I was incredibly lucky because I got to read a pre-published draft of this book, and oh, it is so much fun. Célie is such a fabulous heroine, and theI was incredibly lucky because I got to read a pre-published draft of this book, and oh, it is so much fun. Célie is such a fabulous heroine, and the descriptions of the chocolates she makes (as one of the best chocolatiers in France) are mouthwatering. I spent a lot of the book rolling my eyes at how screwed-up the hero, Joss, was in his relationship mentality, but by the end, I completely understood where that attitude of his had come from, and I truly believed that he and Célie would be happy together, as he finally figured out that she was a hero to stand and fight by his side, not a princess to set on a pedestal. And even before he managed to overcome that attitude, the chemistry and tension between them really crackled off the page, making for an incredibly fun read. It was also fun to see returning characters from Florand's Amour et Chocolat series in this book playing important supportive roles, but this could definitely stand alone. It's the start of a new series of romances starring young women in Paris, and it is a genuinely delicious opening to that series. I can't wait to read the other books, too!...more
I adored this smart, satirical romance novella set in the 1920s, where young writer Jade Yeo gets sucked into the vortex of a very HG Wells-like cad (I adored this smart, satirical romance novella set in the 1920s, where young writer Jade Yeo gets sucked into the vortex of a very HG Wells-like cad (with a "very modern marriage", an intense ego and a habit of devouring clever young women, romantically speaking) but ends up finding her (wonderful) true love after all. If you love I CAPTURE THE CASTLE, you'll love the voice and sensibility of this novella - it's resonant of I Capture the Castle in the best possible way (although definitely written for adults, not for a YA audience), but also totally unique and compelling. I enjoyed every moment of it....more
I'm reviewing this in Urban Fantasy Magazine (the review will probably go up in May), but the short version is: I LOVE THIS SERIES, I LOVE THIS BOOK,I'm reviewing this in Urban Fantasy Magazine (the review will probably go up in May), but the short version is: I LOVE THIS SERIES, I LOVE THIS BOOK, AND OMG IT MADE ME CRY SO HARD. But I can't wait to read it again!...more
This book was SO much fun! It was the perfect blend of zany, sparky humor and deep-felt emotion - exactly my favorite kind of thing to read*4.5 stars*
This book was SO much fun! It was the perfect blend of zany, sparky humor and deep-felt emotion - exactly my favorite kind of thing to read.
Teenaged Cam has the worst mother issues ever, because she lives with a wicked witch who's constantly out for world domination and has a nasty habit of casting unpleasant spells on Cam whenever she doesn't do what she's told (and the occult supplies she has to gather can be really gross). Of course, she also keeps on giving Cam self-defense spells and trying to get her to learn & use them - but Cam is absolutely determined that she will NEVER be a witch - and that she and the witch she lives with have absolutely nothing in common. NOTHING. Nada. Zilch! And the witch CANNOT be a real relative of hers, even though everyone who sees them thinks they look awfully similar...
But when one of the witch's spells goes wrong and ends up sticking a demon into the body of the boy Cam likes, she's finally pushed into being so mad, she'll risk all of the wicked witch's wrath to protect him - even if that means having to finally do some magic of her own.
I loved, loved, loved stubborn, snarky Cam. I loved the fast pace and the humor and the fact that I really, really cared about the characters in this book, from her sweet crush Devon (a geeky, shy animal-lover who gets seriously objectified for his looks) to her best friend Jenah, to the awesome dragon who lives in her garage. The whole thing was sooooo much fun. And I can't wait to read the rest of this series!
Beautifully written. I loved this memoir of the year Eloisa James ran away to Paris with her family (as a reward/reaction to surviving a bout with breBeautifully written. I loved this memoir of the year Eloisa James ran away to Paris with her family (as a reward/reaction to surviving a bout with breast cancer, just after having nursed her own mother through her mother's terminal cancer). The descriptions (of the neighborhoods, of the food, of the museums and the clothing - really everything) are luscious, and I absolutely loved the whole experience of reading it. This book struck a perfect balance for me, because it satisfied my desire to vicariously enjoy the fantasy of a year in Paris AND it also dealt honestly with the real downsides of transplanting your whole family to a different country for a year, making me feel better about the fact that I can't! (Some of the kids' misadventures in their new school made me cringe in sympathy for both them and their parents.)
This was a delicious memoir in every way, and I'll be re-reading it (and gifting it to others, too)....more
It's normal for all of us to criticize some authors for being "formulaic." Reading A Good Year for the Roses this week, though, made me really questioIt's normal for all of us to criticize some authors for being "formulaic." Reading A Good Year for the Roses this week, though, made me really question that attitude. The truth is, Gil McNeil's novels all follow a strong pattern. The heroine is always a single mum, practical, put-upon, smart and funny as she balances parenting with some sort of career. (One heroine started a wool shop; another was a production manager; there's no formula in their career choices.) She always has a much more glamorous best friend. She often deals with cranky but essentially lovable older women in her life. There will be a romance by the end. I know exactly what I'm getting when I pick up one of her novels…
…and oh, do I love it. This week, in fact, I really NEEDED it! I was actually thinking - as I was feeling really stressed out through baby-inflicted exhaustion, way too much parenting-inspired housework along with a work deadline - "Oh, I wish there was a new Gil McNeil book for me to read!" And guess what? When I looked online: there was! I was thrilled. And I would have been hugely disappointed if it hadn't given me that familiar and honestly wonderful formula.
This book was pure comfort to read. The kid-humor was absolutely spot-on true, as always, and I loved Molly's cranky, funny voice. I looove the story of the book (she's a middle-class woman who unexpectedly inherits a falling-apart Georgian mansion in Devon - such a delicious fantasy! - and has to figure out how to find the money and strategy to keep it running, while also looking after her lovable but batty uncle and her three kids, as well as coping with her obnoxious ex-husband and even-more-obnoxious brother and father, who want to force her to sell the house to them for their hotel). The book is full of fabulous characters and there's so much sly humor throughout, but the whole effect is pure warmth and comfort. I sank into the book like I would slide into a long, hot bath. Just lovely.
I really hope Gil McNeil publishes a new novel really soon, and I hope she doesn't change her formula one bit. Her books are genuine life-savers, for me....more
Oh, did I love this book. Which isn't a surprise - I'm a huge Laura Florand fangirl! I fell in love, hard, with her writing last year. But this is oneOh, did I love this book. Which isn't a surprise - I'm a huge Laura Florand fangirl! I fell in love, hard, with her writing last year. But this is one of my favorites among her books, now, for its pure sweetness. When I finished reading (which I did in less than 24 hours, because I gulped it down like chocolate), I didn't just let out a happy Good Book Sigh. I also felt a little bit teary at how genuinely lovely and moving the ending was.
Layla Dubois is a burned-out singer-songwriter who finds out that she's unexpectedly inherited a beautiful old stone house in Provence, in the middle of rose-growing country - the perfect place to retreat from the world and see if she can learn how to write music again. Matthieu Rosier is the head of the family that owns the whole valley (a position full of pressure and expectations, which he's always desperately trying to live up to), and he's horrified to find out that that house - which was supposed to be kept in his family and passed down to him - was given instead, by his own beloved great-aunt, to an outsider. Of course, despite that conflict, they fall madly in love, and there's wonderful chemistry between them, along with lots of humor and complicated family dynamics. There are also truly breathtaking descriptions of the Provençal scenery. Reading this book, with its rich, intense visuals, made me want quite desperately to visit and be surrounded by fields of roses, myself. And the descriptions of Layla's creative process are just wonderful.
But what really makes this book special is just how good-hearted both the hero and heroine are (even though the hero is locally famous for being grumpy - something he's intentionally cultivated in his attempt to be the macho patriarch he's expected to be by the rest of his domineering and intimidating family). Layla and Matt have deeply conflicting desires for a lot of the book, but not only do they fill deep emotional needs in each other, they also work on their relationship like reasonable people. There's a standard trope in romance novels where, when one character is keeping a secret (even for an excellent reason), the discovery of that secret will send the other character stomping off in the distance, never to return until absolutely forced to by a dramatic, external emergency. Without giving spoilers: that kind of thing just doesn't happen here. Layla and Matt may fight, and they may say angry things to each other and stomp off to the other side of the room to seethe about it for a couple of minutes, but then they come back. They say sorry and they listen to what the other person has to say. And it all really, really worked for me.
This is the first book in a new series, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the series now! (I was lucky enough to get an e-ARC of this one, but it should go on sale within the next few weeks.) If you're a fan of lushly written and emotional romances for adults, I would definitely recommend it. ...more