Real Neat Blog Award

Thank you Kathy of Katiescottagebooks for nominating me for the REAL NEAT BLOG AWARD.  I’m honored. Kathy’s blog is the neatest!!

Here are the questions Kathy has chosen for me to answer….

1.) What is your favorite genre?

That’s a tough one because I really enjoy three genres equally—mystery, historical romance and contemporary fiction.  If forced to choose one, I guess it would be contemporary fiction.

2.) If you could spend one day with a fictional character, who would that character be?

Pollyanna, because it would be nice to be in the presence of a person who’s so optimistic and views life through rose-colored glasses.

And, the incredibly smart horse, Sundown, in Nora Roberts’s book, Come Sundown. I got such a kick out of his intelligence and tricks, and I’ve always wanted to spend quality time with a horse, since they’re so majestic to me.

3.) If you could spend your summer vacation in a fictional land, where would you go for the summer?

Wherever Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is located.  And, The Emerald City of the Land of Oz.

4.) What is the thickest/biggest/most ginormous book you’ve ever read?

The Bible. I think the second thickest book I’ve ever read was Julie Klassen’s The Secret of Pembrooke Park. It was 400+ pages. That’s a lot for me. It might tie with Come Sundown, which was also over 400 pages.

5.) Do you enjoy contemporary westerns or westerns set in the old west? If you don’t care for westerns, why don’t you like them?

Come Sundown by Nora Roberts was set in Montana. That’s the closest I’ve come to reading a contemporary western. There were cowboys in it, Stetson hats, a Ranch and horses. There was line dancing. It was the first book I’ve read that was set in the West and I LOVED it!! The setting was amazing, and now I look forward to reading more books set in the West. I’ve never read actual westerns. I’m not sure why, but after reading Nora’s book, I’d definitely check one out.

6.) What female fictional character are you most like?

I’m not like any fictional characters I can think of, but I’m sure I’m out there somewhere. I just haven’t found me yet.  If you know of anyone who is a silly, sentimental hot mess—obsessed with their iPhone, unwilling to go to sleep at night, and likes to live in the past, that’s me.

7.) Do you enjoy children’s chapter books?

Yaaaassss!!  Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, Pollyanna and The Secret Garden are a few of my favorites.

So there you have it, my humble little answers. I’d like to nominate the following bloggers for the Real Neat Blog Award, because I think their blogs are, well, real neat:

TheBookGeekWearsPajamas

The Grand World of Books

Wendy Unsworth

These are the seven questions I’ve chosen for my nominees:

  1. What’s the greatest satisfaction you get from reviewing books?
  2. What do you think is key to a successful book blog?
  3. Who’s your favorite author, and why? (If more than one, include all of them, up to three.)
  4. How long does it typically take for you to read an average sized book?
  5. What’s your favorite way to read?
  6. Have you ever considered writing a book, or have you ever written a book? If you have, what’s the name of it (or the name of your favorite one if you’ve written more than one), and what’s it about?
  7. If you had the opportunity to meet your favorite author, what would you ask he/she?

Thank you in advance, blogger nominees, for allowing us to get to know you and your blog through the Real Neat Blog Award, if you’re able to participate.

Those participating should ~

-Put the award logo on your blog.
-Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
-Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
-Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
-Let them know you nominated them (by connecting on their blog, etc.)
-Ask your nominees 7 questions.

Review: Come Sundown

Come Sundown
Come Sundown by Nora Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A member of the Bodine family, Alice Bodine, has been missing for 25 years prior to the opening of the story. During the time she’s been gone, The Bodine Ranch and Resort, resided on by four generations, has grown into a thriving enterprise. Alice Bodine’s name is scarcely mentioned by the family because of the differing opinions regarding her hasty departure from their Montana home. On the day she left at age 18, leaving behind no more than a scribbled goodbye note, it was her sister’s wedding day. The family heard from her from time to time at first, and then nothing for decades. Little do they know that Alice was on her way back to Bodine Ranch three years after she left, but was abducted and held captive for 25 years. When she’s found, the entire family welcomes her back, sympathetic to her plight, and does everything in their power to help rehabilitate Alice. While her progress is slow initially, she begins to gradually come around and relief is felt by everyone. But the mystery of who abducted and brutally mistreated Alice for so many years still remains. Could the individual who took her be responsible for the deaths of two other young women who were found on Bodine property? Will Alice’s abductor be back to exact revenge on her for getting away from him?

Come Sundown was outstanding!! The parallel plot structure, excellent character development and amazing Northwest setting kept me engaged in the story. Getting a peek into life on a working ranch and resort in Montana was an educational experience that I enjoyed because it was formerly unfamiliar to me, and I loved learning so much about it, as well as the western part of the U.S.—the recreational activities there, the lingo, cowboys, horses, the humor and attire were all fascinating and fun lessons that will stay with me for a long time. The close-knit Bodine family and the camaraderie they shared was a true highlight, and anyone who reads this book is sure to be taken in by the endearing characters, especially the cowboy, Callen Skinner, whose gentlemanly ways and boyish charm won me over. By the time I was finished with the book I was ready to take a trip to Montana.

I highly recommend this book to those who would enjoy a romance/thriller. Excellently written and difficult to put down, Nora Roberts delivers with Come Sundown. This was my first Nora Roberts book, and now I know what all the hoopla’s about. She’s an amazing storyteller.

I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and in exchange I have provided an honest review. The free ARC in no way influenced my thoughts or opinions of the book.

 

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Review: Two Down, Bun to Go


Two Down, Bun to Go by H.Y. Hanna My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Professor Quentin Barrow is found dead, stabbed to death with an Egyptian Dagger. Gemma’s former Oxford chum and still good friend, Seth Browning, is charged with the murder. Seth was seen arguing with professor Barrow before the body was discovered. A staunch advocate for the homeless and other such causes, Seth was getting pushback from the professor regarding a piece of college donated property that would have benefited the homeless. Barrow’s pompous, elitist attitude disgusted Seth, and his repulsion for the man was evident. Gemma knows her friend could not have committed the murder, although she must admit his current odd, uncharacteristic and mysterious behavior is quite alarming. But how can she prove his innocence when there is so much circumstantial evidence pointing to Seth? With the help of handsome CID Detective and former boyfriend, Devlin O’Connor, contending beau, Lincoln Green, and the meddlesome but lovable Old Biddies, Gemma uncovers a slew of others who might have killed the unpopular professor. The question is, which one of them actually did?

I don’t know how H.Y. Hanna manages it, but each successive book in her Oxford Tearoom Mystery series is better than the last. Don’t let the whimsical, cute little cover fool you. They rival other renowned and beloved writers of British mysteries hands down. Her characters’ magnetic personalities captivate; from the endearing to the villainous, they’re all equally entertaining. The way in which she describes her mother’s witty charms and hapless adventures, the antics of the Old Biddies, and little Muesli the cat, never fails to elicit chuckles. The plot moves along effortlessly as the reader is immersed in English life and subtly educated about the peculiarities and uniqueness of the University of Oxford—a real treat and added bonus.

Read it, you’ll LOVE it. And if you want an even greater experience, do yourself a favor and listen to the audio version. The narrator does a stupendous job of bringing the characters to life. Very, very highly recommended.

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Review: Home to Stay


Home to Stay by Kate James
My rating:            5 of 5 stars

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Home to Stay is San Diego K-9 Unit Book 4.

Sawyer Evans’s four-year-old son, Dylan, was kidnapped from their campsite while vacationing with family.  San Diego K-9 unit officer, Shannon Clemens, is called upon with her search and rescue dog, Darwin, to try to locate the missing child. The initial search is unsuccessful and Sawyer is livid. Shannon’s emotions are stirred by Sawyer’s deep agony over his son’s disappearance, and because of her own prior personal experience with loss, she feels compelled to help Sawyer find Dylan. In time, the distraught father and caring, compassionate officer develop feelings for one another. But when another incident causes tension between the couple, their connection is strained. Will the feelings they’ve developed be enough to overcome the obstacles they’re currently facing?

Home to Stay was thoroughly engrossing from the start.  As new developments in the abduction case surfaced, the suspense and intensity continued to build, keeping me interested and engaged in the story. The intriguing mystery surrounding Dylan’s disappearance propelled the plot forward. I was put in the mind of a romantic suspense novel—albeit a milder approach to the romance and suspense elements, making it suitable for a wholesome romance book. The relationship and dialog between Sawyer and his son was endearing—so sweet and pleasant to read. Dylan was a darling little boy, and I looked forward to scenes where he was present. The relationship between Sawyer and Shannon was at times complex because of surrounding circumstances and I kept trying to envision how things would turn out for the two of them.

Riveting and imaginative, I enjoyed this book immensely. An intriguing mystery, suspense, police procedurals, a strained romance and HEA, are some of what you’ll get in Home to Stay. Very highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book from the author. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

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Review: Recipe for Redemption

Recipe for Redemption
💚💚💚💚💚 Recipe for Redemption by Anna J. Stewart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jason Corwin’s life is in a shambles when he arrives at the Flutterby Inn in Butterfly Harbor, a California coastal town, where he’s been sent to clear his head from the recent misfortunes that have befallen him. After having lost his twin brother, his career as a renowned chef and his reputation, Jason has convinced himself that walking away from his former life, instead of fighting to reclaim it, is the best option. That’s until he meets Abby Manning, the beautiful, young and feisty Flutterby Inn Manager who can’t cook if her life depended on it. So why on earth did she join a cooking contest? Abby could use Jason’s help in the kitchen if she has any chance at winning the prize money that she desperately needs to save the inn that’s been her grandmother’s home for decades. But Jason is uppity, reticent and judgmental, and he grates on her nerves. That is until Abby’s playful nature gradually peels away the layers of Jason’s scarred heart to reveal the sensitive, charming man underneath. Soon they are working together amiably, healing each other. But will a bombshell threaten everything they’ve managed to accomplish together and destroy the strong feelings they both share for one another?

I loved this sweet romance novel. The pacing impressed me as it built gradually and then gained impetus to the very last page. Sometimes a book starts strong and then wanes. This was not the case with Recipe for Redemption. It reached a point where I was flipping pages so fast I couldn’t believe I was at the end already. There are many things that I enjoyed about this book. I loved the relationship between Abby and her grandmother. There are tender, heartwarming moments between them that touched my heart. There are two very precocious kids that had me laughing out loud at their antics. Even the town, Butterfly Harbor, had much to recommend itself with its picturesqueness and supportive neighbors that rallied round Abby despite their knowledge of her inept cooking skills. A semi-eccentric character, a villain and the presence of butterflies all add to the endearing quality of this story.
Anna Stewart’s writing is emotive, funny and definitely worth investing time in. A most delightful read. Highly recommended.

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Sophie’s Path by Catherine Lanigan -Review and GIVEAWAY

Sophie’s Path by Catherine Lanigan 

My rating:  5 of 5 stars 💚💚💚💚💚

Sophie’s Path gets off to a highly dramatic start. Sophie Mattuchi, a cardiac ablation surgical nurse, who also dedicates time to assisting in the ER on weekends, has been called in to help with three individuals brought into the ER after being involved in a severe car accident. Jack Carter was the driver of one of the vehicles, and Sophie’s soothing voice comforts Jack while she addresses his injuries. Although badly wounded, Jack’s concern is not for himself, but it’s concentrated on two of his employees that were riding with him. Although in a fuzzy state of mind, he remembers the blood-curdling scream of his young protegé, Aleah. Is she okay? Sophie, tending to the stricken passengers, and noting the young girl’s deteriorating condition, rushes to assist her. At that precise moment, the man responsible for the accident, an addict, appears to be in a more critical state than Aleah. Sophie turns her attention to the dying man, to Jack’s shock and dismay. He’s enraged at Sophie for leaving Aleah to tend to the addict, and he doesn’t hide his feelings about it long after his release from the hospital. Consumed by Jack’s dissatisfaction with her decision, Sophie begins to question her judgment regarding her actions that night.

Not one to wallow in self-doubt, and realizing that she can’t alter the past, but that she can change the future, Sophie becomes determined to get support to provide assistance to addicts. In addition to those efforts, she begins sponsoring a young addict, Jeremy, through the Recovery Alliance initiative— devoting a lot of time she doesn’t have to nurturing and encouraging him when he’s feeling dejected, lost and hopeless. With her regular position at the hospital, weekend ER assistance, and her commitment to the Recovery Alliance program, Sophie is spreading herself dangerously thin. These varied demands are taking a toll, and lack of recharging is affecting her nursing abilities. She has to make a choice about priorities in her life. Will she ever have time for Jack Carter, the man whose ire has finally begun to soften towards her, revealing the compassionate, generous, attractive man that he truly is?

If that weren’t enough, Sophie’s beginning to feel a sense of belonging from the very people she’d tried to manipulate in the past. Their willingness to forgive and accept her is melting her heart. She wants the family that’s embracing her. She wants Jack. She wants to help with the Revovery Alliance. She wants to be a proficient cardiac surgery nurse. She wants to work in the ER. She wants to run to stay fit. She wants this, she wants that. She learns that she can’t have it all.

Arising circumstances will cause Sophie to change the course of her life and reexamine what’s truly important, and what’s worth fighting for.

Sophie’s Path is a tender, emotionally charged book without being angst-ridden. Catherine Lanigan delights us with her personable, conversational writing style that’s appealing in that it brings the characters, their surroundings and expressions to life in a relatable way. The companionable dialogue helped me to fully comprehend what the characters were feeling, and I formed an instant attachment to many of them.

Sophie’s Path was highly enjoyable and I will be sure to read more of the books in the Shores of Indian Lake series. Recommended.

To learn more about all of the books in the Shores of Indian Lake series, click here.
To find Sophie’s Path online, along with other books in the series, click here.

GIVEAWAY:

I enjoyed this book so much that I’d like to give away a copy to one commenter who will tell me if he/she enjoys reading sweet romance books, and why. I’ll choose a winner at the end of May. Please leave an email address so you can be contacted if you win. Since this is a paperback book, the giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  I sincerely apologize to my International readers.

As always, thank you for reading.  ( :