Novel Reaction wants to wish all of you a Happy Valentine’s Day! Hopefully your day is filled with beautiful flowers, fabulous chocolates, and amazingly good novels! Mr. Novel Reaction will be traveling so we will be celebrating another night (okay, confession here, we started going out to dinner on another night six years ago because I get irritated having to wait a ridiculously long time for a table and at the time we were living in Utah where apparently they hadn’t heard of the concept of reservations) so I will be spending the evening curling up with a good book with the Olympics playing in the background (I am an Olympic junkie, I don’t watch that much television until the Olympics are on and then I am glued for the full 16 days). So what will you be doing to celebrate the day?
I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas and received lots of new books to read. Sadly, I don’t receive books as gifts any more. Is that a gasp I hear from you?! Well, I used to receive books, mostly from my mother who has since passed away but now I get the same statement from everyone “I don’t know what you have already read so I got you a gift card to buy books.” Don’t get me wrong, I adore receiving gift cards so I can make my ridiculous to-be-read pile on my Kindle even larger. There is something so delicious about being able to log on and buy two or three books at a time without feeling guilty (okay, so I don’t really feel guilty I just worry the hubby is going to get annoyed and give that “you are ridiculous Jessica and have a serious problem that I will put up with for the rest of our marriage” look). Looking at the pretty new unread books on the Kindle just makes me warm and fuzzy all over but, this is a big but, it is not the same as receiving a book as a gift. Receiving a book as a gift is a multi-layer experience for me, first, there is knowing it is a wrapped book in my hands, a book that I have no idea what it is, all wrapped in shiny paper, tempting me to figure out what it is. Second, there is receiving a book from someone else, knowing that either they loved it and care enough about me to share that love with me or it is a book they think I will enjoy. I think sharing a book is a very personal event, it is almost like sharing your baby because what if they don’t like it? What if they criticize your baby? I realize that it can be tough to share and even harder to share ebooks (although ebook providers have made this easy but it can be intimidating to the non-techie). While I love receiving print books either as a gift or in the mail I do prefer reading ebooks, especially now that I have a little one, it is SOOO much easier to balance my kindle in my hand while rocking him or feeding him (I don’t know how all you mommies did it before ebooks). I know that sounds like a problem, here I am complaining about not receiving print books and yet I am going off about preferring to read ebooks, it is a problem but I have decided I am okay with this dichotomy in my life.
As a result of my loving receiving books I have become the “book” aunt to my nieces and nephews, they know that any gift they receive from me will be a book I loved when I was their age. I LOVE discussing books with them, what did they love, what did they hate, what impacted them, children are so great about telling you exactly what they think about the book in such a free way that I am never offended if they don’t like the book I gave them. This year was fun for me because I got to pick out books for my new little guy. I realize that four months old is a little young for some books but I knew he was going to receive toys and clothes from the grandparents so I decided that most of the gifts from the hubby and me were going to be books. It was great! I loved mentally debating with myself over the merits of the Llama Llama series verses The Brown Bear finally I decided to go with some of my favorite books from when I was a child (and my siblings favorite, not a single title remains at my parents’ house, all of them mysteriously walking out the door after one of us had come to visit). The author and illustrator of these great books is Bill Peet, an animator at Disney for numerous years, his illustrations are engaging but it is his use of words and imagination that I love. He didn’t dumb books down for children but instead used all the fabulous words available to him to create fabulous stories, exciting adventures and heartwarming messages. I can’t wait to start sharing them with my little guy (and I may have read all of them before wrapping them, deliciously savoring each one like a long lost friend). I hope your Christmas was filled with lovely books and fabulous words.
There is something about the holidays that always makes me eagerly read Christmas anthologies (I think it has something to do with all the Zebra Regency Christmas Kittens anthologies I devoured as a teenager). Not only are they fun quick reads, they are a great way to find new authors without feeling like you are wasting too much time on a novel you may not like. I looked forward to A Christmas to Remember because it contained A Lucky Harbor story by Jill Shalvis and a Last Chance story by Hope Ramsay, both authors I have reviewed and enjoyed in the past.
Dream a Little Dream by Jill Shalvis, Melissa has always kept everyone at a distance excerpt her friend with benefits Ian. Ian has decided he wants something more, and it is the season of miracles…
Every Year by Kristen Ashley, the Cage brothers have never really celebrated Christmas, but this year they are about to get to experience a true Christmas celebration with Tabby and her family.
Silent Night by Hope Ramsay, single mother Maryanne hopes to start over in a town called Last Chance. But nothing goes as planned, can Maryanne find the Christmas miracle she is searching for?
Have Yourself A Messy Little Christmas by Molly Cannon, Lincoln is a messy confirmed bachelor whose mother hires him a professional organizer who shows up dressed as Mrs. Clause, changing his life forever.
A Family for Christmas by Marilyn Pappano, War widow and single mother doesn’t mind spending Christmas alone but when a new doctor shows up in town, will she need to rethink her plans, for the better?!
A contemporary anthology, A Christmas to Remember is a fun quick read that is perfect to get anyone in the mood for Christmas. I particularly liked Silent Night by Hope Ramsay. Maryanne has only one good memory and it is of a Christmas spent when she was six at her grandfather’s farm. Maryanne hopes that she can bring that same joy into the life of her son by starting over in Last Chance but things don’t go as planned when her car breaks down several miles outside of Last Chance. Hope Ramsay’s characters are always charmingly flawed and her writing has a warmth that is a perfect fit for a Christmas story.
Be aware that there is some use of the “F” word in one of the stories.
Title: A Christmas To Remember
Page Nos.: 224
Publisher: Forever Yours
Release Date: December 3, 2013
Available for purchase: Amazon
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley but was not required to provide a review and it did not impact my review in any way.
There are many things that I am grateful for, too many to post all of them here. But I do want to say how grateful I am for the written word, its ability to inspire and uplift, to make laugh, but most especially its ability to take me to far off places and times, allowing me to experience the world through new eyes. I am grateful for authors who are willing to spend hours slaving away to write their story and then having the courage to take that baby (the novel) and send it out into the world so people like me dissect it, stating what we like and don’t like. I am also grateful to have an ereader to keep all the many novels in (never more so then now that I have a little one, it is SOOO much easier to read one-handed with my Kindle then to try and read a paperback novel while holding him, how did you moms do it before ereaders?). Finally, I am grateful for all of you readers of my little site, without you I wouldn’t be able to do what I do (which is to discuss all things bookish). So thank you for reading and for being patient for the last year while I dealt with life stuff and not giving up on me.
From all of us here at Novel Reaction we wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!
To all my fellow Americans, Happy 4th of July! I love the 4th of July, the Patriotism that is shown warms my heart. This year I started thinking about books that take place during the American Revolution and I thought I would share some with you that either I have read or I plan on reading.
In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life-journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot — “the colossus of independence,” as Thomas Jefferson called him — who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution; who rose to become the second President of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; who was learned beyond all but a few and regarded by some as “out of his senses”; and whose marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the moving love stories in American history.
Like his masterly, Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Truman, David McCullough’s John Adams has the sweep and vitality of a great novel. It is both a riveting portrait of an abundantly human man and a vivid evocation of his time, much of it drawn from an outstanding collection of Adams family letters and diaries. In particular, the more than one thousand surviving letters between John and Abigail Adams, nearly half of which have never been published, provide extraordinary access to their private lives and make it possible to know John Adams as no other major American of his founding era.
As he has with stunning effect in his previous books, McCullough tells the story from within — from the point of view of the amazing eighteenth century and of those who, caught up in events, had no sure way of knowing how things would turn out. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, the British spy Edward Bancroft, Madame Lafayette and Jefferson’s Paris “interest” Maria Cosway, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, the scandalmonger James Callender, Sally Hemings, John Marshall, Talleyrand, and Aaron Burr all figure in this panoramic chronicle, as does, importantly, John Quincy Adams, the adored son whom Adams would live to see become President.
Crucial to the story, as it was to history, is the relationship between Adams and Jefferson, born opposites — one a Massachusetts farmer’s son, the other a Virginia aristocrat and slaveholder, one short and stout, the other tall and spare. Adams embraced conflict; Jefferson avoided it. Adams had great humor; Jefferson, very little. But they were alike in their devotion to their country.
At first they were ardent co-revolutionaries, then fellow diplomats and close friends. With the advent of the two political parties, they became archrivals, even enemies, in the intense struggle for the presidency in 1800, perhaps the most vicious election in history. Then, amazingly, they became friends again, and ultimately, incredibly, they died on the same day — their day of days — July 4, in the year 1826.
Much about John Adams’s life will come as a surprise to many readers. His courageous voyage on the frigate Boston in the winter of 1778 and his later trek over the Pyrenees are exploits that few would have dared and that few readers will ever forget.
It is a life encompassing a huge arc — Adams lived longer than any president. The story ranges from the Boston Massacre to Philadelphia in 1776 to the Versailles of Louis XVI, from Spain to Amsterdam, from the Court of St. James’s, where Adams was the first American to stand before King George III as a representative of the new nation, to the raw, half-finished Capital by the Potomac, where Adams was the first President to occupy the White House.
This is history on a grand scale — a book about politics and war and social issues, but also about human nature, love, religious faith, virtue, ambition, friendship and betrayal, and the far-reaching consequences of noble ideas. Above all, John Adams is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.
The portrait of the beautiful, elegant young woman on the cover of this excellent biography will stun anyone used to seeing pictures of Martha Washington as a white-haired, matronly woman. And in a richly woven tapestry of social history and biography, historian Brady re-creates the 18th-century world of wealthy Virginia planters into which the elegant Martha, née Dandridge, was born and the “joyful duet” of her marriage to America’s first president. Though born to wealth, Martha (1731–1802) was well schooled in domestic skills—from killing and plucking fowl to preserving fruits and vegetables— and the expected social graces. Just before she turned 19, Martha married Daniel Custis—whose father initially opposed the union, but Martha managed to persuade him otherwise—and moved to his large plantation, where she raised their two children until Custis’s death in 1757. Two years later, as the owner of Custis’s vast estate, she married George Washington and became the wife of a young colonel whose ambitions and military and political ingenuity catapulted him into the leadership of the colonies and later the republic. Devoted to George, Martha accompanied him on his sojourns during the Revolutionary War, and her considerable social skills were crucial in helping her husband navigate the difficult political waters of the presidency. Brady’s splendid biography offers a compelling new portrait of this passionate, committed founding mother who has unjustly been obscured by others, such as Abigail Adams. (June 27)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Publishers Weekly
Duty and career—Captain Thomas Moberly of His Majesty’s Navy prizes them above all. So why is he tempted to relinquish both for Dinah Templeton? Though Dinah seems sweet and charming, the difference in station between an East Florida belle and the son of an earl is too marked to ignore. And all other obstacles pale with the discovery that Dinah’s brother James is not what he seems….A war is brewing on the colonies’ horizon, and James has chosen his side—in opposition to the country Thomas has sworn to defend. But what of Dinah? Where does her heart truly lie—with her family, or with the man she claims to love?
I hope your day is filled with friends, fireworks and the chance to get some reading in. Here in Phoenix I will trying to stay cool in this ridiculous heat wave that we have been having. To give you an idea of how warm it has been, I went swimming in my pool this morning at 7:00 a.m. and it was already 85 degrees outside.