Review: The Memory of You by Jamie Beck

Great start to a new series! Steffi is offered a job renovating a room in her ex boyfriend’s mom’s house… and that about says it all, doesn’t it?! Seriously loved the good relationship between Ryan’s mom and Steffi – and the slow refreshment of a friendship between Ryan and Steffi. Good, solid story with likable characters, great dialogue, and cool references to the state I call home. I’m looking for book 2 as soon as this review is done being written!

-calliope

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Review: Not Quite Over You by Susan Mallery

Silver dances to the beat of her own drum, for sure. In true Happily Inc fashion, she’s fiercely independent, strong, and knows her limitations. When she decides to expand her business, she just doesn’t realize that an old flame is going to show up with money burning a hole in his pocket and unrequited love burning a hole in his heart.

Cute story, loved the business focus and Silver’s approach to the learning curve. Susan Mallery continues to impress me with fresh characters and plots, cameos consistent with prior books, and the ever popular but hard-to-find-in-real-life “sensitive” alpha male.

-calliope

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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: 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.

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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.

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-calliope

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: The Light Before Day by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The saga continues! Siblings Hetty and Henry love their home on Nantucket, but it all goes topsy turvy when their stern grandmother leaves them her fortune upon her passing – with stipulations, of course.

It was fun to read about how Henry and Hitty wanted to spend their inheritance – and eye opening to watch progress create division among the islanders. I also enjoyed watching that progress – from muddy paths to cobblestone streets, from no safety protocols to lightships and fire supplies. As usual for the Nantucket Legacy books in this series, I learned a few things about the Quaker religion, and how non-Quakers were drawn in to the light and spirituality they saw in the Friends.

My favorite parts of the book were the tender moments between couples who didn’t even consider themselves couples – but as the reader I could see the love between them.

Engaging and entertaining historical fiction, with comedy, tragedy, and a happily ever after.

-calliope

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Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

** minor spoiler alert ** Oh boy…I almost stopped reading this book and didn’t get past my annoyance until about 35%. I’m thankful I stuck with it, but honestly, the parents and the way they were portrayed almost did my head in. I am still considering going back and forth each day and bumping my review back and forth from a 1 star to a 5 star. I just do not believe any person would act like these parents did. I can understand their lack of affection. Even how they seemed to not even want a child in the first place. I can even understand them being neglectful and seemingly uninterested. However, I still can’t believe that anyone would talk as they did (example – show up at a police station after your 14-year-old has just been part of a kidnapping, continually interrupting a police officer to correct him that it’s not your real child but an adopted child and then after doing that several times, interrupting him once again to explain how you wouldn’t mind “doing” a member of the royal family even if she was older than the normal type you liked, all the while never once showing any concern over the kidnapping). You have not only the father acting like this, but the mother as well.

I just found myself not finding these portrayals in any way true to life and it made me want to quit the entire book. I really don’t understand why they were portrayed as such. It would not have changed the book at all to have them as ‘normal’ disinterested, neglectful, self-centred people.

Once the story moved on from the parents (for the most part) I loved every word. I’ve read other novels that have tried to explain the sexual environments in the past to not be completely shocked by the horrors I read in this book. However, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t angry. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel for the characters in this book. I have to say that, unlike some others, I 100% felt that I saw the reasoning behind Cyril’s choices and the paths he decided to take.

But damn, I was so angry. Life is so fucking unfair (as quoted a few times in this novel).

I just don’t know. I didn’t cry at all during the reading of this novel, but I sure wanted to time and time again. For whatever reasons I was reminded time and time again of Patrick Gale’s ‘A Place Called Winter’. Two totally different stories, but both made me ache with loneliness and despair at the unfairness of so much…Both are books which I found almost poetic in the writing style and absolutely hauntingly beautiful in both word and story

There is so much of me that wishes I could say this book was just over the top with bad things happening. That one thing after another happened to Cyril and it was just too much to be believed. But I can’t. It all felt so genuine. Hence why my heart is broken when I read books like this…and I want to cry, not just for the characters, but for myself…and all of humanity…so many people just have to make other’s miserable no matter that it’s nothing to do with them… #loveislove

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne