Review: The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

Christmas! And sisters! And Scotland! Could there be a better combo? I don’t think so. Ok actually there could be – if Morgan added in some cutie pie kiddos and an awesome set of grandparents and the perfect love interests for the sisters. Which she did. Sigh.

I really liked all the references to New York, Washington state, and then the European locations outside of Scotland. I felt like I was traveling from the comfort of my sofa. And the other thing I so enjoyed was Jason’s admission that being a stay at home parent is not all bon-bons and soap operas. Even though his realization and apology was a teensy bit out of character and not 100% realistic, it was gratifying to read it all the same.

Morgan did a fantastic job individualizing the three sisters, giving them different perspectives on the same childhood tragedy they all suffered, and writing a believable and heartwarming resolution. Love and forgiveness are powerful, especially when you have the support of those around you.

Morgan also added in comic relief in little Ruby, Martha the chicken, and Eric. Beautifully done!

-calliope

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Review: The Bookshop on the Corner

I loved Nina and her van full of books! As she traveled and matched up the right books with the right people, Nina also experienced personal growth. Along her journey from England to Scotland, Nina did more than just drive some kilometers. She transitioned from roommate-situation to living alone, and from depressed to wide-eyed in awe. 

I also liked Nina’s relationship with her roommate Surinder – everyone needs a best friend who can share unvarnished truths. And Surinder was so fun! Nina also had a beautiful friendship with teenage Ainslee, a girl who just needed a good book and a nudge in the right direction. 

I didn’t enjoy the Marek storyline at all, but I did see the necessity of a “transition” guy during Nina’s transformation. So while Marek and his subplot made a lot of sense, the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.  The chapters with Nina’s landlord were similarly nose-wrinkling. He was a great guy, but I didn’t like his circumstances in the story. 

Overall, I sailed happily through this lovely story about a woman making a big life change. While the romantic parts weren’t my cup of tea, Nina’s friendships and journey of self-discovery were on point. Author Jenny Colgan made me feel like I was part of Nina’s book van, and that was a thrill in itself! 

-calliope

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Review: A Summer at Sea by Katie Fforde

25613372Oh dear…I hate to give a review for a book I didn’t like much by an author that everyone seems to love. Especially if it’s a genre that I’ve made clear isn’t my favourite.

As I’ve wanted to read more books from this genre lately I have been asking myself more and more why it’s not a genre that I absolutely love.

This book is why! I’ve read some exceptional books that were classified “chick lit”. I’ve read some that make my heart swell…some that have made me laugh out loud…and some that have given me so many “feels” that I can’t help but to always seek out that next one that makes me feel all those emotions.

This book wasn’t awful. But I just had issues with the characters.

Why was the main character so stressed out from a job that she proclaimed meant so much to her, that she was so passionate about, but then was willing to just walk away for several months. I understand stress…I do! I understand needing a break…I do! However, this just seemed like it was over dramatic, especially since a few weeks later it was once again the best job in the universe with no issues at all…what was the real story going on there?

Second, I can’t stand where a character just falls for someone they don’t know…I mean, she didn’t even seem to find him that attractive when she first saw him…then suddenly after talking to her mate, she couldn’t stop thinking of him…then after one day she’s willing to do all sorts of things with him…

TBH, when we first heard of the *love interest* in this novel the description was so non-descriptive I didn’t have a clue what he was like…I pictured him as older man who didn’t speak much and might not even speak the same language…

Again, I’m not trying to be horrible here…the book REALLY was okay…

I just need some type of foundation to build a HEA on and I don’t feel like I received that in this novel. Little Kate was wonderful…the teddy was wonderful…the elderly Maisie was equally wonderful…

But that’s it…the rest just weren’t…and there were bits that really bothered me…How in an interview and discussing a new job the main character kept referring to the elderly as “old people”. Here she is in an interview and they ask her if she’s ever worked with senior citizens and she goes on about “one old lady in particular”. I’m not really one for strict PC, but I just found it a bit off-putting for me. It bothered me. Two days later it STILL bothers me…That “old woman” was meant to be her friend…and there you have it…I just found Emily shallow and fickle. I found Alasdair stern, controlling and unforgiving…and I didn’t seem them as an item at all…

I certainly didn’t hate the book, but I can’t reconcile myself a fantastic, deep felt relationship between two people who I never saw any evidence of…so this book was a pass for me…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy your copy here A Summer at Sea by Katie Fforde

Review: The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton 

  
Book-lover Delaney from Kansas answers a Help Wanted ad placed by a Scottish bookshop owner. When she arrives in Edinburgh, she realizes she’s getting more than she bargained for: Treasures, ghosts, and new friends keeping closely held secrets. 

When Delaney finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery, she does some amateur investigating… and there her adventures get real. 

I loved the bookshop setting, the streets of Edinburgh, and especially Delaney’s Pub across the street with the good-looking, kilt-wearing, half-smiling, full-on charming pub owner. 

I could’ve done without the dialogue being written in Scottish dialect and the contrivances trying to convince me that Delaney really loved books. Both were off-putting, and I almost didn’t read past chapter one. I think the story would have flowed a little better – especially in the beginning – had the author not tried quite so hard to prove her points. 

Once I accepted the Scottish dialogue and allowed myself to skip over anything repetitive, I started to love Delaney and her new friends. She left her home for a new experience — and she really dove into it head first. Gotta love that courage. 

Take a trip with Delaney in Edinburgh. You’ll get into her head and help her solve a mystery. And keep an eye out for the handsome Scot across the street. 

-calliope

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Review: the one you really want  by Jill Mansell

  
Carmen is getting through the grief of losing her husband, her friend Nancy is getting over her ex-husband’s cheating ways, and the ladies are hanging out in posh Chelsea … where men seem to be popping up wherever they go. Some are eligible, some pretend to be, and some pretend NOT to be — all for the sake of love… and money. 

I loved the twists and turns in this romp through different levels of relationships. I enjoyed meeting the neighbors, the shelter folks, the gym rats, the long lost daughter… Mansell writes a fun cast of characters and dialogue that’s funny, tender, and believable. 

I appreciate Mansell’s talent for spinning a tale that’s pretty crazy, but just real enough that it could be true. And as always, I’m happy when the characters are happy, and sighing with joy when they live happily ever after. 

-calliope

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Review: Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher 

  

I loved Rosamunde Pilcher’s Shell Seekers so much that I wanted another Pilcher novel ASAP. So I put Winter Solstice on my TBR list, and here we are. 

Winter Solstice has the same depth and character development and saga feel as Shell Seekers, but it’s a little more lighthearted, fun and romantic. 

Pilcher speaks my language when she writes parallel relationships and symmetrical settings. I liked comparing Carrie to her cousin Elfrida, or Lucy to her Aunt Carrie. The men who enter their lives aren’t necessarily similar, but they all share a tender heart for the right woman. Carrie, Lucy and Elfrida treasure their independence, but appreciate being cared for and treasured as well. 

Death, divorce, and family secrets move this plot along. Property changes hands, mothers shirk their duties, love is lost in a variety of ways. But rising above the bleak Scotland winter as well as the winter season of life are the warm hearts and hands of three generations celebrating love. 

-calliope 

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Review: Death of a Liar by M.C. Beaton

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This 31st book in the Hamish Macbeth series begins the way I like a mystery to begin: with a murder. This isn’t just any murder, though. It’s the first of many. Sergeant Macbeth thinks they’re all related, and he’s determined to solve the case.

While Hamish is busy investigating, we watch him navigate his sort of pitiful love life, his friendship with his sidekick Dick, and his relationships with his police superiors.

I liked seeing Hamish’s whole life and how he prioritized work, women, and friends. Beaton succeeds in making him a three-dimensional character that way. I was grateful, because this is the first Hamish Macbeth book I’ve read, and I understood the character in the first few chapters.

Beaton wrote some fun criminals, too. I laughed at their antics and raised my eyebrows quite a few times. The recurring secondary characters were a little flat, though. I didn’t feel like I knew Dick or Jimmy or Blair or any of the other police officers. As a matter of fact, they all got jumbled up for me. I kept going back to earlier chapters to sort them out in my mind. And that doesn’t make for fun reading.

The writing was good for the most part. Sentence structure was perfect, descriptions and word choice were on point. The Scottish bits were terrific! The dialogue was a little weak, though, with some stilted conversation. I also noticed quite a bit of telling-instead-of-showing. Combined, it made the book plod along for me.

And just a little subjectivity: what in the world was the point of Anka? She was sent to the forefront so often that I really thought she would end up with a bigger part than she had. Maybe it’s a tease for books to come?

So in the end, I liked the actual mystery, and I could appreciate the main character, but the rest of the book just didn’t do it for me. But if you’re a mystery buff and a fan of a largely male cast, you might enjoy Death of a Liar. Check it out.

-calliope

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