Tuesday, December 31, 2013

American Afterlife: Encounters in the Customs of Mourning - Review

American Afterlife: Encounters in the Customs of Mourning by Kate Sweeney

Rating:  5 Stars

Description:  Sweeney takes the reader through a tour of the history of mourning and funeral practices in the United States.  There are several interesting detours into the increase in cremation, memorial photography, roadside memorials, obituaries, and mourning clothes.  All the information is presented in a fascinating and logical manner.

Genre: Non-Fiction

My Impression:  I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book when I got it from Netgalley to review.  I've read a few books from medical examiners that talks about the body but this books talks specifically about how those remaining deal with death.  I was really surprised with how interesting and unusual the book was.  I kept reading bits of it aloud to those around me and mentioning it in conversation.  When you consider the topic of this book that's pretty impressive.  Sweeney presented a wide variety of information in a way that was both extremely informative and retainable.  I kind of feel like I'm an expert on funerary practices at the moment.  I'm not sure when that will come in handy but if you want to know the differences in handling grief over the last 100 years I'm your girl.  Sweeney is going on my short list of authors to keep an eye on.  If she managed to make the subject of death fascinating, non-morbid and non-judgmental she could probably make just about any subject fascinating.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Looking for Anne of Green Gables - Review

Looking for Anne of Green Gables by Irene Gammel

Rating: 1 Star

Description:  This book is supposed to be an in-depth look at both Montgomery herself and the people and events around her that influenced the writing of her most famous book Anne of Green Gables.

Genre: Non-Fiction

My Impression: I've read books where either the writing style or the subject matter didn't interest me. I've read books where the characters or their decisions irritated me.  Very rarely do I come across a book that I actually dislike intensely.  Unfortunately, Looking for Anne was on of those books but because I had read all of Montgomery's books this year I felt like I should finish it.  There were really 2 primary problems with the book.  The first is that I never warmed to Montgomery.  I've read her books since I was a child but never read much about the author herself other than the basic summary that is included in the back of the books.  I knew she had been raised by and then taken care strict elderly grandparents.  I knew she had married later in life.  However, it seems that Montgomery was stuck in a prolonged adolescent.  Her feelings were regularly gravely injured and she was jealous and clingy in the majority of her relationships.  How books like Rilla of Ingleside came from the person shown in journal entries is a mystery to me.  My second problem with this book is the basic writing style.  Several times throughout the book she halfway introduces someone and then says "We'll get back to them" but when the story comes around to them I only had about a half memory of who they were.  The book followed no logical layout and the overly dramatic style wasn't really held up by her discoveries.  The only good thing that resulted from this book is I now have zero interest in collecting Montgomery's journals.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Absolutely not

Would I Recommend this Book?: Again, absolutely not.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas on 4th Street - Review

Christmas on 4th Street by Susan Mallery

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  After surviving personal tragedy Noelle has come to Fool's Gold to start over.  She's opened her store The Christmas Attic and found friends and a community.  Gabriel has come to Fool's Gold to stay with his brother after an injury left Gabriel unable to work.  He's not looking forward to spending time with his somewhat estranged family so he when he hears Noelle is looking for help at the store he takes the job.  The usual romance story stuff follows

Genre:  Romance

My Impression:  My history with the Fool's Gold series is a little sketchy.  I liked the 1st book, only made it through 20 pages of book #2, liked books #3 and #4 with some pretty heavy reservations.  So when I saw this book on the new release shelf in the library I picked it up not quite knowing what to expect.  The story sounded interesting and Lisa had made it sound pretty good.  Also, I've always liked Mallery's writing style.  To my relief I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The story was sweet and I loved the main characters.  Noelle was tough and strong and very straightforward.  I loved how she dealt with Gabriel's withdrawing.  There were no games she just laid her opinion out on the table and was true to her feelings.  Fiona was a fun side character though I have very little interest in reading her story.  The part where they got snowed in with all the cats was pretty contrived but I did think the cat aspect was pretty funny.  I also enjoyed the side relationship between Gabriel and his parents.  This book provided good characters, a lovely setting and an entertaining plot.  What's not to love?

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes but I'm still going to be cautious about the Fool's Gold series

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Sunday, December 29, 2013

L.M. Montgomery Wrap Up

On December 26th I finished the last of L.M. Montgomery's 32 books.  I started the year of with the Story Girl in January and finished with At the Altar at the end of December.

Favorite Series: The Story Girl and The Golden Road.  This is the story of the King family and what the Disney series Avonlea was very loosely based on.  The characters are wonderful and flawed all at the same time.  The chapters of the first book use the title of the story that The Story Girl (otherwise known as Sara Stanley) tells during the chapter.  This is one of her best books and would be a fabulous read aloud book for a younger child.

Least Favorite Series: Pat of Silver Bush and Mistress Pat.  I disliked both of these books intensely.  The character development was minimal at best.  Nothing actually happened except Pat wandering around complaining about change way past the point of healthy.  I was very very glad this series only took 2 books.

Favorite Stand Alone Book: The Blue Castle.  The main character in this book is an adult which is nice.  I liked Valancy and I loved watching her find her own identity.

Favorite Short Story Collection: Against the Odds. While I loved most of the short story collections the story of people overcoming adversities and ending up with the happiness they needed was very nice to read.

Book I'm Most Likely to Recommend: Rilla of Ingleside.  To me this book provided a look at life on the home front during World War 1 which is very rare.  I sobbed like a baby through most of the book but there is an interesting developed story here that I think even many of the Anne books are missing.

Montgomery is still one of my favorite authors even though that Pat series almost made me through in the towel.  All the dreaminess can get tedious but that makes characters like Jane and Valancy from Jane of Lantern Hill and The Blue Castle respectively all the more refreshing.  For the most part all of her books and short stories are nice old fashioned stories where good hard working people are justly rewarded in the end.  While that might not be the most exciting praise it makes for some nice reading.

Deadly Ambitions - Review

Deadly Ambition by Laura Bradford

Rating: 3 Stars

Description:  After a hurricane devastates reporter Elise Burn's hometown, Ocean Point on the Jersey Shore, she has done her best to encourage small business owners to reopen.  This hits a snag when a string of burglaries hits a number of businesses right before they reopen. When robbery turns to murder and Elise's obnoxious intern Ryan is found at the scene Elise suddenly has her hands full.

Genre: Mystery

My Impression:  This is the first book I've read by Bradford and while it was obvious that there were books before this one they were not necessary to understand the plot of this entry.  I loved Elise.  Her doubts about being up to the task felt realistic but at the same time she was smart and very logical.  I liked that Mitch was willing to listen and didn't treat her like an idiot.  The mystery itself wrapped up nicely and while I had a few guesses about what the ending would be it wasn't extremely obvious.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes definitely

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reunion with Death - Review

Reunion with Death by Sheila Connolly

Rating: 3 Stars

Description:  Laura Shumway was excited to go on a 40th college reunion trip with 40 of her college classmates in Italy.  She was looking forward to doing something for herself,  seeing the sights of Italy that she had studied as an Art History major and reconnecting with old classmates.  A dead former professor really didn't play a role in her vision.  Especially when it turned out that the dead former professor had a very sleazy past and may have been helped to his death.

Genre: Mystery

My Impression:  Connolly is one of my absolute favorite mystery authors.  I love both her orchard and museum series and read them as soon as I get them.  This book didn't really live up to her other books.  The pacing of the book didn't really keep me turning pages.  The ending itself while it explained what happened wasn't particularly satisfying.  Also, with 40+ characters it was hard to keep everyone straight and really understand their motives.  On the plus side, I did like Laura and Cynthia and the way the handled the investigation did make sense.  I always hate when people who have no business asking questions go running around being extremely nosy and nobody really seems to blink.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I might recommend the series but I would definitely recommend the author.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Not at full price but definitely if available on a Daily Deal or through the library.

*I received the book through NetGalley for review purposes.

Friday, December 27, 2013

L.M. Montgomery Short Story Collection Part 4

 With this review I have accomplished one of my 2 challenges for 2013.  I wanted to read all of L.M. Montgomery's books in 1 year and I finished up the last short story collection last night!

Among the Shadows
Rating: 4 Stars
This collection focuses on Montgomery's darker stories.  Many have a supernatural element and several discuss alcoholism and the effects of the addiction.  This was one of my least favorites.  While I liked several of the stories some of the morals seemed very outdated and a few were just way too long.

Christmas with Anne
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a selection of short stories and 2 excerpts (one from Anne of Green Gables and the other from Anne of Windy Poplars) all involving Christmas both in time period and spirit.  This is a delightful Christmas-y book and I'll probably read it every year around this time.

At the Altar
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a fun little book containing stories that all involve a wedding or proposal. The main characters range from children to comfortable middle age.  There is also a mix between new loves and reuniting.  The stories are sweet, many are funny and all are just nice.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ramshackle Glam: The New Mom's Haphazard Guide to (Almost) Having It All - Review

Ramshackle Glam: The New Mom's Haphazard Guide to Almost Having It All by Jordan Reid

Rating:  4 Stars

Description:  The creator of the blog Ramshackle Glam put together this guide after her son was born.  In it are short chapters, many in list form, that detail everything from stuff you must absolutely have with a newborn down to clothing choices for actually leaving the house when the newborn is here.

Genre: Parenting

My Impression:  I've read a ton of the humorous type new parent guides. Some I love, some I didn't but Reid's book is a little different.  This is not really a parenting guide.  There are some parenting tips about things like traveling with a baby, but the focus of the book is about how to be a new mother.  There are sections that talk about how to get dressed quickly and look okay, a realistic makeup routine so you don't look like a zombie, how to readjust your vision of yourself from pre-baby to post-baby, how to hold onto what you enjoy pre-baby and make it work post-baby.  She genuinely loves her son and is genuinely happy in her life but does some pretty honest reflection of how she got there.  I took it as a good sign that 20 pages into the book I looked up her blog and added it to my feedly list!  Jordan comes off as more real than most books of this type do.  This would be a great book for an expecting mother or even one with a newborn.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Monday, December 23, 2013

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy - Review

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Rating:  4 Stars

Description:  Ophelia is a small girl with bad asthma who is trying to recover from the death of her beloved mother.  When her father gets a job curating an exhibit on swords in a town faraway where it always snows he takes Ophelia and her sister with him to distract them.  It is at the museum that Ophelia meets the Marvelous Boy and had to save the world.

Genre: Children's Literature

My Impression:  I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure story from Foxlee.  Ophelia is a tough logical little girl who has doubts about the whole magic thing.  She handles her adventures pretty nonchalantly and always uses her brain.  There were a few pretty obvious points that probably would've been figured out quicker in an adult book but I thought the speed was just about right for children.  This would be a wonderful book for anyone who loves the Narnia books.  In my opinion it's geared for a younger crowd than Percy Jackson or Harry Potter.  I would think a 2nd or 3rd grader would enjoy it and it would be a good read aloud book for even younger.  There is some pretty dark imagery but it's not heavily focused on.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes Definitely!

*Received from NetGalley for review purposes

Saturday, December 21, 2013

L.M. Montgomery's Short Story Collection Part 3

The third review of Montgomery's short story collections is about Along the ShoreAkin to Anne and The Road to Yesterday.                                                                                                                                                                                         I rated all 5 stars.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Along the Shore consists of a collection of short stories involving the sea.  This is probably one of Montgomery's darkest collections. There are a few that have tragic endings such as a "The Waking of Helen" and "Mackereling Out in the Gulf".  Some are about people overcoming odds or reuniting with old loves and a two are pretty much copied straight out of the Anne books.                                                                                                                                                                                                 Akin to Anne is her shortest collection and one of my favorites.  Most of are over the top sweet with people being reunited with long lost relatives or family friends.  Most involve a substantial increase in fortune but of course that's not the most important thing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Road to Yesterday  is kind of the last of the Anne books.  All have some mention of the Blythe family and in some Anne has a starring role.  I loved the ones that were set years after the Anne books ended and dealt with Anne's grandchildren.  How perfect that Jem and Faith names a child after Walter and that Rilla and Kenneth had a son named Gilbert.  It was a lovely way to check in on the family and the stories were fun on their own as well.                                                                   

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Mysteries by MacLeod, Sanders, et.al - Review

Christmas Mysteries by Various Authors

Rating: 3 Stars

Description: This is a collection of 13 stories - 10 Christmas and 3 New Year's - from a large selection of authors.  Some are classic mystery writers and some are much newer.  Most are American but a few are British.  All take place around Christmas/New Year's though most have very little to do with the actual holiday.

My Impression: These were excerpts and not short stories so there was no complete plot with the exception of the Charlotte MacLeod story.  It was a nice way to get to know a number of different authors.  I've been a long time fan of Patricia Wentworth and Dorothy Sayers but it's been years since I read Charlotte MacLeod so it was nice to be reminded of her.  I will probably also be searching out other books from Jane Langton and Gillian White.  I did not care for Ellery Queen or Lawrence Sanders though.

*This book was obtained free from Netgalley for review purposes.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

College Cooks by T.C. Stephens - Review

College Cooks by T.C. Stephens

Rating: 3 Stars

Description: This cookbook was written by 4 roommates whose food knowledge, cooking and grocery shopping abilities had evolved during their years at college.  This is a compilation of everything they've learned.  There is a mix of food basics, food safety, how to grocery shop with a good number of basic recipes.

Genre - Cookbook

My Impression: I'm a pretty experienced cook now but at 22 I could just barely boil water.  Even now there are basics I'm completely missing because I'm completely self taught and no one ever told me how to fry an egg.  This cookbook is definitely not designed for me now but the 22 year old me would've benefited from this book immensely.  The recipes are fine - there's a mix of pasta, sandwiches, salad, main dishes, side dishes and desserts.  Some involve more prepared food than others.  Most look pretty good but they're not ground breaking.  The part that I really found interesting were the sections on food safety and things to stock up on.  I also like that before many of the food sections they break down the basics of that item.  Before the salad recipes they talk about the basics of building a salad, before the breakfast recipes they talk about all the different ways to cook an egg and give instructions.  There are also lots of tips sprinkled throughout for things like how to substitutions (for example substituting frozen shrimp for fresh) that would be useful.  This is not a book designed  for the experienced cook but for someone just out on their own this would be great.

Would I Recommend This Book?:  Yes definitely. This may be part of what I give my kids after they graduate from college.

*This book was received from Netgalley for review purposes.

Is a Worry Worrying You? by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz with Illustrations by Marie LeTourneau - Review

Is A Worry Worrying You? By Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz with Illustrations by Marie LeTourneau

Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Is a Worry Worrying You? is a book designed to help children deal with worry.  Most of the book presents outlandish problems ("Suppose a bald eagle makes a nest in your tangled hair", "You find out that your new teacher is a bear") and a few more realistic problems (a friend skins her knees and is afraid she can't go to a party, your uncle who has a scary voice is coming to visit).  After presenting the problem there is an acknowledgement that this is a worry and a solution is presented. The last few pages are different methods you can use to get rid of any worry and ends with an encouragement.

Genre: Children's

My Impressions: This book is geared towards the early elementary crowd.  I'm not sure my 3 year old would get much out of it and the pictures may be a little dark for him.  That being said I think this would be a really great book if you have a 5 to 8 year old who spends too much time getting caught up in worries.  This would've been a great book for my daughter at that age.  I like the mix of silly and solutions and I think it could be something you could reference when talking with a child after you had read the book.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, to anyone with a child who gets overly stressed or upset about little things.  It'd be good perspective.

*This book was received from Netgalley for review purposes.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It Had to Be You by Jill Shalvis - Review

It Had to Be You by Jill Shalvis

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  Things are going from bad to much much worse for florist, Ali Winters.  First she discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her, then she finds out via text message that he is dumping her and that he didn't renew the lease on their shared house so she needs to be out yesterday, then the actual owner of said house shows up and catches her in a somewhat embarrassing situation and then now ex-boyfriend shows up with the police and accuses her of stealing $50,000 from a fundraiser.
The owner of the house, Luke Hanover, isn't having a great day either.  He's fled San Francisco to the house his grandmother left him in Lucky Harbor to get away from the guilt and media attention after a high profile homicide case went horribly wrong.  He's really not looking to face his family demons and he's definitely not looking to get involved with cute but chaotic Ali Winters.

Genre: Romance

My Impression:  This series seems to actually be getting better with time.  I loved all the characters.  Ali was cute, friendly and smart.  She had her baggage but she genuinely tries to make the best of things.  Luke feels that he has let everyone in his life down and while it's not true it's reasonable that he would feel this way. The only negative is that I thought Sawyer, who was a main character in book #3, kind of looks like a jerk.  This was disappointing because I had really liked him.  Shalvis does a good job of making this feel like a series without having to have the walk through of every character who ever appeared in past books.  The characters that are mentioned have a logical reason for being in the story and don't just weight it down with an over-large and confusing cast list.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Yes!  The next one's about a pastry chef and is already on my bookshelf waiting for me.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Coming Home by Mariah Stewart - Review

Coming Home by Mariah Stewart

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  This is the first book in the Chesapeake Diaries series.  Vanessa and Grady both have rocky pasts and prefer to stay unattached. However, when her brother marries his sister in the idyllic little coastal Maryland town of St. Dennis they find themselves spending a lot of time together and actually liking it.  When Vanessa's demons come back for a visit Grady must reevaluate the decisions he's made for is future.

Genre: Romantic Suspense

My Impression:  When I ordered this book from Paperback Swap the sender contacted me to recommend that I order the rest of the series too and I'm glad I did!  I've read quite a bit of Stewart's books in the past ane always enjoyed them. This is a little heavier on the romance with a lighter touch of supense then previous books which I didn't find a bad thing.  I loved the main characters and the side characters and am really looking forward to reading the rest of the series.  The main negative with this book is that Grady is a member of the family that Stewart's Last series focused on.  While I read all of the Last books it's been awhile and I don't remember all of the characters.  I spent more of the book than I wanted to trying to remember how Grady's brother met his wife and so on.  I"m really looking forward to reading the next one in the series and I'm very glad I have the next 4 sitting there waiting for me.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes definitely!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes especially for those who like a small town/community feel

Monday, December 9, 2013

December TBR Pile

So I have 18 books to read this December.  It's not impossible but it definitely could be better.  I will definitely need to manage my time better next year.  So this is what I'll be reading by December 31st to make my goal of 130 books in 2013.

1.  Akin to Anne
2.  Road to Yesterday
3.  Along the Shore
4.  Among the Shadows
5.  At the Altar
6.  Christmas with Anne
7.  Looking for Anne of Green Gables - Irene Gammel
8.  Coming Home - Mariah Stewart
9.  Slices of Life - Leah Eskin
10. Christmas Mysteries: A Sampler - Various
11. It Had to Be You - Jill Shalvis
12.  Reunion with Death - Sheila Connolly
13.  Ramshackle Glam - Jordan Reid
14.  Deadly Ambition - Laura Bradley

So far I've read #1 and #8.  I'm at least 50 pages into #2, #7, #9, and #11.  It's really a good thing that TV is going to mostly reruns and Christmas specials because I can get a little more reading done in the evening.  The last week of December may be a mad dash but I'm quite sure I'll get them all read!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

November TBR Wrap Up

So at the beginning of this month I said that if I didn't get all 15 books read December was going to be crazy.  I got 11 read... That leaves 18 books to read before I can reach my goal of 130 for the year.  6 of those are short story collections but it's still going to be busy.

What I Read in November:
1.  Chronicles of Avonlea
2.  Further Chronicles of Avonlea
3.  Against the Odds
4. After Many Days
5. The Doctor's Sweetheart
6.  Across the Miles
7.  What a Ghoul Wants - Victoria Laurie
8.  Crystal Cove - Lisa Kleypas
9.  A Night to Surrender - Tessa Dara
10.  Fire Engine Dead - Sheila Connolly
11.  Book Line and Sinker - Jenn McKinlay
12.  ?
13.  ?
14.  ?
15.  ?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Book, Line and Sinker by Jenn McKinlay - Review

Book, Line and Sinker by Jenn McKinlay

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  In this 3rd entry in McKinlay's library series treasure hunters have come to Briar Creek, Connecticut.  The town is divided between wanting the jobs and tourists that unearthing pirate treasure could provide and wanting to maintain the pristine environment on the surrounding islands.  When the Tourism Director and driving force in getting the treasure hunters to come to Briar Creek is found dead suspicion is everywhere.  Lindsey Norris, the local librarian, has enough on her hands with all this chaos plus regular library business when her ex-fiance shows up in town to try and get back together.

Genre: Mystery

My Impression:  I love this series and this book was as enjoyable as could be expected.  This is in the cozy mystery genre so there are some plot holes and the ending was a little rushed.  One thing I like is that Lindsey is neither completely perfect or the expert on everything but also isn't so hung up on flaws or issues she can't see anything else which so often happens in this type of book.  I didn't love the ending with Sully but I suspect it will all get worked out in the next book.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes.  I'm on the waiting list for the next book in this series and I have most of her cupcake series waiting for me.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare - Review

A Night To Surrender by Tessa Dare

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  Susanna is none to thrilled when wounded soldier, Victor Bramwell, and several of his men come marching into the sanctuary for ladies known as Spindle Cove.  She is even less thrilled when her father announces that Bramwell is the new Earl of Rycliff and will be staying in town to assemble a militia with all the men in town.  For his part Bramwell just wants to get back to the battlefield and hopes that winning over Susanna's father will be a stepping stone to that.  However, he can't help but be attracted to the smart and spirited Susanna.  Things get interesting when they end up having to work together for the good of the town and possibly themselves.

Genre: Romance

My Impression:  This was a new author for me and I was pretty impressed with Dare's characters.  Susanna is smart and able to speak her mind without being over-prickly or sensitive.  She has her issues but hasn't let them take over her life.  Bramwell impressed me a little less.  He was obsessed with getting back on the battlefield to the point of letting it overtake almost everything else.  It kind of became all there was of his character.  He wanted to get back to active fighting and oh yeah he thought Susanna was attracted.  I loved how the story worked out and really believe these two could get their HEA.  I'm also excited about how Spindle Cove is set up.  I'm looking forward to spending more time in the town and with the interesting characters that Dare has come up with.  Also, I LOVED beyond reason that Bramwell ended up with a lamb called Dinner.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Christmas to Remember by Jill Shalvis et. al. - Review

A Christmas to Remember by Jill Shalvis, Kristen Ashley, Hope Ramsay, Molly Cannon, Marilyn Pappano

Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: Romance

Summary: This is a collection of 5 short stories followed by excerpts from each author's latest book.

Jill Shalvis's story is entitled "Dream a Little Dream" this story is about Ian, a fire fighter, and his long term friend/friend with benefits Melissa.  Ian and Melissa had recently ended whatever relationship they had but that didn't matter when Melissa's apartment building goes up in flames with her inside it.  Can this damaged couple find their way back together and rediscover their joy in the season?

Kristen Ashley's story "Every Year" involves 2 brothers, Shy and Landon, who are spending their first really good Christmas with Shy's girlfriend's family.

Hope Ramsay tell the story of a mother and infant in very desperate circumstances who end up in just the right barn on Christmas Eve in "Silent Night"

Molly Cannon starts off with a professional organizer turning up on the doorstep of a not so organized single guy in "Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas."

The collection wraps up with Marilyn Pappano's "A Family for Christmas" which tells the story of a doctor who has agreed to spend 2 years in a small town and finds himself spending a lot of time with the town's favorite elf Ilena and her little boy.

My Impression:  I probably liked Shalvis's story the best of the 5.  I thought she made a smart decision in writing about a couple that already had history.  I liked that they each had something to give each other and that they had so much of a backstory.  The stories by Cannon, Ramsay and Pappano were all good but involved strangers meeting and falling madly and permanently in love in a very short period of time.  This is something I really dislike in most romance short stories.  Despite that, these were 3 entertaining and Christmas-y stories.  I especially like the story by Pappano which is set in a small town full of likable people.  I can easily see several books coming from the "Margarita girls" that get mentioned in the book.  I'm definitely going to hunt more of her books up.  The main flaw in this series was Ashley's story.  I'm really not sure what it was really about and to be honest nothing about it interested me enough to reread it to figure it out.  It involved a large family that all had an assortment of nicknames and 2 brothers who hadn't come from good situations.  I think this is a continuation of one of her full length books but nothing about the story made me want to read any more of Ashley's work.

*I received this book through Netgalley for review purposes.

Fire Engine Dead by Sheila Connolly - Review

Fire Engine Dead by Sheila Connolly

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  In an ironic twist the storage building containing the Fire Museum's collection burn.  Included in the collection was an antique fire engine donated by the grandfather of one of the biggest donors to the Philadelphia Antiquarian Society.  When the donor demands Nell look into the what happened to the fire engine Nell can't really say no.  It quickly becomes apparent that things aren't quite as they seem.

Genre: Mystery

My Impression:  I always enjoy Connolly's writing and her museum series is no different.  I get a little extra fun out of this series because I worked at a museum for 7 years and the discussions of staffing, funding and collection worries is very familiar.  The mystery is the central issue of the book but there is some space given to Nell's dealing with her staff and new hires and her developing (slowly) relationship with FBI agent James.  The mystery came to a satisfactory conclusion though it did feel a little rushed.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Yes, the author and series are some of my favorites

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas - Review

Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas

Rating: 2 Stars

Description:  Justine has found happiness running a small inn on Friday Harbor but relationships just don't seem to work out for her.  When she falls back on her hereditary witchcraft to help her find love she learns that she has been cursed.  Jason Black has built an gaming empire while managing to stay almost completely out of the public eye.  He discovered years earlier that he has no soul.  When he and Justine meet while Jason is staying at the inn sparks fly but is it possible for anything else to happen?

Genre:  Romance

My Impression:  This was by far the most disappointing book of November.  I have loved the previous 3 books of this series and while the description didn't really grab me I had no hesitation about reading it.  Justine had been a fairly big character in books #2 and #3 and I had really liked her.  She was smart and a bit cynical while still retaining a sense of humor and was basically a nice person.  I don't know what happened to her because in book 4 she was oversensitive and spineless and spent most of her time blushing hotly.  Jason was extremely reserved and very very controlling.  He pretty much treated Justine like a helpless child from the beginning and she was okay with it.  There was a very strong 50 Shades of Grey feel to this book complete with an odd and out of character bondage scene.  It also contained one of my least favorite plot devices - the hidden agenda.  Kleypas's books are usually my favorites but this one I could hardly finish.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Yes.  With the exception of this book Kleypas has been one of the most consistent authors I've read and I've loved the series up until now.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  No not at all.

Monday, December 2, 2013

L.M. Montgomery Short Story Collection Part 2

After Many Days - this is one of the first short story collections from Montgomery that I ever read.  All the stories revolve around time passing.  Sometimes they're children adopted or otherwise or siblings coming back after making good.  Sometimes they're couples being reunited after a long period of time.

Across the Miles - these stories all involve letters. There are several involving pen pal type relationships, one or two that involve letters from the past and at least one that has someone switching letters so that people don't necessarily get letters they're supposed to get but do get the one that they need to get.

Both of these collections were sweet and old fashioned.  While they're not necessarily fine literature they are a fun break and I thoroughly enjoyed both books.  I gave each of them 5 star ratings.

The Doctor's Sweetheart is a little different.  There is no theme to the stories and the title comes from one of the longer stories in the collection.  This feels like where the editor decided to put all the stories that didn't fit into the other books.  Unfortunately, many of these were stories written very early in her career and they were a bit slow going.  While I didn't dislike the stories I definitely didn't get the same level of enjoyment out of this one.  I ended up rating it 3 stars.