Book Review: The Twelve Brides of Christmas Collection

12bridesofChristmas_barbourThe Festive Bride by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

The Nutcracker Bride by Margaret Brownley

The Christmas Star Bride by Amanda Cabot

The Advent Bride by Mary Connealy

The Christmas Tree Bride by Susan Page Davis

The Nativity Bride by Miralee Farrell

The Evergreen Bride by Pam Hillman

The Gift-Wrapped Bride by Maureen Lang

The Gingerbread Bride by Amy Lillard

The Fruitcake Bride Vickie McDonough

The Snowbound Bride by Davalynn Spencer

The Yuletide Bride by Michelle Ule


That I am partial to the story collections put out by Barbour Books is no secret, and this collection of 12 “Heartwarming Stories for the Season of Love” is no exception.  Full of sweet and charming stories set in the Christmas season, there is sure to be a story or six here to suit the taste of any historical and inspirational romance reader with arranged marriages, widowed fathers, spinsters, artists, bakers, stagecoach drivers, Texas Rangers, love potions, family expectations and childhood misunderstandings. Continue reading

3 Picture Book Reviews

I recently won a giveaway on Instagram from @laureneeni (Lauren of ReadsAndDaydreams on YouTube) for three paperback picture books, all newly published in 2015.  While nothing was required in exchange,  I thought I’d just dash off a brief review of each before I wrap and mail them along with Goodnight, Manger (review here) to my great nieces and great nephew (ages 3, 2, and 11 months), which is now the fate/reason for all picture books that I acquire and find to be absolutely adorable.

First up, a Bloomsbury Publishing title: 


WANTED! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar by Emily MacKenzie

Arthur has a problem.  Someone has been stealing his books!  So he calls in Police Constable Puddle to investigate.  PC Puddle arranges for a line-up  of rabbit suspects.  Ralfy Rabbit, the book thief, is able to resist all of the carrots on the con-veggie-belt but gives himself away when a pile of books comes by…

Children who love books and bunnies are sure to love this cute little story of how Arthur and Ralfy become book buddies.  I especially loved the 2 page spread where Ralfy Rabbit makes book lists and that – bit of a spoiler – a nice introduction to public library use is included.

My copies were mailed from the UK, so the texts of their North American versions may have be altered.  Beyond the Police Officer being called a Constable, there were a few other fun UK/US differences in word use or accent that might be fun to talk about when reading aloud: torch/flashlight, ‘ello/hello, ‘ere/here, “fancy that”, pinch/steal.

The second title is from Simon and Shuster:


Monsters Love Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort

From space monsters with ‘bloomers’ to woolly mountain monsters with frozen underpants, in rhyming text with vibrant and dynamic illustrations, monsters of all kinds and their underpants preferences are shown.  The text is fun, the illustrations make it funny, and young readers/listeners will find this book hilarious.

I do love a picture book that makes monsters less scary and this one had me smiling all the way through.  As the book points out, how can anyone be afraid of a monster wearing polka dot underpants?

British-isms:  calling underpants ‘pants,’ tetchy/touchy, and again, pinch/steal

While I loved and highly recommend all three books, I’ve saved my most favorite – from Scholastic Children’s Books – for last:


Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith

Where the first two books had me smiling, this retelling of Little Red Riding Hood had me laughing out loud.  Little Red is off to visit her sick Auntie Rosie, but finds the Very Hungry Lion in Auntie’s bed, wearing Auntie’s nightie.  Rather than waiting to be rescued, Little Red decides to teach Lion a lesson.  And this is when my smiles turned to laughter.  Little Red may be one of my favorite picture book heroine’s ever.  She is caring, she is clever, and she is adorable.  Oh, and I might just have a soft spot for Auntie/niece relationships…

British-isms: lift/ride, pudding/dessert, plonked/put, cupboard/closet, grotty/gross, frock/dress, and donuts spelled doughnuts.

I can’t wait to hear how my niece’s kids react to these books.  I know that my sister will love reading these aloud to her grandchildren and  I’m just a teensy bit jealous that I don’t get to read aloud to them myself.




December DIY: Gift Card Bookmarks and other Ideas

I’ve been doing a bit of last minute DIY for Christmas, so I thought I would try my hand at a DIY blogpost.  Here goes…  

Gift cards are a convenient last minute gift, and a great alternative when you aren’t sure which book (or other gift) to get. But rather than leaving it in the store provided packaging or stuffing it into an envelope, why not do a little DIY packaging? Below are a few quick, inexpensive ideas: Continue reading

Review: Instant Frontier Family (Frontier Bachelors #4) by Regina Scott


Maddie O’Rourke travelled to Seattle as one of Mercer’s Maidens, but not to marry.  Through hard work and determination, she has made a home and saved enough to send for her orphaned half brother and half sister as well as a woman to accompany them and work for her as a laundress.  When they step off the boat from New York City, however, it is in the company of a man – one the two young siblings have decided Maddie should marry.  Maddie, however, has no intentions of marrying anyone.

Michael Haggerty took the job of escorting the young pair when he was threatened by a notorious gang.  Willing to work and anxious to repay Maddie for his passage, he is not, however, looking to court anyone.  But he’s formed a bond with Ciara and Aiden, one that he is not willing to let go of.

When the troubles start and prejudice begins against the Irish, Michael struggles to find employment while Maddie works to overcome the sabotage of her fledgling bakery.

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Review (Giveaway Closed): The Warlord and the Nightingale by Jeannie Lin

Jeannie Lin is one of the authors I newly discovered this year.  While she primarily writes historical romances set in China and Japan, she has delved into the Steampunk genre with The Gunpowder Chronicles, a series set during the Opium Wars of the 19th Century Quing Dynasty.

My first taste of this series, and my first Steampunk in a purely Asian setting, was the short story of The Warlord and The Nightingale, published first as part of the ebook “Once Upon a Fairy Tale: A Collection of Fairy Tale Inspired Romances” and then as a stand-alone ebook.  Here is an excerpt from my (pre-blog) review of that collection: Continue reading

Review: Clockwork Samurai by Jeannie Lin

clockworksamurai_jeannielin_intermix_penguinIt is 1852, a year after the events in Gunpowder Alchemy, the first novel in the Gunpowder Chronicles series set during China’s Qing Dynasty.  Jin Soling is now a physician to the Emperor’s concubines and her former intended, Chen Chang-wei, is once again among the Engineers in the Ministry of Science.  The threat of the Yangguizi, regardless of a treaty, and strengthening defenses against the foreigners as well as the rebel army are of great concern in the Imperial Court.  Soling and Chang-wei are on a secret mission to secure an alliance with Japan, despite the Shogunate’s edicts against it.  So they are off again on an adventure, rife with danger and intrigue, but this time out they encounter wondrous karakuri automatons, smugglers, Samurai, Ronin, deadly assassins, new allies and old friends. Continue reading

Monthly Recommendations: Trilogies

When I joined the Monthly Recommendations group started by Kayla Raines and Trina from Between Chapters on GoodReads, I thought I’d finally found a group where I could keep up on the topics.  Now November is almost over, and though I started a list on a post-it, I hadn’t managed to get any further until now… so here is a quick, very last minute #monthlyrecs list in no real order:

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