The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

  • Title:  The Flight Attendant
  • Author:  Chris Bohjalian
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  368
  • Pub. Date:  March 2018 – Doubleday
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  Cassie has been a flight attendant for a major airline for almost 20 years. She’s also a functioning alcoholic which has given her a reputation among her co-workers and the few friends she has. When she works the first class section on a flight to Dubai she meets a handsome and charming American hedge fund manager who she agrees to meet later at his hotel. That decision, followed by a series of really bad decisions, sets her life on an unexpected course that is in turn horrifying and intriguing.

Told mostly from Cassie’s (unreliable) perspective the novel made me feel anxious – and yet I couldn’t stop reading. I don’t want to risk a spoiler but I can say that if an international, of-the-moment thriller is a genre you enjoy you will want to read The Flight Attendant.


 

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A Bella Flora Christmas by Wendy Wax

  • Title:  A Bella Flora Christmas
  • Series:  Ten Beach Road #5.5
  • Author:  Wendy Wax
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  November 2017 – Intermix E-book Original
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Although their lives have changed since their first desperate renovation of Bella Flora, friends Madeline, Avery, and Nicole have always been there for each other. Now they’re returning to Bella Flora for Christmas—where Maddie’s daughter Kyra isn’t feeling particularly celebratory.
 
Kyra was hoping for a peaceful holiday at Bella Flora—a last gathering before a wealthy, mystery tenant moves into the home she’s been forced to rent out. Instead, she must make a life altering decision by New Year’s — a decision that becomes even more difficult when unexpected guests arrive at Ten Beach Road on Christmas Eve. Now Kyra, Maddie, Avery and Nikki will need to pull together to secure Bella Flora’s future, as well as their own. (publisher)

My take:  If you’re up to date with the Ten Beach Road series this novella will tide you over until the release of Best Thing Ever next May. If you’re not, you’ll get to know the principal characters and a basic idea of how they fit into the storyline of the series. It’s the week before Christmas and all is not calm. Bella Flora, the gorgeous home that brought the women together in the first place, is filling up with Maddie and daughter Kyra’s friends and family.They’ll celebrate the holiday together and then move out so the home can be rented. The rent will help save Bella Flora from going into foreclosure. A Bella Flora Christmas is told from Kyra’s POV which made me feel her anxiety over a decision she has to make by the first of the year. That decision will impact all of her friends – so no pressure there! Since I’ve read the entire series I know the history and cause of her indecision. I expect that thread will carry through the next book. It was fun to find out what was going on in each woman’s life and I’m eager to see the direction Wendy Wax steers them next. Recommended to fans of the Ten Beach Road series.


 

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

  • Title:  Seven Days of Us
  • Author:  Francesca Hornak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  358
  • Published:  October 2017 – Berkley Hardcover
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.
 
For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while her older sister, Olivia, deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems.
 
Their father, Andrew, sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent. But his wife, Emma, is hiding a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.  
 
In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive… (publisher)

My take:  Seven Days of Us is an entertaining and deceptively light novel about a family. The Birches are an interesting group. Andrew, the father, is a snarky restaurant reviewer for a newspaper. Emma, the matriarch, just wants everyone to have the kind of Christmas holiday she remembers from childhood. Altruistic eldest daughter Olivia is a doctor just returned from relief work in Liberia and the reason for the family quarantine. Younger daughter Phoebe is completely self-absorbed and more than a bit annoyed at being forced to spend the holidays with her family instead of her new fiancé. Told from the perspective of each family member, plus a couple of other characters, the chapters are short and follow a day-by-day form that made the novel easy to stop and start reading. This was also a great way to lay out the Birch family’s messy dynamics. It ended up being an emotional read for me – that was unexpected and very much appreciated. Recommended to fans of novels about imperfect families. I loved the setting(s) and the holiday-ness to which I think most readers will relate on one level or another.


AUTHOR BIO

Francesca Hornak is a journalist and writer, whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday TimesThe GuardianElleMarie ClaireCosmopolitan and Red. She is the author of two nonfiction books, History of the World in 100 Modern Objects: Middle Class Stuff (and Nonsense) and Worry with Mother: 101 Neuroses for the Modern Mama. Visit her online @FrancescaHornak.

LINKS


 

The Rancher’s Christmas Song by RaeAnne Thayne

  • Title:  The Rancher’s Christmas Song
  • Series:  The Cowboys of Cold Creek  #16
  • Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Pages:  224
  • Published:  October 2017 – Harlequin Special Edition
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Keep a song in your heart this holiday season… 

Music teacher Ella Baker’s plate is already full. But when single dad Beckett McKinley’s wild twin boys need help preparing a Christmas song for their father, Ella agrees on one condition: they teach her to ride a horse. She’s hoping that’ll help mend her strained relationship with her rancher father; it certainly has nothing to do with the crush that’s lingered since her one and only date with Beck. 

It isn’t disinterest spurring Beck to keep his distance—if anything, the spark is too strong, with Ella reminding him of his ex-wife. Soon what started as an innocent arrangement is beginning to feel a lot like family. But with the holidays approaching, Beck and Ella will have to overcome past hurts if they want to keep each other warm this Christmas…  (publisher)

My take:  I was introduced to the Cowboys of Cold Creek series with book #13. I didn’t feel like I missed anything by not reading the previous books in the series and I can tell you the same after reading #16 – so don’t let the number scare you. I’ve found all of her books can stand alone.

This year’s Christmas book is a lovely family story. There’s rancher Beck, single father of young twin boys, and Ella, former city girl and current local music teacher. Ella’s father owns the ranch next door to Beck’s so they are acquainted but that’s all – until the annual Christmas program begins rehearsals and the two find themselves playing more important roles in the other’s life.

In true RaeAnne Thayne style The Rancher’s Christmas Song is a charming story that embraces the true meaning of the season. Recommended to fans of the author and romantic Christmas novels you want to read in one sitting.


 

Sugar Pine Trail by RaeAnne Thayne

  • Title:  Sugar Pine Trail
  • Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
  • Series:  Haven Point #7)
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  September 2017 – HQN
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley; Little Bird Publicity

Description:  Librarian Julia Winston is ready to ditch the quiet existence she’s been living. She’s made a list of new things to experience, but falling for Jamie Caine, her sexy military pilot neighbor, isn’t one of them. Julia’s looking to conquer life, not become the heartbreaker’s latest conquest. But when two young brothers wind up in Julia’s care for the holidays, she’ll take any help she can get—even Jamie’s. 

Happy to step in, Jamie reveals a side of himself that’s much harder to resist. Not only is he fantastic with kids, he provides the strength Julia needs to tackle her list. She knows their temporary family can’t last beyond the holidays, but the closer she gets to Jamie, the more she wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever… (publisher)

My take:  Julia’s life hasn’t gone the way she’d expected. She ended up putting other people before her own dreams and had accepted that path. That was before two little boys showed up at her library and, once again, the course of her life changed. Jamie’s life is filled with running the corporate air travel for his brother’s tech company and only dating casually. He doesn’t do serious relationships. When he rents Julia’s upstairs apartment his only intent is to have a place to sleep when in town until his condo is ready for him to move in. What he doesn’t expect is to have his life turned upside down by the same two little boys and his pretty landlord. Sugar Pine Trail is perfect for getting readers in the holiday spirit – and it should come with a box of tissues. It’s an emotional story about learning to trust, giving and receiving, and learning to take a chance. I loved it all and recommend it to fans of RaeAnne Thayne, the Haven Point series, and a heart-warming Christmas novel. It can stand alone if you haven’t had the chance to read the rest of the series.


About the author:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. Her love affair started as soon as she learned to read, when she used to devour anything she could get her hands on: cereal boxes, encyclopedias, the phone book, you name it! She loves the way words sound, the way they look on the page, and the amazing way they can be jumbled together in so many combinations to tell a story.

Her love of reading and writing those words led her to a fifteen-year career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and editor.

Through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best. She sold her first book in 1995 and since then she’s published more than 40 titles. Her books have won many honors, including three RITA® Award nominations from the Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews.

RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at http://www.raeannethayne.com.


Praise for RaeAnne Thayne:

“Entertaining, heart-wrenching, and totally involving, this multi-threaded story overflows with characters readers will adore.” —Library Journal on Evergreen Springs (starred review)

“Romance, vivid characters and a wonderful story; really who could ask for more?” —Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“This quirky, funny, warmhearted romance will draw readers in and keep them enthralled to the last romantic page.” —Library Journal on Christmas in Snowflake Canyon

“RaeAnne Thayne is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors… Once you start reading, you aren’t going to be able to stop.” —Fresh Fiction

“RaeAnne has a knack for capturing those emotions that come from the heart.” —RT Book Reviews

“A sometimes heartbreaking tale of love and relationships in a small Colorado town…. Poignant and sweet.” —Publishers Weekly on Christmas in Snowflake Canyon

“Her engaging storytelling…will draw readers in from the very first page.” —RT Book Reviews on Riverbend Road


SUGAR PINE TRAIL

by RAEANNE THAYNE

$7.99 U.S. / $9.99 CAN.

ISBN-13: 978-0373803682


The Christmas Room by Catherine Anderson

 

  • Title:  The Christmas Room
  • Author:  Catherine Anderson
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Pages:  432
  • Published:  September 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  When widow Maddie McLendon’s family (her son and teenage grandson) move to their new Montana ranch they know it’ll mean roughing it until their home is built. They’ll live in tents and trailer and make the best of it. Sam Conacher, the cranky rancher who lives next to their land, thinks his new neighbors are gypsies and won’t be issuing a warm welcome any time soon. But all bets are off when Maddie’s adult son falls for Sam’s daughter. And wait until Sam finds out that Maddie is his favorite author! Thoughts of the Hatfield/McCoy feud or the Montague/Capulet story crossed my mind as I read. There are some laugh out loud moments and some that made me cringe. Feelings run deep and for understandable reasons. The challenge for Maddie and Sam is to grow from their experiences and learn that second chances don’t often come along so one has to grab it when it does. The Christmas Room had some heart-warming moments that made for a nice seasonal read. I haven’t read any of Catherine Anderson’s books before but I’d try another one. Recommended to fans of multigenerational novels with a Christmas theme.


 

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

  • Title:  Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
  • Author:  Ruth Emmie Lang
  • Genre:  Fantasy; Magical Realism
  • Pages:  352
  • Publication date:  November 7, 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.

As amazing as these powers may appear, they tend to manifest themselves at inopportune times and places, jeopardizing not only his own life, but the life of Mary, the woman he loves.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell: great storms that evaporate into thin air; fireflies that make phosphorescent honey; a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.

There is one story, however, that Weylyn wishes he could change: his own. But first he has to muster enough courage to knock on Mary’s front door. (publisher)

My take:  When I began reading Ruth Emmie Lang’s debut novel I felt a bit lost and unsure if I was the intended audience. But not one who gives up on a book easily, I kept reading. And I’m so happy I did. It’s about a boy who lived in a forest with wolves and his journey through life. It’s about the people (and the animals) he meets along the way. It’s about human nature, the ability to be kind, the willingness to be kind, and seeking and embracing the possibilities life has to offer. I know this is kind of scattered and brief but allow me to end by saying I finished reading the novel with that delicious feeling of wishing it could go on and on. I love when that happens. It’s on my 2017 Favorites List, for sure.


Advance Praise:

“Ruth Emmie Lang dazzles with her inventive and magical debut. Told with brains and heart, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance introduces a protagonist who is both mythical and relatable. Weylyn Grey leaves a lasting impression on everyone he meets, and he will on readers too.” —Michelle GableNew York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment, I’ll See You in Paris, and The Book of Summer

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is a brilliant button on the coat of American magical realism. Think Charlotte’s Web for grown-ups who, like Weylyn Grey, have their own stories of being different, feared, brave, and loved.” —Mo Daviau, author of Every Anxious Wave

“Ruth Emmie Lang’s prose has the earthy warmth of a campfire story, best enjoyed in the woods and under the stars. Her contemporary spin on the American folktale, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, bristles with charm and curiosity, and its oddball hero, Weylyn Grey, will make you want to follow him into the forest.” —Winston GroomNew York Times bestselling author of Forrest Gump

“A wholly original and superbly crafted work of art, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is a masterpiece of the imagination. Intelligent, witty, and brave, Ruth Emmie Lang takes us on an uplifting and unforgettable adventure of love, magic, friendship and fate. An extraordinary work of fiction by a truly gifted author. ” —Lori Nelson SpielmanNew York Times bestselling author of The Life List and Sweet Forgiveness