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review 2017-12-26 18:26
Wrapped Up in You
Wrapped Up In You (A Mystic Island Christmas) - Stephanie Rowe

Cole grew up in a close-knit coastal island community. His parents ran an inn. He had some things happen (that he blamed on his mom/the Inn) and left the community. Having done very well for himself, he comes back with the goal of selling the inn and leaving for good. 
Willow spend some summers on the island. She remembers being happy. There was one summer when she was 15 that she spent a night just talking (and got her first kiss) with one of the island boys (Cole). After she had a Bad Thing happen, she decides to escape her life for a week and spend Christmas on the island. 
What started as an insta-lust/love moment, Willow and Cole happen to be on the same ferry, turned into a nice story I enjoyed. That night, as teenagers, left a mark on both and each (eventually) remembers the other person. I didn't care for Cole when the story first started, but he grew on me. Willow got more comfortable in her own skin and realized she is just fine as she is.

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review 2017-12-22 19:48
Darkness Awakened - Stephanie Rowe

This story was intense at times, action-packed, emotionally gripping, and entertaining. I enjoyed the story a lot. Some of the passion scenes did take place at odd, and I would think awkward, times but other than that I enjoyed it immensely.  Ana is on the hunt for her sister who has been missing and is blamed for several murders she knows she didn't commit.  Her last hope is the Calydon Quinn. He doesn't have time for Ana, especially as he realizes the moment he sees her that she is his destined mate. Their adventure was enjoyable and steady and I liked the plot and conflict. I enjoyed the concept that having a mate wasn't a good thing; that if a Calydon gave into his drive to bond with his mate he went rogue and became a dangerous monster. Quinn and Ana had to prove that myth wrong in order to open the door to the other Calydons finding their mates in the following books. I look forward to reading more about the Calydons and their destined mates.

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review 2017-12-11 23:55
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 9 Reads (Winter Solstice / Yaldā Night and Yuletide)
The Poetry - David Shaw-Parker,Christina Rossetti,Ghizela Rowe
Goblin Market - Christina Rossetti
A Christmas Visitor - Anne Perry
Colour Scheme - Ngaio Marsh,Ric Jerrom
Colour Scheme - Ngaio Marsh

Book themes for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night: Read a book of poetry.

Book themes for Yuletide: Read a book set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter.


Holiday Book Joker as Bonus Joker: A book set on Winter Solstice (or Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere)




Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night Read: Christina Rossetti: The Poetry

A wonderful reading of some of Christina Rossetti's best-known poems by David Shaw-Parker and Ghizela Rowe, including her long narrative The Goblin Market, which I also own (and reread, for the occasion) in a delightful hardcopy edition illustrated with images by Christina's elder brother, the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  Not holiday reading per se (and The Goblin Market is decidedly dark), but still very fitting poetic complementary material for the holiday season.  Highly recommended!




Yuletide Read: Anne Perry: A Christmas Visitor

Anne Perry's Christmas novellas are spin-offs of her major Victorian series (Thomas & Charlotte Pitt, and William Monk, respectively), featuring supporting characters from those series as their protagonists.  A Christmas Visitor is the second of those novellas, and its protagonist is Henry Stanhope, a mathematician friend of William Monk's.  Stanhope travels to the snow-laden Lake District to spend Christmas with the family of his longstanding friend Judah Dreghorn; only to discover that just prior to his arrival Judah has apparently slipped on a set of ice-sheeted stones crossing a brook on his estate.  What initially looked like an accident, at closer inspection is revealed to be murder, and while everybody's favorite and allegedly most likely suspect is soon found, it falls to Henry to find out what really happened.


Perry's writing is very atmospheric and captures the Lake District, 19th century rural society, and the Christmas spirit to perfection -- I loved this story right up until its very end, which (even for a Christmas book) struck me as overly moralizing and sentimental on the one hand, and just that decisive bit too neat on the other hand.  (Readers not enamored of mysteries hingeing on certain points of law might be turned off on those grounds)  Still, for a quick read to get into the spirit of the season (and be served up a nicely-plotted mystery into the bargain), I could hardly have done better -- and the stellar reading by Terrence Hardiman contributed greatly to my enjoyment.




Winter Solstice Book Joker Bonus Read: Ngaio Marsh: Colour Scheme

One of my favorite mysteries from Ngaio Marsh's Roderick Alleyn series, here served up in an unabridged reading by Ric Jerrom.  The story is set in Marsh's native New Zealand and begins on Summer Solstice, which is Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and thus makes the book eligible for this particular holiday's book joker.


The mystery is set at a spa hotel near a hot springs / mud pot / small version of Yellowstone National Park type of area, where a gentleman who has made one enemy too many (i.e., your classic Golden Age murder victim) one day is found to have fallen into a boiling hot mud pot.  (He may or may not also have been a German spy -- the story is set in the 1940s -- but this is one of the rare exceptions of a Golden Age mystery with that kind of angle that is blessedly devoid of "5th column" shenanigans, and where the war background is actually used skillfully to demonstrate how WWII affected daily life even in seemingly remote New Zealand.)  Also present at the spa is, inter alia, a star of the British stage and screen (unabashedly based on Sir Laurence Olivier) -- secretary in tow -- as well as, arriving on the day after the "accidental" death that very probably wasn't an accident, a Mr. Septimus Small, whom none of the other denizens of the spa manage to figure out, and who soon inspires the wildest conjectures as to his identity and occupation.


Upon revisiting the mystery -- thanks in no small part to Ric Jerrom's excellent narration and portrayal of the characters -- I found the story's inner logic (and the path to the solution) decidedly more obvious than when I first read it a few years ago, but then again, this time I knew where the whole thing was headed and, consequently, I was not as distracted by minutiae as the first time around.


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review 2017-12-11 03:15
Great Holiday Read
Wrapped Up in You (Mystic Island) (Volume 1) - Stephanie Rowe

Wrapped Up In You is a fantastic Christmas story by Stephanie Rowe.  Ms. Rowe has given us a well-written story and filled it with amazing characters.  Cole is returning to the home of his childhood to get his family's inn ready for sale.  Willow is escaping her famous lifestyle and returning to the one place that held happy memories.  Their story will warm your heart.  There's plenty of drama, humor and sizzle to keep readers engaged.  I enjoyed reading Wrapped Up In You and look forward to reading more from Stephanie Rowe in the future.  Wrapped Up In You is book 1 of the Mystic Island Series but can be read as a standalone.  This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger.

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review 2017-11-22 15:35
Misadventures on the Night Shift - Lauren Rowe

Dancia and Abby work third shift at the Rockford Hotel. During the “ dead zone” hours- two to three hours where nothing ever happened at the Rockford and Abby would get a good chance to get some studying done.Abby is going to law school part time not because she loved the idea of being a lawyer but s she won’t be a disappointment to her parents. Abby had been a wild child in her teens with a zero impulse  control. But Abby had a secret- she was also the author of a of her own sexy blog.    Abby felt Lucas Ford was the sexiest rock star she had ever seen. The man had decorated Abby’s teen walls ten years ago. He was one of the few things Abby would let interrupt hier studies. Lucas had been Abby’s teenage fantasy. Danica has known Abby for two years since she had worked at the hotel. Danica said to come look at her phone it was a sex tape of Lucas and it made Abby hotter than hot. Danicia told Abby that Lucas had a meltdown at his concert  that night and had walked off the stage and left his band there and didn’t return.  Then about three in the morning Abby got a call about renting a penthouse but the person said they would be there in two minutes and hung up before Abby could get a name or credit card information.   Then walked in a nerdy looking man who seem to fit the voice on the phone then behind him came Lucas Ford. he was renting Penthouse A for a week. Abby couldn’t believe her eyes to actually see her long time idol. Then he sits down across the lobby and lights a cigarette Abby has to go over and tell him he can’t have a lit cigarette in a hotel  lobby in Colorado Lucas calls her Abby the Asskicker bit not in a rude way.  Lucas felt he was being held back creatively by his record label. Lucas had called down and specifically asked for Abby when Abby got on the phone he wanted her to come to the penthouse she said she was still working but she could bring him some food o she made him a quick sandwich and grabbed the bottle of booze he had requested and went to his room. But he was very rude to Abby and she told him off and left his room in a huff even left her blazer there in the room. Lucas knows he must write a song that will be a hit for his record company then he can produce his fourth and final album for them.   The next time Abby comes back to work she finds out she inspired Lucas and he wrote a song and his record label even liked it and Abby became his muse.

I didn't like this book’s beginning chapters. I felt it was just crass so I didn’t even try to make myself finish this book. If I can’t at least like the beginning of a book I find I just can’t get into it no matter how it ends. I am sure someone else loved this book just wasn’t for me.

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