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Review – Hello Stranger – Lisa Kleypas

Hello Stranger
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Series: #4 in the Ravenels
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by the Publisher

Description:
A woman who defies her time
Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.

A man who breaks every rule
As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett’s skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he’s ever known.

Review:
I’ve been reading Lisa Kleypas since almost before I could remember reading romance – i’m pretty sure that she was one of the first ten romance authors that I read as a teenager (along with Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood, LaVyrle Spencer and Jude Deveraux…yeah, i can actually remember the names of the authors that sparked my love of romance). And to this day, she is still one of my go-to authors when I need a solid read – I’ll admit that I’ve had my highs and lows with some of her more recent books, but since Garrett was introduced in Marrying Winterbourne – I knew her book was going to be a roller-coaster of emotions. I’ve also had a total girl crush on Ethan from the get-go. I love that unlike many of her other books, both individuals in this pairing were lower-class (or rather for the most part they were). It was nice seeing how the other side lived during the late 1800’s – so often it is just glazed over in books and forgotten about it.

There were so many different facets to Garrett that the author developed – not only was she the first female physician and all that entailed, but she was willing to go above and beyond her calling to help people by volunteering to help others in need – which ironically is how she and Ethan first got to know each other several books ago. There were several scenes in Hello Stranger where Garrett was learning how to fence in an effort to be able to protect herself, which of course, Ethan was able to come to the rescue and fix because she had learnt very proper and not how a fight would go down in real life. The strong man to the rescue trope is pretty common in most historical romances and honestly, for this was it was a bit grating – i really wanted Garrett to not need to be rescued and to do the rescuing (which she also did)…I dunno – I think that was the one element that I struggled with the most.

Ethan’s portion of the storyline was kind of obvious and I had pretty much figure out what was going to happen – i’m not saying that this is bad, but it wasn’t as engaging as previous books – i love Garrett and Ethan but Hello Stranger just didn’t quite have all the entire magic that I was hoping for – but it was still a solid read that I gave 3.5 stars to. I’m intrigued to see where Ms Kleypas goes with the next book in the series – it must almost be time for West to get his HEA.


About Lisa:
New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas graduated from Wellesley College with a political science degree. She is a RITA award winning author of both historical romance and contemporary women’s fiction. Her novels are published in fourteen different languages and are bestsellers all over the world. She lives in Washington State with her husband Gregory and their two children.

Connect with Lisa:
Facebook: @LisaKleypas
Twitter: @LisaKleypas
Instagram: @lisakleypas

BUY LINKS for HELLO STRANGER:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mGsuAd
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/2mRfLvD
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2EQPLH5
Books-A-Million: http://bit.ly/2BckeNI
iBooks: https://apple.co/2DJ339o
GooglePlay: http://bit.ly/2rjQ37l

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2018 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Scent of the Missing – Susannah Charleston

Scent of the Missing
Author: Susannah Charleston
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, Susannah Charleson clipped a photo from the newspaper of an exhausted canine handler, face buried in the fur of his search-and-rescue dog. A dog lover and pilot with search experience herself, Susannah was so moved by the image that she decided to volunteer with a local canine team and soon discovered firsthand the long hours, nonexistent pay, and often heart-wrenching results they face. Once she qualified to train a dog of her own, she adopted Puzzle, a strong, bright Golden Retriever puppy who exhibited unique aptitudes as a working dog but who was less interested in the role of compliant house pet. Scent of the Missing is the story of Susannah and Puzzle’s adventures as they search for the missing lost teen, an Alzheimer’s patient wandering in the cold, signs of the crew amid the debris of the space shuttle Columbia disaster and unravel the mystery of the bond between humans and dogs.

Review:
I’m a TV crime show buff – most of the time if you check out my recent shows on Hulu, you will see things like Law and Order, Blue Bloods or Chicago PD in my recently viewed shows. Ocassionally, i’ll be watching one of these shows and i’ll see a peak of people working a crime scene and cadaver dogs searching for bodies at the potential dump site for a serial killer. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of search dogs and when Scent of the Missing popped up as a potential book for a reading challenge, I opted to read it and find out just a bit more.

Scent of the Missing intertwines chapters of training scenarios where the author worked as a volunteer with chapters dedicated to the training of a Search and Rescue dog – specific for this book, a Golden Retriever called Puzzle (or Puzz as she is referred to throughout). I have to admit that I was surprised by the amount of training that it took to ensure that a dog was fully qualified. I mean I knew that you didn’t just get a dog one day and they were qualified as a search dog the next – but the evolution of a search dog from a puppy (Susannah got Puzzle from a breeder when she was 8 weeks old and had been involved with selecting the right puppy before they were even available to take home) to a fully qualified dog around 2 years of age (when Puzzle finished her official certification).

I thought that the author did a good job balancing real life searches where she provided support to other handler’s and their dogs with the training that she was going through with Puzzle (oftentimes at the same time). I found her volunteering to be a victim as part of training scenarios to be intriguing and something that I would love to potentially do in the future (or the same could be said for volunteering in mass casualty training scenarios). ultimately, I gave Scent of the Missing 3.5 stars because it was a solid enjoyable read, but didn’t completely blow me away. I also didn’t find myself too emotionally invested in any of the searches (as I have found myself in other non-fiction books).

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2018 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Christmas at the Candied Apple Cafe – Katherine Garbera

Christmas at the Candied Apple Café
Author: Katherine Garbera
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Author via NetGalley

Description:
There’s nothing so magical as Christmas in New York…
Santa is coming to New York!
Snow is falling, excitement is high and the delicious scent of chocolate drifts along Fifth Avenue – the Candied Apple Café is ready for Christmas! And no one is busier than publicist Iona Summerlin. With so much to do, she doesn’t have time to think about men, dating, or the fact her last boyfriend ditched her for her brother… Relationships are off the menu!
Hotel boss Mads Eriksson is not looking forward to the first Christmas since losing his wife. His six-year-old daughter Sofia has lost her belief in Christmas magic along with her mother, and he has no idea what to do. But an unusually festive business meeting at the Candied Apple – and meeting the beautiful Iona – starts to defrost Mads’ frozen heart, and suddenly life seems full of light and sparkle again.
If only they dare to believe, maybe all their Christmas dreams will come true!

Review:
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…well, kinda sorta…at least the weather has started to cool down a bit (I even woke up to frost on the car earlier this week) – normally, I would wait until December to start digging into Christmas romances – but when I was offered the chance to review Christmas at the Candied Apple Café, I was intrigued by the description (as well as the whimsy of the cover) – that I said yes. It has also been a while since I’ve read anything written by Ms Garbara (like probably close to 8years), so seeing how her writing style has evolved over time was an added bonus.

Like the cover, there was something whimsical about Christmas at the Candied Apple Café – it was a story about learning to love again and moving on, to making new memories (and add in a nice bonus of a story that revolves around chocolate…which if anyone knows me knows I heartily subscribe to that lifestyle choice). While Iona wasn’t the chocolatier, she was the publicist responsible for a rather popular chocolate store who is being courted by the hero, Mads Eriksson, to be a unique store in his hotel chain. But it was Mads daughter who won me over in the writing of the story. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for books that feature kids (especially if they are key to the story) and Sofia was an adorable, yet precocious little girl. I just wanted to have her jump off the page, so that I could give her a hug and read her a story, but alas….

The romance between Iona and Mads wasn’t anything that blew me away – it just had a nice steady development with a bit of a flash and bang at a few different spots. I was honestly more interested in both Mads relationship with his daughter and how he was going to get past a recently suffered tragedy to love again. Christmas at the Candied Apple Café was just a comfortable read – the kind of book that I would read on a snowy day, snuggled up unti a blanket on the couch with the dog warming my feet. I’d give Christmas at the Candied Apple Café 3.5 stars and a recommendation for anyone looking for a cute Christmas romance.

About Katherine Garbera:
Katherine Garbera is the USA Today best-selling author of more than 90 books. A Florida native who grew up to travel the globe, Katherine makes her home in the Midlands of the UK with her husband, two children and a very spoiled miniature Dachshund.

Katherine on Social Media:
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Posted by on November 16, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Dear Fahrenheit 451 – Annie Spence

Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break-Up Notes to the Books in Her Life
Author: Annie Spence
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Librarians spend their lives weeding–not weeds but books! Books that have reached the end of their shelf life, both literally and figuratively. They remove the books that patrons no longer check out. And they put back the books they treasure. Annie Spence, who has a decade of experience as a Midwestern librarian, does this not only at her Michigan library but also at home, for her neighbors, at cocktail parties—everywhere. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, she addresses those books directly. We read her love letters to The Goldfinch and Matilda, as well as her snarky break-ups with Fifty Shades of Grey and Dear John. Her notes to The Virgin Suicides and The Time Traveler’s Wife feel like classics, sure to strike a powerful chord with readers. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from women’s psychology to gay culture to health to poverty to childhood aspirations. Hilarious, compassionate, and wise, Dear Fahrenheit 451 is the consummate book-lover’s birthday present, stocking stuffer, holiday gift, and all-purpose humor book.

Review:
If I could pick any job when I grow up (or rather when I finally admit I have to grow up), it would be to either a) own my own bookstore (focusing solely on romances) or b) become a librarian. I’ve been exceptionally lucky to have awesome librarians in my life over the years who cemented my love of reading and after reading Dear Fahrenheit 451, I would add Annie Spence to a list of virtual/written librarians who have influenced me.

The premise of Dear Fahrenheit 451 is simple – its love (or break up) letters to various books that she has encountered over the years. The books she has written letters to run from children’s classics like The Giving Tree to Matilda; from Twilight to Fifty Shades of Grey (and the fabulous line – you made me say “erotica” to an old lady” and To Kill A Mockingbird to the title book, Fahrenheit 451. Some of the letters are short and others longer – it made for a quick and easy read while I was catching the short commuter bus that took me from the parking lot to my work building for several days (yeah, I can be kind of lazy at times and its getting cold). Several of her letters really made me stop and think about books that had influenced my life and how I would write letters to them if given the opportunity.

While many of the books were fairly commonplace ones that many readers would recognize, there were also some complete left-field books – that kind of made me scratch my head and think, someone actually wrote a book about this – such as “Pictorial Anatomy of a Cat” or “Cult of the Born-Again Virgin” – not diminishing the books themselves (ok well actually maybe I am), but…umm, yeah – I got nothing…kind of makes me wonder what is lost in the shelves at my local library – those books that may not have seen daylight in years and where do they go when the library decides they are no longer worth keeping (i’m guessing to our Friends of the Library sale to go to another home).

While I’m not sure I’ll ever start writing love letters to books – although after reading this, I feel like I should pay more attention to how books make me feel; what kind of feelings or memories do they invoke. I do know that if I were to do something similar to this, that the first book(s) that I would probably mention would be The Babysitter’s Club books – as a 7 year old, I got a box set of the first 6 and devoured them; and then secondly, the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – my first foray into Fantasy (although it wasn’t until I reread as an adult that I picked up on all the Christian allegory). It was because of all these reasons, that I give Dear Fahrenheit 451 4 stars

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Caroline – Sarah Miller

Caroline
Author: Sarah Miller
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls and her family leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the warm bosom of her family, for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Packing what they can carry in their wagon, Caroline, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril.

The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters. But Caroline’s new world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles’ hands into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses.

Review:
I find that I’m struggling to write this review, because I went into Caroline: Little House Revisted fully expecting to love it and honestly, I’m left feeling empty. Its not that Ms Miller isn’t a good writer or that I wasn’t engaged…its just that I felt like there wasn’t really anything new or groundbreaking that was added in the alternate POV telling of Little House. Now admittedly, I probably re-read Little House on the Prairie every couple of years (in fact, probably the whole series), so I’m well versed with the story and maybe that is why I am kind of disappointed. So much of the story was retelling of the same events that occurred in Little House on the Prairie from Caroline’s point of view, but I never really felt like I got to know her, more than who she was beyond Ma (athough I’m sure other readers will disagree with me).

Caroline starts off as Ma, Pa, Mary and Laura are getting ready to leave Wisconsin (Little House in the Big Woods) for Indian territory (aka Kansas). There are a few deviations from the story that many of us have read previously that bring it in line with what really happened to the family, vs. what Laura wrote about it her books – however, for the most part Caroline followed the events in LHotP from beginning to end. I don’t know if it was a lack of historical information available on the family – but I felt like more primary sources needed to be incorporated into the story (in her authors note, Ms Miller addresses some of the historical deviations, but also states that she kept significantly to LHotP as her authoritative source).

Anyways, overall, I found Caroline to be a good read, but I think my pre-read expectations were just a tad too high and I didn’t get what I wanted. 3 stars overall.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Mercies in Disguise – Gina Kolata

Mercies in Disguise
Author: Gina Kolata
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
The phone rings. The doctor from California is on the line. “Are you ready Amanda?” The two people Amanda Baxley loves the most had begged her not to be tested—at least, not now. But she had to find out.

If your family carried a mutated gene that foretold a brutal illness and you were offered the chance to find out if you’d inherited it, would you do it? Would you walk toward the problem, bravely accepting whatever answer came your way? Or would you avoid the potential bad news as long as possible?

In Mercies in Disguise, acclaimed New York Times science reporter and bestselling author Gina Kolata tells the story of the Baxleys, an almost archetypal family in a small town in South Carolina. A proud and determined clan, many of them doctors, they are struck one by one with an inscrutable illness. They finally discover the cause of the disease after a remarkable sequence of events that many saw as providential. Meanwhile, science, progressing for a half a century along a parallel track, had handed the Baxleys a resolution—not a cure, but a blood test that would reveal who had the gene for the disease and who did not. And science would offer another dilemma—fertility specialists had created a way to spare the children through an expensive process.

Review:
Last year one of the books that I read and reviewed for my blog was Inside the O’Briens (Lisa Genova) – the story of a Boston family where the Patriarch is diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease – a progressive disease that causes the breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. Around the same time I posted my review, I also proposed a question on my facebook page about genetic testing – specifically, if there was a 100% certainty that you would inherit a disease if you carried the gene for it (i.e. Huntington’s), would you pursue the test or would you want to just see how your odds fall? It was interesting reading some of the responses from people I know and others who came across that question, as a friend of a friend. Fast forward to March this year and I saw mention of a non-fiction book with a similar theme mentioned on Doing Dewey Non-Fiction Friday that I just knew I needed to read in the very near future.

Mercies in Disguise is told in 2 parallel stories – that of the Baxley family, where grandfather, father, and brothers had been afflicted by an unknown disease – a disease that resembled Alzheimer’s and a touch of Huntington’s but not just that…and the scientist who discovered the disease approximately half a century earlier. From the get-go, I was drawn into Ms. Kolata’s story-telling – she managed to weave science, family dynamics and medical mystery in a way that I wanted to keep reading (in fact, I pretty much read the entire book in one sitting while waiting for my car to be serviced). There were lots of questions about the ethics of medical advancements including genetic testing for embryos. It is definitely a book that make me think a lot about what I would do if I was put into the same situation as members of the Baxter family. Personally, I’d probably fall on the side of wanting to know my future so that I could plan for it – even if I know that I might die at a very young age…but thankfully, I’ve not had to make a medical decision like that. I think I found the medical side of the story – how the disease was identified to be less interesting than the family dynamics overall – not saying I didn’t like it, but the Baxter family portion was more intriguing to me – maybe because it was a bit over my head with some of the science (I mean, I did get a D in college biology…sooooo).

If you are looking for a solid non-fiction book that would pair well with a book like Inside the O’Brien’s or Still Alice – then you may enjoy Mercies in Disguise.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Wicked Takeover – Tina Donahue

Wicked Takeover
Author: Tina Donahue
Series: #1 in the Wicked Brand series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by the Author

Description:
She’s just inherited a tattoo parlor…and the hunk who comes with it.

Lauren’s in a helluva mess. Not only has she lost her corporate HR job, she’s just inherited Wicked Brand, a struggling West Palm Beach tattoo parlor…along with the virile dude who runs it. Lauren’s full-figured, sorta pretty, and wanting him badly. Dream on. She’s here to sell the place as quickly as possible for some much-needed cash and score a new position in the corporate world.

Dante’s sinfully hot with a killer smile and beautifully inked biceps. He sees the heat in Lauren’s eyes despite her conservative appearance, recognizing the dynamite woman she could be if she’d just loosen up and have some wicked fun. Dominance and submission. Making love in a public place. Having her lush body always accessible to and ready for his.

Unwilling and unable to keep their hands to themselves, Lauren and Dante turn to carnal games and seduction. Until lust turns to surprising need and friendship to something deeper that might just change their futures.

Review:
It’s funny, when I got an email from Tina Donahue asking me if I would review her newest book, I totally jumped on it because I was like (mentally), I’ve read her before and enjoyed her writing…now looking back at my Goodreads shelf, I can’t find any books I read by her. So obviously I must have been smoking some kind of crack when I thought I had read her – but since I ended up really enjoying Wicked Takeover, maybe its a good thing I thought I had read her in the past 🙂 I think her biggest writing strength is that the conversations between Lauren and the crew at Wicked (Jasmina, Dante and Van Gogh) just flowed like a normal conversation. Sometimes I find that conversation writing can feel very stilted and patchy – but no worries here.

Holy Hotness between Lauren and Dante! I’m pretty sure I needed a fireman (hey, Kimberly Kincaid, you got one I can borrow) to come and hose me down – their scenes were just steaming up the place. I honesty don’t know if i’ll ever be able to look at Dove Ice Cream bars the same again…but it wasn’t just hot hot hot scenes between them. The relationship (while a tad insta-lust/love) had a decent amount of tension before sexual implosion (I’m pretty sure that is the only word I can use). There was one scene where Lauren and Dante….well, you know, I’m not going to tell you – you’ll just have to read it and find out (yes, that is kind of mean and i’m proud of it).

Besides the hotness of Lauren and Dante’s relationship, I thought Ms Donahue did a good job with developing Lauren and Dante both as characters. You got to see what drove them – Lauren and her search for a job after being laid off (which in her career field is unfortunately a sad commentary on affairs today) and Dante with how he ended up at Wicked (hint, its not quite a tear jerker, but has the potential). I think the one part I wish had been a bit more developed was the history behind Lauren and her father – we knew that he had left Lauren and her mother while Lauren was growing up – but you never really find out why.

So here’s the skinny – holy hotness, sizzling sexual tension – read it! You won’t regret it if you like contemporary romance!

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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