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

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Naupaka Blooming: A Hawaiian Reincarnation Romance by J.L. Eck - Review

They weren’t supposed to fall in love. Now dark forces conspire to keep them apart, in this life and the next.

In ancient Hawaii, after an auspicious encounter with a sea turtle, her family guardian spirit animal, young princess Leilani unexpectedly falls in love with Kanoa, a commoner. In spite of being forbidden from each other, the young lovers believe they have the blessings of the gods. But when dark forces intervene their relationship ends in tragedy. Ever after, the naupaka flower, a symbol of their love, mourns Leilani and Kanoa by growing with only half its petals.

Centuries later, Liz finds herself navigating a new life in Hawaii, the land of her ancestors. Between making new friends and romantic pursuits, she learns of the naupaka flower and its tragic love story. She has a strange encounter with a sea turtle and then learns that the sea turtle is her ancestors' guardian spirit animal. And then she finds herself intensely drawn to a local man she’s never met before. Or has she? With persistent feelings of deja vu and vivid dreams about what seems to be a prior life, she wonders. But dark forces gather against Liz now, much as they gathered against Leilani so long ago. Will Liz finally find the love she’s always wanted, or will she -- like Leilani before her -- be caught up in a tragedy as old as the naupaka story itself?

Naupaka Blooming is a contemporary coming-of-age love story set on the beautiful island of Oahu. If you like tropical settings, cultural exploration, a little fantasy mixed in with a little romance and compelling stories linking the past and present, then you’ll love this exotic novel from J.L. Eck.

My Review: 

An engaging tale that had me hooked from the start.

The book opens telling the story of an ancient Hawaiian princess and her forbidden love and how both of their lives end tragically.  It is the author's version of the myth of the naupaka flower.  The rest of the book is about Liz and her adventures living in Paradise and discovering who she really is.

Liz moved to Hawaii after she inherited her great-grandmother's house.  It’s a chance to start a whole new life.  She has no idea the impact Hawaii would have on her.   She meets new friends, starts dating again, struggles to find the perfect job and learns new things about Hawaiian culture.  But what Liz doesn’t understand are the mysterious dreams that she keeps having.  What are her dreams trying to tell her?  Could they be clues from a past life?

After a near death experience, Liz finally gets answers to her dreams.  She learns who she really is and the man she is dating is the final piece of the puzzle.

I admit the cover grabbed my attention first, but the premise really made me want to read it.  I love anything to do with Hawaii and it’s legends. The scenes were easy to picture with all of the descriptions.  It brought back memories of my trips with the mentions of different locations.  I couldn't help but be pulled towards these characters and into their lives.  The writer has a way with words making this story very addictive and one that I won't forget for a long time.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bought to Carry His Heir by Jane Porter - Review

Held captive… 
When Georgia Nielson is asked to be the surrogate for an enigmatic tycoon, she can't afford to say no. Before she realizes that she's struck a deal with the devil, she's trapped on his isolated Greek island, with no escape from the brooding master who stalks its shores!

Carrying his child! 
Scarred by the loss of his wife, Nikos Panos's future rests on leaving behind a legacy. But Georgia's constant presence threatens to unleash the powerful hunger he's kept caged for so long. If he wants defiant Georgia to submit, he must confront the demons that haunt him…

My Review:

In order to make ends meet and to put her sister through college, Georgia Nielsen decided to become a surrogate for a Greek tycoon.  The one thing Georgia didn't expect was to have to spend the last three and a half months of her pregnancy living on an isolated island with the reclusive Nikos Panos.  She looked forward to the day the baby was born and she could go back to her medical studies and life as she knew it.

Nikos was desperate to be a father and to have an heir to carry on the Panos name.  But he didn't need or want a wife.  He had sworn off women after his disastrous first marriage.  Nikos had selected Georgia from thousands of possible surrogates.  She met every requirement he was looking for. 

When Nikos first saw Georgia step off the plane, his first reaction was how much she looked like his late wife Elsa.  But Georgia was far from being like Elsa.  She had her own mind and spoke up for what she believed in.  Nikos knew he would have a hard time resisting Georgia while she was staying with him.  He just needed to make it through the next few months and then he would have his son and Georgia would be on her way back to America.

At first Georgia and Nikos would butt heads in every conversation or situation.  Both were both very strong willed.  This made their passion extremely intense once they gave in to it.  This book was a perfect escape with the plot, setting, and great writing.  When I got to the end of the book, I wasn't ready to let go of Georgia and Nikos yet.  I really liked these characters.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Close Encounters of the Furred Kind by Tom Cox - Review

Have you ever moved house, over a distance of 350 miles, with four cats? If you haven't, and are thinking about it, I'll give you some advice: don't.

If you really must move, try to get the cats to arrange their own transport. Focus on yourself instead. You'll have plenty to think about as it is, and the cats will only get in the way with their sarcasm and hairballs. I moved from Norfolk to Devon with four cats and it felt like such an impossible ordeal, part of me believes that I actually died somewhere along the way and am now living in some kind of afterlife: very much like real life, but a little slower moving, and with slightly clearer air. "That's just the West Country," I've been told, but I can't be 100% certain.

My Review:

Not only do Tom Cox and Gemma wish to find the perfect home for themselves, they have four cats that they want to be sure will be happy as well.  The ups and downs of house hunting from a distance and moving are told in Tom’s witty style.  While reading, I found myself nervous and worrying just like they were.  It was just like being there with them.  I enjoyed learning about each of their cats and their personalities.  Tom’s dad comes across larger than life with the capital letters he writes him in and his wisdom is something you don’t want to miss. 

The book is broken up into little sections like the conversations with cats and their horoscopes.  To me they felt like little bonuses along with the story.  There are also lots of cat pictures to enjoy as you read.  Any cat lover will really enjoy this book.  

Thank you St. Martin's Press for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!  

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Away in Montana (Paradise Valley Ranch Book 1) by Jane Porter - Review

Beautiful, spirited heiress McKenna Frasier–daughter to one of the Butte Copper Kings—vowed eternal love to Sinclair Douglas before she left for college and an introduction to society. Four years in New York and travel abroad have opened her eyes, making her realize she wanted more than marriage and a simple Montana life. But when McKenna commits an unforgivable transgression and destroys her reputation, her dreams are shattered and she is forced to return to Montana disgraced, disowned and unmarriageable.

Sinclair Douglas left Butte to escape the Frasier power and Frasier name, but suddenly all anyone talks about in Marietta is scandalous McKenna Douglas, Paradise Valley’s new teacher. Sin doesn’t want to know about McKenna anymore. He doesn’t want to have to help her, and he sure as hell doesn’t want to love her. But McKenna has lived so long in his heart that it’s her home–even if she doesn’t deserve to be there.

But if there is one man who knows how to rebuild a life when all dreams have been smashed, it’s fierce, uncompromising Sinclair Douglas. Can Sinclair and McKenna heal enough to find their own Christmas miracle, and one more chance at love?

Paradise Valley Ranch series
Book 1: Away in Montana
Book 2: Married in Montana - coming soon - June 2017
Book 3: Home in Montana - coming soon - Winter 2018

My review:

If you have ever wondered about Montana Born’s fictional town of Marietta before it became the modern day Marietta we all know and love, this is the book for you.

The year is 1889 and McKenna Frasier has returned to Montana after a scandal left her the disgrace of New York society.  Her father has disowned her too.   She is starting her life over as a school teacher and living in a modest cabin without the luxuries she was accustomed to.  She has avoided Sinclair Douglas, her first love, since returning.  She couldn’t face him after the mistakes she made while living in New York.  But he was always in the back of her mind as her one true love. 

Sinclair has worked hard for everything he has, starting as a teenager working in the mines that McKenna’s father owned.  Sinclair now owns a large ranch with cattle and making a good living for himself.  The only things missing in his life are a wife and children.  When Sinclair sees McKenna at The Bramble’s Halloween party, he has to talk to her.  He never stopped loving her.  But his heart was broken by the way she left him waiting for her return while she studied, traveled and eventually falling in love with someone else.  Even after all of that, Sinclair still can’t help but want McKenna to be his wife.  But his mother and sister have already picked out a woman for him, Ellie Burnett, the daughter of a Texas cattle rancher.  Will Sinclair be able to convince McKenna that they are meant to be together or will he give in and ask Ellie to marry him?

The writing in this book is very impressive.  I could tell each scene was well thought out and researched.  The characters and their backgrounds were interesting and I enjoyed reading about the ancestors of the modern day Marietta characters that I have come to know so much about.  This is a great kick-off to a new series.   


Friday, December 2, 2016

Montana Secret Santa (Love at the Chocolate Shop #3) by Debra Salonen - Review

Ad exec Krista Martin, while feeling more Grinch than elf, still jumps at the chance to co-chair Marietta’s Secret Santa Society. Why not? Especially since brilliant, attractive, and innovative tech wunderkind Jonah Andrews has agreed to help. He’s well connected and Krista’s hoping for some advice on rebooting her career.

Jonah knows Krista has a not-so-hidden agenda, but sparring with her over cocoa at their Secret Santa meetings is the most fun he’s had since returning to his old hometown. Krista may come across as all business, but Jonah’s positive he’s glimpsed a little girl inside her who wants to believe in Santa… and in love.

My Review:

A sweet heart-felt story with a great message.

Krista Martin is forced into helping Marietta’s Secret Santa Society when her business partner ends up pregnant and is told by her doctor that she needs more rest.  Krista wasn’t in the Christmas spirit this year but when she found out Jonah Andrews, Marietta’s own tech genius turned millionaire, was going to be co-chairing with her, she figured she might be able to get a little free business advice from him.

Jonah didn’t have volunteering in his plans when he returned to Marietta, he thought he was just going to house sit and take care of his parents dogs while they were away in Florida.  But when he finds out the Secret Santa Society needs his help and fresh ideas, he decides why not.  It is for a good cause after all. 

Together Krista and Jonah come up with plans to help families in need and bring them some happiness during Christmas.  They also find themselves falling in love even though they both know the holiday season is not a good time to begin a relationship. 

The detailed writing about the main characters as well as catching up with characters from previous books, makes this book one not to be missed.  Everything is written out so well, you can picture being there, sipping hot cocoa and reminiscing with old (and new) friends.  The mischievous dogs were a fun addition to the story too. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Texan's One-Night Standoff (Dynasties: The Newports) by Charlene Sands - Review

One night leads to a pregnancy bombshell! Only from USA TODAY bestselling author Charlene Sands. 

Chicago real estate hotshot Brooks Newport is on a quest to find his true father. But tracking him to a small Texas town puts Brooks on a collision course with horse trainer Ruby Lopez. After a no-strings-attached night together, he's on his way.

When Brooks finally meets the father he never knew, he must come to grips with the past—and the very shocking present. Because Ruby works for the man. And she has a secret of her own—not only is Brooks finding his father, he's about to become one!

The Texan's One-Night Standoff is part of the Dynasties: The Newports series.

My Review:

Brooks Newport had come to Cool Springs, Texas to meet his biological father Beau Preston.  His first night in Texas turns out to be one that he wouldn’t be able to forget.  Brooks meets a hot Latina in a bar and they end up back at his hotel room.  They both agreed it would only be a one night thing.   The next day when Brooks runs into Ruby at Look Away Ranch, he knew things would be going much further than just one night.  But Ruby works for Beau and he considers her part of the family, meaning she should be off limits. 

Ruby Lopez and her boyfriend had broken up six months ago.  When she meets Brooks at the C’mon Inn, she decides it was finally time to move on, not with a full blown romance, but a one nighter would fulfill her needs. 

While Brooks gets to know his father, he also gets to know Ruby even better.  Their secret get togethers bring out feelings they were both trying to deny.  But when Ruby’s ex-boyfriend, Trace, shows back up in Cool Springs, things get a bit more complicated. 

I really liked this book.  Ruby and Brooks had great chemistry.  They were two opposites who brought out the best in each other.  I also enjoyed the other characters in the book.  They all worked well together to make a memorable story.  The book moved along really quickly and every page brought something new and exciting.

Kitty Smile