Sunday, December 17, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: The Rancher's Christmas Song by RaeAnne Thayne

The twins were at it again. ~ Opening of The Rancher's Christmas Song

The Rancher's Christmas Song (Cowboys of Cold Creek #16) by RaeAnne Thayne
Harlequin, 2017
Romance (Holiday); 224 pgs
Source: E-copy provided by publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Single dad Beckett McKinley’s rambunctious twins ask their music teacher, Ella Baker, for help in learning their father’s favorite Christmas song. They want to surprise him by singing it at the children’s annual holiday show. On impulse, Ella agrees, but only if the boys will teach her how to ride a horse. She has long struggled with a phobia of horses with roots from her childhood. I admit I had to remind myself to suspend my disbelief in this—a teacher asking young boys to teach her to ride a horse seemed a bit silly . . . but it wasn’t as if she didn’t realize it was impulsive, and she wished she could take it back almost as soon as she said it. They were just so excited about the trade though. She didn’t have the heart to disappoint them.

Beck has long been attracted to Ella Baker, the daughter of his neighbor and mentor, but his effort to keep his distance and hide his feelings has only made her think he doesn’t like her. She assumes it is because she grew up in Boston, not Cold Creek, and he, like her father, feels she doesn’t belong there. Ella has conflicting feelings about Beck—she is attracted to him and yet sees him as a rival for her father’s attention—and for her family’s ranch.

I adored those twin boys. They had energy to spare, and ran their teachers and father ragged, but they have good hearts and are eager to do the right thing. I like Ella’s approach with them.

While Ella has some things to overcome, like her fear of horses, her real conflict is with her father and his inability to see that she is willing and capable to learn how to run the ranch. Her father’s failing health is in part what brought her to Pine Gulch, a place she loved as a child. She wants to make it her home. Beck and her father see her being there only temporarily—her father still seeing her as a child he has to protect, and Beck seeing his former wife, also a city woman, in Ella despite the two women being completely different.

I really liked Ella and Beck, both down to earth and hardworking people. Ella takes on her fear head on, and I loved that about her. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. Beck is still haunted by his past and has to get past that before he can fully let love in. The two characters have definite chemistry together. I enjoyed seeing the characters come into their own—and grow together over the course of the novel.

I may have got misty-eyed at the end of this one—and in a few other places. This was a sweet romance—perfect for the holiday season.

To learn more about RaeAnne Thayne and her books, please visit the author's website. You can also find the author on Facebook and Twitter.

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Where Is Your Bookmark? (A Peek Into These Violent Delights)

This weekend will be crazy busy for us. Mouse has two dance performances, one Saturday and one Sunday; we have dozens upon dozens of cookies to bake; last minute shopping to do; and a house to get ready for the upcoming Christmas holiday. My mom will be arriving in town Friday afternoon. We are looking forward to seeing her. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Hopefully we can all get in a little reading as well.

This month's MyLitBox selection was These Violent Delights by Victoria Namkung. It seems a timely novel given current events. I dove in pretty quickly. I had hoped to be further along than I am now (#COYER Winter Switch starts tomorrow after all!), but I am only about half way through. 

At Windemere School for Girls, one of America’s elite private schools, Dr. Gregory Copeland is the beloved chair of the English Department. A married father with a penchant for romantic poetry—and impressionable teenage girls—he operates in plain sight for years, until one of his former students goes public with allegations of inappropriate conduct. With the help of an investigative journalist, and two additional Windemere alumnae who had relationships with Copeland as students, the unlikely quartet unites to take him down.

Set in modern-day Los Angeles, These Violent Delights is a literary exploration of the unyielding pressures and vulnerabilities that so many women and girls experience, and analyzes the ways in which our institutions and families fail to protect or defend us. A suspenseful and nuanced story told from multiple points of view, the novel examines themes of sexuality, trauma, revenge, and the American myth of liberty and justice for all. [Goodreads Summary]

A weekly meme where readers share the first sentence of the book they are reading and say what they think. Hosted by the wonderful Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader.
"What is the point of a high school reunion when you can already see who got fat and bald on Facebook?" asks Caryn, the intern working with me this semester, and I can't help but laugh because she's right. 
I went into this book with high expectations having never heard of it before. The opening does not exactly grab me though, I admit. And while it gives nothing away about the plot or what is to come, it does put one in the mind of memories of high school, which is likely what the author was going for--intentionally or not.

A weekly meme in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading. Hosted by the wonderful Freda of Freda's Voice.

"I'm so glad you reached out." I pass her a napkin. "Of course I wish it never happened, and that we were meeting under different circumstances, but it's nice to know I'm not alone."
This particular passage from page 56 of the novel is likely a common refrain among survivors of abuse or assault. There is something about being able to connect with someone who went through a similar experience that cannot be equaled talking to someone who has never been through it.

What do you think? Is this a book you would like to read?

 I hope you all have a great weekend! Be sure and tell me what you are reading and are up to!

Some photos from my recent visit to the Mission Inn, a historic hotel. It's gorgeous at night this time of year, with all the lights and holiday decorations. I haven't yet been this year after night fall, but hopefully will get a chance before the year is out.

© 2017, W.endy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne

She really needed to learn how to say no once in a while. ~ Opening of Snowfall on Haven Point 

Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne
HQN Books, 2016
Romance; 384 pgs
Source: Review e-copy provided by publisher for an honest review.

This is the 5th book in the Haven Point series, and I have to say I really love Christmas in Haven Point. I would love to catch the boat parade. I really enjoyed Snowfall on Haven Point. I expected the romance, but was not expecting a dash of mystery thrown in. Sheriff Marshall Bailey is certain his being hit by a vehicle was no accident, despite the initial investigation results claiming it to be just that. He is frustrated and annoyed that he is out of commission due to his injuries. As a man who does not like to ask for help, he is not at all happy when widow Andrea Montgomery walks through his door. The Christmas cheer she and her two children bring with them is contagious and it is just a matter of time before the Sheriff’s defenses crack.

Marshall protests way too much about being able to do things on his own—but I get it. Marshall is a proud man and hates having to rely on others. He feels defenseless. He is the one who is used to doing the saving. He is also holding onto a pretty big secret from his past that he knows could be a game changer in any relationship he may develop. The emotional fallout for more than one person will be huge. I thought author RaeAnne Thayne handled this in a sensitive manner and felt the characters' reactions were realistic overall.

Andie and her children have only been in town a few months. She knows that when people look at her, they see the assault victim that needed rescuing the previous summer, and not the strong woman she really is. There’s also the fact that she is a policeman’s widow, and getting into another relationship with a law enforcement officer is the last thing she wants to do for obvious reasons.

Marshall and Andie try to fight the attraction, each struggling with their own internal arguments of why falling in love would be bad for them. They both would be bringing a lot of baggage into any relationship. I like that neither one of them is perfect. I also like that they are both very supportive of the other, even if they are trying hard not to fall in love. There is a mutual respect there that I think is important in any relationship.

While the happy ending I was expecting was there, I appreciated how much the characters grew over the course of the novel, both as individuals and together. They had a lot of overcome, not all of it pretty. I can always count on RaeAnne Thayne to deliver a clean romantic and inspiring Christmas story, and Snowfall on Haven Point was no different.

Thank you to everyone who voted for Snowfall on Haven Point in my November TBR List Poll!

To learn more about RaeAnne Thayne and her books, please visit the author's website. You can also find the author on Facebook and Twitter.

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Wishing for Wednesday: More Irresistible Books Added to my Wish List

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. (Based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.)

A Mortal Likeness by Laura Joh Rowland
Release Date: January 9, 2018 by Crooked Lane Books
A photographer in Whitechapel, London, Sarah Bain is also a private detective—skilled at capturing others’ dark secrets, and expert at keeping her own. When a wealthy banker, Sir Gerald Mariner, posts a handsome reward for finding his missing infant, all of London joins in, hoping to win that money for themselves. Usually discouraged by a saturated market, Sarah is instead curiously allured as she realizes the case hits much closer to home than she first thought.

As she dives in, she discovers a photograph of baby Robin Mariner and his mother. But it eerily resembles the post-mortem photographs Sarah, herself, takes of deceased children posed to look as if they were alive. Now it’s unclear whether the kidnapping is a cover-up to hide the reality of his disappearance, or if it’s truly a cry for help.

The clock is ticking and Sarah must uncover the truth before her past catches up to her in
A Mortal Likeness, the gripping follow-up to bestselling author Laura Joh Rowland’s The Ripper’s Shadow. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: A female private detective in the Victorian age isn't very common. Seeing this upcoming release, I am curious about the series itself and hope to read both the first in the series and this second one to come.


Peculiar Ground by Lucy Hughes-Hallett
Release Date: January 9, 2018 by Harper Collins
The Costa Award-winning author of The Pike makes her literary fiction debut with an extraordinary historical novel in the spirit of Wolf Hall and Atonement—a great English country house novel, spanning three centuries, that explores surprisingly timely themes of immigration and exclusion.

It is the seventeenth century and a wall is being raised around Wychwood, transforming the great house and its park into a private realm of ornamental lakes, grandiose gardens, and majestic avenues designed by Mr. Norris, a visionary landscaper. In this enclosed world everyone has something to hide after decades of civil war. Dissenters shelter in the woods, lovers rendezvous in secret enclaves, and outsiders—migrants fleeing the plague—find no mercy.
Three centuries later, far away in Berlin, another wall is raised, while at Wychwood, an erotic entanglement over one sticky, languorous weekend in 1961 is overshadowed by news of historic change. Young Nell, whose father manages the estate, grows up amid dramatic upheavals as the great house is invaded: a pop festival by the lake, a television crew in the dining room, a Great Storm brewing. In 1989, as the Cold War peters out, a threat from a different kind of conflict reaches Wychwood’s walls.

Lucy Hughes-Hallett conjures an intricately structured, captivating story that explores the lives of game keepers and witches, agitators and aristocrats; the exuberance of young love and the pathos of aging; and the way those who try to wall others out risk finding themselves walled in. With poignancy and grace, she illuminates a place where past and present are inextricably linked by stories, legends, and history—and by one patch of peculiar ground.
[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: I love a book where the setting is just as much a character as the characters themselves--especially when so richly drawn. I am dying to find out more about Wychwood. I want to visit there myself.


Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz
Release Date: January 2, 2018 by Berkley
A broken promise reveals a terrifying legacy in this electrifying novel from the New York Times bestselling author of When All the Girls Have Gone.

Seattle gallery owner Virginia Troy has spent years battling the demons that stem from her childhood time in a cult and the night a fire burned through the compound killing her mother. And now one of her artists has taken her own life, but not before sending Virginia a last picture...a painting that makes Virginia doubt everything about the so-called suicide--and her own past...

Like Virginia, PI Cabot Sutter was one of the children in the cult who survived that fire--and only he can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues in the picture, it becomes clear that someone thinks Virginia knows more than she does and that she must be stopped. Thrown into an inferno of desire and deception, Virginia and Cabot draw ever closer to the mystery of their shared memories--and the shocking fate of the one man who still wields the power to destroy everything they hold dear.
[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: A cult-ish past . . . I can't resist that. This is one I am really looking forward to!

Do any of these sound like something you would like to read too?

 © 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

What's In A Name Reading Challenge

My decision not to participate in any reading challenges in 2017 meant not participating in one of my favorite challenges, the What's In A Name Reading Challenge hosted by Charlie of The Worm Hole. I plan to join in the fun in 2018, however. I already have some ideas for what books on my TBR shelves to fit into a few of the categories. And although the chances of me sticking to any list I make is low, I still enjoy coming up with some possibilities of books when putting together my sign up post. This time is no different.  I think this one will be quite fun this year!

The challenges runs from January to December, and the idea is to read one book per category. A book cannot count for more than one category. The categories this year are

The Word "The" Used Twice in the Title
- Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking
- The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White
- The Woman in the Window A.J. Finn
- The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

A Fruit or Vegetable in the Title
- The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna
- Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
- The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

A Shape in the Title
- Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren
- A Distant Heart by Dev Sonali
- Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
- Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente

A Title That Begins With Z (can be after "The" or "A")
- The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
- Zorro by Isabel Allende
- Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi

A Nationality in the Title
- The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff
- The Spanish Bow by Anromeda Romano-Lax
- I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
- A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint

A Season in the Title
- The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner
- Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
- Spring Forward by Catherine Anderson
- Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War by Heather Webb et al

Will you be participating in the What's In A Name Challenge this coming year? Have you read any of my possible selections?

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.