Monday, December 19, 2022

Mistletoe Season by Michelle Major

 Release Date - October 26, 2021

I found another book I read right before my mom died last December that I never did the review. Again to the author and publisher, my apologies. 

Mistletoe Season is part of The Carolina Girls series by Michelle Major. Angi Guilardi is a talented, popular caterer, but she gives up everything after her mom suffers a serious health setback. Angi is back running the family restaurant, even though her dreams are to get back to catering for the Wildflower Inn.

Gabriel Carlyle is back in town to run his grandmother's florist shop. It's not his ideal job, and he's not stoked to be around his childhood bully again. Angi tormented him as a child, and now, for some reason, her eight-year-old son has taken a strong liking to Gabriel and likes to sneak off to visit him.

The last thing Gabriel wants is to be part of this little family, but much like her son, Angi's finding Gabriel irresistible and wants to see where things will go.

Of all of the holiday romance last year, this one was a favorite. I'm also a sucker for single parent story lines for some reason. I think it's seeing a kid find the home he or she needs to feel complete. 

I adored the growing romance between Angi and Gabriel and though I've read other books in the series and loved them all, this one remains my favorite.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Keep Me Warm at Christmas by Brenda Novak

 Release Date - September 2021

A year ago, my mom's battle with Alzheimer's was nearing the end. It meant a lot of the books I'd planned to read before the holidays got pushed to the side while I was making the three-hour trip (one-way) to the Alzheimer's care unit she'd been moved to. I never did get around to Brenda Novak's Christmas romance last fall.

Keep Me Warm at Christmas is the story of talented actress Tia Beckett whose world came crashing down after a tragic care accident left her face mangled. She's hiding and housesitting for her producer in hopes of dodging the paparazzi while she heals and comes to terms with all of the scars that remain.

Little does she know, Maxi has also offered his home to Seth Turner, a talented artists whose family lives nearby. Seth has his own scars, though his are internal, and he needs a safe place to hide out and work on his latest pieces during the holidays. 

As he gets to know Tia, Seth senses the attraction, but it's the last thing he needs or wants. Tia is just as certain that getting involved with someone is the very last thing she needs. However, when a money-hungry member of the paparazzi comes sniffing, Seth is determined to keep Tia safe from prying eyes, so he asks her to move from the guest house to the main house with him where he is nearby and ready to chase off the desperate photographer.

This story builds slowly and is packed with emotion. As you get to know Tia, you'll learn more about her crash and the reason it's doubly painful for her. Seth's pain is just as heartrending. Watching them grow as a couple was a lot of fun and certainly rewarding. 

This is the ninth book in the Silver Springs series. I've read others and all have been fantastic. If you want to work through them all this holiday season, here's the link where you can purchase the entire Silver Springs Series at once.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Home Sweet Christmas - Susan Mallery

 Release Date - October 4, 2022

Camryn Neff left her life, and fiance, in Chicago to care for her mom, her mom's bustling store, and younger twin sisters. After her mom's death, she decided to stay in Wishing Tree long enough to see her sisters graduate high school and head off to college. Once that happens, she can go back and pick up her life where it left off.

This year, things are different as a local woman has decided that it's her mission to find her son, Jake, a wife. Camryn is at the top of the list of contenders. Camryn and Jake know it's utter nonsense, but they do find themselves becoming good friends while trying to dodge his mom's attempts.

Meanwhile, Camryn's good friend River finds herself unwittingly becoming the town's Snow Queen along with Jake's semi-adopted brother, Dylan, as Snow King. She's finding herself falling for him, but she has her secrets and he has his. Both of them need to come to terms with their pasts if they're going to find a future.

Home Sweet Christmas came out in October, but I struggle with the early release of holiday romances, so I'd been holding off. The fact that stores start putting up holiday displays alongside back-to-school supplies and Halloween supplies wears me down. I want to read holiday romances AFTER Thanksgiving, not before, so this one sat until I was ready. 

I loved Camryn's twin sisters and Jake's mom. Jake and Camryn had their obstacles to overcome, and I start to wonder if it's because I'm older now and seeing the value in not ignoring your heart over your brain that they bugged me a little. But, they didn't bother me anywhere near as much as River. When she comes into her big obstacle with Dylan, I was more than annoyed with her. I started to think she wasn't worth him honestly.

In the end, Home Sweet Christmas didn't disappoint to deliver the holiday treat I needed, but it took a bit to get to that point. It's not my favorite of Susan Mallery's books, but it's still a goodie.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Cozy Mysteries Turned TV Shows

 As the holiday's near, I tend to get a bit busier. We're in the middle of a bathroom remodel, so that adds to it. One thing I do love is watching books on TV as that's something I do to unwind before I head upstairs for the night.

Meet Agatha Raisin and Her Charming Group of Friends

M.C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin is one show I've loved. Agatha takes early retirement from her busy job in public relations and moves to the quiet Cotswalds, only it's not so quiet when the baking competition she's entered in leads to a judge being poisoned. That kicks off the series on Acorn TV. I recommend reading the books, too.

Get Baking With Alexa

Acorn TV is also home to My Life is Murder, a show starring Xena Warrior Princess's Lucy Lawless. I adore her in this show where she's a retired detective, Alexa Crowe, who spends her time making sourdough for the local cafe and the cafe's handsome owner. But, when a case is difficult for her former boss, he'll consult with her and use her knowledge and skills to solve the case.


Explore South Africa With Tannie Marie

Another Acorn option is Recipes for Love & Murder. The book series is by Sally Andrew and features Tannie Marie, a local journalist who pens an advice column that always incorporates one of her delicious recipes. Things get off to a sad start when the letter writer is murdered and Tannie wants to uncover what happened. Set in South Africa, the characters and scenery had me hooked. The recipes don't hurt either.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith

 Release Date - October 25, 2022

After his dad's death, Adam Stillwater and his mom do everything in their power to keep the family's pinball arcade running. It's a dying breed, however, and money's getting tighter every day. Adam doesn't want his mom entertaining the idea of selling to the rich owner of a chain of gaming cafes. Worse, that rich owner is the father of one of Adam's former best friends, Whitney Mitchell.

Whitney does everything she can to catch her dad's attention. She works hard on his business's social media marketing campaign, but he never recognizes her skills. She longs for that to change. Which is how she gets into a social media feud with her former friend Adam.

When a major storm hits, Whitney and Adam find themselves stuck in the pinball arcade for the night. Soon, they realize that their old friendship never should have died and there's the chance it could be something much bigger.

I grew up when pinball arcades and video arcades were a big thing. I know how important they were to teens and a community. It's always been kind of sad that they died out. There is no arcade left in my area, though there is an arcade of pinball machines and the old cabinet arcade games, a few hours away.

For that reason, I found myself emotionally invested in Adam's fight. I can't say the book ever had me hooked to the point I felt guilty walking away for a bit. But, I did find myself invested enough to see how it ended up. It's a pleasing young adult romance and coming-of-age tale that I appreciate took a step back to one of my favorite pastimes as a teen. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Before Your Memory Fades by Toshikazun Kawaguchi

 Release Date - November 15, 2022

This is the third book in the Before Your Coffee Gets Cold series. Head back to the charming Mount Hakodate cafe where a specific seat (that's often occupied by a ghost) and a cup of coffee are all you need to travel in time. There are rules you must follow. Wait for the ghost to head to the bathroom, ask for your coffee, and travel back in time, but you have to return before your coffee gets cold.

In this latest collection of time travel adventures, you have the daughter who wants to know how her parents could get into an accident that led to her being an orphan. You have the comedian who wants that chance to go back and see his beloved once more. There's the sister who has not stopped grieving. Finally, there's the man who realizes he let the love of his life slip away and wishes he'd realized what true love is.

The stories are emotional and tug at your heart. The cafe and setting make you want to be there. I've cherished each story in these anthologies and hope there's more in the future. If you're looking for a unique, gripping selection of stories, don't miss Before Your Memory Fades and the other books in this series.

If you find yourself enjoying the Before Your Coffee Gets Cold stories. I have a Netflix show to recommend. Midnight Diner is different, but it still offers that same warm ambiance with a chef who is able to recreate his diner's favorite meals while you take a closer look at their stories and what led them to this point in their lives. It's just as addicting.

Monday, November 21, 2022

All Things Bright by RaeAnne Thayne

 Release Date - September 20, 2022

I read this right before it was released and somehow managed to forget to post the review. My apologies for that. Balancing life, certification courses, and work led to things getting away from me. Add in an issue with a brand new Li-ion lawn mower battery sparking a small fire in my home and, well, it's been a bit overwhelming. (Not to anyone with Li-ion batteries who do their part and store them at room temperature, do so in fireproof, smoke-proof bags. It's worth it!)

RaeAnne Thayne's romances always tug at my heart strings and leave me with the warm fuzzies. All Is Bright is no different. Head back to Hope's Crossing where architect Sage McKnight is busy showcasing her skills on retired baseball player Mason Tucker's ADA-compliant home. Mason was badly injured in a plane crash and is now in a wheelchair and needs a home he can navigate. 

While Sage wants to use every stage of his home's construction for her website, Mason will not allow it. It becomes a battle of the wits and hearts as Sage wants to show off a project that makes her proud and Mason's stubborn attitude and emotional toll from the accident are in the way.

I loved Sage and Mason together. But, there's much more to this story. Other characters from past Hope's Crossing novels are featured to see how they're doing now. I especially loved the inclusion of Sage's dad, wife, and her half-siblings. It was fun to watch the family grow and meld. It was a holiday romance that romance fans need to read.

So Long, Chester Wheeler by Catherine Ryan Hyde

 Genre: General Fiction Release Date: December 6, 2023 Walmart doesn't have this title available, but So Long, Chester Wheeler: A Novel ...