Saturday, January 7, 2017

The House of the Soul: A Novel by Annie Dawson - Review

Homemaker Ella Casey is circling the middle-age drain. Her once adventurous life is now measured in loads of laundry, her grand dreams of changing the world diluted with each rinse cycle. When she flies to the enchanting California estate of her best friend Teri for a Peace Corps reunion, the accomplishments of her peers threaten to soak up the last drops of Ella’s floundering self-esteem.

Teri Flores is everything Ella is not: glamorous, wealthy, and fearless. Her sprawling mansion, La Casa Del Alma, serves as both artists’ retreat and modern day salon to Teri’s eclectic entourage. Teri entertains her guests with lavish meals, outrageous activities, and impassioned debates, but the weekend sours when old grievances mix with new ambitions.

As past and present collide, Ella struggles to redefine herself, but will her growing need to validate her life end up destroying it?

THE HOUSE OF THE SOUL is a journey of love, loss, and friendship, and a treasure map for anyone brave enough to embark on the precarious voyage of self-discovery.

My Review: 

An incredible journey of self-discovery.

Once in the Peace Corps, Ella Casey’s life was so different.  She was helping make a change in the world and enjoyed seeing the smiles on the people’s faces that she was helping.  After she left the Peace Corps, she got married and raised her family in New Zealand.  But she kept thinking something is missing from her life.  When Ella’s best friend Teri invites her to a Peace Corps reunion in California, she questions whether she should go as she felt she didn’t have anything in common with the others anymore.  But in the end she goes as a plane ticket has already been purchased for her.   While Ella spends time with Teri and her friends, she does some soul searching about her life and the choices she has made.  What will it take for Ella to feel she has a purpose in life again?

I enjoyed the way the book was written with the present time and the flash-backs to the past.  It gives a good insight as to who the characters really are.  The writer has a way with words and spun a memorable tale that won’t soon be forgotten.  Having been in the Peace Corps herself, she had all of the facts to make this story feel very real.  Sometimes an author will write a book and research facts but they don’t always carry across onto the pages where it seems real.  Entertaining yes, but real, not always.  The scenes were easy to visualize.  The secondary characters had such strong roles in the story that I would love to find out what happens to them.

I loved this quote at the end of the story:

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Purchase links for The House of Soul


Barnes & Noble


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Chocolate Cure (Love at the Chocolate Shop Book 4) by Roxanne Snopek - Review

No more chocolate! No more meddling! No more men!

New Year’s resolutions are great. Announcing them in a crowded bar, with a chocolate martini in her hand? Not Maddie Cash’s finest moment. It’s time this new realtor got serious about her life and this time, she means it.

But when hospital volunteering lands her at the bedside of bruised and battered Mick Meyer, who has no knowledge of Maddie’s reputation – and no memory of the kiss he begged from her during that long, pain-filled night, her best-laid plans are put in jeopardy. It’s not just his sweet tooth that’s tempting her.

The hunky bush pilot with the concussion has an old family property to unload. Making this sale could be Maddie’s professional salvation. But when Mick turns on the charm, she’s in danger of forgetting all her best intentions... on chocolate... on meddling... and especially on men.

Love at the Chocolate Shop series
Book 1: Melt My Heart, Cowboy by CJ Carmichael
Book 2: A Thankful Heart by Melissa McClone
Book 3: Montana Secret Santa by Debra Salonen
Book 4: The Chocolate Cure by Roxanne Snopek
Book 5: The Valentine Quest by Melissa McClone
More books coming soon
My Review:

A fun quick read.

Maddie Cash has decided to make some changes in her life.  But she made the mistake of announcing her New Year’s resolutions in public.  No more chocolate, meddling or men.  Now everyone in Marietta is watching to see if Maddie can keep her resolutions.  With her boss breathing down her throat about making a sale, she needs to focus on work even harder now.  She is given until the end of January to sell a house or she will be unemployed.

Pilot Mick Meyer was admitted to the hospital after a mishap with his plane which ended getting a concussion.  He arrived while Maddie was volunteering in the ER.  They quickly became friends with Maddie showing up to help Mick with his rehab.  When Maddie learned Mick was going to sell his uncle’s lake house, Maddie set her sight on making this sale.  Maybe then her boss will see she is serious about her job. 

When everything starts to fall apart in Maddie's life, Mick is there to help her pick up the pieces.  Mick didn't expect to fall for Maddie, and now he has to convince her to let go of her insecurities and accept the fact that he is not like other men.

The book moved along at a fairly good pace.  The writing was entertaining, the plot fun and the characters likable.  Maddie and Mick had great chemistry.  The book ended a bit quick for me.  I would have loved to have seen a stronger ending.  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

What Happens at Midnight by Laura Chapman - Review

Romantic comedy junkie Natalie lives out those fantasies in real life three New Year's Eves in a row when fate throws her together with the same handsome stranger. A heartbreaking turn of events leaves her swearing off of love, forevers, and the holidays (bah humbug). That is until the mystery man from her past reappears years later. Over a holiday season, Natalie struggles to reconcile the whimsical notions of her past with the practical sensibilities she has worked so hard to develop. With the countdown to a new year looming, she must decide whether or not she is willing to give happily ever after another shot.

In this holiday novella by Laura Chapman, celebrate the holiday season with a love story about second, and fifth, chances and learning to trust your heart.

My Review:

The story takes place over a period of years where the main characters, Natalie and Rob, coincidentally meet at a bar on New Year's Eve.  They don’t have contact the rest of the year as they never exchange phone numbers or even last names.  Both had goals they were working on and a relationship wasn't part of their plans.  One year they decide if they are both single and ready for a relationship on the next New Year’s Eve, they will meet again at the same bar.  But Rob doesn't show up and Natalie ends up heart broken.

A few years later, Natalie and Rob meet again when Natalie is invited by her best friend to have thanksgiving with her boyfriends' family.  It turns out Rob is part of that family.  Natalie and Rob get to know each other better and eventually decide to give love a chance.

This is a sweet novella about letting go of the past and learning to trust again.  I read it in one sitting.  Natalie is a true romantic and when her heart gets broke, I can’t help but feel bad for her.  I enjoyed the story and characters.  The fun ending was perfect for the story.  If you love romantic comedies, you will enjoy this book. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Pet Zone Fly By Spinner Cat Toy - Review

Keep a favorite cat occupied for hours with this charming Pet Zone Fly By Spinner Cat Toy. It is specially designed to provide the real "lifelike" flying action replicating the movement and vibration of an outdoor butterfly. This cat playing toy has spinning action and an electronic sound that stimulates a cat's natural instinct and keeps him or her guessing. It features an easy On/Off switch and requires the use of one AAA battery, which is sold separately.
Pet Zone Fly By Spinner Cat Toy:
  • Spinning action
  • Electronic sound stimulates the cat's natural instincts and keeps cats guessing
  • Cat Tested, Cat Approved
  • Spinning toy for cat has a handy On/Off Switch
  • Requires 1 AAA battery

 Tested by Miss Waikiki 

This was a Christmas gift for all three of my cats.  I purchased it at Walmart.   Miss Kiki was the only one who had any real interest in it.  Kapono and Pele stared at it for a while.  At one point I think Pele wanted to play with it, but it bopped her in the face when she came in for a closer look.  She decided any toy that could get in her face and touch her wasn't worth playing with.   Kiki become very obsessed as she often does with toys and wouldn't leave it alone, even crying for it to be turned back on once I would turn it off.  This girl would play non-stop 24 hours a day if she had the chance. 

Overall, it was a lot of fun for the Keekster, but it didn't hold up very well.  By the next morning, the butterfly was close to losing a wing after Keeks caught and chewed on it.  I realize the butterfly needs to be light weight for the natural fluttering action.  But I think it could have been made with another light weight material that might hold up better to a cat's destructive teeth and claws.  The wire also got bent and the butterfly didn't fly as high as it originally did.   

If you choose to buy this toy for your cat, I would suggest supervised playtime and putting it away when it isn't being played with.  I believe this will prolong the life of it.  Your cats might not be happy at first, but they will thank you in the end. 

Miss Kiki regrets being so rough with the innocent butterfly