Review: The Christmas Wish by Katy Regnery

20131026-223743.jpg Just Released!

In a dive-y diner in a small Montana town, Katy Regnery serves up a Christmastime romance full of hope. Tess is the townie with a bad reputation – and it’s all true. Lucas is an ex-con whose only crime was protecting the ones he loved. They work together, befriend each other, and learn to trust one another. Tess and Lucas dream bigger than their small town, and together they know they can make their Christmas wishes – and their dreams – come true.

The Christmas Wish is a clever, sadness-to-gladness romance told in about 40 pages. The brevity works because Katy Regnery keeps the focus on just the two main characters. By the end, my heart was full and my faith in humanity restored. And she’s got me thinking about what my own Christmas wish will be. 🙂

–Calliope

Buy it now The Christmas Wish

Review: The Art of Flying by Judy Hoffman

17428642Fortuna Dalliance aka Tuna aka Charlie (the Tuna) is a very practical girl who finds herself on the edge of adventure and she decides to go with it. Her neighbors, the Baldwin sisters have a reputation of being witches, one that turns out to be well earned. They have turned a bird into a young boy and require Fortuna’s assistance in finding him and convincing him to be turned back.

Fortuna really doesn’t believe in magic but when she meets Martin, the bird-boy, she’s not so sure. It turns out the sisters weren’t exactly allowed to turn Martin or his brother from birds into boys and they will have some consequences in the magical world if they don’t turn them back by a certain time. Fortuna finds herself having so much fun with Martin that she’s unsure if she wants to return him to the sisters at all.

This is a fun children’s book that would be best for ages 8-12 I think. I found the book to be very lighthearted and magical in a good way. The magic is very innocent and the possible negative consequences are glossed over in an appropriate way for this age level. It was enjoyable to see Martin trying to master being a human and funny to see him trying to eat or speak when he has been a bird for so long. There are also some beautiful illustrations. I would definitely recommend this to anyone with kids age 8 and up.

I received this ARC from Netgalley via Disney Publishing in return for an honest review.

4 stars.

~Clio

Buy it Now – this book releases tomorrow!! The Art of Flying

Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

20131023-174824.jpgWhat really happens to your soul after you die? Personal beliefs aside, it's impossible for anyone to answer that question with absolute certainty. This novel offers a beautiful possibility to that question.

When fifteen-year-old Liz is struck by a car, she wakes up aboard the
SS Nile. Baffled by the mostly elderly strangers around her, Liz eventually comes to the realization that she did not survive her accident and is in fact dead. She and all the other passengers are on their way to Elsewhere, an alternate reality-type world where humans as well as their pets go after their death. Here they spend their years aging backwards until, as babies, they return to Earth to be born again. Liz has a difficult time coming to grips with her death and mourns the loss of all that she left behind-never turning sixteen, no driver’s license, no prom dates, never going to college…

I loved this book for so many reasons. Gabrielle Zevin has created a beautiful world full of waterfalls, beaches, sunny days, great food, museums, encounters with famous dead people, and reunions with lost loved ones. I was hooked from the first page as the story opens from the perspective of Lucy, Liz’s grieving Pug. I also loved the talking pets and the humans who are able to speak their language. Yes, it sounds far fetched, but it really works with the story. The characters are fun and likeable and a subtle sense of humor runs throughout the book. Conversations flow easily and are believable, fantasy world aside.

Highly recommended for all, but especially for fans of young adult novels and fantasy in particular.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Elsewhere

Review: The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins

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5 stars for this October 29 release!

I’m a romance junkie, and after reading so many, I’m hard to impress. The Perfect Match totally impressed me. This novel has it all – sweetness, complications, misunderstandings, true love, misgivings, honesty, and family loyalty. Higgins writes a complex, well-thought-out story with multi-layered characters and relevant subplots. I’m telling you, this is one of my favorite romances of 2013!

So now that you know the writing is awesome, here’s a little bit about the story line and characters:

Honor is a hard-working woman who takes care of her immediate family’s needs before her own. She also has had a 15-year crush on an old friend that she hooks up with once in a while. When he rebuffs taking the relationship seriously, Honor shifts her focus to finding pretty much anyone to marry – so she can settle down and have a family of her own.

Enter the meddling grandparents setting up a date for Honor and a visiting Brit named Tom. Unbeknownst to the matchmakers, Honor and Tom have already, embarrassingly, met. They do end up in a relationship, albeit an unconventional one. And then the reader is on the journey with Honor and Tom to see if love will grow and thrive.

Higgins masterfully weaves Honor’s low self-confidence into the story without making her seem pitiful. She writes Tom’s character as sweetly, appealingly arrogant in some ways, and sad and lonely in others. The brothers, sisters, friends and children are all real – whether we see jealousy, sullenness, anger, reluctance or joy.

When I opened The Perfect Match, I expected a typical, light, enjoyable romance. What I got was so much more. The Perfect Match is brilliantly written, complex, and emotional. And the bits of Brit-speak were lots of fun, too.
Love, love, love it!

-Calliope

Buy it now (preorder before 29Oct) The Perfect Match

Review: Candlelight Christmas by Susan Wiggs

20131022-173802.jpg Release date October 29. 4 stars!

Want to feel the magic of Christmas? Complete with snowy mountains, a house full of loved ones, peppermint hot chocolate, and walks in a winter wonderland? Susan Wiggs delivers all that and more in Candlelight Christmas.

Darcy meets her best friend India’s brother Logan and it’s Like At First Sight. When she sees him again at Thanksgiving, sparks are flying. By Christmastime, they know they have to decide whether or not to pursue a relationship.

Between Darcy’s ex and her demanding family, and Logan’s hard-to-please dad and beautiful son Charlie, the pair have many outside influences. Together they figure out how to overcome the family challenges so their relationship can grow. As Darcy and Logan find out, the spirit of Santa Claus doesn’t only touch children at Christmas. The magic is alive and well in romance too.

I love this book for the Christmas romance, but I appreciate it even more for the family dynamics. Wiggs achieves realistic holiday scenes, positive and negative. We see arguments, hugs, dumb moves, apologies, honesty, bluntness and forgiveness.

I bawled my eyes out during the scenes with Logan’s son Charlie, and sighed with a bursting heart more than a dozen times. Candlelight Christmas is joyous, real, and touching. I’d read another Susan Wiggs novel in a New York minute.

-Calliope

Pre-order and it will appear on your kindle October 29.
Buy it now Candlelight Christmas

Review: Jagged, by Kristen Ashley

15817361“…love is a show, it’s not a tell”

Ham Reece was always moving around. But he always came back to Zara Cinders. If she called him, he was there. If she was hurt, he’d fly to be with her. But when she found someone more stable, he walked away.

But three years later she finds herself alone and barely scraping by.

By some near death experience, they are brought together. And when he discovers how little she has and what she has gone through, Ham decides to help her. But she doesn’t want to get sucked into Ham again. It’s hard enough being near him, without all her feeling bubbling up to the top.

Ham wants her. He’s always wanted her. He waited til she was ready and now he’s going to show her how ready he is.

“I’m here, Zara, as in I intend to stay here…I like the people, I like the work…But this is mostly where I wanna be because your’re here.”

Ham gets her a job and takes care of her. But she tries really hard not to fall for him, but, of course, she does. How can you not. The man was sex on legs. HOT. The way he bosses her and talks to her, very hot. No nonsense kinda guy. Needed to fan myself a few times.

Of course there’s a HEA. This is a Kristen Ashley book. And we love her rough and sexy men who practically throw their women over their shoulders and make them listen. I’ll probably grab the first four books in the series, just for more sexy alphas.

I received this ARC for an honest review.

~Melpomene

Release date November 5, 2013
Forever(Grand Central Publishing)
Buy it now Jagged

Review: Heating Up the Holidays 3 Story Bundle

18283138 Heating Up the Holidays is a 3 story bundle with Play With Me by Lisa Renee Jones, Snowfall by Mary Ann Rivers, and After Midnight by Serena Bell.

I want to devote this whole review to Snowfall because I overwhelmingly loved this novella. I count myself as incredibly lucky to have read Mary Ann Rivers’ debut of The Story Guy just a few months ago. I fell in love with her intelligent and humorous writing then but hoped that it wasn’t just a one time thing. This second novella shows me that I’m not to be disappointed!

Jenny Wright moves into her new housing in Ohio where she is doing research as a Microbiologist. When she moves in she gets mail for the previous tenant which leads to online communication between herself as “Lincoln” and “C’. They begin to flirt online back and forth less and less innocently. Meanwhile Jenny is dealing with slowly losing her sight due to a degenerative disease. She’s horrified at this idea and cannot wrap her mind around this. Jenny is working with Evan Ford, her Occupational Therapist to try to make her life a little more manageable while the changes happen.

I cannot express my love for this book and this author in the right way. Yes there are scientific and technical terms throughout the book due to Jenny’s technical occupation. Halle-freaking-lujah! I, for one, was so happy to read a book, even a novella, that had an intelligent woman, with a scientific job as the main character. I’m not a scientific person but I was able to read this just fine. There are many books that tend to be dumbed down in general and I didn’t feel like this at all with this book. I was racing to get to the end of the novella, the last 20% or so I finished and then immediately re-read because I was doing my speed reading to get to the ending.

Jenny and Evan are so very real, very funny people. Jenny does not take slowly losing her eyesight very well and tends to throw fits, which I can only imagine would be the case in the real world. I just really appreciate the intelligence and humorous insight that this novella seems to have.

So obviously, I am supposed to be having some kind of therapeutic moment here, where my other senses get honed on the strap of this exercise and maybe later I’ll finger-spell W-A-T-E-R into his ginormous hand and we’ll embrace with joyous laughter.

Also there is a small piece at the end of the story that just about killed me. A very small detail which will probably stick with me for a very long time.

I absolutely cannot wait for the full length novel debut of Mary Ann Rivers, Live, coming in January of 2014. I have a feeling that she will be an auto buy for me for pretty much ever.

Buy it Now Heating Up the Holidays 3-Story Bundle (Play with Me, Snowfall, and After Midnight): A Loveswept Contemporary Romance