Books · Holiday · Reviews

SPR Reviews: Holiday Edition (Part V): A Christmas Mourning, Miss Kane’s Christmas, and Montana’s Secret Santa

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.

This last week or so has been busy with holiday preparations between crafting gifts and our annual ornament exchange party we had on Saturday. I’m trying to catch up on my reading and reviewing. For this week, I have three wonderful short stories that will get you in the Christmas mood, and are perfect to read when your time is short.

achristmasmourningA Christmas Mourning by Laura Bradford

This is an unusual Christmas in that the story actually takes place during the summer but is about an event that happened at Christmas time twenty-six years ago. I thought a Christmas themed story that wasn’t  taking during the holiday season was a nice twist. Jakkob lost a treasured item of his mother’s when he was a child and carries that disappointment even as an adult. It was a tangible link to her past and he fills as if he took it away from her. Claire is heartbroken for Jakkob and decides to search for the missing treasure to return it to Jakkob in hopes it will heal him and the rift between his family.

I don’t want to give too many details and give the story away. This story had so much Christmas spirit and heart even though it takes place in the summer. The search for the missing Christmas heirloom was the center of the story and also connected to the relationships of the characters. The ending was pure Christmas love that could love one a little teary. This is one of my favorite reads this year.

misskane'schristmasMiss Kane’s Christmas by Caroline Mickelson

Three days before Christmas, Carol, Santa’s daughter, is being sent on a mission to change the mind of Ben who is planning on ruining Christmas for all children–by having his next writing project about how Santa is a lie published. Carol is certain she can sway Ben from not only ruining the Christmases of millions of children in the future, but the current one for his children. Her immediate goal is to ensure that Ben’s two children have a Merry Christmas even though their dad is doing everything he can to avoid it by eliminating anything Christmas related from their house…no decorations, Christmas cookies, music.

But what happens when a crazy for Christmas woman and a Christmas avoider start to have tender feelings for each other? Who will win out in the battle of how to celebrate or not celebrate the holiday season? And what will happen when Ben finds out Carol’s love for Christmas and Santa isn’t because she’s a little crazy, but the daughter of Santa? This was a sweet Christmas story (a little fast paced at times) that shows how children’s joy at the season can give an adult a different perspective on the holidays. Not to mention how people’s hearts can be a little more open to love–and Christmas magic.

montana secret santaMontana Secret Santa by Debra Salonen

Krista finds herself in quite the quandary when her partner, on doctor’s advice, needs to take it easy during the holiday. One of the ways for her partner to lose some of her stress is to hand it over to Krista–being a member of the Montana Secret Santa program. While Krista believes in the program, she’s not that interested in being on the board and being responsible for other’s Christmas as she isn’t quite that fond of the holiday herself–thanks to her dysfunctional family. But, she agrees in order to help out her friend and business partner…and it doesn’t hurt that a hunky newcomer is also joining the board.

Jonah returned to his hometown after selling his company to relax and figure out what he wanted to do next with his life. He finds himself not only roped into dog sitting for his parents, but also taking over as the president for the Secret Santa, a task he’s not too interested in until he discovers the sexy woman his dog charges nearly trampled was also on the committee. Maybe helping out the non-profit wasn’t such a terrible idea after all. He did have plenty of time on his hands.

I really enjoyed Montana Secret Santa. Naturally, it contained both a holiday theme and setting as it’s set during a very cold Christmas season in Montana. I loved that the story revolved around a group who has set out to make Christmas better for members in the town. The romance between Krista and Jonah blossomed from their volunteering with the non-profit and in the process getting to know each other. There was some Christmas angst at times, a little over the top reactions from Krista, but the to-dos on the list during the holiday season (added onto the normal everyday tasks) can make anyone lose it. Especially when the added stress of complicated family relationships. I can definitely see this as  Hallmark Countdown to Christmas movies. This is one of the list of one of my favorite holiday reads for this year.

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Books · mystery · Reviews

Review: The Discombobulated Decipherers by Julie Seedorf

DISCOMBOBULATED large banner 640 (1)

Thank you for stopping by The Self-Rescue Princess today. Today, I’m doing a holiday review of the Discombobulated Decipherers. The reviews I write are a little different as I like to focus on the heroines, or as the case is during the holiday season, I comment about the holiday spirit in the story.

discombulatedThe Discombobulated Decipherers is a fun, quirky story with plenty of holiday charm. The main element of the story is the mystery, who killed Ernest the elf, but it always maintains its lighthearted feel, perfect for readers who prefer to read less angst during this time of the year. The reader can follow along with the characters as they try to uncover the puzzle of who killed Ernest and also if an item they keep stumbling upon has anything to do with the murder, or with the history of the town. (I don’t want to inadvertently give a spoiler so am not mentioning the item.) The holiday season is important to the story so it really lends to the atmosphere of the book. The mystery and the holiday aspect of the story blended together perfectly, and I don’t think either would’ve worked without the other which is something I really enjoyed about the book.

 

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Roxanne (Roxy) Bloom from the Killer Coffee Mystery Series

I’d like to welcome Roxy to the Self-Rescue Princess.

freshlyground1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

Well, it’s Christmas in Honey Springs.
Our town’s annual Christmas in the Park is underway and includes a Christmas Pawrade that’ll help the furry residents at Pet Palace get a home for Christmas.

I’m afraid It’s not the four-legged creatures that stole the show, it’s the pair of legs sticking out from the Christmas tree lighting ceremony that has all the town talking.

I own The Bean Hive Coffeehouse and I have to tell you that
the suspects are piling up faster than the falling snow, while a murderer is on the loose.

The gossip is as hot as the coffee I serve.

Of course I can’t let this ruin my first Christmas in Honey Springs, so I’m keeping my ear to the rumors and checking out a few things on my own. I sure would hate to have this murder hanging over our heads at the Christmas table!

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

Otis, bless his heart, was a friend of mine. He was the sweetest man and owned Odd Ink, the tattoo parlor next to my coffeehouse. He came in everyday to get a sweet treat and cup of coffee. I just hate what happened to him.

3. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Oh my….how do I say this without running you off. I’m sorta like a murder magnet. Somehow I stumble upon bodies while minding my own business, then I make it my business. A few months ago I’d tell you that I’d never get involved in a murder. A few months ago is a long time.

4. 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 have to say it’d be my fiancé Patrick Cane. He just don’t understand why I can’t just keep brewing up coffee instead of trouble.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’d have to say that I’m a good listener, which helps me weed out the gossip from the truth. My Aunt Maxi always said there’s a wee-bit of truth in all of that gossip, I just have to find out what’s the truth.

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

A couple of years ago I was a lawyer in my own firm. I was unhappy and not following my life. I realized real fast that no man or job was going to make me happy. I was the only one who was going to do that, so that’s when I moved to Honey Springs, took a leap of faith and opened up The Bean Hive Coffeehouse.

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

Follow your dream! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.

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

I realized how strong I am when faced with hard problems. If I could get through law school, a nasty divorce and a complete lifestyle change…I know I can get through anything!

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

Bullet Proof by David Goetta.

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

Listen, I don’t go looking for trouble, but if my friends need me…I can’t say I won’t stick my nose in something.

 

Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP Reviews: Holiday Edition (Part IV)–Getting in the Spirit, Christmas Spirit, and With Love, Christmas (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.

gettinginspiritGetting in the Spirit: Naughty and Nice in Sapphire Falls by Erin Nicholas

Levi Spencer had a huge wake up call about his reckless behavior when a car accident could’ve ended his life. To help him accomplish his new calmer life style, he takes his brother up on the offer to visit Sapphire Falls for the holiday season and agrees to let his brother set him up with a nice, sweet, country girl for the Christmas formal.

Kate wants nothing more than one happy Christmas. When she was growing up, her parents ran from it and as an adult she’s had one disastrous Christmas after the one. Her friend Phoebe (Levi’s brother’s wife) tells her the way to get her wish is to come to Sapphire Falls, a place that knows how to do Christmas, and to sweeten the deal, Phoebe will set her friend up with a sweet country boy for the Christmas formal. How could Kate turn down that offer? The only small issue is that Phoebe and her husband will be away for a few days when Kate first gets there, but the town and the country boy will take care of her.

But there is a little mishap and Levi and Kate match –and when this couple finds their way to each other, Christmas turns into a very steamy holiday. The Christmas setting is perfect. I want to go to Sapphire Falls for the holidays, and I do like how the background of Christmas heightened the feelings of romance and blossoming love between the couple. Getting in the Spirit is the first part of the couple’s romance and there are two other stories to follow. Disclaimer: For those who like sweet romances please note this is a steamy story.

christmasspiritChristmas Spirit by Morgana Best.

Prudence has traveled all over as medium sharing the impressions she the dead reveal to her to their loved ones. Her world is turned upside down when she sees her first ghost, a detective who was murdered and needs help from the only person who can see him–Prudence.

Prudence had arrived home, planning to get some rest before preparing for the arrival of her relatives who were visiting for Christmas and instead finds herself being drawn into a murder investigation. Prudence finds the holiday season a little depressing since her divorce and an estrangement with her daughter so the investigation allows her to focus on something else.

This story is set during Christmas time but the holiday itself doesn’t feature a role in the story besides the added stresses that time of year can bring, especially to those who feel alone. The mystery aspect is the stronger element in the story so if you prefer stories where Christmas time isn’t the focus, this is the read for you.

With Love, Christmas Key ArtWith Love, Christmas (Countdown to Christmas Hallmark Movie)

Melanie finds a great amount of joy in everything to do with the Christmas season, her co-worker Donovan feels the opposite. What is she to do when she draws his name in the Secret Santa exchange–and also is teamed up with him to work on an ad campaign to run during Christmas? Her answer is discover why he’s so Bah humbug about the holidays and show him what there is to love about the season.

This is one of my favorite movies of the season. I love the sweet chemistry between the couple and the way they fell in love seemed natural and I could see it happening in real life. I enjoyed how they were getting to know each other through not just working together but in Melanie’s Secret Santa emails. I love how their differences were worked out for the couple even though they hadn’t realized that they were smoothing out the areas that could keep them apart. The holiday setting and theme really added to the romance and I don’t think this particular story could take place during any other time of the year. This is one of those Hallmark Christmas movies that increases my Christmas spirit. I’ll be honest here and admit one of my dreams and goals is to write a Christmas story that has this much Christmas heart and spirit.

 

 

Books · Heroine Interviews · mystery

SRP Heroine Interview: Cat Enright from The Mane Equation

themaneequationWelcome to the Self-Rescue Princess, Cat. I know the holiday season is extremely busy for many people so I’m so happy you made time to chat with my readers.

  1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

My dad, whom, I’ve spoken to about three times in the past ten years, was sure someone was trying to kill him. My life as a horse trainer in Tennessee had become confusing, due to some unexpected personal relationships, so I jumped at the chance to “run away” and visit Dad at Canterbury Park, a horseracing track in Shakopee, Minnesota. Turns out my dad was right, but it took the help of my Tennessee friends and the (possibly) psychic mare, Sally Blue, to figure it out.

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

Well, he’s my dad. Biological, at least. After my mom died when I was nine, Dad pretty much abandoned me to “the drink,” as he calls it. My feelings about him are complicated, and even though I absolutely want to stay mad at him for the rest of my life, I don’t want anything bad to happen to him.

  1. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Not ever! But my ex-movie star neighbor was killed and I stumbled across her body. Then there was a murder at a horse show, and after that my best friend, country music star Melody Cross, was killed. What was I supposed to do? Just sit back and watch the police make a mess of things? No offense to my friend Deputy Martin Giles. He’s one of the good guys.

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

I train show horses full time. Or, at least, that’s what I am supposed to be doing. Definitely, my barn manager, Jon Gardner, is not pleased when I start to snoop. I understand his concern, as the horses need me and all my undone chores fall to him. Jon also has feelings for me that I am not sure I reciprocate, but he is a dear friend.

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Well, I have this teensy problem with anger management. My Irish nature allows situations to build and then everything explodes out of me. I’m working on it, though. I’ve also been known to break and enter (make that snoop) uninvited through my neighbors’ homes. But it is all with the best of intentions––and with their best interests in mind. On the good side, I am very loyal and have a strong sense of right and wrong. And, horses and dogs like me.

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

My grandmother raised me to be self-sufficient. As she used to say, “Never underestimate a Southern woman. She’ll rip your heart out, show it to you, and then bake it in a pie.” I guess two out of three isn’t bad. I never got the hang of cooking. But, my grandmother’s sentiments ring true all the same. It’s important to me to know that I can depend on myself in any situation. And yes, I’ve had to be rescued a time or two, but I’ve done more than my share of rescuing in return.

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

Be who you are, and be proud of you. Then make informed decisions that will increase your pride in yourself, not decrease it. And, when the scumbags come crawling into your life, swat them away. You deserve better.

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

Not to sit too close to my potential step-mother’s dog. A second lesson was not to assume anything. At all. Facts are what count.

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

I never intend to get involved, but it seems that people I know are always dying. Jon strongly prefers that I do no more sleuthing, but if a wrong has been done to a friend I feel compelled to help bring the perpetrator to justice. After all, that’s what friends do.

 

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.

 

 

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