Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Lopsided Christmas Cake

The Lopsided Christmas Cake
The Lopsided Christmas Cake
Price: $8.39

4.0 out of 5 stars SweetSeptember 2, 2015

Book Description,
Join the Hochstetler twin sisters on stage as they bumble their way through baking a cake for a charity auction in front of a live audience. The take-charge Elma and the klutzy optimist Thelma manage to entertain their audience—and attract the admiration of two bachelors, an outspoken woodworker and a shy harness maker from a neighboring Amish community. As fall leads into the Christmas season, could romance be blossoming for one or more of the Hochstetler twins? Find out in this brand new romance from New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter, writing with her daughter-in-law Jean Brunstetter

I suspect that Ms. Brunstetter can do better than this. Yes, this was a cute light romance, but it really didn't have any romance in it until nearly the ending of the book.

Thelma and Elma inherit their grandparents house and business and are quite busy taking care of these two places that are quite run down. The twin (yes the girls are identical twins!) decide to enter one of their Grandmother's cake recipes in a contest and the inevitable happens -a gentleman who had met one of the sisters, wants that cake very, very badly. I won't spoil the story for you with any more descriptions of the book.

It was a light sweet and quick read, that really didn't do too much to get me into the holiday spirit. But I did enjoy it nonetheless.
*ARC supplied by publisher.

The Drafter (The Peri Reed Chronicles)
The Drafter (The Peri Reed Chronicles)
by Kim Harrison
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.54

3.0 out of 5 stars ''It's Deja Vu All Over Again''September 2, 2015

In the first explosive book in the Peri Reed Chronicles, Kim Harrison, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Hollows series, blazes a new frontier with an edge-of-your-seat thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end.
Detroit 2030. Double-crossed by the person she loved and betrayed by the covert government organization that trained her to use her body as a weapon, Peri Reed is a renegade on the run. Don’t forgive and never forget has always been Peri’s creed. But her day job makes it difficult: she is a drafter, possessed of a rare, invaluable skill for altering time, yet destined to forget both the history she changed and the history she rewrote. When Peri discovers her name is on a list of corrupt operatives, she realizes that her own life has been manipulated by the agency. Her memory of the previous three years erased, she joins forces with a mysterious rogue soldier in a deadly race to piece together the truth about her fateful final task. Her motto has always been only to kill those who kill her first. But with nothing but intuition to guide her, will she have to break her own rule to survive?

One minute I hated this book and the next minute I was enraptured and couldn't out it down. This is why it got three stars from me.

I didn't know who to trust one minute and the next minute I was trusting almost everyone. I mean what kind of book is it when you can't even trust the main character??? I actually had gotten headaches from trying to read this and keep everyone (huge cast of characters) straight and who was working for whom, who was stabbing who in the back and why, who was lying and was it for a good reason, was someone really dead or was it a secret plot? The list goes on.

The idea of writing about time travel is not a unique one, but in Kin's capable hands it works and is unique -sort of. The idea of Peri needing to what amounts to be a handler who will give her her missing memories when she time-travels to 'fix' (alter a time-line) something or to get out of a jam was interesting. But then the idea of the government using this to be a bad thing is a bit cliched.

One minute this book treats Peri like a spoiled child/brat (and of course there is a reason for that) and the next minute she is a kick-a** assassin, was different.

But what got me annoyed with this book was really the fact that it reminded me of a comic book and I thought that it might have been written for young adults. I can't say that I will be giving the next book a try - but then again I can't say that I won't!
*ARC supplied by publisher.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

If You Only Knew

Product Details

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins (Aug 25, 2015)

Book Description: 
The drama, hilarity and tears of sisterhood are at the heart of the thoroughly captivating new novel by New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins—a funny, frank and bittersweet look at marriage, forgiveness and moving on 
Letting go of her ex-husband is harder than wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate expected…especially since his new wife wants to be Jenny's new best friend. Sensing this isn't exactly helping her achieve closure, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she'll start her own business and bask in her sister Rachel's picture-perfect family life…and maybe even find a little romance of her own with Leo, her downstairs neighbor, a guy who's utterly irresistible and annoyingly distant at the same time. 
Rachel's idyllic marriage, however, is imploding after she discovers her husband sexting with a colleague. She always thought she'd walk away in this situation, but her triplet daughters have her reconsidering her stance on adultery, much to Jenny's surprise. Rachel points to their parents' perfect marriage as a shining example of patience and forgiveness; but to protect her sister, Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship­—and reveal a family secret she's been keeping since childhood. 
Both Rachel and Jenny will have to come to terms with the past and the present and find a way to get what they want most of all.

This review is from: If You Only Knew (Paperback)
Have you ever read a book that you just knew right from the very beginning you would be best of friends with these characters if they were only real? This is how I felt once I was a couple of chapters into this novel.

This book was almost everything I love in a book - it was filled with realistic characters, realistic situations, some happiness and a lot of sad...the one thing, and an important thing, it was lacking was humor. Not that there was totally none, but it just wasn't there in big enough doses to make this a 5 star rated book.

I read to escape the realities and trauma's of everyday life -this book just left me weeping through most of it. The love of the sister's for each other was plain to see, the love that Jenny pours into her creations is obvious, Rachel's love for her triplets is plain to see...but the heart-aches just took a bit too much out of me and out of this book.

Getting to the 'happily-ever-after was almost too painful to get to and didn't last long enough to satisfy me or to make up for all the other trauma.
Seeing two such smart women mess up their lives for two such worthless men was astounding to me.

What is even odder for me is even with all that said, I could not put this book down -even though it was a painful journey through Rachel and Jenny's lives, it was fascinating and so well written that I can look beyond my own petty problems with this book and see that the author was trying to tell us - that we as women are so much more than just being a shadow to the men in our lives. We shouldn't forgive lying out of hand, we need to have a spine...and I'm happy to say that each of these women did learn this lesson. It was a difficult and rocky path, but they learned.

Most of Ms Higgins other novels may have the sadness, frustrations and problems of everyday life that this one had but they also usually include a good dose of humor. Yes, the humor is mostly the self-depreciating kind, but it is humor nonetheless. You need to really look closely to see the humor interspersed with the pain in this book.

It really was a satisfying read for me, even with the issues I had with it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Who Do You Love - Jennifer Weiner

Product Details

Who Do You Love: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner (Aug 11, 2015)

"An unforgettable story about true love, real life, and second chances…
Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are just eight years old when they meet one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who shows up alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to a doctor and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again.
Rachel grows up in an affluent Florida suburb, the popular and protected daughter of two doting parents. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent for running.
Yet, over the next three decades, Andy and Rachel will meet again and again—linked by chance, history, and the memory of the first time they met, a night that changed the course of both of their lives.
A sweeping, warmhearted, and intimate tale, Who Do You Love is an extraordinary novel about the passage of time, the way people change and change each other, and how the measure of a life is who you love."

 I hate to do this as I usually love anything by this author, but this book just left me annoyed for some reason. To me it was just meh. It had its moments, please don't get me wrong. The premise was fairly unique to me (although a little stale for a lot of the general public), the character's are well drawn and multi-layered but for me the idea of love at first sight, sort of, is a difficult idea for me to swallow.

The pain that these two go through during their lives, real pain and emotional pain, especially Andy's got to be too much for me after a while.

The resolution and conclusion of the novel was good but I wish it had happened a bit earlier in the book so we could have seen Andy and Rachel have some good in their lives.

Yes, you get the happily ever after with this book, but the path to that moment was like walking over glass. A delicate process, painful at times and you are very thankful when that walk is done.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Smoke on the Water by Lori Handeland

Product Details

Smoke on the Water (Sisters of the Craft)

Aug 4, 2015 | Kindle eBook
by Lori Handeland

Reunited after four hundred years, three sisters join together to vanquish the power that tore them apart...and embrace the sorcery that is their birthright.Abandoned as an infant, Willow Black spent her childhood in foster care, the object of whispers and pity...and rumors about being certifiably crazy. Telling your young friends that you can foresee the future-and summon the rain-is a surefire way to end up in the psychiatric ward. But when Dr. Sebastian Frasier arrives at the facility, Willow's whole life takes a turn. Sebastian is the handsomest man she's ever actually laid eyes on-even though he has been in Willow's visions for years. But not even she could have predicted the storm of passion that engulfs them both. With Sebastian by her side, Willow is emboldened to embrace her history, and the sisters she never knew. Soon, the true power in her blood awakes-and the battle she was born to fight begins. While the temp est rages, Willow must depend on the friends and family she's found-and the man she has loved forever...In the final book of this enchanting new trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Lori Handeland sweeps readers into a bewitching tale of secrets, sisterhood, and the stunning magic of love.

Sadly, this is the last book in this trilogy.  For me, it is a good thing because this was the first book I read.  Now I can go back and read the first two and already know how it will all play out. So I don’t know how well this book is going to tie everything up, but knowing Lori Handelands writing from my previous experiences with her, I know that however it combined the first two books, the effort will have been stellar.

I did find this book to drag a bit in places and to be somewhat repetitious at times, but the plot-line was so fresh (the only book I have ever read that came close to it, was an erotica by M. A. Evereaux called “North Wolf”) I so totally enjoyed the whole kit and caboodle.  The idea of not having anyone in the world and then finding out you have two sisters, to find out you are a witch and not only that but you can teleport/transport people (very Star Trek!) you have visions that come true, and to top it off not only are you going to help save the world but you are going to fall in love with someone you’ve known in your visions…*sigh*

This book did it so well for me, that I have already gone and bought the first two books in this trilogy and as soon as I can I am going to delve into them and have a reading fest!
The twists and turns in the plotting of this book was great, although I must admit to  knowing who was going to be behind Sebastian’s abduction before the author told us. 

I recommend this whole heartedly and even if you do not feel like reading the first two books –this book has no problem being a stand-alone. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Best and the Brightest

"The collapse of a schoolhouse puts pressure on Amish families and their long-held educational values. Ella Hilty anticipates marrying Gideon Wittner and becoming a mother to his children. In a whirling clash of values, Ella seeks the solid ground that seems to have slipped away. Margaret Simpson, an English schoolteacher, wonders if she is losing her last chance at love. As the local authorities draw lines in the sand, Margaret puts romance at risk one final time. All eyes turn to Ella to make a sacrifice and accept a challenge that can bring unity to the Amish and understanding to the English."

If you have not read the other books in this series, I think you will be like me and feel lost at sea. I have never read this author before and I am quite sorry that I didn't know enough to trust that I wouldn't need to read the first books in this series. It has been said that this is a less heavy read than the others...that does not bode well for me and my tastes!

This was a very interesting historical novel set in 1918 that dealt with the separation of church and state. To call this a romance would be a bit of a mistake. There really was none. That must have been done in the past novels. What this was about was how the state decided that the Amish children be integrated or consolidated into a school that would teach the Amish children more about the 'English' the than the church wants them to know and to force them to go to school well past the eight grade which is the norm for the Amish.

There are several secondary and tertiary story lines going on throughout this book. I felt that this was a good book for knowledge and learning about what the Amish went through to gain respect for their religion. However, the novel felt overly long to me with a lot of repetition, and I had to struggle to stay interested in it.

*ARC supplied by publisher.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dragon Fall Jul 28, 2015 by Katie MacAlister

Dragon Fall

Jul 28, 2015
by Katie MacAlister

Product Details

For Aoife Dakar, seeing is believing-and she's seen some extraordinary things. It's too bad no one else believes that she witnessed a supernatural murder at an outdoor fair. Returning to the scene for proof, Aoife encounters a wise-cracking demon dog-and a gloriously naked man who can shift into a dragon and kiss like a god. Now thrust into a fantastical world that's both exhilarating and terrifying, Aoife is about to learn just how hot a dragon's fire burns.

I can't say that I hated this book, but I cannot say that I loved it either.  I loved the fact that we got to visit with so many of our old friends (I had stopped reading this series, so seeing people like Aisling, Drake, Rene and Jim again was fun for me).  On the other hand, to end this book with a cliff-hanger?  This is not like the Katie I remember from so long ago when this series first started.  But, maybe her writing style has changed in this series?

Yes the romance was well established, but the ending of this book ...well let me put it this way, I was reading and quite happy and then all of a sudden the screen to rate the book came up.  Shocked the heck out of me.  I really don't like what could be construed as an almost blatant maneuver to get us to by the next book.

Yes, I know we need more books in which to get the old bad guy, but the ending still seemed very abrupt.  And THAT I did not like.