Book Review

Book Review: Black Ice

I’m currently working on a romantic suspense project, so I’ve been reading a lot of romantic suspense to learn as much about the genre as I can. Recently, I picked up the book Black Ice by Anne Stuart, and I was not disappointed!

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This book is a lot steamier than mine will be, but it was so exciting to read. In this novel, innocent American book translator Claire Underwood (this is an older book, so this is not an homage to House of Cards) runs into sexy Bastien Toussaint during a business conference in Paris. There’s been a dire misunderstanding, and soon she’s dragged into the Parisian underworld filled with dangerous arms dealers and ruthless assassins. Sparks fly as Claire and Bastien spend more and more time together on the run.

There were so many intriguing elements in this book. First, there’s the romance, which was more lustful passion than anything else. Also, the fast-paced adventure was filled with fun twists and turns. I never was sure who was good and who was bad until the very end. I really enjoyed this little guilty pleasure, and I’m excited to read the rest in this series.

I do think I should note that this is really aimed at audiences who love to suspend disbelief and just want to go along for the ride. It’s over-the-top and unbelievable, which is negative for some and great escapism for others.

 

Book Review

Book Review: The Shop on Blossom Street 

If you love romance and knitting, have I got the book for you: The Shop on Blosson Street by Debbie Macomber.

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This book follows the lives of the knitting class attendees who join together at a Seattle yarn shop. It’s very heartwarming and touches on themes of love, loss, illness, motherhood, and female friendship. Yes, there are a lot of characters and components of this novel, but it’s so well woven together into a narrative that is truly inspiring as these very different women find that they can relate to one another and they form a beautiful support system within their small crafting group.

There are four main characters here, each with her own worries and concerns. I found that this is one of those rare books where I didn’t find myself interested in one character more than the others. I found myself rooting for each of these women and feeling genuine emotion for them when good and bad things happened to them. This is definitely a character-driven book that I think most, if not all, women will be able to relate to. I highly recommend it!

Well, that was my very last book review of 2017. Happy New Year and I’ll see you in 2018!

-XO

Tiffy

Book Review

Last-Minute Gift Guide for Book Lovers

Happy Christmas Eve!! I hope everyone has wonderful holiday plans with family and friends, but if you’re still looking for a last minute gift for a book lover in your life, here’s a guide for an awesome book in several popular genres:

For the Mystery Lover: The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

This re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes is a fantastic read that’s sure to appeal to fans of Holmes and all types of traditional mysteries.

For for History Lover: The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

This book shows the devastating aftermath of World War II by following the lives of three widows who have been forever changed by the war.

For the Romance Lover: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

When ordinary Louisa Clarke becomes the caretaker of a paraplegic man, she discovers how stagnant her life has become and finally learns the power of true love.

For the Fantasy Lover: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

In this book, a truly magical circus becomes the stage for a competition to see which magician has learned to be the very best, but even the players don’t know what’s really at stake.

For the Science Fiction Lover: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Video games and reality collide in this coming-of-age book about a virtual reality scavenger hunt with real-world implications for its players.

For the Horror Lover: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Is nature or nurture to blame in this tale about the aftermath of a school shooting and the mother who has to come to grips with what her son has done.

For the Contemporary Fiction Lover: The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

When their inheritance is threatened, the Plumb siblings must come to terms with their financial and personal mistakes and decide how to change their own fate.

For the Nonfiction Lover: In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides

This book chronicles human strength and resiliency while exploring the aftermath of the sinking of the USS Jeannette.

I hope this list can help you pick a gift for a loved one or even inspire you to pick something up for yourself. Have a very Merry Christmas!

-XO

Tiffany

Book Review

Book Review: The Orchid House 

A coworker recommended the author Lucinda Riley to me, and I’m so glad she did! I’ve read several of her books and I’m so excited to be able to share one of them with you. So, today I’ll be reviewing Lucinda Riley’s The Orchid House.

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Just look at that gorgeous cover! I know I shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but I’ll admit that sometimes a pretty cover does make me more likely to give a book a try. The Orchid House is a sprawling book that contains a lot of history and romance. Like most of Riley’s books, this one is split in its narrative between the past and present as a present-day character learns more about her family secrets that date back to the 1930s.

Orchids, a beautiful plant that dies so easily under the wrong conditions, play a significant role in the story both literally and metaphorically. The family owns a greenhouse and the master of the estate is so fond of orchids that he travels to exotic locations to try to find the best orchids that he can take back to England. However, there are other reasons for his frequent travels, and when these secrets are revealed, his whole family dynamic is threatened and changed forever.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot because I don’t want to give away any of the secrets, but I will say that this book is an emotional whirlwind that ends in a very satisfying way. I definitely recommend this to people who enjoy historical romance with lush descriptions!

Book Review

Book Review: Come Sundown by Nora Roberts

I’ve recently been trying to expand the types of books I read. As part of this experiment, I decided to try some Nora Roberts books. I had always avoided her books because I don’t love books with lots of romance, but I ended up really liking several of her books because there are elements of other genres too. Her latest book, Come Sundown, is a novel of romantic suspense, and I really enjoyed it!

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This novel takes place on a ranch in Montana, where a woman named Alice disappeared years ago. She is assumed to have run away, but when she suddenly shows up in a disheveled state, they realize that she’s been held captive somewhere nearby for all these years. There’s a mystery here as they try to figure out who is responsible, but there’s also a lot of internal conflict as Alice has to try to cope with what has happened to her, and her family has to readjust to her sudden reappearance as well as the fear that this could happen again if they don’t find the man responsible.

I really enjoyed reading this book, although it was hard to read in some parts because of the captivity subject matter. I definitely thought this was one of Nora Robert’s darker books. There are elements of romance for some of the characters, but they definitely take a back seat to Alice’s story and journey. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who enjoys romantic suspense, and for anyone who enjoyed the book Room by Emma Donoghue (which has similar subject matter).

Book Review, Update

Book Review: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

One of my latest book club reads turned out to be really enchanting: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.

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This was just a really cute, light read. It starts out with a young Swedish woman Sara who arrives in Broken Wheel, Iowa to meet her elderly pen pal only to discover that she’s just died. The people in the small town take her in and, in return, she touches and challenges each of them. There are a ton of literary references that I also enjoyed in this book – I can see a lot of myself in the bookish, reclusive Sara. This was a fast read, and I hope my book club ladies enjoy it (we won’t be discussing it until April).

There was quite a bit of romance in this novel, and it did seem incredibly contrived, but sometimes I’m in the mood for that. Still, I felt like it was worth mentioning. If you want realistic, organic character development and you want to feel like love stories are earned through genuine depictions of life and psychology, then this might not be for you. However, if you just want a happily-ever-after and aren’t terribly worried about the details getting you to that point, the romance might not bother you much.

Overall, I was really charmed by this book, and I’m glad I had occasion to read it. I’d definitely try another by this author.

 

Book Review

Book Review: Confessions of a Shopaholic

Things have been very busy for me lately between work and school and my writing projects. Normally, when this happens, I pick fluffier things for my leisure reading to help me escape for a while each day. One book that I picked up a few years ago during a similar time of life is one that has stuck with me: Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.

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This is a fun, feel-good romp through the world of journalism and credit card debt. Becky Bloomwood is a funny protagonist who makes lots of mistakes but feels constantly endearing. As she pursues her dreams and has to try to learn how to take care of herself, she finds happiness in unexpected places.

This book inspired a movie by the same title, but it is actually VERY different from the movie. I love them both in very different ways. The movie is actually a bit more lighthearted than the book, but I so enjoyed the tone of the book and the additional character development. Currently, there are 8 books in this series, and I really enjoyed the first 3. The later books in the series were less engaging, but I couldn’t help but continue to read them to see what would happen to Becky Bloomwood.

So, if you’re looking for a fun escape, I highly recommend giving Confessions of a Shopaholic a try.