Within the Veil by Brandy Vallance – A Romantic, Gothic Scottish Historical Novel

Friday, December 9, 2016

Publisher: Lyrical Vine Press
Source: Author Provided (thanks, Brandy!)
Publication Date: 2016
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon ǀ Blogger ǀ Goodreads | Wordpress
Amazon ǀ Barnes & Noble ǀ Goodreads
Genre: Fiction; Historical Fiction, Romance
Rating: ★★★★

Historical fiction isn’t a genre I read a great deal of. I don’t know exactly why, but when I find one that resonates, it’s kind of a big deal. Brandy’s novel Within the Veil is a complex, unique and interesting period read that has a sense of “wild” romanticism that’s hard to ignore.

For gypsy Feya, assuming the care of three young children is difficult. Yet this is what Feya has been left to do in the wake of her mother’s death. Her father provides little to no assistance, forcing Feya to consider the unthinkable. For one night she agrees to be a lady of the night, just to earn a few coins for food. Instead, this is the night everything changes. She meets a man who could forever change her heart.

BOOK REVIEW | The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof - An Authentic Fairytale

If an opening hook is what’s most important to a novel, this book has nothing to fear. The opening roped me in not just because it’s absorbing, but also because the emotional impact was there from the very first. As the story continues, it’s clear these characters are about to be put through trial after trial before they have even a chance of discovering peace.

Though the opening captures the reader, about a quarter of the way into the novel, something of a disconnect springs up. I suspect this is more a personal preference than poor storytelling. I think what surprised me most was the presence of mythical issues. Alasdair seemed to experience “colors” overnight, which crept up on me. As I said, though, I think this was more the plight of a reader than anything. On the surface, this seems like magic that works its way into the story, but logic explains it as an ailment. A weakness that may be our hero’s undoing.

(SPOILER A condition the author notes describes as synesthesia, a “neuropsychological phenomenon where all of the senses are combined.” END SPOILER)

The character study is of enormous importance to this journey. What surprised me most (because I went into this having forgotten how the synopsis read) was that this is a book about more than a metaphorical journey. The journey for the Within the Veil characters is one of the heart and physically. In some ways, Alasdair has an uphill battle because he’s something of a “stiff upper lip” Brit, which means he’s not the easiest person to like. But the “weakness” of his character humanizes him. The shift comes about midway through the novel, and a switch flips. Once this happens, let me tell you, the swooning reactions come with uniform frequency.

Though bulky in length, this is a novel perfect to read during these winter months. Cozy up next to the fireplace and discover the journey of Feya and Alasdair. It’s an atmospheric and arching romance that is sure to please any reader who enjoys fiction. ♥

Adaptation Recommendation

Though the story is different, while reading this novel, stories like The Living and the Dead or Outlander come to mind. So, it’s easy to see this book adapted into a TV series with a shorter number of episodes. I suspect this is more the “wild, untamed” setting and the sense of “free spirited” characters rather than the story. Alistair is also (in a sense) a brute of a hero in the tradition of Gothic leading men like Mr. Rochester which works well onscreen.

This review first appeared on Silver Petticoat Review

Sincere thanks to the author, Brandy for providing a complimentary copy of this book.

Merry Matrimony (2015) – Hallmark’s Second Chance Christmas Romance

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Familiar in a cozy way, this romantic, and festive, comedy is another Hallmark Channel movie sure to enchant ardent fans.

Brie Traverston (Jessica Lowndes) is sure her boyfriend, whom she’s madly in love with, is about to propose. Instead the big news Eddie (Christopher Russell) has for his college girlfriend is much different. He has been chosen to study photography in Paris for a year. Though they try, distance interferes, and the pair doesn’t defy the strain of long distance.

Seven years later, Brie is a successful Ad Exec who is edging close to a promotion. The only thing she needs to do to secure it is put together a brilliant bridal campaign. The snag in her otherwise simple plan is Eddie. Returning from Paris as a favor to a magazine maven, you see it turns out Eddie is the photographer for the style shoot Brie is in charge of.

As with each of the Hallmark films I sit down to share about, I feel like I’m starting as a broken record. Don’t misunderstand, I love them all but because of this unchecked enthusiasm, the same thoughts can be applied to each of these movies. One of 2015’s originals, I only recently watched Merry Matrimony and through this discovery, I was charmed all over again by this network’s programming.

Though the plot is familiar (boy and girl reunite), there is something I liked about the aesthetic of Merry Matrimony. Perhaps it’s the chemistry between the leads or the simple way of the script, but either way, this is one of those festive flicks sure to please Christmas movie enthusiasts. Or more specifically those of us who are Hallmark Channel aficionados.

The familiarity of familiar faces makes the story and characters akin to old friends. You’ll recognize Jessica Lowndes from A December Bride (part of this year’s lineup) and Christopher Russell has appeared in several similar television films. (Including Hallmark’s gender swap Cinderella, Moonlight Masquerade.) Together, these two played off each other quite well. I liked the banter between them in their “easy” moments.

Chocked full of Christmas cheer, as always, those of us who crave cozy Christmas romance fluff (the highest of compliments) will enjoy this addition to Hallmark’s rotating trove.

A December Bride by Denise Hunter – A Festive Christmas Romance Novella

Author: Denise Hunter
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: Amazon Purchase
Publication Date: 2013
Find the Review elsewhere: 
Amazon | Blogger | Goodreads | Wordpress
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Romance, Novella
Series: A Year of Weddings 1 (One)
Rating: 5 out of 5

Layla O’Reilly is making lemonade out of lemons. Not so long ago, her life was perfect. Or at least she thought it was. She had a career path she loved as an interior decorator (or more specifically a stager of homes), along with an engagement to the man she thought she loved. Present day finds her without the ring and working hard to put her business in touch with the right contacts.

TV MOVIE REVIEW | A December Bride (2016) - Denise Hunter's Novella Starring Daniel Lissing

Enter Seth Murphy, the one man she never wanted to see again. You see, Layla holds Seth partially responsible for her broken engagement. And since he had a hand in introducing her fiancé to his new fiancée, Layla might have good reason. But when an invite to her ex’s wedding comes in the mail (an invite that has Layla’s cousin as the bride), Layla scrambles to find a date, and one white lie later, suddenly, Seth becomes her fiancé.

No matter how many of Hunter’s novels I read, I’m endlessly enchanted by each and every one. A December Bride is no different. The charm oozes off the page. For those of you who read Barefoot Summer, you’ll recognize Layla as the sister of its hero, Beckett O’Reilly. Though only a story in novella format, Layla still gets the deserved treatment. Nothing ever feels short-changed, and instead has an uncanny ability to read as if it were a full length novel.

The relationship between the leads starts off as a kind of love-hate (think Mr. Darcy and Lizzie Bennet) persona. This isn’t so much reminiscent because of the mistaken first impressions, but more because Layla distrusts (and sometimes despises) Seth. But fortunately for her, Seth loves her in spite of this, and I loved that we got to experience this from Seth’s POV. 

If A December Bride sounds familiar it might be because it was recently adapted as a Hallmark Channel film. The movie stars Daniel Lissing (When Calls the Heart), and goodness, was I impressed with his interpretation of Seth. Loved Movie Seth as much as Book Seth, and that’s no easy feat. 

Anyone looking for a sweet, and simple Christmas novella should look no further than this. It’s bursting with charm and comic situations which is precisely what lighthearted reading should be.♥

Synopsis: What started as a whim turned into an accidental—and very public—engagement. Can Layla and Seth keep up the façade in Chapel Springs this holiday season—for the sake of her career...and his heart?

Under normal circumstances, Seth Murphy—the best friend of Layla O’Reilly’s ex-fiancé—would be the last person she’d marry. But the news of their upcoming (and phony) nuptials convinces a big client that Layla may be high-society enough to work for his agency—a coup that would put her fledgling home-staging business on the map.

Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, even when she was dating his best friend. Maybe she’ll never forgive him for the way he hurt her back then, but he has to try. And Layla is willing to keep up their engagement farce until she’s landed her client.

For Layla, it’s the chance to save her career. But for Seth, it’s his last chance to win her heart. – Goodreads

Review text © Copyright Rissi JC and first appeared on Finding Wonderland (Dreaming Under the Same Moon), 

Frequency, Pilot (2016) – CW's Intricate Parallel Story about a Father and Daughter

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

One of fall 2016’s most popular trends had to do with the curiosity that is time travel. As all do, where one leads, the others will follow. Networks like NBC tried time travel with Timeless, ABC attempted and (sadly) failed with Forever, and later this winter, ABC gives it another go with Time After Time. CW threw their hat in the ring with this based-on-a-film script.

Once upon a time Frank Sullivan (Riley Smith) was the center of his daughter’s world. He was her best friend and confident in his work. But that was an eight-year-old’s perspective of a safe world. Twenty years later, that little girl no longer exists. Raimy Elizabeth Sullivan (Peyton List) is all grown up with a successful life, despite the stains of her father’s past.

Twenty years ago her father walked out on her and her mother, and shortly after was killed during his undercover operation. The worst was when every paper in New York labeled him a dirty cop. Since then Raimy has distanced herself from her memories, become an NYPD detective and has the love of a good man, Daniel (Daniel Bonjour).

Everything changes on her 28th birthday, when a radio signal somehow connects her with her father… living a parallel life twenty years, to the day, before.

Nine times out of ten, I find a good story on CW. This record remains intact with Frequency, which is a smart story albeit one that’s eerily familiar. For me, this has nothing to do with the film since I’ve yet to see it (which stared Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviziel), but more by its comparable plot currently vying for prime ratings.

The amazing thing about Frequency is how easily it “hooks” its viewer, and furthermore, keeps that interest. Or it most certainly accomplished this for me. The story isn’t new in many respects, but in others it is. I loved the complex conflict between the characters, which I’ll confess puzzles me since I’m ordinarily not a supporter of (TV) discourse.

The sense of tension between Raimy and her father was interesting as is the fact they set a course that will lead them towards discovery. Discovery of things about the other person. Discovery of the past and its disappointments. Discovery about the time capsule separating them. It’s a clever mystery to say nothing of its heart which meets at the father/daughter relationship.

There are so many emotions in the pilot. My TV fangirl heart felt joy, heart break, and after it shattered, it was put back together only to break yet again. Yes, the first 40-some minutes did this and so much more. Funnily, this didn’t get an additional back order, but in my opinion, it’s far and away one of 2016’s best new shows. While I like these sorts of shows (when the good guys are good guys), I also respect and appreciate a show that can give us a cypher united with a generous script of the important moments. This one boasts that and then some.  

Those of us who like shows with a little bit of everything (from mystery to sci-fi, romance to emotional pull) will find a kindred spirit in Frequency. Sadly its ratings aren’t all that optimistic suggesting a cancellation is likely. It’s the kind of show that left me wishing for so much more after one episode. Furthermore, it’s a world I’ll be sad to see vanish from my TV screen.

Content: there’s one scene of an unmarried couple in bed together (semi-graphic), and the common place profanity. There are some (non-graphic) crime scenes. (All based on the pilot.) The show is rated TV14.

Photos: CW

Top Ten Tuesday | Memorable Stories of 2016 (New-to-Me Authors)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Despite my general outrage that a new year is upon us – where did 2016 go!? – a source a comfort with a new year’s arrival is the publication of new books. At least this is how we book nerds think when it comes to new novels. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday allows us to talk about some of these novels with the authors we read who were new to us.

Broke and Bookish December 6th Prompt 
Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016
- Broke and Bookish

I discovered some fantastic authors this year. Some of them were authors I wanted to read a long time ago, others are authors with less of a back list to their name. That said, they are no less wonderful and the talent they boast is not to be taken for granted.

Today, it’s a pleasure to spotlight some of these authors

1. Johnnie Alexander | I finally read one of Johnnie’s novels after being curious about her WWII novel (which I’ve still not read). The book I read by her was Where She Belongs, a sweet contemporary read.

2. Brodi Ashton | Until her contemporary novel, Diplomatic Immunity released, I don’t think I paid much attention to Ashton’s stories. But after reading her recently released (and first!) YA contemporary, I am sufficiently curious.

3. Teri Brown | Teri’s Velvet Undercover was a YA historical that piqued my interest back when its cover was revealed. Needless to say reading her novel was a long time coming, but it was indeed worth the wait.

4. Susan Dennard | Susan is an author who’s novels never cease to create much hype. Though I’m interested in her ‘Strange and Deadly’ series, it was actually Truthwitch that I read this past year.

5. Kersten Gier | Gier’s time traveling fantasy series, beginning with Ruby Red, is one of the most popular series in its genre. I really enjoyed the first novel, but as of yet, have not completed the series.

6. Rosamund Hodge | Given all the hype I’d seen about this author, I was really excited to have an opportunity to review her novel, Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. Sadly, it was not among my favorite. Perhaps because it was a loose take on Romeo and Juliet (not a favored story). Or maybe it was the unexpectedly open-ended conclusion. Either way, this wasn’t a “me book.”

7. Kara Isaac, and Close to You and Can’t Help Falling | Both of Kara’s books are high on my must read list. In fact, I’m quite ashamed that I’ve not read them yet.

8. Liz Johnson | Liz’s novels are pure delight. I loved everything about them. From the setting (PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND!) to the lovable (and more importantly, realistic) characters, I 100% enjoy her novels and writing.

9. Denise Grover Swank | Thanks so the kind folks at Blink, I had the chance to read this contemporary YA novel. It’s a sweet story about a brother and sister who are set to spend the summer with their father in Paris.

10. Courtney Walsh | Though I had every intention of reading Courtney’s novel Paper Hearts, I didn’t have the chance to get to it during its release year. This year (with many thanks to the gracious author), I had the chance to read A Change of Heart and I loved it to pieces.

BONUS! Books/Authors Added to my Shelf but Left Unread

1. Jay Asher and What Light | Many authors say good things about Asher’s books, and his novel, 13 Reasons Why is being produced as a TV show. This book I picked up – I’ll confess – because of its appealing cover art, plus I love to try and squeeze in a Christmas read during the most wonderful time of year.

2. Leigh Bardugo and Six of Crows | Following the release of Crooked Kingdom, I saw Leigh’s books made the Instagram and Twitter rounds. Needless to say I caved to the unintentional bullying, and bought a copy.

3. Jessica Brody and A Week of Mondays | I’d intended to pick this one up last year – because pink! Contemporary! – and didn’t get to it. But I finally ordered a super inexpensive copy (and hardback too!). Hopeful it’s a fun read.

4. Brooke St. James and Loved Bayou | Picked this one up at random during one of my Amazon shopping sprees. Hopefully I’ll enjoy it, though I really know nothing about this author’s style.

5. Katie McGarry and Nowhere but Here | Another author I’m super surprised I’ve not read. Her books are contemporary (can you tell that’s my favorite!?), so reading them is a must. Plus it helps that I now own, Nowhere But Here. What’s your favorite Katie McGarry book?

6. Jojo Moyes and Me Before You | Picked this one up because of the movie, but I've yet to read the book or see the film. Someday that will be remedied. 

FINDING WONDERLAND on BOOKTUBE ___________________________________

This brings us to another close on another Top Ten Tuesday post. What new authors did you discover in 2016? I’d love to know about them and hear more of what you thought of your new discoveries!

As always, leave those Top Ten Tuesday links. I’m looking forward to visiting.

Thank you so much for visiting Finding Wonderland.

The Mistletoe Promise (2016) – Hallmark’s Contemporary Scrooge Romantic Comedy starring Jaime King

With nearly thirty all new original movies airing between Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel, there was much jolly on our TV screens. Because of this, there was bound to be one to enchant no matter your preferences. One of their 2016 originals imagines a familiar plot, but somehow made it fresh.

Christmas is not a happy time of year for Elise Donner (Jaime King). It’s made worse by the presence of her ex-husband and his new girlfriend in her life. Contributing to the problem is the co-ownership her ex retains of the company she started long before their marriage. By happenstance she meets Nicholas Derr (Luke Macfarland).

Nicholas has a Scrooge complex not unlike Elise’s though for different reasons. This year, he’s up for partner at his firm, but there’s one caveat. His boss’ are a family orientated firm who believe Nick is in a committed relationship. Their meeting seems fates gift to them as they agree to a business transaction they dub “The Mistletoe Promise.”

Elise has to accompany Nick to social functions, and in return, she gets to have a boyfriend over the holidays, and perhaps relieve the stress caused by her ex. But a simple business transaction might become more than these two bargained for.

Based on the bestselling novel by Richard Paul Evans, this film is darling in ways I didn’t anticipate. I always begin my Hallmark marathons with the expectation of being entertained, but oftentimes I underestimate the accuracy of this reaction. ‘Mistletoe’ again proves true the many reasons why I’m a Hallmark movie junkie.

TV FILM REVIEW | Christmas in Homestead (2016) - Small Town Charms Meets Hollywood

The humor of the script flows without effort, and the actors deliver the funnyness of the script without awkwardness. I loved that the characters had Christmas-y names (super cute ones at that) in subtle ways rather than the more obvious choices of Holly or Eve (although there is the best friend character named Holly). The actors also play off each other very well. This is part of the reason why I suspect the humor comes so naturally. Luke is no stranger to the role of Hallmark leading man (The Memory Book, Christmas Land), and seeing Jaime in something outside of her Lemon Breeland (Hart of Dixie) character was fabulous.

Aside from my typical love and blanket fangirl recommendation of Hallmark Christmas movies, I haven’t much more to say. This film manages to wrap so much Christmas into its story (including the subtle similarities to the Dickens A Christmas Carol classic) that its viewer cannot help but smile. I know I giggled my way through the charm, romance, comedy and festive shenanigans. As Elise and Nicholas flounder through their white lie promises, and work their way towards one another, there is a sense of emotional weight to their stories. As with each Hallmark, this is another impressive and wonderfully nostalgic bit of TV happiness.

If you’ve not seen The Mistletoe Promise, catch repeat airings throughout December on Hallmark Channel.

Photos: Hallmark

INSPYs 2017 | Advisory Board Changes

Good morning, friends. As 2016's end rapidly approaches, the start of something new begins in one bookish part of my life. That's right, the INSPYs program is gearing up to begin its 7th (what??) year. 
As 2017's award season approaches, our program is undergoing some changes. We realize it has undergone many over the past couple of years, and thank you all for being such an important part of this program and its successes. We're striving to ensure this program is able to honor as many authors and books as it can, but we also have to have to put restraints on the program so that we can spotlight these wonderful works of fiction. 

We have an announcement coming up that will be all about our nominating process, but until then, we have a goodbye to say and a warm welcome to extend. 
Today we say goodbye to our good friend, Stacy Millican. Stacy has been with INSPYs for a number of years now, and the Advisory Board is sad to see her go. We sincerely thank her for her years of support, valuable assistance and help, and we wish her all the best with the new endeavors in her future.
This left a vacant spot on our board that we are thrilled to say now belongs to Kara Boone. We're thrilled to welcome Kara's insight and the enthusiasm she brings. I've personally known Kara (in this blogging world) for a few years now, and bias though it may be, I have to confess to being excited to work with her, and discover the fresh perspective I know she'll bring to our INSPYs work. Below you can read our official welcome and announcement regarding these changes. 
2017 begins the seventh year for the INSPYs Awards. Seven years ago, this journey began with a group of talented bloggers who led the way for so many of us in this blogging community.
As we roll towards December, the 2017 awards are entering a new season. This means changes accompany the start of a new year. One of these changes is bittersweet.
It’s with a sense of regret and gratefulness we adjust to saying goodbye to one of our veteran board members. The Advisory Board loses a champion in Stacy Millican. We graciously thank Stacy for her years of service and enthusiastic insight, and most of all, for sharing these talents with us. We wish her all the best as she focuses on personal commitments and pursues other projects.
On the heels of this goodbye, we are pleased to welcome new board member, Kara Boone. Kara has been a tireless champion of authors, fiction and book blogging since 2012. Her blog, Flowers of Quiet Happiness, is a testament to her vibrant personality and love of this community. We welcome Kara with excitement, and look forward to the perspective and valuable wisdom she will bring to the Advisory Board.
You can read more about Kara on our Advisory Board page. Please join us in welcoming her.
We will also be making nomination changes. An official announcement will be made in the coming weeks.
Find more about our INSPYs program on Finding Wonderland's INSPYs page or visit

A December Bride (2016) - Denise Hunter's Novella Starring Daniel Lissing

Friday, December 2, 2016

If there was only one thing the Hallmark Channel excels at, it would be the production of originals that burst with joyfulness. (Fortunately, they have many other qualities as well.) Their streak for this record remains intact with their Christmas movie A December Bride. 

The story introduces us to Layla O’Reilly (Jessica Lowndes), a hardworking young professional. Working under the demands of a perfectionist boss, Layla now feels ready to make strides towards owning her own business. A business that would allow her to use her talent as an interior decorator to stage apartments and houses real estate agents are trying to sell. But first, she has to find a client willing to take a chance on her. However, her life takes a detour when her fiancé, Jack leaves her for her cousin Jessica.

Then a face from her past reenters Layla’s life. Seth (Daniel Lissing) is Jack’s best friend, and also the man partly responsible for the subsequent engagement between Jack and Jessica. Or so this is Layla’s perspective of the situation. Things become increasingly more complicated when Layla agrees to Seth’s proposition they go to Jack and Jessica’s wedding. Together. One small white lie leads to another, and soon her family believes Seth and Layla are engaged.

I’ll admit I watched this film with some sense of bias since I’ve been a fan of, and still do adore Denise Hunter’s novels. The story on which this is based is actually a novella (titled the same), but the film does a terrific job of lengthening the script, which pulls more from the story. This is something which I appreciated. I will say some of the directional cues come across a wee bit stilted, and sporadically the transitions don’t flow nicely. But this is a story (without question) that enchants.

Despite these minor lapses, there is much to recommend this. One of which being Daniel Lissing. Fans (otherwise known as “Hearties”) of Hallmark’s When Calls the Heart series will enjoy seeing Jack Thornton in this. For me, not only was seeing Lissing play in a contemporary a plus, it was also wonderful to discover Seth is just as charming (and wonderful) in “real life” as he is on the page. Similarly, Jessica was a delightful Layla. In fact, both actors made these characters come to life precisely as we imagine them to be.

In all, the script keeps closely to the novella Hunter wrote. I’d still recommend you read the story if you haven’t yet, especially since it’s a quick read. For example, you’ll meet Beckett (Layla’s brother) who you’ll gain more insight of (in the book) in comparison to the film. In the end, this is, as is the gold standard of its network, a charming and wonderful holiday film. I thoroughly enjoyed the cast and their respective characters not to mention the sweet way Seth truly loved Layla.

Check your listings for repeat showings of A December Bride throughout December on Hallmark.

Photos: Hallmark Channel. This review first appeared on Silver Petticoat Review.

Previewing Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas 2016, Part 2

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Earlier this month, we took a look at 15 of the Hallmark originals premiering in November. Today, as December tiptoes near, I’m back to take a peek at the remaining 11 original movies premiering under the Hallmark brand.

If you’ve already gobbled up all of the Christmas movies Hallmark has given to us thus far, complete with a pretty bow, you’re in luck. The channel has an additional eleven premieres starting this weekend and wrapping up January 1st. As always, there is bound to be plenty of sweet romance in the films listed below with many familiar faces.

Let’s have a look.

Previewing Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas, Part 2
(Listed by Premiere Dates)

1. A Dream Of Christmas
Premieres on Hallmark Channel December 3

Though it’s a familiar plot (a wish made that comes true), this one actually sounds really interesting. The wish in this scenario is made by a woman who’s unhappy in her marriage. Of course, her desire to be single again comes true, only she comes to second guess herself when she realizes her husband has no place in her new life. You’ll also spy a familiar (Hallmark) face in the leading man, Andrew Walker.

2. Looks Like Christmas
Premieres on Hallmark Channel December 4

Dylan Neal (Gourmet Detective) stars in Looks Like Christmas as a single father. Newly arrived, he ends up in a battle with a fellow single parent with regards to their kids’ school play. Anne Heche co-stars.

3. Hearts of Christmas
Premieres on Hallmark Movie Channel December 4

This one pits a newly promoted neonatal intensive care unit supervisor and a CFO against each other over cutting the staff’s budget. I’m guessing a different kind of argument soon sparks between the pair.

4. A Nutcracker Christmas
Premieres on Hallmark Channel December 10

Amy Acker (Person of Interest) stars in this, a story that sounds like a complex tear-jerker. It’s about a rising ballet dancer whose support system, her sister, dies unexpectedly.

5. Love You Like Christmas
Premieres on Hallmark Channel December 11

Cedar Cove star Brennan Elliot co-stars in this sweet romance. It’s about a woman who is stranded in a small town following car trouble.

6. Sound of Christmas
Premieres on Hallmark Movie Channel December 11

A widower hires a music teacher to instruct his teenage daughter. Of course, romance blossoms between the couple. This one stars Lindy Booth.

7. My Christmas Love
Premieres on Hallmark Channel December 17

This one sounds like pure Christmas romance fluff, and I love that. The story is about a woman who begins receiving the 12 Gifts of Christmas (like the song), and the kind of adventure she goes on to discover her anonymous suitor.

8. Christmas to Remember
Premieres on Hallmark Movie Channel December 18

Mira Sorvino and Cameron Mathison star in this one about a TV personality who needs a break from reality only to get into an accident that causes amnesia.

9. Sleigh Bells Ring
Premieres on Hallmark Channel December 18

With some magic sparkled into its story, this is about a single mother who runs across a farmer who spins an enchanting tale. One that involves a sleigh he claims ended up on his farm thanks to Santa himself.

10. When Calls the Heart: Christmas
Premieres on Hallmark Channel December 25

Similar to last year’s New Year’s special, this Christmas special will kick off the 2017 season of the beloved When Calls the Heart series. This installment finds Elizabeth, Jack, and the Hope Valley gang giving back to help new settlers. (Plus, there looks to be pretty snow and a ball involved.)

11. A Rose for Christmas
Premieres on Hallmark Channel January 1, 2017

Ending the 2016 holiday programming is this film. With Rachel Boston in the leading role, it’s about a woman who comes from a family who has built parade floats for generations.

Which of these are you most anticipating? Comment down below and tell me which of Hallmark’s Christmas films you like best.

Photos: Hallmark

This article first appeared on Silver Petticoat Review.

Close to You by Kara Isaac – An Intelligent Contemporary Romance Set in New Zealand

Author: Kara Isaac
Publisher: @Howard_Books
Source: Amazon Purchase
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere: 
Amazon | Blogger | Goodreads | Wordpress
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Genre: Fiction;
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Nothing has gone quite as she always imagined it might. 

Allison Shire is living a life she never expected. Instead of using her prestigious education as a scholar, she is instead squiring around clients as a Tolkien tour guide. Her life fell apart following a disastrous relationship, and the ensuing fallout with her family.

Jackson Gregory has his own troubles. One of which being the fact that he emphatically does not want to be a part of this Tolkien tour. But in order to realize his aspirations in the business world, taking the tour to appease the one man whose opinion matters is a must.

Two hearts, two different stories. Will Allison and Jackson find a way to overcome these obstacles – and what happens when feelings of a different kind spark between them? undo me. When I'm around you, I forget about everything else. And it scares me more than anything ever has.” - Kara Isaac 
As this is one of those books that has been on my shelf for an embarrassingly lengthy timeframe, my expectation of it was neutral by the time I read it. Lest this come across as something I don’t mean to imply, let me further expand on what I mean by this. When a novel releases, there is always a certain anticipatory attachment to it. Most of the time I try to stay away from the fray and not read others reviews (unless I’ve already reviewed the book) so as to remain impartial while I read and review the book. With this novel, because so much time elapsed, I had distanced myself from those reviews.

I knew many of my friends loved this book, but the basic facts were all I knew.

Fortunately for me, this was a grand thing going into this novel. The story is an elegant canvas of copasetic and conflicting emotions. Before I delve into more about this, I will say one thing as a drawback. And coining it as a “drawback” isn’t even fair since this is more a personal preference than flaw. The fact that the entire book is centered on The Lord of the Rings is lost on me. I know Tolkien is considered one of the literature greats, but his books is not a part of my comfort zone. That said, in the overall picture of the story, this didn’t damper my affection for these characters.

Allison is a wounded, complex being who I enjoyed getting to know. She kept a lot inside her, and doesn’t play well with people trying to force their agenda on her. For a period of time, this is Jackson. Jackson forces her to drop her guard, and in turn she gets under his skin. No easy feat considering he too has buried emotional scars. Together, they’re a perfect foil to each other’s pain, sorrow and long-buried pasts.

Though the characters are endearing like none other (the romance, and the “fighting” look beyond mere “swoons”), perhaps what I appreciated most about this book is its intellect. This is about the relationships, and a romance, yes, but it’s also so much more than this. Close to You digs deeper than the normal additives. It’s about reconciling with your past. It’s about surrendering to the point of being vulnerable, and it’s about the lessons we learn from these emotions. 

This is a whimsical delight of an adventure. The setting (hooray for a non-US-small-town setting!) is exciting, and the concept unique. In a word, Isaac’s debut is breathtaking. ♥

Synopsis: Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.

Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.

When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for? - Goodreads

Review text is © Rissi JC and first appeared on Finding Wonderland (Dreaming Under the Same Moon),
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