Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Top Ten New-to-Me Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. There is a new subject each week and this week's theme is "Top Ten New-to-Me Authors".

Jenny Colgan

I started reading Jenny Colgan's novels when I heard about her latest, The Bookshop on the Corner (aka The Little Shop of Happy Ever After). Then I picked up Sweetshop of Dreams which I liked even more and have since read its sequels. Now I plan to read the rest of her backlist of books.

Karma Brown

I bought this book on a whim because it was a Kindle deal but I really liked it (though it was pretty sad). I plan to pick up her first book soon.

Genevieve Cogman

I decided to read this after reading so many positive reviews from other bloggers. I liked it and the sequel as well. Really interesting world building and I like the main character.

Julie McElwain

I was interested in reading this and after a coworker said she loved it I moved it up my TBR list. I really liked the historical aspects as well as the idea of a modern female FBI agent stuck back in time.  I am looking forward to reading the sequel in a few months.

Connie Willis

I read a review of this in a trade publication and decided to order it for my library. I was curious about it but not sure I would like it (since it is classified as science fiction) but I gave it a try anyway and I'm so glad I did.

Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

I had heard of Stephanie Dray before (she wrote a historical fantasy series about Cleopatra's daughter) but I hadn't read her books yet and I was unfamiliar with Laura Kamoie. Then I started seeing this on blogs and in book reviews and because I was planning a visit to Monticello, I just had to read it. I really liked it and found it fascinating to read about both Thomas Jefferson and his daughter. It certainly added to my Monticello trip. While I don't think I'll be reading Dray's historical fantasy series, I would be willing to try another book cowritten by them.

Taylor Jenkins Reid

I had heard of Taylor Jenkins Reid before but what drew me to pick up this book was the premise. I wanted to know how things would turn out for the newly engaged protagonist when her "late" husband turns out to be not as late as she'd thought. I really liked how the author handled it and plan to read her other books in the future.

Amy Hatvany

I know she's written several novels but this is the first one that I decided to try. I thought it was a really good family drama and I thought the author did a good job of showing the impact of adoption on both sisters as well as the birth mother. I especially liked the portrayal of the relationship between the sisters.

Monica Hesse

This is one of my favorite YA books of 2016. I love historical fiction and this time period in particular and I liked how the author included little details about life in Holland during WWII as well as the resistance movement. I look forward to seeing what Hesse writes next.

Sarvenaz Tash

This book was a lot of fun to read, partly because of the setting. I also liked the unexpected romance and friendships. 

Honorable mention:

Kelly Harms (The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay)
Rae Meadows (I Will Send Rain)
Jen Malone (Wanderlost)
Garth Nix (Newt's Emerald)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Post (71) / It's Monday, What Are You Reading

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

Happy December! I am so not ready for Christmas. We haven't even drawn names in my family for our gift exchange yet or even set a date to get together. I am going to try to send out Christmas cards this year so I need to look for those too. Lots to do!

I had a nice Thanksgiving with my family and on Black Friday my mom and I watched all four episodes of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. While I liked seeing what everyone in Stars Hollow was up to and there was some good character development for Emily and a little for Lorelai, I was mainly disappointed (Rory, I'm looking at you) and irritated by the final four words (again, Rory). I may have a review post about the series sometime.

This afternoon I visited a friend and we made some no-bake cookies while her husband evaluated my car (he's a mechanic). This week I am going to take my car to my regular mechanic to get the serpentine belt replaced and then look into getting some tires before bad weather hits. I'm really hoping it will hold off till after Christmas. I was happy to find out that the car situation isn't as dire as I'd believed. Aside from the serpentine belt and new tires, the other repairs can wait. I'd like to wait till 2018 to get a new car and that might be possible.

At the library I have my snowman craft night on Tuesday. We have 11 people signed up so far to attend. I'm almost done with my purchases for the year. I am planning to go back to Barnes & Noble on Friday since I still have at least $2,000 to spend in the book budget. I'm also starting to plan programs for January and February. I know I want to bring back the coloring programs and maybe show some movies.

Last week on my blog:

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan (review)

Books read:

The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray

I thought this started out well but I felt a little disappointed in the end. Still it is an page turning novel with a Gothic feel. 

Alterations by Stephanie Scott

This is a contemporary retelling of Sabrina. I liked the modern update though at times I was annoyed with Amelia (because of her lies), I was still rooting for her. I also really liked Liam (based on Linus from the movie).

This was a fun sequel to Sweetshop of Dreams and I liked that it was set at Christmas and included Rosie's nutty family visiting from Australia. 

On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Just like with If You Only Knew, this novel is about sisters. Jenny and Leo from If You Only Knew have cameo appearances here too as they live in the same town. This story is about Kate, a recent widow and her half-sister Ainsley, who thought she was getting engaged but instead got dumped. A great story about family relationships and a little romance too. 

The Choices We Make by Karma Brown

I bought this e-book on a whim when it was on sale and I'm glad I did. It was a sad story but still good. Hannah is devastated when she can't have children but her best friend Kate offers to carry a baby for her. 

The Christmas Surprise by Jenny Colgan

This is the third (and final?) book in the Rosie Hopkins series. It was sadder than I'd anticipated but I still liked it and there was a happy ending. I love this series and want to check out the author's other books. She certainly makes rural England sound charming. Lipton is like an English version of Stars Hollow.

Books listened to:

The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan (reread)

Currently reading:

A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund

This is a YA inspirational fiction novel inspired by Robin Hood but with a twist. Lady Juliana is the bandit and she kind of reminds me of Merida from Brave (not just because of the red hair).

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread)

I can't believe I waited so many months to pick up the story again. I'm at the very beginning. Pippin and Denethor have just met. I can't help but picture Billy Boyd and John Noble as I read.

Currently listening to:

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (reread)

Listening to this audiobook is a delight. I love the story but Rachel McAdams does a great job of bringing it to life.

On my TBR pile:

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

New books received:

The Christmas Surprise by Jenny Colgan (for review)

The Choices We Make by Karma Brown (purchased)

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (purchased)

Ross Poldark by Winston Groom (purchased)

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer (library book)

A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund (library book)

Christmas Joy by Nancy Naigle (library book)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: Miracle on 5th Avenue

Miracle on 5th Avenue
By Sarah Morgan
Published: November 29, 2016

It will take a Christmas miracle for two very different souls to find each other in this perfectly festive fairy tale of New York! 

Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. She might be spending the holidays alone this year, but when she's given an opportunity to house-sit a spectacular penthouse on Fifth Avenue, she leaps at the chance. What better place to celebrate than in snow-kissed Manhattan? What she didn't expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous—and mysterious—owner. 

Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife's death looming, he's isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. He wants no interruptions, no decorations and he certainly doesn't appreciate being distracted by his beautiful, bubbly new housekeeper. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…This Christmas, is Lucas finally ready to trust that happily-ever-afters do exist?

My review:

This is the third book in the From Manhattan With Love series but it can be read as a standalone.

Eva always sees the best in people and in spite of her grief over her grandmother's recent death, she has a very sunny disposition. Lucas on the other hand has major trust issues and sees the world through a dark lens. Everyone has ulterior motives and you can't trust what you see. Like Eva, he is also grieving. He is also suffering from writer's block and his publisher keeps asking for sample chapters but he hasn't written a word. The last thing he thinks he needs is someone cheerful in his apartment but to Lucas's surprise, he finds writing inspiration while Eva is around. Slowly the two of them start to find common ground helped along by a strong and immediate attraction. 

I wanted to read this because I enjoyed another Christmas romance by the author, Sleigh Bells in the SnowMiracle on 5th Avenue has two people who are polar opposites and they get snowed in together. This makes for a fun story although at times Eva's saccharine Pollyanna vibe got on my nerves. I kind of hoped she'd have some flaws like Lucas does but she is just perfect and sweet. Her main struggle is in allowing herself to grieve instead of always acting positive and upbeat the way her grandmother raised her to be. 

Overall I thought this was a nice Christmas themed romance. I could see this as a Hallmark movie (with some editing out of a few steamy scenes). I would suggest this to fans of Jill Shalvis and Kristan Higgins and those looking for a sweet and slightly spicy Christmas romance.

Note: I received a copy for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sunday Post (70) / It's Monday, What Are You Reading

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

Well it looks like winter is here, sort of. Friday was such a beautiful day and it was nearly 80 outside but then Saturday was so cold and we got the first snow of the season. That makes me worried for what the winter will be like if we are already getting snow in November! I had planned to buy some snow tires for my car before getting some bad news. I need new regular tires and there are some other important repairs that have to be done. All together it is going to be over $3,000. Not sure my car is worth it. Ugh. On the bright side, it is Thanksgiving week so I am thinking of all the things I can be thankful for like my family and a job that I love. I've also been reading some holiday books which helps to lift my spirits.

This Tuesday I will be going on a book shopping trip to Barnes & Noble (for the library) to spend my leftover book budget. Then on Wednesday I'll be heading to my parents' house for Thanksgiving. Since we already celebrated it last weekend it will be a quiet holiday. I'm sure we'll be watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on Black Friday. I'm really looking forward to it. 

So I saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I liked the movie but it was definitely very different from the Harry Potter films and even the magic was different. It was interesting to see some of the creatures from the Harry Potter books on screen. My favorite was the niffler. It was adorable though I certainly wouldn't want to have one in my home! The story had some interesting parts but some of the creature sequences were kind of slow and felt dragged out. I kind of wish J.K. Rowling had written a series of books featuring Newt but the movies are the next best thing I guess.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Last week on my blog:

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin (review)

Books read:

What Light by Jay Asher

This was a sweet romance and I loved reading about the Christmas tree farm and lot. This was the first book I read for the Ho Ho Ho Readathon. 

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

I wanted to read this for the readathon and I liked one of her other Christmas romance novels, Sleigh Bells in the Snow. I liked this book too but something was bugging me while I read and it wasn't till after I finished that I realized it was the heroine. She didn't seem to have any flaws. She came across as this angelic but flat character unlike the hero who had more depth.

A December Bride by Denise Hunter

This has been made into a Hallmark movie which was part of the reason that I read it. The main character, Layla, has to attend the wedding of her cousin to her ex fiance. She is desperate to find someone to go with her when her date gets sick. She ends up going with Seth, the groom's best friend. They have a complicated history but when Layla's cousin (the bride) makes some mean digs, Seth lies and says he and Layla are engaged and things just snowball from there. I liked the story but I thought there were some threads that weren't tied up and the ending was rushed.

Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

I loved this book! It did remind me of The Bookshop on the Corner but strangely I liked it more. Probably because I wasn't as big a fan of the romance in that book. I really liked that in addition to Rosie's story we also got to know about her great aunt when she was a young woman during WWII. I ended up buying the sequel. Hopefully it will be as good. The author certainly romanticizes small town life but it is so enjoyable to read about.

Books listened to:

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan (reread)

Currently reading:

The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Riley

This is an interesting YA gothic mystery about an American teen and her brother who find out that their wealthy British grandfather has died and they are his heirs. Overnight their lives are changed but things are not they seem at Walthingam and something terrible happens. While it is obvious to me who the "bad guy" is early on, it is still an intriguing story and I'm curious to see how Katherine will get herself out of danger.

Currently listening to:

The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan (reread)

On my TBR pile:

Alterations by Stephanie Scott

Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

The Mistletoe Secret by Richard Paul Evans

New books received:

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan (for review)

A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain (for review)

Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan (purchased)

The Mistletoe Secret by Richard Paul Evans (library book)

God Bless Us Every One by Eva Marie Everson (library book)

The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter (library book)

Can't Help Falling by Kara Isaac (library book)