Kathryn Lively, Reader

Kathryn Lively, Reader

Kathryn Lively loves to read and write fiction. She loves Rush (the band), Toblerone bars, Earl Grey (hot), and the Doctor. She spends too much money on books and Doctor Who t-shirts. 


Send an e-mail to arecafe at gmail dot com and she will give you one of her novels in eBook format for free.

4 Stars
Pretty Baby - Mary Kubica

I liked this more than Kubica's previous book. Another suspense, told through three POVs that braid into a story of people who have experienced loss at different levels and how the pain manifests.

Now Available: Slave To Love by Bridget Midway

It's finally here! Pick up the sequel to Bridget Midway's bestselling LOVE MY WAY!

SLAVE TO LOVE - now in eBook and print!

It’s been five years, and Christian Jace Morton still hears about his older brother, Eagan, and his controversial and groundbreaking TV show “Love My Way.” He’s also tired of everyone’s fascination with BDSM, so much so that he stops his involvement in the Lifestyle and opts to go by his middle name to keep his association away from a character with the same name in a popular book series. Considering he hasn’t truly forgiven Eagan for abandoning the family when their father died, Jace decides to put his full concentration on his construction business. His life would be fine if his sister-in-law, Eagan’s wife Ananda, didn’t ask him to use his house for another reality TV show.

Taran Kerrigan has been enamored with the BDSM lifestyle since she heard about the “Love My Way.” Since she was only nineteen at the time the show was taped, her friend, “Love My Way” contestant Dorothy/Meadow, talks her out of trying out for the show. When Taran hears that Ananda “Begonia” Morton has been trying to contact Dorothy to have her own show for her to find a Dom...or Domme, Taran offers to go in Dorothy’s place. She wants the BDSM fairy tale.

Even though Jace wants nothing to do with the show, his interest is piqued once he sees Taran. When he discovers her love of the show and all things Eagan Morton, he doesn’t want to reveal his identity of being Eagan’s brother. He competes if only to refute the notion of finding the perfect BDSM relationship on a reality TV show.

Can Jace learn to let go of the past and trust his instincts? Will Taran see past the fanfare of the Lifestyle to discover its true meaning? Will they do it in time to discover each other?


This amazing trilogy begins with the EPIC Award finalist, LOVE MY WAY, and will conclude with IS THIS LOVE? coming late 2015.

Reblogged from Phaze Books - Exceptional Romance
Source: http://phaze.com/book.php?title=Slave+To+Love
3 Stars
Psychedelic Bubble Gum Boyce & Hart, the Monkees, and Turning Mayhem Into Miracles by Bobby Hart
Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem into Miracles - Bobby Hart, Micky Dolenz, Glenn Ballantyne

Ask me if I prefer authorized works/memoirs to unauthorized, and I'll hesitate. When I pick up a non-fiction book I hope to learn as much as possible about the subject, and when a public figure writes an autobiography you get what that person is comfortable revealing. When it comes to musicians, some are franker than others, and often those are the most fun to read. Going into Psychedelic Bubble Gum (AMZ / BN / KOBO / ITUNES), the most I knew about Bobby Hart involved the songs he wrote for The Monkees and the few hits he enjoyed with his partner, Tommy Boyce...that and they composed the Days of Our Lives theme. If you read this, you'll find Boyce and Hart (and Hart on his own and with other partners) claim a prolific legacy in popular music. Hart has gold and platinum records, an Oscar nomination, and other accolades to his credit, and an interesting story to tell.

However, all through Bubble Gum I got the impression Hart kept up his guard. Indeed, he ends the book on an upbeat note, focusing on the blessings rather than the hardships. The epilogue in which he talks about Boyce's death is very brief, though he seems to seed hints that foreshadow the tragic end of his writing partner throughout the book (see the frequent mentions of a particular song made popular by The Monkees). Speaking of the Pre-fab Four, Hart's memories of the group comprise a smaller percentage of the book than I expected. The mid-70s "reunion" tour of Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart aside, there isn't much new information to learn there. Doesn't mean it's not interesting - one can sense Hart's exasperation with having to work with four unpredictable personalities - but I found myself more drawn to Hart's earlier history in music.

Like I said before, though, Bubble Gum lives up to its name in that it focuses more on the positive. Hart's spiritual journey takes up the latter third of the book, and while it's interesting to read how various forces came to influence him that wasn't the story I hoped to read. You won't find much in the way of salacious gossip here, and in some places Hart downplays a liaison or two. I respect that Hart likes to keep things positive, but it's not conducive to a well-rounded story.

Still, if you enjoyed the 60s pop era, and if you aspire to write music, you will find anecdotes here to enjoy.

Source: http://booksthatrockus.blogspot.com/2015/07/psychedelic-bubble-gum-boyce-hart.html
3 Stars
X by Sue Grafton
X (Kinsey Millhone Mystery) - Sue Grafton

Going into X, I had already A through P in the Kinsey Millhone series before I burned out. The premise of X and the knowledge this series would soon end brought me back for a trial period, and I worried at first I might be lost. After a few pages, I returned easily to Santa Teresa as though I'd never left. Maybe I need a refresher on some names referenced, but otherwise I had no trouble.

That said, the book's summary calls X Grafton's darkest and most chilling novel yet in the series. I'm not sure about it. There's no lack of suspense, but it comes slowly and gradually and is interrupted by other things Kinsey has going on at the moment. In this adventure she has no real paying clients and has taken on various tasks:

The suspicious next-door neighbors running a long con on dear Henry Pitts.

The deception of a spurned ex-wife who uses Kinsey for her own gain.

Taking on unfinished business from a dead detective acquaintance.

These threads braid into the story and as I read through to the end I figured out much of the conclusion. No surprises for me, but that doesn't necessarily make X a bad story. I get the impression we might revisit some of this in Y and/or Z, but X reads like things are winding down for the series. If you've enjoyed the series, you might like this one.

ARC from Netgalley

3.5 Stars
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
Finders Keepers: A Novel - Stephen King

Waffling between 3.5 and 4 here. Having read this second book, I wonder if each is meant to hat-tip earlier, better known works. Mr. Mercedes focuses for a time on a car that creates massive carnage, and in Finder Keepers people fall victim to one man's obsession with the fate of a fictional character. The end of the book hints at the upcoming finale: telekinesis.

If you've read enough King, you know what I'm talking about.

Getting back to Finders. You don't need to read the first book, but doing so enhances the picture of this New England community affected by bad times and bad deeds. Hodges and company come later into the story - this one belongs to Morris Bellamy, the disillusioned young man turned criminal after a confrontation with his literary idol; and Pete Sauber, a teenager in a low-income household who just wants his parents to stop fighting. Morris's crime allows Pete's family to survive, but once Morris has the opportunity to claim what he thinks is his, he wants everything back.

I thought it was a good followup to Mr. Mercedes, and having read it I may have to rewrite my thoughts on the former. (You'll know why when the third book comes out) I liked seeing the relationship between Bill and Holly progress, and how the Saubers' story threaded into the history of the first book. One can see shades of Annie Wilkes in Morris, but this story isn't a rewrite of Misery.

4 Stars
If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins
If You Only Knew - Kristan Higgins

ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

I've read, and mostly enjoyed Higgins's Blue Heron quartet, and this one interested me because the description reminded me a bit of Susan Mallery's The Girls of Mischief Bay, which I loved. If You Only Knew is a bit of a departure from Higgins's romance - the trademark humor is still there, but as the story progresses you realize it's not a category romance but a story with romantic elements.

The POV switches between two sisters:

1) Divorced Jenny, who forges steadily into a new life with her dress shop but can't break away from her old one. Actually, the people who should be in her past *won't* let go.

2) Married Rachel, who has spent the last decade putting on the front of perfect wife/mother that she misses details like...uh, her husband's womanizing.

As these two lives intertwine there are subplots that contribute to the drama and peel away history that impacts the people involved. Family secrets, old emotional wounds, and the ubiquitous back-handed compliments from Mother (seems like there's a mother like this in every Higgins book I've read).

But I enjoyed this story, despite my wanting to slap some sense into Jenny and Rachel from time to time. Eventually they figure out what they need on their own, and it's a fascinating journey there.

2 Stars
Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe
Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe - Anthony Summers

I picked up an earlier edition of this book in college but never finished. Recently, it's been updated and made cheap on Kindle, and as I've read numerous Monroe books since it became an auto-buy.

How to review it, though? The author claims extensive and detailed research, but you find some of his sources are dubious in the eyes of die-hard Marilyn fans (the infamous Jeanne Carmen, for one). The speculation of Marilyn's final hours, with people in and out of her house while she purportedly lays dying seems the stuff of a Lifetime movie. In fact I recall a made for TV Marilyn movie that played out similar to some events portrayed here.

I don't doubt some suspicious activity went down when Marilyn died, but Summers's book seems too much to believe. It is a conspiracy theorist's delight, but overall you'll probably read it with one eyebrow raised.

4 Stars
The Scent of Secrets by Jane Thynne
The Scent of Secrets: A Novel - Jane Thynne

ARC received from NetGalley.

As I understand it, Secrets is part of a trilogy first published in the UK, and now a US publisher is releasing it. However, they are publishing the third book first, then releasing the others. Odd way to do things, but I've read the books can be read out of order.

In this third book of the trilogy, actress Clara Vine has successfully hidden her Jewish roots in order to work in Germany, but throughout the story she worries if she's able to conceal her involvement as a spy. She's charged with getting closer to Eva Braun and find information useful to the British government. A subplot involving a secretary for a high-ranking female minister in the Nazi party ties into an early mystery.

I enjoyed the story. I haven't read much WWII fiction set in Germany, so I found this a nice change of pace from what I usually read. Now that I know this is the third book in a trilogy, though, I would like to know if Clara's story will continue. As the book nears its conclusion it really gets interesting, and it seems to be left open for another installment.

4 Stars
The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig
The Other Daughter: A Novel - Lauren Willig

I wanted to read this book because I enjoy historical fiction, including stories set in the post-Edwardian era. The Other Daughter hints at romantic entanglements, but I read it more as hybrid of drama and suspense. Imagine if a later season of Downton Abbey introduced a character who turned out to be Lady Mary's half-sister, born to Grantham's "first love." I read about 80% of the book in one night to see what would happen.

In sum, Rachel Woodley arrives from a governess appointment in Paris to find her mother has not only passed, but kept her father's true identity from her. Her desire for closure leads her to agree to a charade planned by a distant relative (with the aristocracy, seems they're all related in some way) to pass herself off as a woman of means and integrate into society. Get into the good graces of her half-sister and use her to get to her father and then...well, Rachel needs to figure out that part.

I enjoyed the entire story - the discovery, the transformation from Rachel into society girl "Vera", and how her feelings for various players in the game change over the short time. The book ends happily enough, perhaps not in the way you would expect, but it seemed to me it stayed true to certain attitudes among nobility.

ARC received from the publisher via NetGalley

3 Stars
Hollywood Gays by Boze Hadleigh
Hollywood Gays: Conversations With: Cary Grant, Liberace, Tony Perkins, Paul Lynde, Cesar Romero, Randolph Scott... - Boze Hadleigh

I got this on sale from OmniLit during the publisher's Pride sale. It's a collection of interviews conducted by the author with several actors who enjoyed their prime between the 50s and 70s. Young readers might not be familiar with many, if not all, names, but if you're interested in older Hollywood gossip you'll get a kick out this book. Of the interviews I enjoyed the ones with Paul Lynde and Cesar Romero most. Some of the subject were coyer on the topic of homosexuality than others, but a quick read.

3 Stars
Allen Klein by Fred Goodman
[(Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll)] [Author: Fred Goodman] published on (June, 2015) - Fred Goodman

Every time I read a Beatles-related book I find most players run hot or cold with critics. You either adore somebody or you loathe them. We can guess how assorted Beatles and personnel fall in the spectrum, and when it comes to Allen Klein you find a figure just as (or perhaps more) polarizing than Yoko Ono. Long story short, Klein was a money man on a mission: to manage the most popular band in the world. One could argue he obsessed over the idea of being their right-hand man, so much that he couldn't appreciate what he had with The Rolling Stones, no slouches themselves.

In the Afterword of Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out The Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll the author mentions the desire of Klein's family to clear the air, so to speak. Going into this book, all I knew of Klein was his work with the Stones and that three out of four Beatles wanted him to replace the late Brian Epstein. We may forever argue over who broke up the band, but if you read enough of the Beatle chapters here you may give Yoko a break and lean toward the theory of self-implosion. Klein's alleged reaction to Epstein's death as mentioned here could leave you cringing.

I'm not here to review Klein's character, though. Allen Klein the book, overall, is informative and detailed, and may find an audience in readers interested in the financial workings of the music industry. Klein's life work is a tangle of royalties and subsidiary rights and similar legalese, and promises to musicians with less business savvy to get the money they deserve. It used to baffle me to read of rock stars claiming to be broke, but as Goldman breaks down how music publishing works, and how managers earn their share, I understand it. Maybe those who dream of fortune should put down the guitars and get accounting degrees.

I found the book is most interesting when the story focuses directly on Klein's interaction with the musicians he manages: Sam Cooke, John Lennon, Mick. At times the narrative splintered into tangents, delving here into Andrew Oldham's story, then over there to talk about somebody else. While it interested me, another reader might think there wasn't enough about Klein to make a book. Once Klein loses Lennon as a client, his story seems to wrap up rather quickly.

Allen Klein is a book for hardcore Beatles and/or Stones fans, readers who likes to crunch numbers and crave a side of classic rock gossip.


ARC from NetGalley

2 Stars
Indiana by George Sand
Indiana - Sylvia Raphael, Naomi Schor, George Sand

I have only read one other Sand work, and I preferred that one. This was her first novel, which I found too ambitious and bloated. It reminded me a bit of Madame Bovary, but that was written afterward, so I wonder if Flaubert found influence in this. Either way, not a favorite.

3.5 Stars
Bound With Love by Megan Mulry
Bound with Love - Megan Mulry

I don't get into many F/F historicals, not Regency era anyway, so when this book hit my radar I said yes. :) I hadn't known it's actually a followup to a more erotically charged work with pansexual characters. I found I could follow this story without reading the predecessor, though.

Vanessa and Nora have been together for 20 years, having found each other after Nora's harrowing marriage and separation from her child. When they learn Nora is about to be reunited with the baby she lost, more secrets are revealed. The past becomes a source of tension for both women, to say nothing of the present as Vanessa interferes with her children's lives.

I liked the idea of this story - two older heroines, an accepting family, passionate scenes that didn't come off as gratuitous. The storyline seemed better filled out when the story interchanged between past and present. I liked reading the progression of Nora and Vanessa's romance.

4 Stars
Twelve-Cent Archie by Bart Beaty
Twelve-Cent Archie (Comics Culture) by Beaty, Bart (2015) Paperback - Bart Beaty

An exhaustive thesis on a specific era in Archie history, the 12-cent period of the 1960s. Beaty dissects the denizens of Riverdale and all the trappings that made Archie / Pep / Laugh, etc. what they were - formulaic stories (sometimes with plots) drawn as diversions for a young readership. You'll learn more about Archie and the gang than ever realized and may come away realizing things you hadn't before - e.g. the progression of Archie comics through a changing decade, constant repetition of gags/tropes, etc.

Like the author, I grew up on comics like Archie, Richie Rich, and the like. I enjoyed reading about the comics from a scholarly perspective, particularly now with the recent attempts to reboot the brand.

2 Stars
Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes
Look Who's Back - Timur Vermes

Some spoilers below.

The premise of this book reads similar to another book, Taft 2012. In that story, Taft lies down on the White House lawn for a nap and wakes 100 years later, then runs for President again. I doubt many people remember Taft as history's greatest monster, though.

It starts the same here, one day Hitler wakes up fifty years after WWII in the middle of a German field. No idea how he got there, it's never really explored, but he's in a Germany full of Starbucks and iPhones. He hasn't changed, but the world has, and people view his ideals and rants as antiquated humor rather than take it seriously. Not unlike the progression of "Being There," he ends up on TV and becomes a viral sensation.

This is a satire, although at times I wondered about the actual target. Hitler returns to the world thinking he can start over and motivate Germany toward his ideals, while the people around him take his every word as method acting. Some reviewers here have accused the author of trying to make Hitler "likable", but if you read the book you find he isn't. There is only one moment in the book where you think he has compassion for a Jewish person, but he eventually rationalizes that fleeting moment when it's learned the person has a Jewish ancestor and may not be fully Jewish.

The people around him may show sympathy toward him, and in the end you presume they think he's deluded and convinced himself he *is* Hitler. I don't think anybody truly likes the man - they like what they perceive he provides: entertainment and buffoonery, and ultimately money for themselves.

I didn't find this brilliant satire. I think it lacks something from being told entirely through Hitler's POV. The people around him - the showrunners, the press, etc., come off as two-dimensional, but in the end perhaps that is the point. I also didn't like the ending. You would expect some kind of comeuppance but it doesn't happen. The end gives the feeling Hitler will continue to live, unbeknownst to himself, as a satirist with people laughing at him rather than willing to take on his cause. It fizzles.

2 Stars
The Last Party by Anthony Haden-Guest
The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night - Anthony Haden-Guest

The Last Party was originally published in 1997. By coincidence, it came out around the same time filming of 54 with Michael Myers began, but one did not beget the other. I read the book when it first came out, and eighteen years later I'm transferring entries on my hand-written book log to Goodreads. Now, the log had four stars on this entry, but after some digging I found what I had written on Amazon all those years ago:

I admit it was the subject matter that prompted me to pick up this book, but I was disappointed. If anything, The Last Party is a much better chronicle of 54's history than that Michael Myers film, but it is essentially a slow-moving story.

That doesn't sound like a four-star review I'd write, so when I see Party has been re-released this year and slightly updated, I figure why not re-familiarize myself with the story and see if my opinion has changed. Journalist Haden-Guest (half-brother of Spinal Tap's Christopher) may be better known in some circles as a frequent guest, and while The Last Party chronicles the "Nightworld" as a whole - its early chapters a brief guide to popular discos of the time - it's clear in the 70s there was only place to party.

Party, though, isn't exclusive to Studio 54. Studio is perhaps the best known of the New York clubs that thrived in the brief disco era, but Haden-Guest touches on a myriad of imitators and (often unsuccessful) competitors. Party reads like a hybrid of micro-history and memoir, as Haden-Guest injects his personal experience in numerous vignettes within the book. It's a muddled story that plows through Studio 54, which enjoyed a life akin to a shooting star - an incredibly bright flame out and gradual fizzle into darkness. As you read a book like this, you might expect gossip to turn your hair white. You get snatches (heh) of it, but overall the book is a roll call of club promoters, developers, and people who are more New York/nightlife famous than world famous. There's a lot to muddle through and if you stick with Party you may ask yourself how a book about a place once considered the most exciting on the planet comes off so dull.

Yes, the slow-moving assessment remains. The book isn't much of a party for me, but you're into peeling back glitter for the seamy underbelly of nightlife you'll get more tales of creative accounting than blind item coke snorting here.