Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas, love, and some darned good books!

Well, dear readers o’ my blog, I’ve enjoyed some much needed down time.

Christmastime is the best, isn’t it! The smells, the decorations, family and friends, and most of all celebrating Christ’s birth. It reminds me of an Avalon song telling us “don’t save it all for Christmas Day…show a little love everyday…”

I’ve been sharing the love with family and friends and now it’s time to pass along a helping or two for the authors of books I’ve recently read. If you’re hankering for some real romance mixed with turmoil, heart ache and the unexpected, The Picture will fill you up. If you enjoy suspense and saving the day in unique but plausible ways, A Collie Rescue will do the trick.

                                               

Stephanie Taylor’s The Picture (144 pages on Kindle; Astraea Press)  is almost a two-fer;  friendly enough for the YA reader with just the right dose of spice, struggles and romance for the adult reader. I fell in love right along with Sophie and Nicholas. And if it is possible to get an actual visual image, I am seeing Nicholas as one hot man! He’s a bit flawed (a common trait among men who are used to having women fall all over them) and Sophie has her own baggage but the turmoil of their pasts seem to set the stage for what might become a possible happily ever after.  Does it? Well, I can’t tell you that. But I will say that you’ll feel some aching in your heart and a tissue or two wouldn’t be bad thing to have handy. Would I change anything? Hmm. Maybe give a little more story toward the end. It ends amazingly well but I found myself with a few questions—or maybe I was just depressed over having to turn the last page (equals leaving Nicholas!).

When you’re done with The Picture, you might want to delve right into A Collie Rescue (Emily Dahill CID series) by Lindsay Downs (90 pages on Kindle, Astraea Press). Okay. Let me tell you. At first I wasn’t so sure. The cover and the collie give mixed ideas of what this book entails, not to mention its listing under animal categories in some places (not an uncommon error with Amazon and other online retailers). Do not be fooled! Do. Not. Downs knows how to portray realistic characters, especially given the fact that the protagonist is a soldier-turned-homeless-vet. Even more appealing is Downs’ decision to transcend the expected and make the protagonist a woman—a rare subject among stories depicting former soldiers must less those that end up living on the streets. Kudos! Collectively, there isn’t a lot I can get into without giving away the story. I will say, however, that if you think a collie and a homeless vet aren’t interesting story companions, think again. Any complaints, you wonder? Only that I’d like to have seen a little more fleshing out of the central bad guy and a couple of the good guys, but nothing that is a turn off—just my opinion. Overall, Downs has succeeded in pulling me into the story, showing me the heart wrenching side of what  some vets face after war, and how compassion works wonders in the healing process. To boot, there’s a well-balanced helping of suspense and intrigue and a collie who never ceases to amaze!

Both The Picture and A Collie Rescue are available through the publisher’s website and through major online retailers. For more books by Stephanie Taylor and Lindsay Downs, visit Astraea Press.