November’s mini review round-up!

The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick | August 21, 2018
While browsing antique shops, Alison comes across a painting of Anne Boleyn, though she knows the true subject is Mary Seymour, daughter of former queen Katherine Parr. How? Because she was there at Wolf Hall with Mary…five centuries earlier in 1557.

I first became aware of Nicola a few years ago through one of my GoodReads Recoomends posts (based on my most absolute favorite book of 2016!). I instantly fell hard for House of Shadows and had been itching to get my hands on The Phantom Tree since it first came onto my radar.

At sixteen, Alison became pregnant but refused to name the father. As a result, she was exiled, only she saw a chance to run and took it. Unfortunately for Alison, she somehow found herself centuries in the future. While she’s been able to acclimate to 21st-century life, she desperately wants to find her way back to the 1500s, back to her son.

The Phantom Tree has it all: romance, time travel, scandal, a centuries-old scavenger hunt. I enjoyed every moment I spent within its pages and it was over all too soon.

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young | October 8, 2018
Ava is having a nightmare of a week. First there was a dreaded return back to her hometown (where she VERY clearly wasn’t wanted). Then a volcanic eruption in Europe threw up enough ash into the air that flights in America have even been grounded. Finally, just as she thinks she might be able to get back home to Boston – and even score an upgraded seat in first class – a monstrous brute of a Scotsman not only insults her, but also steals that coveted seat. When a layover leads to jumping into bed, they agree it was a one-time thing. However, Caleb seems to have a knack for popping up in Ava’s life and now his business trip to Boston looks like it’s becoming a permanent stay.

Back in 2016 I randomly grabbed the audio of Echoes of Scotland Street and enjoyed it, but didn’t pick up another of Young’s novels until I received a copy of Fight of Flight. This book was such a fun, fluffy way to pass a not-so-fun-and-fluffy week at work: the banter, the secondary characters, it was all great. While this does seem to be a standalone, there’s definitely a chance for a follow-up focusing on another couple in Fight or Flight and I would be a-okay with that!

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory | October 30
Five months into dating her man-bunned, actor-bro boyfriend, the last thing Nikole expects is a big screen proposal at a baseball game (he can’t even spell her name right!) With her refusal comes a massive blow-up, not just from the disappointed fans in the stadium, but also from Nik’s social media once the video goes viral. Carlos was at that game, even helped Nik flee from the camera crews, but Nik knows this handsome LA doctor can’t possibly be looking for anything serious.

Hot on the heels of her massively popular The Wedding Date, Guillory is back with The Proposal. Right from the start I was hooked, from the cringe-worthy proposal and the amazingly diverse cast to the female friendships, this book seriously had it all. I was a little late to the party with The Wedding Date, but now that I’ve discovered how fantastic Guillory is, you better believe my grabby hands will be all over The Wedding Party in July!

For Once in My Life by Colleen Coleman | November 20, 2018
Stranded at the altar three years ago when her groom-to-be ran off with her best friend, Lily is still single and working tirelessly for the local paper where her claims to fame are articles about giant vegetables and dogs who look like Chewbacca. After her boss A, ran the paper into the ground and B, abruptly quit just as the powers that be have announced a visit, Lily finds herself suddenly thrown into the boss’s seat – and responsible for saving the paper. Excited for the chance to finally stretch her wings and write the articles she wants to write, Lily excitedly volunteers to do a series on diving headfirst into things that scare her like skydiving and staying overnight in a haunted house, all the while accompanied by a fellow colleague, Christopher. With readership steadily increasing, things are only looking up for the paper – and for Lily, but will she finally be able to do the one thing that scares her most of all: falling in love again?

For Once in My Life was a completely random NetGalley grab on a weekend where I wanted another lighthearted read. I took a chance with this title and I’m glad I did. I’ll be honest, though I had a great time reading the book (and am pleased to say it held my interest start-to-finish), this wasn’t a book that stuck with me, even just a few weeks after reading. Just to write this mini review I had to go back and re-read the summary for character names and plot details. That said, I did enjoy this one while it lasted and was pleased to have passed a weekend with it.

Merrily Ever After by Jenny Holiday | December 4, 2018
Blissfully in the throes of newlywed life, Elise is looking forward to her first Christmas with her husband Jay. Her holiday spirit comes to a screeching halt, however, when she discovers she’s pregnant – despite all odds, medically impossible, no way no how. While Elise is bouncing between feeling elated and utter panic, she’s terrified to break the news to Jay: right from the start he said he never wanted children. This is their first Christmas together..will it also be their last?

This summer’s It Takes Two was my introduction to the series that’s taken the book community by storm and I’ve been kicking myself ever since for not listening to the praise sooner! Let me put it this way: I do not like short stories. At all. Despite MANY attempts to get into them, side stories and bonus novellas just never clicked for me. Yet I was beside myself with excitement at the thought of having more of this series to read.

Because this is a romance – a Christmas romance no less! – I knew there would be a happy ending, but my heart still went out to Elise several times over the course of this story. Against all odds, she’s going to have a baby and there’s a secret part of her that’s overcome with joy. On the other hand, she’s dreading the thought of telling her husband; when he learned she wasn’t able to have children, he announced she was his dream woman. She doesn’t want to even think about Jay leaving her, but how else could he possibly react to this news? Merrily Ever After was an incredibly short and sweet read that even made this Grinch’s heart grow three sizes – AND cameos from other characters made this novella an absolute delight.

The Shocking Miss Pilgrim: A Writer in Early Hollywood by Frederica Sagor Maas | 1999
Lastly, I wanted to include an older book I recently devoured. Back in 2016 I first shared a few of my favorite podcasts (keep your eyes peeled for an updated list coming soon!). One of those mentioned was You Must Remember This, a podcast about the first century of Hollywood. A recently episode was devoted to the life of Frederica Sagor Maas, a woman who admittedly I had never heard of prior to listening, but by the time the episode had ended, I had already put in a request at my library for her autobiography.

This will come as a shock to no one, but the story ideas and scripts Freddie wrote were ultimately credited to others (and by others I mean men). Some were even stolen outright. Still, she kept at it and her story was fascinating. Her entire life was fascinating: she lived to be 111, passing away just a few years ago in 2012. At the time of her death she was the 44th oldest person in the world, the 18th oldest person in America, and the 2nd oldest person in California. This memoir? She wrote it when she was 99. If you have an interest in early Hollywood I highly recommend this book!

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