Review: Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

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I love books by Jennifer Weiner. She has an uncanny ability to take something mundane, commonplace even, and weave an incredible story around it. This older story from her collection of hits is no exception.

This is a story of four women and how their lives come together in a most unexpected way. There’s Jules, a young college student desperate to save her father from himself. Annie lives a simple life as a mother and wife but longs to do more. India is trying to find happiness by remaking herself. And there’s Bettina, probably the most practical of the bunch who knows something is amiss when her very wealthy father takes a new bride. Finally, at the center of it all is a baby. Wanted by some, not expected by others.

On the surface this is a simple enough story, one that could be found in real life often enough. But here’s where the magic of the author comes into play. Jennifer Weiner is able to delve deeply into the past of each of these characters. She makes us understand their motives and even care about them. This is what keeps you reading until the very end.

It’s fairly common for authors to write their stories from different perspectives. Sometimes it works, but just as often it overwhelms the story. That’s not the case with this book. I had no problem switching between characters and even found myself looking forward to a new chapter which brought a new voice. Is the storyline a bit far fetched at times? Of course. But that’s why it’s fiction. It’s okay to suspend your sense of reality and lose yourself in a great story such as this one!

 

~Thalia

Buy It Now:   Then Came You

Review: Huckleberry Hearts by Jennifer Beckstrand

  
This is the perfect book to read around Thanksgiving – when you’re full and happy, and maybe a little nostalgic… or when you’re remembering the dearly departed and hoping new memories fill up the empty spaces. 

Amish grandparents Anna and Felty use their matchmaking skills – and love! – to bring Cassie together with her meant-to-be. Nevermind that Cassie’s mom wants her to marry an Amish guy.  And come back home. And rejoin the church. What?!  While Cassie wants to remain in the modern world and find a moral Englischer, she doesn’t fight her family. But while Cassie tries to keep the peace, her soul mate is going through a crisis of faith.

I love all of the Huckleberry Hill books, but I especially appreciated the messages in this one. Beckstrand touches on love, loss, death, staying true to yourself, freedom of religion, and the popular question of why evil exists and why God doesn’t stop it.  

I stayed up late, I bawled my eyes out, and even though Beckstrand is taking a break from the series, I’ll be stalking her page to see if she changes her mind. Excellent read, with plenty of laughs, some tears at the end, and a whole lot of warm hearts. 

-calliope

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Review: Life and Other Near Death Experiences by Camille Pagan

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Dying isn’t funny. Or at least it shouldn’t be. But somehow this wonderful little gem of a book makes it so.

Libby’s perfectly crafted world comes to a crashing halt in the span of less than a day. Not only does she find out that she has cancer, likely very quickly ending her life, but she also finds out that her dear husband is gay.

So she does what any of us would do in that same situation. She quits her job, which she hated anyway. She kicks her husband out and sells their apartment. She purges herself of all her worldly possessions and takes a lengthy trip to the Caribbean. Make perfect sense, right?

She soon finds out, however, that simply crawling into a corner and waiting to die isn’t as easy as it might sound. She has a brother and father who both love her dearly. She finds herself relishing the simple things in life, such as the feeling of warm sand between her toes. She strikes up an unlikely friendship with her elderly landlady.

And then there’s Shiloh, the handsome pilot she finds herself falling for. When he discovers that she plans to give up without putting up a glimmer of a fight, he quickly lets her know that’s not an option.

Make no mistake, this is a romance story. But it’s also a funny story, one about family and bouncing back. It’s a story about not giving up regardless of the curveballs that life inevitably throws your way. The writing is witty and wry, and the characters are so likeable that you almost forget that it’s a work of fiction. A fun, inspiring read!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Life and Other Near-Death Experiences

Review: If Anything Should Happen by Bonnie Hearn Hill

  
If Anything Should Happen is a cute introduction to a new mystery series. It didn’t really seem mystery-series-ish to me, but that could be because Hill is developing background and setting the scene. 

Two radio station friends lend each other emotional support through life’s ups and downs… And when Kit’s mom leaves a mysterious note that opens up a few cans of worms, her colleague is there for her every step of the way. 

The contents of the note thrust  Kit into a decades-old, small town scandal that’s serious business. Someone has already died at the hands of a psycho, and he’s not afraid to do more damage. 

I felt like the plot and subplots were a little disconnected. I didn’t get enough of Kit at the radio station to really know her personality like her colleagues do. I did see her as a daughter, and I enjoyed the exploration of her relationship with her parents. The story was more family drama than mystery, if you ask me. But book two may have a different tone, and I hope to see more of Kit’s talk radio stuff. 🙂 

-calliope

Buy IF ANYTHING SHOULD HAPPEN

Review: Colorado Mountain series by Kristen Ashley

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Holy emotional roller coaster, Batman!!!

I just spent the last two weeks reading Kristen Ashley’s Colorado Mountain series and then kicking myself for waiting so long to pick these up. I am seriously questioning my sanity as a romance reader. These are a must!!! In fact, go to her website and look at the reading order HERE and start reading. Trust me. Things make a lot more sense that way. You can still enjoy them just by reading each series, but if you go in order, it brings out a few details and “Holy Crap!” moments that you don’t want to miss.

These six books all have a heavy dose of romance with a nice dose of excitement that sure to get your heart racing and your emotions rolling. My favorites, in this series are The Gamble and Breathe. In The Gamble, Max is the super alpha male who doesn’t take no for an answer. He is a fierce protector and lover. *whew* What a way to start the series!!

My most favorite book was Breathe. There’s aren’t enough words to convey all of my feelings. I had tears all over the place, with this one. I had a few “Holy crap!” moments, and then I discovered why she has a reading order. It made all kind of sense, going in the intended order. I went all giggly when I got to that point. It made me love her even more. When you go to read it, you MUST have this song nearby. No joke. Every time I hear this song, I think of this story and I start crying. My family makes me skip it when it comes on. They hate to see me cry. But this song…..

If you’ve never read Kristen Ashley, I highly encourage you give her a try. You can thank me later.

~Melpomene

The Gamble (Colorado Mountain Series Book 1)
Sweet Dreams (Colorado Mountain Series Book 2)
Lady Luck (Colorado Mountain Series Book 3)
Breathe (Colorado Mountain Series Book 4)
Jagged (Colorado Mountain Series Book 5)
Kaleidoscope (Colorado Mountain Series Book 6)

Review: Heir to Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

01 heir What a sweet addition to the Edenbrooke story line. Go HERE to read my Edenbrooke review.

When I heard that Julianne was writing a short prequel, I was super excited. I adored Edenbrooke and couldn’t wait to catch a glimpse into Philip’s head. In fact, my daughter loved Edenbrooke so much, she squealed when I told her about this short story. I read it first, because I’m faster than her, and read her this quote and I swear, she swooned. My anti-romance 13 yr old swooned. I was so proud.

“A trap door closed around my heart, and in that moment, I was helpless. Whether she loved me for my money or myself, whether she loved me at all, whether her heart was even available for the winning…none of it mattered. I was smitten to the core.”

My heart is happy and is now craving a reread of both books.

~Melpomene

Buy Edenbrooke: A Proper Romance
Heir to Edenbrooke

Review: A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by YS Lee

6698199What can I say? I am absolutely smitten with mystery novels set in Victorian England of late. I finished one prior to this and just fell in absolute love. So I rushed out to find another. Although the two books were different, this spy mystery did not disappoint me!

I’ve always loved stories that have a disadvantaged young person that is suddenly given a second chance in life. This novel starts with a very young Mary Lang about to be hanged for house burglary. In the days that follow Mary suddenly finds herself in unusual circumstances and is given a second chance in life. As she grows up into a young adult she finds that, although she is very thankful for her second chance, she is somewhat unfulfilled at her current occupation of teaching at a school for young ladies. Once she confesses this, her life is suddenly sent in an entirely different direction.

As much as I loved this book, I did find parts of the mystery and the story to be somewhat farfetched. By all of that aside, I loved the characters and the banter between the two main players, Mary and James. I also appreciate the fact that YS Lee did not find it necessary to turn a young 17-year-old Mary into some wonder spy that conquers the world and makes all the right decisions. The fact that she accepts helps from others, even seeks out advice at times, makes many mistakes and perhaps uses bad judgement really lends to the fact that Mary is, after all, only 17 years old.

This series is 4 books long and even before I finished the last sentence in this first installment I was already excited to begin starting the second book.

Finally I have to say that the most intriguing part of the book is the barely touched upon background of Mary’s own past. I look forward to most of the solving of Mary’s own history…..I was also sooo excited to see the “friend” Mary met in the warehouse at night might end up making an appearance in the later books as one of Mary’s closest companions….or at least I hope that is the case…..but I can’t say anymore, as I must be off to meet up with Mary and her next spy adventure!!!

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now A Spy in the House by YS Lee