Review: Falling Hard (Falling for the Freemans Book 2) by Kate Hewitt

No need to read book one to enjoy this second installment of Falling for the Freemans. Hewitt made it easy to get to know Quinn Freeman, youngest brother in the family, commitment-phobe, and general screw-up. Well… in the past. And it was smooth sailing figuring out Quinn’s direction once he arrived in his former hometown of Creighton Falls:  fix up the old family inn, and bring some vitality back to the town. 

I adored Quinn’s plumber, Meghan. What a strong woman, to choose to be the primary caretaker of her sister with special needs, and deny herself her own dreams to be an integral part of her family and her town. 

Quinn and Meghan aren’t perfect in Falling Hard, but they sure are cute together. Hewitt brings in ancillary characters just enough to add interest to the plot and tie the series together. This book focuses mostly on Quinn and Meghan — and it works for this small-town romance. 

-calliope

But FALLING HARD ($3.99!)

Review: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

25150798-1Ah, Lisa See has done it again.

Her books are always a favourite because there is so much more than what is written on the pages. I can’t think of any of her novels that haven’t inspired me to research about what she’s writing about. I remember being obsessed with the love-sick maidens…of foot binding…of the treatment of those of Asian descent during the war…of paper sons…and this novel was no different…

Ahhh…tea….I used to enjoy loose leaf teas so much once upon a time…oolong and pu erh were always my favourites. I couldn’t stand the herbal teas…or the fruit teas…however, I had no clue about tea cakes! How could I not know this? So I read a bit, then I go off to google a bit…read a bit…order some tea….read a bit more…sigh….enjoy my tea…read a bit more….

This is what Lisa See always does…she changes me in some small way…yes, a couple of weeks after reading this novel, I’m well stocked with tea again for the first time in 3 or 4 years…but it’s more than that…Lisa See…well…her writing still sings to me…That’s what it was like the first time I read her…”Peony in Love” sang to me. I actually read it 3 times in a row! It was the song of my heart.

So maybe this novel hasn’t changed the person I am…except for now being inspired to be stocked up in tea….but Lisa See sings to me and enables me to see more clearly who I am…I can’t explain it…but I know it…every time I read one of her books, it doesn’t change me…but it makes me feel more…well…myself….I’m not Asian…I don’t have her heritage…but her novels sing to me none-the-less….

No other author touches me as Lisa See does…I’m lucky to have found her and honored to read anything she write…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now The Tea Girl at Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Review: The Art of Us by Teri Wilson


Harper Higgins (what a great name!) is a reserved art history professor looking for tenure, until she literally bumps into soldier/dog-walker/artist Tom Stone and realizes she’s really looking for something more. 

Oooooh I just loved that Tom Stone. Talk about the perfect alpha … he’s an ex-soldier, doesn’t take crap from anyone, lives on a boat, doesn’t talk about his feelings but he HAS feelings, and shows his sensitive side when he’s supposed to. 

Harper is a pain in the neck who won’t get out of her head or out of her own way. But between her friends, her part time job teaching social art classes, and that handsome Tom Stone… well, Harper figures out a couple things that might do her some good. 

I liked the art discussions — I learned some fun facts! — as well as Frank’s flowers, the art classes (it’s a big thing where I live – go as a group to paint a picture while having a glass of wine), and the chemistry between Harper and Tom. The writing was fun and funny, even when addressing some serious issues. 

I even liked the villain, in that he tried to be tricky but really wasn’t smart enough to pull it off. As my teenager might say, “Oooh Lars, you just got burned.”

The Art of Us is totally entertaining on many levels… 

-calliope

Buy THE ART OF US ($3.99!)

Review and Revisit: Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery

20140419-225500.jpgCalliope has already reviewed this novel a while back. I waited several months to include mine…one because I wanted her review to stand out as she is the true “HEA” reader between the two of us, whilst I am merely an imposter that pretends to from time to time (reel your neck in…I don’t pretend to love anything…hahahahahaha, so this review is a true reflection of how I felt about the book). I also waited in the hopes of perhaps reminding you to pick up this book if you have forgotten to do so after all the new release excitement has dissipated (yes I really am that thoughtful…you’re welcome).

In this novel we have the continuation of Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series. If you’re familiar and love the series then this one won’t disappoint. This is the story of Sam and Dellina. They are forced to work together after a misunderstanding that has caused them to avoid one another for months. Once they are forced to confront each other it’s only a matter a of time before they are forced to confront their feelings for each other as well. Sam’s parents are a bit over the top, but perhaps there *really* are people out in the world like them….I just haven’t been fortunate (or…errrr…unfortunate) enough to have met them.

There are plenty of hints throughout the novel of more names and romances to come as this series continues….Before long Fool’s Gold will be a booming metropolis!

Until next time,
Urania xx

ARC provided by NetGalley for an honest review

Buy it now Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery

Review: First Comes Love by Emily Griffin

first-comes-loveI’ve read many Emily Giffin books in my time…This was nothing like any of the previous books that I’ve read by her. If you’re looking for some silly lighthearted reading, this isn’t the book I would recommend to you.

I have to admit, I was looking for silly and lighthearted when I picked up this novel…so was a bit disappointed.

This is a hard book to review. Not just because it was different from I expected. I just found it extremely hard to get into. At about 20% I was wishing I hadn’t even started it. I can’t say there was much of anything I was enjoying. I didn’t like the characters. More so, I hated the way they treated one another.

At about 40% – 50% things turned around and I didn’t want to put the book down. However, I can’t stress this enough, I absolutely HATED one of the characters, and as much as I tried to make allowances for her behaviour, I simply could not set my dislike aside. Even as I finished the last page, I still was flabbergasted at an adult acting like she did.

I’m not sure if Griffin meant for me to feel that the character that was presented as the most unsettled and immature, in my opinion, turned out to be more mature than the majority of the others, including the one that was settled, smart, and level-headed. Perhaps it should be noted at this point that everyone that leads a *perfect* life might, in fact, be hiding just how messed up their life really is…and those that seem scattered, and unsettled, might in fact be solid, steady, and perfectly okay.

Yes, the second half of the book is really engaging and you’re invested in the characters, and was well worth the time of the reader…however, I don’t think it should take half a book for things to start being interesting.

The book is really full of some adults that over the process of 15 years seem to revert to selfish children. I don’t feel any of those things ultimately changed at the end of the novel…I wouldn’t want those type of people surrounding me in real life…and sadly, at the end of the day, I didn’t want them surrounding me in my literary life either…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now First Comes Love by Emily Griffin

Review: The Seekers (Book 1 of The Amish Cooking Class series) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Amish couple Heidi and Lyle live a simple life on their farm, but with Lyle out most of the day and no children to care for, Heidi finds her days empty. When Heidi advertises a cooking class – that she will teach in her home kitchen – an unexpected variety of participants arrives. They’re nervous to start cooking, but also nervous about being judged by a new group of people. 

The Seekers is very predictable, and an easy, straightforward read. I kind of needed something like that when I read this, so I appreciated the no-effort, feel-good experience! The Seekers wasn’t overly simplistic, though. The author wrote in a few characters that I myself judged … and by the end she had taught me a little lesson about that. *hangs head in shame* 

Once in a while it’s necessary to get back to basics, on an Amish farm, with a cooking class worthy of The Breakfast Club, and a lesson much more important than the pie crust turning out. I found that in The Seekers. 

-calliope

Buy THE SEEKERS

Review: A Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

pale-horsemanThis series is just breathtaking. Seriously, I kid you naught, it left me breathless more than once. I won’t say that Cornwell’s battle scenes are g rated, but I have read much more graphic…however Cornwell does have me having to slow myself down, alternately, afraid of what I am about to read, whilst at the same time trying to rush ahead to see what happens next. At one point in the novel, I think I actually said, “HOLY SHIT” in the middle of the night.

But before you wander off, thinking this isn’t the story for me because you hate that type of thing, let me remind you that this isn’t just about battles. In fact, there are only a few that take place in this novel. This is a novel about a young warrior named Uhtred. Northerner nobleman by birth, English by circumstance, Dane by force, Pagan by choice, but warrior at heart.

One has to be reminded time and time again that Uhtred is only a young man in this, the second novel, of the Saxon Stories. He is still battling with his choices, his conscious, his loyalties, his religion and most definitely with his warrior soul.

Watching Uhtred make his journey into adulthood and trying to weave his way through all that he faces, be it strategical, personal, or political, is in of itself, well worth the time it takes to read this series. You will be hard pressed to find someone who inspires or moves you as much as Uhtred does.

More than that though, this is an amazing retelling of history through fiction. I find myself searching for Alfred the Great and reading more about these battles and the locations. Of the defeats and the obsession of religion. Of how he came to be…and of how he came not to be..This is a story that inspires one to learn more about what came before.

I have always found England fascinating. From time to time, I’ve asked people, here in England, how does it feel to know that you walk where kings and knights have walked? On the very same ground. Where legends were born and countries were made? They often look at me like I am either daft or a lunatic. Here, however, is the proof. The very same places that I see around me are here, mentioned in this novel. The chalk grounds I see are where blood was spilled in the wars between the Saxons and the Danes.

That is what great story telling is about. As I went to sleep each night reading this novel, I awoke, not in the 21st century, but in the 9th. In England as it must have been then, the damp, the sound of battle cries in my head, the smell of fires, the bitter cold, and the knowledge that we fight for a cause…and her name is England…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now A Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell