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review 2018-12-11 11:51
The Cat in the Christmas Tree
The Cat in the Christmas Tree - Peter Scottsdale

by Peter Scottsdale

 

This is written for children, and as such some of the dialogue isn't quite realistic but more of a cleaned up version like you often see in children's books. The plot holds together reasonably well and the magical transition was very good.

 

There were some good messages about learning to respect the property of others and not bullying, however, I have an issue with a few other messages that come across.

 

First of all, the father is in total charge of the family and the mother doesn't argue when he threatens to get rid of the cat. This gives a bad impression of relationship dynamics as well as of a father's role. To me, he's totally evil and his wife should divorce him and keep the cat so her son will be happy!

 

My other issue is with calling the cat bad for jumping into the tree. Really? You bring a real tree into a home with a cat and expect him not to jump into it immediately? The author is a cat lover and owner so he should know better than that! Also, when the cat is destroying things he shouldn't or biting, why aren't the parents making any effort whatsoever to teach him parameters? Cats do learn, and not by whining at them that they shouldn't do that as if they understood every word. (Secretly I do believe they understand every word but that's another matter.)

 

All things considered, the story has some brilliant elements from a Christmas magic point of view, but I would not buy it for a child because of these unacceptable messages about fathers and cat discipline.

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review 2018-09-04 00:52
An enchanted town, the power of believing, a mystery, and the perfect romance.
The Christmas Wishing Tree. An Eternity Springs Novel - Emily March

I am thankful to St Martin’s Press for offering me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review and for the opportunity to participate in the blog tour of its launch.

 Although I am not a big fan of Christmas, I do enjoy some Christmas stories, movies, and songs (especially out of season, when one isn’t surrounded by it). The offer to read and review this novel reached me in the middle of a pretty hot summer and it felt like the perfect way to combat the heat. It worked, for sure, and although I had never read any of the other novels in the Eternity Springs series, I quickly became enamoured of the place and its inhabitants. I can reassure you, though, that the story goes beyond the Christmas theme, and there are wonderful scenes that take place in other seasons (the Fall, the Fourth of July…) and other locations apart from Colorado (Nashville, Florida, Australia, and the Caribbean).  But I have to agree that the overall theme of the novel, and the spirit that suffuses it, is that of Christmas.

The novel, written in the third person, shares the alternating points of view (and locations) of a part-time resident of Eternity Springs, Devon Murphy (the son of Cam and Sarah Murphy, and brother to Michael, long-term residents of the town), and Jenna Stockton, a doctor specialising in Obstetrics and Gynaecology whom we meet in Nashville. While Devon seems to be a free-spirited man who loves the sea, boats, fishing, and women, but avoids commitment like the plague, Jenna is a model of responsibility. She is a single mom to Reilly, whom he adopted after looking after his mother, a young woman down on her luck who died when the boy was a toddler. She works hard and would do anything to ensure the safety and happiness of her son. But he has a Christmas wish that is out of her hands. Somehow, luck, magic, or the power of believing puts Reilly and Devon in contact, and in a roundabout way, the destinies of the three of them intersect in the wonderful town of Eternity Springs. Both main characters have secrets (as readers of the genre will probably expect): Devon has a traumatic past in the relationships department and has a lot in common with Reilly, and Jenna’s life is haunted by a stalker who seems intent on upping-the-ante and putting her and her son’s lives at risk.

I liked the characters and their relationship, that follows the well-known formula of will-they/won’t-they so successful in the romance genre (they both have very valid reasons for their hesitation, although if you get easily impatient, I must warn you that the book is quite long and the story develops over close to two years), and I liked many of the secondary characters as well (despite not having read other novels in the series, I got a fairly good sense of who they were, and I did not feel I could not fully enjoy the story because of lack of background information. And I wouldn’t mind getting to know more about many of them), particularly Celeste, her resort, and the wonderful idea of the Wishing Christmas Tree that gives the book its title. She has a touch of the magical and is the fairy godmother of the town and all the characters (and I’d love to meet her).

What I most enjoyed of the book was the town of Eternity Springs. I have read a number of novels that take place in charming towns (islands or other locations) where outsiders come and are quickly adopted by the community, becoming, in many cases for the first time, part of a big family. I always enjoy the fact that the town becomes a protagonist in its own right and when the novels works well, you feel as if you had spent time in a real place and look forward to future visits to the magical location. Eternity Springs is one of those towns, and to add to its attraction, it is located within a marvellous natural setting, and the writer does a good job of introducing us to parks, lakes, mountains, taking us on sledge rides, fishing, camping, and exploring the wonderful facilities and the traditions of the place. Although it has more than a touch of the fairy tale (everybody seems to be well-off, everybody is fairly happy, apart from the main protagonists, temporarily, and even the bad things that happen are pretty mild) and it can be a bit sugary at times, I think it would take a very cold heart to read the novel without falling for the magic of the town and its inhabitant. (And perhaps shed a tear or two. Good tears, though).

If I had to point out some things that readers might have issue with, one would be the mystery element. Jenna’s background story and her circumstances bear heavily upon her actions and how cautious she is when it comes to meeting new people and possible romances. Although the mystery element ramps up the tension and adds to the interest of the story, on occasions it seemed to be more of an afterthought and an opportunity to show Devon and his friends (all male) as a team capable of investigating and keeping everybody safe (and yes, some elements of the rescue fantasy and the knight in shining armour were clearly at work there). Although Jenna herself complains at times about being treated like a weak woman in need of protection —despite being a competent professional who had managed well by herself until that moment— this novel keeps to conventional and traditional gender roles rather than challenging them. I know that such plots and story-lines are typical of many romantic (wish-fulfilment) novels but might not suit all readers, especially those who prefer women in charge of their own destinies. As a reader of thrillers and mystery novels, I did not feel the mystery would have satisfied fans of the genre, as we are not given enough information to solve it (we get some details of the case but others are brushed over quickly and the resolution, when it arrives, is somewhat anticlimactic), and it takes a backseat to the romantic part of the story. Having read other books that mix both genres, and this being a romance with some mystery thrown in, rather than the other way round, I did not think its intended readers would be too disappointed.

There are many other subplots I have not mentioned, including dogs, pregnancies, health scares, fishing, older motherhood, baking, National Parks, love of nature, adoption, social media, stalking, counselling, vocation, tropical storms, family, traditions, Santa Claus, magic, traumatic relationships… There are wonderfully vivid and memorable scenes, the style of writing is easy and fluid, and the descriptions bring to life both the locations and the characters (without going overboard with the physical descriptions of the protagonists and love interests, although yes, don’t worry, they are attractive), and there are some sad moments, some funny ones, and many emotional and heart-warming scenes as well. There is plenty of sexual attraction and tension between Devon and Jenna, but there is no graphic sex and although there are some thrilling scenes, the doors stay firmly closed behind the protagonists when it comes to that side of things.

I know readers of romantic novels expect a happy ending. Well, you won’t be disappointed here. What’s more, I know some readers can get really upset if they feel there are elements in the story that are not fully solved and hate it when they feel that writers are using hooks and unresolved issues to keep them buying books in a series (not everybody feels the same, though). As I have said before, this novel can be read independently from the rest of the series, and all the plots and subplots of the story, even the secondary ones, are solved satisfactorily. So don’t hesitate to pick up this novel just because it’s part of a series. You will feel sad it has ended but it won’t keep you awake at night trying to guess what happened next. I kept imagining this novel as either a movie, or better even, a TV series, and would be surprised if some production company didn’t snatch it up. Done well it would be irresistible.

In sum, this is a novel that takes place in a magical location, in gorgeous settings, with a Christmas theme and a hopeful message, a romance that includes elements of mystery/thriller, with likeable characters that will make you feel home. I, for one, won’t hesitate to visit Eternity Springs again in the future.

 

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review 2017-11-09 03:14
Purring around the Christmas Tree (A Pawsitively Organic Mystery) - Liz Mugavero

Stan Connor and the residents of Frog Ledge are getting ready for the towns Christmas Celebration, when an unthinkable crime happens Santa Claus has been murdered. The victim is Harold Dewey who replaced Seamus McGee who had always played Santa. When Seamus and his friend Ray can't be reached on their phones or located people start to get worried. Ray's wife takes to her bed then gets drunk at the town pub. Seamus's family figure that he is involved in another get rich quick scheme and he dragged Ray into it. Stan finds herself trying to find Harold's killer and locate Seamus and Ray so that everyone can have a Merry Christmas. There is plenty of action and the plot keeps you engaged with it's twists, turns, and clues.  I got an advanced copy of this from Kensington books through Netgalley.com

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review 2017-10-14 05:52
Quick Holiday Read
Underneath My Christmas Tree (Love in a ... Underneath My Christmas Tree (Love in a Small Town Book 6) - Tawdra Kandle

Underneath My Christmas Tree by Tawdra Kandle is a fairly short holiday read, perfect for those with limited time for reading.  Ms Kandle has delivered a well-written book.  The characters are sweet and lovable.  Elizabeth is a lawyer and not a fan of Christmas.  Trent is selling Christmas trees from the parking lot of her law office to help his uncle. Their story is a holiday romance with bits of drama, humor and sizzle.  I enjoyed this story but I think I would have enjoyed it more if it wasn't written in first person.  This is a complete story, not a cliff-hanger.

 

I voluntarily read an Advance Reader Copy of this book that I received from NetGalley.

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review 2016-11-14 00:00
The Christmas Tree
The Christmas Tree - Allyson Charles description

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Sadie is in Pineville, Michigan to check out the house her grandmother left her. One quick glance at her phone and a raccoon sets off a domino effect ending with a light pole right down the middle of someone's truck.

Colt McCoy can't believe his eyes when his truck is destroyed by a falling light pole. When he finds out that Sadie was looking at her phone instead of the road, he loses his temper completely.

Calling the police doesn't exactly end as planned with them both having to serve community service decorating the town Christmas tree. What starts with anger and barbed words, soon turns into something a whole lot more.

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I absolutely ADORED every single minute of this book. It made me laugh out loud SO many times I lost count. The hero and heroine were extremely likable. The banter between them was HILARIOUS at times. Colt was such an ass at first, but he gets over himself quickly and isn't afraid to apologize when he is in the wrong. Sadie was just super sweet. The things her and Allison got up to together..LMAO.

The festive small town feel was enjoyable, as was the plethora of secondary characters that you won't help but fall in love with. From baddie David (I think he is just misunderstood), to Jerome the single father cop. Not to mention Sadie's sidekick Allison, the "tree twins", and even the mayor get in on the matchmaking act. SO many well written and enjoyable secondary characters that added a nice backdrop for the main couple.

Add in some sexytimes (fairly mild), a little relationship angst (just a smidge), and this one should definitely be on your holiday TO READ list. Two HUGE thumbs up from yours truly.

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