Top Ten Tuesday: Covers That Made Want to Read/Buy the Book

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is images

Top Ten Tuesday is held by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl
Today’s topic is Titles or Covers That Made Want to Read/Buy the Book
Here we go!

So many eye catching covers!

What are some of the covers that made you want to read the book?

The Ice Swan | J’nell Ciesielski | Book Review

The Ice Swan was a pleasant surprise for me. Fleeing from Russia following the revolution, Princess Svetlana Dalsky, her mother, and her sister attempt to seek refuge in Paris. They are not welcomed with open arms and are forced to go into hiding in the basement of a church. Svetlana is determined to help her family get back on their feet but, she runs into trouble everywhere she turns. And not only does she run into trouble, she also runs into surgeon Wynn MacCallen who seems to be her only saving grace in the dark and confusing world which has now exploded into World War I.

I loved the backdrop which The Ice Swan presented. There was intrigue and suspicion all over France. Svetlana and her family are wealthy but the only wealth that they have managed to obtain are the jewels sewn into their clothing. These jewels also cause them nothing but trouble and get them involved with some very dangerous people. Throughout all of this, there is such a continuous tension that had me turning pages. This tension continues when Svetlana and her family have to go to Scotland for their safety during WWI.

Svetlana and Wynn have multiple chance meetings before Svetlana agrees to let Wynn help her. There is a powerful dynamic between the two characters. They start out as strangers with the potential for so much more, especially once they wind up in a marriage of convenience. Svetlana is a character that embodies female strength and resistance while Wynn is a character that embodies a male empathy and a desire to help others. These characteristics work very well together and are not afraid to call each other out when the are wrong.

With Wynn being a surgeon, it gave an opportunity for a J’nell Ciesielski to weave in discussions on the advances in medicine that were occurring at the time. Like I said, Wynn always has a desire to help others and this sometimes results in him putting his career in danger with a risky procedure. This also impacts the dynamic between him, his family, and Svetlana.

The Ice Swan was a little uneven at first but once things evened out, I was hooked. This is a beautifully written historical fiction book. It was my first introduction to J’nell Ciesielski but, I do not think it will be my last. She is a very strong writer who made me get deeply lost in the world which she created.

Rating: 4 Stars

**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

July 2021 Recap | August 2021 TBR


It’s officially my birthday month! I can’t believe I will be 34 on August 6th. As I grow older I am continually reminded how much I actually do not know and still need to learn. You never really stop learning in this life!

Let’s recap July…

Personal Recap:
-Oh look, this month had another visit to the vet. This time it was Belle who was having a gastrointestinal issue. Thankfully it was resolved with an antibiotic shot and a steroid. Maybe August will be the month where we don’t visit the vet? I’m not holding my breath.
-I got brave and cut my hair. It’s much shorter and has a shaved back. This is the shortest it has ever been and I love it. It’s so easy to manage and so much cooler!
-I had a few interviews in July. Two of them didn’t pan out the way but as of this recap, I’m waiting for a call from human resources at my local hospital to be hired in a part-time position. I’m excited but nervous as well. It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I think this part-time position will be a good way to get my foot in the door.
-Unfortunately, I had several triggers over the past month which impacted my mental health. I’m choosing to be honest about this and trying to take things one day at a time by doing the things that I know will help me along the way. This includes reading, journaling, walks outside in nice weather and my new found love of making crafts using yarn and plastic canvas.

Reading Recap:
My Christmas in July feature was very successful this month! I also read 12 out of the 15 books on my July TBR: If You Come Softly. Christmas in Eternity Springs. An Amish Christmas Quilt. Mr. Miracle. A Mistletoe Christmas. A New York Christmas. Christmas Wishes at the Christmas Shop. The Christmas House. On the Naughty List. Christmas Joy. Christmas at Evergreen Inn. Home for Christmas. I also read these books that were not originally on my TBR: Library of Souls. Sisters in Arms. Balancing It All. Ready, Set, Rogue. Duke With Benefits. Wallflower Most Wanted. In A Holidaze. Outraged. Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man. The Ice Swan. One Life. Somebody’s Daughter. We Are Inevitable. Christmas At Carly’s Cupcakes. Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café. Heart and Seoul. The Beautiful. and County Music Cowboy. This brings my total for July to 30 books!

Television Review:
I’ll be honest. I didn’t watch much television this month except for the occasional Hallmark Christmas movie and the start of the Olympics. Or if I did it wasn’t enough for me to remember for this recap. I’m looking forward to continuing with the Olympics and for the start of NFL football season in a few weeks!

August TBR:
The Dating Playbook. It’s Raining Men. Bombshell. The Paris Connection. Love At First Fight. So We Meet Again. Skye Falling. Love and Other Natural Disasters. The Last Goodbye. Snowflakes Over The Star Café. Seasons Between Us. It All Comes back To You. A Reckless Match. The Charm Offensive. The Royal Correspondent. Maiden Voyages. The Final Revival of Opal and Nev. The Fountains of Silence. One For the Rogue. Draw Me Close.

As you can see it’s a bit of list but I’m confident that I can accomplish it. I’ve had a good reading year so far and I want to be able to continue it. Also, most of these books are for the ARC August reading challenge. Can’t wait to see how I do!

Blame It On The Mistletoe | Nicole Michaels | Book Review

Blame It On The Mistletoe is such a cute holiday romance. It is part of Nicole Michaels’ Hearts and Crafts series. I had previously read this story when it first came out but for some reason I never provided a review. So, I knew I had to read it again for my Christmas in July 2021 project. And I’m glad I did because the second time was just as good at the first!

Blame It on The Mistletoe is a duel narrative told from the perspectives of the main characters, Brooke and Alex. Brooke grew up knowing Alex as he was her older brother’s best friend. In fact, she had a little bit of a crush on him but, she hadn’t seen him in years. Suddenly, she finds herself being reacquainted with him when she mistakes him for a burglar of her store…and both of them have grown up.

Both Alex and Brooke have been through quite a bit since the last time they have seen each other. Alex had left the town that he felt hated him and had been in the military and working on a fish boat in Alaska. Brooke went through a recent horrific breakup and is trying to rebuild her life with her craft and jewelry store. The trials and tribulations that each of them have been through impacts how they approach each other. There is an immediately attraction and chemistry but, both of them are cautious about doing too much too fast because they don’t want to hurt each other. These characters are people who I felt like could be my friends in real life.

Blame It On The Mistletoe is set in a small town in Missouri which I loved because I’m such a fan of small town settings. Brooke has opened a boutique to sell her jewelry on a side street of the town. This is a town that is filled with little shops and this allows Brooke to meet new people and make new friends. As I had read the second book of this series (Win Me Over), I was excited to be introduced to these characters (Callie and Annie) and see how everything started. Everyone is connected and supportive of each other – good examples of positive female friendships. The town wasn’t always good to Alex however and being back in it brings alot of mixed emotions.

Blame It On The Mistletoe is a good girl/bad boy troupe with characters who are growing, learning, and changing. It is set during the holiday season which added a sweetness to it but, did not over whelm it. I think that this is a good introduction to the characters of the Hearts and Crafts series. It can be read alone as well but if you’re like me you will fall for these characters and want to see them time and time again.

Rating: 4 Stars

Christmas At Evergreen Inn | Donna Alward | Book Review

Christmas at Evergreen Inn is a short novella set within the Jewel Cove series by Donna Alward. I had not previously read any of the Jewel Cove books that did not feel lost at all. This is a story that you can enter with no pretenses and almost immediately understand the layout of the small town.

It is December in Jewel Cove and there is a snowstorm happening. Officer Todd Smith is checking the roads when he encounters a car that has broken down. He assists the man out of his car and takes him to the local bed and breakfast The Evergreen Inn. The owner of the bed and breakfast, Lainey Price, went to school with Todd but, they usually ran with different crowds. Yet as they spend time together helping the stranded travelers at the inn, there is no denying an attraction between them.

Christmas at Evergreen Inn is filled with a sweet holiday spirit. It starts with the snowstorm earlier in December and finishes on Christmas eve. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Todd and Lainey. There is a history there from their school days but, there is also a strong chemistry as they are noticing how the other has grown up. And of course, I will never turn down a scene where the two main characters are forced to room together due to a room shortage. This one did not have a one bed scenario but, it was still just as steamy.

Being with Todd brings up several emotions for Lainey that she had previously thought that she dealt with. The holiday prior her fiancée’ dumped her and she found out that he had been sleeping with someone else behind her back. Not exactly the Christmas news she wanted to hear. The emotions make her reluctant to start anything with Todd but, the feelings that he stirs up within her as just as strong. Although this was only a short novella, I felt like the growth for Lainey was pretty well developed. Plus, it didn’t hurt that Todd was such a sweetheart and had me rooting for him the whole time.

Christmas at Evergreen Inn was a wonderful Christmas pick me up. It held my attention the whole time I was reading it. I wanted to visit the bed and breakfast myself and spend time with Lainey and Todd. Donna Alward is an author that I have read a few different times now. I look forward to reading other books by her in the future!

Rating: 4 Stars

On The Naughty List | Lori Foster | Carly Phillips | Sugar Jamison | Beth Ciotta | Book Review

On The Naughty List is a holiday anthology that was released by St. Martin’s Paperbacks in 2014. There are four books in this collection each with their own characters, chemistry, and holiday spirit. They were each enjoyable to read and introduced me to some new authors as well.

Christmas Bonus by Lori Foster is a holiday work place romance where the two main characters are planning the annual Christmas party together. There is a strong chemistry between the two characters. It is obvious that they have known each other for a long while before actually acting on their feelings.

Naughty Under The Mistletoe by Carly Phillips is another holiday work place romance with a twist. In this case, the main character intends on finally making a move on her boss but kisses his twin brother instead. There is an immediate attraction between the two characters which quickly blossoms into more as they spend time together.

Some Kind of Wonderful by Beth Ciotta was likely my favorite in this anthology. It is a life long friends to lovers troupe which is played perfectly. The two characters find themselves stranded in a cabin together and must decide if they are going to act on the tension that has been simmering between them for a while now. There is also a touch of the three ghosts from A Christmas Carol in there too.

Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas by Sugar Jamison is the final story in the anthology. This is a story of a single mother who is trying to connect with the father of her child in order to convince him to take responsibility for him. When she encounters his brother, she finds out that the father of her son is dead, and the wealthy man who she detests now wants to be a father figure for her child. This is an opposites attract type of story with a holiday spin. The dynamic between the two characters and the baby was very sweet.

Each of the stories in On The Naughty List were different and helped capture my attention. There were some sweet moments, some sexy moments, and some laugh out loud moments in all of them. Each of them also had a different approach the holidays which I also enjoyed. I look forward to checking out these authors other works in the future.

Rating: 3 Stars

A New York Christmas | Anne Perry | Audiobook Review

WHY DID I LISTEN TO A NEW YORK CHRISTMAS BY ANNE PERRY?

A New York Christmas is a book that has been on my TBR in 2014 as an ARC. I think it has just been a case of too many books not enough time. When I found the audiobook on Libby, I immediately borrowed it so that I could complete this one for my 2021 Christmas in July celebration. I had not read any of Anne Perry’s previous books.

WHAT’S THE STORY HERE?

Anne Perry is a mystery writer who has written several different series. In A New York Christmas, she takes Jemima Pitt, who is the daughter of the main characters in her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series, and has her go on her own adventure. Jemima is accompanying a female companion as she travels from London to the New York to marry her fiancé’. At first the trip seems to be a thing of dreams but within a couple of days, she discovers that things are not always as they seem. When Jemima finds herself involved in a murder mystery, she must rely on her intuition and the skills she has learned from her father. Especially when she realizes that she really has no one in New York that she can trust.

WHAT DID I THINK OF A NEW YORK CHRISTMAS?

Mysteries are not my usual cup of tea however, I still wanted to give this one a try as it was supposed to have a bit of a holiday feel to it. Honestly, it didn’t feel like this was truly a mystery story. Yes, there was a mystery but, I figured it out relatively quickly and so did the protagonist Jemima. This was more a story of waiting and seeing if Jemima was able to use what she had figured out and get herself out of danger.

A New York Christmas is set in 1904. I didn’t really feel like there was much holiday spirit within it. There were a few descriptions of snow but nothing that held my attention and screamed Christmas to me. There was also a hint of romance between Jemima and the chief of police but, I also wasn’t very captivated by that. I just didn’t capture my attention in the way that I had thought it would.

HOW’S THE NARRATION?

A New York Christmas is 3 hours and 49 minutes unabridged. It it narrated by Saskia Maarleveld and I listened to it at 1.75x speed which did not effect the flow of the story. If anything it may have helped the flow of a story which I wasn’t fully captivated by. The narrator did have a very soothing even voice which made the story easy to listen to.

Rating: 2 Stars

Audiobook review layout borrowed from April @ Good Books and Good Wine.

Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop | Jessica Redland | Book Review

Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop is a charming seasonal novel written by Jessica Redland. It is set in the small seaside town of Whitsborough Bay. I have read two other companion novels also set in Whitsborough Bay (Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café) and it was so wonderful to be back on Castle Street again.

Charlie is a chocolatier who has been working at her Grandfather’s former chocolate shop. When the current owner retires and his daughter takes over, it isn’t long before Charlie knows that she is going to have to find a new place to work. She decides to move to Whitsborough Bay with her boyfriend Ricky and open her own chocolate shop. She has no ‘traditional’ family left to support her and she feels that this move would be good for her. Of course nothing comes easy when you’re trying to start over again, right?

Charlie is a strong woman but, she has recently been hit with too many real life tragedies. Not only had she left her job but, her grandmother who raised her had recently passed away. She is vulnerable and looking for support from her boyfriend. Unfortunately, her boyfriend is useless and a bit of a snake. Charlie was so easy to root for as a character. I really enjoyed watching her grow and find her way and build a new life in Whitsborough Bay.

I also enjoyed the dynamic that developed between Charlie and the local plumber Matt. The two characters have a connection from the very beginning but both are spoken for so friendship is all that is available. Over time, the feelings that they have for each other get stronger but, neither is willing to act on them. I usually enjoy a slow burn romance and this was no exception. The romance wasn’t the central part of Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop and I think that is why I enjoyed the little tidbits that were periodically shown throughout.

There is many messages regarding female empowerment and friendship throughout Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop which were so enjoyable to read. I loved the connection between Charlie and her best friend Jodie who joins her at the chocolate shop as well as her connection with the other shop owners on Castle Street. Charlie stands up for herself when needed and gets supported as well. She also makes discoveries about her birth parents and grandparents that help build her into an even stronger and loyal woman.

Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop is filled with the magic of the holiday season as well. I loved envisioning Castle Street during the holiday season with all the decorations and tree lighting ceremony. It felt like I was actually there witnessing everything that happened over the course of two years. If you enjoy curling up with a holiday book that will leave you will with warm fuzzy feelings and a smile on your face, this will be the one for you.

Rating: 4 Stars

**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Mr. Miracle | Debbie Macomber | Audiobook Review

WHY DID I LISTEN TO MR. MIRACLE BY DEBBIE MACOMBER?

Mr. Miracle is a Debbie Macomber Christmas story which I have read previously. I have also seen the Hallmark movie based on this story. Yet for some reason, I never actually reviewed the ARC as I was supposed to when it originally came out. So for my 2021 Christmas in July celebration, I wanted to finally complete this task.

WHAT’S THE STORY HERE?

Mr. Miracle is part of the Angelic Intervention series by Debbie Macomber. It follows guardian angel Harry Mills as he attempts to complete his first assignment: help Addie Folsom get her life back on track. He helps her by mentoring her education, her family life, and social life but, it is not without a few mishaps along the way. It is a heartwarming story filled with second chances romance, and Christmas magic.

WHAT DID I THINK OF MR. MIRACLE?

Debbie Macomber is one of my favorite authors to read during the holiday season because her stories never fail to put me in a good mood. She just has a way to make her stories simple but filled with the best holiday magic. In this case, she uses Harry Mills to educate and bring Addie into her new life which includes a potential romance with someone who she has a strained history with. Harry also experiences his own growth learning how to be human as an angel. I liked the dynamic of watching these characters grow together. It was an interesting cast of characters that is for sure. I almost wish I could have gotten to know the side characters a little bit more though. Some of Mr. Miracle seemed really wrapped up in the idea of Christmas magic but, I think things could have been expanded on a bit more, especially in terms of Addie and Erich’s relationship.

HOW’S THE NARRATION?

Mr. Miracle is narrated by Elyse Mirto and is 4 hours and 55 minutes unabridged. I listened to it at 1.75x because I felt like it helped with the flow better. I enjoyed the narration because it felt smooth and was easy to listen to. I could feel the heart of the story though out and that made it enjoyable.

Rating: 3 Stars

Audiobook review layout borrowed from April @ Good Books and Good Wine.

Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café| Jessica Redland | Book Review

After reading Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes I knew I wanted to continue with this companion series. I quickly picked up the next listed one Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café and was immediately drawn into the main character Tara’s story. This one begins at Christmas time and continues through a whole year giving you an opportunity to live life through Tara’s eyes.

Tara owns the local café The Chocolate Pot in Whitborough Bay. She opened the café shortly after moving to the area following a horrific divorce and separation from her family. She was looking for a new start and was determined not to be fooled again. Too many people had hurt her in the past and she just didn’t want to go through that again. She is just fine living on her own with her pet house rabbit. Of course, living in a small homey town has a way of changing perspectives.

My feelings for Tara ran deep as she starts to delve into the story of her past. This was a woman who had been tricked and hurt but, still felt the internal desire to help others. In fact, the name for bakery came from a special piece of her childhood which she has always carried with her. Her desire to help others becomes more and more obvious with the decisions she makes in terms of her café; and her relationships with the other businesses. I really enjoyed watching her open herself up and having her realize she still had alot of life left to live beyond what had happened to her.

One of the relationships which was most special to watch in Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café was Tara’s relationship with Jed. Fourteen years earlier, the two had met when Jed sold the location of the café to her, and she was left feeling that he had screwed her over in the business sense. Unknown to her, he actually had no idea what had happened to her. When their paths cross again, their is an immediate attraction, and once all of the cards are on the table, an easy friendship is developed. I loved watching these two individuals who had both been badly hurt by the other people in their lives come together and find love again. It was very sweet to visualize amongst the Christmas lights of the town.

My next read will be Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop which is also set in Whitborough Bay during the holiday season. It is scheduled for released on August 3rd, 2021. I’m looking forward to spending more quality time with these characters that I’ve come to know and their shops which I wish I could visit.

Rating: 4 Stars

A. A. MacConnell

When you write drabbles, you relieve the pressure of the epic novel expanding in your head.

The Calico Books

Let's talk about books!

melshurtz

Continuing to Improve myself as an Educator

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started