Tag: 5.0 Reviews

Retro Review: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Posted May 31, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 8 Comments

Retro Review: Twilight by Stephenie MeyerReviewer: Tracy
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Series: Twilight #1
Also in this series: Eclipse, Eclipse, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, Breaking Dawn, Twilight, Twilight

Publication Date: July 18th 2007
Genres: Young Adult, Horror & Ghost Stories, Love & Romance, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 544
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Goodreads
five-stars

Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife-between desire and danger.Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Holly: Ah, the Twilight craze. This book is responsible for a lot of young adults becoming steady readers – and a lot of adult women losing their mind over fake characters. Good times. 

This review was originally published April 20, 2008

So yesterday I took my oldest daughter to a birthday party and dropped her off. It was either sit and watch her go down huge inflatable slides (um, no thanks) or mosey around the nearest store since I had forgotten to bring a book (I know, what was I thinking?). So I drove to Target and immediately went to the book section. The very first book I see is Twilight. My friend Christine raves about this book but I had never read YA before so I hadn’t really given much thought to reading this one. I grabbed it off of the shelf but still looked around. Nothing else seemed to grab me so I bought Twilight, sat down in the food court and started reading.

ok – how stupid am I? Don’t answer that! When I put off reading books that people tell me that are great and then I finally read them that’s the first question I have to ask myself. I should know by now that my “book” friends just don’t steer me in the wrong direction! Example: books I’ve put off reading then kicked my self afterward: Dark Lover by JR Ward and the rest of the BDB series, the Dark-Hunter Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy – you see the pattern.

That being said – I LOVED Twilight. I thought that it was a charming, sweet love story that had adventure & humor. Can you ask for more? Bella’s thoughts (and of course her dry humor and sarcasm) as she moves to a new town and starts a new school were so familiar to me since my family moved a lot up until I was about 20. Because of that I was immediatly drawn into the story and then just couldn’t put the book down.

I don’t think I’ll be putting off reading these highly recommended books any longer. And I certainly won’t not read a book just because it’s labeled YA.

Rating: A+/ 5

five-stars

Retro Review: Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr

Posted May 10, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 12 Comments

Retro Review: Shelter Mountain by Robyn CarrReviewer: Rowena
Sheltering Mountain by Robyn Carr
Series: Virgin River #2
Also in this series: Virgin River, Whispering Rock, Temptation Ridge (Virgin River, #6), , , , , , , ,
Published by Mira Books
Publication Date: May 1st 2007
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 376
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five-stars

For the second time in a year a woman arrives in the small town of Virgin River trying to escape the past.

John “Preacher” Middleton is about to close the bar when a young woman and her three-year-old son come in out of a wet October night. A marine who has seen his share of pain, Preacher knows a crisis when he sees one—the woman is covered in bruises. He wants to protect them, and he wants to punish whoever did this to her, but he knows immediately that this inclination to protect is something much more.
Paige Lassiter has stirred up emotions in this gentle giant of a man—emotions that he has never allowed himself to feel.

But when Paige’s ex-husband turns up in Virgin River, Preacher knows his own future hangs in the balance. And if there’s one thing in the marines’ motto of Semper Fidelis—always faithful—has taught him, it’s that some things are worth fighting for.

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Holly: Rowena and I used to love this series. I remember falling into Virgin River (book 1) and never wanting to leave the little mountain town.

This review was originally posted on October 4, 2007.
In the second book of the Virgin River trilogy, we follow John “Preacher” Middleton and Paige Lassiter on their adventure toward true love, a true love that will last forever and ever, Amen. We meet Paige Lassiter when she stumbles into Jack and Preacher’s Bar and Grill on a stormy night. She’s carrying her three year old son, Christopher and he’s sleeping and she’s in desperate need of …help. She’s very wary of Preacher, being the big bear of a man that he is and because she’s been badly beaten, Preacher does his best to help her, so his first order of business is to try to convince this young woman to stick around town for a little while so she can heal. She finally agrees and as the days pass, a love bond is formed between Paige and John and they slowly become a family unit, one that will go to the ends of the earth to help, protect and love the hell out of each other.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say that I was so looking forward to reading this book after reading the masterpiece (well in my eyes anyway) that was Virgin River. You see, in Virgin River, John “Preacher” Middleton is described as a big, bald motherbrother with bushy eyebrows, likened to Mr. Clean.

Mr. Clean? Yeah…not so my choice for Sexiest Man of the Year, if he’s yours, more power to you but for me? Not so much. So, being the shallow young woman that I am, I had a hard time getting excited about reading his book because, well…I wanted a hot stud of a hero and to me, Preacher just wasn’t it….but, I was happy when I started this book to learn that even though Preacher wasn’t the most hottest of heroes, he was still a very good and solid hero, one that I ended up loving (in a purely sisterly way of course) the hell out of, so that just goes to show you just how good, Robyn Carr is…I loved Preacher!

In this book, Jack and Mel are having their baby, Mike Valenzuela, their Marine friend is shot on the job and out on disability, Rick and Liz go through some really rough patches in their journey to adulthood and Preacher leans on the support of his friends to help Paige and her little boy fight the big bad monster that comes in the form of Paige’s evil ex husband, Wes Lassiter.

There was so much going on in this book and it should have left me feeling confused, miffed even because a lot of pages were dedicated to the townfolk of Virgin River and then to the setting up of the next book, Whispering Rock, which will star Mike Valenzuela and Brie Sheridan. The kicker of it all though, is I wasn’t mad, I didn’t feel cheated out of John and Paige’s story because I felt that Robyn Carr did a fabulous job of incorporating everything into this one book. I don’t feel that John and Paige needed more page time for their story because I felt that there was the right amount of EVERYTHING in this book.

I fell right in love with Paige and Chris for Preacher when I was reading this book and though I enjoyed the bits and pieces of their story that was laid out for me to read, I felt that the other parts of this book, the Rick and Liz parts, the Mike parts, the Jack and Mel parts were all creatively included in this story and made me feel like I was apart of the town of Virgin River, not merely reading about them.

What I really enjoyed about this story, is the way it’s told. Robyn Carr writes her stories, making the reader (well, this reader anyway) feel as though she’s sitting on a bar stool at Jack’s at the end of the day, beer in front of them, while they watched everything going down around them. I felt what the characters felt, I grieved with the characters and I was steamed right alongside, Preacher, Jack and Mike when Wes came into town, interrupting their town life. I was scared right alongside Paige, when she walked out of the corner store, coming back from watching Soap Opera’s to find the one man that has the ability to render her scared out of her wits, Wes. I felt Jack’s rage when Wes pushed Mel down and I raged right beside Preacher…I could even taste the cookies that Preacher and Christopher made, RC is that good with a pen.

This book was more than just about Preacher and Paige finding love together. It’s about the small town that they live in and the people that surround them. It’s about unity and family and those are things that I really enjoy in a book. This book certainly does not disappoint. I fell right in love with this story as I did when reading, Virgin River.

Gosh, I’m hoping against hope that RC decides to write, Rick’s story because I have come to love the hell out of that boy. I got all teary eyed when all the crap went down with him and Liz, my heart broke right along with him and when he chooses to become a man and make Jack and Preacher proud of him, my heart swelled because I have fallen head over heels in love with this little boy who is growing up to be such a wonderful man. I’m rooting him on because I love him that much and I hope to high heaven that he gets his own story because I think he totally deserves one. Another man in this story that I fell like a rock for was, Mike Valenzuela. Goodness, even all sick and “weak dicked” this man to me is one sexy motherbrother. I already started his book and am counting the minutes until I can read the book again, that’s how much I loved Mike in this story, I already approve of his heroine choice and I’m soaking up the words as fast as I could because this series is just fantabulous!

I’m giving this book an A because I just loved it to pieces and thought RC did a fabulous job writing this, she’s totally going on my Auto-Buy list because of this series, kudos, Mrs. Carr, well done.

5 out of 5

five-stars

Retro Review: Dream A Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Posted March 7, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 13 Comments

Retro Review: Dream A Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth PhillipsReviewer: Holly
Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Published by Harper Collins
Publication Date: October 13th 2009
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 400
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five-stars

A Desperate Young Mother
Rachel Stone's bad luck has taken a turn for the worse. With an empty wallet, a car's that's spilling smoke, and a five-year-old son to support, she's come home to a town that hates her. But this determined young widow with a scandalous past has learned how to be a fighter. And she'll do anything to keep her child safe—even take on. . .
A man With No Heart
Gabe Bonner wants to be left alone, especially by the beautiful outcast who's invaded his property. She has a ton of attitude, a talent for trouble, and a child who brings back bad memories. Yet Rachel's feisty spirit might just be heaven-sent to save a tough, stubborn man.
Dare To Dream
Welcome to Salvation, North Carolina—where a man who's forgotten what tenderness means meets a woman with nothing to lose. here two endearing lovers will set off on a funny, touching journey of the heart. . .to a place where dreams just might come true.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This review was originally posted on October 8, 2009.

I meant to have this written as part of our Susan Elizabeth Phillips Author Spotlight last month, but I didn’t get around to writing it. Dream a Little Dream is one of my favorite SEP novels. It’s hands down my favorite of the Chicago Stars/Bonner Brothers series.

Gabe Bonner lost his wife and son in a tragic car accident and for the past two years he’s been in a state of deep mourning. He’s been coasting through life, numb and emotionless, waiting for the day when it all will end. But Rachel Stone changes all that the day she shows up at his drive-in; dirty, hungry and desperate to save herself and her son Edward. He should be repulsed by her, but he isn’t. He’s drawn to her in a way he hates. She cracks the icy ball that’s surrounding his heart.

Rachel Stone has returned to the last place on Earth she ever wanted to see again, Salvation, North Carolina. 5 years ago she and her husband G. Dwayne Snopes were the hope and pride of Salvation, a televangelist couple to rival even the most sincere and promising of them. But all that ended the night G. Dwayne disappeared with the life savings of the people of Salvation, bringing shame and scandal to the once prosperous town. Now she’s back, determined to find the stash Dwayne left behind, desperate to save the future of her much beloved son.

At times this novel is hard to read, especially in the beginning when Rachel and Gabe meet. They’re both desperate and broken, though for different reasons and with different ways of dealing with their pain. One of the most emotional things I’ve ever read is when Rachel begs Gabe for a job. The first few chapters of this book are hard to get through, but they showcase perfectly just how far both characters have fallen.

Eventually Rachel and Gabe form a tight bond, though both are reluctant to acknowledge it. The town shuns Rachel, and her house and car are vandalized. Gabe takes on the role of protector, though even he can’t understand why. Despite their change in feelings for one another, they both know they have no future together. Especially since Gabe can’t stand Edward, Rachel’s son.

I loved the strength Rachel showed. It wasn’t easy for her to continue on each day, especially in the beginning, but she did what needed to be done. I would have to say she’s probably one of my favorite SEP heroines. She’s practical and tough, with a smart mouth and a strong will to survive. What’s not to love?

My heart ached for Gabe. I wanted to wrap him in cotton and protect him from the world. I loved that Rachel was the only one who saw him for what he was, and was willing to push him in the direction he needed to go.

Even though this is a darker novel, there are moments of unexpected tenderness and humor. I loved that even though the town hated Rachel, none of them took it out on her son. Everyone, from the townsfolk to the Bonner brothers, was kind to Edward. Well, except for Gabe.

The secondary romance between Ethan Bonner and Kristy Brown, his church secretary, was sweet. It provided relief from the darker tone of the rest of the novel.

Dream a Little Dream is heartwrenching and emotionally compelling. I couldn’t put it down, even when I could barely see the pages through my tears.

5 out of 5

five-stars

Retro Review: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Posted March 1, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 9 Comments

Retro Review: Bet Me by Jennifer CrusieReviewer: Casee
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 31st 2004
Genres: Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 391
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five-stars

Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet. Even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs. Even if she does wear great shoes and keeps him on his toes. When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.
But Fate has other plans, and it's not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon, they're dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme donuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all—true love.

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This review was originally posted on June 2, 2008.

This wasn’t my first Crusie book. Years ago I read Charlie Something-or-Other. I didn’t really care for it. In fact, I had no idea why everyone was so crazy about this author. Yes, the book I read was an early Crusie novel. That’s why I wasn’t in any hurry to give her another try. Look at Linda Howard, Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught…all authors whose earlier works are more loved than their more recent books. That’s my excuse for waiting so long to read Bet Me. I guess I have to thank Holly b/c I would have most likely not tried to read it again if she wouldn’t have coerced pressured bullied suggested it in such a wonderful way. (Holly: Am I good like that, or what? It’s ok, you don’t have to bow down to my greatness..we know. We know. LOL)

That being said, I’m so glad that she persevered b/c I loved this book.

Min Dobbs decides to teach Cal Morrisey a lesson when she overhears him making a bet that he can get her into bed. Deciding that she will string him along for three weeks until her sister’s wedding, Min accepts his invitation for dinner. It only takes one dinner for Min to admit that she doesn’t have it in her to string someone like Cal along. At the end of the night, they part ways, both satisfied that they will never see the other again.

Fate definitely had a way of laughing in their faces. Again and again Min and Cal ran into each other. Yet each time they parted, that was it. They were never going to see each other again.

There is really no easy way to review this book other than to say if you haven’t read it, you’re missing out. Crusie has some of the best dialogue that I’ve ever read. The relationship between Min and Cal was far from an easy one. Though they both had admitted to themselves that the other is “the one”, they both had hangups that wouldn’t let them admit it out loud. Add in Min’s jealous ex-boyfriend and Cal’s rational ex-girlfriend and you have a book that you can’t put down.

I loved everything about this book from how it began, to the continuing conflict, to both Min and Cal’s parents, to the ending. Everything about it just hooked me from page 1.

5 out of 5.

five-stars

Guest Review: A Crown of Bitter Oranges by Laura Florand

Posted February 1, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 9 Comments

Guest Review: A Crown of Bitter Oranges by Laura FlorandReviewer: Jen
A Crown of Bitter Orange by Laura Florand
Series: La Vie en Roses #3
Also in this series: A wish Upon Jasmine
Published by Laura Florand
Publication Date: January 24th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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five-stars

From international bestselling author Laura Florand:

Childhood friends. Tristan Rosier might have asked Malorie Monsard to marry him when he was five years old, but things had only gone downhill from there. She’d spent the rest of their lives ignoring him, abandoning him, and destroying his perfumes. Now she was back, to wreak who knew what havoc on his life.

Lifelong enemies. Tristan might choose to dismiss the generations-long enmity between their two families, but Malorie didn’t have that privilege. Like all the other privileges wealthy, gorgeous Tristan took for granted that she couldn’t. But if she was going to restore her family company to glory, she might just need his help.

Or the perfect match? They’d known each other all their lives. Could these childhood friends and lifelong enemies ever uncross their stars and find happily ever after?

I gobbled up the newest book in Laura Florand’s La Vie en Roses series as soon as I got my hands on it, and once again I’m left in a puddle of mushy, smiling, love-soaked goodness.

I have loved funny, kind-hearted Tristan Rosier from the start of this series. (Quick recap: The Rosiers have been growing flowers and manufacturing perfume in Grasse, France for centuries. The books are about the cousins in the family.) He is the perfumer in the family, a genius artist who can capture most any feeling, memory, or dream in a scent. While it’s never named, it appears he has something like ADHD. He’s learned to cope now, but it made his school years excruciating. One way his teachers tried to rein him in was to sit him next to Malorie Monsard. Malorie was quiet and studious and sitting next to her gave Tristan a tiny dose of calm he badly needed, but she left home after graduating and rarely returned since then. Malorie’s family was once part of the area’s perfume royalty just like the Rosiers, but after they were disgraced in WWII, they were outcasts. Malorie’s grandmother managed to keep the company hanging on by a thread, but now that she’s dead Malorie comes back to Grasse to figure out what to do with her legacy. Can she resurrect her family’s perfume house with Tristan’s help, and does she even want to?

As with all the books in this series, Florand makes the descriptions of the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings so incredibly vivid that you just get lost in their loveliness. Part of Malorie’s inheritance is her grandmother’s beloved bitter orange orchard, and the scents and sights of that space are Malorie’s home base, so to speak. She goes there when she needs comfort, and she lets no one in. (So of course, when she finally invites Tristan there it totally cracks open your heart.) This book drives home the point that our concept of home can be tied up in our sense memories, and that is especially true for these two families who make their living with their senses.

Tristan could so easily be a big jerk – he’s rich, brilliant, gorgeous, women falling all over themselves to get close to him – but instead he’s wonderfully adorable and big-hearted. He definitely does have some entitlement as Malorie repeatedly points out, but to me it was mostly a positive kind of entitlement that we’d all like to have. He comes from a family that loves and supports him unconditionally, and that gives him strength and a certain confidence that everything will be ok. He isn’t unwilling to accept his privilege; he just needs it pointed out sometimes. He is constantly described as a happy guy. At first I thought that must be a false front, but as the book went on I decided it’s more that he truly believes that happiness exists everywhere, and that’s a direct result of the security that came from his family. He does need to learn during the course of the book that his situation is unique and that his name has helped him, but you can tell he does still genuinely appreciate his family and the life he has.

Malorie, on the other hand, got little love or support from her family. Her father was a shallow, selfish narcissist who gambled away family treasures, tried to buy everyone’s affection with charm and presents, cheated on her mother relentlessly, and then got himself killed while Malorie was still fairly young. Now, her sisters and mother have scattered and don’t have much of a relationship. As if that wasn’t bad enough, her great-grandfather was a Nazi sympathizer who betrayed the local resistance (of which the Rosiers were members), and that got the Monsard family cast out from Grasse society. It’s always a little difficult for those of us in America with our comparatively short history (and even shorter memories) to imagine, but I can see where something like that would cast a very, very long shadow on a family and a town.

So, Malorie has more than a few chips on her shoulders, to say the least. She has some pretty severe trust issues, and when Tristan shows up acting charming and wanting to help her, she simply can’t understand his motivations. Her memories of her dad keep getting in the way of her present despite the fact that she knows intellectually Tristan is not the same, and those feelings of shame and worthlessness that were drilled into her from birth prevent her from fully letting anyone in. For his part, we can see that Tristan is head over heels for Malorie, and all the charm and flirting has always been one of his ways of showing her how he feels. They start the book with a ton of antagonism and bickering, which of course is really just hiding their insecurities and true feelings. As they spend more time together, Tristan is definitely in love with her, but he moves slowly so as not to scare her off. I loved the build up of the sexual tension. It’s kind of a slow circling that goes on longer than I expected, and by the time they finally get together the scene is so emotional and gorgeous that it had me melting.

At first I was going to say these two had a communication problem, but the more I thought about it, I realized it was really more like a comprehension problem. Malorie craves family, craves security, and craves self-reliance, because she didn’t have much of the first two and has had to rely exclusively on the last one her whole life. She appreciates but doesn’t really understand the way Tristan bears his soul to her. She dismisses it not because she wants to hurt Tristan but simply because she doesn’t realize what he’s giving her. Similarly, Tristan makes a serious misstep when he doesn’t tell Malorie about something she really should have known. While I wasn’t thrilled with his omission, I truly believed he did it because to him, security and a sense of family legacy was always a given, and he didn’t anticipate how important something that gave those comforts to Malorie might be. It was like they were simply speaking different languages, and I enjoyed seeing them suddenly “get it” and learn to give the kind of love the other needed.

In case you couldn’t tell, I loved this book. I loved everything about it and I cannot believe I have to wait to read the next one. (Ooh boy, based on the ending of A Crown of Bitter Oranges, shit is going down in that next book!) This is a book full of lovely imagery, vivid characters, and so much sweetness. Seriously, if you haven’t already, go spend 15 minutes Googling “grasse france” to ogle some painfully beautiful pictures, and then go read this book.

Grade: 5 out of 5

five-stars