Posts Tagged: fiction

Book Review-Original Sin by Beth McMullen

21 Sep, 2011 by in mystery Leave a comment

Original Sin
A Sally Sin Adventure
by Beth McMullen
Hardcover 304 Pages
Publication Date: July 12, 2011
by Hyperion
ISBN: 1401324215
Rating: 3 Stars
Source: Publisher

On the surface, Lucy Hamilton looks just like all the other stay-at-home San Francisco moms. She takes her three-year-old son, Theo, to the beach, to the playground and to the zoo. She feeds him organic applesauce and free-range chicken. She folds laundry and plays on the floor with Matchbox cars until her knees ache. What no one knows about Lucy, not even her adoring husband, is that for nine years Lucy was Sally Sin, a spy for the United States Agency for Weapons of Mass Destruction. And that’s just the way she wants to keep it – a secret. But when Lucy’s nemesis Ian Blackford, a notorious illegal arms dealer, hits the USAWMD’s radar, the Agency calls Sally Sin back to action to lure Blackford out into the open. Racing against time, Lucy must fight to save herself, her loving family – and, oh right – the world. Hilarious and resonant, ORIGINAL SIN is the story of one woman’s quest to find that most elusive work-life balance in the face of danger, intrigue, and proper recycling habits.

You know, I really do love a good mystery, and Original Sin has many of the characteristics of a good mystery: a strong lead, interesting characters, plenty of action and a well unraveled plot. Sally (or Lucy) looks to the world like every other paranoid, first time mother; with her purse filled to the brim with sippy cups and crackers, watching her 3 year old son’s every move. What everyone around her doesn’t realize is that her paranoia comes from experience, she has seen the worst the world can do and isn’t about to let it reach her precocious little boy (he is very clearly and only child).

I enjoyed the back and forth between current day and Sally’s past adventures with the USAWMD. You really get a picture of the whole Sally when you see both aspects of her life. Past and present begin to mingle and help you understand more of what is going one. The author does a great job of unraveling a little bit of the mystery at a time, building your knowledge of the big picture bit by bit. Even by the end of the book, you aren’t quite sure how everything fits together, leaving you to anticipate the next book in the series.

So, why if I enjoyed the mystery, do I only give this book a three star rating? This comes into content. I admit, I am a bit of a prude when it comes to the books that I read. To be honest, if I hadn’t been sent this book on review, I would likely have quit reading it after the 5th dropping of the “F-bomb” (about 2 chapters into the book). What I find curious about it’s use is that it appears to be the author‘s swear word of choice, because we see very little other swearing (a few other incidents here and there). There is also very limited sexual content (mostly all innuendo or a quick mention of what occurred, without much description). This leads me to ask, why include the aforementioned “F-bomb” so often if you kept the book fairly clean of anything else? I honestly really enjoyed the story-line and had it left out the swearing or limited it more I would easily have given this book a 4.5 star rating.

Content: quite a bit of the “F-bomb” and other minor swear words, mention of sex between adults and other somewhat sexual content (but fairly minor). See the paragraph above for more on the book’s content.

I received a copy of this book for review purposes. No other compensation was received.

The Actor and The Housewife

17 Jan, 2010 by in Maw Books, Shannon Hale, utah authors 1 comment


From Barnes and Noble: Product Details
Pub. Date: June 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Format: Hardcover, 352pp
ISBN-13: 9781596912885
ISBN: 159691288X

Synopsis
A very different kind of fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale.
What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter…
Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity hearththrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened…though nothing has happened. It isn’t sexual. It isn’t even quite love. But a month later Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what’s hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really. Becky’s husband is pretty cool about it. Her children roll their eyes. Her neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special…something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it? A magical story, The Actor and the Housewife explores what could happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life and changes everything.

From Publishers Weekly
This successful sophomore turn at chick lit (after Austenland) from YA and graphic novelist Hale sets up a platonic relationship between a dashing movie star and a Mormon housewife. While in Los Angeles to ink a deal for a script she’s written, pregnant Becky Jack holds her own against her big screen crush, Felix Callahan, known the world over for charming his way through romantic comedies. Witty banter draws them together, and though they debate what their fascination with one another could mean, an improbable friendship is born. Their alliance weathers the occasional break, Felix’s disinterest in children and his indifference toward Becky’s Mormon faith; spousal jealousy and the chasm separating their lifestyles also throw an occasional curveball. Hale keeps the prose crackling with humor and has a sure hand in creating nuanced, believable characters, so when otherwise unlikely plot turns creep up—Becky getting cast opposite Felix—they’re, well, likely enough. Though Becky just wants to keep her best friend and her normal life, readers will hope she gets nothing less than a fairy tale ending.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This review contains spoilers…
The beginning chapters of this book were a hard read for me because the idea of a married Mormon woman being able to have a male best friend is one I have pondered and decided it just isn’t possible. That being said, I think Becky goes through all of the emotions any typical married housewife with morals would go through and I admire her strength. As I got more into the book I really admired Becky’s relationship wit her her husband Mike. They are still in love after all of these years, they still have a spark and he trusts her enough to let her keep Felix in her life. Her relationship with Felix is just perfect, full of witty lines and funny situations. I cried through the last four chapters at the raw emotion and grief the family went through losing Mike. I love that the spiritual questions were there and were answered through the traditional means of prayer and service without seeming preachy or unrealistic to those not of the same faith.
I hope as Becky has time to heal her loss and she and Felix have time together their love blossoms. In my mind that will be the way it really ends. Felix is not perfect, he makes his occasional mistakes, but what I love about them is that they are always there for each other, they make one another laugh and the romance would be based on ten years of friendship first.Felix takes care of her financially, sweeps her off on vacation, calls her and woos her in the way every woman would love to be wooed. Come on Shannon…give me my fairy tale ending or even a movie. It would be so fun. I will be waiting! I give it a five out of five stars, good clean romantic fun!
My friend MawBooks recorded these and uploaded them to Youtube…Here is Shannon Hale talking about the book at The King’s English Bookstore.