Thursday, November 27, 2014

Turkey Trot

Okay, it was running one mile and walking one mile. But it counts. I live in a great little town where over 50 people showed up for a fun run, bringing around 30 dogs. My own dog, close to 12-year-old, not only ran the whole time, she was more than a little disgruntled when we started walking. On the one hand, I'm grateful for a healthy older dog. On the other, I wouldn't mind if she slowed down just a little bit.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Yours for Christmas by Susan Mallery

Yours for Christmas (Fool's Gold, #15.5)Bailey's story, Bailey's story, we get to read Bailey's story. And Kenny Scott's. But,whatever. I have loved Bailey ever since we learned about this single mother with a charming daughter. I don't know what about her appealed except the awkwardness. And I just loved the crush that she and Kenny both had. And his back story as to why he wouldn't date women with kids was... interesting, but not unrealistic. Of course, Mayor Marsha has a lot to do with the connection, but it's a great read watching how these two come together to find true love.
Even those readers who, like me, are somewhat annoyed with the shoehorning of characters that happens in every Fool's Gold novel will like this book because it doesn't happen!

Followed by Fool's Gold #16 Hold Me

Friday, November 21, 2014

Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan

Image linked from Goodreads
Wow. I almost gave this book three stars because of the sheer unreadability on my Nook. I don't know if it will be better on other ereaders but... oofta.
What happens if a teenage super hero doesn't particularly want to... hero anymore? That's explored in this comic book. There's some sense of the X-men in this book -- heroes are out in the open, the government programs trying to control them, the rampant fear and hatred of the normal folks. It's a wonderfully deep look at the ethics and morality of those who are stronger than the regular population.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Other Harlow Girl by Lynn Messina

Image linked from Goodreads
Le sigh. This was a good book (after the first quarter) but still not as good as my first Messina, The Harlow Hoyden. 
In this book, our heroine is the twin of the first book in the series. Lavinia, Vinnie, Harlow has always been considered the "good" twin, though a pallid copy of her sister. She is a gifted horticulturalist but it still comes as a surprise  when her name is put in for the British Horticultural Society.
The Marquess of Huntley (BFF of The Hoyden's husband) isn't sure why he put Vinnie's name in for the society. Women are not forbidden to join, but they aren't really encouraged either. Though the first meeting between Huntley and Vinnie isn't particularly auspicious (she soaks him with a hose), as the two are thrown together more and more often, they begin to find the ways in which they are compatible.
The first part of the story was both scattered and drag-gy. We got the same event from both character's point of view. Which, when done well (Mary Balogh), can be a wonderful way to get a glimpse of deeper character. In this case, I just wondered why we were getting almost a complete re-hash of the events. There was nothing added. Luckily, it straightened out and I started enjoying the story more. While the ending also had me a bit underwhelmed, I overall enjoyed this book.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Prince Who Loved Me by Karen Hawkins

Image linked from Goodreads
I normally don't like the historicals set in Scotland (why, I couldn't tell you. I think I OD'd at some point and haven't gotten back to them.) So why request this book from NetGalley? I really do like Karen Hawkins and didn't notice the setting. But I still enjoyed this book.
We have two strong characters, Prince Alexsey Romanovin and Bronwyn Murdoch. When they first meet, neither knows who the other is. It's a really sweet meet-cute.
Alexsey is only interested in Bronwyn because he thinks she's a maid (someone he can dally with.) Bronwyn, at twenty-four, with a disastrous season behind her, is not at all interested in marriage but her station makes her out of his reach.
The prince was a bit overbearing and the machinations of both their families were a bit much for me. Also, I would have liked to know more about their life once they got back to the gypsies, but I overall liked Bronwyn and Alexsey overall and think that regular Hawkins readers will as well.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Shocking Secret of the Guest at the Wedding by Victoria Alexander

Image linked from Goodreads
Oh man. I really wanted to like this book. I really did. But I never really connected with Teddy or Jackson (where's Lucy's story? She's got some spunk) like I did with them in previous books (at least with Teddy). And the ending was... weird. What was the point? I'm not sure why I couldn't give this two stars. Maybe residual Victoria-Alexander-feels. Or maybe I did like it more than my initial paragraph would indicate.
Lady Theodosia Winslow, Teddy, is a wedding planner. While she and her mother present it as a sort of hobby, the truth is, her father left them in a bit of a financial disaster.
Jackson Quincy Graham Channing, on the other hand, has just discovered that he has a father. His mother sort of... tacitly let it be assumed that the man was dead. Now that it's discovered to be untrue, Jackson is anxious to learn more about the man. So he travels to England and meets Theo.
Lots of witty dialogue, just not a lot of action.
I definitely won't stop reading Alexander, but I would definitely skip this book in favor of the others in the series.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh

Image linked from Goodreds
Balogh just keeps hitting it out of the park with this series. If you've enjoyed this series so far, I can guarantee that this one will be a good pick.
We've met Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, in other books. He was broken both physically and mentally during the war. When he got home, his fiancee married his best friend. Now that that friend is dead, his family (and hers) seem to expect that they will marry. But Flavian doesn't want to do that. He's not sure why, but his upcoming meeting with the Survivor's Club should help him relax.
Their meeting also brings him back in touch with Agatha Deering who he met on a previous visit. All of their meetings are just sweet and wonderful in ways that only Balogh can paint.
The character development is wonderful and the way the relationship builds between Agatha and Flavian is wonderful. They don't communicate completely from beginning to end but there aren't any Big Misunderstandings and it's wonderful.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

First three Hope Street Church Mysteries by Ellery Adams

Image linked from Goodreads
Path of the Crooked
An interesting series from an author whose "Books by the Bay" and "Charmed Pie Shoppe." I was able to get all three from NetGalley. These are updated versions of the author's earlier books printed under the name Jennifer Stanley. Even with the updating though, the language seems stilted and not quite as well-edited as the other series. Oh, and it's religious. Very, very religious (I didn't see the series title "Hope Street Church Mysteries" until after I had downloaded the book. In retrospect, the title is something of a giveaway.)

Cooper Lee's boyfriend has just left her for a woman who bailed him out of jail and then made him go to church (this just struck me as odd). Cooper's family are all church goers (even if her sister goes more to be seen) but they're not pressuring her to join. When a client suggests that Cooper should come and try out the Hope Street Chruch, Cooper agrees to come. The client, Brooke Hughes, is a nice lady who seems to be having a hard day. One that should end better since her husband is coming to pick her up for their anniversary date. So it comes to a complete shock when Brooke ends up murdered and her husband is accused. Even her bible study  group doesn't believe that can be the case. It's the same bible study that Cooper ends up accidentally joining. A group that she helps to figure out who the true killer is.

Image linked from Goodreads
Way of the Wicked
The Hope Street Church bible study is at it again when they decide to help volunteer for a program similar to Meals-On-Wheels. Cooper is excited to help start but she starts to get nervous when she overhears the head of the program talking about some suspicious robberies from various program patrons. Add to that the fact that there have been some mysterious deaths and Cooper's friends have their work cut out for them.

Though I gave them the same rating, I enjoyed the first book slightly more. The ending of this one felt a bit muddled. Also, I didn't feel like the reader had a chance to guess at who the killer really was. Would still recommend the other two Ellery Adams series over this one.

Image linked from Goodreads
While I can't find myself warming to this series as much as the other Ellery Adams books, I think that people who enjoyed the first two books will enjoy this one as well. Do you need to read the first two? I don't think so. This seems to be a good standalone.
In this third book of the series, Cooper, and her family and friends, find themselves at a crossroads. Cooper is torn between two men, one dangerous and new, one comfortable but seeming to move away. Her sister's husband is moving further away than ever in this book. Cooper's friend Trish is going through chemo and another is fascinated by a new woman at their church.
There is, of course, a mystery, but it seems like this book is more about character development than the mystery. Not a bad thing, just something to note.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Make My Wish Come True by Fiona Harper

Image linked from Goodreads
Books about sibling interactions are always interesting to me and this book was no different. It's the typical story of an overachieving older sibling with a younger sibling who was always the "favored child."
Well, older sibling Juliet is tired of always being stuck with making things perfect for the family. Younger sibling, Gemma, was always the one adored and cosseted while Juliet had to make sure that the family stayed together. This year, Juliet's juggling a divorce as well as trying to create the picture-perfect Christmas. She really needs Gemma's help but her sister is too busy running around glamorous movie sets to be of any help. And now she's booked a fantasy vacation in the Caribbean. When Juliet freaks out, Gemma suggests (rather forcibly) that they switch Christmases.
During their time, each sister learns a little about the other. While the ending was a bit... more than I thought it needed to be, I overall came away with very good feels for this book. Liked the character development, liked the characters, and, even if this wasn't an entirely new take on sibling relationships, it was at least an entertaining one.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Twelve Dates of Christmas by Susan Meier

Image linked from Goodreads
Eloise Vaughn needs a job. Badly.
Ricky Langley needs a date. Badly
He's rich and desperate, she's poor(ish) and willing to help out. I don't generally like or gravitate toward category romance (too short for a real story) but this one wasn't bad. It's a trope that's been used before but with a twist that I hadn't read before. There were issues
He just wouldn't TALK. Oh my god, the wallowing. And then a slightly sudden change of heart? It's too short a story to do any real growth, and we did see some, but I was sort of shocked how quickly his brain finally got it all together.
The ending was a little too over the top. But this was overall a pretty good book. I'm glad to have gotten this book from NetGalley and will keep a look out for Laura Beth's story (how slimy was the guy she was dating? Eww.)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Her Holiday Man by Shannon Stacey

Image linked from Goodreads
I hesitate to call this a novella; it feels more like a story taken out of a romance anthology. In it, we meet single-mother Christina and her hunky new neighbor, Will. Christina's husband cheated his friends out of a lot of money and left Christina with no money and no discernible skills. She was lucky to find a job at a convenience store and a neighbor kind enough to watch her son when he came home from school. Then, Gail's son comes home from his travels. He left after his wife and unborn child were hit by a drunk driver.
They both have their issues. Can they get beyond their pasts to find a new future together?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Christmas with a Billionaire: Anthology

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I really need to stop reading books with "Billionaire" in the title. I know these stories aren't my cup of tea but every once in awhile, I try to read them again. Alpha males, helpless females (who are supposedly super-capable but we don't actually see that in the stories), hot sex. Basically, if you like the more old-skewl-romances, you'll enjoy this book (Skip my review and read his review tfrom Veena at "The Good, The Bad, and The Unread." She gave it an overall "B"). But if you're not a fan, skip this one.
Billionaire under the Mistletoe by Carole Mortimer
I know that I'm under no obligation to read and review the books I get as ARCs, but I DNF very few books (my one-star Goodreads reviews), and somehow having gotten the books this way gives me a little extra impetus. Plus, in an anthology, there's always the chance that one of the stories might be to my liking.
It wasn't this one.
Sophie overhears her cousin Sally's boss ordering Christmas. She decides that, since Sally and her parents aren't going to be in town and she has nothing better to do, she might as well get the money that Max Hamilton is offering up. Besides, she's smarter than Sally's last friend. Sophie's not going to fall in love with Max.
Except that, as soon as he shows any interest, she falls into his arms and offers no resistance when he starts ordering her around. Blergh.

Snowed in with her boss by Maisey Yates
Amelia has just found out that her long-time boyfriend isn't really going to be making their marriage a done-thing. Now that she's more or less single, and snowed in with her boss, she's ready to mingle. With her boss. Yep. A man she knows has a bad past but she jumps into bed and into love. Luckily for her, this is a romance novel.

A Diamond for Christmas by Joss Wood
Another boss/employee relationship. But -- not a direct boss and between two people who have a relationship that pre-dates their work relationship. Riley is also James' sister's best friend. So they have a past history that really makes this book more interesting. Best of the three stories. Bumped the entire book up a star.