Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!
This ended up being our favorite cafe to have breakfast at in the mornings. We walked there from my friend's house.
The meal we had on our way back from the Valley of Angels was great, the wait, not so much though LOL.
Christ at "El Picacho" is a monument which stands on the hill El Picacho in the north area of Tegucigalpa, capital of Honduras, at a height of 4,353 feet above sea level. They would not let us in for some weird reason though I took this shot next to it on a neighboring small hill. I was not allowed to speak English because we would have been charged more :-)
Night time shot after a great dinner at a restaurant called La Cumbre.
Sorry! So behind. Two weeks actually. I had to move some things to e-holds now since I had to return one of my books that I never got around to moving. Hope you all have some great reads on deck!
Physical Copies: (2)
Electronic Copies: (7)
Electronic Copies Suspend Hold: (2)
Well another reviewer pointed out the huge plot point that was left unaddressed, so I don't feel bad for thinking the big was a bit off without resolving that. I was happy well enough with the characters of Kayla and Luke as well as Kayla's young son. This book has a tough subject matter though, domestic abuse. I think that James handles the subject matter delicately, and I liked that there are discussions about it with her son Eli about the fact that he knew that his mother was being hit and why she stayed until she finally ran. I liked that Luke wasn't being pushy. He is interested in Kayla, but realizes he can't and won't rush things with not just her, but also with Eli.
"Hold Me Close" is part of James romantic suspense books. I didn't much care for the first book, and this second one ran to good to meh to me as well. Still deciding about reading the next two books in the series or just passing on that. Back to this book. We have Kayla Chambers who after being hit again by her boyfriend, goes on the run with her son when he drops them off at the laundromat. We find out that Kayla has reached out to a domestic violence organization, and she's going to leave her life behind and start over again in the town of Paradise, Idaho that she has fond memories of as a child.
Luke Jackson has a FWB situation finally ending and realizes that his new neighbor may be the answer. He quickly realizes that Kayla and her son Eli don't need a pass through the night man, they need a solid person to be there. He quickly pushes (slightly) into helping them when he can and hanging back and not trying to do more than that with either of them.
We get reappearances by former characters and of course set up for the focus of the next book in this one.
The writing was good. We get POVs from Eli, Luke, Kayla, and even Kayla's abusive ex. I think that James did a good juggling all of those voices and showing Kayla's ex obsession with her and punishing her for daring to go against him. The guy gave me chills.
The flow though was a bit off jumping around like that. I didn't think at times that Eli's voice was authentic.
The setting of Paradise is hard to picture. It seems like a teeny tiny town, but at other times it sounds quite large. There are discussions about the hard times the farmers are going through so it touches upon real world events at times here and there.
The ending though was very well done. Except for the whole murder plot line. I wish that had been resolved. It was such a weird thread to leave hanging.
Woo boy. This one really didn't work. The main couple (Vanni and Paul sucked) but Carr decides to force in romances for a friend of Paul and Vanni's and then we have too focus on Jack and Mel, and then we have Walter and a retired Hollywood actress, and I know I am blanking on someone else. We have appearances by Mike, Preacher, and Paige. I have no idea why Carr didn't focus on the main couple. And I have to say that some of the asides in this book about how Jack doesn't feed firefighters who are the "felon" squads ticked me off. Sure, these men are out there trying to keep your home from burning, but don't deserve free food. Carr ticked me off again when she has Mel pro home birth and doesn't talk about the dangers at having home births. We do have something happen, but it's like a blip and forgotten. This book went on way too long. Was so glad to be done with it.
"Second Chance Pass" has Paul Haggerty reeling from the fact he has fallen for his best friend's now widow, Vanessa Rutledge. He has been there and helped Vanessa as she's now trying to raise her baby son and is scared if he tells her how she feels, she will reject them. However, something from Paul's past may cause the couple more problems than anticipated. We also have Mel and Paige both pregnant and readying themselves for their births. The book jumps around to too many characters for you to get a sense for anyone. Vanessa started to annoy me and definitely bugged me after she got on Paul's friend Joe's back about him starting up a romance with a friend of hers who acted like a loon.
This was the first book when I started to get a bit turned off by Virgin River and it's characters. I felt that too many of them were so aggravating I couldn't imagine being around them for more than 5 minutes. Jack is in everyone's business and he and Mel are similar to a soap opera super couple.
There was no real tension in this one I thought. Just a lot of people being dumb about getting together with each other.
A great installment in the series before it started going a bit downhill for me. This book follows Marcie Sullivan as she tries to find the man (Ian Buchanan) who saved her now dead husband who is holed up in Virgin River. I honestly loved the character of Marcie and I enjoyed how she and Ian get together. Seeing how the small town comes together to celebrate Christmas together was really good too. We have appearances by my nemesis Jack and his wife Mel, and of course Paige and Preacher and others.
"A Virgin River Christmas" has widow Marcie Sullivan tracking down Ian Buchanan. When she gets to the wilds of Virgin River and realizes it won't be smooth going, she refuses to go home, she vows to stay and make sure that Ian comes back to the land of the living. Ian's life since being injured hasn't been great. He is angry and no longer in the Marines. He just wants to be left alone. Marcie though has other ideas.
I just had a great time watching Marcie and Ian bounce off of each other before they finally let go and just got together. Carr doesn't write steamy love scenes (in my opinion) but it was great to read how Marcie and Ian finally get together.
I hope this isn't the last book in the series, because this was a mess and did no one any favors.
Yeah. I am ticked. I told my friend about this book while reading it in Honduras. He's gay and he said he still doesn't get why books and even movies still dance away from showing gay men in love. We still seem okay with women, and that's usually because of the whole male gaze and most of them imagining themselves with the women. I think she shortchanged the two characters in this one (Hayden and Luke) and it just made their "romance" look beyond ridiculous when we didn't see it, but hear about it vaguely, and then love happened (over a freaking two day period I think).
The other romances didn't do well either. We have Nyree's friend Victoria with her other brother Kane and their romance. And then James dumps in other couples over the previous series (we get Zora and Rhys again and then Nyree and Marko again (seriously why?) and then Kevin and Chloe. We also get appearances by Koti, Kate, Finn, Jenna, and just freaking mostly everyone. This should have either have been Victoria and Kane's book with Nyree's wedding as a backdrop or better yet Hayden and Luke's book.
I think that ultimately this one was a wrap up for the series and was too rushed. Too many characters, too much jumping around, and too many plots to get invested in to get pushed out on to move on to the next one. I couldn't even get emotional about Nyree and Marko's updates and wedding.
James also needs to decide what's she's going to do about Nyree's mother and stepfather, he's terrible and apparently homophobic but it's brushed aside and I was left wondering what the heck was going on. Rhys mono-longing about things got old. I don't care what he thinks about Luke and Hayden.
The writing didn't work as I said or the flow because we jumped around too much and were given at times life changing news every five seconds. I think James was modeling this on her book, where she showed updates to her characters in one book, that one worked a lot better than this one though.
The ending was a miss with me. Probably because you have some characters doing 180 on things, and then the big bad secret that Rhys was keeping was just found out in like 5 seconds. And I swear every five minutes some big hard man was crying which I guess I was supposed to be all how can a hard and tough man cry. Lord. I miss Cat Cat. That's all I got.
Oh boy. My least favorite in this series. Not because I was scandalized by the brother in law falling for his widowed sister in law story, cause these fools equated their love to David and Bathsheba in the Bible. And they kind of both talk about how David sent a dude to his freaking death to steal his wife, but you know, love. I maybe banged my head a bit while reading this book. I guess it's the Sunday school training coming out.
David I considered a terrible man and an even worse King when you get down to it, but hey he couldn't help it, cause a woman drove him to it (I am giving this sentence stabby eyes).
Anyway, back to the book, Rhys story-line was interesting, but the whole secret child (but not really) thing didn't work. It was dumb and made zero sense. And Zora started working my nerves. I guess I wanted her to be more independent, she seemed so unprepared by things. Her son and her brother were my favorites though. Hayden (her brother) I think saw a lot and was finally pushing her to actually stand up to their parents. This and the last book had some very terrible parents, and the next book doubles down on it. So there's that. The romance part I didn't care about, I just rushed through most of this book honestly.
This book really missed a lot of things I think. I wish that there had been more honest conversations about what a terrible father, brother, husband Dylan was. Speaking ill of the dead isn't an issue with me if it's accurate.
The writing wasn't there for me or the flow. I think the book just dragged a lot. And after a while I started wondering if Rhys was a freaking billionaire based on what he was buying and doing. And his whole He-Man thing about getting married and having Zora pregnant with his baby (gagging noise). I just think that James went too alpha for me with the hero. Usually her rugby heroes are three dimensional, and I didn't find Rhys to be all of that after a while.
The ending didn't do much for me, but you know, epic review coming cause of the next book in the series.
This romance was so good and made me sigh. I ended up feeling a bit unsatisfied though cause we have the heroine's mother and stepfather still asses at the end of this, and it continues through the next couple of books. I have an epic rant about the Christmas book in this series, so prepare yourselves. I was so mad I told my friend in Honduras about it and he agreed with my points as well. Back to this book, Marko and Nyree have a past (he doesn't remember) and really work. I also loved the story with Marko's cousin and how that affects an older fan favorite couple in this series. I maybe blubbered like a baby during parts of this book.
"Just Say (Hell) No" follows Marko Sendoa who is a rugby flanker. He gets in a spot of trouble and is told by the rugby team's PR manager that he needs some positive press. This has him doing some photography at the local ASPCA where he poses with the world's cutest freaking kitten and finds himself with a new cat (Cat Cat) who loves to climb and ride his shoulder. Marko runs into Nyree who he already had his somewhat earlier meet-cute with. Too bad Nyree wasn't interested. And now that Nyree is on tap to photograph Marko and some of our fellow All Black players (yes we get some updates, nope won't tell you who!) making appearances. What Marko doesn't know is that he and Nyree do have a past, he just doesn't remember it.
I loved watching Nyree dance around her feelings for Marko. Her family life though does impact her a lot. Her mother and stepfather are jerks. I got no other words for it. Her stepbrother didn't sound too hot either (it takes two more books to revisit him). I loved Nyree's passion for her art and realizing that she may not make it, but wanting to go for it anymore.
Marko has a loving family, though slightly crazy at times. When his cousin runs away to him since she is pregnant and her mother is losing it, he agrees to take her in until the baby is born. I thought Ella's maturity about realizing she was an unwed mother, and not ready to be a mother was wonderful. I also loved how this tied into an earlier book and how wonderfully everything worked out.
The love scenes were HOT HOT HOT. And I have to say Cat Cat's love for Marko had me giggling and laughing.
The ending was really good and sad at times, but it worked for me.
So I skipped over this years ago when this came out cause I thought it was a prince/princess romance and hard nope out of there. I cannot get into those types of romances. I mean I know Meghan is now a Duchess (and Princess) but I still think it's too much when I read romances. I know, I know, I am such a kill-joy. Honestly though the romance between Nina and Iain was great. I liked how it started off (super suspicious) with her working her way through Iain's grandfather's heart and then his. And then they both realize they are falling for each other. A great romance, but I think that James started incorporating romantic suspense elements in this one that didn't always work.
"Just Stop Me" has fashion model Nina Jones on the run. Nina is engaged a prince, but realizes days before her wedding, he and the royal life is not what she's looking for. When she tries to object to getting married to her fiance, he refuses to allow her time to wait to think on the marriage. Nina escapes though and ends up in New Zealand. Arriving there, she gets taken in by Iain McMormick's mother who thinks she would be a good caretaker for her father/his grandfather. Iain though is suspicious of Nina and is still reeling from an upset he had months earlier (no spoilers).
I really loved Nina's backstory. It takes a while to get there though, but you realize she's been in the public spotlight for years and she's had little say of her personal or professional life. Running off to New Zealand leaves her feeling free and brave.
Iain made me feel so sorry for him (no spoilers). It also doesn't help that he realizes something is going on with his parents. Three cheers for James for showing an older couple finding their way back to each other! Yes, older people need and love too.
The rugby aspect in this one is pushed back though a lot until we get to maybe the 50 percent mark. I can't even recall right now. But for the first half is just Nina and Iain together at his parents/grandparents place.
The writing is typical James, we get some red hot love scenes that had me sighing with pleasure while flying. The guy next to me was trying to be nosy, but I lifted my Kindle away from his nosy self.
This was also a great update on previous characters. One of the reasons why this series is that James revisits older characters, it's great to see how those people's Happily Ever Afters are working out. Though I notice she stays away from Alison and Toro though (I don't think any readers liked them much).
The ending hits more on the romantic suspense elements which I didn't really think worked much. In fact that is what didn't work for me. I loved Nina asserting her independence, but the evil prince thing was too much Disney prince nonsense for me to really care about while reading.
The cover was cute. I don't know if it's because the book was a bit too short for development (263 pages) or if the author just had too much focus on Christmas with not enough time to set things up or what. Also there's a whole stupid plot point with the hero and money and I maybe rage screamed in a pillow. It made zero sense and I just hated it. I also think there was a bit too much going on (another couple, not the main one getting together) that could have been in a separate book if the author wanted to have a series. But trying to shoehorn them into a romance novel when you are supposed to be focused on the main heroine and hero just didn't work. The plot was okay, but execution totally fell down.
"Christmas at Silver Falls" has Scarlett Bailey and her family returning to her grandmother's inn, White Oaks Inn, for Christmas. The family gets together every Christmas and has a huge celebration with the rest of the town. This year though, things are somber. Scarlett and her family realize that her grandmother must sell her business since she's not making enough money to live on let alone run the inn anymore. Scarlett though hears that a rich businessman with ties to Silver Falls, Charlie Bryant, may be living near and she wonders if she can talk him into saving her grandmother's business.
So you may think this is about Scarlett appealing to a Scrooge like character and making him see that love and family are important. Nope, not even a little bit. Charlie is in hiding because of reasons (they are stupid) and at first he's wary of Scarlett, but quickly comes around to wanting to spend time with her and her family. Most of the obstacles are because Scarlett's grandmother doesn't trust him cause rich people, cause, he's a developer, etc. It gets old.
I think the main issue I have is that Scarlett has very little personality. She wants to keep her grandmother's business running. Fine. But I honestly cannot remember what her job is and just passed on looking it up. We hear she picks charity cases as boyfriends, so her grandmother thinks that is what Charlie is (just go with it) and I just didn't care at all.
Charlie's story resonated a bit more with me until we find out why he is in hiding. I maybe went seriously and this is stupid a dozen times.
The secondary romance couple in this one, a long-time friend of Scarlett's and a singing banker were more interesting and I started to wish I was reading about them.
The writing was just okay, there are a lot of plot holes going on here and there and development is lacking for a lot of characters (Scarlett's father, her maiden aunt, etc.)
The setting of Silver Falls reads like a Hallmark Family movie small town. No complaints, it sounded very comfortable and Christmasy.
The ending was a Happily Ever After (HEA) which was nice, but I found myself bored and glad to move on from this one. Do not expect steamy sex scenes or even love scenes period. This is not a Christian romance, but it may as well be.
Not much to say besides Michael Connelly has hit on a winning formula with retired cop Harry Bosch and Renee Ballard investigating cold cases. In this one, three of the cases the duo are working on independently (and one together) end up coming together. That's the only thing I coughed BS on since that was too big a coincidence, but I was enjoying the ride to get there I just let it go. Connelly is showing his hands I think in this one with what may come next for Harry, his daughter, and even Renee. I was so sad to get to the end of this and re-read it twice before reluctantly sending it back to my library.
"The Night Fire" has Harry and Renee coming together again to work on a cold case from an ex mentor of Harry's. The man had the file of a young man who was murdered by a gang decades earlier. Harry is wondering what the connection the young man had to his mentor and why this case haunted him. Harry is also helping out his brother Mickey Haller in a defense case that got foisted on him. The case sounds wrong to Harry and then he slowly puts together why it's wrong. Renee though is looking into a man who was burned alive at a homeless camp that is part of her night patrol. At first glance it looks like an accidental fire, but Renee starts to smell something wrong there right away.
Harry is going through changes in this one. Because of a prior case, there is something that is boomeranging back at Harry. Also, he is still struggling with helping defendants, even when he knows they are innocent. I really wish that Connelly would stop that mess with Harry feeling torn. It's like he doesn't read papers these days and realizes innocent people are sent to jail all the time. The police are not infallible. I also liked his interactions with Mickey (more Mickey or a standalone please!) and with his daughter. I also loved how things are going with Harry's daughter and what her post college life may look like.
Renee is still doing the whole homeless, but not really thing. She's running on E and I think Harry sees it best at how that can end up messing with her and the cases she's running. I wish we would see Renee more settled. At times she feels a bit ghostlike except when working a case or tossing ideas/smart remarks to Harry. These two really work well together.
I thought the writing was tight and that Connelly did a great job of setting up when Harry and Renee were talking and when they were together. The flow ran smoothly from beginning to end and the ending even had my heart pumping a little. We may get another case that Harry and Renee will end up closing.
At one of the many shops I visited while there.
A Christmas tree at Santa Lucia.
At the very top of a long climb in Santa Lucia.
Walking about at the Valley of the Angels.
I am so sorry. Yikes. I really should have posted before now. I got so behind with things here and work has been insane since I have gotten back. Will try to post pictures from my trip next and then post reviews.
Loved this romance between Marko and Nyree. Nyree’s past with rugby players will break your heart and make you sad about how her mother and stepfather treat her. They are pretty lousy. Loved the updates on former characters. Definitely a highlight. The resolution to Josie and Hugh was wonderful and made me cry.
Hot hot hot!
I usually loathe Princess romance books and thankfully Nina wasn’t one. Instead she’s on the run from a prince. Her and Iain’s romance was great.
Wow. Just. Yeah. It’s okay. That’s all I got. I was looking for a solid Christmas story and instead I just got a story full of plot holes. The main character Scarlett wanting to save her grandmother’s inn had potential. But I have to scratch my head at the character of Charlie and his whole backstory. I was pretty bored throughout most of the book.