do), and even my grandparents watched it when it originally aired, which is really saying something. The acting is good, and the content is clean. The stories are uplifting, with Gary running around the city trying to stop events and save people from harm, usually coming across some strange or amusing obstacle that he has to overcome. I can't think of a single current show that features someone constantly putting the well-being of others first like that. (If you know of one, feel free to enlighten me!)

On one hand, I would love to see a network draw from this episode and create a new edition (pun intended!) of Early Edition. On the other hand, if they did I have to say that I'd be a bit hesitant, wondering if they would trash it up like so many of the current shows are.

Good clean shows that have multi-generational appeal are hard to come by, but Early Edition's concept is able to interest and entertain all ages, which makes it a superb show for families to watch together. It's a real gem.

If you've never seen or heard of it, check out this video. It's the opening credits for the show, but it actually sums things up quite nicely.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Introducing my Zazzle Store

Tonight I thought I'd post a few words about my Zazzle Store. (Currently it's titled "Picturesque Truth", although I might decide to change that eventually.) 

Anyway, Zazzle has some pretty cool items, it's really amazing the items that you can get custom printing on. Since I enjoy designing, I decided to use Zazzle as a way of making my stuff available to everyone.

My store's main focus is divided between Vintage Postcard Art and Bible Verse Designs, but I do have a few other items as well. I'm also planning to add some Midwest Photos (antelope, deer, scenery, etc) in the next few weeks.

Click Here to browse through my Zazzle Store.

I do take special requests, so if there's something you're looking for that you don't find in my store, contact me and I'll see if I can whip something up to suit your purposes! :)

Now, about the book reviews: I'm still doing my normal reading, and I'm hoping to have another review ready to post soon. Be sure to "follow" me so you don't miss it!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Review: Nickels by Karen Baney

My rating: 5 stars!
Niki Turner has finally arrived. Her career as a Software Engineer is soaring—she has just been offered the company’s most sought after account, Helitronics. Life would be perfect, if she could stop her roommate from playing matchmaker.

Then Kyle Jacobs mysteriously re-enters her life. As painful memories resurface, his presence turns her life upside down and threatens to waylay her career. She must find a way to work with him—after all, he’s the helicopter flight consultant for the new flight control system she’s coding.

Can she forget the past and see him as the new man he has become? Or will her resentment keep her from finding what she has always been searching for?

My thoughts:
Okay, I really enjoyed this one! At first I wasn't sure the life of a software engineer would be all that riveting, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's actually quite interesting. While Niki's job is rather technical, I felt it was handled very well and written so that anyone can follow. :)

Niki is a great character, very realistic with past hurts and wounds that still haunt her; it's encouraging to see her grow and work through her issues. I also enjoyed Kyle as well, he's sort of a broken person yet he's still fun and tries to please God with his actions and motives. The story bounces back and forth being told from both Niki and Kyle's perspective's.

I have to admit part of my enjoyment came from the fact that the book is set in the Phoenix-Metro area of Arizona. I used to live there, and I just found it unbelievably cool when I recognized the street names, freeways, landmarks, and other things...including the 110+ degree heat! It was like I was right there beside Niki, and it all gave me sort of a nostalgic feeling. For those who haven't lived in AZ, the setting will seem just like any other, but for those who have lived there...well, it's just really cool!

So, bottom-line: Pick this one up, you'll be glad you did! An excellent read.

My rating: 5 stars