Friday, April 17, 2015

A Timeless Romance Anthology: California Dreamin' Collection

A Timeless Romance Anthology: California Dreamin' Collection 
by Heather B. Moore, Kaylee Baldwin, Annette Lyon, Jennifer Moore, Shannon Guymon, and Sarah M. Eden

Summary from Goodreads:
Six brand new contemporary romance novellas with bestselling and award winning authors.

In the sweet novella TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE by Heather B. Moore, Gwen uses her wedding photography business to keep her life simple and focus on something other than her own broken heart. When Jack, a guy too handsome for his own good, helps her clean up after a photoshoot, then asks her out, she doesn’t know if she can handle dating again. But Jack’s charm wins her over, and she agrees to meet him for dinner. The more she gets to know Jack, the more she likes him, but everything about him seems too good to be true. 

GONE FISHING, a charming novella by Kaylee Baldwin, follows Claire as she tries to convince her dad to leave his start-up company as a boat guide and come back home to Colorado. He’s the only one who can defend Claire against her domineering mother. But when she arrives at the San Diego harbor, she’s met with more than one surprise. First, that her dad is truly living his dream and has never been happier, and second, she’s unexpectedly attracted to his business partner, Miguel.

In THE PIER CHANGES EVERYTHING, an enchanting novella by Annette Lyon, Alexandria has one last task to perform for her late husband, who died much too young: scatter his ashes in the Pacific Ocean. She goes to the Santa Monica Pier to do just that, but her plans get sidetracked after meeting Michael and feeling an immediate connection to him. They grab lunch, and the more time they spend together, the more they discover that they have in common—including past romantic hardships. As the day wears on, Alexandria begins learn that her heart just might be able to find love again.

In Jennifer Moore’s captivating novella A HERO’S SONG, AnneMarie’s career as a romance novelist is skyrocketing and her agent books her on a late night talk show. The host gets her to admit that she was in love once, with a guitar player. Moments after her segment, Lance Holden appears on the same stage, to perform his newest song. Is it a terrible coincidence? AnneMarie hasn’t seen Lance ever since he broke her heart ten years ago, and she has refused to think about him again. Their lives are worlds apart, but as Lance tries to reconcile with AnneMarie, she finds herself taking a second chance. 

In STAY WITH ME, an endearing novella by Shannon Guymon, Jolie moves to L.A. to take on a nanny position for the summer, since apparently having a degree in art doesn’t translate to getting a job as a graphic designer. When Fitz, the family’s chauffeur, picks her up at the airport, she wonders if every man in LA is model-gorgeous. When Jolie meets her two charges, she finds them adorable and needy. But it’s harder to hold onto her job than she thought with a hostile Mrs. James and her spoiled brother. Fitz becomes both the silver lining of her job and the man who just might convince her to stay in L.A.

In the delightful novella, A PLACE TO CALL HOME, by Sarah M. Eden, Ada is the best realtor around. The best. She prides herself in matching each client with the house that will fit all of their needs. She hasn’t failed yet. So when Craig hires her to find him the perfect condo for him and his son, Ada is up for the challenge. What she may not be prepared for is her unforeseen attraction to Craig, her immediate attachment to his nine-year-old son, and her heart telling her that it’s okay to take another chance.

4.5 Stars

Ebook from publisher in exchange for an honest review

My Review:
Another great collection from A Timeless Romance Anthology.  This was just what I needed this last week.  We have had gorgeous weather.  I felt the sun on my face, had the windows open with a nice breeze blowing through, the trees were blooming.  (By the way, I discovered I really like the look of a Spring Snow Crab Apple tree).  Then BAM!  Spring was gone and winter returned.  We've had snow, rain, and I've had to turn the heat back on.  Ugh.  

Ahh, California in the summer.  It evokes thoughts of sunshine, the ocean breeze, the smell of suntan lotion on a sandy beach.  I think of visits to my grandparents' house as a kid and visiting my in-laws as an adult.  I think of the summer we had a family reunion at Newport Beach, steps from the sand.  I think of yummy food from Ruby's on the Pier.  I think of all the great times I have had at Disneyland.  Ahh, California.

These stories brought back all the wonderful feelings I have about California.  It has a bit of a magical sense to it.  I realize California isn't paradise, but sometimes it seems like it.  These stories fit right in with the image of California being magical.  They each were clean and had happy romances.  I like happy.  

Warnings: These are clean, but there are some adult themes, specifically divorce.

I would let my 17 year old read this book.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

All Fall Down: An Embassy Row Novel by Ally Carter

All Fall Down: An Embassy Row Novel by Ally Carter

Summary from Ally Carter's website:

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She is not crazy.

2. Her mother was murdered.

3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her–so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door who is keeping an eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty
thoughts. But they can’t control Grace–no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do.

Her past has come back to hunt her . . .  and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world all stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down. 

4 Stars

Library Book

My Review:
I love Ally Carter's books.  I have read both the Gallagher Girls Books and the Heist Society Books.  HERE is a list of her books from her website.  I have not read her other books, but having read these two series, I was very excited to read what she had for us next.  She did not disappoint me.

I spent 5 years of my life in Brussels, Belgium.  My dad worked in International Business.  We met people from all over the world.  In our neighborhood there was an Embassy.  I remember guards as we walked to friends' homes.  (OK, I just looked it up.  It was the Chinese Embassy).  Since I was a kid I have been interested in other countries, cultures, and customs.  This book added international relations/diplomacy as well as intrigue and mystery.  So many things that I like!

I liked the mystery and conspiracy in this book.  What really happened?  There were times I thought I knew where this book was going.  I was SO WRONG!  Ally Carter did an excellent job of keeping the reader in the dark.  I loved the surprises.

I loved the secondary characters.  It seemed to me that the only true main character was Grace.  All of the other characters were secondary to me.  Some of them were fantastic (I love Rosie!).

Knowing that this book was the first in a series, I wasn't surprised by the in depth "set up".  We have to get to know this world, these characters.  At times it was a bit tedious.  I admit that it was because I wanted to find out what happened.  I was a bit impatient.  And as much as Ally Carter wrapped up the immediate story,  she definitely left us with a cliff hanger.  Now I have to wait for the next one!  When, Ally, when?!!!

This book had a lot more angst than I am used to in Ally Carter's books.  Grace was told that she was crazy, was put on medication, and even restrained.  She questioned everything she ever thought and was worried about bringing other people down with her.  At times I didn't like her for it.  Then, there was one point where I empathized with her so much that I was brought to tears.  My heart broke for her.  

Warnings: Death in family, mental illness, but I consider it a clean read

I would definitely let my teenage daughters read this book.  They will love it!

Photo from 1976.  I couldn't find any outside photos in my collection.  I'm sure my mom has some.  This is in the kitchen with my sister.  

Photo from 1997 with my husband, Mike.  I loved that tree!

Photo from Google Maps of my house in Belgium as it looks today.  (The tree is gone).