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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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Audiobook Review – Tell Me Where It Hurts – Nick Trout

Tell Me Where It Hurts
Author: Nick Trout
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Simon Vance
Run Time: 9hrs 12min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Dr. Trout takes the listener on a vicarious journey through 24 intimate, heartrending hours in his life. His wry, companionable voice offers enlightening and engaging anecdotes about cuddly (or not-so-cuddly) pets and their variously zany, desperate, and demanding owners. If you’ve ever had a pet or special place in your heart for furry friends, Dr. Trout’s inspiring account of loving and healing animals is for you.

Review:
This was the second book by Dr Trout that I’ve listened to in the last month (although the first one he wrote) – both of which are about his experiences as a surgeon at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston (where he still works). I’ll admit I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started it – the other book by him that I read was an alternating story of 2 different dogs that Dr Trout had treated over several months. This one was arranging to tell a story over a 24hr period – each chapter a different animal that Dr Trout treated over the course of a day – at the same time, each chapter allowed him to think about other animals and cases that had influenced his career as a vet over the years – his first experience with working with animals that made him head down that road to a career; to his experiences with euthanasia and pet owner’s wishes. There was one animal over the course of the 24 hours that made several appearances (but if you think i’m going to tell you more, then you apparently don’t know me very well).

Simon Vance has long been a favorite narrator of mine – so having the pleasure of listening to him narrate both of Dr Trout’s books. It worked even better for me, since Dr Trout is originally from England – so having a slight accent worked well. Honestly, its hard to find anything to really critique about Vance’s narration – so i’ll just stop gushing here 🙂

A solid listen (and i’m hoping probably read) – I gave it 3.5 stars overally, and 4 stars for the narration – recommended if you enjoy animal stories and personal introspection.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2017 in Audiobook 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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Review – Running from a Rock Star

Running from a Rock Star
Author: Jami Albright
Series: #1 in the Brides on the Run series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Purchase Link: Amazon

Description:
She’s a good-girl control freak. He’s a bad boy in need of a clean image. Will these opposites attract or self-destruct?
Scarlett Kelly is the poster child for responsible living. Growing up as the daughter of the town floozy she’s made it her mission to be the exact opposite. So when she wakes up naked and hungover in bed with a bad-boy rockstar, Scarlett bolts immediately. But she never expected him to follow her home… and tell her they’re married!
Gavin needs to repair his image or his music career will go down the tubes. He’s also just learned he has a son he never knew existed! Gavin wants to settle down, and bribing his new wife to stay married may just fit everything into place.
Scarlett agrees to the ruse to help her family’s financial troubles even though she can hardly control herself around the rock star. As they search for Gavin’s son, will the cross-country adventure give them exactly what they’ve been missing or send them packing?

Review:
Running from a Rock Star was a random discovery for me through Kindle Unlimited – basically I searched for a word that I needed in a book title for a reading challenge (in this case, running), and then randomly picked a book that sounded interesting. Yeah – I know, kind of weird – but hey it worked and I discovered a new to me author that I will definitely be reading more of in the future. Having been a romance reader for many years – more often than not, I’m finding myself getting burnt out and bored with most of the recent released – so finding a book that can keep my attention (and that I can finish in a short time period) is kind of hard. Yeah, I know that probably sounds insane – but it’s definitely how I’ve been feeling lately.

I loved the mesh of Scarlett, the small town good girl (who writes her name in her underwear!!) and the on the edge bad boy rock star that was Gavin. Their relationship was explosive in a drunken antics kind of way that only a trip to Las Vegas can result in. If I need to say more, then all I can say is, what happens in Vegas definitely didn’t stay in Vegas for this book 🙂 Ms. Albright also pegged the small town vibe so perfectly – it almost made me have nightmares of some of my experiences growing up in a small town.

For me, one of the things that makes most romance novels that I love, are the secondary characters – Scarlett’s friend Luanne was a hoot and I can’t wait to see if she gets her HEA in Jami’s next book. Although the rest of Scarlett’s family (Aunt Honey in particular) made me just laugh. I cringed at the description of the small town gossip biddies (because there is no other word to describe them). I wasn’t a huge fan of Gavin’s manager – but i’m sure he is going to redeem himself in a later book (or at least he better!). Overall, 4 stars for Running from the Rock Star and I know i’ll be looking for more books by Ms. Albright in the future.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2017 in Book Review

 

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