Finding Hope by Stacy Finz

Finding Hope (Nugget, #2)Finding Hope by Stacy Finz

The small mountain town of Nugget, California, is way off the beaten path. But somehow it helps the lost and lonely find a new beginning in life—and in love…

One solitary day at a time is the only way cookbook writer Emily Mathews can restart her life—and cope with consuming loss. Still, the former city girl is finding all kinds of odd inspiration and advice from Nugget’s proudly eccentric residents on everything from new recipes to opening her heart again. Especially when it comes to her rugged rancher landlord …

His no-drama new tenant is the first break Clay McCreedy has had in a long time. He’s got his hands full enough dealing with his wife’s scandalous death and his sons’ unresolved grief. Clay can’t help but be drawn to Emily’s quiet understanding and strength. When their fragile trust turns into passionate healing, he longs for much more. And when both their pasts come calling, he’s determined not to walk away…

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For being a contemporary romance, and me having read so many of them in the last year, I was pleasantly surprised that this author managed to make this book stand out from the crowd. Stacy Finz has created a warm and realistic environment for her characters to thrive in, and has a way of making them so lovable that they creep into the recesses of your heart and stay there.

I was particularly interested in the setting for this story as I only live a few miles from many of the areas the author described in the book. Her descriptions were, for the most part, accurate and made me feel a deeper appreciation for this story, knowing first hand of the places she spoke of.

The love story is complex enough to be interesting and keep you reading and doesn’t fall into the usual cliches to much. I liked that the author allowed us to see sides of the main characters that they did not show one another until a good way into the story.

Secondary characters in this story also have interesting lives and help to balance out the main love story.

This was a great afternoon read for a cold day. I recommend it to those who like love stories with a bit more depth. This book is part of a series, but can be read alone and still make perfect sense.

I liked it!

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley.

The Child’s Past Life by Cai Jun

Child's Past Life, TheChild’s Past Life, The by Cai Jun

On a rainy June night in 1995, an unknown assailant stabs to death Shen Ming, a self-made and much-envied high school teacher. This death in the school’s haunted Demon Girl Zone is the last in a chain of events that already claimed two other victims. But the police are unable to prove any connection between the murders, and the deeper they dig, the fewer answers they find. In order to avenge his own death, Shen Ming inhabits the body of the eerily precocious boy Si Wang, whose life’s quest is to solve the mystery of Shen Ming’s murder—even if it means that others will die.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Without doubt, this book has one of the most complex plots I have ever seen in a fiction novel. In the beginning, I struggled a bit to figure out where the author was going with this story, but soon found myself enthralled and unable to put this book down. When I wasn’t actively reading it, I was thinking about it.

The concept of this story is simple, a child remembering a life that he never lived in his current form, but the plot takes multiple unexpected twists and leaves the reader hungering for answers by the time they reach the halfway mark.

This author has a way with character creation and made me feel as if these characters were people I knew and cared for. The outsider-like feel of the main character when he is reborn as a different child made me long to help him figure things out and kept me involved in the story.

I think this may be my favourite book of the year. For anyone who likes novels that keep you guessing, make you feel strongly about the ending and like solving mysteries, this is a book you should definitely read.

Excellent and worth all five stars.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Christmas Ranch by RaeAnne Thayne

The Christmas Ranch (Cowboys of Cold Creek, #13)The Christmas Ranch by RaeAnne Thayne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It isn’t very often that I leave a five star review for a contemporary romance, let alone a holiday themed contemporary romance, but in this case I really felt this book deserved nothing less.

One thing I have said in the past and feel compelled to say again, is that you should never start a RaeAnne Thayne book before bed if you actually intend to get any sleep. She did it to me again (toothpicks holding the eyes open as I write this review.)

I liked this story because although some of it followed the usual romance formula, girl meets boy and there is some drama preventing them from being together–this book didn’t go exactly as I expected. Neither Hope nor Rafe responded to the big events in the book as I would have imagined and both characters remained mature throughout the story, which made me respect them.

I liked the Christmas theme in this case and didn’t feel that it overwhelmed the story. The characters seemed to fall into a natural rhythm and the story seemed to roll out without being forced. Plus I want a reindeer named Sparkle.

This is a charming story that involves a whole family, neighbours and good friends rather than just the two main characters. I’d recommend this to anyone who likes a good holiday romance. Magic.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Alistair Grim’s Odditorium

Alistair Grim's Odditorium (Odditorium, #1)Alistair Grim’s Odditorium by Gregory Funaro

This cinematic, action-packed middle grade fantasy adventure set in Victorian London brims with fresh magic and has the cozy feeling of a classic.

Grubb, age twelve (or thereabouts), has never known anything beyond his miserable existence as a chimney sweep, paid only in insults and abuse by his cruel master.

All of that changes the day he stows away in the coach belonging to a mysterious guest at the inn that he is tasked with cleaning. Grubb emerges from Alistair Grim’s trunk and into the wondrous world of the Odditorium. Fueled by a glowing blue energy that Grubb can only begin to understand, the Odditorium is home to countless enchanted objects and an eccentric crew that embraces Grubb as one of their own.

There’s no time for Grubb to settle into his new role as apprentice to the strange, secretive Mr. Grim. When the Odditorium comes under attack, Grubb is whisked off on a perilous adventure. Only he can prevent the Odditorium’s magic from falling into evil hands-and his new family from suffering a terrible fate.

Grubb knows he’s no hero. He’s just a chimney sweep. But armed with only his courage and wits, Grubb will confront the life-or-death battle he alone is destined to fight.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book, and my kids thought it was fantastic–which makes me love it even more. If you can get an eight and nine year old to pay attention to anything for more than half a second then you know the author must be doing something right.

This book speaks to the imagination of kids (and adults, or at least this one.) The humour is appropriate for middle grade and lower kids and as a parent, I was impressed with the writing, as it didn’t seem to be stunted or less intellectual than a book intended for adults. I like it when my kids can read something that challenges them and teaches them a wider range of vocabulary, and you get that with this book.

The story is full of adventure and doesn’t stop until the last page is read. The main character is unique and quirky, and just as exciting as you want a good, unlikely hero to be.

If you have kids that are reluctant readers, this would be a good book to help them get interested in reading.

Five stars well deserved.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

The 12 Screams of Christmas ( Goosebumps)

The 12 Screams of Christmas (Goosebumps Most Wanted Special Edition, #2)The 12 Screams of Christmas by R.L. Stine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s Goosebumps! For Christmas? Okay, so that seemed kind of weird at first, being that Christmas is a time of cheer and good tidings, but I thought this worked pretty well. It seemed to me that this book was a might more grown up than previous goosebumps titles I’ve read. The characters had a bit more depth and the story was a little scarier than I recall the other books being.

Still, this had the original Goosebumps flair, with laugh out loud moments and goofy characters to fill in the tense spots. I think kids of all ages will enjoy this book just as they have done with the rest of the series before it.

The frights in this story were original, and I liked that the main character had other drama in her life besides seeing ghosts. I’m sire kids could relate to the issues she brings up.

I love these books, and this series will never cease to please, in my opinion.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Treasure on Lilac Lane by Donna Alward

Treasure on Lilac Lane (Jewell Cove, #2)Treasure on Lilac Lane by Donna Alward

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the beginning, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the previous in the series, but that changed soon enough. Within a few chapters I was happily settled back into Jewell Cove and loving this story.

Once again, Donna Alward reminded me why she has become one of my very favourite authors. Her characters are heartfelt and her story is captivating, bringing together everything you want in a romance as well as a small town atmosphere that allows you to feel close to the characters. She handles tough subject matter such as death and addiction with grace.

In this story some of the characters from the previous book take centre stage, whereas before they were supporting cast. I love the way this author connects her characters through more than just family relationships and friendships. Through the use of common places, the local diner, the jobs the characters do and the course life takes them in, they develop bonds with one another and with the reader.

I am looking forward to seeing what she does next. Recommended for those who like depth in their stories and want to feel like they are part of something special.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Seeing the Dead by Sheila Connolly

Seeing the Dead (Relatively Dead Mysteries Book 2)Seeing the Dead by Sheila Connolly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are a fan of history/paranormal then this is a book series that will likely appeal to you on many levels. Once more, Sheila Connolly proves that she can take the ordinary world and create characters that make it seem extraordinary.

This was a fun book to read with a lot of historical accuracy and interesting plot twists for the main character to face. I didn’t feel like the main character knew where she was headed relationship-wise throughout most of this though. Her intent with Ned was often confusing, although that may have been intentional on the part of the author.

I like that the author uses family lineage as the base of her story and connects her characters on so many levels. The setting is easy to visualise and feel part of.

This was a good book that I was able to read through quickly and get a lot of enjoyment from. If you are looking for some light reading that will make you smile and even laugh out loud, Sheila Connolly has a book for you.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.