Friday, December 22, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Sugar Pine Trail by RaeAnne Thayne & Mrs. Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say edited by Rhonda Parrish

Sugar Pine Trail (Haven Point #7) by RaeAnne Thayne 
Harlequin, 2017
Romance (Holiday); 345 pgs
Source: E-copy provided by publisher via Edelweiss for an honest review.

 Opening of Sugar Pine Trail: This was going to be a disaster.

An only child to two older now deceased parents, librarian Julia Winston has always lead a quiet life. For a book club assignment, Julia jots down some ideas of experiences she would like to do--a bucket list of sorts. She doesn't take it very seriously, at least not until her long time crush rents the apartment above her. Jamie Caine is sexy as can be. He's a pilot for his family's company. He doesn't give much thought to his plain librarian landlord at first. But when she takes in two young boys whose mother has disappeared, he begins to see her in a different light. And then he accidentally stumbles on her list. He wants to fill her life with the same awe and joy he's felt since getting to know her. Only Jamie has his own demons from the past to ward off. He doesn't want to get involved in a serious relationship--and he knows Julia is the kind of woman who deserves no less.

I always enjoy my time in Haven Point and getting to know Julia and Jamie was no different. Julia is a bit reserved at first, and I admit it took me a little bit to warm up to her. I think it must be the same way Jamie saw her at first--but once I got a real look into who she was, I was pretty taken with her loving heart and generous spirit too. Jamie was pretty cool as well. He could have turned out to be one of those playboys that make me cringe in romance novels, but his own back story is pretty compelling. And those two boys . . . Talk about heartbreak! Their story is what really made this book for me. I cannot say this is my favorite of RaeAnne Thayne's novels, although I did enjoy it quite a bit. I adore the Caine family and wouldn't mind spending more Christmases with the family.

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.


Mrs. Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say edited by Rhonda Parrish
World Weaver Press, 2017 
Fantasy/Science Fiction; 215 pgs
Source:  E-copy provided by publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Opening of Mrs. Santa Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say: If you look up Santa Claus the top Google result is Wikipedia (because of course it is). 

I could not pass up this anthology of short stories when I first came across it. Santa Claus is canon as is his wife, although she always gets the short straw when it comes to most stories about Christmas. In Mrs. Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say, readers are treated to fourteen stories featuring Mrs. Claus as you have never seen her before. As with any collection of short stories, some of the stories are stronger than others, but I enjoyed them all overall.

There were a few stories I wanted to like more--and I might have had there been just a bit more development. The one that immediately pops into my mind is Randi Perrin's "Moves Like Jagger", in which Mrs. Claus is a witch--and you know how I love stories about witches. I liked the world building and the hint of backstory provided, but, as I said, wish there had been more to flesh it all out for me. I had a similar feeling about "Good Morning" by Kristen Lee, which I was pulled into right away, but felt was too short.

"Miss 'Lil Toe Head" by Michael Leonberger was likely the most melancholy of the lot. I wasn't quite sure what to make of it, to be honest. Playing Mrs. Claus along with the woman she loves dressed as Santa Claus, the two make money during the holidays by acting like the jolly couple--hired by parents to be "caught" by children in their homes leaving behind presents. It takes a dark turn after that, with a few unexpected twists--medical experiments, a traumatic childhood, and a appearance by the real Miss Claus. Or one of them at least.

Among my favorites was "Wight Christmas" by Laura VanArendonk Baugh, her story featuring Mrs. Claus as a Valkyrie investigating the recent destruction of toys and the murder of elves. A mix of humor, well-imagined characters, and an intriguing premise, I was quite taken with this first story in the collection. It got the book off to a solid start. I also really enjoyed "Unexpected Guests" but Andrew Wilson, about a powerful fae version of Mrs. Claus and her human husband. While her husband is away, Elora discovers some unwelcome guests out to steal from her. I do love stories about the fae, and I liked the world building in this one quite a bit. Another really fun one, and perhaps my favorite of all of the stories was "Shouldering the Burden by M.L.D. Curelas, in which our heroine, Phaedra Claus, a bit of a pirate, returning a statue to her home in Greece.

There was a definite science fiction  and fantasy slant to several of the stories, from aliens to monster hunters, to stories with a more steampunk feel to them. Or even stories with a more traditional feel  despite Mrs. Claus being as nontraditional as they come. Mrs. Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say was the perfect way to finish up my holiday reading for the time being. A bit of romance, crime fighting, horror, comedy, action, and a whole lot of magic mixed in.

© 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.


  1. Love the cover of the Sugar Pine Trail book!

    1. Iliana - It's hard not to wish I could be there for the holidays. :-)

  2. I always see RaeAnne Thayne books around and they look good. The Mrs. Claus one looks like a fun collection too. Merry Christmas to you and your family Wendy!

    1. Naida - She's become one of my favorite romance authors. I just love her books. The short story collection was a lot of fun. :-)

      I hope you had a Merry Christmas as well!

  3. A science fiction-y Mrs. Claus sounds pretty amazing and I loved Sugar Pine Trail though I definitely agree that Julia took some time to warm up too.

    1. Katherine - It was an interesting and fun collection of stories. I will never think of Mrs. Claus the same way again. :-)

  4. EXCELLENT reviews, Wendy!! I already have the Mrs. Claus book on my Goodreads shelves, and now I will be adding "Sugar Pine Trail", which I had not heard of before. It sounds so heartwarming!

    I can see that both of these were great holiday reads for you!! And I know they will be for me, too, when Christmastime rolls around this year!!

    I'm sure you all had a WONDERFUL time!! ESPECIALLY Mouse!! HUGS TO YOU & YOUR SWEET LITTLE GIRL!!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)


Thank you for taking the time to visit Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Don't be shy! I would love to hear from you. Due to a recent increase in spam, I will be moderating all comments for the foreseeable future. Please be patient with me as it may take a few hours before I am able to approve your comment.