Sunday, November 29, 2015

Review: Once Upon a Christmas Kiss by Manda Collins

I enjoyed this book. Nice, quick holiday romance. For some reason I tend to really like Christmas historicals - something about the big house party, the fancy clothes and food and it all seems so grand and formal. Makes modern day Christmas seem a little blah.

I like that in this story, the couple had a bit of history and were previously attracted to each other - not a case of "oh, I just met you, now will you marry me." Lucien already had his eye on Winifred when she asks if he'll pretend to be her fiance to protect her from a man who previously threatened her. Lucien agrees, on the condition that she'll at least consider taking the proposal seriously.

There's a bit of a mystery, as several people seem angered by Winifred's presence at the party. Lots of single ladies hoping for a chance with Sir Lucien and they don't this Winifred is of the proper social class for a man like him. But with Lucien's protection, Winifred is never really in any danger. I liked these characters a lot. Winifred is strong and not afraid to speak her mind. I'm especially a fan of the big, strong guy, who isn't a jerk and respects women.

Very nice story. Will be looking to read more by this author. Also, beautiful cover. That's what first drew me to the book.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Review: Make a Christmas Wish by Julia Williams

This book is sort of twist on Christmas Carol or a reverse It's a Wonderful Life.

The main character, Livvy, is dead. She died one Christmas in a parking lot after sending her husband an angry text letting him know she hated him after she learned he was having an affair.

At first you may be tempted to feel sorry for Livvy, neglected wife who works so hard to care for her autistic son. But as she goes about haunting her husband and attempting to make life miserable for him and his new girlfriend (same woman he was cheating with while married to Livvy) it becomes clear that Livvy was kind of a nightmare to live with. A mean alcoholic. She wasn't nearly as great of a mother as she seemed to think she was she was an even worse wife.

Livvy is informed by her guide in the after life - a black cat - that she has to make things right before she can move on. In her mind, making things right means continuing to make her husband miserable. But as she begins to see her past actions she gradually realizes it's time she shoulders some of the blame for her failed marriage.

I'm not sure how I felt about this story. It held my interest, but I don't feel like I enjoyed it very much. I didn't like any of the characters. I felt bad for a few of them, I completed disliked Livvy. And I felt like a lot of the story involving the after life was confusing. The parts involving the medium and the underground club got a little too weird.

When I picked this up, I was hoping for a good ghost story, but this wasn't it. The book didn't leave me feeling enlightened or entertained. There was very little joy in this story. I think holiday stories should be a little more heartwarming or even heartbreaking. This was neither. This may appeal more to people with families and children, as a big part of the story was Livvy's connection with her son - and I'm not one of those people.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review: Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan

I loved this book, absolutely loved it!

Maybe This Christmas is Tyler O'Neil's story. He's a former competitive skier, now at home helping run the family resort in Vermont following an injury that ended his career. He also now has custody of his teenage daughter, Jess, being that her mother has started a new family.

This is also Brenna's story. Brenna has been close to the O'Neil family her whole life. Now she works at the resort, working closely with Tyler as one of the ski instructors. And she's been in love with Tyler her whole life. After confessing this to her friends, they attempt to help her out, by forcing her out of her cabin at the resort (they're completely booked, they need the room) and into Tyler's house.

Her friends feel hopeful that if the two could just find themselves in the right situation, the inevitable will happen, and for the most part they're right.  Also helps that Tyler's daughter is trying to play matchmaker.

I enjoyed the way the relationship developed between the two characters. While Brenna always knew she loved Tyler, Tyler never wanted to damage his relationship with her and forced himself to view her only as a friend. But all along, he knew he thought of her as more than that, he was protective of her and he never got involved with women in a way that was meant to last, so of course he would never put Brenna in that position. Now though, with all these added responsibilities of caring for his daughter and working for his family, he's realizing it's time to grow up.

This book, as well as the others in this trilogy, makes me wish I could spend my holidays on a resort in Vermont in a log cabin with a big family - and I hate snow and big families, that's how well these stories are told. I love all the characters and the setting and romance is so great. Plenty of emotion and heart ache and happiness, as well as being very sexy.

Last year, one of my favorite holiday reads was Sarah Morgan's Sleigh Bells in the Snow. That's the first in the O'Neil Brothers trilogy, and I was glad to see plenty of that couple mentioned in this book. Because I liked that book so much, I was tempted to go ahead and read Maybe This Christmas last year also, but it's the third book in the trilogy and I felt I should read the second book in the series first - which was called Suddenly Last Summer. Didn't seem like something I wanted to read in December or January. So I read it this summer, and Maybe This Christmas was my first holiday read of the season.  (If you find yourself in a similar situation, it isn't necessary to read the second book before reading the third. The couple from that book are barely mentioned in the third book. If you want some really great holiday romances, go ahead and get yourself Sleigh Bells in the Snow and Maybe This Christmas - you will be glad you did.)

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Review: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

I had no idea what this book was about when I started it. Was not at all what I was expecting.

Following a nuclear meltdown, which kills both of her parents who worked at the nuclear plant, Emily Shepard is on the run. She feels that she has no where to go because people blame her parents for what happened.

Her life is horrible. The things she does to survive are so disturbing. But Emily is tough. She figures out how to get by, no matter the circumstances.  Her behavior is frighteningly self destructive until she takes in a homeless boy named Cameron. She realizes she has to get her act together in order to take care of him.

I liked this book. It's dark, but not nearly as dark as it could have been or I thought it was going to end up being. There's hope at the end.

This author wrote one of my favorite books, Midwives, which is why I wanted to read this. I'm glad I did read it.

I find myself wanting to recommend this book to my high school students. I think it's something a few of them would like a lot. It has a hint of dystopia, but set very much in the current world.

The audio version of this is really good also. It's read by the author's daughter, and he says he thought of her as her wrote the story - but also that there were parts of the story that he couldn't hear his daughter read because of the events happening in the book to the character.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.