Review: Christmas in London by Anita Hughes

Anita Hughes writes for the reader who wants to escape. No matter if you’re reading Hughes’ beach vacation novels or her holiday books, you’ll remove yourself from reality, suspend your disbelief, and enjoy a ride through luxury. 

In Christmas in London, baker Louisa gets whisked away to London by television show producer Noah. She and her cinnamon rolls are needed for filming a Christmas special with a handsome, charming, world-famous chef and cookbook writer. 

When I read Hughes, I just latch on to the main character and forget my real life. In London, I got to wake up to the smell of coffee and pastry, buy fancy new clothes, take walks with the cutie pie producer, take cooking classes with the famous chef (and hang out in a mansion with him), and live the tv star life for a week… not to mention get a happily ever after (and watch a new friend get one too).

Not a bad way to spend 288 pages.  

-calliope 

Buy CHRISTMAS IN LONDON

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Review: On the Spectrum by Jennifer Gold

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There are a couple of signs that a book really WOWED me.  If I finish it within a couple of days, it’s a given.  But, whenever I feel compelled to immediately write a review, well then you can be sure it’s a winner.

Clara doesn’t want for much of anything, but her life is anything but easy.  Growing up as the daughter of a famous ballet dancer has put enormous pressure on her going back as far as she can remember.  She’s always felt as if she can’t measure up to her beautiful, graceful, and excessively thin mother.  So it’s no surprise that she’s developed an eating disorder.  Maybe not the binging and purging or wasting away type, but still.  Under the guise of healthy eating, she’s obsessively concerned with everything she puts into her mouth.  And who can blame her?  She’s just following her mother’s example, after all.

When things go too far, however, she finds herself sent off to visit her estranged father for the summer.  Sure, it’s in Paris.  But it also means she has to spend the summer with her stepmother and a brother she doesn’t even know.  To make matters more difficult in her mind, he’s on the autism spectrum.  Will they be able to help each other?

There are so many important things going on in this story, things that almost any young person or adult can relate to.  There’s a nontraditional, blended family as a result of divorce.  There’s a love interest, of course.  Because what young adult story wouldn’t have one?  And then there are the more serious issues, eating disorders and children with autism spectrum  disorders.

This is the rare young adult book that I actually feel safe recommending for truly young adults.  It provides a true look at real issues faced by many young people without delving into the culture of sex, drugs, and alcohol so prominent in many of today’s books marketed toward young people.  A great story!

~Thalia

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Review (quick and dirty #5 FINALLY): Summer at the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard 

I’m all caught up! Here’s the fifth and final Friday night quick and dirty book review: 

I love this series set in the French countryside! Emmy is a wonderful Jane-of-all-trades at Rupert’s lovely inn, and there’s no shortage of chick-lit drama. “Interesting” guests, crazy ex-wives, and family secrets drive the plot forward fast and furiously. I like that Emmy is soft-hearted yet doesn’t stand for any nonsense… and the other characters appreciate that about her as well. What most impresses me is how Pollard writes about real life issues with lightness and whimsy. GUESTHOUSE is so fun that you don’t even realize you’ve read about divorce, grief, mortality, trauma, and tolerance. All you feel is love, laughter and friendship — which are balms for all of life’s messy parts. C’est bon. 

-calliope

Buy SUMMER AT THE LITTLE FRENCH GUESTHOUSE

Review (quick and dirty #3): Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery 

I was so happy to read this smart, fun, contemporary, relatable book about two very different sisters — the farmer and the fashionista. What’s underneath is what really matters, of course, but the ladies needed to find that out themselves. There were nosy gossips, nice guys who definitely didn’t finish last, big jerks who get sent on their merry way, and a couple of romances that made me sigh with giddiness. You’ll get all you bargained for and more in this novel with terrific dialogue and likeable characters. Reminded me of Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor books. Excellent writing. 

-calliope

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Review: Fire Inside (Chaos #2) by Kristen Ashley

imageLanie Heron just wants to hook up with Hopper Kincaid for one night. She’s not been with anyone since the death of her fiancé eight years ago. There’s always been an undercurrent of attraction between the two since they first met.
So the one night stand leads to many more nights together with Lanie, the drama queen, being resistant to any type of relationship with Hop.

Fortunately Hop is persistence and patient and handles her well. He helps deal with her troubled parents as well the guilt that she still holds over the death of her fiancé. Also, we get to know what really happened in regard Hop cheating on his ex. Finally, we learn that Hop is a rock star who can melt Lanie’s heart with a Bob Seger.

This book’s timeline runs concurrently with Tab and Shy’s. So don’t expect a resolution to storyline of Benito Valenzuela wanting to take over Chaos territory.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable read. I loved getting to know Hop better and could tolerate the high drama that Lanie can bring. As always, the epilogue worked well to add additional happiness to Hop and Lanie’s HEA.

This is the second book in the series. I highly recommend that you start with the first book, Own the Wind before diving into this one. The motorcycle club is huge and lots of characters are involved. I would hate for you to be confused.

3/5 stars

ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley.

~Thalia

Buy Book 1 Own the Wind: A Chaos Novel

Buy It Now Fire Inside: A Chaos Novel

Review: Keeping Her: A Losing It Novella by Cora Carmack

image2.5/5 stars

Garrick and Bliss are going to London to meet his parents. Bliss is very worried about meeting his mother. Garrick tries to re-assure that everything will be ok.

In London, Bliss meets his two oldest friends first. Then they go Garrick’s parents’ home, where a surprise engagement party awaits them. And that’s just the start. There is some more added un-needed drama. I wish the novella focused more on Garrick and his two friends, instead of the melodrama.

This novella is for hard-core fans of the series. You are not missing anything if you skip it.

Looking forward to the next full-length book in this featuring Bliss’ friend, Kelsey in October.

~Thalia

Buy It Now Keeping Her: A LOSING IT Novella

Find Out They First Met & Got Together Losing It

Review: Her Favorite Rival by Sarah Mayberry

imageAudrey and Zach both have painful pasts. Audrey ran away from home at the age of sixteen. Although she came back home, her parents never truly forgave her. Instead they lavished attention on her younger sister while became she became the black sheep of the family.

Zach’s parents were recreational drug users. His mom became addicted to heroin after the death of his father in a motorcycle accident.

Audrey and Zach have overcome their hardships and are successful in the corporate world. They are both buyers for a large hardware chain of stores. A new CEO has come on board and they want to prove themselves in hopes of getting a promotion to category manager. Audrey has the experience. Zach has the academic qualifications.

They see each other as rivals but working together on a report allows them to get to know each other. An attraction develops. Naturally, they flirt.

“Why do men always buy manual cars?”
“Because we like to be in control.”
“Why do women always buy automatics?”
“Because we like to conserve our energy for some important things.”
“I have plenty of energy left to spare, don’t worry.”

They eventually give in to this attraction and it is Audrey who initiates this. It is Zach who insists that it goes beyond one night, who wants to start dating her.

“He didn’t care. Maybe that was because he was so tired, or maybe it was because he’d spent the night beside his sick mother, and turning his back on something -somone- who felt as good and life-affirming and right as Audrey did seemed nuts.”

It is mutual decision that they keep it quite from work for now.

As they open up about their families, they are there to console, comfort and support each other.

The category manager position does eventually open up. Both are asked to interview. No matter whom is selected, I firmly believed that the other would be proud and supportive of the other.

“All right. It’ll probably end in tears, but if you think we can handle this, I guess we’ve got to do it.”
“We can handle it.”

This is another winner by Mayberry. She writes compelling and sometimes heartbreaking stories featuring everyday, hardworking characters. It was a pleasure to see Audrey and Zach fall for each other as they deftly handled their career aspirations and difficult past.

ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley.

~Thalia

Read Clio’s review of the prequel featuring Audrey’s sister.

Buy It Now Her Favorite Rival (Harlequin Superromance)