Monday, December 21, 2015

Catching up with my Christmas Reading Challenge

These are the Christmas novels I have read so far this month: 




Yes! They all got 5 stars. Melody Carlson writes the best Christmas stories and "The First Christmas Carol" was a unique blend of the story of Jesus' birth and "A Christmas Carol" - very good. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fa La La Films: Candace Cameron Bure Night! November 28th

Tonight, I only watched one Christmas movie. This one -- 

A Christmas Detour

Two New York City-bound travelers find themselves inextricably linked when a snowstorm reroutes them to an airport hotel in Buffalo. Ever the eternal optimist and hopeless romantic, Paige desperately needs to find a way back home to meet her fiancee’s parents before her forthcoming wedding. And it’s somehow up to fellow passenger Dylan MacKenzie, who is permanently soured on romance following a recent heartbreak. Yet Dylan somehow rises to the occasion to become Paige’s chivalrous helpmate. The pair are joined on this misadventure by an older couple named Frank and Maxine trying to get to Connecticut. As their madcap journey ensues, our foursome will find plenty of surprises in store. 

My ratings are getting rather boring - mostly 5 stars - but I love Christmas movies!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fa La La La Films - November 27

Royal Movies tonight!

Crown for Christmas

After getting fired from her job as a maid at a ritzy New York City hotel, Allie reluctantly accepts a temp gig as the governess to a young girl who is part of a powerful family in Europe that lives in an actual castle. After arriving, Allie learns the girl is named Princess Theodora and her father is Maximillian, the King of Winshire. The King informs Allie that the Princess has a tendency to terrorize authority figures, a predilection that has grown worse since her mother’s death. Yet governess and Princess wind up hitting it off while at the same time a spark forms between Allie and Max. However, Countess Celia is expecting to wed the King. Will Max take a stand for his feelings for Allie and make it truly a merry Christmas for all (or at least, most)?

I've seen this one before, but I was happy to watch it again!

A Princess<br /> for Christmas<br />

When Jules Daly's sister and brother-in-law are tragically killed in an accident, July Daly (Katie McGrath) becomes guardian to her young niece, Maddie, and nephew, Milo. On top of balancing the daily hysteria of becoming an overnight parent, Jules was recently laid off at work, her car is on the fritz, and the kids' shenanigans have caused a dozen nannies to flee.

When an ominous knock on the door comes late one evening, Jules wonders, what now? At the door is Paisley Winterbottom (Miles Richardson), a proper English butler, with a curious invitation: a Christmas holiday with grandfather, Edward (Roger Moore), the Duke of Castlebury Hall, who was absent from the kids' lives, but wants to reconnect out of love for his late son. Jules initially wants to decline the trip, but her eventual acceptance makes for a magical Christmas season for everyone.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fa La La La Movies - November 26th

Thanksgiving Evening
Video from 12 Gifts of Christmas

12 Gifts of Christmas 
When Anna, an unemployed painter, is unable to make ends meet, she is hired to become a personal Christmas shopper for Marc, an uptight corporate exec. As they work together, Marc learns that Christmas giving has less to do with the amount of money spent and more to do with the importance of the gift, while Anna discovers she might find success as an artist in a way she never expected. Stars Katrina Law, Aaron O'Connell and Donna Mills.

Video from Northpole: Open for Christmas
When Mackenzie Reed inherits her beloved aunt’s once-majestic hotel, she decides the sensible thing to do is sell it before Christmas. But fixing up the rundown place while managing the hotel staff (including the handyman and his kids) and dealing with demanding guests is more challenging than she had anticipated. That’s when the magic of Christmas intervenes. Mackenzie gets some unexpected help as Clementine and a group of Elves arrive on a special mission from Santa to repair the hotel and at the same time help her to rediscover some hidden talents along with the true meaning of Christmas.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Christmas Reading

I've started my Christmas Reading Challenge. This week so far I have read two books: 


The Merry Little Christmas Project which helps you figure out how to simplify Christmas for your family and make it meaningful. I gave this book 5 stars. It was well-written and I may even try some of its suggestions!

The other book that I just finished today is: 


When I finished this book, I quickly looked up others in this series. It was a great story of a businessman who faced a life-threatening illness which made him take a new look at his life and a widow with a child who has a serious health issue who had just lost the job that would have been her future. It's predictable, yes. There is a big loving family, a great Christmas celebration, snow and sleigh rides and everything. A perfect Christmas novel. I loved it. 5 stars for this one!

Let's see, what shall I read next? Oh!!! It's Thanksgiving! I can start watching Christmas movies! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

6th Annual Christmas Reading Challenge!

It's here! It's here! The 6th Annual Christmas Reading Challenge is finally beginning! It is sponsored by True Christmas Spirit and runs from November 23, 2015 through January 6, 2016. 

Read Christmas novels, books about Christmas lore, a book of Christmas short stories or poems, books about Christmas crafts, and children's Christmas books!  Here are the levels: 
 --Candy Cane:  read 1 book
 --Mistletoe:  read 2-4 books
 --Christmas Tree:  read 5 or 6 books (this is the fanatic level...LOL!)
          Additional levels:
 --Fa La La La Films:  watch a bunch or a few Christmas's up to you!
 --Visions of Sugar Plums:  read books with your children this season and share what you read
*the additional levels are optional, you still must complete one of the main reading levels above

I will be trying for the Christmas Tree level - yes, I am a fanatic! I will also be watching lots of Christmas movies starting on Thanksgiving. It is hard, but I am determined to wait until Thanksgiving to give in to the Christmas movies. 

If you love Christmas as much as we do, go over to True Christmas Spirit and sign up for the challenge! 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Your Dream Library

I have been asked to do a post about my list of books I would have in my personal Dream Library. I am going to list a couple of my favorites here - this isn't a complete list, these are just ones I am thinking of right now as I am posting this. 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo 
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Which books would you put in your Dream Library? 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Title:  We Were Liars
Author:  E. Lockhart
Kindle Edition:  242 pages
Published:  May 13, 2014 by Delacorte Press
Literary Awards:  Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee (2015), The Inky Awards Nominee for Silver Inky (2015), Bookworm Best Award for Best Fiction (2014)

from Goodreads: 

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Alleluialu's Review:

This book is my book club's July selection. We don't usually read young adult books, but I am very glad I read this one. It moves very quickly and there is a big twist I didn't see coming. I usually can see the foreshadowing, but this time it was well-disguised. Young adults will love this book. I am not a young adult, though, and I liked it very much. So there you go. 

I gave this selection 5 stars! It was very, very good! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Book Blogger Hop - July 3 to July 9, 2015 - hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer

Book Blogger Hop

I haven't participated in a Book Blogger Hop for a while, but I always enjoyed them. You get to visit other book blogs and see what other people are reading. There is also a question to answer each week. Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer has taken over the reins to this Book Blogger Hop so the fun can continue! 

Here is the prompt for the week of July 3 to July 9: 

Do you lend out your books to friends and family? 

Think of YOUR answer and write a comment to this post. Then go to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer and click on one or more of the other blogs listed to see what they say. 

Here is my answer: 

I gladly lend out my books to friends and family. Last month, I took our book club selection over to our library and offered it to anyone who wanted to read it. I told them I didn't need it back. I have enough books on my TBR shelf, I don't need another bookshelf of books I have already read, although I do keep a few if they are very special. 

High Summer Read-a-Thon by Seasons of Reading

Seasons of Reading

It's summer! Time to relax and read, and read, and read. Seasons of Reading is sponsoring the High Summer Read-a-Thon to help you do just that - relax and read! 

There really are no requirements to join this read-a-thon at Seasons of Reading. You do not have to have a blog. You can join from Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads. Sign-up here

Children's books are allowed as long as you are also reading some adult selections. 

There will be one big giveaway at the end of the read-a-thon, but you must have participated in the read-a-thon to qualify. This means signing up and linking up your wrap-up at the end (winners are chosen from the wrap-up linky). 

The hashtag for this Read-a-Thon is #HSreadathon on Twitter (or Facebook). You can see the rest of the details for the Read-a-Thon here

Here is the read-a-thon credo as proclaimed by Seasons of Reading: a week of relaxed reading during which we can personally challenge ourselves and whittle away those ever looming TBR piles/shelves/libraries. So, no pressure...EVER! Enjoy!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review: Annie Moon and the Elemental Artifact by Melanie Abed

Anni Moon & The Elemental Artifact by Melanie Abed

Title: Annie Moon and the Elemental Artifact
Author: Melanie Abed
Ebook Published September 30, 2014 by Oculus Print

from Goodreads:

Anni doesn't know about Elementals, Funk, Zephyrs, excited talking Bat-Rat creatures, and, least of all, Dragons. All that changes when her best friend, Lexi, is kidnapped and forces beyond Anni’s control trap her on a hidden, floating island in the Elemental world.

In a race against time, Anni sets out to save her friend. Along the way she finds allies among the Elementals, but she is also presented with a choice, one that might help save Lexi. If Anni agrees to an ancient, open-ended contract, will her sacrifice cost her more than she’s bargained for? Or will it land her in the middle of an age-old war between the humans, the Elementals, and the dreaded Fectus?

Alleluialu's Review:

I read this book upon request of the author. In my opinion, young readers - middle school, junior high - would really enjoy it. Personally, I am open to nearly any kind of book no matter what age the intended audience. This book had all kinds of interesting characters and mysteries to solve. The main character, Annie Moon, was adventurous, strong and clever. I liked that about her. She also cared deeply for her friends and those she regarded as family. She wasn't freaked out - well, not for long anyway - about being in a strange place with really strange creatures. She was focused on finding her friend, Lexi, no matter what. Lexi, on the other hand, appeared meek but her association with Annie strengthened her. This was a very good book with lots of lessons that could be learned. It moved along well and I think any middle school/junior high reader would really enjoy it.

I have given this book 4 stars - I really liked it, but after all it was written for middle school/junior high readers and I definitely am not one of those. However, I do think that audience would really enjoy this book. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Paperback: 422 pages
Published: April 22, 2014 by Broadway Books
Setting: North Carthage, MO
Literary Awards: Barry Award Nominee for Best Novel 2013; Anthony Award Nominee for Best Novel 2013; Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award (RT Award) for Suspense/Thriller Novel 2012; Shirley Jackson Award Nominee for Best Novel 2012; Edgar Award Nominee for Best Novel 2013; Goodreads Choice for Best Mystery & Thriller 2012; women's Prize for Fiction Nominee for Longlist 2013; Grand Prix des lectrices de Elle for roman policier 2013

from Goodreads: 

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 

Alleluialu's Review:

This was our book club's April selection. It was suggested last year, but the person suggesting it was worried about offending some book club members with the language, etc. I didn't really notice that big of a foul language problem. I mean there were words spoken or thought, but it wasn't offensive to me. The story was good. The I like books and movies that you have to figure out and this certainly was one of those. I sometimes count the number of pages in a book and the number of days until I have to have it read. I finished this book 3 days early. At a certain point, I read it as much as possible. It wasn't as compelling as some other books I have read, but I definitely had to keep going to find out what happened next. I would have liked for Nick's Dad to have had something to tell. He kept popping up and I expected him to have some clue to offer, but it never happened. Amy's character was pretty much of a genius - a wicked genius. She was so thorough. I wanted Nick to match her wit. Anyway, I might have to see the movie. If you like crime fiction and twisting plots, this is a book for you. I am always amazed at authors who pull things like this off. Their minds are "amazing".

I usually use notes for ratings, but this time I want to use stars. I gave this selection 5 stars. It was definitely hard to put down and it was intriguing. I was a little disappointed in the ending, but it was still worth 5 stars. The murder-mystery buffs out there will love this one. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Book Review: The Awakening by Kate Chopin


Title: The Awakening
Author: Kate Chopin
Paperback: 195 pages
Published: 2006 by Elibron Classics
Setting: New Orleans, Louisiana

from Goodreads
When first published in 1899, The Awakening shocked readers with its honest treatment of female marital infidelity. Audiences accustomed to the pieties of late Victorian romantic fiction were taken aback by Chopin's daring portrayal of a woman trapped in a stifling marriage, who seeks and finds passionate physical love outside the confines of her domestic situation.

Aside from its unusually frank treatment of a then-controversial subject, the novel is widely admired today for its literary qualities. Edmund Wilson characterized it as a work "quite uninhibited and beautifully written, which anticipates D. H. Lawrence in its treatment of infidelity." Although the theme of marital infidelity no longer shocks, few novels have plumbed the psychology of a woman involved in an illicit relationship with the perception, artistry, and honesty that Kate Chopin brought to The Awakening.

Alleluialu's Review:

** spoiler alert ** My daughter told me I would like this book. I'm not sure why. Anyway, I didn't particularly like the beginning. It seemed like your basic Victorian family at the beach story, but it got better after the family went back home. I was proud of Mrs. Pontellier when she stood up for herself and started painting again, didn't have tea parties just because her husband wanted her to, and found the little house around the corner. However, I don't understand why she had to (SPOILER ALERT) take her own life. How did that prove anything? Didn't that mean that her husband won after all? Granted she had control over the deed, but she was dead. I don't get it. The story reminded me of "To The Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf, but I just don't get why she had to die. 

I gave this selection 4 notes - A Concerto! I really liked this book. Go Find It! I got mine at my local library. It's a Classic. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Movie Review: The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything (2014) Poster

Title: The Theory of Everything
PG-13 123 minutes Biography/Drama/Romance
Ratings: 7.8/10 
Director: James Marsh
Writers: Anthony McCarten (screenplay), Jane Hawking (book)
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Tom Prior and others

My family and I watched this video last night. It was a remarkable movie. Great performances, especially by Eddie Redmayne, and beautiful music. Stephen Hawking overcame tremendous obstacles and was very brave to keep pushing on. I liked that Jane's story was told as well. I didn't expect that to be the case. I thought it would be all about Hawking and his work, so I was pleasantly surprised by Jane's inclusion. Of course, as my daughter noted, the movie was based on Jane's memoirs, so it only makes sense that her story would be told. She supported him so well, in my opinion. Even though she did love both Hawking and Jonathan, I was disappointed when Hawking left her to travel to America with Elaine. Then the pen-dropping scene left me suspicious of his motives with that girl. These suspicions are unfounded, but I'm just saying... Anyway, it was a lovely movie, as I said. Wonderful performances and a beautiful soundtrack. 

Book Review: The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley


Title: The Girl on the Cliff
Author: Lucinda Riley
Paperback: 559 pages
Published 2011 by Michael Joseph
Setting: West Cork, London, England, New York

from Goodreads: 

Why has a secret from 1914 caused a century of heartache? Troubled by recent loss, Grania Ryan has returned to Ireland and the arms of her loving family. And it is here, on a cliff edge, that she first meets a young girl, Aurora, who will profoundly change her life. Mysteriously drawn to Aurora, Grania discovers that the histories of their families are strangely and deeply entwined . . . From a bittersweet romance in wartime London to a troubled relationship in contemporary New York, from devotion to a foundling child to forgotten memories of a lost brother, the Ryans and the Lisles, past and present, have been entangled for a century. Ultimately, it will be Aurora whose intuition and remarkable spirit help break the spell and unlock the chains of the past. Haunting, uplifting and deeply moving, Aurora's story tells of the triumph of hope over loss.

Alleluialu's Review

 I really enjoyed this selection. It was kind of epic. It told the story of how two families were intertwined. And it took place in Ireland - how could anyone not like that? The story opens with a young Irish sculptress, Grania, leaving her American lover, Matt, after a miscarriage and going back home to Ireland. She encounters a little girl on the cliffs near her home and befriends her. The novel is told in the little girl's voice. Grania's mother gives her a pile of letters that were written by her great-grandmother and the story of the two families unfolds. I could really connect with the characters in this novel. I felt as if I was right there experiencing everything. It was a very satisfying read.

This book gets 5 Notes from me - A Symphony - This book is excellent. Usually I say I didn't want a 5-Note book to end, but this one had a very satisfying ending. Pick it up at your local library or bookstore and enjoy it. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Romance is in the air 2015

Welcome to the
Romance is in the Air Blog Hop!

This hop was organized by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer. There are over 110 blogs participating in this Hop and offering book-related giveaways featuring Young Adult and Clean Adult Romance. We are all linked together so you can hop from one blog to another easily. The Hop runs from Wednesday, Feb. 4 to Valentine's Day, Saturday, Feb. 14

The giveaway prize on this blog will be a Barnes and Noble gift card for $25. The winner will be chosen using

To enter, just FOLLOW this blog, leave me a comment, then complete the entry form on the right side panel. Last day to enter is Valentine's Day, February 14.  Until then, grab a link and hop around! THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! Thanks for stopping by. The winners will be announced on Feb. 15, 2015. Come back to visit anytime. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Book Review: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin


Title: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Hardcover: 260 pages
Published: April 1, 2014 by Algonquin Books
Setting: Alice Island, Massachusetts (US)
from Goodreads:

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, but large in weight. It's that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

Alleluialu's Review

It's so good. You have to read it! "A town isn't a town without a bookstore." It made me want to open one. This novel is filled with the best characters: a cranky bookseller who knows what he likes, a baby-child-teenager who is so smart, such a nerd, who loves books; the quirky book agent who just belongs there; the cop who learns he loves to read... And books, and books, and books, and books. This review is a bunch of babble, but the bottom line is - this book is so good, you have to read it. Thank you, Ms. Zevin, for sharing it with us. 

At our book club meeting, we discussed the relationship to the short stories listed at the beginning of each chapter and the chapter itself. It gave such a new depth to this novel, I couldn't believe there was an even better reason to read it again! Every one of our members liked the book and had a different reason for doing so. It's such a good book. You have to read it. 

If you think I would give this anything but 5 notes - A Symphony - you haven't read my babbling post above. This is an outstanding selection and a book worth reading! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review: The Other Shakespeare by Lea Rachel


Title: The Other Shakespeare
Author: Lea Rachel
Published: The Writer's Design press 2015
Paperback: 197 pages

from Goodreads: 

What if Shakespeare had been born a woman? What would have happened to her? And, what would she have accomplished?

Virginia Woolf first posed these questions in her acclaimed novel A Room of One’s Own…and now maverick author Lea Rachel steps up to tell the rest of the story.

The Other Shakespeare carries readers back to the sixteenth century to follow Judith Shakespeare, the older sister of William, as she tries to make a name for herself in a male-dominated society that consistently denies women their independence. Born with as much talent, creativity, and drive as her younger brother, she is stifled by the world around her and ultimately resorts to extreme measures to get accepted and have her talent recognized.

Judith’s story is rich with history, conflict, and drama and is sure to appeal to fans of Virginia Woolf, William Shakespeare, and character-driven fiction.

Alleluialu's Review

Okay, now I'm sad. There may be spoilers in this review. I'm just warning you, I can't help it. I was given this book by the author's agent to review and I just finished it. I liked it very much and I am glad I got the opportunity to read it. It held my interest and was well-written. After the final page, the author challenges the reader to find the Shakespeare quotes she embedded in every chapter. Unfortunately, I am not familiar enough with most of Shakespeare's writings to do that, although I did catch a reference or two. That certainly would be fun for Shakespeare fans. I immediately caught the Virginia Woolf references however, especially the final one. That could be a spoiler, but only if you know anything about Virginia Woolf. As I said previously, the story was well-written. Situations were believable for the time period, except I doubt a woman would be welcomed so frequently by a troupe of male actors at their pub without them thinking the worst of her. It was sad that she couldn't get any recognition for her writing talent. I kept trying to figure out in my mind how the world discovered Judith's "Romeo and Juliet" and attached William's name to it. Did she tell Robert Greene her brother wrote it just to have it accepted and then did Judith collect the royalties in her brother's name? It could have worked. There were several pages when I tried to tell her to do that, but alas, she didn't listen. Such a sad ending and stupid James Burbage just watched. I expected more from him. The author definitely engaged me in the story which is why, as I said, I'm sad now.

I'm giving this book 4 notes as well - another Concerto: I really liked it and you should go out and find it on Amazon here or on Barnes & Noble here

Book Review: The Deception of the Emerald Ring by Lauren Willig


Title: The Deception of the Emerald Ring
Author: Lauren Willig
Published: November 16, 2006 by Dutton Adult
Series: Pink Carnation #3
Setting: Dublin, Ireland 1803 and London, England 1803

from Goodreads: 

A dangerous ring of spies, a game of mistaken identities, and a heartwarming romance of unlikely pairs come together in Lauren Willig's engaging and exciting third novel THE DECEPTION OF THE EMERALD RING. Praised for the "cheerfully postmodern and energetic . . .romance-adventure hybrids [that] have escaped the clutches of niche fiction." (The Onion A.V. Club), her Pink Carnation series is garnering her critical acclaim and a loyal fan base. 

Lauren Willig's debut The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, appeared on retailer bestseller lists in hardcover and made a big splash in sales in trade paperback. Her second book, The Masque of the Black Tulip, was selected as a BookSense Pick for January 2006, and continues to rack up incredible reviews. Lauren Willig's passion for authentic historical detail coupled with her talent for enthralling love stories make her series the perfect read for lovers of romance, history and adventure.
The year is 1803 and England and France remain at odds. Hoping to break the English once and for all, Napoleon backs a ring of Irish rebels in uprisings against England and sends the Black Tulip, France's most deadly spy, to the Emerald Isle to help. What they don't know is that also in Ireland is England's top spy, the Pink Carnation, who is working to shut the rebels down. Meanwhile, back in England, Letty Alsworthy intercepts a note indicating that her sister, Mary, is about to make the very grave mistake of eloping with Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe (second in command of the League of the Purple Gentian). In an attempt to save the family name, Letty tries to stop the elopement, but instead finds herself swept away in the midnight carriage meant for her sister and is accidentally compromised. Geoff and Letty, to each other's horror, find themselves forced into matrimony. Then, Geoff receives word that he is to travel to Ireland to help the Pink Carnation and disappears immediately after their wedding ceremony. Letty learns of Geoff's disappearance and, not to be outdone by her husband, steals away on a ship bound for Ireland, armed and ready to fight for her husband …and to learn a thing or two about spying for England.
As in her previous tales, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and The Masque Of the Black Tulip, our modern-day heroine and hero, Eloise Kelly and Colin Selwick, continue their budding romance in this captivating third novel in the series.
Alleluialu's Review
Spies are in England, spies are in France, spies are in Ireland, spies are everywhere! Code names like the Pink Carnation, the Black Tulip, the Purple Gentian, the Scarlet Pimpernel! Exciting, interesting, and clever. That's a good way to describe Lauren Willig's book series - very clever. This one was mostly set in Ireland just before the second uprising in the early 1800's. A young British lass is mistaken for her sister and kidnapped by her sister's beau. Of course her reputation is ruined unless he marries her. That is just the beginning. Letty, the lass, follows her new husband to Ireland and gets involved with the Pink Carnation to try to stop the Irish uprising. The things that happen are amusing, but Letty shows that she can fend for herself. It is a good read. Fun? yes. Predictable? Of course, but worth it just the same. I listened to the audiobook while reading the paperback version of this tale. That made it even more enjoyable. 

I'm giving this selection 4 notes - A Concerto: I really like this book. You should go find it either at your local library, Amazon here or Barnes & Noble here. If you want a real treat, you should listen to the audiobook!  

Friday, January 9, 2015

Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

This November and December, I participated in the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge once again. I love reading Christmas novels and I came across some very good ones this year. In this post, I am going to list all of the books I read - 5 total - and my impression of each of them. Here goes: 


Title: Papa's Angels
Authors: Collin Wilcox Paxton & Gary Carden 
This is one of those little hardcover books I borrowed from my amazing local library. The story is told by one of the children of an Appalachian family who had lost its Mother the Christmas before. The Father is crippled by grief and doesn't want anything to do with Christmas. In true Christmas novel fashion (the best ones do this), when all appears lost, the children along with their Grammy show that family love is the most important thing at Christmas and when it is present, magic things can happen. It's a wonderful and inspiring story. I gave it 5 notes - a Symphony!


Title: A Nantucket Christmas
Author: Nancy Thayer
Nantucket seems to come up alot in Christmas novels. Apparently it is a magical place at that time of year. This book also came from my public library. The central character in this novel is Nicole Somerset, a newly-wed who is spending her first Christmas on Nantucket with her new husband. Her husband's pregnant daughter, Kennedy, arrives and wants to get her mother and father back together and Nicole out of the picture. Nicole isn't going to let that ruin her Christmas, however. There is also a cute side story happening involving a little dog who is abandoned on the island and shows up in Nicole's yard. I really liked hearing this little dog's thoughts. This novel is interesting and heartwarming and comes complete with a Christmas miracle. I gave it 5 notes as well. 


Title: The Special Guest: A Christmas Story
Author: Lee and Donna Allen
This is a lovely little book - only 96 pages - but full of the wonder of Christmas. A young man does a kind deed and welcomes a stranded stranger into his home for Christmas. Wonderful things start to happen and on Christmas morning the young man realizes "in welcoming strangers, you may find yourself welcoming angels unawares." A delightful story. Another 5 notes! 


Title: The Christmas Sweater
Author: Glenn Beck
When I asked my Facebook friends for suggestions of Christmas novels, my nephew told me about this one and offered to lend it to me. I was surprised that he would read a Christmas novel, let alone have it in his possession. That's not very nice, forgive me. Anyway, this novel is a strange one. It was an interesting story, compelling, very sad at times. There is a giant twist in it that is meant to result in a happy ending, I suppose, but it just made me angry that I went through heartwrenching sadness to end up that way. I don't expect such trickery in a Christmas novel. I gave it 4 notes for that reason. It was an interesting story as I said. I just didn't appreciate the twist. Maybe you will. 


Title: Winter Street
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
This was a popular Christmas book selection this year. It was on several lists and I saw it in several bookstores. While it was a story about family - and on Nantucket to boot - it wasn't what I wanted to read about in a Christmas novel. Too contemporary, too much drinking and cheating on each other. It was too realistic - no Christmas magic. Sorry. I gave it 3 notes. Too bad I had to end this Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge reading a book that had no Christmas magic. Oh well, I still have a couple Christmas novels on my bookshelf to read next year. 

Along with the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge, I pariticipated in the FaLaLaLa Films portion. I always watch Christmas movies during the holidays - yes, those Hallmark and Lifetime films as well as old classics that make it Christmas for our family. Here's my list. Actually, it's only a partial list because sometimes I forget to write down the movies I watch. Here goes: 

1. Miracle on 34th Street - the original - watched on Thanksgiving evening!
2. The Christmas Blessing with Neil Patrick Harris - a sequel to one about the Christmas shoes. 
3. Elf of course - a holiday tradition
4. The Santa Clause - the first one with Tim Allen - the best in our opinion
5. Signed, Sealed and Delivered - an interesting twist on a Christmas theme
6. A Very Mixed Up Christmas - saw this one last year as well - I liked it
7. Christmas Vacation - a crazy holiday tradition - especially loved by my husband
8. A Royal Christmas - a Christmas princess story - loved Jane Seymour since her Dr. Quinn days and totally figured out the love side story before it was revealed. 
9. A Season for Miracles - sorry to say I'm not remembering exactly what happened in this one. 
10. Mrs. Miracle - saw this one last year, too. It's a rendition of Debbie Macomber's novel of the same name. I don't usually like Debbie Macomber's novels for some reason, but the movie is classic Christmas magic. 
11. White Christmas - we waited to watch this until our eldest daughter came home for Christmas. I have seen this movie every year since I was 5 years old and my Daddy and I walked down to the local movie theatre to watch it. It always brings back that warm feeling of spending time with my Dad. 

I know there were other movies I watched, as I stated above, but I didn't write them down here. I look forward to the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge and the FaLaLaLa Films. Now I guess I will have to start taking down my Christmas decorations.