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30 September 2016

Sequins & Snowflakes by Jane Linfoot (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice (today page 56 of the epub) 
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader

‘Just like the perfect wedding cake…beautifully crafted and wrapped in romance’ Heidi Swain, bestselling author of The Cherry Tree Café
The snow is falling around Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, and wedding dress designer Seraphina East is in her cosy studio designing exquisite dresses to make even the most demanding bride’s dreams come true.
Unless the bride is her big sister Alice of course. Saying that the two sisters don’t always see eye to eye is an understatement. Alice hasn’t even asked Sera to design her wedding dress. But when an absent groom and ill-fitting dress threaten to ruin Alice’s happiness let alone her big day, Sera’s determined to give her sister the winter wedding of her dreams – even if that means keeping not one but two irresistibly gorgeous best men under control…
Is Sera going to end up being the maid of dishonour…Or will repairing her frozen relationship with Alice be the icing on the wedding cake?
There’s sequins, snowflakes, and plenty of romance in this gorgeous love story. The perfect romance to curl up by the fire with this Christmas! Perfect for fans of Carole Matthews and Milly Johnson.






I absolutely adored the first Jane Linfoot book set at Brides by the Sea, Cupcakes & Confetti. In fact, I adored it so much so that I teased and rambled about it twice (here and here)! I had even pre-ordered the sequel, Sequins & Snowflakes, but I'm quite lucky and incredibly spoiled in that Jane sent me an advanced read so I wouldn't have to wait as long. 

I really wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did Cupcakes & Confetti but, as it turns out, I may even have loved it a wee bit more!

This time the main focus is on Sera -- the shop's gown designer. She appeared a little bit in passing in the first story so I was already aware of her scattered beach bumness. She's in a bit of a design funk, but has other things to occupy her mind during the holidays. Her sister, Alice, is pretty much the exact opposite in finesse and demeanor and is planning a huge complicated wedding nearby. When Alice gets delayed with work for a few days, she puts Sera in charge of a great deal of the preparations -- with help from her ginormous book of plans and two best men.

Of course, things never work out exactly as planned in spite of big binders of plans. We're left wondering quite a lot of things for a bit:

* Will Sera get her creative groove back?
I'm a beachy girl, and that's where I do my best work. The designs flow much more easily when I'm flat out on the sand. Add in the crippling worry that I'm never going to be good enough again after designing for a celebrity, and I haven't been able to draw a thing. (4%) 

* Will Alice drive Sera and everyone else completely crazy with her demands and moods before the wedding? 

Seriously. The girl is a bit hard to stomach at times:

She sticks out her chin and glares at me. 'If you're going to turn up looking like a beach bunny who lost the wave, I'm going to have to uninvite you.'
'For  fuck's sake, Alice.' What's the obsession with beach bunnies? (36%)
(And that's one of her milder moments!)

*Will there even be a wedding?

'Some days I feel like the wedding is bigger than the relationship. As the wedding grew, it strangled the love. Like I'm marrying a stranger.' (50%)
Then, of course, is probably my favorite wonder of them all:

* Would either best man be the best man for determined-to-stay-single Sera? 

  Best Man 1?
As I close my eyes and lean into his body, suddenly in my head we're running along the shoreline, hand in hand. Jeez. I can't quite believe I'm thinking this. But the more I try to blank it, the worse it gets. We're muffled against the cold, in matching scarfs, dodging frothing breakers as they roll up the beach. Really? (39%) 
Or Best Man 2?

One second we'll be chatting about something completely innocuous, the next it's toxic. Sentences begin by being cosy and safe and then move somewhere excrutiatingly uncomfortable. And all without warning. (45%)
I know ... it seems like it's definitely Best Man 1, right? Well ... Best Man 2 and our dear Sera have a long history and there are times when rekindling what once was doesn't seem like the worst idea ever had ... but I'll let you fill all of that in for yourself when you read the book. I've given myself a five quote pre-50% limit (not counting the meme, of course). Anything beyond that is up to you!

It's not necessary to have read Cupcakes & Confetti before reading Sequins & Snowflakes, but I highly suggest that you do. Not only will you get an introduction to Sera, but little bits and various characters will make so much more sense if you do -- like the history behind Daisy Hill Farms, Poppy and Rafe, Immie and Chas, Jess and Henrietta. It's nice having all of them involved again and seeing how things have changed for various ones between the two books. I'm already going a bit crazy wondering who we'll see the most of in the third book and I'm definitely going a bit crazy knowing that Goodreads says it's not due out until July!

27 September 2016

The Ill-Kept Oath by CC Aune (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is the first paragraph (or two) of a book being read now or in the future and is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. "Teaser Tuesday" from Books and a Beat asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

Two cousins. A dark family secret. A looming rebellion. 
In Regency England, a mysterious inheritance draws Prudence Fairfeather and Lady Josephine Weston out of candlelit ballrooms and into the shadows of insurrection.A newcomer to London society, Prudence longs for the enchantment of love and instead finds real magic in her late mother's ring. But power brings peril, and strange mishaps culminate in an assassin's bullet. Ensnared by the web of a malevolent socialite, Prudence forsakes romance to fight for her freedom.
Josephine fears an eternity of confined country life until rampaging trolls, a gang of drunken vigilantes, and a flirtatious officer bring her all the adventure she craves. Compelled by birthright to take up arms, she embraces her newfound, unladylike abilities to shield her loved ones from harm.
As danger drives a wedge through their friendship, Josephine and Prudence must face their magical legacy and the enemy who will kill to control them.

To say that I loved this book would likely be one of the greatest understatements that I have ever made. I've tried and tried to figure out how to best describe this vibrantly told tale. A Supernatural Bodice-Ripper comes close, although the bodices are ripped mostly in acts of adventure rather than passion. It's like if the Winchester boys met Jane Austen's heroines ... though I have yet to decide if Josephine and Prudence are more Bennet girls or Catherine and Isabella from Northanger Abbey. The Bennet's certainly have the swordplay down (at least as far as Pride & Prejudice vs Zombies would go) but the personalities feel more like my favorite Northanger girls to me so we'll stick with that. I keep picturing Josephine (by far my favorite character -- and also a fan of Northanger Abbey) to be the spitting image of Carey Mulligan (by far one of my favorite actresses ... who, actually, has played a Bennet sister AND Isabella ... hrmph.)

I ramble. I know. It's just so ... ERGH.

But not "ergh" in a dreadful way. It's "ergh" in that there's so much going on in my mind over The Ill-Kept Oath that I feel like I could burst ... and yet I don't seem to be able to put two coherent sentences together because it's all spilling together with one bit toppling over the next.

I could go on and on about how seamlessly the story is put together. Even though the two are separated for the vast majority of the book you never once doubt the bond between Prudence and Josephine thanks to their frequent correspondence. They share everything with each other, including the secret Inheritance passed down from their departed mothers. It's a magical connection -- figuratively and literally. Unfortunately, the literal magic is seldom touched upon until the last quarter or so of the book and I hope beyond hope that this will be rectified in future books. Of course, had this been mostly about the magic with little development of our girls and their potential suitors (it is the Season, after all), I would have been dismayed and hoped for rectification of that.

I'm so difficult sometimes.

What wasn't difficult, however, was losing myself in the pages of the England that CC Aune created and I can't wait until I can do it again!

[Huge thanks to Wise Ink Creative Publishing for making this available through NetGalley!]

23 September 2016

Death By Pumpkin Spice by Alex Erickson (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice (today 56%) 
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader

Amazon Description
Bookstore café owner Krissy Hancock would rather spend Halloween serving pumpkin goodies than wearing costumes with Pine Hills’ wealthiest at Yarborough mansion, especially when the soiree shapes up to be more trick than treat . . .
As if a run-in with an old flame and a failed marriage proposal weren’t enough to horrify Krissy for one night, a woman is found strangled to death in a room filled with ominous jack-o’-lanterns. All signs suggest a crime of passion—but when the hostess’s jewelry disappears, malevolent intentions seem way more likely . . .
With the estate on lockdown and a killer roaming the halls, Krissy must help Officer Paul Dalton investigate each nook, cranny, and guest for answers—while also confronting a few demons of her own. Someone has lots of skeletons in the closet, and Krissy better tread lightly to expose them . . .


Oh Krissy, Krissy, Krissy.

I still can't decide if I adore you or want to swat at you like a gnat ... but I don't seem to be able to stop requesting your stories whenever they pop up on NetGalley.

I flew through the first one, Death by Coffee, and saw some definite promise. I flew through the second one, Death by Tea, as well and wanted to smack you upside the head repeatedly.  The positive sides for that one were that it did fly by quickly and you were called out on your annoyances by other characters at least a couple of times. Somehow by the time Death by Pumpkin Spice takes place most everyone seems to think it's perfectly normal and quite adorable of you to be playing Sherlock (while in a Sherlock Holmes Halloween costume, of course) and, for some reason, I still want to swat at you. 

I really wish that I could pinpoint what it is that I find so irritating. It can't just be the amateur sleuthiness since that's pretty much standard in cozy mysteries and it's one of my favorite genres. Maybe it's the way that you're always putting yourself down over one thing or another just to have anyone within earshot immediately start singing your praises. I know people like that. I don't like people who need constant coddling and you get coddled a lot.

(Thank goodness Buchanan finally made an appearance half way through! He doesn't like you much, either.)

So, dear reader, now that we've covered my little predicament with the main character (who's probably off crying to someone about how horrible she is now that I've been so mean), let's talk a little bit more about the book.

I loved the descriptions of the estate and the party guests. I could picture the spooky decor perfectly and could almost smell the pumpkin treats at the refreshment tables. The mystery, once again, was a little predictable for me but with enough twists to keep it interesting. Now, if we could just replace Krissy with .... hmmmm .... her gay neighbors? One of the nosy old gossipy women? Someone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? 

(sorry ... I got carried away there)

There's a fourth book for the series set to come out in May. Part of me is yelling "run away! run away!" and another part wants to give Krissy one more chance to redeem herself because according to the description already up for it on Goodreads her father will be coming to town and I've been pretty curious about him since the beginning...