Book Review: Restoring Christmas

Title: Restoring Christmas

Author: Kate Kasch

Format: Kindle through Voracious Readers Only

Published: 2018

 

Thank you to Voracious Readers Only for letting me get my hands on this lovely holiday read!  I enjoyed every single minute of this book and I’m looking at you Hallmark to turn this in to a movie next year!  Fair warning right now, if you don’t like the typical Hallmark Christmas movies then pass over this review because you won’t like this book.  If you’re a sucker for a predictable holiday romance, this book is for you.

The story starts out innocent enough, we meet two sisters, Gretchen, an aspiring photographer who works at a bar, and Adrienne, a workaholic at Morgan Lynch.  They both have not spoken to each other and years and when they both receive a red letter at their door steps, they realize they have to.

Their parents died 4 years ago, right before Christmas, in a car accident.  The tragedy did not sit well with the girls and Adrienne took off, leaving her world behind as she knew it.  She moved to New York City and began a new life.  Gretchen also moved to New York City, trying to make a life for herself, always hoping to make it big.  They both never let the house go and as it turns out, never paid taxes on the house in a year and it was going to be sold unless they came up with $25,000 by the end of the year.

They go back to their hometown in Connecticut and see the disarray the house has become.  They get the idea to decorate their home back up for the holidays and try to win the grand prize of $25,000 and keep the house.  Being back in their hometown, Adrienne re-encounters her ex-boyfriend, whom she just up and left without saying goodbye to 4 years ago.  He ends up coming to her rescue with a friend to help them get the house back into tip top shape.

The girls start to get help from the community and realize what an impact their parents had.  They feel guilty for ever parting ways and start to mend their relationship.  We also get to see a relationship bloom with Gretchen and Adrienne’s ex-boyfriend’s best friend.  Will sparks fly between Adrienne and her ex?  Mind you, she has a current boyfriend.

Without ruining too much (and again, this book IS predictable) I was a little disappointed in the end.  I was rooting for Adrienne and I did not feel I got enough out of it for her.  Gretchen hit the jackpot, which, good for her, she’s struggled for a few years, but, ugh, I was just hoping for more for Adrienne!

This is a 4-star book from me, provided again, you love the super cheesy holiday books.  It is a heartwarming story to see 2 estranged sisters come back together for a good ause.  Their parents would be so proud.  If you’re looking for a feel good story with a touch of romance, this book is for you, read it now!  Tune in next week for yet another holiday book review of The Christmas Wish by Tilly Tennant.

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Book Review: Christmas Glitter

Title: Christmas Glitter

Author: Ann B. Harrison

Format: Kindle

Published: 2017

 

In July, my mother got me addicted to Hallmark Christmas movies.  I decided this holiday season I would read some cheesy, Hallmarky novels and enjoy myself.  What I learned is that it is impossible for me to read a holiday romance novel in more than 1 sitting, it just doesn’t work.  I end up staying up until the book is finished, which is ok with me!

Let’s get one thing straight, yes, this book is absolutely predictable, just like every single Christmas Hallmark movie ever made.  The story is just plain adorable and had me sucked in.  This is also part of a series so guess what I’ll be reading in my near future!

This is the story about the super hunky soccer player, Adam, who moves back to his hometown to help his parents while his father recovers a heart attack and a woman, Dakota, who owns a fancy upscale, unique jewelry business.  Dakota recently suffered an injury in a car accident and can no longer craft how she used to and came to this small town to try and reinvent herself, while swearing off men.

Adam and Dakota meet when she goes to pick up the keys to her rental home.  Adam is stepping in for his father with his real estate business and instantly there is a connection.  They continue to bond over trying to save a dance hall in the town and Dakota steps up and leads fundraising efforts.

Dakota and Adam are doing everything they can to remain friends.  Dakota has to remind herself that he’s going to be leaving soon and going back to the world of soccer, so she is trying not to get too attached.  Everyone around them can see they are perfect together, so why do they keep denying it?

There are some grammatical errors in this book that make you stop and re-read what you just read to try and make sense of it.  Aside from that, this book is for you if you love and adore Christmas Hallmark movies.  In fact, Hallmark, this book needs to be made into a movie STAT!

This is a 4-star book from me, provided you love the super cheesy holiday romance.  If you are not into that at all, just skip over this book or pass it along to your Hallmark loving friend!  It is such a cute, sweet story and now I need to read the other books in this series to see what happens with the others in the story!  Tune in next week for yet another holiday book review of Restoring Christmas by Kate Kasch.

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Book Review – The Christmas Cat

Book Title: THE CHRISTMAS CAT
Author: MELODY CARLSON
Format: HARDCOVER
Published: 2014

Note: This is a mainstream/chick lit/Christmas/novella/thing so there’s a good chance I can’t review this well without spoilers of some sort.

 

The Christmas Cat is a story about a guy, Garrison Brown, who has found himself back in the states without a job after his missionary stint ended.  It’s almost Christmas, and he gets a phone call – about the only thing that can make his life worse.  His beloved grandmother has died, and he’s the only one left to go through her estate.  He heads to Vancouver where he finds out that she’s leaving multiple cats, which he’s allergic to, and has to rehome under really specific circumstances: somebody who *owns* a home in the neighborhood and has been there several years, several checkup visits required, etc.

One of the first people he meets, he takes a fancy to, except she doesn’t meet Granny’s criteria for a cat, and he ends up upsetting her because of it.  She acts like a total bitch when he tells her she can’t have one.  A lot of the book deals with that repeatedly.

He also reconnects with the neighbor, his grandmother’s best friend, and ends up putting her grandson to work on the house while he gets it ready to sell and he makes friends with a lot of the neighbors, because you know, he’s homing half a dozen cats.

This book was a ridiculously fast read.  I started it on the plane from Nashville to Cleveland, which is an hour flight, and was almost done with it when I landed.  The book is entirely predictable and in some ways clichee or trite.  And repetitive.  Like we know right away that he got a disease from a third world country and he talks about it a lot.  “If I hadn’t gotten sick…”  “They won’t let me back because I got sick…”  “…forgot my pills and got sick…” etc.

Also, of course it’s a cat book, and he’s allergic to cats.  And he loves her, but, oh, no, he can’t.  Etc.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing per sey.  I mean, I don’t ever go “OOOOH, Christmas Novella!!!”  and expect that I won’t have the book figured out before the end of the first page.  So if you just want a gushy feel good story that makes you warm like a cup of hot cocoa [Note: I apologise for writing that.  I even gagged when I did…], then this is totally your story.

The stuff that did make me mad, though…  She wanted a cat and he had a will that said he couldn’t let her have one.  So she treated him like crap for a while.  Like who does that?  Also, one of the cats sort of gets passively abused, which REALLY FUCKING PISSED ME OFF.  Like this is supposed to be a feel good story about a guy and his gramma’s cats, and I have to deal with the fact that you’re abusing a fucking cat in the middle of it.  (The people took the cat because there was a rumor of money and then they let it walk outside and disappear.)

But, even with its predictability, I was okay with it, again because I expected such a thing going in.  And I was willing to give it a good rating until the end.  The book just kinda stopped.  Like, sure we can totally assume the outcome of the group home he kept talking about all book, but would it have killed the author to finish the gift wrapping that she’d started for most of the last chapter?  It’s a Christmas book, I wanted it neat with a bow.  I mean, give us a cheesy Christmas newsletter as an epilogue or something.  ANYTHING.

So…  I mean, it’s predictable but since you expect that, it’s okay.  I’m totally taking off a point for the ending though.  3/5

 

So three out of five stars for this one.

Book Review: Winter In Paradise

Title: Winter In Paradise

Author: Elin Hilderbrand

Format: Hardcover

Published: 2018

 

I received this book from a colleague, she’s addicted to buying the latest hardcover reads from Amazon.  I reap the benefits.  I was so excited to read another Elin Hilderbrand book and this novel did not disappoint.  Well, it did, but, I will get into that at the end.

This book hooked me in from the beginning.  First, we read about a family in middle America who seemingly has it all for a low end high class family.  A marriage that is solid, beautiful children, and money to spend without worrying at night.  Then, we read about some friends on the beautiful island of St. John.  Her husband happens to die, mysteriously, in St. John, and his wife had no idea he was even there.

Hilderbrand intertwines the lives of these two groups of people beautifully.  I don’t want to give too much away, it will spoil it for you.  The characters have time to grow and everything feels so real.  I felt like I was driving around the island with how well Hilderbrand described everything.  The details are impeccable, no stone was left unturned.  She leaves you with just enough to develop your own theories on what is happening; some things you will get answers to and others you will not.

I could not put this book down.  Then, it happened.  The end.  I looked around.  I am stunned.  I am still stunned.  This is the first book in her latest winter trilogy series and she makes sure you will stick around for the next installment.  If you can’t read a book and be left with a cliffhanger, knowing an answer is coming in a year, then wait until all 3 books are out in a few years.  Warning, once you start reading you can’t stop so I am sure it will be a binge read.  My only question is can I ore-order book 2 now?

I am giving this book 5 stars.  I was enthralled and finished this book quickly, as I had to find out what was happening.  She leaves us with almost everyone missing a very important phone call except one person.  We find out who was calling since one character answered, and this just opens up a whole new can of worms and new theories I have about what is going on.  I will be impatiently waiting for the 2nd book to come out, Hilderbrand really knows how to keep you hanging on.  I won’t leave you hanging on though, tune in next week for my review of Christmas Glitter by Ann B. Harrison!

Book Review: The Hit

Title: The Hit

Author: David Baldacci

Format: Paperback

Published: 2013

How did I start down this path?  My family loves Clive Cussler and I asked my Dad for a few books to try him out.  He gave me a bunch of books and Mr. Baldacci was included in the pile.  I tried to read Clive Cussler but just could not get into it, so I picked up The Hit.  I.  Was.  Hooked.

Right away we are introduced to a scene where we have a man sitting behind a computer help orchestrate an assassination in another country.  When it is time for the shooter to make the hit, the man behind the computer has been shot and killed by the sniper instead.

In the next scene we meet Will Robie, expert sniper at the agency.  He successfully kills a target in Central Park, New York and immediately gets called to meet with higher ups at the agency.  It appears they have had an agent go rogue by the name of Jessica Reel.

The agency believes Jessica Reel killed Doug Jacobs, the man that was sitting behind his computer.  She was a sniper at the agency and started to defy orders and had gone off the grid.  The agency enlisted Robie to kill Reel so they could stop the rogue employee.  They chose Robie because he was the most like Reel, and they went through training together.  Together, they were a deadly force that even the most highly trained forces could not stop.

Robie takes on the mission and as soon as he does the Vice President of the agency has just been murdered.  Robie starts to feel that the agency is hiding things from him and accidently discovers in all the files he has received on Reel, they have omitted pages and pages of information.  He confides in Blue Man, a man high up in the agency, and starts to have a feeling he may not be doing what he should be.

As Robie dives in to find Reel, they end up saving each other on a few occasions.  How can Reel be a bad guy when she has saved his life?  She knows he is after her to kill her, so why spare him?  He was sent to kill Reel so when he has an opportunity to kill her, he ends up saving her.  Why?  What is going on?  Robie is determined to go off the grid himself and separate himself from the agency to get down to the bottom of what is going on.

I am giving this book 4.5 stars, which if you’re rounding up, is 5.  I loved the short burst chapters and the constant action going on.  Each chapter gave you a little insight into Reel and then bam, suddenly the page turned and gave you some insight into Robie.  The book ended on a high climatic note and has me pumped for more Will Robie.  I now have a box FULL of David Baldacci books that I cannot wait to get my hands on.  Tune in next Thursday for my review of Winter In Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand!

Book Review: The Sisters

Title: The Sisters

Author: Rosalind Noonan

Format: Netgalley Advance Readers’ Copy Ebook

Published: 2018

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for the opportunity to read The Sisters before its release on November 27, 2018 in exchange for an honest, impartial review.

I want to start out and say that this book may trigger more sensitive readers with regard to the topics of miscarriages and sexual abuse.  It does not delve in deep to these areas, however, they are here in the book.  What saddens me the most is that even though this is a work of fiction, there are innocent children out there today in this situation in this book.

This book is told through the story of 2 families that are connected to each other; Glory Noland and the McCullum family.  The book is broken down in to 3 parts; The Last Time I Saw You, The Shape Of Tea Leaves, and Glory’s Ghost.  Rosalind Noonan does a tremendous job alternating between the stories of Glory and the McCullum family.

Glory goes from the struggle of being in a biracial relationship to being a widow raising 2 biracial children on her own with no family willing to help her.  She meets a group of women at her local mall that call themselves The Sisters and ever so graciously end up taking her in.  On the other side, the McCullum family is secretly struggling to conceive and start a family, but, has all the family support in the world.

This book sucked me in and would not let me go.  I read this book with tears in my eyes so often, just wanting to jump in and help these women and children.  The character development in this book was remarkable and we watch Glory’s young children grow up to be beautiful young women, especially her eldest Ruby.  For a sixteen-year-old girl who has so much going on in her own life with her mother, she was certainly raised to do right in the world and is someone to be proud of.

This is a solid 4 star read for me.  I had to stop myself from reading at some points in time just so I could get some sleep.  I knew if I continued on, more would develop along in the story and the sun would be rising, as it would be time for me to get ready for work.  Noonan’s penmanship in this tale is heartbreakingly real and page turning.  While I would have wished for a different ending, Noonan does what is right and ends this book on realistic terms, which still please me.  Once you pick this book up, you will find it irresistible to put down.  Tune in next week for my review of The Hit by David Baldacci!

Susanna Beard The Truth Waits Blog Tour

Welcome to Susanna Beard’s The Truth Waits blog tour!! Book In The Bag is proud to be a stop along the way!

 

Let’s get right down into it, tell us who you are and what you usually write about.

I’m Susanna Beard, and I write psychological thrillers.

 

The Truth Waits was just released on November 1, 2018. What research did you do to write your latest thriller?

The story is partly set in Lithuania, where my character sources products for her online linen business. I already knew that the country was known for textile production, so that’s one of the reasons it’s set there – but I also wanted to find a deserted beach where the weather was harsh, in which to set the key incident in the story. Researching online, I found a fabulous unspoilt beach on the Baltic coast, a place called the Kuronian Spit, and I travelled there to see what it was really like. Then I took a train across the country to visit the capital, Vilnius, which features in the book, and was able to get a good impression of the place and the people.

I also met the attaché at the Lithuanian Embassy in London, who was extremely helpful and answered all my ignorant questions about the country!

Regarding the theme of sex trafficking and the police, most of my research was carried out online, though I was helped by various people who knew Belarus well and who had come across sex trafficking in the area.

 

What (if anything) did you edit out of the book?

A lot! Quite a few things changed from first draft to final manuscript, with around ten drafts in between! I can’t give you details without giving too much away…

 

What is the main thing you want readers to take away from The Truth Waits?

The overarching message of the book is that the truth has a way of getting out, however much you try to hide it.

 

What is something that your fans would be surprised to learn about you?

I’ve done a few surprising things: I’ve swum with whalesharks (the biggest fish in the world) in Australia (fabulous); I’ve walked through the sewers in Brighton (fascinating); and I’ve fallen into a crevasse in France (and climbed out uninjured!). And I used to get panic attacks in big groups of people. I seem to have overcome that now!

 

What made you become a writer and what about the writing life do you think is misunderstood by the public?

I’ve wanted to write novels since I was a teenager. I got the reading bug early – I was always in the library and read voraciously – and losing myself in a book was my favourite occupation. Writing has always been an important part of my working life, though writing fiction is relatively new to me.

People read novels without realising the huge amount of work – and very often heartbreak and soul-searching – that’s gone into them. That used to be me, so I understand why, and as an author, it’s wonderful that the effort is rewarded by readers enjoying your work. But we’re not all making millions, by any means, and the price of a book is low considering the work that goes into it: I don’t think people understand that.

 

Are you a plotter or pantster?

Nowadays, I’m a plotter, but not to the nth degree. I do an outline; I know the beginning and the end, and some of the points in between, and I do biographies of my characters in advance. It’s great to have a plan to refer back to when I start to go off-piste!

 

What is the biggest mistake that you’ve learned not to make while writing?

Don’t start editing before you’ve finished! Get that first draft done – then you have something to work on.

 

What is the last book you finished reading? What did you think?

The Silence of the Girls, by Pat Barker. Not my usual choice, but I do read widely. I really enjoyed it – it’s a brilliant retelling of The Iliad from the point of view of Briseis, a girl awarded to Achilles as a slave when her town is destroyed. There’s a clear feminist message to the story; it’s brutal and realistic and has many modern echoes.

 

What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?

A marketing one! I still manage the PR for a handful of clients, which is varied and enjoyable. And I’m now running workshops for would-be writers.

 

Are there any URLs or social media accounts you would like to share?

My website is www.susannabeard.com; I’m @susannabeard25 on Twitter and @susannabeardauthor on Facebook

For the workshops, the website is www.riverwriting.co.uk

 

Thank you so much for the stop on the blog tour again!  Make sure you go out and get your copy of #TheTruthWaits today! Trust me, it’s a great read! Don’t forget to follow Susanna on her social media accounts! Until next time…have a great read!

 

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