Thursday, December 30, 2010

Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

Product Details
Pub. Date: September 2010
Publisher: Mira
Format: Hardcover , 253pp
ISBN-13: 9780778328193
ISBN: 0778328198

This Christmas, Emily Merkle (call her Mrs. Miracle!) is working in the toy department at Finley's, the last family-owned department store in New York City. And her boss is none other than…Jake Finley, the owner's son.

For Jake, holiday memories of brightly wrapped gifts, decorated trees and family were destroyed in a Christmas Eve tragedy years before. Now Christmas means just one thing to him—and to his father. Profit. Because they need a Christmas miracle to keep the business afloat.

Holly Larson needs a miracle, too. She wants to give her eight-year-old nephew, Gabe, the holiday he deserves. Holly's widowed brother is in the army and won't be home for Christmas, but at least she can get Gabe that toy robot from Finley's, the one gift he desperately wants. If she can figure out how to afford it…

Fortunately, it's Mrs. Miracle to the rescue. Next to making children happy, she likes nothing better than helping others—and that includes doing a bit of matchmaking!

This Christmas will be different. For all of them.

My thoughts:
I love Debbie Macomber’s Christmas hardcovers. I look forward to them every year. They always leave me feeling uplifted and hopeful and they usually only take a day or two to read. Years ago I read the first book with Mrs. Miracle but the details are fuzzy now. Last Christmas I watched the Hallmark Channel movie though and enjoyed it. This year I saw there was another movie and I watched it when I was on TV. Just last week I got a copy of the book and I started it on Christmas Day, as a present to myself, not the book but the chance to sit and read. I enjoyed the book more than the movie. I didn’t dislike the movie, but I am glad that I saw it first. The book had quite a few changes, but in a good way.

I liked the references to Mrs. Miracle’s friends Shirley, Goodness and Mercy who are the angels that appear in a number of other books. Those stories are always so encouraging to read. This was the perfect read for this time of the year when it is so easy to get bogged down by the shopping, wrapping, baking and buying. To see the real reason for the holiday and to feel hope for the coming days no matter how things seem right this moment.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick


Nora Grey is trying her best to do well in a summer school chemistry class, find a part-time job, and keep up with a group of dubious friends. Adding to this frenzy of activity is a difficult relationship with Patch, her guardian angel, the unsolved mystery of her father's brutal murder, and an often-absent mother. Interwoven into the complications of Nora's life is the escalating conflict between a band of fallen angels and their Nephilim hosts, which may soon take its toll on all of mankind. This sequel relies on the reader having knowledge of its predecessor, Hush, Hush (Simon & Schuster, 2009 / VOYA December 2009). Unfortunately a short recap does not appear until the middle of the book. Nora, the story's narrator, is a walking contradiction. She is an outstanding student who continues act foolishly. She is a self-professed good girl who has no trouble using a fake identification card, dressing provocatively, visiting shady pool halls, and slugging people. She steals her nemesis's diary, but is too ethical to read it. She trusts bad-boy Patch with her life (even though he tried to kill her in the prequel), but not with another girl. Although Nora's sensual dream sequences advance the story and add romance while keeping her innocent, they come across as contrived insertions. More information about the paranormal world the archangels inhabit may have made up for an overly long story with unlikable characters, a convoluted time frame, and contrived plot twists.

Product Details
Pub. Date: October 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Format: Hardcover , 427pp
ISBN-13: 9781416989431
ISBN: 1416989439

My thoughts:
I ordered this book for myself a few months ago but just got a chance to read it now. I started it, then decided I needed to reread hush, hush first since it had been over a year since I had read it. Even without rereading the first book I would have been fine, anything that you needed to know from the first book was reviewed briefly, but I was still glad to have had it all fresh in my mind.

I like both Nora and Patch, but I am not totally sure I buy their relationship. Even in the first one, which I loved the first time I read, I kind of wondered upon rereading if they really had a relationship as such. This time they are happy to begin the story and then life and angels get in the way and complicate matters. That said, this book drew me in and I read it in two days. I just had to keep going to find out what was going to happen next. Fitzpatrick does a great job pulling the reader in and keeping the reader engaged and needing to know what will happen next. I can see this being popular with young adults, who after all are the intended audience for the book. I read the first book last summer as part of an advance readers group. I mentally noted when the second book was coming out at that time because I knew I wanted to read more about Nora and Patch.

I still have issues about Nora being left alone so much by her mother especially as more and more about her mother and her family is revealed throughout the story. Also, I questioned the need for her father to have died at all. His death wasn’t covered very much in the first book, but many more details are revealed in this book. The flashback to him at the beginning of the book was helpful in showing the kind of man he was before his death.

This is a book I would recommend to readers regardless of whether or not they had read the first book.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Stitch Before Dying by Anne Canadeo

Product Description
Stitching it together . . .
The Black Sheep Knitters: a fivesome with a knack for knitting—and for solving crimes.

hen Maggie Messina, owner of the Black Sheep Knitting Shop, is invited to give knitting workshops at a Berkshires spa resort, she manages to negotiate a cottage that fits all five of the Black Sheep for what promises to be a weekend of knitting bliss. But while the friends are expert at counting stitches, they haven’t counted on murder.

Guests and staff at the Crystal Lake Inn are as varied as a mixed bag of yarn, but most colorful is certainly the owner, charismatic self-help guru and former psychiatrist Dr. Max Flemming. The doctor may have told all in a revealing autobiography, but from his ex-wife to the widow of his former business partner—both employees at the inn—Max seems mired in shad­ows from his past. And when a killer strikes during a mountaintop retreat, the Black Sheep wonder what the good doctor might be hiding.

The police seem to be following the wrong thread. But while Maggie’s workshops have given the knitters a unique view of the tensions at the little inn, can they make sense of a crime that is as complexly stranded as a Fair Isle sweater? When the killer murders a second time, the Black Sheep won­der if they’ve dropped a stitch and put themselves in mortal danger. . . .

Product Details
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Gallery; Original edition (December 28, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1439191395
ISBN-13: 978-1439191392
Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches

My thoughts:

This is the third book in Canadeo's Black Sheep Knitting mystery series. While I have not read the first book, I did read book number two when it was published last year. It was my first introduction to the idea of a cozy mystery. Growing up I read mysteries almost exclusively for a while, things like Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon. Later I moved on to Barbara Michaels and Phylis Whitney. In college I started reading more romances and fell away from mysteries. Since then I have jumped around but never fully got back into mysteries. This book, and the previous ones, were such fun reads that I plan to look for more mysteries to add to my TBR stack of books.

In this installment, Maggie, the owner of the Black Sheep Knitting Store, has been invited to a new age spa to teach some knitting courses. She invites her friends to come with her for a weekend away to relax and be pampered. While two members are on a camping retreat a fellow guest is found dead. When his death is ruled a murder things at the Inn change. Everyone is jumpy and worried and the police aren’t allowing anyone to check out or leave until they are finished with questioning. A few possible suspects arise within the assortment of characters staying and working at the Inn. As with the last book, Maggie and her friends do some sleuthing of their own (grown=p Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon style).

Different clues point to different guests and the book moves along at a nice pace. These felt like friends I was checking in with again. It made me want to learn to knit, just as the last one did, and I envied this group of women who were able to make time for each other on a regular basis even in the busyness of their daily lives, jobs and families. I think sometimes we underestimate the need to have a close relationship with our friends.

This was an enjoyable read that I would recommend to readers of all genres. Sit with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and immerse yourself in this group of friends.