Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP Reviews– Holiday Edition (Part I): Blue Christmas, The Christmas Wedding, and Christmas Chronicles

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas, books, and movies that I can during this time frame.

Editing a book and having two trips in November and one two-week trip in December has me a little behind in my holiday reading. The reason I’m behind has more to do with one of the trips (Disney!) “required” a lot of crafting time as I personalized shirts for my family for the trip. Eight shirts for four days took a lot of time. But, the pictures for my scrapbook will be awesome. Well, anyway…time to focus on the purpose for this post–holiday reviews.

Blue ChristmasThe first review for the year is Blue Christmas: A Snow Valley Romance by Lucy McConnell.

The Christmas season is Paisley Hackett’s busy time of the year. She is in charge of Snow Valley’s Hospital fundraising drives and a lot of the activities that bring in money are held over the holiday season. Paisley throws every ounce of herself into her job, but still makes sure she finds time to participate in holiday outings with her brother, his wife, and two children. When she spots an attractive guy at the tree lighting ceremony, she is surprised to discover it is someone she knew in high school. Grown-up Clay Jett is much different than his teenage age and Paisley is intrigued by the changes.

Clay Jett arrived back in town to redirect his life, trying to find a balance between being a sought after producer and having a life that was more than music. He remembers Paisley and while she tries to ignore the sparks between them, Clay wants to see if they can be fanned.

I enjoyed this sweet romance set during Christmas time. I loved that the couple were getting to know each better during Christmas events around the town. There were times I thought Clay was a little too heavy-handed in trying to immerse himself back into the town that he had left–and in doing so tried to take over some elements of Paisley job. Paisley wasn’t a pushed over and refused to allow anyone, even the guy she was interested in, to walk over her. Go Paisley!

The Christmas WeddingThe next book is The Christmas Wedding by KL Ramsey. This is a steamy romance that ends around Christmas Day.

Lorna Sanders has spent a lot of time helping others, including stepping up to raise her niece after the girl’s parents died. Lorna has been content in her life though sometimes her heart still yearns for romance, love, and her own children. When Jonathan Sawyer enters her world, she is intrigued by the man and while she fantasies about time with him, knows it won’t work because of an age difference and a voice in her head saying she’s too old for her dreams to come true.

I enjoyed getting to know Lorna and Sawyer. Sawyer (Jonathan) wasn’t a man who gave up though Lorna wanted him to, but I was glad that he wasn’t too pushy. Sometimes heroes can be a little too forceful in pursuing the heroine and I was happy to see that wasn’t the case here. The couples romance progressed through the months and wrapped it around the Christmas season. It was a fast paced read so if you’re short on time this holiday season, this the book is perfect to indulge in some reading. It’s not overly Christmas (for those that don’t like too strong of a Christmas theme) but has enough of the spirit and setting for those, like me, who want those aspects in a story.

Christmas ChroniclesThe Christmas Chronicles, a Netflix original movie. I love Christmas movies and was excited when I saw the trailer for a new one coming out this year. And I’ll admit I was intrigued about watching Kurt Russell play Santa Clause (and I’ll admit I loved his Santa Clause). Teddy and Kate are trying to get through the first Christmas without their dad. Teddy is sullen and seems to want the holiday just over, while Kate is trying to find the magic again. While watching old family movies of past Christmases, Kate sees Santa’s hand and blackmails her brother into helping her catch Santa in the act. Things don’t go quite as planned and Kate and Teddy end up “helping” Santa complete his mission of delivering all the gifts on Christmas Eve.

I loved this movie and it will be on my “watch to start the season” list. Usually, I don’t like holiday movies that are about a parent dying. But while the event explains the reason for the children’s behavior, especially the son, the movie doesn’t center around it. I loved the holiday spirit of the movie and the message. And Santa’s new look was awesome and how it was addressed. The humor was a great mix of sarcastic, heart warming, and laugh out loud…occasionally leaning toward cheesy camp–but that is what I love most about holiday movies…the fun. The ending (especially the very end) was perfect. I hope A Christmas Chronicles II is the new works!

 

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Books · Reviews

SRP Review:Drop Dead Ornaments by Lois Winston

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

drop dead ornamentsDrop Dead Ornaments features Anastasia Pollack, a mother of teenagers and an editor for a craft magazine who finds herself drawn into a murder investigation when her son’s girlfriend’s father is accused of the crime.

Anastasia is a take-charge woman with a heart for her family–even her ex-family members who don’t (in my opinion) deserve her kindness. But, that trait is what makes Anastasia who she is and why I adore her so much. She knows these annoying family members flaws and deals with it the best she can. I love how the book not only focuses on the mystery but also what else is going on in the heroine’s life.

What I like best about Anastasia is how she balances her quest for justice with the needs and fears of her family. She has gotten herself into some huge scrapes in the past that have placed her life at risk and is doing what she can to assure her family she take her safety into consideration…though she can’t turn her back on someone in need. I also enjoy how Anastasia has a respectful “professional” relationship with the homicide detective. I sensed that while they both annoyed the other, they didn’t consider the other one an enemy.

I can’t wait to read more of her adventures and the progress of her relationship with her family and her boyfriend.

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Cora Chevalier from Assault and Beadery

ASSAULT AND BEADERY BANNER 640

Assault and Beadery coverPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

All of my dreams are coming true. Since moving to Indigo Gap, North Carolina, I’ve been blessed with a great boyfriend, a lovely home, and a booming craft retreat business. But on the eve of my first Crafty Mom’s Escape Weekend, tragedy strikes again in Indigo Gap. This time, it’s curtains for Stan Herald, the disagreeable director of the local theater group, who’s murdered on the opening night of their new production. Worse, my friend Zee is accused of the crime.

I’m determined to prove my friend’s innocence, but Zee’s mysterious past is making that difficult. And with a list of suspects longer than a double spool of satin cording, getting a bead on the real culprit won’t be easy. With my friends Jane and Ruby at my side I must string together the clues and solve Stan’s murder before the killer gives an encore performance.

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

My friend Zee is innocent. I know it. I have to help. It doesn’t seem like the police are helping her.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No, I never did. Even though I used to work at a women’s shelter, I have never been involved in a murder investigation until I moved to Indigo Gap.

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

I run a craft retreat and I’m a craft blogger. As to who’s least happy about my sleuthing, that would be a toss up between the local police and my boyfriend Adrian.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m a people pleaser, which I think is a good and bad  trait. I want to help, but sometimes people  take advantage and I get myself into trouble. I’m creative and love to craft and write, but am not so good with details, like paying the bills and making things add up in the books!

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

Being able to rely on yourself, know that you can handle just about any situation. Also, part of being confident and strong is being vulnerable at times. Showing vulnerability is not a weakness.

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Listen to that little voice inside of you and act on it.

What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

People can fool you—and themselves.

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

I’ve hung up my hat—for now!

Books · Heroine Interviews · mystery

SRP Heroine Interview: Carrie Singleton from Read and Gone

read and gone

READ AND GONE coverPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

Recently, my life has been just about perfect. I love being the Clover Ridge Library’s head of programs and events. I have a great boyfriend and wonderful friends. And then my father, whom I haven’t seen in years and happens to be a thief, shows up at my cottage wanting me to help him get his half of a heist of gems from his crooked partner. As if I would ever do anything like that!

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

When my father’s partner-in-crime is found murdered, my father becomes suspect number one. Now crooked as his is, my father is no murderer and I feel obliged to clear his name. I must find those gems before my father or any of the several people searching for them finds them.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Yes, actually, since I helped solve a cold case and a recent murder in my community a few months ago.

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

I’d say Lieutenant John Mathers, the police chief of Clover Ridge Police Department, would rather I didn’t get involved in his cases. John is a good friend of my Uncle Bosco and he worries about my safety.

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

Some of us have grown up in a dysfunctional family as I did, but that’s no reason to let it interfere with having a wonderful, worthwhile rest of your life. Try not to be bitter; allow yourself to have loving, caring relationships. Unless it would be toxic to let a family member back into your life, be willing to give this person another chance if he/she has changed.

What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

I realized how much I love my father. Growing up, I was very hurt because he was never around, even when he wasn’t in jail. Spending time with him as an adult, I saw that he loves me and shows it as best he can. Much as I’d like it, I cannot expect him to behave like a typical father.

If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

You Can’t Choose the Members of Your Family

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

I intend to continue sleuthing when the need arises. To be perfectly honest, I LOVE sleuthing. It’s challenging and exciting!

 

 

 

 

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Gia Morelli from Murder Made to Order

MURDER MADE TO ORDER BANNER 640Murder Made to OrderToday, Gia Morelli is joining us at the Self-Rescue Princess. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life.

I finally started to settle into my life in Florida, though I have still been a little homesick for New York, when I got word that the town government wants to shut down my All-Day Breakfast Café. Apparently, a forgotten zoning regulation means the café was opened illegally, and hardboiled council president Marcia Steers refuses to budge. I’ve been considering hanging up my apron and going back to New York, but before I could give up hope on my dream, I stumbled over something shocking in the local swamp; Marcia Steers, dead in the water. Now, I’m determined to make sure justice is brought to the killer and to save my café.

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

Even though I was undecided whether or not to stay in Florida, the choice should be mine. I refuse to be pushed out and forced to give up something I’ve worked so hard for. Besides, someone has to make sure Marcia gets justice.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Never! When my husband deceived me and scammed tons of people out of their fortunes, I was a wreck. I could barely make it through the day sometimes. But like they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

That would definitely be Detective Hunter Quinn, my best friend’s cousin and my sort of boyfriend. He is determined to keep me safe and wants me as far from this investigation as possible. Unfortunately, I overheard a conversation that won’t allow me to walk away until I know what’s going on and what Hunt’s involvement is.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I am extremely loyal and would do anything to help a friend, which I consider a strength, but I find it hard to trust. I think that’s one of my biggest weaknesses. Having everyone you know turn their backs on you makes it difficult to trust again, but I’m working on it with the help of Savannah and my new friends. Oh, and I am severely arachnophobic, which I’d like to think I’m working on, but…well…yeah.

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

When Bradley—my ex—deceived me and hurt so many people, I fell apart. If not for my best friend, Savannah, I’m not sure I would have made it through that time. I was an emotional wreck. Everyone I knew turned their backs on me—some because they didn’t believe I wasn’t involved and others because they feared the repercussions of standing by me. I finally fled to Florida to open my dream café and move on with my life, only to find things there were vastly different from New York. I’m still having a hard time adjusting to critters, tornadoes, and even having friends who stand by your side no matter what. For me, being a self-rescue princess means standing up and moving on no matter how difficult it is, but it also means starting to learn how to trust again, to let other people into your life instead of moving on alone because one man betrayed you.

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Never give up on your dreams!

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

As much as I’d like to think I’m hanging up my detective hat to run my café full time once this is over, I have a feeling there’s another problem lurking just around the corner. I know for sure I’d never turn my back on a friend who needed me, so if that’s the case, there will certainly be more sleuthing for me in the future.

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Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Review: Alex “Red” Vlodnachek from Confessions of a Red Herring

CONFESSIONS OF A RED HERRING BANNER 640CONFESSIONS OF A RED HERRINGWelcome, Red. Thank you so much for visiting us at The Self-Rescue Princess. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

I’m Alex Vlodnachek. My best friend, Trip, calls me “Red.” I was a reporter for a D.C. metro daily for a dozen years. Then I followed a higher paycheck to a boutique P.R. firm. Big mistake.

Short version: Boss is a sociopathic slime ball. Big public row with boss. Framed for boss’s murder.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Honestly, at this point, I feel like crime is fighting me.

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing?

That’s a toss up between my grandmother (Baba) and the killer. Neither one is very happy I’m trying to out a murderer.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Probably that I don’t stop to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses. Face it, if I had that kind of mindset, I’d have never gotten into this mess.

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

Discovering who really killed my boss. Not for any altruistic motive, like “truth” or “justice,” either. I’m doing this for my own survival. Try finding a new job when you practically have “murder suspect” stamped on your forehead.

What one piece of advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Eat more chocolate.

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

Trouble has a way of following me. Just recently, I took an evening to attend a glamorous cocktail party at the B&B across the street. I was thinking it would be fun. You know, put on a nice dress and enjoy a glass of champagne, a little small talk, a few canapés. Instead, I got pulled into a missing person’s case. And that was before I found a body.

 

Dana Dratch is the author of CONFESSIONS OF A RED HERRING. A former newspaper reporter and current personal finance writer, she’s currently writing the sequel, SEEING RED — which has Alex, Trip, rescue-pup Lucy, and the whole crazy Vlodnachek family going up against spies, art thieves, and a very determined murderer.  

Connect with her at:

Website (and blog): ConfessionsofaRedHerring.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17143743.Dana_Dratch

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/dana-dratch

Amazon Author Page: https://amazon.com/author/danadratch

 

CONFESSIONS OF A RED HERRING

As a reporter, she’s used to covering the news.

Now she’s the headline.

 

Alex Vlodnachek has been a reporter for 12 years, a P.R. rep for three months, and a murder suspect for all of 24 hours. When her agency’s double-dealing CEO is stabbed, scheming co-workers cast the new redhead as a compelling red herring. The story is media catnip—especially her salacious nickname: Vlod the Impaler.

Even Alex has to admit she looks guilty.

Out of a job and under suspicion, Alex is running low on cash, when she’s visited by a second disaster: her family. Soon her tiny bungalow is bursting with her nearest and not-so-dearest. To keep herself out of jail—and save what’s left of her sanity—Alex returns to her reporting roots. She goes undercover to reclaim her life, break the story

And unmask a murderer. Pretty much in that order.

What she doesn’t know: The killer also has a to-do list. And Alex is on it.

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Chloe Sullivan from Separate Ways

separate waysToday, we have Chloe Sullivan stopping by, please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

My husband David vanished ten years ago, and since then I’ve worked hard to rebuild my life. I moved to New York City, got a great job managing an art gallery, and I was just offered the chance to debut my own paintings—if I can finish the gallery expansion on time. But then I found out that David suddenly reappeared, and it’s a huge distraction, you know? Not only is it bringing up a lot of old feelings, but from what little he remembers about last decade, it sounds like I was the one who disappeared. Somehow, I need to deal with that situation without missing my big opportunity.

What made you want your story to be told?

I wanted to show that you can both follow your heart and open it up to another person, too. Love can complicate things, but the right person can bring out strength you never knew you had.

What lead you to make the changes you did in your life?

After David disappeared, I spent just about every minute and dollar I had trying to find him. When I was finally broke, I sold the house and moved back in with my parents. At that point, I knew I had to move on. I’ve dreamed of being an artist in New York City since I was a little girl, and as much as I wanted David to share that dream with me, I couldn’t let the fact that he vanished stop me from trying to get there.

In your life, what has empowered you?

My parents have always been very supportive of my art. I almost gave up painting when my plans to go to art school fell through, but they encouraged me to stick with it. David felt guilty that we couldn’t move to New York after college, but he never doubted we would get there someday. His confidence in me, naïve as it was sometimes, stuck with me even after he vanished.

What are strengths and weaknesses?

I’m generally optimistic and I’m not afraid of hard work, but sometimes I rely too much on feeling my way through a problem rather than planning my approach. Hey, it works most of the time!

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

I think it’s about staying true to who you are and what you want, no matter how much your life changes. You have to believe in yourself enough to take chances, and have faith that the people who care most about you will back you up even in the craziest circumstances.

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Even if it takes longer than you think it should, even if your life gets turned completely upside down along the way, and even if your dreams change a little over time, keep chasing them. As hard as that can be sometimes, it’s always worth it.

Favorite quote or Bible verse.

“If something’s going wrong, you’re doing the job right.” My dad says that all the time, but I’m not sure whether he made it up or heard it somewhere. He’s in construction, and he hates it when subcontractors take shortcuts. Any job worth doing is going to have its challenges, and to do it right you have to work through them, you know?

Will you be continuing your journey in written form?

Kind of. I’m going to share some of my experiences from the ten years David was missing using an online interactive platform. It’s more of a prologue than a continuation, but I’m excited to tell more about how I got from that awful morning David disappeared to living my dream in New York City.

Is there anyone in your life (friend, family member) who will be sharing their life? 

I don’t know for sure, but I have a feeling my friend Emma may have an adventure or two in her future. Since she and David are like siblings—not to mention how much she helped me after he vanished—I’ll probably end up involved somehow!