The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

Source: Goodreads

Bilbo Baggins is a typical hobbit. He likes tea and smoking his pipe in front of his fireplace and has no intention of going on an adventure.
Gandalf the wizard has other plans.
So it comes to pass that 13 dwarves barge into Bilbo’s home, eat all of his food, insult his abilities as a burglar (of which he has none, anyway), and then leave for an adventure without him.


While the story itself was intriguing, the overly parental way in which Gandalf basically dragged everyone where they needed to be and the subsequent whining that went along with it from the other 14 adventurers was eye-rolling levels of exhausting.
I loved the world-building, especially Tolkien’s descriptions of of forests. I just can’t help but feel that there would’ve been less whining if at least one of the party had been a woman. There were exactly zero female characters excepting the odd villager, and it definitely affected the plot.


****Also **Spoiler** but I very much did not like that the whole book was about how the dwarves were going to kill Smaug and take back their mountain and then Smaug was ultimately killed by a white male chosen-one type character who we really didn’t need. ****


I am glad I didn’t read this as a kid because I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed it due to the sheer amount of telling > showing, and again, the whining. If you’re going on an adventure of your own volition, you have forfeited the right to complain about how terrible, boring, and hungry the trip is. Suck it up, buttercup. Overall this one was meh for me, but I think a lot of that was due to the fact of it being written in much the same style as Peter Pan, which I also did not really enjoy. Here’s hoping The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Silmarillion go much better for me.


HHC Rating: 3 Stars.

Virgin River (Virgin River, #1) – Robyn Carr

Source: Goodreads

Mel needs a new start, away from her haunted existence in Los Angeles. The quiet mountain town of Virgin River with a lone, elderly, family practitioner and a rent-free cabin seems like the perfect fit.
But the doctor was never informed of Mel’s arrival and claims he has no use for a nurse practitioner and midwife, the cabin is unlivable, and the ridiculously good looking bartender seems overly interested in her business. Is this really what Mel needs, or is her sister Joey right, and LA is where she belongs?

This small town military romance is more than meets the eye. It kicks off Carr’s signature series, the history of a community with romance in its veins. Mel and Jack become the foundation upon which every healthy relationship in the series is built on, and the wit, humor, and deeply emotional stories the characters portray all reach for a bar decidedly set by Mel and Jack.
The decadent scenery only adds to the magic of the little town, which is rebuilt book by book, right alongside the couples who find themselves in Virgin River.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars


Other reviews in this series:
Book 1 – Virgin River *(This Review)*
Book 2 – Shelter Mountain
Book 3 – Whispering Rock
Book 4 – A Virgin River Christmas
Book 5 – Second Chance Pass
Book 6 – Temptation Ridge
Book 7 – Paradise Valley
Book 7.5 – Under The Christmas Tree
Book 8 – Forbidden Falls
Book 9 – Angel’s Peak
Book 10 – Moonlight Road
Book 10.1 – Sheltering Hearts
Book 10.5 – Happy New Year Virgin River
Book 11 – Promise Canyon
Book 12 – Wild Man Creek
Book 13 – Harvest Moon
Book 14 – Bring Me Home For Christmas
Book 15 – Hidden Summit
Book 16 – Redwood Bend
Book 17 – Sunrise Point
Book 18 – My Kind of Christmas

Almost Jamie (Jet City Kilt, #1) – Gina Robinson

Source: Goodreads

This *serial* series was designed specifically for those of us struggling through the Outlander drought.

Blair and Austin are unwitting doppelgängers for the actors who play “Jamie Sinclair” and “Elinor” on the hit highlander time travel TV show “Jamie”.
This first installment introduces our heroes and the circumstances of their meeting.
Presumably, the second installment will explain the hoops they have to jump through, and the third and fourth installments will show them facing those challenges and finding HEA. Whatever. I’m hooked. Cheesy and decently written with witty dialogue. Give it to meee.

The character development is great not just for the main characters, but across the secondary characters as well, and she did a wonderful job with all of the settings, really rounding it all out. Very interested to see where everything goes!

Outlander returns next month on Starz !! And this book is available FREE right now on applebooks. The other 3 books are ~$4.99 each.


HHC Rating: 5 Stars


Other reviews in this series:
Book 1 – Almost Jamie *(This Review)*
Book 2 – Almost Elinor
Book 3 – Simply Blair
Book 4 – Simply Austin

Related to:
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

One Night for Love (The Bedwyn Saga 0.5) – Mary Balogh

Source: Goodreads

Mary Balogh is one of those writers whose works all take place in the same universe—which only makes One Night for Love even more nuanced and interesting!
Our hero (Neville Wyatt) and heroine (Lily Doyle) meet not in the gilded ballrooms of London, but on the war torn fields of Portugal. They are married for a day before both are shot during an ambush.

18 months later, Neville has returned to England to take up his late father’s earldom and, believing Lily long dead, prepares to marry another. Into the middle of the wedding walks a girl in a faded blue dress and an army cloak: Lily. Alive.

What follows is a story of love that spans across continents, classes, vows, and self-discoveries to arrive at the place of trust, honesty, communication, and passion that romance readers colloquially refer to as true love and happily-ever-after.



I really enjoyed re-reading this book because I can now see how important every piece of the story truly is. Neville’s sister Gwendolyn, for example, is the same Gwen who kicks off Balogh’s Survivors Club Series, and One Night For Love sets up Lauren’s story for A Summer To Remember, which in turn sets the wheels rolling for both the Slightly Series (The Bedwyn Clan) and the Simply Series! The Baloghverse is truly a fascinating place.


HHC Rating: 5 Stars


Other Reviews in this Series & By This Author:
The Bedwyns/ “Slightlys”::
Book 0.5 – One Night for Love *(This Review)*
Book 0.75 – A Summer To Remember
Book 1 – Slightly Married
Book 2 – Slightly Wicked
Book 3 – Slightly Scandalous
Book 4 – Slightly Tempted
Book 5 – Slightly Sinful
Book 6 – Slightly Dangerous
Book 6.5 – Once Upon A Dream
The “Simplys”::
Book 1 – Simply Unforgettable
Book 2 – Simply Love
Book 3 – Simply Magic
Book 4 – Simply Perfect
The Huxtables::
Book 1 – First Comes Love
Book 2 – Then Comes Seduction
Book 3 – At Last Comes Love
Book 4 – Seducing And Angel
Book 5 – A Secret Affair
The Survivors’ Club::
Book 1 – The Proposal
Book 1.5 – The Suitor
Book 2 – The Arrangement
Book 3 – The Escape
Book 4 – Only Enchanting
Book 5 – Only A Promise
Book 6 – Only A Kiss
Book 7 – Only Beloved
The Westcotts::
Book 1 – Someone to Love
Book 2 – Someone To Hold
Book 3 – Someone to Wed
Book 4 – Someone to Care
Book 5 – Someone to Trust
Book 6 – Someone to Honor
Book 7 – Someone to Remember
Book 8 – Someone to Romance (2020)
Book 9 – TK – Harry


The Ten Thousand Doors of January – Alix E. Harrow

Source: Goodreads

January Scaller has spent the majority of her life within the grounds of Locke House, her only glimpses of the outside world contained within cars, trains, and ships at the side of Mr. Locke on a rare field trip. Raised in her father’s absence to be good and obedient, intelligent and quiet, January has tried her best to fit the mold laid out before her. However, even Mr. Locke’s company cannot completely erase her obvious heritage, on full display in the shade of her skin and the unruliness of her hair. Nor can all of Mr. Locke’s nurturing completely block out her inherent nature – to wander, run wild, and dream as if her life depended upon it.

January’s journey is told in alternating chapters between her life and the stories she reads in a mysterious book, The Ten Thousand Doors. While eventually this story-weaving pays off, it does mean that the first 125 pages were all character introduction and world building, which was interesting intellectually, but not gripping. I actually flipped ahead to see if it got more interesting a couple times, despite many friends telling me the book was really great. There is a marked difference between the first 125 pages and the following 235 pages. Once the story gets going it moves well and everything weaves together beautifully. If I hadn’t flipped ahead, I definitely would’ve been at least a little surprised by the twists the story took, and even after I knew they were coming, they still made me tear up. Ultimately, that’s what pushed me to a higher rating. If I hadn’t gotten so bogged down in the beginning of the book, this would easily have been a five star read. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right head space when I started it – it was the middle of finals, after all – but by the end I was firmly invested in January’s journey and the 10,000 doors.

Shout out to my friend Taylor for lending me her copy, and also for making this her staff pick at our bookstore! I hope many, many readers get the chance to visit January and reignite their imaginations.


HHC Rating: 4 Stars

Notes:
*Off-page animal cruelty, but the animal is ultimately fine*
**This book gets shelved all the time in the YA section, but per the author, is intended for adults.**