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review 2017-10-12 22:25
Hope At Christmas
Hope at Christmas: A Novel - Nancy Naigle

Title:  Hope at Christmas

Author:  Nancy Naigle

Publisher:  St. Martin's Press 

Reviewed By:  Arlena Dean

Rating: Five



"Hope at Christmas" by Nancy Naigle


My Thoughts....


This was quite a good holiday story that involved two divorced parents and their children.  I liked how this author brings Sydney Ragsdale and Kevin [Mac] Alea together in this wonderful Christmas magical read that is fulled with 'love and hopefulness.'


We find from the story that after an very unexpected divorce Sydney moves from Atlanta to Hopewell, North Carolina with her daughter where her grandparents had left her  their farm house to get away from it all ... a controlling ex and some ex friends. Hopefully Sydney plan to start a new live there in Hopewell.


As you read through this well written story one will find the characters so very relatable as well as realistic giving you a good senseable read. Will these two people [Sydney & Mac] be able to get  just what they needed as they find there way around  Hopewell N.C?  This author brings out a interesting point of what can happen when there is a divorce ex  and who is left hurt and abandon  when a marriage is dissolved...the child.  In this case the children were  Ray Anne & Seth.  Be ready for a lots of action, surprises, drama, trust issues, fun, hope, love, sadness and even laughter, and Christmas cheer  as the story continues to the end.  What will happen when Sydney starts working for Bea over the holidays?What was so special about this book store?  Who will she met?  What was it about Mac. divorced, who was teacher at the local HS, baseball coach and during the holidays would dress up as Santa in that interested Sydney?  Will their be sparks between Sydney and Mac as they go some some series of non-dates?  Will these two lost souls who had been wounded be able to find healing?  Will Sydney be able to trust again after that ordeal with her ex?  To get all of these questions answered you will have to pick up "Hope at Christmas" and see how this author will bring it all out for you.


By the end the reader will get a good heart-warming holiday story of ' love, hope and second chances' and YES, a ending with a wonderful HEA.



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review 2017-10-12 21:28
Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe
Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe - Melissa de la Cruz

Title: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

Author:  Melissa de la Cruz

Publisher: St. Martin's Press 

Reviewed By:  Arlena Dean

Rating: Four



"Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe" by Melissa de la Cruz


My Thoughts...


If you are looking for a 'feel good' quick read for the holiday you may like this one by this author focusing on Darcy Fitzwilliam and Luke Bennet.  We find that a lots will happen as Darcy returns home for the holiday after her mother has had a heart attack.  Darcy was quite a successful woman however she also had a life that was full of insecurities.  I enjoyed how this author was able to deliver a modernized retelling of 'Pride and Prejudice' and let's not leave out the Mistletoe where there will be a 'complete flip of characters.'  What will happen when one of the richest women who doesn't have time for nothing but work...comes home after been gone for eight years, having to deal with her strained relationship with her father, mother's illness and having to attend her parents's yearly Christmas party? Will a lots of the events that take place in this story set off some events from the past that seem to collide with Darcy's future? What will happen when Darcy meets up with Luke Bennet...the carpenter?  What happens when Darcy begins to think that maybe living the simple life would be better than the one she now has?  Now to get all of these questions answered and so much more you will have to pick up this novel [Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe] and understand that its a spin off/flip of the original 'Pride and Prejudice,' a Jane Austen Classic however, this will be a quite a different story that is full of  twist and turns, 'lightheartedness, self discovery and second chances.'




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review 2017-10-04 20:32
Great Tale of Sisters
Between Sisters - Cathy Kelly

I really don't have much to say except that now I don't have anymore Maeve Binchy books to read, I have been seeking an author to feel the void, I think that Cathy Kelly is doing nicely for me right now. 


"Between Sisters" is about sisters Coco and Cassie living in Dublin. Cassie is the oldest and fiercely protective of younger sister Coco. Their mother abandoned their family when Cassie was 7 and Coco only 1. They were raised by their paternal grandmother Pearl and made do with a there but not present father who died when they were young. The whole book is mostly about them, their grandmother, their families, and other people that come into their orbit.


Cassie is struggling with two hormonal teen girls and her husband who is always over at his mother's house doing her honey do lists since her husband's father has passed away. Cassie wants the perfect family and is scared that every five minutes she is going to lose it all. She has a tyrant for a boss (don't we all) and is doing her best to not clobber her husband Shay for never being around. 

Coco is still devastated over a breakup she had with over four years ago. She contents herself with her best friend Jo and being godmother to Jo's younger daughter Fiona. 


I loved both sisters equally while reading though felt puzzled that halfway through Kelly introduces a girl who is going to fashion school who I didn't quite grasp what she had to do with things. I honestly thought that she slowed down the book a bit. I initially didn't get the woman we are introduced to in the prologue, but things become clearer the further along you read in the book. 


Kelly also includes two male POVs and man oh man I wanted to kick Cassie's husband in the rear end. 


I honestly have no complaints about anything I read. I just thought it was a lovely story. We had some humor, some sadness, and some HEAs which are always nice.


If I am going to have a quibble about anything, I would say that cutting out the fashion student POV would have made the book flow together much easier. I think going into her whole family's backstory was a bit much with everything else we got in this book. 

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review 2017-09-29 02:09
Christmas in London/Anita Hughes
Christmas in London: A Novel - Anita Hughes

A charming, glamourous love story set at Claridge's in London during the magical week before Christmas starring a sweet NYC baker and the Cooking Channel Producer who could change her life.

It’s a week before Christmas and Louisa Graham is working twelve hour shifts at a bakery on Manhattan's Lower East Side. When a young cooking show assistant comes in from the rain and begs to buy all the cinnamon rolls on her tray, she doesn’t know what to do. Louisa is just the baker, and they aren't hers to sell. But the show burned the rolls they were supposed to film that day, so she agrees.

The next morning, Louisa finds out that her cinnamon rolls were a hit, but the star of the show was allergic, and the whole crew is supposed to leave for London that afternoon. They want Louisa to step in for their annual Christmas Eve Dinner TV special at Claridge's. It’s a great opportunity, and Digby Bunting, Louisa’s famous baking idol, will be there. Even if he does seem more interested in her than her food.

And then there’s Kate, the show's beautiful producer. On their first day in London she runs into the skinny boy she jilted at St. Andrew's in Scotland ten years ago. Now he’s a handsome, brilliant mathematician, and newly divorced. Their familiar spark is still there, but so is the scar of how they left things. Kate and Louisa are busy preparing for the show, but old and new flames are complicating their work.

Set during London's most festive time of year and filled with delicious food, Christmas in London is about love and friendship, and the season's most important lesson: learning how to ask for and give forgiveness.


While I normally adore this type of book with all of its details about baking, this one fell supremely flat for me in various ways.


Firstly, the misogyny was too much for me. The two main characters are both female but seem to have absolutely no idea of their worth. Male characters fight over one with no ever visible connections and another suggests that a famous chef is only interested in the other for her looks, and not her talents. Regardless of ultimate results, it was really frustrating to see the girls rarely standing up for themselves and instead letting the guys drag them in every which direction.


The speech in this book was the other killer for me. Barely any of the dialogue written was lines that people would actually say. All of the speech was incredibly stilted, with characters speaking for a good paragraph or two before allowing someone else a turn. They gave far more details than would ever be interesting and relevant, and blurted out stuff that people just wouldn't say naturally. With every set of quotation marks, I found myself pulled completely out of the story.


There were two plots going on in this book, and quite honestly, we could lose Kate's entire story. It reads as a subplot--it's not until chapter four that we read from her perspective or learn anything about her--and doesn't contribute anything to the other side of the book. I also wish that there had been more offered in the beginning; Louisa is picked to be in a cooking show because the other girl had an allergic reaction and her lips were swollen up… I don't buy it. Get some allergy medication. It works wonders.


I did, however, enjoy all of the details about pastries, though I wish that there had been more variety and that we'd seen Louisa learning more new recipes. One strong scene was when she got distracted from her agenda by buying ingredients and that was probably one of the only real scenes in the novel.


This book just wasn't a success for me, and I'll be reading other novels this Christmas.


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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review 2017-09-27 22:53
Really Great Book!
The Woman at 72 Derry Lane - Carmel Harrington

I enjoyed this one and am glad I took a chance on it. Fair warning, you will cry while reading this book.

We follow three characters, a young girl named Skye, a woman in a terrible marriage, named Stella, and a woman who can't leave her home, named Rea.


Rea and Stella are neighbors and we find out that Rea realizes exactly what kind of marriage Stella has right now. When the two women finally meet and become friends the book works much better. Thankfully the author, only keeps the women solo at the first little part of the book before merging them. You are going to wonder who Skye is and what she has to do with things, I guessed, and was wrong. And then I guessed again, and was right. I was shocked at Skye's story though. Harrington takes on some very tough subjects in this one and I think she did them very well.

I did think though that Rea's issue was a bit too readily resolved. I loved the outcome of Stella's though. We have some additional characters in this one and they all get a chance to shine.

Unlike with other books taking place in Ireland, this one really is just focused on three homes. We don't get a sense of Ireland in this one. This could be every women's story, which I liked. 


The writing was very good and you get a sense of three distinct voices while reading this. You get headers for each chapter though that let you know who is speaking. But after a few chapters, I didn't need those at all.

The men are not that important in this one, the women really are and we get to see how past and present link up between these women and families. 


The flow worked great, though I found myself most eager to read Skye's story and wanted to rush to get back to her again and again. I even had to go back and read this book twice, since in my hurry sometimes, I skipped over a few things about the other characters.

The setting of this book really is a small neighborhood in Ireland, as well as another country. I won't say which, cause that will spoil you to other plots in this book.


The ending I found lovely, though I wanted more. It was way too short an epilogue for me.

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