Christmas In Icicle Falls by Sheila Roberts

  • Title:  Christmas In Icicle Falls
  • Series:  Life in Icicle Falls # 11
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Narrator:  Amy McFadden
  • Length:  9hrs. 35min.
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  October 2017 – Mira Books
  • Source:  Library Audiobook (HooplaDigital)

Description:  When Muriel Sterling released her new book, A Guide to Happy Holidays, she felt like the queen of Christmas. She’s thrilled when the new tree she ordered online arrives and is eager to show it off—until she gets it out of the box and realizes it’s a mangy dud. But rather than give up on the ugly tree, Muriel decides to make a project out of it. As she pretties up her tree, she realizes there’s a lesson to be learned: everything and everyone has potential. Maybe even her old friend Arnie, who’s loved her for years. Except, she’s not the only one seeing Arnie’s potential…

Meanwhile, Muriel’s ugly-tree project has also inspired her friends. Sienna Moreno is trying to bring out the best in the grouchy man next door, who hates noise, hates kids and hates his new neighbors. And while Olivia Claussen would love to send her obnoxious new daughter-in-law packing, she’s adjusting her attitude and trying to discover what her son sees in the girl. If these women can learn to see the beauty in the “ugly trees” in their lives, perhaps this might turn out to be the happiest holiday yet. (publisher)

My take:  I’ve read all but one of the books (and I have it on my bookshelf) in the Life in Icicle Falls series. That said, this book can stand on its own. With a wink and a nod to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Sheila Roberts’ final novel in the series is a delight. I especially loved that Muriel Sterling, the sage of Icicle Falls, might not have it all together as her self-help books imply. I enjoyed seeing how things worked out for her! I also liked the storyline of local inn-owner Olivia and her relationship with her new daughter-in-law. They learned a lot about each other – and themselves in the process. There’s also single mother Sienna and her new friend Tim (nephew of Robert Cratchet). Sienna learns how to trust her decisions and her ability to have faith in possibilities where Tim is concerned. It all made for a heart-warming conclusion to a really enjoyable series. Narrator Amy McFadden did a fine job voicing the characters. Her performance added to the warmth of the novel.


 

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Starting Over on Blackberry Lane by Sheila Roberts

  • starting-over-on-blackberry-laneTitle:  Starting Over on Blackberry Lane
  • Series:  Icicle Falls #10
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pub. Date:  February 28, 2017 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Stefanie Stahl has a husband with renovation ADD. He can’t seem to finish anything he starts and her house is littered with his “projects.” If he doesn’t smarten up, she swears she’s going to murder him and bury him under the pile of scrounged lumber in the backyard.  

Her friend Griffin James is suddenly single and thinking maybe she needs to sell her fixer-upper and follow her career bliss up the ladder of success, even if that scary ladder is clear across the country. Getting her place ready to sell proves harder than she originally thought. She needs help.  

She’s not the only one. Cass Wilkes, their neighbor, has an empty nest—with a leaking roof. When her ceiling crashes in, she knows it’s time to do something. When Grant Masters offers his handyman services at a fund-raiser auction, the three women go in together to outbid the competition and win their man. (Cass’s friends think she should win Grant in a different way, too!) Now it’s time to make some improvements…in their houses and their lives.  (publisher)

My take:  If you’ve kept up with Icicle Falls series you’ll enjoy seeing what the group of friends are up to. The thing I’ve enjoyed most about the series is the support felt by the women of all ages in the group. If you haven’t read any of the series you don’t have to worry – this book can stand alone.

Stef, Griffin and Cass are at the point where life needs to change. The thing is, how can they start that change? Stef will find out that there’s power in her words and how she chooses those words is very important. Griffin has dreamed of taking her photography to the next level but her current life situation is dragging her down. Cass is almost an empty-nester and feels the whole world passing her by. And now she has a leaky roof. What next?!

In typical Sheila Roberts style, she had me laughing and cheering her characters on as each dealt with the obstacles placed in her way. I loved how she drove home the point that we should live the heck out of life for as long as we can. Recommended to fans of the series, Sheila Roberts, and recipes mentioned in the novel.


 

Home on Apple Blossom Road by Sheila Roberts

  • Home on Apple Blossom Rd. (3:22016)Title:  Home on Apple Blossom Road
  • Series:  Life in Icicle Falls #9
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  March 22, 2016 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Description:  Home is where the love is… 

Colin Wright and Mia Blair grew up in Icicle Falls, but they left years ago—and not on good terms. Now Colin’s grandmother, Justine, has died, and they’ve come home to honor this woman they both loved. That’s when they get some unexpected news. They’re about to inherit something. Jointly. They just have no idea what. It turns out that Justine’s designed a treasure hunt for them, like the ones they enjoyed when they were kids and best friends. 

But they’re not kids anymore, and they sure aren’t best friends. As for that young love they once shared? Well…it’s complicated.  

On the trail of Justine’s treasure, they follow a series of clues that take them down memory lane—ending up at the orchard on Apple Blossom Road. What will they find there? And what did Justine know that they didn’t?  (publisher)

My take:  Home on Apple Blossom Road is a sweet story about two people finding their way back home. They didn’t intend to take this journey but Grandma Justine had a plan that they had to finally pay attention to. She’d tried to tell them when she was still alive but to no avail. Now they’d have to listen to her – via her treasure hunt – and just maybe her plan would work.

Sheila Roberts’ characters are never perfect so I find them relatable on a few different levels. I could understand Mia and Colin’s reluctance to try make things the way they used to be. Colin is involved with a beautiful young woman and Mia just received a promotion at work. This is not a good time to resurrect the past. Hmm, is it possible Justine misjudged these two?

I enjoyed this installment to the Life in Icicle Falls series. It’s filled with character cameos from previous books making it that much more fun to read. That said, don’t worry if you haven’t read other books in the series. You won’t be lost. I thought this novel was one of the best of the series. Recommended to fans of the author and small town contemporary romance.

The Lodge on Holly Road by Sheila Roberts

  • The Lodge on Holly Road (Oct28)Title:  The Lodge on Holly Road
  • Series:  Life in Icicle Falls #6
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance, series
  • Published:  October 2014 – Harlequin MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  How Santa Gets His Christmas Spirit Back… 

James Claussen has played Santa for years, but now that he’s a widower, he’s lost interest—in everything. So his daughter, Brooke, kidnaps him from the mall (in his Santa suit!) and takes him to Icicle Falls. She’s arranged a special Christmas at the lodge owned by long-widowed Olivia Wallace and her son, Eric. And yet…Brooke wants Dad to be happy, but she’s not ready to see someone else’s mommy kissing Santa Claus. 

Single mom Missy Monroe brings her kids to the lodge, too. Lalla wants a grandma for Christmas, and her brother, Carlos, wants a dog. Missy can’t provide either one. What she’d like is an attractive, dependable man. A man like John Truman… But John’s girlfriend will be joining him in Icicle Falls, and he’s going to propose. 

Of course not everything goes as planned. But sometimes the best gifts are the ones you don’t expect!  (publisher)

My take: If you’re looking for an entertaining Christmas novel this year you’ll want to read The Lodge on Holly Road. It’s part of the Life in Icicle Falls series but can stand alone. Seriously, if you haven’t read any of the previous books you will not be missing anything in this book.

Sheila Roberts is in top form with her novel of good intentions going astray. From the daughter who wants her widowed father to have a great Christmas to the single mom of two who wants to give her kids the Christmas she always wanted to the young man who can’t wait to publicly propose to the woman of his dreams – everyone will learn valuable lessons.

I enjoyed all the characters – from the main characters to the minor ones (lodge guests). They are all fully formed and interesting. The setting is great – Christmas in a mountain resort town.

When I finished reading The Lodge on Holly Road my first thought was “I hope the Hallmark Channel grabs this and makes a movie for next year.”

The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts

The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane (June24)

  • Title:  The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane
  • Series:  Icicle Falls #5
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  June 2014 – Harlequin MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  After a fake food poisoning incident in L.A., Bailey Sterling’s dreams of becoming a caterer to the stars collapse faster than a soufflé. Now Bailey’s face is in all the gossip rags and her business is in ruins. But the Sterling women close ranks and bring her back to Icicle Falls, where she’ll stay with her sister Cecily. 
All goes well between the sisters until Bailey comes up with a new business idea—a tea shop on a charming street called Lavender Lane. She’s going into partnership with Todd Black, who—it turns out—is the man Cecily’s started dating. It looks to Cecily as if there’s more than tea brewing in that cute little shop. And she’s not pleased. 
Wait! Isn’t Cecily seeing Luke Goodman? He’s a widower with an adorable little girl, and yes, Cecily does care about him. But Todd’s the one who sends her zing-o-meter off the charts. So now what? Should you have to choose between your sister and the man you love (or think you love)?  (publisher)

My take:  Sheila Roberts takes us back to Icicle Falls and the Sterling family. This time we find out if sisters Cecily and Bailey can figure out their love lives and remain good friends/sisters. Not an easy thing to do – feelings are hurt, egos are bashed. But what can you do when your matchmaker sister can’t figure out her own love life?  We also catch up with the third Sterling sister, Samantha. New exciting things are happening in her life as well.

I thought The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane was another cute story in the Icicle Falls series. It was more on the light side than you might think and I enjoyed it. At the end there’s an excerpt from the next book in the series: The Lodge on Holly Road. Sheila also included a few recipes from Bailey’s tea shop.

The Cottage on Juniper Ridge by Sheila Roberts

the cottage on juniper ridge

  • Title:  The Cottage on Juniper Ridge
  • Series:  Life in Icicle Falls, #4
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Published:  February 2014 – Harlequin MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  How to Change Your Life…   Can a book change your life? Yes, when it’s Simplicity, Muriel Sterling’s guide to plain living. In fact, it inspires Jen Heath to leave her stressful, over-committed life in Seattle and move to Icicle Falls, where she rents a lovely little cottage on Juniper Ridge. And where she can enjoy simple pleasures—like joining the local book club—and complicated ones, like falling in love with her sexy landlord, Garrett Armstrong. 
Her sister Toni is ready for a change, too. She’s got a teenage daughter who’s constantly texting her friends, a husband who’s more involved with his computer than he is with her, and a son who’s consumed by video games. Toni wants her family to grow closer—to return to a simpler way of life. 
Other women in town, like Stacy Thomas, are also inspired to unload their excess stuff and some of the extra responsibilities they’ve taken on. 
But as they all discover, sometimes life simply happens. It doesn’t always happen simply!

My take:  I think most readers will be able to relate to at least one, if not most, of the characters in Sheila Roberts’ latest novel. Who hasn’t felt overwhelmed, over-committed, or just plain frustrated by the frenetic pace of life at one time or another?

One of Icicle Falls’ own is an author whose recent book is a manual on how to get your life back by simplifying it. The Icicle Falls book club selects the book and the members start to use the advice. Jen, the newest member of the book club, received the book from her sister and moved to Icicle Falls after reading it so she’s already committed to change. Stacy has let her desire for things rule her life to the point that she starts to worry she may be a hoarder. Chita, a single mom of two, has scheduled herself with commitments and responsibilities to the point of near exhaustion. Will simplifying their lives be worth all the effort? You’ll have to read The Cottage on Juniper Ridge to find out.

I enjoyed this book. It is light in tone yet drives the point home that ultimately a simpler life can equal a better life. I would have to agree!

Treadmill Reads: What She Wants by Sheila Roberts

what she wants

  • Title:  What She Wants – Life in Icicle Falls #4
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction; series
  • Published:  March 2013 – Harlequin MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis (publisher): What do women want? Jonathan Templar and his poker buddies can’t figure it out. Take Jonathan, for instance. He’s been in love with Lissa Castle since they were kids but, geek that he is, she’s never seen him as her Mr. Perfect. He has one last shot-their high school reunion. Kyle Long is equally discouraged. The pretty receptionist at his office keeps passing him over for other guys who may be taller but are definitely not superior. And Adam Edwards might be the most successful of Jonathan’s friends, but he isn’t having any success on the home front. His wife’s kicked him out. 

When Jonathan stumbles on a romance novel at the Icicle Falls library sale, he knows he’s found the love expert he’s been seeking-Vanessa Valentine, top-selling romance author. At first his buddies laugh at him for reading romance novels, but soon they, too, realize that these stories are the world’s best textbooks on love. Poker night becomes book club night…and when all is read and done, they’re going to be the kind of men women want!

My take: I think I’ve found the first beach book of 2013 to recommend! Sheila Roberts made me laugh out loud as I read about Jonathan, Kyle, and Adam trying to figure out what women, more specifically the women they want, well, WANT.

The discussions at the weekly poker games were funny yet made the point that men probably go through as much anxiety about finding The One as women do. Vance, who was married once upon a time, and Bernardo, currently happily married, give advice to the three younger men in as few words as humanly possible – they’re such guys!

But what ends up being the most helpful are Romance novels. Jonathan convinces his friends to read one or two. They’re so desperate that they’ll try just about anything. It was fun watching them try out various things learned from the Romance heroes. 

You’ll have to read the book to see if they get their dream girls or if they find they’ve been dreaming of the wrong girl all along! I recommend What She Wants to anyone looking for a light, fun read. Perfect for vacation, stay-cation, or even the treadmill :).