Hi, my name is Kim and I am addicted to books. See? I can admit it!!
This book is a collection of two novellas, All I Want for Christmas and First Impressions. Both of these are previously released novellas that had been packaged with other holiday bundles by the author.
All I Want for Christmas
This was a cute read, full of the holiday theme. Mac's twin boys, Zach and Zeke, are in the market for a new mother. And, of course, hilarity ensues as they plot and scheme to make that happen. What is most heartwarming about this novella is their total belief in Christmas magic. It might be a little predictable, but that is to be expected in a holiday read!
The second novella is a little longer and tells the story of Vance and Shane. There is a little more meat to this story and that made me enjoy the story just a little more. The story went beyond just the romance and delved into some other darker issues that made it feel just a little more realistic. However, calling this a holiday romance might be a little bit of a stretch. The only real "holiday" moment came when they got a tree!
Overall: As with most holiday-themed novellas, the stories are a tad predictable. The first story was definitely in the sweet category, a fun read with a happy ending. The second one had some instalove, which is something I usually hate, but it was offset by the darker elements of the story. All in all, it was probably my favorite of the two. I love Nora Roberts, and while these were not my favorites of her books, they were still an enjoyable holiday read!
I don't read a lot of contemporary romance, but every now and then, one grabs me and won't let go. This was one of those novels and it was an impulse buy that I am extremely glad I made. I was initially taken by the cover as it sat on the shelf in my local PX. I had time to kill and no book with me, so I picked it up and settled into Starbucks and was immediately lost. In the foreword. Yes, the foreword. It was smart and funny and it set the tone for the whole novel.
The novel is set in the United Kingdom, first Britain and then Scotland. I'm from northern New York and living in Hawaii, but I felt like I was transported to the Highlands of Scotland. Colgan's writing is so perfectly descriptive that I saw everything Nina saw. It made me feel as if I were a participant in the story, rather than a far off observer.
Nina is a librarian who is forced to find a new way to make a living when her library closes to consolidate with another in a cost-saving measure. She is left not only without a job, but feeling as if the printed word was a dying breed. But it is enough of an impetus to make her throw caution to the wind and follow her dreams of owning her own little bookshop. But, as is the trend in her life presently, none of her plans go through as they were supposed to and her life moves in totally different directions. That theme, the idea of life throwing you a curve, is something I think that all readers can relate to on some level. The idea of having to uproot everything you've known and find a new identity... ideas that are scary for all of us. But that is what Nina does and it's a story that is truly engaging.
And the romance... that is something rather new for Nina, something she is not entirely comfortable with. And all of a sudden, there is more than one man in her life. Her former coworker Griffin confesses to his interest in her, which, although she doesn't return it, gives her a spark of confidence. Then there is Marek, the exotic Soviet train worker she meets in the middle of the most unexpected moment. Their romance blossoms, a sweet romance that shows promise. And then there is Lennox, her surly (but gorgeous) landlord with a trainload of baggage of his own. The twists and turns her love story takes are just as engaging as the rest of the story.
One of my favorite parts of the book, beyond the overflow of book love, was a subplot involving a teenage girl. That story is poignant and tugs at the heartstrings in so many ways.
I think the most eye opening moment for Nina, which really hit me, was a a moment when she is driving down the main street of her new home and sees just about everyone in sight reading. That scene was everything that I believe to be true about books and it was a great bit!
A List of Cages is beautifully written, telling the story of two boys whose lives have crossed once again. Their lives have intersected at times of pain and sorrow, but it is their unlikely friendship that changes both of their lives. This is a novel that will stick with you for a very long time, one that gives you all of the feels from the very first page.
It is a sad yet beautiful story that really resonated with me. There were some moments as I read when I just felt like my heart would break. The story told was often not a happy one, but it is a powerful one and one that is all too real for too many people. Roe writes it with a brush of reality that makes the story that much more important and relevant.
What I enjoyed most with the depth of the story. There was a variety of important issues woven into the story and those were presented with all of the rawness that is their reality. The value of family and friends. Dealing with ADHD. The reality of the foster system. The loss of family and loved ones. Child abuse. All of these things exist and I loved that the author didn't shy away from addressing the darker aspects of reality.
This is a powerful and important read that I would recommend for everyone, young adults and adults alike.
Dive is a truly poignant book about love and loss, friendship and family. The story revolves around Virginia, a 15yo girl who is going through one of the worst times of her life. And because personal tragedy is never enough, just about everything around her seems to be rising against her. Isn't that the way it always seems to be in life? This truly is what made the book so relevant to me as a reader, a person has been through their own fair share of loss and personal tragedy. Perhaps because of that, I read this a little differently. For me, it was the feeling of not being alone.
This is a book that is extremely character-driven. We spend the book inside the head of Virginia, feeling her confusion, her pain, and even her moments of joy and happiness. Through her we get to know her parents, her siblings, and her friends. And every one of them is a very different person. Her mother is a bit of a drinker and that is getting worse by the day, putting Virginia in positions she should never have to be in at her age. Her father seems to be a bit on the oblivious even before he becomes so sick. Her brother Edward (and I love the random use of rude takes on his name throughout the book) is pretty apathetic most of the time. But it is her little sister, Baby Teeth, that shines. She is smart and quirky and, in some ways, the true heart of the book. Virginia is understandably overwhelmed and I think she spends much of her time a bit emotionally. And if all of her family problems aren't enough, her dog is run over and her best friend starts being unreasonably mean and avoiding her, just when Virginia needs her the most. But then there is Jane, who unwittingly becomes Virginia's anchor.
At the center of the story is Virginia's fear and sadness. It is overwhelming and pervasive, just as it is in real life. She is barraged with so many things, each one of them enough to take her down by itself. But she is dealing with all of it all at the same time all by herself. There were moments that this was not an easy read because of the depth of the emotions, but it is a powerful read. It is also a read with unexpectedly funny moments and moments of happiness and joy. It is a book that truly gives you the feels!
Although I love the Valdemar saga, one of my favorite series that I go back to over and over again, I have to admit that this this installment of the Collegium Chronicles is my least favorite thus far. I still love Mags, as well his friends Lena and Bear, but this particular book dragged for me. Although his quest to find answers about his past was the focus of the novel, I think I enjoyed the stories of Lena and Bear and other characters more. Their stories had much more of an arc to them, whereas the main point of Mags' storyline was simply a carry-over from the previous novel.
The other thing that dampened my enjoyment was Mags' dialogue. This is the third book into the series and, if anything, his accent was worse. And that made reading difficult sometimes as I had to stop to puzzle out exactly what it was that he was saying. I understand the point behind the accent, but it was almost unreadable at times
While this is not my favorite book in the series, I still feel that it is an importa part of the saga as hold. It is also a necessary read for the next two in the series.
I am the Messenger is one of the more bizarre books I have ever read. It is one of those books that caused me to question myself continually about why I was reading it, yet, at the same time, I couldn't put it down. Even now, having finished it, I am not sure how I feel about it. But it sticks with me, so that is a five-mug read in my opinion!Ed Kennedy is a rather ambitiousless young guy, a cabdriver with no real future ahead of him. He is hopelessly in love with Audrey, something that she seems to not know. He is completely devoted to her and to his dog, Doorman. Doorman is a character in and of himself. He's addicted to coffee, old, smelly, and basically the canine equivalent of Ed himself. The product of routine and stagnation inthat routine.
But then one day, things change for Ed when he inadvertently foils a bank robbery. He receives a card in the mail with mysterious instructions and this is how he becomes the messenger. And what is the messenger? Part guardian angel, part avenging angel. He follows the instructions on the cards given to him, not knowing who is behind them. For the first time in his life, he has purpose.
I enjoyed that theme and that is probably what kept me reading. But the rational part of me kept questioning... who would blindly follow such odd instructions? Especially when sometimes they are less helpful, and more violent. But I love the bluntness of the character, the unabashed portrayal of a person who, for most of his life, is just there. Nothing special. All of the characters were like that... blunt. Their edges weren't smoothed for the sake of likeability. They were who they were and they reminded me of people I knew. They were real. And that is what kept me reading!
It is a strange book and I think that is what I loved most about it. I found it to be refreshing and I appreciated the brutal honesty of the characters.
I am a huge Mercedes Lackey fan and the entire Valdemar series is one of my all-time favorites to binge on every few years. I love the story lines, the mystery, the intrigue, the characters. I pick up one of these books and I am transported to a totally different world and I love it!
Intrigues is the second in the Collegium Chronicles series and continues to focus on Mags, a former mine slave. I have loved this character from the beginning. He was neglected and abused, as well as woefully under educated, during his years at the mine. He saw things and went through things that would have broken most people, yet somehow his spirit stayed alive and stayed strong. Instead of using his lack of education and lack of knowledge about the world as an excuse to give up or to complain, he finds a way to use it to his advantage. There is an undeniably good message in that.
The mystery and intrigue is at high levels in this book, with Mags' past at the center of a lot of it. He is a person without a past. No one knows who he is or where he came from until a foreign operative seems to recognize him. And that moment of recognition puts Mags in the spotlight, and not in a good way.
I love all of the Valdemar books and this one is an important part of the series. Not only does it give some information about the Collegium, it focuses on a character that is different from many of the others that have been the focus of other series within the saga.
Smoke Signals is the second book in the Tulsa Thunderbirds series, a spinoff and companion series to Catherine Gayle's fantastic Portland Storm series. And like all of the books in these two series, this novel combines love, steamy romance, hockey, and real life issues that hit hard.
I love hockey and I love novels about hockey. And I have no small amount of love for the attention to detail that Catherine puts into the hockey aspects of the book, making it not only absorbing for long-time fans like myself, but putting in just enough explanation into her writing to make it easy for hockey noobs to understand, too. But as much as I love the hockey, it is the characters and their stories that really make the difference. The characters are so real, so well-developed, that you truly become connected to their stories.
This book revolves around Ray "Razor" Chambers, who we originally meet in the Portland Storms series. When he goes to Vegas for his best friend Bab's wedding to his long-time love Katie, he expects only to be there for that important day and to see old friends. What he doesn't expect is that is entire life will change. But change is what happens when he meets the gogeous Viktoriya Dubrovskya. Gorgeous, a porn star, and one of the most broken women he has ever met. And his only mission from that moment is to protect her and to help her, no matter what she or anyone else says about it.
Like all of these books, Smoke Signals is raw and emotional and Catherine doesn't shy away from real issues and real problems. This is probably one of the more graphic novels in the series and that is less about the steamy factor and more about the very real issues that Viktoriya goes through over the course of the story. I found it hard to read at moments, but that wasn't because of the book itself or how it was written. It was because it was just difficult to imagine the kind of hell that human beings can put each other through and the circumstances that put people into the positions they find themselves. The author has a knack for finding these issues and highlighting them through her characters in a way that may make you uncomfortable and emotionally raw, but also in ways that truly make you think.
Great romance, great hockey, and a great story! It's emotional and at times uncomfortable to read, but it is a book that makes you think and see the world a little differently.
One of my favorite parts of the Valdemar epic saga are the Collegium so I love that there is now an entire series based on them! Foundation is the first in a (so far) five book series set in the Collegium. While Mags is the center of the series from the Herald Collegium, the Bardic and Healer Collegiums are also at play through Mags' two best friends.
Mags has spent his childhood as little more than a slave, a paid worker in name only. He has been neglected and abused his entire life and seen those around him treated the same way. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that he had a natural knack for finding the "sparklies," life would have been even worse for him. But no matter how bad it has been for him, he has still remained kind and loyal, often sacrificing what little he has for others. And then one day, his entire life changes when a white clad Herald and a seemingly crazed horse come charging into the mine to claim him. At first, he is terrified, completely uinaware of what is happening to him. He doesn't realize that this will prove to be the best thing to ever happen to him.
I love Mags,one of my all-time favorite characters in the Valdemar series. He is uneducated, but far from unintelligent. When he is finally exposed to knowledge, he soaks it up like a sponge, ever aware of how little he knows about the world around him. He has lived a life of mere survival, never experiencing anything other than mistreatment at the hands of the mine's owner.
This is one of my favorites, full of mystery and intrigue and emotional characters!
NOTE: The books in this saga were not published in chronlogical order, but it is on her website here, about 3/4 of the way down the page.
Admittedly, I am a Mercedes Lackey junkie, but this is one of my all time favorite series within the entire saga.
FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions.
I loved everything about this book! The setting, the story line, the characters... all of it!
I originally picked this book because I have a soft spot for all things Hawaiian. I lived there 18 years ago and I am about to move back, so I love to read about the place I love so much. As a Hawaiian herself, the author shows a little of the Hawaii that exists away from the tourists, and that is the Hawaii that I love so much.
But even aside from all of that, the story line is wonderful. Lea is the epitome of Every Girl. Her mom is a minor actress and that has meant a lot of moves, a lot of first days as the new girl. It has also meant spending a lot of time in her mother's shadow, She is brilliant, but a bit isolated from her peers and unsure of herself socially. She also has a keen sense of who people are at the core, but even for her, that sense can fail her.
Her mother and she have recently moved back to Kailua and soon her mother's friends have invited them to live in the guest house on their property. It is an invitation into a whole new world, and while it has its perks, Lea clearly feels out of place. And that is why I loved her character. Even exposed to all of the wealth, she remained true to herself. She unexpectedly becomes close to both the son and the daughter of her mother's friends and even as she is becoming a part of that world, she still refuses to become anything other than who she is. And I loved that.
While Lea is the focus of the story, the supporting characters are just as important as she is. Danny, her childhood best friend from short trips to the islands, is her rock now that she is living in Hawaii full-time. He is the bridge between the world she has always known, the Lea she has always been, and this new world she is experiencing for the first time. Whitney is the daughter living in the main house and she is nothing like Lea thought. Will, her brother, is also different than what she had once thought. Those two characters really set forth the meaning of the Tolkein poem "all that is gold does not glitter." These characters are ones that are easily identifiable in one way or another an that drew me into the story.
This is a story about friendships, relationships, and staying true to yourself. It is about hard choices and doing what is right no matter what the consequences. It is a story that goes beneath the surface and shows that things are not always as they seem to be. It is a beautiful story with fantastic characters.
This is a great story with interesting characters, a beautiful setting, and a wonderful story line that is real and identifiable. A great read! I gave it 4.5 mugs!
As with anything and everything I have read by John Green, I greatly enjoyed this book. No, I didn't sob my way through it as I did with The Fault in Our Stars, but it was moving in its own way. This is a book that can't be easily categorized as any one thing... a romance, a friend read, a mystery, a coming-of-age read. It isn't any one of those things, but a combination of all of them.
Q has lived next to Margo his entire life, a childhood friend that eventually became his unrequited first love. As they grew up, their worlds became farther apart. She was the popular girl and he was a bit on the geeky side. He is obsessed with her, blind to anything that could possibly mar his love for her. One night, she climbs into his window in the middle of the night dressed and coerces him (not that it took much coercing!) into an unexpected adventure. It's a night that gives Q a renewed hope for a future with Margo. But then the next day arrives and everything turns on edge. Everything Q thinks he knows about Margo is turned upside down and now he has to follow clues, clues that she left for him, in order to find answers.
As Q finds and follows the clues Margo has left, his character grows so much. He learns as much about himself as he learns about Margo. One of the most important themes of this book, in my opinion, is that what we see in a person is often very different from the reality. We see the surface, what we want to see. And that can make us blind to anything else that could tarnish that perception. And then when the veil is removed, it leaves you bewildered. That is Q's journey. But this is also a book about friendship. A group of his friends and hers come together and the stupid cliques of high school, at least in a small way and in a small moment, are ignored Family dynamics also play a key role in the unfolding story, and how those dynamics can affect a person.
There is so much to enjoy about this book. There are no easy answers, no perfect solutions, no perfect people. And that is a good thing because that is how life and the people living really are.
As with all of his books, I definately recommed Paper Towns! These books are full of relatable characters and a story that engages every emotion.
I truly enjoy this series! I loved The Winter People and I love this sequel just as much! The author creates characters that are so complex and so realistic. Even as dark as the story is, it is beautiful with its weaving of our own reality and the dark reality of the Fae world. It is a far cry from the Disneyfied version of faeries and that is something I look for in fae novels.
The Summer Marked picks up not long after The Winter People ends. Salome, Gareth, and Nevin have returned to the Fae realm and it quickly becomes obvious that it is not going to be the eternal bliss that Salome had believed it would be. This is compounded by the fact that she is struggling to find her place as a transplanted human in a faerie world that most don't even believe exists. I love the mythology that the author uses to build her world and the unique ways in which she uses it. The realm was traditionally ruled by a single monarch that came from one of the four courts: Summer, Winter, Spring, Autumn. The idea is that a rotating court of control keeps power in check. However, things happened in the past that took down three of the four courts and now the last, Summer, is in danger. And it is this history that comes back and threatens to ruin the Fae world.
Many of the characters from the first novel are back in this one, with some surprising twists that truly change everything. I love that Salome grows in this book, coming into her own and not just being there because of love. She takes on the problems of the Summer court and makes them her own in surprising ways. She is faced with decisions that no one should have to make, but she makes them. Even as things seem to be happening to her, unexplainable things, she puts aside her worries in order to be there for her new people. There is a strength in her character that is beautifully written and rather inspiring.
This installment is told from the alternating points of view of Salome and her best friend Kadie. It is almost as much Kadie's book as it is Salome's. Kadie is the epitome of a complex character. It is difficult to get a true reading on her and that is why she is such a realistic character, even in a supernatural world. In realitty there is really no black and white in humanity and Kadie's character embodies this.
There are themes of love and forgiveness, trust and betrayal, sacrifice and second chances, I loved that the strongest theme was that of sacrifice for the greater good, the selflessness that a decision like that requires. This is an important message and it was clear without being at all "preachy."
I highly recommend this book! It is a beautifully written book with a story that is extremely engaging!
While I have loved this series, I think that this one is my least favorite of the three. I love Vanyel's character as much as ever, even with all of his stubbornness. For me it was Stefan's character, as well as bits of his back story, that just didn't do it for me. Luckily, more of the story focused on Vanyel and that made me happy!
Vanyel is as protective and fiercely loyal as everl He is also always willing to risk himself for the greater good. But Stefan... I wanted to love him, and I did like him, but there were moments that even that was a struggle. He was such a foikl to Vanyel. Vanyel is loyal and noble and honest and I felt like Stefan skirted the edge of nobility and honesty. As a Bard, he had the means to use his Gifts to peacok a bit, to influence others, and to gain personal wealth. And while he used his Gifts in very good ways, he also tended to use them in ways that weren't. And the attitude was always one of surprise when ethics were pointed out to him. That was largely unbelievable to me, considering the back story of the Bards and their training. And he did a whole lot of manipulating of Vanyel himself. He just didn't get the drive that a hero has to save the world. In actuality, Stefan was probably the most realistic character in the novel. He was flawed and he was really just a regular guy with some musical gifts. But in the context of a high fantasy novel, he just seemed to be the odd man out.
However, I did love the story. In true Vanyel style, he was driven hero of the story that risked himself repeatedly to save the kingdom and those he loved. He is the character that I always felt deserved to be truly happy and I am not sure he ever got that in life, not really. There were a lot of twists and turns in this book, some a bit predictable and some far less so. There was one regarding Stefan that I am truly not sure how I feel about, although it does answer a lot of questions. And the ending was a bittersweet one that I appreciated!
True, it was not my favorite of the series, but it is an important part of the overall saga. I do recommend it for invested readers of the series.
This book takes up long after the end of Magic's Pawn and Vanyel is exhuasted by the wild magic and trauma that he has been through. He is almost an entirely different person in this book, changed and matured with the experiences of his past. As much as I loved the first book, I think I love Vanyel as a character even more in this book.
Over the years, he has become everything he was meant to be... and all of the things his father would never have imagined. He is a hero of Valdemar and has dedicated his life to keeping its people safe, even at his own expense. He is told to take some leave to rest and recuperate and goes to the most unlikely place,... Askevron Manor. But it isn't long before he realizes that there are things happening just beyond the borders that threaten everything.
Once again, I think Vanyel and his circumstances are universally relatable. I love Vanyel and I love his story. He is such a sympathetic character so it is easy to root for him throughout the story. Even after everything he has done for the kingdom, his parents still can't see him for who he is. His father is still dismissive and his mother is still throwing her ladies at him. And as a person, despite all that he has been through, he still has so much to learn about life, love, and moving forward after grief. This book also answered a lot of questions about some characters from the first book, particularly the family priest and the weaponsmaster. They were extraordinarily hateful in the first book with no real explanation as to why that was so extreme.
As with the other books, this one is full of twists and turns and intrigue. I think that there is an added level of suspense in this particular book because Vanyel is, as the series title suggests, the last of his kind. He is the last Herald-Mage. So much rides on him and there are moments when you wonder, even knowing there is another book in the trilogy, if he is going to survive.
I highly recommend this series if you love high fantasy and rich, relatable characters!
I love all of the series and singles that make up the entire Valdemar saga, and this one has always been one of my favorites. Vanyel is a character that I think, in some way, is a universal character that we can all identify with in one way or another.
Vanyel Ashkevron is the eldest son of a rather minor noble in the out country. His father is a rigid man, believing very firmly in certain things. And if you do not fall into his idea of what should be or what is right, then you are somehow lacking. This describes the relationship between Vanyel and his father for most of his childhood. His brothers and cousins, while not stupid, were far more interested in weaponswork and women than intellectual pursuits. Vanyel was intelligent and a gifted musician that took after his mother far more than his father. None of these things raised him in the eyes of his father. His mother, however, celebrated most of these things. She was a flightly woman who knew all too well how to play all of the "womanly" games and she loved having a son who could entertain her so well. However, she spent a lot of time throwing her lady's maid at him, despite his repeated assurances that he was not interested, often creating a bit of a mess for them both.
When Vanyel's father finally tires of trying to change him, he sends him to his aunt in Haven, a rather brusque woman who is a Herald. Vanyel knows, even as he lives the prison that ihis own home has become, that he is really only trading one prison for another. But things at Haven aren't what he expects and his life changes so very much.
I absolutely love the blend of characters in this book. No matter what your life story is, there is a character in this book that is relatable. No two characters are the same, giving a rich tapestry of characters in a wonderful story. I have heard many complain about the rather whiny attitude of Vanyel throughout the book. They are not wrong; he is whiny. But it is totally appropriate for the story. He is a young teenager, a fact easy to forget, and the reality is that he has a lot to whine about. I love that the character isn't portrayed to be perfect, that he is portrayed as realistic.
As with every book in the Valdemar series, I am in love with this book. Such a wonderful epic read!