13 November 2022

Just Like Magic - Book Review

Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle
Publication: October 24, 2022
Pages: 368 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: Be warned - I love cheezy holiday stories and predictable holiday rom-coms, and this was a nearly perfect book for me :)

Bettie Watson-Hughes has been squatting in a dead old woman's house since she had the good luck to take a house sitting job for someone who never returned. While she could probably go on like this until someone caught her and called her out, her family's annual holiday celebration is likely to rock the whole boat a lot sooner.

While drinking wine and lamenting the whole tragic situation, she accidentally performs ancient magic and summons a holiday spirit. Could Hall be the answer to her getting revenge on all those who have wronged her, or something even more?

I admittedly picked this one up with the 'Magic' in the title expecting a good Halloween book. LOL Luckily I'm one of those crazy souls who appreciates the cheeriness of the winter holidays starting November 1, and this was an excellent book to start it all off for me. I'd give this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to those who enjoy cheezy holiday movies, or twists on classic holiday tales.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my electronic copy of this book. Receiving the book for free did not influence my review.

11 November 2022

A Season with the Witch - Book Review

A Season with the Witch: The Magic and Mayhem of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts by J. W. Ocker
Publication: October 4, 2016
Pages: 338 pages
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: How long do you need to live somewhere to count as more than a visitor? This author got a better rounded view of Salem by spending all of October in Witch City with his family.

The author's charming and conversational style was great for giving a convincing blend of seeing Salem as a visitor, while peeking behind the curtain at what it may be like to live there during something other than Halloween month. 

Everyone he spoke to was willing to treat October as an event in Salem, and the night of Halloween as an even more intense event than the rest of the month. While it sounded like a split between those who loved Salem except for October, and those who loved Salem in spite of October, their reasoning was usually similar - lots of crazy crowds there for a good time, and not necessarily out of respect for the tragic witchcraft trials that made Salem stand out.

While I would love to visit Salem anytime, it is admittedly mostly for the Witch City history and events. I enjoyed learning more about the historical significance of Salem as a maritime power and early manufacturing hub. I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to those who are intrigued by Salem for any reason, or who would like to learn more about east coast U.S. history.

30 October 2022

Run, Rose, Run - Book Review

Run, Rose, Run by Dolly Parton & James Patterson
Publication: March 7, 2022
Pages: 448 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: I did not realize til I searched for the book cover image that there's an album to go with this!

I was so excited when I was approved to read this one. See, I don't get to read many books that aren't already on my review list from Netgalley or the other blog I review for. So I definitely wanted to read Run, Rose, Run, but getting approved to review it gave me the excuse I needed.

AnnieLee Keyes showed up in Nashville out of nowhere, with the voice of an angel, and a sassy personality that could have been said to be just the opposite. Her defenses were always up, and she seldom reacted the way anyone expected. She never trusted anyone who said they just wanted to help her out. Life had taught her that everything has a price.

But Ruthanna Ryder - the 'Queen of Country' who has recently retired, and Ethan Blake (with his own dark history), recognize something in AnnieLee, and they are determined to see her star rise as it should. By the time they realize how little they know of AnnieLee's past, it has already potentially gotten the best of her. 

While I've ready several James Patterson books over the years, I really wanted to read this one for the fact that Dolly Parton was in on it. I admittedly tried to read the two female country musicians in her voice, obvs. 

Overall, I enjoyed the story. It moved smoothly and entertainingly, and I continually wanted to know what would happen next. I would recommend this book for those who like music stories (not even necessarily country), independent female characters, and those with tragic backstories. I gave this 4 out of 5 stars and would keep reading anything else Dolly Parton works on.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my electronic copy of this book. Receiving it for free did not influence my review. 

18 September 2022

The Sunday Post 9/18/22

 Wow! Welcome to my contribution to the Sunday Post 💛 and The Sunday Salon 💜

It's been a bit since I've joined with one of these - hope everyone's been doing well!

Since I've hardly kept up on doing anything regularly since I've been back in-office full time in early May, this may jump around a bit.

Most of my blogging is still book-ish, so feel free to check out my last three reviews: The Flight Attendant (3 out of 5 stars), The Witches of Moonshyne Manor (5 out of 5 stars), and Devil's Chew Toy (4 out of 5 stars). 

I'm currently reading Her Majesty's Royal Coven (hoping to finish later today), The Fortunes of Jaded Women, and casually browsing a pdf of Luminary: A Magical Guide to Self Care while waiting for my paper copy (the pdf keeps losing my place!). 

But I don't live by books alone, right? Oh, wait. Maybe I do.

The rest of my, well, day:

Working full-time is severely messing up my ability to manage the rest of my life. Like, for real. Today I still need to do more of my theatre booster treasurer responsibilities (I HATE QUICKBOOKS!!!), get together a renewal lease for the tenants of the house we never sold, and finish disbursing my paycheck from Friday to various medical bills and other things I want to go away.

Ending on a happy note, three great things:

A beautiful day with my kids at the Michigan Renaissance Festival yesterday! If you're local and waiting to go, check out the ticket giveaway at Yes/No Detroit. After a cool-ish beginning to the week (and I think it's cool again by the end of this week), yesterday was mid-80s and mostly sunny! I got a cute huntress costume off of Amazon, but had no need for a cape yesterday! 

While 'great' may be overstating it, I'm going in for my first annual physical in seven years this week. LOL I did the advance testing and am ready to hear that I still feel pretty darn healthy for breaching the second half of my first century (why yes, I am an optimist frequently).

And I'm starting planning for my baby's 11th birthday next month! He's opted to have a super fun day and sleepover with one friend instead of a party, and I admit I'm a bit relieved. My biggest planning will be a family party with his grandparents, aunts & uncles, and cousins over for dinner. Now to help him pick a dinner....

15 September 2022

The Flight Attendant - Book Review

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian
Publication: March 13, 2018
Pages: 345 pages
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: At least when I count my bad choices when I've been drinking, I don't have to include leaving a dead body in a hotel room...

I picked up this one as the book-turned-to-movie/show option for my Yelp book club. While I still haven't seen the show, I might now to see that interpretation of the book.

Cassie is a flight attendant, and quite a good one, for years and years. She's had her share of adventures (and mis-adventures) over the years and around the world, but she's definitely in a full panic when she wakes up in a hotel room in Dubai next to the dead body of the man she'd spent the night with. 

Since she's not only a drunk, but also known to black-out on a regular basis, she isn't really sure what happened and remembers nothing of an attack or murder. So instead of calling authorities in a country where she isn't a citizen and wouldn't have much help, she trashes everything she can think of that would tie her to that hotel room on her way back to her own hotel shuttle, which will promptly take her to 'work,' and back to the U.S.

I personally really enjoy books with unreliable narrators, so Cassie's story - that even she wasn't sure of - was right up my alley. While I could almost imagine this moving on to a series of books, the first one would be totally different from the others based on the twist it ends with, but there could definitely be spin-off stories. I gave this 3 out of 5 stars, and have heard this may be one of those odd exceptions where the show could be better than the book.

26 August 2022

Five Things for Friday 8/26/22

  1. Am  I the only one who vividly remembers this scene from the 1987 Overboard movie? They're making her work like a, well, a not rich woman. She comes in the house and sits in the chair going ba-ba-ba-ba-ba while the kids throw grapes at her. (Hope that video works!) My mind felt almost that numb by the time I got home from work yesterday. LOL
  2. Summer is rapidly coming to an end. We had school stuff for the high schooler this week, and our elementary school meet and greet is next week. Our public schools here don't go back til the Tuesday after Labor Day, so just one more full week off.
  3. Maggie and I are so excited to go see Heathers the Musical this weekend! She'll probably already know all the songs, but I've been trying to review them via Spotify before the show. Maybe we should watch the movie again to prep?
  4. I found another fun playlist on Spotify as well - Sirius had some classical pop covers for a bit, and it finally occurred to me to search Bridgerton on Spotify. So fun!!
  5. My real motivation for finally posting a Five Things post was to catch up on my book reviews before another whole month has passed! Obviously I finished The Seamstress of New Orleans (4 out of 5 stars) by Diane C. McPhail, and The Witches of Moonshyne Manor (5 out of 5 stars) by Bianca Marais and reviewed them here at my blog, but also Finding Edward (4 out of 5 stars) by Sheila Murray, and Devil's Chew Toy (4 out of 5 stars, with a signed copy giveaway ending 8/30/22) by Rob Osler.

21 August 2022

The Witches of Moonshyne Manor - Book Review

The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais
Publication: August 23, 2022
Pages: 400 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: If you never know the real story of a relationship between two people, let's assume you know even less if there's also magic involved...

First of all, I obviously loved this book! It's a hard
story to summarize, without giving too much away. The author does a marvelous job of building the story, so by the time the reader has finished the book, they realize they really knew nothing about it at the beginning.

Moonshyne Manor is the home and nearly another coven member with a found family of mature witches who live there and run the attached distillery. While it's made clear pretty early on that their home and their way of life are at stake, the true cause of all the trouble is unclear, besides being the 'evil townsmen.' 

In the first awful confrontation with the evil townsmen, we're also lucky enough to meet young Persephone, and her dog, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. What is not to love about a young feminist ready to defend a houseful of witches in their 80s? This early scene gives more life to several of the characters, and had me calling my daughter in to read parts to her time and time again.

The story continues to give us more background info on all of the characters, and what brought them and the manor to their current dire situation. This is one of the best contemporary stories I've read in a long time, which is why I had to give it 5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this story to open-minded readers, willing to believe in the true power of magic, family, and love.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my advance electronic copy of this fabulous book. Receiving the book for free did not influence my review.