Clover Cottate #ChristieBarlow #HappyPubDay

Christie Barlow has rapidly become one of my favorite cozy romance writers and now she is back with a wonderful new addition, Clover Cottage.

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When local veterinarian, Rory, is gifted Clover Cottage by his parents, his significant other, Allie, is thrilled. She sees this as a new beginning for the two of them in the town in which they grew up and fell in love. However, Rory is extremely reluctant to take on the renovations of the house, to the point that Ally is worried that it is their relationship in which Rory does not want to invest. Instead, he wants to travel and study abroad, to expand his horizons – and then come back to Allie. Allie, of course, is devastated. As the book unfolds we begin to see that neither of them really knew the secret hopes and desires of one another and we wonder if there is any way this couple can survive.

Clover Cottage is the third book in the Love Heart Lane series so readers will be somewhat familiar with the couple already. What I love most about these two, and all of the residents of Heartcross, is how important their family and friends are to one another. Rather than giving rash advice to Allie – or to Rory – they support them and offer a different perspective which helps this couple get through this difficult time. There are heartaches, illness, secrets and plenty of small town happiness throughout this book for it is the type of story that draws you in from beginning to end. You come to love these people as though they were real which is due to the marvelous character building and writing skills of Christie Barlow.

Although it is the third book in a series, Clover Cottage can be read as a stand alone. To get the feel of the characters, however, I encourage you to read the series as a whole. They are short, heartwarming, quick reads and I know you will be glad that you did.

Thank you to @OneMoreChapter, #Netgalley and @ChristieJBarlow for my copy of these delightful tale.

It’s Valentine’s Day – what are you reading? #SundayPotluckClub/FirstComesLove

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I hope you’re having a love-ly Valentine’s Day and are sharing it with those you love and care about most. For me, that would be BOOKS! 

FIRST COMES LOVE by Camilla Isley

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First Comes Love by Camilla Isley includes three of her first books: Love Connection, I Have Never and A Christmas Date. Each of the stories can be read independently from one another but they do have a few crossovers. You can even find the books published separately if you choose.

Love Connection, the first story, was my favorite. Gemma is sitting in an airport with two tickets to two different destinations. One is for the wedding of her best friend; the other is to stop the wedding of her first real love. She ponders the outcome of each and then decides – but is it the right choice? Love Connection actually allows you, the reader, to see the outcome each way and to follow Gemma’s path of self-discovery. It it a thoughtful, well written and humorous story of love, choices and consequences.

The latter two, I Have Never and A Christmas Date, are both fairly typical ROMCOMs. They will make you laugh out loud, I promise you will, and perhaps even cry a little. Camilla Isley writes poignant love stories that are sure to touch each of you, especially on this day of love.  This is my first venture into her writing and I will be sure to watch for her future releases.

Sunday Potluck Club by Melissa Storm

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Love Love LOVED The Sunday Potluck Club. And, by the way, this review is about the entire book and not just an excerpt which was previously published.

Four very different women, with distinct personalities, forge a friendship with one another after meeting on a cancer ward. They are the survivors who, with one exception, have lost a loved one to cancer. Amy, who the story primarily revolves around; Bridget, whose mother has just died; Nicole, whose father is in remission and Hazel who lost her mother before the others. Each are grieving and coping with their loss, as well as survivor’s guilt, in their own unique way. Told from Amy’s point of view, we get to know each woman’s strength’s and their flaws as they encourage one another through difficult times. When Amy meets a man whose daughter is in her classroom and who also is coping with loss, she finally begins to see that there can be life after monumental loss.

The Sunday Potluck Club talks a lot about death, grief, and coping with loss but never in a heavy way. Yes, it is realistic to the point that you hurt for some of the women and there were times that I wanted to slap a few of them, but overall, it was a beautiful story of friendship and overcoming challenges. At its heart, it is a well crafted love story between friends as well as possible romantic interests. It’s a book about life, not death. It also is the first in a new series so each woman will have their story told. I cannot wait for the next one!

Thank you to #Netgalley, the authors, #KensingtonPublications and #PinkBloomPress for my copies of these wonderful books.

 

 

 

The Patient #SteenaHolmes

Since February is Heart Month featuring heart health awareness, my husband decided to have a heart attack so that we could fully embrace the month’s theme. Okay, so he didn’t plan on the attack… (insert eye roll) but we still are dealing with the repercussions of this and his upcoming quadruple by-pass surgery in two weeks. REMEMBER – you have one heart so take care of it! An interesting note, however, is that his issue is 100% hereditary so know your family’s medical history. It could save your life! Since we’re dealing with all things medical, I thought now would be a good time to re-post a “lost” review of The Patient by Steena Holmes.

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A therapist must face her own worst fear—one of her patients is a serial killer.

A series of horrific murders are occurring in Danielle Rycroft’s small town. As a psychologist, she comes to believe that one the killer is one of her patients – but which one?

Rarely do I describe a book as a “roller-coaster ride,” but that is the perfect term for Steena Holmes newest book, The Patient. As Rycroft meets with each of her patients she comes to realize the horror that one of them has to be guilty of the brutal crimes in her town. Each time she meets with one of them, the suspicion shifts from one patient to another until finally you feel as though you and Rycroft are a free-fall into madness. This fast paced, taut thriller will have you hanging on for dear life until the very final page!

Homes has proven through multiple books and awards, that she is a very talented and gifted writer and readers of The Patient will understand why she is considered one of the best writers of today. My only drawback – and it is indeed a very small one – is that I knew early on what was happening and going to happen. Perhaps I’ve read too much crime fiction. This did not stop my over all enjoyment because the who and what is not nearly as important as the Why. If you love crime fiction and suspense then The Patient is definitely a must-read.

Thank you to #netgalley and #LakeUnionPublishing for my copy of this terrific thriller.

 

Alone in the Wild @KelleyArmstrong #PublicationDay

Rockton – secluded, secretive and always full of surprises. A tiny town in the Yukon where the most desperate people go to hide. Now the Yukon forest has another hidden surprise for Casey Duncan: a baby.

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Alone in the Wild is the fifth in the Rockton series by author Kelley Armstrong. Centering around the town of Rockton, a secret fortress hidden in the vast Yukon forest, it is a place for those who need or can afford extreme hiding. Some of its residents are victims, some are those who have committed the crime but all of the Rockton residents are colorful, interesting nd not always law abiding. Casey Duncan and her life partner, the hard-assed sheriff, do their best to keep everyone safe – from one another, “the settlers” who have chosen to live outside of Rockton and from the “hostiles,” those who have de-evolved while living in the wild.

When Casey discovers the baby under the coat of a dead “hostile” woman, she begins to search for the murderer and the baby’s parents. Moral questions arise about the capability of the parents, whoever they may be, of caring for a baby through the Yukon winter. Casey’s search takes her directly into the “hostile” camps, to the trailers of those who sell and trade with the “hostiles” and the “settlers” and the “settler” camps themselves. Those who have followed this series finally get a full picture of the life these outcast groups live, how they interact with one another and a deeper look into some of the Rockton residents themselves.

As an avid follower of Kelley Armstrong and the town of Rockton, I found Alone in the Wild to be one of the best written books in this series. Questions that we have had from the beginning are answered and the people, themselves, became fuller and more fleshed out. While it has been suggested that Alone in the Wild could be read as a stand-alone, I heartily disagree. Each book in this series picks up where the previous book left off and, if you are not familiar with the characters, the town and the back-story, you will be more confused than necessary than if you start at the beginning. The characters grow and change, as does the town of Rockton itself. I highly recommend Alone in the Wild for those who like improbable locations and quirky characters.

Thanks to #Edelweiss and @Minotaurbooks for my copy of Alone in the Wild.

The Warning by Paul Paul, translated by Simon Bruni #WatchingWhatI’mReading

I DON’T WISH TO FRIGHTEN YOU….

Eight year old Leo, a uniquely “different” boy who has become the center of all bullying at his school, opens a note in his backpack addressed To The Nine Year Old Boy. Scared, shaking in terror, Leo gives the note to his parents who, by the way, should be nominated for the worst parents in all of literature. They assume that Leo has written the note for attention and add to his torment rather than comprehending the danger.

In the same, small Spanish town, a series of robbery/murders have been occurring for nearly a century. The note suggests that little Leo could possibly be the next to die.

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In the introduction, the author, Paul Pen, apologizes for this, his first book, explaining that while we in the US are just now reading The Warning, it was his first work and therefore flawed. (insert laughing here) If The Warning is his most flawed work then I cannot imagine how incredible his subsequent work has to be! The Warning is classical horror at its finest and by “horror” I am referring to the original genre that brought us Frankenstein, The Yellow Wallpaper, Shirley Jackson’s work and the first writings of Stephen King. It is the genre that will leave you with an uneasy feeling, have you looking over your shoulder for something which you cannot name. Paul Pen has given us a tale in which you hope for a happily after ending knowing that there cannot be one – can there?

Told in alternate timelines nearly a decade apart, The Warning is the story of  Aaron, Andrea and David who are attempting to cope with the senseless shooting of David. Aaron believes he has found a link from David’s shooting to three others in the past. He hopes to stop a fourth one in the future, even if he drives himself insane in the process. Alternately, there is Leo a child who is tormented by bullies and by his own mother relentlessly. Aaron concludes that it is Leo who will be killed. Now he has to convince others and attempt to stop a killing that will happen nine years in the future.

While the book started a tiiiinny bit slow for me, it quickly all came together and rapidly became a book that absolutely floored me, so much so that I read this one in one sitting. It truly is one of the best books of any genre that I have read in ages! Even if you don’t think that you like “horror,” this is a book that you will not want to miss. It isn’t zombie apocalypse horror, it is true, psychological drama at its best.

Paul Pen’s books have been made into Netflix movies, including The Warning, and he currently is working on a Netflix series. Currently you can see The Warning on Netflix – but not until you read the book.

#Netgalley @Netgalley #PaulPen and @AmazonCrossing

Sunday Morning For the Kids #AWarmFriendship #TempleGrandin

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Good Morning! Each Sunday Morning, okay some Sunday mornings, I like to share with you some wonderful kids’ books that I’ve read the previous weeks. These are books that meet my very high standards. Naaahh, I like books with pretty pictures, that teach a lesson or don’t put me to sleep. I share them with a kid or two and if they agree then I share them with you. I don’t get overly picky because kids aren’t – or shouldn’t be – overly picky about what makes them happy.

A WARM FRIENDSHIP – by EllenDeLange, Illustrations by Jacqueline Molnar

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The creatures in the forest have made a friend with Mr. Snowman but he is very cold and shivering. They decide to bring him scarves to keep him warm but, of course, soon he is too warm and begins to melt. The animals are so sad that that they have lost their friend but they are reminded that they always will have the joy and memory of their friend with them forever.

This is a very short story, brilliantly illustrated and beautifully written about friendship, caring, empathy and, ultimately, loss. These are emotions that young children often struggle with understanding and to see it illustrated in this book so basically is just wonderful. I shared it with two children who were 5 years old and it was perfect for them. They easily grasped the concept of losing a loved one but holding on the joy you are left with. I think this book is perfect for a family bookshelf.

TEMPLE GRANDIN by Rachel Castro

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This is part of a new series of STEM Superstars. Hopefully you are aware that the STEM program is one that is in the US public schools to encourage Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. The fact that they began the series with one of the greatest human minds in recent history is amazing – Temple Grandin. You see, Grandin is profoundly autistic. Her mother never gave up hope that her child could learn, was brilliant and would be able to contribute to society and, wow, was she ever correct! Temple Grandin revolutionized the way in which modern agriculture operated. She now is a THE leading spokesperson on Autism, teaching children with Autism, and an expert on all that we now refer to as “the spectrum.” As a mother of an adult son who is on the spectrum who is a leading performer with Cirque du Soleil, Temple Grandin is my hero!

Yes, as critics have pointed out, there are other books that offer more information about Temple Grandin, including her own. This book is for younger students, most likely Middle School students, who are interested in the STEM program. Hopefully it will interest students who are on the spectrum themselves and GIRLS who will be interested in the STEM program. Sadly my town’s STEM program is all male – not what it was meant to be.

If you have a younger, middle school aged child or are the parent of a child who has been diagnosed on the spectrum, I highly recommend this book. If you are a teacher in these fields or a homeschool teacher, please get this STEM series in the hands of your students.

 

Three for Thursday: Look Back at Christmas #ChristmasInSilverSprings #ComingHomeForChristmas and #AWeddingInDecember

Yes, I know it’s January but, seriously, when I’m sitting by the fire and drinking cafe au lait, my brain still wants to read holiday themed, cozy reads. Since it’s not quite time for Valentine’s Day yet, I’m still reading some great books from Christmas and pretending that they are “Winter” themed books instead. Won’t you join me?

CHRISTMAS IN SILVER SPRINGS – Brenda Novak

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Let me begin by pointing out that Christmas in Silver Springs in the 6th book in a series. While it is touted as being able to be read as a “stand alone,” it is not. I spent the majority of the book feeling like the sixth grade girl who got invited to the cool kids party but didn’t know anyone. Was I supposed to like Tobias? Know why he was in jail? Was I supposed to care who Harper was or her snotty sister? I think readers of Novak’s books are familiar with these characters and, most likely, has a relationship with them that allows the reader to overlook certain questionable aspects of a character. I didn’t have that luxury. Therefore, many of things that these characters said or did simply didn’t ring true for me.

With ALL of that stated, the book itself is well written, the characters are interesting and the story is a sweet one, full of angst and longing and hand wringing. If you are a fan of Novak’s then this is a “must read” for you. If you do not already read her books then I suggest that you start at the beginning which is what I intend to do. An added note to any and all publishers – PLEASE let us know when a holiday book is built on characters’ story lines from previous books. Not all authors do this, but many do and it is getting more and more annoying to pick up a book and realize you are starting at a disadvantage.

A WEDDING IN DECEMBER by Sarah Morgan

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I absolutely adored A Wedding in December. This is exactly the fun, sweet, warm, witty story that I like to read any time of year but especially in the dead of winter. Don’t you just feel all warm and toasty reading a good love story? Okay, yeah,  I maybe stretching it a little but you know what I mean!

Rosie, an ex-pat from the UK, is marrying a yank from Aspen Colorado. Her family has flown in to celebrate the big day but not everyone is in the mood for festivities. Rosie’s parents are on the brink of divorce and her sister, Katie, who always has had a say in everything Rosie has done, is not happy about the groom, a man she has never met. When Katie meets his best friend, she is even less happy. Hi-jinks and shenanigans abound as the White family tries to keep secrets, break up the wedding, put everything back together again AND salvage their familial relationships. The writing is perfect, the characters are so realistic and the fun is abounding in this charming WINTER tale! I highly recommend it any time of the year.

COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS – by RaeAnne Thayne

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I’m extremely conflicted about Coming Home for Christmas. RaeAnne Thayne is a well known, much loved romance author and her writing is wonderful. I cared immensely for all of the characters, Elizabeth and Luke, and their children. Despite the fact that this is part of an ongoing series, there was enough backstory that I never felt lost or needed more information to comprehend what was going on with the main characters or those in the town.My concern with the book is the story line itself and its lack of credibility.

Elizabeth was suffering from post-partum depression, severely, to the point that she became suicidal and thought that she would harm her baby. Fleeing from her home, she eventually gets into an accident in which the driver was killed and Elizabeth was gravely injured, both physically and mentally. After a very long rehabilitation from which she never fully recovered, she made the decision that it would be better for her family if she stayed away from them. Meanwhile, Luke is going to be charged with her murder by the new hot-shot cop in town. The only way he can save himself is find answers about where Elizabeth is and why she stayed away. Okay, so when I write it all out it doesn’t soooo unbelievable. What do you think? I really loved the story and read it in a nanosecond so I’m going to say that I should recommend it with a the warning that parts may be a teeny-tiny bit contrived. That works.

So what about you? Did you get all of your holiday reading finished or are you like me and still carrying over some of those last minute finds? Have you read any of these? What did you think about them?

@Netgalley @HarlequinPress @SarahMorgan