Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot

Book Cover and Synopsis:
Marisa St. George is devastated when she is a victim of downsizing and has no choice but to return to the small Texas town where she grew up. Though it's a giant step backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling Rainbow's End resort. The only silver lining is Blake Kendall, a new guest who is making her believe in love at first sight. But will her dreams of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers who he really is?

My source for book: Local Library
My Thoughts:
Though I enjoyed the first book in the series, this one unfortunately wasn't able to live up to its predecessor. The characters didn't have much appeal for me...some of them were minor characters in the previous book and were enjoyable there, but to bring them into a starring role for this book just didn't work for me.

I liked the idea that Blake was an anonymous best selling author, but I didn't care for the fact that the questionable content of his books was such a huge topic. Both sides of the issue seemed overly preachy to me and I honestly didn't want to take either side because it was all just a bit over the top. The scene where Blake ultimately sees the impact his books have on impressionable people was a bit too obvious and felt out of place with the flow of the story.

Marisa's abandonment and anger issues towards her father were very valid and understandable from my point of view, but at the same time her unbending nature starts to get old and ultimately makes things feel a bit repetitive, especially since it affects her relationship with Blake. They are very on again/off again and it got to the point where I didn't really even care if they stayed together or split.

I can usually judge my opinion of a book by how long it takes me to finish it. My favorites I finish in under a week, and others take me longer. This one took me a month because I had so much trouble staying interested. By the halfway point I was tired of it and ready for things to wrap up, and at the three-quarter mark I considered (many times) just quitting because I no longer cared about the characters. For better or worse I pressed on and did finally finish, but it was out of sheer stubbornness. Honestly I'm sure there are many people out there who will enjoy the story, but it just didn't resonate with me at all.

My Rating: 2.5 stars

Friday, September 4, 2015

Review: Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter

Book Cover and Synopsis:
When the Christmas season finds Eden in Summer Harbor, Maine, she's on the run from trouble. Romance is the last thing on her mind.

Riding in a bus in the thickly falling snow, Eden Davis wonders how it ever came to this--fleeing under cover of night with young Micah sleeping fitfully in the seat beside her. When a winter storm strands them in Summer Harbor, Maine, Eden wonders if what might have been the end could be a new beginning.

Beau Callahan is a habitual problem-solver. He's recently left his job with the sheriff's department to take over the family Christmas tree farm to save it from insolvency. But he's flummoxed. During the busiest season of the year, he's shorthanded. Then Eden shows up looking for work, and Beau believes he's been rescued. Competent, smart, and beautiful, Eden's also guarded and quiet. He soon figures out she comes with a boatload of secrets. But Beau can't seem to help himself from falling for her.

As Christmas Eve approaches, Beau discovers he'll do anything to keep Eden safe. But who's going to protect his heart from a woman who can't seem to trust again?

My source for book: Review Copy
My Thoughts:
It's the start of a new series from Denise Hunter, and it's another winner! With Eden and her son, Micah, on the run from people who want to do them harm, this story immediately grabbed my attention and didn't let it go. I thought it might be a bit difficult to keep things straight when they had to assume new names for safety, but surprisingly it wasn't.

I wasn't excited about the fact that Beau already had a girlfriend when Eden entered the picture, as that just makes things sticky, awkward, and can easily toe the right/wrong moral line. But thankfully Beau handled it as well as he could when he realized his feelings were starting to change, and ultimately he did the honorable and right thing. He's a good guy and his law enforcement past made him very knowledgeable and helpful for Eden's situation which I thought was pretty cool!

The storyline of a kid (Micah) who doesn't talk due to a traumatic situation seems a bit cliche, but in this case it's actually done pretty well and it doesn't make any of the scenes awkward. (In truth it actually makes things a bit easier for Eden as she doesn't have to worry about Micah accidentally revealing too much about their situation.) I liked how things came about for Micah to slowing start talking again, and how his first word showed the surprising trust he had placed in a new friend.

Overall, I really enjoyed "Falling Like Snowflakes". The story is set in winter and around Christmas, but it's not necessary to read it at that time of year...though the descriptions of the cold snowy weather--especially at the beginning--were so vivid that for a second I really thought there was snow outside my window! I really liked Eden and Beau, but the rest of the characters were also very good and each was portrayed with lots of individual personality. It's easy to imagine the series switching the focus onto these other characters as it progresses, and I'm anxious to see what happens in their lives. The Summer Harbor series is off to a great start, and I'll definitely be picking up the rest of the books as they release.

My Rating: 5 stars

Thanks to the publisher (Thomas Nelson) for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.