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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Christmas Star by Donna VanLiere

Release Date - October 16, 2018



Needing a change, Amy Dennison opts to volunteer at Glory's Place, an after-school program. It's there that she meets a delightful seven-year-old named Maddie. Maddie is in foster care and never knew her parents. She thinks it is her cerebral palsy that made them abandon her as an infant.

What Amy doesn't know is that Maddie is determined to find a soul mate for the elementary school's maintenance man. She thinks Gabe and Amy are perfect for each other. Little does she know that they share something rather painful in common. It may be a holiday miracle if they're to look past their pain and find a future together.

This is part of a series about the town of Grandon. I haven't read the others and I found, at times, that I might have enjoyed more characters had I been introduced to them earlier. The story is about Gabe, Amy, and Maddie, but Gabe's cousin and his fiancee often jumped into chapters and took over the plot. I really disliked how they ended up seeming more of the focal point Gabe and Amy.

The other thing I struggled with was the writing. There were times I felt I was being told rather than shown. Some of the narrative seemed to bash me over the head with details I could have inferred on my own. As a result, I liked the story but never loved it.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Naughty on Ice (Book 4 in the Discreet Retrieval Agency Mystery Series) by Maia Chance

Release Date - November 13, 2018



There was something about Naughty on Ice that made me feel it was like taking Agatha Christie and having her write an episode of Rosemary and Thyme. The book's Vermont setting was pretty apt in terms of the weather and people. I also enjoyed the quirky attitudes of the book's two sleuthing heroines.

Lola Woodbury and her cook and partner in solving crimes, Berta, head to Vermont after receiving a mysterious Christmas card that gives them their next assignment. They need to get into a holiday gathering in Maple Hill. There, they need to retrieve a ring that one family member allegedly stole from another Goddard family member many years ago.

When Cressida Goodard falls dead after sipping her Negroni, Lola and Berta become prime suspects. After all, they have the ring they've just taken from Cressida's finger. They know they can clear everything up by showing police their case file, except someone's stolen that when they were out of their hotel room. Things aren't looking great for these women. They need to find the killer and prove their innocence before they're arrested.

Naughty on Ice was my introduction to the Discreet Retrieval Agency Mystery Series. I wish I'd read the other books to get to know Lola and Berta better, but I was still intrigued. I read the story eagerly, though there were some slower sections that I had to power through. All in all, this cozy mystery was a great way to spend a wintry day.


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony

Release Date - October 16, 2018



I started Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners. I stopped. I tried again. I stopped again. I really struggled to get into this book, but so many people said it was fantastic that I couldn't understand what I was missing. I still don't. Violet Baumgartner gets under my skin. I simply cannot stand her.

Each year, Violet Baumgartner pens a Christmas letter for her friends and family members. This year, she's going to do more than a silly letter. Her husband has retired and she's going to throw a retirement party/holiday gathering that's going to be in the papers. She's determined her family will be the talk of the town. She simply cannot expect to become the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons. Her daughter's been hiding a secret, and it's one that will rock Violet to the core. As events unfold, it's clear that she'll get her wish even if it's not what she planned.

What could be very amusing took a cold turn when I realized that Violet simply could not be an enjoyable character. I loathed her actions towards others and, especially, her husband and her daughter. Nothing she could do would make me like her. While the writing flowed well, it's a lost cause when you hate the main character.

I loved the cover design. That's what drew me to the book in the first place. In the end, that's all I can say I liked about the book. Everything else was a struggle.