Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP REVIEWS: HOLIDAY EDITION (PART III) – Better Off Thread, Nurturing That Spark, and Trouble Under the Mistletoe

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 and books that I can during this time frame.
betteroffthreadBetter Off Thread by Amanda Lee
The Christmas season is upon Marcy and her friends and she’s busy at the Seven-Year Stitch helping customers get ready for the holidays, but not so much that she can’t take some time off to help her friend Captain Moe by being an elf to his Santa Claus for sick children at the hospital. With Angus along for the adventure, Marcy arrives at the hospital to find that Captain Moe isn’t all too happy with the hospital administrator who is later found murdered–and Captain Moe is the now the suspect.
Since this is a mystery, it can be hard to say that a book has Christmas cheer as a murder is involved but this story has plenty of Christmas atmosphere and joy. The murder isn’t gruesome and while there are threats and dire happenings (it is a murder mystery) those parts of the story don’t overwhelm or take away from the Christmas theme and setting of the story. I don’t like to give away too much of the plot, but for anyone and for anyone concerned about children being in jeopardy since the crime took place in the hospital and started with Captain Moe and Marcy entertaining sick children, I’d like to reassure that no children come to harm.I loved seeing how Marcy interacted with her customers and “watching” her create Christmas ornaments and gifts. All the pieces of the story (mystery, romance, Christmas) flowed together and complemented each other perfectly. This was a great Christmas mystery that not only gave me the Christmas feels but also got me in the crafting…which is good since I have some presents to make.nurturingthatsparkNurturing That Spark by Sandra Sookoo

All Morgan wants is a lovely Christmas holiday with her niece, and what she gets is a teenager more enamored with her electronic devices than creating special holiday memories with the aunt who loves her. Morgan believes the perfect solution is a holiday vacation in a rural spot with limited internet connection. What she gets instead is a sullen teen–and could it be possible a love of her life?

Carter is a single father who’s used to it being him and his son and is happy with his life but wouldn’t mind a someone special to add into his family. Out on his park ranger rounds, he meets Morgan and can’t deny the instant spark between them. But can two people really fall in love in a short amount of time? And were their differences too much for a solid relationship ever to be built on?

Nurturing that Spark had a Christmas setting and theme in the book. Morgan wants a connection with her family, holiday memories and love that they can build on, and she runs into problem after problem trying to get her niece on board. The harder she tries, the more the teen rejects her ideas and plans. I felt bad for Morgan because she wanted so much to create the perfect holidays and her niece didn’t seem interested. I liked seeing the interaction between Morgan, her niece, Carter and his young son and how they created a family holiday from two small families who both had felt they were missing something. I loved that Morgan’s spirits picked up as she started finding hope in having the type of Christmas experience she wished for. There is some family angst, but nothing too dramatic that takes away from the holiday-feel-goodness that I cherish in holiday stories.

troublemistletoeTrouble Under the Mistletoe by Rebecca Barrett

Trouble the cat and Billie Dean, the human he’s staying with, are having a rather mundane Christmas Eve until the man Billie Dean loves and who went was deployed overseas is now back in town. But something isn’t quite right about the business dealings going on in Billie Dean’s father’s dealership and Trouble is determined to find out the truth.

This short story has a holiday setting, a mystery, and a sweet romance wrapped up into it. Trouble is definitely the star and I loved his voice. It had just enough angst in it to feel the characters concerns and worries without it taking over the holiday feels of the story. It’s the perfect length when you’d love to read a complete story but don’t have much time for reading.

 

 

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Books · mystery · Scrapbooking · Writing

Release Day! Altered to Death

It’s here, it’s here! Release day for Altered to Death, the sixth book in the Scrap This Mystery Series. I still have a hard time believing that the sixth book in this series is out. It seems not too long ago I was angsting over the first book finding a publisher and now the series has six titles (Cropped, Designed, Embellished, Framed, Masked, and now Altered is added to the family).

AlteredToDeath front sm (2)Even knee-deep in planning her wedding, Faith Hunter finds herself distracted by the town scrapbook she was commissioned to create. Eden’s oldest mystery, the founding family’s exodus nearly a hundred years ago, remains unsolved. When a search through the family’s abandoned mansion leads to the uncovering of bones on the property and ex-boyfriend Steve Davis announces a surprise heir has staked a claim, Faith is determined to dig up the truth left behind.

Meanwhile, family friend Wyatt Buford asks Faith to look into his deadbeat father’s disappearing act and his connection to the murder. Her quest for answers unearths secrets past and present that some would prefer stay buried at any cost. Faith’s resolve to present the facts and nothing but about Eden’s history could lead to her own future being cut short.

Here are the stops on my blog tour, please stop by and visit:

November 27 – Celticlady’s Reviews

November 27 – A Chick Who Reads

November 28 – Books,Dreams,Life

November 28 – Deal Sharing Aunt

November 29 – Varietats

November 29 – A Holland Reads

November 30 – T’s Stuff

December 1 – Teresa Trent Author Blog

December 2 – Laura’s Interests

December 3 – Babs Book Bistro

December 4 – View from the Birdhouse

December 5 – Melina’s Book Blog

December 5 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!

December 6 – Girl with Book Lungs

December 7 – A Blue Million Books

To celebrate Altered’s release, the ebook edition of Designed to Death (Book 2 in the series) is on sale for 99 cents! The sale price is for a limited time.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00F1IFYJ8
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/designed-to-de…/1115700257…
iBooks:https://itunes.apple.com/…/b…/designed-to-death/id703561501…
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/designed-to-death

Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP REVIEWS: HOLIDAY EDITION (PART II) – Merry Ex-Mas, Tender Hearts, and The Mistletoe Inn (HALLMARK MOVIE)

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 and books that I can during this time frame.

merryexmasMerry Ex-Mas by Sheila Roberts

The holidays aren’t quite that merry for some of the women in Icicle Falls: Cass’s daughter is engaged and wants to get married this Christmas and have her father (Cass’s ex) and his new wife stay at Cass’s house, Charlene’s ex-husband waltzes back into her life with apologies and a renewed love for her, and Ella is trying to get used to being divorced which is hard when you still live with your ex. But, all is not what it seems and it will take the spirit of the holiday to help the women sort out truth from fiction. I love how this story shows the struggles of three women trying to find the Christmas spirit when it would be easier just to let it remain lost. This book has a nice balance of holiday setting, holiday theme, and the angst that can make us want to give up trying to maintain  holiday cheer for those that we love (and who sometimes create our trying moments).

tenderheartsTender Hearts by Gail Delaney

Billy and Erin met while they were both in Hawaii on vacation. Erin was sure their time together was only a vacation fling and not true love so she slipped out of Billy’s room–and life–only to find she needed to venture back into his life since they created one together.

This story takes place over many months, ending during the Christmas season. This was one of my favorite books as the characters felt real and had a great chemistry together, even when they were at odds with other. The issues they were trying to overcome came across as natural rather than obstacles created so the couple could struggle with being together. The ending was beautiful and poignant, a perfect Christmas story ending. (Currently, it’s one of my favorites.) I don’t normally add disclaimers but I wanted to let readers know this book does have some heartbreaking scenes of a very ill baby which might be hard for some readers, especially during the holiday season.

the mistletoe innAnd last is another holiday movie review, Mistletoe Inn (A Hallmark Countdown to Christmas Movie)- This movie is based on the book The Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans. Kimberly finds herself single just in time for the holidays when her boyfriend dumps her because she isn’t serious (like him!) about her writing. Kimberly has dreamed of being a writer but seems to allow her insecurities to hold her back from her dream. She finally decides to prove her ex wrong by going to a writing retreat that takes place in the Mistletoe Inn around Christmas time. I love a good romance, especially a Christmas one, and this one also throws in writing. I understood Kimberly as I struggle with some of her insecurities and being desperate for others approval. The holiday setting was perfect. I loved her love for Christmas (another thing I had in common with the heroine) and also how the famous (but never before seen in public) romance writer compared writing to decorating a Christmas tree. I hadn’t thought I’d come away with some good writing advice from the movie! This was a heartfelt Christmas movie and I thought the characters had a wonderful chemistry together. It was just what I love in a Christmas movie: small-time angst, getting to know and trust yourself and others, and love being realized and born during the holiday season.

Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP Reviews: Holiday Edition (Part I) – Twelve Days of Christmas, A Christmas Wish (Hallmark Movie), and Double Deck the Halls

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 and books that I can during this time frame.

Happy Holidays! This year, I feel the need to start my holiday reading and viewing early. I don’t know what it is (okay I do but I don’t want to mention it and poke a hole in my happy bubble) so I decided to jump right into the entertainment that always cheers me up and boosts my spirits–Christmas/Holiday reading time. I’m going to shake things up a little bit this year by also including some reviews of Christmas/holiday movies (mainly Hallmark). As always, if you have suggestions and want to share your favorite holiday reads and movies, leave a comment. Now on to the reviews,

twelve days of christmasTwelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber.

The heroine in this story, Julia, loves the holiday season, actually she loves being cheerful and bubbly all year round. It’s who she is and can’t imagine anyone wanting to go through life in a sour mood and not acknowledging people–like her neighbor Cain. When he takes her newspaper by mistake (or maybe even deliberately) it’s not the action that pushes Julia over the edge but his lack of remorse and refusal to apologize. She vents to her best-friend and is given the idea of killing Cain with kindness. Since Julia needs an idea to blog about for the end of the year, she agrees. It doesn’t seem to work at first, but over time Julia finds the kindness magic working on Cain–and surprisingly on herself. This was a heartwarming holiday story that fits nicely into the spirit of the Christmas season. At times, I found Julia a little over-the-top in her actions, but as I got to know her more, I understood what was driving her. It was the perfect, sweet Christmas romance to get my seasonal reading off to a happy start.

a christmas wishA Wish for Christmas (A Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas Movie)- Sara is the type of friend and co-worker everyone that I know would love to have: conscientious, friendly, helpful and agreeable…but sometimes too helpful and agreeable to where she is taken advantage of. After an idea of hers is stolen by her boss, Sara makes a wish that she was braver. How I understand that! There are many times in my life that I wish I could’ve stood up for myself more or been honest when asked directly about how I felt about something, or if I could do something for someone, I’d say yes because I didn’t want to disappoint or upset the other person even though it meant giving up something I wanted to do. Well, with the help of Santa, Sara is finally able to speak her mind. What I loved most about this movie, (there are two things but one involves Sara) is that even though Sara is tougher she never loses her niceness. She is able to stand up for herself without being rude or mean about it. I have read/seen other books/movies with this theme and the heroine usually has a huge chip on her shoulder and what she says and does is quite mean. Not in a Wish for Christmas Wish, the spirit of the holidays (kindness, love, thinking of others) is still there while Sara learns she can be both strong and kind. The other thing I loved about this movie was Molly. When Sara tells her best friend how she’s been taken advantage of her, instead of Molly throwing a fit and ending the friendship, she realizes Sara is right and apologizes and changes her behavior. This is one of new favorite Christmas movies of this season (so far). I don’t know if it’s because of the “realness” of the characters or the message that strong doesn’t equal mean or selfish and you can look out for yourself while still caring and doing for others.

doubledeckThe last review for this edition is Double Deck the Halls by Gretchen Archer. First, I must say isn’t that about the cutest holiday cover you’ve ever seen? I know I love it and wish there was an ornament for it…but I digress. This is a short crime caper story in the Davis Way universe but features Granny Dee as the point of view character. The story is set around Christmas Time where Granny is visiting her granddaughter and two great-granddaughters for the holidays…and to play in a slot tournament. I don’t want to give away too much lets just say that a Christmas personality that one usually trusts is up to some horrible shenanigans and Granny Dee must save the day. It was an enjoyable story, cute, not too much angst (how I love my holiday reading) and the perfect “size” to get in some needed holiday themed reading if you only have a short amount of time (like waiting in long lines, baking cookies, etc.).

Stay tuned for more holiday reviews of books…and a few movies. I’m always eager to add to my holiday book and movie collection so please share! Happy Almost Holidays!

Books · Holiday · Reviews

Top 10 Reads of Christmas Past

Since 2011, I have posted holiday reviews on my blog. Usually, I start the week of Thanksgiving and end the first week of January. I’m starting early this year as I’ve found a need to read some cheerful books to pick up my spirits. The last year has been a little stressful at times and I want to be in the right frame of mind for the approaching holiday season.

To start off my holiday reviewing season, I’m going to list my Top 10 holiday reads from 2011-2016. The reviews for my Christmas past reads can be found by clicking on the category tags and selecting reviews.

Happy Holiday Reading!

Top 10 Reads of Christmas Past

  1. On Strike for Christmas by Sheila Roberts
  2. Orphaned Hearts by Shawna K. Williams
  3. Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
  4. Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs
  5. Santa’s Sleigh is on its Way to West Virginia by Eric James
  6. Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks
  7. Lowcountry Bordello by Susan M. Boyer
  8. Home for Christmas by Melissa McClone
  9. All I Want for Christmas by Nora Roberts
  10. Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson

 

Books · Cooking · mystery

HH 6: Cookin’ Up Crime

cooking up crimeI’m thrilled to be part of Happy Homicides 6: Cookin’ Up Crime anthology that was released on Friday. My story is titled Simmer to Death: Did sibling rivalry lead to the poisoning of an up-and-coming food personality? Or were simmering hostilities among the staff the real recipe for murder?

A little tidbit about Simmer to Death:

Simmer to Death was originally going to feature Faith Hunter, my heroine from the Scrap This Series, and her future mother-in-law Odessa who appeared in Masked to Death, but Faith didn’t want to be a part of the story. I kept the setting for the plot, a cooking demonstration and played around with a couple different characters until one of them took over. The story actually evolved better when the original POV character became the victim and the original murderer became the POV character and unwitting sleuth.

I hope everyone will grab a copy at our discounted price of 99 cents. Here’s the link: http://www.bit.ly/HH6CookinUpCrime.

Everyday Life · mystery · Writing

Overwhelmed by Changes

I feel like I’ve been missing-in-action for months on my blog and Facebook. I can’t believe it’s been since mid-June that I’ve actively engaged in this part of my life. And I do enjoy it. I love being able to keep with family and friends, share what’s been going on in my life, finding new crafts to create and books to read. But since this summer things…okay time, to be exact, got away from me and I allowed myself to wallow just a little too much in the overwhelming sea of changes going on in my life.

I’m a planner and having unexpected changes pop up throws my whole being into a sense of chaos. I find it hard to get my bearings and put together a new plan to merge all the must-dos and need-to-dos  into order. In the scheme of issues and problems one has to face, mine weren’t that horrible or unmanageable. Just a few too many unexpected ones at the same time.

IMG_2109There was the foot injured that was likely a stress fractured and kept me out of my garden, and pretty much house bound, except for work during the whole summer. It wasn’t easy walking around in the boot, or going up and downstairs, which the doctor told me was the whole point in it, keeping me off my foot. The treachery of navigating stairs had me writing on a laptop upstairs rather than in my office. On the bright side, at least I wasn’t in the boot while we were in California. It would’ve made getting around Disneyland, the Safari Park, and all the wineries difficult.

I hated not being able to tend to my garden as it was a hobby I enjoyed. Sadly, the lack of attention, combined with the heat and humidity, left our plants in dire condition. We didn’t get much produce, and a lot of the plants succumbed to the heat and squash bugs that attacked the garden.

Then came the unexpected home renovation bathroom project which my friend named Armageddon. We had a recurring mold issue in our bathroom, and got tired of cleaning it, so we called a mold specialist to remove it, figuring it would be gone once and for all. And it is–actually the whole bathroom is gone. Eliminated.

 

For someone who does better with plans, this chaos, along with our decision to start rearranging the house, threw me for a huge loop. And I’m not big on twisty, turning roller coasters which is what I felt I’ve been on for the last few months. Every plan I had made kept getting thrown out.

As for the rearranging of the house–that was the result of another change I knew was coming but just not now. I knew our college junior would be leaving home soon. Just not mid-August soon. I had figured he’d stay until he graduated in two years, instead he moved to where he could go to college and was also being considered for a job with the police force. Since our last child was leaving the nest, we decided to move some of the rooms around to better suit our needs (moving my husband’s office from the room at the far end of the garage into my old office, and my office and crafting studio upstairs as it has more natural light (better for crafting). I’ll admit, I wasn’t ready for the change of having no children at home. I still struggle with it as being mom has been the major part of my identity for such a long time–since I was twenty-one. But time moves on. And I know my children need to move on, and forward, to accomplish their goals and dreams.

Which bring me to my writing, my dream, and the new-to-me dilemma of having my main character snub me. I finished Altered to Death, the sixth Scrap This mystery (release date Nov 28! pre-order is available), and was excited to begin a new book in the series. I sat down to write…and nothing. I had two main plot ideas and played around with them, but it was going nowhere. Then I tried writing a short-story featuring Faith and again it went nowhere. It was like Faith didn’t want to be in it. She didn’t want to talk to me. I tried getting her engaged in the plot but everything sounded to me like the author (me) was moving the character around the scenes. She wasn’t coming across as being an active participant. The story was going nowhere.

What was I to do? There were other ideas for books I had wanted to write, a romantic suspense I wrote a few years that I could polish or rewrite to send off. Or…I wasn’t sure. It had been a long time since I wasn’t sure what to write, where I didn’t have an idea chasing me around demanding to be written.

So, I decided fine, I just won’t write for a month. I’ll use the time to put my house back together. And of course that’s when the next book came to me…a new character. A new series. A new mystery featuring a crafting heroine who will be trying to move forward with her dreams as her children are seeking hers. She’s talking to me. A lot. I’m enjoying getting to know her.

And I know I’ll hear from Faith again. I guess we just needed a little break from each other. At least her new adventure will be out soon. Here’s what she’ll be up to:

AlteredToDeath front sm (2)

Even knee-deep in planning her wedding, Faith Hunter finds herself distracted by the town scrapbook she was commissioned to create. Eden’s oldest mystery, the founding family’s exodus nearly a hundred years ago, remains unsolved. When a search through the family’s abandoned mansion leads to the uncovering of bones on the property and ex-boyfriend Steve Davis announces a surprise heir has staked a claim, Faith is determined to dig up the truth left behind.

Meanwhile, family friend Wyatt Buford asks Faith to look into his deadbeat father’s disappearing act and his connection to the murder. Her quest for answers unearths secrets past and present that some would prefer stay buried at any cost. Faith’s resolve to present the facts and nothing but about Eden’s history could lead to her own future being cut short.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Altered-Death-Faith-Hunter-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0758DG23P

Barnes and Noble:https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/altered-to-death-christina-freeburn/1127044022?ean=2940158764622