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review 2017-06-07 22:40
Bittersweet (A Home Sweet Home Novel) - Shirlee McCoy

Title:  Bittersweet

Author:  Shirlee McCoy

Publisher:  Zebra

Series:  Home Sweet Home # 3

Reviewed By:  Arlena Dean

Rating: Four



"Bittersweet" by Shirlee McCoy


My Viewpoint...


What will happen when Willow Lamont [ex prosecutor] returns to her hometown of Benevolence, Washington?  Well, after her grandfather requests her return she comes back only planning to spend several weeks to a place where she had a secret that she definitely did will not feel good about returning to 'Chocolate Haven' a place she had once truly loved.  Why was this?  It seems like being back at 'Chocolate Haven' Willow is even unable to even make the 'unique fudge' that she had once been able to do so well but after suffering from that 'secret trauma'  that just wouldn't let her go. Then it seems like something quite different comes into her life ... a abandoned baby and the meeting of a longtime school friend Deputy Sheriff Jax Gordon who had also gone through a lot in his life.  Now, I will say that the story will take another road as the story of 'Miracle' comes of life along with some very complexed characters from Willow's family members to others that will keep the story rolling along as you keep turning the pages.  For Willow being back in Benevolence will she be able to put her fear that she has held so dearly and not sharing with anyone to rest especially since it looks like she will become a foster parent of baby 'Miracle Doe?'  l liked how this author bring into focus as Jax who had  something horrible happen in his childhood bringing in the closeness to Willow.  Will they be able to except each other with all that has happened to both of them?  Will Jax be able to earn Willow's trust?  Will he be able to 'fill her life with rekindled joy and a forever of irresistible love? This story will really cause one to see the heartache that Willow and even Jax had felt.  It was so very hard for me to understand Willow's situation with her mom's relationship.  And I was glad to see in the end that these two seemed to have mended something that needed discussing so long ago. By the end of the novel will Willow and Jax find the happiness they so desire?  Well, you will have to pick up "Bittersweet" to answer all of the questions and find out how this author presents it to the readers.


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review 2017-02-16 04:52
Home Sweet Motel by Chris Grabenstein
Welcome to Wonderland #1: Home Sweet Motel - Chris Grabenstein

As soon as I opened this book, I knew it was going to be super entertaining to read. Brooke Allen is a wonderful illustrator! All of the drawings absolutely cracked me up. Imagine a boy riding an alligator back to where it came from after he's lasso'd it with some bed sheets from a hotel. Pretty funny in your head, right? It's even better to see. I'd show some of the artwork but since it said that the art may not be final, I'm going to exclude it for now.

P.T. Wilkie is hilarious. Above all else, he's imaginative. Spinning stories much to his classmates' delight, even some of the teachers, (except for grumpy old Mr. Frumpkes) and getting himself out of trouble on multiple occasions. The book does have some sad parts that deal with P.T. Wilkie's father, but it's made up for in non-stop funny shennanigans that him and his friend new friend Gloria get into.

We follow P.T., Gloria, and occasionally P.T.'s grandpa on hilarious antics in order to save their beloved motel from the hands of some horrid businessmen. Before they know it, they're caught up in a years old mystery surrounding a bank heist two robbers had pulled off. Now, the robbers are out of jail and snooping around the motel looking for their loot. P.T. and Gloria must find the jewels before they do and before Spring Break is over to keep the Wonderland Motel up and running and out of the grasp of people who don't deserve the motel.

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review 2017-01-11 23:01
Chi might be my favorite fictional kitten
The Complete Chi's Sweet Home, 1 - Kanata Konami

She's just the cutest thing ever!   Short vignettes populated with sparse word bubbles - or even words in general - make this a quick read.   Then again, this doesn't need more than it has.   Between the watercolors - the colors aren't quite lush, but the mostly muted quality somehow enhances the cuteness of this series - which are fantastic and the adorable antics of Chi and her family, I don't really need much more.  I've been reading up on the writer and artist, and how brilliant both her art and writing is, and I agree completely: this is cute, this is fun, and her art is captivating. 


As for her understanding of cats, humans, and how they interact, the point has been made over and over again that she not only understands all of this to her core, but she expresses it flawlessly.   She does. 


Also, the vignettes themselves tell an overall story, one building on the other.   I suspect the shortness has more to do with the anthology aspect of so much manga - in which you get a couple pages of a bunch of stories in one magazine.   It's how the previous series, FukuFuku, about another cat, was written.   I haven't looked into it, but I'd be unsurprised if Chi was originally written this way.   More than enough of the vignettes build directly on top of the story told in the pervious vignette that it seems she was given so many pages, and had a story that fit into that page limit.   The author does this well, makes the stories compelling and makes them feel like there's a concrete end to that particular vignette even when I know there's going to be a continuation.   (Like when it's a part one.)


I'm going to leave you with this: 



How can you not love that face?

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review 2016-11-25 21:45
Chi's Sweet Home (manga, vol. 12) by Konami Kanata, translated by Ed Chavez
Chi's Sweet Home, volume 12 - Kanata Konami

The Yamadas are going to France, and they have a difficult decision to make: should they notify Chi's original owner that they have her, or should they just continue on as they have been?

The decision is basically made for them when they find Chi's mom, hurt after being hit by a car (don't worry, she's fine). Although Yohei is resistant, the Yamadas eventually give Chi up to her original owner. What they didn't count on was that Chi would miss them enough to try to go find them.

(spoiler show)

I probably wouldn't have minded if this series had gone on to be as massive as Skip Beat! or Naruto, so I was a little sad to have reached this final volume. My expectations were also maybe a bit too high. In the end, I felt this volume was a little too rushed and pushed some of its emotional buttons a bit too hard.

I cried during the bit with Chi's mom. Thank goodness Kanata didn't kill her off, but

seeing her just lying there after being hit by the car broke my heart, especially since it happened because she was trying to save Chi. The Yamadas' final decision went a bit further in the tear-jerker direction than I was expecting, however, and it just felt wrong. For maybe the first time in the series, Yohei refused to listen to his parents and acted out, and I was right there with him because, darn it, Chi had been part of their family for at least a few months (I'm not sure how much time has passed between this volume and the first, but my guess is nearly a year). The relative ease with which Mr. and Mrs. Yamada gave Chi up didn't feel right.

Unsurprisingly, Kanata turned things around right before the end of the volume, but even that had aspects to it that didn't quite seem to fit. I've never had to make arrangements to get a pet to another country, but I'm pretty sure that the Yamadas wouldn't have had time to finish those preparations with only a few hours to go before their flight.

(spoiler show)

I still love Chi, I'm glad she got to meet her mother and siblings, and I'm glad

she was reunited with the Yamadas in the end

(spoiler show)

, but I prefer the earlier volumes in the series that were just about a cute kitten doing cute things while her first-time cat owners watch.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2016-11-13 00:20
Communist "witch" hunt during the '50s
Home Sweet Home: A novel - April Smith

This book is loosely based on a real-life family who was victimized by the fear and hatred created during the McCarthy era.   Cal Kuseck and his wife Betsy move their two children, Jo and Lance, to a cattle farm in South Dakota.  The book chronicles their struggle to adapt to their new life.  Cal becomes interested in politics and serves three terms in the State Assembly.  When he decides to run for the Senate, the FBI looks more closely into his and his family’s past affiliations and learn of Betsy’s short membership in the Communist party when she was a very young woman.  Cal’s political enemies start a smear campaign and his friends and neighbors turn against him.  This all leads to a libel lawsuit and ultimately, many years later, to murder.


I had expected this to be a fascinating, empathetic book but for some reason, I never could really connect with the characters. I thought this book would really speak to my heart, especially during this difficult time in our country when people are so divided and fear is prevalent.  I read this book during the last days of the presidential election.  But I really didn’t get caught up in the victimization of this family and didn’t find much suspense in the murder either.   It felt a bit flat and disjointed to me. But it’s certainly a timely book and shows just how fear and hate can grow in a country until it produces unreasonable mass hysteria.


This book was given to me by the publisher through First to Read in return for an honest review.

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