A MelanieM Review: Carol of the Bellskis (Bellskis, #1) by Astrid Amara

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Paralegal Seth Bellski is tired of being the secret lover of his boss, Lars Varga, founding partner of Finch & Varga Law. So when he asks Lars to spend Hanukkah with Seth’s family at their kosher B and B in Whistler, B.C., and Lars refuses, Seth realizes he will never get his self-conscious boss out of the closet.

So Seth prepares to spend his Hanukkah holiday alone in the B and B. Instead he finds himself running the place, as his aunt and uncle are missing, and seven demanding, peculiar, and danger-prone guests have arrived. To make matters worse, Lars shows up, begging forgiveness. Lars’s touches remind Seth of why he put up with his boss’s behavior in the first place. If only the words that came out of that beautiful mouth were as sweet as his kisses.

But how can Seth find time to fix his broken relationship when the guests are demanding kosher, gluten-free diets, losing their pet terriers, and hitting their heads on the ice? Seth and Lars find themselves put through the paces of being a married couple, all while still broken up. But then again, if they can survive this Hanukkah, maybe they’ll be singing a carol of the Bellskis.

Astrid Amara likes to release holiday stories and in 2009 started this Hanukkah trilogy.  It took her until 2017 to finish it but I’m so happy she did because it’s heartwarming, beautifully written,  full of suspense, mystery, romance, and love of all types.  And it all started here with Carol of the Bellskis.

When reading an Astrid Amara story, you can’t just pick out one strength because her stories are so amazingly well rounded and beautifully written.  That shows here.  Her characters are strong, believable, and so are their relationship dynamics, as faltering as they are in the beginning.  With Seth Bellski, you get his formidable Jewish family, their strength in their belief in their family and their religion, yes, more.  It never tips over into caricature as it could so easily, but these people come across with love and care, if at times a bit of fond exasperation with knowledge of their foibles.  Then there is Lars and his side of the family. Reserved, cold…well, I will let the story speak to the Vargas. They remain, however, authentic and real.  That becomes something of a element of slow growth (very slow) over the course of the series, ending only with Wedding Bellskis this  December.  But I’m getting way ahead of this couple now at their breaking point.

The author sets out so many tough goals here and meets them all.  There’s a romance and some very difficult relationship decisions that  have to be worked through here by Lars (especially Lars) and Seth,.  There’s an inn that can’t run itself where everyone seems to keep disappearing, so mysteries to solve,  Hanukkah to celebrate, and much, much more.  And it all meshes so well, like one of life’s tapestries.  You will leave wishing you knew these people and wanting to be a part of their lives.

This story is full of so much emotion, action, color, and wit.  It’s lively, poignant, sad, angry, lusty, romantic, funny, and a great read.  I relished my time with Seth, Lars, and all the many Bellskis, and couldn’t wait until the next Hanukkah rolled around because that’s when Astrid Amara promised to roll out the next installment.  Ah well,  it was worth the wait even if it took until 2011.

Carol of the Bellskis rang in this series, this couple!  It’s not to be missed.  The Trilogy is on the top of my recommendations, not just for the holidays, but anytime of the year.  But grab up all three now and read right through!  What a treat is in store for you, starting with this remarkable story.

Cover art by April Martinez is strong, on target, and not only brands the series by the use of the menorah on all 3 titles but that’s also my idea of both characters.  Perfection.

Sales Links:  Loose id | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 100 pages
Published December 14th 2009 by Loose Id
Original TitleCarol of the Bellskis
ISBN139781607375272
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHolidays with the Bellskis

Of Polar Vortexes. Bombogenesis and Thundersnow. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Polar Vortex. Bombogenesis. Thundersnow!

Yes, this is the week the weather took over Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words!  So cold my keyboard (ok, my fingers) just about froze!  Six degrees here and they are calling for much colder weather to come!  Nope, Maryland is officially known as The Temperate State.  Nothing temperate about these temperatures!  In fact the whole East Coast is frozen from Niagara Falls to Tallahassee, Florida.   Snow is falling in Texas to Florida. Iguanas are dropping like hail near the Everglades.  And the Meteorologists are having a field day, either defending or denying the use of some of the words I’ve used above.  Especially bombogenesis!  That one caused a howl!

Nice to see language and words with the power to make things pop on a daily basis!  You can find the definitions of these terms and others like seiche and haboob here.  Terrific article but I’m more interested in the way these words flew about the media.  People got downright Twitterpated!  There’s a polar bombogenesis coming! RUN!!!!!!! To the grocery store or the liquor store or wherever one runs.  But run!  Not sure where they thought we were going?  Alaska?  Because it’s downright warmer there then here.  How about “bomb cyclone”?  Heard that one too!  What terms have you been hearing?  How have you been coping with the cold, if at all?  Maybe you are one of the luckier ones and live outside the “frozen zone”, what advice, other than “Let It Go” (runs and hides) would you have for us?

I’ve been taking the cold by staying inside with the dogs and reading (and binging Netflix I confess).  The cold (a 2 degree morning today) is good for that.  Luckily I’ve had some wonderful stories for company.  Charlie Cochrane’s Lindenshaw Mysteries (a cozy if ever there was one) is on it’s third installment.  Just terrific.  Plus I have some old favorites I’m discussing below.  What are you all reading during this “bomb cyclone”? Or winter hurricane?  What tales are keeping you warm? More about that later….

Now, onto this week.  There are some very special books we are reviewing this week, some with starts that go way back! This week I’m finishing up a trilogy that started in 2009.  That would be Astrid Amara’s wonderful Bellskis series.  One came out in holiday season 2009, then another during the holiday in 2011, and then…nothing.  I was bereft!  I loved this series and couple!  Then the news that Loose id was closing and the final story arrived.  Wedding Bellskis!  Be still my heart.  All three are reviewed this week.  Astrid Amara’s trilogy combines  murder, mystery, Hanukkah, a sometimes rocky romance, and a couple to remember.  Check them out!

Next up?  Another story  with it’s start years ago.  That would be Laura Baumbach’s Genetic Snare.  How many of you science fiction lovers remember the first story?   That would be Details of the Hunt (Details #1) by Laura Baumbach published back in 2006 (2007).  Honestly I can’t remember which year I read but I think it was 2006.  A long time!  Anyway, then she announced there would be a sequel….which never came.  Which because she was busy establishing MLR Press among other things.  Now, years later, we are finally getting that story!  There’s a time traveled pirate, a huge alien who talks like a film noir gangster, suspense, and alien tentacle sex..sort of.  Yes, it works but you really need to read both books.

Finally there’s Amy Tasukada’s Yakusa Path series.  The third book is out and I’m reviewing it this week.  It was one of my Best of 2017 and it looks as though it will be on my 2018 list as well.  Just amazing.  So if you don’t mind gritty, brilliant, bloody fiction, check out One Thousand Cranes (Yakuza Path #3) by Amy Tasukada.  Again you will need the entire series.

All that and so much more!  There’s a few more holiday stories and audiobook reviews and everything in between.  Plus giveaways, author interviews, and guest posts!  Stay with us, stay warm, and stay safe….

More about the giveaway at the end of the post.

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, January 7:

  • Of Polar Vortexes. Bombogenesis and Thundersnow.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A MelanieM Review: Carol of the Bellskis (Bellskis, #1) by Astrid Amara

Monday, January 8:

  • Hannah Carmack on Seven-Sided Spy
  • Blog tour *Bleeding Like Me by Riley Parks
  • DSP Promo Ari McKay
  • A Stella Review: Like a Gentleman by Eliot Grayson
  • A MelanieM Review: Beyond The Tunnel by Dan Mitton
  • An Alisa Review: Tangled Up in You by Emily Carrington
  • A Lila Audiobook Review: Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists by Angel Martinez and Michael Pauley (Narrator)

Tuesday, January 9:

  • Release Blitz – Lost In Time – A.L. Lester
  • DSP Promo Logan Meredith
  • DSP Promo Z. Allora on The Great Wall
  • A Jeri Release Day Review: Bleu Balls (Balls to the Wall #7) by Tara Lain
  • A Lila Release Day Review: Southernmost Murder by C.S. Poe
  • A MelanieM Review: Bring Me the Dead by Becky Black

Wednesday, January 10:

  • Release Blitz – Coach’s Challenge (Cayuga Cougars #3) by V.L. Locey
  • Release Blitz – Forever With You by Londra Laine
  • Review Tour – Amy Tasukada’s One Thousand Cranes
  • A Stella Review: Mended With Gold by Lee Welch
  • A MelanieM Review: A MelanieM Review:  One Thousand Cranes (Yakuza Path #3) by Amy Tasukada
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Freckles by Amy Lane and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

Thursday, January 11:

  • DSP Promo Andrew Grey
  • Harmony Ink Promo Gene Gant
  • Riptide Tour & Giveaway: Relay by Layla Reyne
  • A MelanieM Review: Genetic Snare (Details #2) by Laura Baumbach
  • An Alisa Review: Christmas Kisses at the North Pole by Jessie Pinkham
  • A MelanieM Review: Miracle of the Bellskis (Bellskis, #2) by Astrid Amara

Friday, January 12:

  • Release Blitz & Review Tour for Rebecca Cohen’s Not All Chocolates & Cuckoo
  • Review Tour for Sam Burns’ Blackbird In The Reeds
  • Riptide Tour and Giveaway: Two Feet Under by Charlie Cochrane
  • A MelanieM Review: Two Feet Under (Lindenshaw Mysteries #3) by Charlie Cochrane
  • A MelanieM Review: Not All Chocolates & Cuckoo Clocks by Rebecca Cohen
  • A Stella Review: Composing a Family: A Mannies Incorporated Novel by Sean Michael

Saturday, January 13:

  • A MelanieM Review: Magical Rescue (Shifting through the Snow Book 8) by Laura Baumbach
  • A MelanieM Review:Wedding Bellskis (Holidays with the Bellskis, #3) by Astrid Amara

 

 

 

 

 

Best of 2017 Giveaway

Who has made an impact on you this year?  Start thinking about it.  This week starts our Best of 2017 Giveaways.  We need your Best of in whatever Categories you would like to submit.  Have a Best of Covers?  Great!  How about a Bests of Supernatural Romance? Perfect! Best Historical Romance? Love it!  Getting the idea?  So what’s your Best of 2017?  I will be gathering mine for the next 2 weeks and will trot them out at the end of the month.  Prizes will be offered up! Gift certificates, more than one, for participations and more.

Our Winners are:   Purple Reader, H.B., and Ana!  A $10 Gift Card will be yours.  Happy New Years to all of you and a huge thank you to everyone that provided us with all those lists.  I will be putting up a page with everyone’s 2017 Lists this week so   be on the lookout for that too!  New Giveaway up next week! Yep the Polar Vortex Giveaway!