Memes · Recommendations

Top 10 Tuesday: New to Me Authors I read in 2018


Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Here are some of the authors I read for the first time in 2018..

  • Morgan Matson
  • Colleen Hoover
  • Heather Smith
  • Aimee Molloy
  • Jacqueline Winspear
  • Hugh Brewster
  • A.J. Pearce
  • Rhys Bowen
  • Jean E. Pendziwol
  • Karen Kingsbury
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Books Hauls

December 2018 Book Haul

Christmas Gifts

Audible

Sent for review:

Murder-A-Go-Go’s edited by Holly West

Linking up with..

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol

 

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters
By Jean E. Pendziwol

Published: July 2017
Published by: Harper
Format Read: eBook, Library Book, Libby App
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary

Rating: 5/5
♥♥♥♥♥

 

Synopsis

Though her mind is still sharp, Elizabeth’s eyes have failed. No longer able to linger over her beloved books or gaze at the paintings that move her spirit, she fills the void with music and memories of her family—a past that suddenly becomes all too present when her late father’s journals are found amid the ruins of an old shipwreck.

With the help of Morgan, a delinquent teenager performing community service, Elizabeth goes through the diaries, a journey through time that brings the two women closer together. Entry by entry, these unlikely friends are drawn deep into a world far removed from their own—to Porphyry Island on Lake Superior, where Elizabeth’s father manned the lighthouse seventy years before.

As the words on these musty pages come alive, Elizabeth and Morgan begin to realize that their fates are connected to the isolated island in ways they never dreamed. While the discovery of Morgan’s connection sheds light onto her own family mysteries, the faded pages of the journals hold more questions than answers for Elizabeth, and threaten the very core of who she is.

My Thoughts

Historical fiction, set in a place I’ve visited, with a nautical element: three of my favourite things to read about. Jean E. Pendziwol’s The Lighthouse Keepers Daughters is worthy of a 5 star rating.

It follows an unlikely pair of characters as they revisit the past with the help of the Lighthouse Keepers old log books. This story was the perfect book to read during the fall, as the atmospheric tale set a haunting tone.

The premise initially reminded me of the book Perdita by Hilary Scharper with its dual timeline, lighthouse setting and artistic elements. However I did enjoy this book far more. Other books it has been related to include The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, which I have also read and would agree with.

I would highly recommend The Lighthouse Keepers Daughters by Jean E Pendziwol to fans of Canadian historical fiction.

Book Reviews

A Pro’s and Con’s Review of A Christmas Cracker by Trisha Ashley

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A Christmas Cracker
By: Trisha Ashley 

Published: October, 2015
Published By: Avon
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Contemporary Fiction 

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis


Get into the festive spirit with this heart-warming, funny and simply gorgeous Christmas read.


The eagerly awaited new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author.


This Christmas is about to go off with a bang!


Things can’t possibly get worse for Tabby. Framed for a crime she didn’t commit, she suddenly finds herself without a job. Then to make matters worse, Tabby’s boyfriend dumps her and gives her cat away to a shelter.


But rescue comes in the form of kindly Mercy. A master of saving waifs and strays, Mercy wants Tabby to breathe new flair into her ailing cracker business. Together, they’ll save Marwood’s Magical Christmas Crackers.


But someone has other ideas. Mercy’s nephew Randal thinks Tabby’s a fraudster. Stubborn, difficult and very attractive, her future depends upon winning him round. But it’s that time of the year when miracles really can happen. Standing under the mistletoe, Tabby’s Christmas is set to be one that she will never forget . . .

Goodreads

My Thoughts

First Impressions

The Cover and Tagline:
The Pro’s: A Christmas Cracker’s cover complete with a small town covered in a blanket of snow, really put me in the mood for a cozy Christmas story. The tagline “As the first snowflakes fall, anything is possible”, made me think of a romantic storyline.

The Con’s: Although there is a sprinkling of Christmas spirit throughout the story (as it is set in a cracker making factory), the holiday season only arrives in the last couple of chapters. I found the tagline to be misleading, as snow didn’t really play a factor in the story as a whole.

The Setting

The Pro’s: I am always drawn to books set in the United Kingdom and this was no exception. The history of Mote Farm and its Friendship mill, with Quaker roots was a detailed setting that showed the sharp contrast between city and country life. The operations of the cracker making business, with its colourful staff of characters would have been enough to warrant its own story. The descriptions of the rural town and surrounding area sounded beautiful.

The Characters

Tabby:
The Pro’s: Tabby was a hard working woman who initially had a lot of faith in those around her. She put her artistic abilities to good use, not only with her own papercut art, but with the development and renovations in the mill.

The Con’s: One of my biggest pet peeves with Tabby, was that she let people walk all over her. Instead of standing up for herself, she just let the terrible things that happened to her, slide.

Mercy:
The Pro’s: Mercy Marwood was a ray of sunshine. She was warm, optimistic and lively. Not only did she give a second chance to former cons (by hiring them in her cracker making factory), but she also took one under her root, to live in her home. Mercy was truly the best part of A Christmas Cracker and a memorable character indeed.


Overall Impression

The Pro’s: Trisha Ashley’s A Christmas Cracker had a unique setting with a wonderfully strong woman named Mercy at the helm. It brought to attention the importance of second chances and generosity, not only during the holiday season, but year round. Now that I am more familiar with this authors writing, I hope that I will go into her other books with different expectations.

The Con’s: Unfortunately I think that my expectations for a different type of story played a role in my enjoyment of this book. Although I was able to adjust to the tone of the writing as I read along, it wasn’t exactly the cozy read I thought it would be. I also found the main character Tabby to be quite uninteresting.


Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Shoe Box: A Christmas Story by Francine Rivers

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The Shoe Box: A Christmas Story
By: Francine Rivers 

Published: September 2011
Published By: Christian Audio Fiction 
Format Read: Audio Book, Libby App, Library Book
Genre: Christian Fiction 

Rating: 4/5
♥♥♥♥

Synopsis 

This Christmas novella tells the unforgettable story of little Timmy, a foster child with a very special and mysterious shoe box. Designed for gift-giving, this heartwarming book features new illustrations, updated content–including Francine Rivers’ favorite holiday recipes and Christmas traditions–and the complete Christmas story from the New Living Translation.

Goodreads 

My Thoughts

Author Francine Rivers found inspiration in her own prayer box, to write a story of a little boy and his special shoe box. 

This beautiful short story deeply touched me, as a mother with a young son of my own. Timmy’s unfortunate circumstances only served to strengthen his faith. In turn he shined a light on the true meaning of the Christmas season. 

This audiobook also included a version of the Christmas Story that I hadn’t heard before. 

The Shoe Box made for the perfect holiday listen and I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy inspirational Christmas stories. 

Book Reviews

Visions of Sugar Plums: A Stephanie Plum Holiday Novel (Stephanie Plum, #8.5) by Janet Evanovich

Visions of Sugar Plums: A Stephanie Plum Holiday Novel
(Stephanie Plum, #8.5)
By: Janet Evanovich
Narrated by: Lorelai King

Published: March 2003
Published By: MacMillan Audio
Format Read: Audio, Library Book, Libby App
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Series

Rating: 1/5

Synopsis


It’s five days before Christmas and things are not looking merry for Fugitive Apprehension Agent Stephanie Plum. She hasn’t got a tree. She hasn’t bought any presents. The malls are jam-packed with staggering shoppers. There’s not a twinkle light anywhere to be seen in her apartment.
And there’s a strange man in her kitchen.
Sure, this has happened to Stephanie Plum before. Strangers, weirdos, felons, creeps, and lunatics are always finding their way to her front door. But this guy is different. This guy is mysterious, sexy-and he has his own agenda. His name is Diesel and he is a man on a mission. And Diesel is unlike anyone Stephanie has ever met before in her life. The question is, what does he want with her? Can he help her find a little old toy maker who has skipped out on his bail right before Christmas? Can he survive the Plum family holiday dinner? Can he get Stephanie a tree that doesn’t look like it was grown next to a nuclear power plant? These questions and more are keeping Stephanie awake at night. Not to mention the fact that she needs to find a bunch of nasty elves, her sister Valerie has a Christmas “surprise” for the Plums, her niece Mary Alice doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, and Grandma Mazur has a new stud muffin. So bring out the plastic reindeer, strap on your jingle bells, and get ready to celebrate the holidays-Jersey style. “Visions of Sugar Plums”-the world of Plum has never been merrier!

-Goodreads

My Thoughts

Visions of Sugar Plums is the second of the “in between” novels from the Stephanie Plum, series that I have read. And the second one that included a supernatural character by the name of Diesel, who stars in another one of Janet Evanovich series. Unfortunately I do not enjoy these crossovers due to their paranormal element. Even though Stephanie’s shenanigans are often wild, I just don’t think that it fits in with her world. In the future I will skip these crossover novels and stick with the regular series.

This is the first time I have listened to the Stephanie Plum in audio format. For the most part, I enjoyed Lorelai King’s narration with the exception of the voice she used for Lula. I was also curious as to why she didn’t give Stephanie a New Jersey accent, as that is where she was born and raised.

Unfortunately I wouldn’t recommend Visions of Sugar Plums and would suggest that readers stick with the regular series.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

A Lancaster County Christmas (Lancaster County Secrets) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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A Lancaster County Christmas
(Lancaster County Secrets)
By: Suzanne Woods Fisher 

Published: October 2011
Published by: Revell 
Format Read: eBook, Kobo
Genre: Amish Fiction, Christian Fiction 

Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis


Jaime and C. J. Fitzpatrick began their married life as most couples do–in love and looking forward to a bright future together. But four years later they’ve drifted apart and are almost ready to call it quits.

Mattie Riehl was hoping to give her husband Sol the Christmas gift they have both longed for–news that a baby was on the way. But as usual, she is disappointed. The holidays bring an acute awareness to Mattie that her dream of a big family isn’t likely to become a reality.

Then a winter storm raging outside blows the Fitzpatricks into the Riehl home–and into a much slower pace of life. Can these two couples from different worlds help each other understand the true meaning of love this Christmas?

With her trademark plot twists and attention to detail, Suzanne Woods Fisher offers readers a beautiful Christmas story of love, forgiveness, and what truly matters in life.

Goodreads 

My Thoughts 

Over the past couple of years, Amish fiction has become the genre I turn to when I’m in the mood for a warm, inspirational story. Suzanne Woods Fisher has become one of my go-to authors. 


A Lancaster County Christmas follows Mattie and Solomon who are characters from the Lancaster County Secrets series. Set during Christmas, this story explores the differences and similarities between the Amish and English.


I found Matties mental health struggles to be quite relatable. Although it was her young son Danny, who was the true shining star. He was a curious child with a heart of gold. Danny was such an endearing and memorable character. 


Unfortunately at times the story felt rushed and predictable. However it was an enjoyable novel that can be read as a stand-alone. I would recommend it to fans of Amish fiction 

Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: December 2018

Total Books Read in December: 8

Total Books Read in 2018: 41

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A Christmas Cracker by Trisha Ashley
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3/5

10426868

A Lancaster County Christmas (Lancaster County Secrets) by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Genre: Christian Fiction, Amish Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

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Visions of Sugar Plums: A Stephanie Plum Holiday Novel (Stephanie Plum, #8.5) by Janet Evanovich
Genre: Audio Book, Mystery, Contemporary
Rating: 1/5

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Pretty Little Liars (Pretty Little Liars, #1) by Sara Shepard
Genre: YA Lit, Mystery
Rating: 3/5
Quick Thoughts: Pretty Little Liars was a quick young adult novel that wasn’t exactly as suspenseful as I anticipated. Although I enjoyed it well enough, I found some parts to be somewhat lame. Still Sara Shepard set the stage for a mystery I am interested in uncovering.

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Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, #1) by Louise Rennison
Genre: Young Adult Lit
Rating: 3/5
NOTE: This was a re-read.

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The World’s Best Jokes for Kids Volume I: Every Single One Illustrated
By: Lisa Swerling & Ralph Lazar

Genre: Childrens, Humour
Rating: 3/5
NOTE: Sent for review.

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The Tea House on Mulberry Street
By: Sharon Owens

Read by: Caroline Winterson
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Audio book
Rating: 3/5

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Summer Baby: A Novella (The Summer Series, Book 3)
By: Beth Labonte

Genre: Novella, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3/5

The Stats


Total Number of Books Read: 8
Total Number of Fiction: 7
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 1
Total Books Sent for Review: 1
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 3  
Total Library Books Read: 3

Formats Read


Physical Books: 2
eBooks: 3
Audio Books: 2 

January TBR

From my TBR Jar:

Follow me on Instagram @melissaleesredhousereviews to see the video I posted where I chose my January TBR jar book.

The Years Before Anne: The Early Career of Lucy Maud Montgomery, Author of Anne of Green Gables

I also plan to read:

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40590406

I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season and wishing you a very happy new year.

Memes · Wrap-ups

#Top10of2018 Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2019

Top 10 of 2018

Today marks the final day for KimberlyFaye Reads Top 10 of 2018, event. Our last topic is.. 

Books I’m Looking Forward to In 2018

  1. Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy
  2. The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
  3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  4. The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom
  5. Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs, #2) by Jacqueline Winspear
  6. The Lost Girls of Paris by Pan Jenoff
  7. Lies by T.M. Logan
  8. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  9. The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

Memes · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

#Top10of2018 The Best of the Best

Top 10 of 2018

Today on Top 10 of 2018, hosted by KimberlyFaye Reads, we are talking about our top 10 favourite books of the year.. 

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury

Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1) by Jacqueline Winspear

An Amish Kitchen by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston & Kelly Long

The Meeting Place (Song of Acadia, #1) by Janette Oke

Rumors (Luxe, #2) by Anna Godbersen

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy