Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

Small Town Secrets: A Review of Haunted Love

Book cover for “Haunted Love” by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Image on cover shows a ticket with the words “Admit One” printed on it. The ticket is bathed in blood-red light. Title: Haunted Love

Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Publication Date: December 13, 2011

Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Contemporary

Length: 33 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

Spirit, Texas, is a town of secrets, and as the new owner of the local haunted movie theater, Cody Stryker is juggling more than his fair share. When a mysterious new girl comes to town and runs afoul of the ghost that lives in his theater, Cody’s caught in the middle and needs to figure out exactly who he can trust. HAUNTED LOVE is a short story by New York Times Bestseller Cynthia Leitich Smith— set in the same dark universe as her novels TANTALIZE, ETERNAL, and BLESSED. This story includes a sneak preview of Cynthia Leitich Smith’s latest novel, DIABOLICAL, which unites characters from the previous three novels in the Tantalize Series along with a fascinating cast of all-new characters for a suspenseful, action-packed clash between the forces of heaven and hell.

Review:

Content Warning: Child abuse and murder. I will not be discussing these topics in my review.

Honestly, who wouldn’t want a beautiful old movie theatre to be revived by a new owner?

This tale was filled with creative plot twists. One of the things I liked the most about it was seeing how the author played around with the audience’s expectations as well as the tropes of paranormal vampiric romances. She was clearly well-versed in this genre and knew exactly how to acknowledge the reader’s expectations without necessarily giving us what we were expecting. That’s definitely something to take note of as I haven’t found a lot of authors who are willing to bend things quite as far as she does. Her flexibility made me curious to see what else she has up her sleeves.

There was very little character development in this story. Not only would I struggle to describe how the protagonist changed as a result of his experiences, it would also be difficult for me to talk about what his personality was like in general. I couldn’t even say if he were a shy or outgoing guy, much less anything deeper about who he was or what made him tick. This made it hard to connect with him and even more difficult to get to know the secondary characters who had even fewer opportunities to display their personalities and interests. Figuring these things out was crucial for understanding certain surprises later on, so this truly was a missed opportunity to help the audience bond with the characters and notice when certain individuals didn’t seem like themselves.

I was intrigued by the world building. Spirit, Texas was described as a place that seemed to have a lot of secrets. It was fascinating to begin to piece together who was aware of which secret, and there was still so much work left to be done here by the time I finished the final scene. Still, I was satisfied with what I’d learned about this little town while also intrigued by all of the hints that had been dropped but never pieced together in a way that made sense for all of them.

Haunted Love was an inventive pick for anyone who doesn’t mind a little spookiness in their romance.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Ways to Show Someone You Love Them

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

A red heart that’s been affixed to the other side of a windowpane that’s foggy and covered with rain. Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

My comments on certain blogs do not seem to be going through for reasons I haven’t been able to ascertain. If you don’t see reciprocal comments on your site, that is why. I am doing my best each week to say hello to everyone! 

There are so many different ways to show someone you love them!

Here are a a few of my personal favourites. All of them are assuming that the person in question actually enjoys these things, so do tweak them as needed if, say, the people in your life prefer going to a basketball game to taking a hike or would be embarrassed if you praised them in front of other people!

 

  • Stop and truly listen to what they’re saying.
  • Cook or bake something you know they love.
  • Fix their broken cell phone (or leaky faucet, or squeaky door, or anything else you might know how to fix).
  • Change the oil in their vehicle for them.
  • Take them on a nature walk and picnic.
  • Compliment them on something you generally don’t think to mention.
  • Give them a big, warm hug.
  • Send them a funny Internet meme, article, or video about a topic they love.
  • Surprise them with a few uninterrupted hours of your time, and let them decide how you’ll spend those hours together.
  • Tell a heartwarming story about something wonderful they said or did.
  • Invite them out for coffee and a donut.

As an added bonus, most of these ideas are either very inexpensive or won’t cost you a single penny.

Top Ten Tuesday: Helpful Nonfiction Books About Relationships

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

 

Rose petals being shot through the air in the shape of a few different hearts. This is happening in a desert area. Happy early Valentine’s Day to everyone to celebrates it!

I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day, but I do have a short list of helpful nonfiction books about creating better relationships, whether they’re with friends, romantic partners, family members, or other people you know.

Yes, some of the information in some of them is specifically written for certain types of relationships like a romance or dealing with a pushy mother-in-law, but the principles in them can be applied to many other situations as well.

Some of these books were written for specific groups like Christians or people who are polyamorous. I encourage you to check them all out even if those specific labels don’t apply to you. Just like with the different types of relationships, there are far more similarities between these groups than you might originally think. We’re all human, after all!

I mean, every relationship should include things like clear communication, setting boundaries, compromising, kindly handling conflict, and giving/receiving emotional support no matter who you are, how you identify, or whether the person you’d like to get along with better is your spouse, best friend, mother-in-law, or coworker.

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman book cover. Image on cover shows a couple embracing on a beach as the sun sets behind them.

1. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman

What I Like About It: Not everyone values the same methods of showing affection. I think there’s something to be said for figuring out what makes people feel appreciated and doing those things as much as you can.

 

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud book cover. Image on cover shows a red pencil drawing a line on a plain white sheet of paper.

2. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud

What I Like About It: Setting boundaries can be tricky for me sometimes, but it’s important for every type of relationship. This book is filled with examples of how to figure out what you can offer someone and how to say no to the rest. It was also cool to see what specific phrases they recommended for people who have trouble saying no.

 

The Polyamory Breakup Book: Causes, Prevention, and Survival by Kathy Labriola, Dossie Easton book cover. Image on cover is a drawing of a gold leaf on a blue plant.

3. The Polyamory Breakup Book: Causes, Prevention, and Survival by Kathy Labriola, Dossie Easton

What I Like About It: I believe that we should all be methodical about who we invite into our inner circles and move slowly when dating, making new friends, or even deciding where we’d like to work (if possible).  This book goes beyond picking out red flags for more obvious things like abuse and encourages the audience to figure out exactly what we want out of all of our relationships and who we are (and aren’t) compatible with.

You can prevent a lot of heartache if you move slowly in the beginning of any sort of relationship and pay close attention to how you are (or aren’t) matching up with your potential romantic parter or friend.

I also loved what it had to say about gracefully ending relationships that aren’t working for whatever reason. There’s no need to demonize anyone if you find that you’re not actually compatible with them. Some relationships simply weren’t meant to last, and that’s okay.

 

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine book cover. Image on cover shows two magnets being drawn to each other.

4. Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine

What I Like About It: While attachment styles can be changed with time and hard work, they are part of figuring out compatibility for many different types of relationships and learning how to communicate better.

For example, I tend to have a bit of an anxious attachment style, so I know that people with avoidant attachment styles are not a good fit for me at all. (Although I do wish them the best!)

 

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman book cover. There is no image on this cover. It’s just blue and red background.

 

5. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman

What I Like About It: Emotional intelligence matters in every sort of relationship we have as human beings. There are ways to approach difficult subjects that can make it much easier to discuss and hopefully resolve. A harsh phrasing of the same sentiment might lead to nothing but an argument that goes nowhere.

Which books would all of you add to this list?

Top Ten Tuesday: Conversation Hearts on Book Covers

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

conversation heart candies. The messages printed on them include kiss, you rock, xoxo, hey babe, and a drawing of a pair of lips pursed up to kiss someone.As I mentioned on last year’s Valentine’s Day freebie post, I don’t actually celebrate this holiday.

I do, however, love conversation hearts, so this year’s freebie post will be all about covers that feature those delicious little candies.

If you’ve never eaten a conversation heart, they’re hard, sweet, and a little chalky. You can generally only buy them during the few weeks before Valentine’s Day.

Each one has a short, romantic message printed on it. They might say “love you,” or be mine,” or some other phrase like that.

It was interesting to me to see how many similarities there were on the covers in this list. Only a few of them broke the mould, and I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a mould for books with conversation hearts on their covers.

At the Drive-In Volcano by Aimee Nezhukumatathil book cover. Image on cover shows a broken conversation heart on a highway. The title is written in the heart.

1. At the Drive-In Volcano by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Life is More Than Candy Hearts by Lisa Bilbrey book cover. Image on cover shows candy hearts lying on a white table. Two of them are large and red.

2. Life is More Than Candy Hearts by Lisa Bilbrey

Five Little Candy Hearts by William Boniface book cover. Image on cover shows candy hearts on white platters as cartoon people stand around them.

3. Five Little Candy Hearts by William Boniface

True Love by Whitney Gaskell book cover. Image on cover shows three candy hearts, one of which is broken.

4. True Love by Whitney Gaskell

Will Shortz Presents I Love You, Sudoku!- 200 Sweet to Sinister Puzzles  by Will Shortz book cover. Image on cover is of dozens of candy hearts sitting on a red surface.

5.Will Shortz Presents I Love You, Sudoku!: 200 Sweet to Sinister Puzzles  by Will Shortz

The Hell with Love- Poems to Mend a Broken Heart by Mary D. Esselman book cover. Image on the cover shows four conversation hearts. Each one has one word of the title printed on it.

6. The Hell with Love: Poems to Mend a Broken Heart by Mary D. Esselman

Romantically Challenged by Beth Orsoff book cover. Image on cover shows stack of six conversation hearts. The seventh is facing the viewer and says "try again."

7. Romantically Challenged by Beth Orsoff

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan book cover. Image on cover shows three conversation hearts. Each heart has one word of the title printed on it.

8. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Thwonk by Joan Bauer book cover. Image on cover shows pink coversation heart with the word thwonk written on it.

9. Thwonk by Joan Bauer

The Heartbreak Messenger by Alexander Vance book cover. Image on cover shows conversation hearts with arrows in them. An unbroken heart is standing next to them shrugging its shoulders

10. The Heartbreak Messenger by Alexander Vance

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Romantic Quotes

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This week’s prompt is a love freebie, so I decided to share some romantic quotes for it since this isn’t actually a holiday I observe.

How many of the other Top Ten Tuesday participants live in countries where candy conversation hearts are sold at this time of the year?  I enjoy them, but I haven’t seen them around much the last couple of years. Here’s hoping that changes soon.

If you celebrate Valentine’s Day and have a different favourite candy from it, I’d like to know about that, too!

1. “The very essence of romance is uncertainty.”
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays

A pink plate covered in candy conversation hearts. The six hearts we can read say "soul mate," love bug," "sweet talk," "say yes," "love," and "xoxo."2. “And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

3. “Come sleep with me: We won’t make Love, Love will make us.”
Julio Cortázar

4. “It’s bullshit to think of friendship and romance as being different. They’re not. They’re just variations of the same love. Variations of the same desire to be close.”
Rachel Cohn, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List

5. “your hand
touching mine.
this is how
galaxies
collide.”
Sanober Khan

6. “Love is too precious to be ashamed of.”
Laurell K. Hamilton, A Stroke of Midnight

7. “Before I fell
in love with words,
with setting skies
and singing birds—
it was you I fell
in love with first.”
Lang Leav, Love & Misadventure

a hot chocolate topped with whipped cream sitting in a pink, polka dotted mug. There are two heart-shaped cookies sitting on a doily next to the mug. 8. “Love, like everything else in life, should be a discovery, an adventure, and like most adventures, you don’t know you’re having one until you’re right in the middle of it.”
E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly,

9. “It is impossible to manufacture or imitate love.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

10. “Giving generously in romantic relationships, and in all other bonds, means recognizing when the other person needs our attention. Attention is an important resource.”
Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: My Celebrity Crushes

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year. What a fun topic as we move closer to Valentine’s Day! My celebrity crushes include: Julia Stiles. I’ve thought she was cute ever since I saw… Read More

Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge: Most Romantic Memory

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. As I mentioned in yesterday’s Top Ten Tuesday post, I am not a very romantic person. For example, my wonderful spouse and I have been together for going on 15 years now, yet we have never once celebrated Valentine’s Day. It’s simply not a holiday that appeals to either… Read More

Minimalism and Valentine’s Day

After my last two posts, it might come as a surprise to some readers to be reminded that my spouse and I don’t actually celebrate Valentine’s Day. We’ve been married for over twelve years now, and we’ve never done anything out of the ordinary for this holiday other than possibly showing each other clever gifs… Read More

Saturday Seven: Characters Who Need a Date

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so today I’m thinking about characters who could really have benefited from going on a date. None of the characters I’m about to discuss had romantic storylines. They were far too busy looking after a disabled friend, exploring a… Read More