Review: The Songbird by Marcia Willett

Love how this new-to-me author develops so many characters in such a clear and natural way so as not to confuse this reader who usually likes easy escape reading. The characters are distinct, but not caricatures or stereotypes; they’re of every generation – and even the olders and youngers are relatable.

Especially memorable are William, who after years of doing what his wife wants, finally grows a pair and does the Right Thing; Mattie, who is loving and innocent and fun and young – and so so sincere; and Tim, who moves to the cottage with a heavy burden, and leaves the cottage with someone to share it with.

Though my copy was an ARC, I was a little taken aback by the formatting – especially all of the proper nouns that weren’t capitalized, and the majority of sentences that started with lowercase letters. Just threw off the flow for me and made the act of reading a little bit of a chore.

Besides that, I really enjoyed this cast of 10 or so characters, living their lives, figuring out their problems, getting to know each other and themselves. There’s not a whole lot of action, but Willett does write a story filled with poetry, deep thoughts, and emotion.

-calliope

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Review: The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

Vivid, magical and EPIC!! That was the best way to end this most amazing trilogy. My heart was racing all throughout this entire book.

Vasya is determined to save her country by uniting them and showing them that there is way to be together and allow everyone their own religious freedoms. When we thought she was strong in the previous books, this is nothing compared to those.

She lives up to the prophecy. She makes allies with those who wouldn’t normally work together. As it’s said in the book, she’s a bridge between men and chyerti. The magic is failing as those stop believing in spirits. I loved watching her. She has the power to change things and she does.

No spoilers but this book was probably 10 times as exciting as the first two books. I couldn’t put it down. As I type this out, I’m awaiting Urania’s excited reactions. It’s her influence that gave me the nudge to dive into these books. I owe her.

There is a smidgen more of romance in this one but it’s very much on the back burner. I actually find myself not even looking for it. It’s just a bonus. But love, familial or romantic, is definitely a strong motivator to get things accomplished. But I will say that I’ve had my eye on Morozko since the first book and I’m happy to see him live up to my expectations.

“Love is for those who know the griefs of time, for it goes hand in hand with loss. An eternity, so burdened, would be a torment.”

Let the book hangover begin…

~Melpomene
Buy The Winter of the Witch https://amzn.to/2QksNlT

Review: The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham

Just when I think I’ve read every possible historical fiction angle on the WWII era, that there can’t possibly be another tale to tell, a new one comes along and knocks my socks off.

Labeled a traitor, young Anke has been placed in one of Nazi Germany’s camps. She uses her skills as a midwife to help women around her, providing what comfort she can. But when word of her skill reaches higher up, she finds herself being placed in a most unlikely situation. Her services are needed to serve the cause and the Fuhrer himself. You see, there’s a baby on the way. And this baby is very important to the Nazi future.

Of course she doesn’t want to do it, but her survival instincts kick in not only for herself but for her family back in the camps. And at the heart of it all, she’s a midwife. So this is what she does.

This book…is so many things. It’s historical and a love story and a story of friendship and hope and so much more. If you’re a fan of the genre, don’t pass this one up!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The German Midwife

Review: Three Christmas Book Reviews (The Christmas Wish, Christmas at the Chalet, Cupcakes for Christmas)

A trio of reviews follows… Merry Christmas!

The Christmas Wish is a story of new beginnings. When Esme’s finds she can’t take her grandmother on a trip of a lifetime to see the Northern Lights in Lapland, Esme goes alone. Loved the quirky trip-mates, the little obstacles Esme overcomes to find herself again, and Esme’s newfound friendships, bound under snowflakes and starry skies.

Buy THE CHRISTMAS WISH

Cupcakes for Christmas is ostensibly about a baker, her shop, and a new special someone who comes in to buy cupcakes. But really it’s about the fear of loneliness and sadness that may drape over people during the holidays. While the story wasn’t a sad one, we see through Olivia’s eyes the challenges that Christmas brings for some. We also see how acceptance, love, and the Christmas spirit can help bridge the gap between two lonely hearts.

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Ever wanted to spend Christmas at a chalet? Here’s your chance. Anita Hughes transports you to the land of snow and apres-ski in the Swiss Alps. Wedding gown designer Felicity, her assistants, and her models spend a week among the jet set in St Moritz – and you’re along for the ride. This is a fun, superficial, exciting, bright read. I loved the snowy settings, the wedding gowns, and the glitz and glamour on the slopes. I didn’t love all the reminiscing and flashbacks, but I did like the side story of re-uniting a bride’s parents.

Buy CHRISTMAS AT THE CHALET

-calliope

Review: Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

Whenever I find books that my second graders go crazy over, I feel a responsibility to share them. Especially around the holidays. Because there’s no better gift for a child than books and the love of reading.

Enter Pig the Pug. He’s very, very naughty. Along with the naughtiness comes so many LOL moments I can’t even keep track of them. These are the stories my kiddos are currently obsessed with, reading them over and over and over. And they laugh just as much each time they read them.

This is the first in the series, and I do recommend starting with this one. There are currently five Pig the Pug books with another one scheduled to be released in the US in April.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Pig the Pug

Review: Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber

Loved this nice, sweet Christmas story about Josie the chef from Seattle. Josie finds fun, adventure, and romantic interest Palmer while she’s spending some time in Alaska. Though she’s scheduled to go home to Seattle, the fates intervene – and Josie is held in Alaska for longer than she planned.

Palmer and Josie were lovely characters and it was fun to see their relationship develop. I also really liked seeing what Josie was going to cook up next – I guess you could say that I have that in common with cranky but lovable Jack!

Solid, uplifting Christmastime read.

-calliope

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Review: Any Second by Kevin Emerson

Is it fate that brings Eli and Maya together? Or is it just luck? Either way, it’s life-changing for both of them. Each dealing with their own version of trauma, they’re thrown together under the most unlikely of circumstances.

Eli is truly a victim. Kidnapped at a young age, he’s currently on a mission from his abductor – walk into the mall with explosives strapped to his chest and get redemption from all who have done the world wrong.

Maya is a victim of another sort. She’s a victim of her own anxiety. Hair pulling, skin tearing, sinking deep within herself…this is how she deals. She’s also at the mall that day, keeping her dad company while he gets a new driver’s license to complement his new life.

When their paths cross, neither of their lives will ever be the same. You see, Maya’s the one who sees Eli. She’s the one who notices something amiss. And she’s the one who decides to save not only everyone around her but also Eli himself.

Fast forward several months…Eli is trying to get back to a normal life, whatever that is. And Maya is still dealing with her anxiety, made understandably worse with her close encounter with death. And they meet again, this time when Eli transfers to Maya’s school. They’re drawn to each other, understandably. Will Maya be able to save Eli a second time? And will Eli be able to save Maya as well?

This is a very intense book starting from the first page. Heartbreaking at times, uplifting and hopeful at others, it’s the story of what can happen when we open our doors and let others in.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Any Second