Monthly Archives: April 2016

Close to You by Kara Isaac

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What it’s about:
From the publisher:
“A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.

Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.

Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.

When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?”

My thoughts:
I loved Close to You! Close to You has flawed, realistic characters, going through icky, real life-like circumstances. There were many characters, but I didn’t have trouble keeping any of them straight and they were all so different and had so many dimensions; they were delightful! The comedic moments were relatable and so much fun! I was always guessing of what was going to happen next and was consistently surprised with different twists. I kept wondering throughout this, “How in the world is she going to wrap this up? How?” Well, I won’t give away the ending but I will say, it was a sigh-worthy ending that had me smiling and day-dreaming about what a wonderful book this is. Close to You is a fabulous debut and I can’t wait to see what else Kara Isaac writes, so I can devour that too!

I give Close to You 5 out of 5 stars! I love it and recommend it!

I received Close to You in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

About the Author:
Kara Isaac is a romantic comedy writer who lives in beautiful Wellington, New Zealand. Her debut romantic comedy, Close To You, is about a disillusioned academic-turned-tour-guide and an entrepreneur who knows nothing about Tolkien who fall in love on a Tolkien themed tour of New Zealand. When she’s not working her day job as a public servant, chasing around a ninja preschooler and his feisty toddler sister, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connect with readers on her website http://www.karaisaac.com, on Facebook at Kara Isaac – Writer and Twitter @KaraIsaac

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Christmas Star Sapphire by Hallee Bridgeman

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What it’s about:
From the publisher:

“Inspired by the Jewel Series
MADELINE VISCOLLI finds herself on the Gulf shores of Alabama, where she takes part in a graduate program to earn her MBA. On her first day there, she meets JOE WESTCOTT, team leader for a campus ministry. Despite a mutual attraction, Joe’s personal rule of no romance with any student keeps any kind of deep relationship from developing.
Joe has no desire to have a relationship with anyone, ever, anyway. He left a life of luxury and his family’s business behind to live alone on a sailboat and serve in ministry. Then Madeline walks into the auditorium the week school starts and Joe suspects his personal rules might not apply to this graduate student.
That is, until he discovers Madeline is one of the Viscollis, and that her destiny lay in running her father’s massive corporation. Having rejected wealth and all its trappings since childhood, Joe finds himself falling for the vivacious sapphire-eyed beauty. Madeline knows she loves Joe, but is not willing to throw away her destiny of taking over at the helm of Viscolli Enterprises.
A Christmas Eve funeral washes all Joe’s plans away. Will their love succumb to the rising tide caused by their differences in lifestyles, or will raging seas calm and allow them to sail off into the sunset?”
My thoughts:

At one point while reading this book, it really brought me back to my college days. I could feel myself sitting there in the college cafe, right along with the characters. The characters are older as one is a graduate student, so it is not a completely “college feel” type book, but it did bring back memories for me. I think this was a clean romance, that is not overly sweet. It was a little hard for me to relate to these characters, but I still really enjoyed their story. It was easy to read with a few surprises that made the story go fast. I enjoyed Christmas Star Sapphire and recommend it as a great Christmas novella to escape with during the busy holiday season.

I give Christmas Star Sapphire 4 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed this sweet story and recommend it, especially to those looking for a shorter Christmas story. (It is a novella, not a full length novel.)

I received this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

With This Ring, a novella collection by Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings and Melissa Jagears and a GIVEAWAY!!!

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This is a book filled with four novellas by four awesome authors! The tag line on the front cover says, “A novella collection of proposals gone awry”. I asked to review this book because I was making engagement and wedding plans of my own at the time and thought it would be so cool to announce it once it became official by posting this review with a picture of me holding the book while wearing the ring we picked out. I should have listened to the tag line and known something would go awry….

As for the book, the four novellas; this book is so much fun! It was so much fun to see characters that are in their other books too. This is a fun, funny, clean set of romances for the historical lover. I recommend these novellas to those who like to escape with a shorter story and want to have fun while doing that!

Obviously, I am not posting this review with a picture of the ring I picked out. Things went awry. I am deeply hurt and waited many months to post this review because of that, but know that I needed to get the review live and now I need to work on healing from rejection. I know God is bigger than this situation, it it still hurts and I am not getting any younger. I have an amazing daughter, but I still dream of a family some day.

I want to give this gently used book away! To enter to win it (a paperback), please comment with a time when you had a huge hurt/disappointment, or rejection or something like that and explain a little (or however much you feel comfortable telling) and how you healed/or any advice and write your email address in an anti-spam format too. I will email the winner on May 6th! Sorry, must be a U S resident for mailing reasons.

Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

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Many people will devour Like Never Before, it’s that amazing, but I needed to savor it. My heart needed Like Never Before at a slower pace to fully absorb the truths.

I loved how some really tough circumstances were included and how humanly flawed these wonderful characters are. A divorced main character is hard to find in Christian fiction, but I find that the exact opposite in real life, so I applaud Melissa Tagg for including this hard subject.

I laughed within the first chapter and I cried in the first part of the second chapter, so my emotions were immediately involved. I identified with Logan as a single parent and some of the scenes made my heart ache, they hit so close to home. Emotional connection is my favorite part of reading; Like Never Before had me emotionally connected and involved from the first pages, so I loved it!

I found the writing style easy to follow and the pace pretty fast and steady where I always wanted to keep reading, yet I didn’t always know what was coming next. The romance is sweet and clean. This is the second book in the series, and I have read the first and love seeing so many characters again, but I think this story can be read and understood on its own.

I still think I might go visit Maple Valley and all these characters some day, but reality sets in and I realize they aren’t truly real. But they are wonderful and I will re-visit them when I re-read Melissa Tagg’s books. 🙂

I give Like Never Before 5 out of 5 starts! I love it and recommend it!

I received a copy for review purposes, all thoughts are my own and my honest opinion.