Wednesday, December 31, 2014

REVIEW: The Scent Of Scandal by Carole Matthews

Title: The Scent Of Scandal
Author: Carole Matthews
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Publication Date: November, 2004
Genre: Chick-Lit

Description: Love Stinks

It does when you find out that the guy you're head-over-heels about is already married. That's when Rose Stevens decides to escape her problems and flee to a remote country village. All she wants is peace and quiet, but the quaint, eccentric villagers of Great Brayford have other ideas.

Rose is amazed that her occupation as an aroma-therapist is causing such consternation among the townsfolk, when what else goes on within the village limits seems so much worse: there's a housewife who's a hooker, a sex-starved neighbor and a troublesome Peeping Tom.

Beneath the all-pervasive aroma of garden lavender there's a distinct scent of scandal here, and Rose thinks that her small transgressions seem paltry in comparison -- until she starts to get intimately involved with the sexy local builder ... and her ex-lover arrives out of nowhere with a shocking announcement ... and she unwittingly finds herself in the center of a chaotic, rumor-fed hurricane of scandal that ensures her life is even more complicated than it was before. But maybe that's also because she's in love again.

My Thoughts: What began as a very slow and sluggish start of this book for me, turned out to be quite enjoyable. I really liked Rose and Dan and once all of the introductory blah blah blah for all of the various characters was done, I started to enjoy the story and found myself wondering how it was all going to play out. Considering how Rose is judged by Anais without reason, I am surprised Anais didn’t wind up being murdered, but I did enjoy the way she gets her comeuppance in the end.

I didn’t care for the way Rose handled the return of Hugh and how easily she gave up on Dan. If the story had ended there, I would have put the book in the freezer. Thankfully, the story provides excellent closure and a happy ending.

My Final Verdict: An enjoyable story that will entertain fans of contemporary romance and chick-lit. If you are a patient reader and can get through the sluggish start, I recommend this book.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

REVIEW: Snow Angels, Secrets And Christmas Cake by Sue Watson

Title: Snow Angels, Secrets And Christmas Cake
Author: Sue Watson
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: October, 2014
Genre: Chick-Lit

Description: For Tamsin Angel, Christmas is always the biggest and best… chic parties and a little showbiz sparkle are a must. This year though, things aren’t going quite as planned… With bailiffs suddenly at the door and her husband nowhere to be found, it looks like Christmas just got downsized. Moving into her sister’s one-bedroom flat, she wonders whether things will ever be the same again. After losing her husband on Christmas Eve, Sam Angel has rebuilt her life around her son Jacob and her new business – The White Angel Bakery. She’s also found herself a very handsome, loving boyfriend, but is struggling to let go of the past. Thrown together with a sprinkle of Christmas magic, Sam and Tamsin might just learn a little more about each other – and themselves. But when disaster strikes at the bakery, will they be able to save the day in time for Christmas?

My Thoughts: New to me author Sue Watson brings a perfect blend of Christmas cheer and chick-lit humor together with Snow Angels, Secrets And Christmas Cake. This story centers around the two Angel sisters, Sam and Tamsin. Sam is a single parent who owns and operates The White Angel Bakery. Tamsin is Sam’s older sister who is living the materialistic dream of the wealthy until the rug is ripped out from under her when she finds out her husband has bankrupted them and has taken off rather than face her and their children. Tamsin moves in with Sam and her son and begins helping Sam out at the bakery, giving these two women a chance to reconnect as sisters.

I was really prepared to dislike Tamsin before getting to know her but seeing the vulnerability and pain of the past she keeps deeply buried inside gives the reader a better understanding of why she behaves the way she does in the beginning of the book. Initially, she comes across as a very conceited and self-centered snob who spares no expense trying to outdo everyone else on the Christmas decorations and party celebrations. After she moves in with Sam, we begin to see the real Tamsin and after learning about her childhood, I felt empathy for her and began to connect with her.

I liked Sam and though we don’t find out what happened to her husband until much later in the book, I admired her strength. I wished we knew sooner what happened because it gave a lot of insight to why Sam kept pushing people away and keeping them at arm’s length. Once I learned what happened, I admired her ability to get out of bed every day, much less raise her son and start a business.

I loved the world Ms. Watson creates with The White Angel Bakery. I found myself wishing I could go there and hang out and watch the snow, drink a hot beverage and eat a yummy treat. As I learned more about each sister, I saw their relationship change and improve, amidst many tears and much laughter.

I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Watson’s writing style and will be looking for more from this very talented author.

My Final Verdict: If you are looking for a heartwarming story that will put you in the Christmas spirit while reminding us that starting over is not a bad thing, I highly recommend this book.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

REVIEW: The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison

Title: The Undead Pool (The Hollows #12)
Author: Kim Harrison
Publisher: Voyager
Publication Date: February, 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Description: Witch and day-walking demon Rachel Morgan has managed to save the demonic ever after from shrinking, but at a high cost. Now strange magic is attacking Cincinnati and the Hollows, causing spells to backfire or go horribly wrong, and the truce between the races, between Inderlander and human, is shattering.

Rachel must stop the occurrences before the undead vampire masters who keep the rest of the undead under control are lost and it becomes all-out supernatural war. However, the only way to do so is through the ancient elven wild magic, which carries its own perils.

My Thoughts: Not that the book was bad...technically, but I struggled quite a bit with this story. Maybe my expectations are too high, but I committed to this series as soon as I started Dead Witch Walking and was determined to stick with it even though some of the books in the series didn't leave me with a thrill or excitement for the next one. Rachel, Ivy and Jenks have come a long way from that first book and they all have been through a lot. I get that. I try not to demand too much of them, but I haven't felt that thrill with this series for a while and I really want to. I am really hoping that the next book, which is the last book really packs a punch and knocks my socks off.

So here I am, with the next to the last book in the series read and all I can keep thinking about is Al. I knew he is the last living organism in Heaven or Hell, on Earth or in the hereafter who will raise a glass and toast Rachel and Trent hooking up. I would have been right there with Al, spewing venom. Trent has not been a good guy or even a nice guy and though I have observed a change in him and a definite softening in Rachel where he is concerned, I didn't trust it. I didn't trust him. They have been at war for the entire series and actually even before that. I'm just surprised that Rachel has let her guard down, among other things, with Trent. He has redeemed himself so I really hope that it's genuine. The last thing on Earth that Rachel needs is a big fat I Told You So from Al. So, I'm not completely unhappy that this is the direction the series has gone with Rachel and Trent. She has had her share of bad luck where men are concerned and even with this twelfth book, I am still very angry at Nick and his betrayal.

My heart still hurts for Jenks and the loss of his wife, though he appears to be doing well and I get such a kick out of him. He is truly my favorite character and he deserves his own series. I love everything about him, from his hundreds and hundreds of kids, his odd relationship with Belle, his protectiveness of Rachel, his refusal to think even for a moment that his pint-sized, cute pixie self isn't big enough to handle some of the crap that comes Rachel's way. I love it when he gets drunk on honey and his Tinkerbell curse words. Ms. Harrison, if you find yourself reading this review, I am hoping you are considering something special for Jenks down the road.

I have been less sure of Ivy. Didn't really care for the direction her relationship with Rachel was heading a few books back with the whole blood relationship thing and I am so happy that they have moved away from that and Ivy has Nina now. Am I rooting for her? Not really. Don't get me wrong. I don't dislike her, I just don't pine for her when she is absent like I do for Jenks. I am not looking around wondering where she is and when she will make an appearance. Rachel cares for her so I don't wish bad things on her, though I often thought it would be really interesting if she did die and what she would be like as an undead vampire.

The other supporting characters of Quen, David and Detective Glenn are all interesting characters that I enjoy seeing Rachel interact with.

I found this story to be just OK. Rachel seems to have her hands full trying to figure out what is going on with the undead Master vampires and why so many spells are going wrong. The story just seemed to meander from one plot point to another without any strong sense of direction or purpose. Even finding out who is behind the latest mess Rachel has to clean up didn't leave me with an "oh boy, here we go" feeling. It was just kind of a "meh" feeling. In spite of the less than exciting response this book gave me, I am looking forward to the next book so I can hopefully get closure. Overall, I have enjoyed this series. It's been a great ride and I am sad to see it all come to an end.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

REVIEW: A Christmas To Remember by Jenny Hale

Title: A Christmas To Remember
Author: Jenny Hale
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: October, 2014
Genre: Chick-Lit

Description: A beautiful story about the magic of childhood Christmas memories, the strength of family and falling in love when you least expect it.

Everyone loves Christmas – don’t they?

Carrie Blake loves her job as a nanny but, while her friends are settling down, all of Carrie’s spare time is spent with other people’s families. Though it breaks her heart, her New Year’s resolution is to embark on a new career and fix her love life.

As Carrie starts her last job, she’s sure she’ll be going out on a high – the house is amazing, the kids are adorable, and she’s in charge of decorating the tree!

The only problem could be her boss… single-dad Adam Fletcher might be both handsome and successful, but he’s always working. Doesn’t he realize he’s missing out on precious moments with his son and daughter?

As Adam’s family arrive for Christmas including his sensitive sister, Sharon, and his fun-loving elderly Grandpa, Walter, Carrie realizes that she might just have found the perfect allies in her quest to persuade Adam to loosen up. There’s still time for Carrie to make this the best Christmas ever… after all, Christmas is the time for miracles, isn’t it? Let the festivities begin!

My Thoughts: A Christmas To Remember by new to me author Jenny Hale introduces the reader to a story of Carrie Blake, a nanny who is at a crossroads in her life, working in a field she loves but has decided she needs to embrace new experiences in her life. Her last job as a nanny is a temporary assignment for Adam Fletcher, a workaholic single father and his four year old twins, David and Olivia. Carrie quickly learns that Adam’s relationship with his children is virtually non-existent and takes it upon herself to convince Adam to actively participate in the Christmas festivities with his family.

I enjoyed the story, but I found Carrie annoying with her inner monologue about her personal insecurities. I also struggled with her determination to confront Adam on his lack of parenting skills. I kept thinking she was out of line and it wasn’t her place to tell Adam he needed to work on his relationships. Despite my initial reservations about Carrie, I got so immersed in the story and what would happen next. I quickly saw how much Carrie loved her job and how enthusiastic she was to make Christmas wonderful for the entire Fletcher family. I really liked Adam and was very curious about the backstory of why he worked so much instead of spending more time with his family. The arrival of his parents, grandfather, sister and brother-in-law made the story more enjoyable with their individual personalities.

The author does a wonderful job of illustrating the emotions by all of the characters and the blossoming attraction between Carrie and Adam was a joy to witness. If you are looking for a story that is sweet and full of Christmas whimsy and spirit, then this book is a good choice.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of A Christmas To Remember from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

New Additions To The TBR Pile In November

Welcomed five new review requests to the teetering pile in November and December is off with a bang and the arrival of more today. My goal of getting the books I already owned read seems to be slipping further and further away. Fortunately, you will never hear the words "I have nothing to read" spoken by me.

Title: Can't Always Get What You Want by Chelsey Krause
Description: Fans of Ruthie Knox, Rachel Gibson, and Molly O’Keefe will love this deeply romantic and uplifting debut novel about losing everything you thought you wanted—and getting exactly what you need.

Sophie Richards has been looking forward to a much-needed girls’ night out: a Rolling Stones concert, a few drinks, a distraction from her grueling nursing shifts in acute care. But when her best friend bails, Sophie gets stuck with a blind date.

Although Brett Nicholson may be the hottest carpenter alive, and Sophie may technically be single, she isn’t exactly on the market. Six years ago she found The One. He was everything Sophie dreamed a man could be—and then she lost him. In an instant, her whole life changed, and she forgot all about happily ever after.

But as she gets to know Brett, Sophie starts to wonder about the future for the first time. With a broken heart still clouding her mind, jumping into a new relationship feels impossible. When she’s in his arms, walking away feels even harder. Now Sophie faces an impossible choice: living in the past or choosing love in the here and now.

Title: Difficult Husbands by Mary de Laszlo
Description: Difficult Husbands - In sickness and in health, for better but definitely not for worse…

Newly divorced Lorna is struggling to adjust to life on her own. When she discovers that her beloved godfather has left her the grand (and crumbling) Ravenscourt House in the heart of Sussex, she soon has a project on her hands.

Nathan sells delicious goodies at Mulberry Farm. When he meets Lorna at a Christmas market, neither of them can ignore the chemistry. But as they get to know one another, Lorna wants to know one thing – is he after her or the house?

Together with Gloria – whose marriage to alcoholic Adrian has hit rock bottom, and Rosalind – struggling to deal with her womanising husband Ivan, the three friends hatch a plan. They’ll ditch their difficult husbands at Ravenscourt House and enjoy stress-free Christmases with their families. But nothing is ever that simple…

Title: House Broken by Sonja Yoerg
Description: In this compelling and poignant debut novel, a woman skilled at caring for animals must learn to mend the broken relationships in her family.…

For veterinarian Geneva Novak, animals can be easier to understand than people. They’re also easier to forgive. But when her mother, Helen, is injured in a vodka-fueled accident, it’s up to Geneva to give her the care she needs.

Since her teens, Geneva has kept her self-destructive mother at arm’s length. Now, with two slippery teenagers of her own at home, the last thing she wants is to add Helen to the mix. But Geneva’s husband convinces her that letting Helen live with them could be her golden chance to repair their relationship.

Geneva isn’t expecting her mother to change anytime soon, but she may finally get answers to the questions she’s been asking for so long. As the truth about her family unfolds, however, Geneva may find secrets too painful to bear and too terrible to forgive.

The Creatives by Lindsay Lewis
Description: Like all cubical-bound underlings at Stranton Advertising, Lissy Swanson is desperate to become a Creative. Her impossibly chic superiors enjoy liquid lunches at hip restaurants where intricate bits of sushi are served on bare midsections of androgynous models while she buries herself in dreaded data entry.

When her dreams of Creativedom are finally realized, Lissy is thrilled to work on her first real account - a new drug that scorches fat, bronzes skin and fires up dormant libidos: the Barbie Pill. She plans the perfect campaign, targeting new mothers dying to shed baby weight and rekindle their more adult desires.

When Lissy discovers the beauty pill's ugly secret, she must choose between a promising new love interest and succeeding in the glossy world of Los Angeles advertising.

Title: The French For Christmas by Fiona Valpy
Description: A year to forget. The perfect escape. And a little Christmas magic…

Touching, uplifting, and filled with delicious French cooking,The French for Christmas is the perfect Christmas treat.

Evie used to LOVE Christmas, but this year she can’t wait for the tinsel and presents to be a distant memory.

When her best friends offer the use of their cottage in the beautiful French countryside, Evie jumps at the chance. With her soon-to-be-ex-husband, celebrity chef Will Brooke, plastered over the news with his latest ‘love interest’, leaving the country seems like the perfect plan.

Armed with her French grandmother’s tattered notebook of recipes, Evie is determined to ignore Christmas altogether and bake herself back to happiness.

And when Evie meets her next-door neighbour – the très gorgeous doctor Didier she finds a very willing taste-tester. But is it possible that he could be interested in more than just her Tarte Tatin?

With snow falling, a special Réveillon dinner and a little Christmas magic in the air, could Didier even be the one to thaw Evie’s heart? Or will a visit from the ghost of Christmas past change everything?


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I am not a professional reviewer, but I love to read and share my opinions on my reading with others who are interested. I work full time but my ideal perfect day would be to curl up with a good book. The majority of the books I review here are from my private collection and my reviews are provided purely for entertainment purposes. I receive no compensation whatsoever for sharing my thoughts and review on any book. If you would like me to review your book, please email me at Happy Reading! :o)