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 · Heroine Interviews · mystery · Uncategorized

SRP Heroine Interview: Amy Flowers from the Calamity Cafe

CALAMITY CAFE  large banner640Today, I’m chatting with Amy Flowers. How are you today? Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

The Calamity Cafe (1)I’m so excited to be opening up my own café! Right now, we’re undertaking some major renovations—we being me, my cousin Jackie, one of our favorite regulars, and my lifelong friend Roger and his construction crew. When we get done, the Down South Café is going to be beautiful!

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

Well, I’d been dreaming of opening my own café for a long time. When my nana died last year, she left me enough money to make my dream come true. After culinary school, I came back home to Winter Garden because Nana was sick and I wanted to be close in case she needed me. I went to work at Lou’s Joint (the café I bought and am renovating), but that woman was a horrible bully. I was eager to get myself and my cousin out of that place as soon as possible.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Never. In fact, I don’t suppose I’d have ever even considered it had I not gone in the café that evening and found Lou Lou Holman—my former boss—slumped over her desk. I didn’t realize it at first, but she was dead. Now, of course, I’m a suspect in her murder, so I have to find out who really did it or I—and my new café—are toast!

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

I don’t imagine my mother is very thrilled about it. And, come to think of it, Deputy Ryan Hall—who’s very easy on the eyes, by the way—doesn’t seem to like my poking my nose in where he doesn’t think it belongs either. But how else am I going to find out who killed Lou Lou? Deputy Hall says to let the police do their jobs, but where’s the harm in my helping out? Besides, criminals get defensive around police officers. They’re more likely to open up around us “normal” people.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m a hard worker, an excellent chef, a devoted friend/family member, and I’m dedicated to the café patrons. I’d say my biggest weakness is that I have a tendency to take in strays. I’m not sure I’d call that a weakness, though. Jackie thinks I’m a pushover. But I only have the one dog…and the cat—who technically belongs to Mom and wasn’t a stray.

Here’s the thing: the morning after Lou Lou was killed, the café was closed while the police investigated the crime scene. Well, poor Homer Pickens comes in every morning at ten o’clock to get his sausage biscuit; so when the café was closed, he came to my house and asked me to fix it for him. Then Dilly Boyd heard the news and she came to the house to ask if I’d make lunch. So I made lunch for her and a few of her friends. But that’s not being a pushover, right? That was learning firsthand what it would be like to cook for a group of patrons—not friends or family. And it was giving a few older people their daily social interaction. They need that.

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

It means you can do whatever you put your mind to. Set your goals, write them down, revisit them on a regular basis, and make them happen.

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

Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. You can—and will—achieve your dreams.

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

I’m stronger than I realized I was.

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

“Walking on Sunshine”

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

I wasn’t planning on it, but I have a bad feeling that something bad is going to happen to Mr. Lincoln. He’s the Chamber of Commerce president, and he stirs up trouble everywhere he goes. (Stay tuned for book two—SILENCE OF THE JAMS!)