Posts tagged ‘romance’

SHORT AND SWEET

The One That Got Away and other short stories

Written by Margaret Lynette Sharp

Three short and charming stories set in Australia. In the first containing the book’s title, Amanda writes to her sister Sonya from overseas about the love of her life, Thomas, a fisherman who has literally just “got away.” This story is poignant, yet contains humor and an optimistic bent. In the second story, a grandmother struggles with a change of fortunes and the realization that she will have to sell the piano that has given her granddaughter such pleasure. Grandma’s daughter, Angela seems cold and indifferent to her dilemma. The last story brings Caroline back to the beach where she met her true love twenty five years ago. She meets Barry, a young artist, and strikes up a conversation. He reminds her of the man she left behind long ago. A surprise ending brings the story full circle.

The author does a good job of developing her characters and creating the mood for each of these short stories. They are a quick and delightful read. Recommended for anyone age ten and older who enjoys clean well-written short stories.

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SANTA’S HELPER

The Search for South Pole Santa: A South Pole Santa Adventure (Book 1 in a series)

Written by Jingle Belle Jackson

 

This book combines a bit of magic, romance, holiday traditions, and fantasy in a whimsical adventure. There are two main plots: Sandra’s story detailing her life on a tugboat named Mistletoe moored on an island in the South Pacific, and the contest Santa Claus decides to hold to find a second Santa to cope with the world’s exploding population of children.

Sandra’s parents are missing and presumed dead. They had recently enrolled her in the St. Annalise Academy where the students are all gifted, whether they be human or part supernatural. Throughout the story, Sandra learns more about her lineage and special talents. At the same time, readers are introduced to her new friends. When Sandra learns about the contest for a second Santa, she immediately applies. Cappie, her guardian, and her island friends encourage her. Readers are taken on a colorful journey to the North Pole, where they participate in the fun-filled but grueling competition to determine the winner. There are lots of twists and turns, holiday magic and fun, mixed in with a bit of romance and coming of age in both parallel plots.

In the end, what will Sandra’s future hold? Will she learn how to cope with the loss of her parents, her talented friends, and the boy who seems to disdain her? Who will win the Santa competition? Stay tuned for more answers in the next book of the series.

This book was a fun read. It is highly recommended for middle grade and young teen readers. Adults looking for a light holiday read will also enjoy if willing to suspend reality for a few hours.

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FOSTERING A SENSE OF WORTH

Snow Pup: Holiday Heartwarmers Book2)

Written by Mimi Barbour

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This is the second book in Barbour’s holiday series. Well-written plot with realistic characters that has no real connection to the Christmas holiday other than the setting. Deputy Shawna Mallory is a thirty-one year old single cop who lives in the rather sleepy town of Carlton Grove. She has a deep commitment to her job, and moves quickly when she hears an amber alert on the radio for a missing eleven year old boy. Mallory hears a dog barking; she finds the boy under a snow drift being guarded by the pup. The sheriff agrees to take the boy in while he awaits a new foster care family.

Complications arise when the boy’s real father arrives back on the scene from an overseas assignment in Chile. John Reid McCrae appears to have a poor parenting track record, but Shawna’s friend Alice knew him many years ago and offers a different opinion. In the meantime Shawna grows attached to Billy, who is about to be given to a new foster family. Billy runs away once again, but even more puzzling is the strange affect Billy’s dad has upon Shawna. What outcome ensues for Billy, John, and the Deputy Sheriff whose lives have become entangled.

A heartwarming story revolving around coming of age, domestic violence, foster care, romance, pets and peer relationships that will tear at the heart strings of young adult and adult readers. Actually, the book could be a middle grade read if one is willing to look past a few curse words and one or two light romantic scenes. Snow Pup is the kind of story that will put the reader in the mood for the holiday season.

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OF CHRISTMASES PAST AND PRESENT

Christmas Healing (Healing the Regime Book 1)

Written by Morris Fenris and Jasmine Bowen

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A bittersweet holiday novella that combines elements of paranormal, horror and romance within a holiday setting. Eighteen year old Annalise led a carefree life as a pretty, popular teen until she was diagnosed with leukemia. Unable to pay her mounting medical bills, she assumes the unusual post of teaching modern technology and cultural customs to a family of vampires. Dr. Hever, the head of the Hever clan becomes her physician. Her life is turned upside down once more when she is summoned by the King of the Vampires to teach his brother Arthur, who has just awakened from a 1000 year sleep. Annalise is terrified. She slowly falls in love with Arthur, but her illness proceeds rapidly to Stage IV cancer. When she is whisked away to the hospital, both she and Arthur are devastated.

The plot sounds far fetched, but the authors succeed in making it palatable, for the most part. Reader’s emotions rise and fall as the conflict tears the two families apart. Annalise thought she was in love with Tony Hever; her fleeting life has been turned upside down by her deep feelings for Arthur. The ending is a surprise. Wonder what will happen in the second book of the series.

Recommended for young adult and adult audiences looking for an unusual but entertaining short holiday read.

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ARABIAN ADVENTURES

Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask

Written by Darlene Foster

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Amanda is a twelve year old Canadian student who dreams of travel and adventure. Shortly after she blows out her birthday candles, Amanda’s wish comes true when she is invited to spend a month with her Aunt Ella and Uncle Ben in the United Arab Emirates. Soon Amanda immerses herself in the local culture by visiting a market where a local merchant sells her a mysterious perfume flask that purportedly once belonged to a princess. Amanda meets another young English girl living in her aunt’s building. They explore the seashore and a deserted Bedouin village where Amanda meets Princess Shamza who claims to have sold the perfume flask and her camel to get money to survive. Shamza has run away from her parents to avoid an arranged marriage to a wealthy old man. Lots of adventures ensue: camel races, sandstorms, kidnappings, and meeting Princess Shamza’s true love, a boy named Mohammed. How will Amanda’s journey end? Will she remain friends with Leah? Do the princess and Mohammed find happiness?

This is book one of Amanda’s travels. Lots of action and interesting characters, mixed with tidbits of culture and local customs. Middle grade readers become immersed in the action while learning a lot about multicultural characters and customs. Looking forward to seeing where Amanda will land next. I have a feeling that her love of adventure and generous spirit will lead her readers to be eager to join her again in the future.

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HAUNTED BY HISTORY

MikeCashRafterCopter
 The History Major: A Novella
Written by Michael Phillip Cash

HistoryMajor,picI received a copy of this book in return for an honest non-biased review.

Hung over college student Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm to an unsettling situation. She vaguely remembers a fight the night before with her boyfriend, Patrick, and partying with her two best girlfriends who don’t like him. But her room is at once familiar and strangely different; her roommate is someone she has never met. Finding her classroom schedule on the bed, Amanda is distressed to see a history class on it; Amanda hates history. She rushes to the Registrar building to drop the class, but the administrators tell her she must take the course. Amanda walks through the campus, which seems oddly different. Buildings appear and disappear, and she has the feeling of being stalked.

Resigned to her fate, Amanda is drawn to the history lecture, where she meets Nick and her professor who is dressed like Aristotle. His lecture is even stranger. He drolls on about Joan of Arc, Pope Alexander VI, Lucretia Borgia and other historical characters, but as he does so Amanda is drawn back into history interacting with and sometimes being attacked by them. Nick tells her, “They all hear what they have to hear.” Amanda’s thoughts drift back and forth between the past and her own reality. She has flashbacks of her grandmother, mother, and abusive stepbrother, Wayne. How can there be a connection? Amanda hears the words, “People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them.”

What is real, what is fantasy, and how will Amanda deal with integrating both within her present life?

Elements of a thriller, paranormal, history and a psychological study combine to make this novella a compelling read. The first couple of chapters confused me, and I definitely disliked Amanda. As I got into the plot, I could not stop reading. Lots of interesting dialogue and colorful language engage the reader. Plenty of twists and turns keep the reader on edge; the ending caught me off guard. Recommended for teen and adult audiences as a thought provoking afternoon read.

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PhillipCashBlogTour

PhillipCash About the Book
After a vicious fight with her boyfriend followed by a night of heavy partying, college freshman Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm room to find things are not the same as they were yesterday. She can’t quite put her finger on it. She’s sharing her room with a peculiar stranger. Amanda discovers she’s registered for classes she would never choose with people that are oddly familiar. An ominous shadow is stalking her. Uncomfortable memories are bubbling dangerously close to her fracturing world, propelling her to an inevitable collision between fantasy and reality. Is this the mother of all hangovers or is something bigger happening?

Praise
“Cash intermingles beauty and violence …It’s smartly ambiguous and open
to interpretation, and some may delight in a second (or third) read.” – Kirkus Reviews

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STEP INTO ANOTHER WORLD

The Crumbling Brick: The Land of Neo Book 1

Written by JoHannah Reardon

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This approximately one hundred page book might be likened to a Christian fairy tale. Some reviewers have noted similarities to The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. Targeted for readers age seven and up, I feel that it will appeal most to tweens and young teens. The characters are charming, appealing, and fairly well developed for the length of the story.

Plot involves a twelve year old girl named Ella, who lives in her grandmother’s urban house. One rainy day, she is asked to clean the basement. Ella reluctantly agrees; she finds a loose brick behind an old trunk. When she removes it, Ella finds a beautiful fantasy world on the other side. She steps into it and embarks on an adventure that involves a princess, her suitors, a unicorn, some mischievous monkeys, and a bear mentor named Sequor. Ella learns that the wise and all-knowing Kosmeo has chosen her to save the land of Neo. Ward, her unicorn friend, will assist her in warning the princess Onyma that one of her suitors is involved in a plot to overthrow her kingdom. While the story is somewhat predictable, there are enough twists and turns with delightful characters and moral lessons to give the fairy tale a wide appeal to boys and girls alike.

This book is the first of a series. It can be used as bedtime story, an independent chapter book or a classroom read aloud that combines many interesting elements for classroom discussion. If you enjoy fairy tales, give this one a look.

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