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: Always by Sarah Jio

alwaysI enjoyed this book…but it just wasn’t a great book for me. It felt a bit flat…More like an outline for a great book, but missing all the real meat of the story.

At the end of the day though I have to hand it to Jio. So often in love triangles, the author always turns around and tries to make one of the characters into some sort of villain or undesirable person to make it easier for the reader to accept the choices made. Jio didn’t do that. She kept it real. I really appreciate that. I wish more authors did so. Life isn’t always in black and white with clear-cut choices…so why should books be?

This book also made me miss Seattle a wee bit…okay….more than a wee bit…I knew all of the places mentioned.

I wish I had loved this book more. It was a great story and yes, I found it interesting. It was also a very quick read for me. I couldn’t wait to see what happened so I had a hard time putting it down. That happens less and less these days, so again, I give even more props to Jio.

I don’t wish to discourage anyone from reading this book. Please do pick it up and give it a try. It is a good book….but it did feel a bit like a lifetime made for TV movie.

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now Always by Sarah Jio

Review: It Must Be Your Love by Bella Andre

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I’ve never really been into rock stars, but Bella Andre made me a fan in about two chapters. Ford is the rock star of every woman’s dreams. He’s so perfect that you can only believe he’s a character in a book, but he’s written so well he seems pretty darn real.

Mia Sullivan is a successful realtor with a pretty fulfilling social life. Except that she can’t stop thinking about that time she met Ford at a concert… and fell in love.

While I think Andre wrote a fantastic alpha hero and a believable, strong yet feminine woman, I think the strength of this book goes beyond the amazing romance. As in every “Sullivans” book Andre writes, I appreciate the descriptions of family bonds, protective brothers, accepting parents, loyal cousins, and the laughter and trust that really good families foster.

It’s kind of wonderful to get lost for a few hours in hot and heavy liaisons, a wedding, a romance, and family full of love.

-calliope

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Review: The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier

20140222-093602.jpgAfter I read Creep, Jennifer Hillier instantly become one of my favorite new authors. The sequel, Freak, sealed the deal. Now she’s back with a new stand alone novel. The question is, does it stand up to the brilliance of those first two books?

Back in the 80s, Seattle was gripped by terror as the Beacon Hill Butcher terrorized the city. That fear was put to rest when the Butcher was killed by police chief-turned hero Edward Shanks. Thirty years later, Shanks is ready to move into a retirement home. Grandson Matt, an up and coming chef and soon to be reality cooking show star, is the lucky recipient of Edward’s large Victorian home. Renovations to the family estate soon turn up family secrets that have long been buried. A side story concerns Matt’s girlfriend, Samantha. Sam is a true crime author determined to find out what happened to her mother, who she believes was one of the Butcher’s victims even though her death came after his crime spree ended. I have mixed feelings about these characters. Edward is a scary, cantankerous old man. Matt is a self-centered egomaniac with huge anger issues. And Sam is a likeable enough person although I found her to be a bit of a pushover.

I was beyond excited when I received this book. I expected a pulse-pounding, on the edge of your seat page turner, and I wasn’t disappointed. It kept me interested even though you pretty much know who the killer is and where the story is likely going from early on. Although this one doesn’t have the suspense/psychological thriller aspect that the author’s previous two books did, it’s still a great book. My only complaint is that I felt that the ending was a bit of a letdown, wrapping up in a handful of pages after building to a crescendo for the last fourth of the book. Still, this is an excellent third novel from a promising author!

~Thalia

Buy it Now: The Butcher

Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

where'd you go bernadetteAre you kidding me? I loved this book! Are you kidding me? I never saw that coming! Are you kidding me? I surely didn’t see THAT coming! What a charming, funny book, that is also horrible and the exact opposite of charming and funny at the very same moment! A true paradox of a book. I shocked myself by laughing out loud at terrible things. I hated and loved most of the characters. I felt sorry for them and angry at them, again, at the same time. I lived near Seattle for a number of years. The description of the Emerald City both offended me and warmed my heart at the same time. It made me angry and giggly at the same instance.

So if we take this book and read the description this is what we get:

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic….

For much of the book you believe this is what the novel is about. Then the author, Maria Semple, throws in a little twist. A simple hand written note from Bernadette’s husband. Suddenly you start to understand a little bit more. However, Semple then throws in an e-mail from Bernadette and you’re like, “OMGreatGoodness, I am so getting this book now! Oh my, I can’t believe this”…..and the hidden truths of the past and present are dropped here and there, bit by bit….until suddenly the entire picture you had painted in your head is like looking at a Bev Doolittle original painting! You’re looking at this image and the more you look, the more you see….the whole image you first glanced at is built upon one little hidden gem upon another…and another….

I was just as surprised by some of the twists in the novel as the characters were. All I can say is that this novel reinforces what we all already know…Don’t judge a book based solely upon its cover. We all do things for different reasons. We all have pasts that shape whom we are today. What you take as indifference from someone might be anything but….

I admire Semple for not giving this ending a happy ever after finish. There are still messy bits that can’t be easily solved…bits that the characters will have to deal with after this book finishes. I admire her for turning a simple straightforward “chick lit” book into so much more. I appreciate the laughter and the shock value as well. Sure, you might look at parts of the novel and think, “But grown adults would NEVER act that way”….I say hey ho…they do it every single day….thank you Semple for putting it in the light of day….

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now Where’d You go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Review: Once Upon a Winter’s Heart by Melody Carlson

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Emma’s Poppi died, and with him all romance and true love – or so Emma thought. When she left Seattle to go home and take care of Nona, Emma was jaded as. Watching her parents’ marriage crumble and her sister Anne’s neglect of her marriage, Emma was set to start the new year in mourning.

Then Emma began helping at Poppi’s bookstore, spending time with her young nephew Tristan, and having fun with friends – especially Lane, Poppi’s protégé. She remembered Poppi’s wisdom and open heart, and tried to do what would make him proud – and make herself happy. Lane joined her on the journey.

Emma and Lane had a roundabout way of realizing that romance and true love was alive and well. Once they did, it warmed my heart. This was a well-written novella with nice, drama-free main characters, and a family feel. I especially liked Nona’s cooking lessons and the spontaneous singing of That’s Amore!

-Calliope

Buy it now Once Upon A Winter’s Heart