Book Reviews · Recommendations

Summer at Sunset (Summer, #2) by Beth Labonte

Summer at Sunset
(Summer, #2)
By: Beth Labonte

Published: December, 2018
Published By: Kindle Edition
Format Read: Kindle, eBook
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5


For Summer Hartwell, holding her and Graham’s wedding a thousand miles from home seemed like a good idea. Even if it is at a retirement community. How else could she avoid planning the wedding with her neurotic, anxiety-ridden mother? But with one week left to go and Summer’s parents arriving on the scene, things begin to quickly unravel. Between the swingers parties, the Viagra jokes, and the copious amount of alcohol, Summer’s not so sure her parents will make it out of there alive. Then there’s the matter of Graham being Grade A top choice meat to every woman over sixty-five, a few of whom Summer suspects of trying to sabotage the wedding!

Can Summer and Graham hold things together long enough to make it down the aisle?
(Synopsis from Goodreads)


My Thoughts

Summer at Sunset is a fun contemporary fiction that picks up 2 years after the first book in the series, Summer at Sea. Our main character is now engaged to be married and wins an all expenses paid wedding at her in-laws retirement community.

It was nice to be reunited with the quirky cast of characters, including Summer’s neurotic parents. Ironically she learns that she may not be all the different from them. You know what they say “like mother, like daughter.” We are also introduced to several of the residents from the retirement community, who are young at heart, enjoying their golden years in the Florida sun. Only their daily routines mirror more of a college fraternity than that of a rest and relaxation.

While I found it to be an enjoyable read, I didn’t rate it as high as Summer at Sea. I didn’t like the characters quite as much as I did upon their initial introduction to me. Although I found it perfectly understandable that she would be stressed out, I found Summer to be a bit annoying at times and I wasn’t a fan of her fiance. An inflated ego isn’t a trait that I find attractive at all. The conclusion of this story was more over the top, than I expected.

However I enjoy the way Beth Labonte weaves pop culture into her stories and the personalities of her characters. There were several laugh out loud moments and I especially enjoyed the visits to Disney World.

I look forward to the next installment in this series and I would recommend it to fans of contemporary chick-lit.


Books Hauls · Memes

Book Haul: December 2017 – February 2018

Do you ever think you published a post, but then look back and discover that you didn’t? Well that is what I thought happened with my book hauls from previous months. I must have only shared some of Charlie’s books we’ve acquired but not my own.

Anyway, here most of the books I’ve added to my collection over the past few months..

Borrowed From the Library..

40 Love by Madeleine Wickham
Seriously.. I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres

Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks


Library Book Sale

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Vow by Kim Carpenter
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Ya Ya’s in Bloom (Ya Ya’s #3) by Rebecca Wells


Snowfall and Secrets (Omega Mu Alpha Brothers, #1) by Kimberly Loth


Linking up with Stacking the Shelves

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah

Comfort and Joy
By Kristin Hannah

Published: October, 2006
Published By: Ballantine Books
Format Read: eBook, Kobo
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 4/5

High school librarian Joy Candellaro is just merely existing in the wake of a divorce. Then her entire existence is rocked when she learns that her own sister is pregnant with her ex-husbands baby. In a fit of desperation she flees looking for an escape from reality. On a whim she buys a plane ticket for a chartered flight that would take her deep into the Olympic rain-forest in the American Pacific Northwest.

My Thoughts

Comfort and Joy has a premise that may sound overly familiar to fans of cheesy Christmas movies. However this is not a happy, fuzzy holiday story, but one that is melancholy and ripe with tragedy.

Kristin Hannah’s descriptions were very vivid and beautiful. The lodge that Joy finds herself at reminded me in some ways, of William Paul Young’s The Shack, which is one of my favourite novels. The bond she would form with Bobby (son of the lodges owner) was really quite sweet and endearing.

Although this book wasn’t one that I absolutely loved, there were two main points that kept me reading and in turn factored into my 4 star rating. 1: I was able to really relate to Joy on a personal level. The emotions she felt as a result of her heartbreak really hit close to home for me. And 2. There were several passages that made me stop and reflect. Below I have included some of those quote that caught my attention.

I would recommend Comfort and Joy to those who enjoy contemporaries and fans of Kristin Hannah.

Notable Quotes

“I’m dreaming again for the first time in years, and it feels good.”

“This is my resolution for the New Year. I will be honest with myself. I’ll keep my eyes open. I’ll see what’s there, not just what I want to see.”

“..the silence has been like the in-drawn breath before a scream”

“It’s amazing how quickly a bone can heal. If only the heart were as durable. A little plaster, two months of bed rest, and voila! your broken heart is mended.”

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Plum Lovin’ (Stephanie Plum, #12.5) by Janet Evanovich

Plum Lovin’ (Stephanie Plum, #12.5)
By: Janet Evanovich

Published: January 2007
Published By: St. Martin’s Press
Format Read: Kindle for PC, eBook

Rating: 3 Stars



Plum Lovin’ is a holiday novella that falls between the full length novels Twelve Sharp and Lean Mean Thirteen. Set just before Valentines Day, business is slow in the bonds industry and there is only one large bail skip on Stephanie Plum’s list. In order to capture the skip, she must first help her friend Diesel and play cupid along the way.

My Thoughts 

The in between novellas in the Stephanie Plum series, aren’t exactly crucial reading, although it would have helped me to better understand Diesel’s character if I had read Visions of Sugar Plums (Stephanie Plum #8.5) first. I knew that he was a character from another series by Janet Evanovich, but I have yet to read any of those books.

It had been a while since I have read this series, so it was nice to revisit my favourite characters once again. Although a short story, it had the same humor I’ve come to enjoy. However I didn’t feel like the Diesel’s hint of paranormal powers fit into the Stephanie Plum world.

Still I would recommend Plum Lovin’ to fans of Janet Evanovich and the Stephanie Plum books.

Book Reviews

The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

The Sound of Rain
By: Sarah Loudin Thomas

Published: November 2017
Published By: Bethany House Publishers
Format Read: eBook, NetGalley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Romance

Rating: 3/5

I was sent a copy of The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


After a mine collapse nearly costs him his life, Judd Markley decides to start over in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He takes a job at a timber company where he catches the eye of the boss’s daughter. Larkin Heyward lives a privileged life, as a socialite, but feels that her destiny is to help people. She longs to go away and do mission work, much to her father’s dismay. Meanwhile Judd begins to quickly move up the ranks in the timber company, while courting Larkin. Is his success due to his skills or does Mr. Heyward have ulterior motives?

My Thoughts 

I have been looking forward to reading more Sarah Loudin Thomas, ever since I read her novella Appalachian Serenade. One thing that really stood out to me in that story was the authors ability to connect with the senses of her readers. I was very happy to discover that this talent rang true once again in The Sound of Rain. From the mines of West Virginia to the prosperous Myrtle Beach and the poor hills of Kentucky, she painted a very vivid picture of the various settings. I could almost smell the smokey mountains and feel the humidity described in the southern states.

The 1950’s is a time period that interests me, however it isn’t very often that I come across historical fiction set in that era. Another aspect that caught my interest was the mention of Hurricane Hazel in the synopsis.

Judd Markley was an interesting character, who I liked from the start. However I never warmed to his female counterpart Larkin Heyward. In fact I found her more insufferable as the story went on. She was a very spoiled young woman and I felt that her dream to help people was more about drawing attention to herself than a genuine care for others. I didn’t think that she and Judd were a good match for each other at all.

Unfortunately my dislike for Larkin really took away from my enjoyment of this novel. Hopefully I will have better luck next time with this author as I would really like to read more Sarah Loudin Thomas.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Measure of Katie Calloway (Michigan Northwoods, #1) by Serena B. Miller


The Measure of Katie Calloway
(Michigan Northwoods, #1)

By: Serena B. Miller

Published: October 2011
Published By: Revell 
Fromat Read: Kindle for PC
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5


Katie Calloway makes a daring escape from her abusive Confederate Officer, husband. Fleeing north, she and her young brother Ned find themselves destitute in Bay City Michigan looking for a way to support themselves. Meanwhile, lumber camp owner Robert Foster is in a bind after his only cook is put out of commission due to injury. Although it was rare for a woman to work in a lumber camp among a group of men, he takes a chance on Katie. But will she be able to win them over and move on from her traumatizing past or will it catch up to her in the backwoods of Michigan?

My Thoughts 

Author Serena B. Miller was inspired to write The Measure of Katie Calloway after seeing  old photos of Michigan lumber camps in the 1800’s. In a workforce that was exclusive to only men, a female cook was very rare.

Even though Katie was the only woman working for Robert Foster, her past had made her strong and determined to forge a better life for herself and Ned. The way she adjusted to her new role showed a lot of character growth. Both Katie and Robert had their own reasons for escaping into the Michigan wilderness, which was interesting to discover.

The detailed explanations of the everyday operations in the 1867 lumber camp were really informative and well researched. I also enjoyed the camaraderie between the workers and how they abide their own code.

I would recommend this first book in the Michigan Northwoods series to fans of Christian historical fiction.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Down, Then Up: A Novella by Beth Labonte

Down, Then Up: A Novella
By Beth Labonte

Published: November, 2016
Published By: Kindle Edition
Format Read: Kindle
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Novella

Rating: 4/5


Lauren has worked hard to leave her past behind her. However she never could forget the one who got away. Ten years later, while throwing her sister a bachelorette party in Las Vegas, she discovers that her old flame happens to be the cousin of the groom.

My Thoughts 

I have been a fan of Beth Labonte’s books since reading her 2011 release What Stays in Vegas. Her novella Down, Then Up brings her readers back to “Sin City” in another humorous story, that didn’t disappoint.

Lauren’s former boyfriend Jamie is every nerdy girl’s dream. The popular culture references, especially those of the sci-fi variety are so current and will appeal to a lot of readers. I especially enjoyed how the title of this novella: Down, Then Up and its cover picture tied into the story.

I would definitely recommend Beth Labonte to fans of humorous contemporary fiction and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

Book Reviews

The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Blessing
By Melody Carlson

Published: September, 2017
Published by: Fleming H. Revell Company

Format Read: NetGalley, eBook
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction

Rating: 3/5

I was sent a copy of The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 


After a brief whirlwind romance, Amelia and James decide to marry, but are separated before tying the knot when he is called to report for duty as a pilot during the second world war. Shortly later she discovers that she is expecting his baby, then news arrives that his plane had been shot down over the Pacific. Alone and afraid, Amelia gives birth to a son she names Jimmy and decides to turn to James’ family for help. The Christmas Blessing follows her as she makes her way penniless to search for a family who doesn’t know that she or baby Jimmy exist.

My Thoughts 

The Christmas Blessing was a quick holiday story set in the home front of 1944 as war rages on.  Amelia’s life was riddled with tragedy, however the tone of the writing was quite light.

While I was able to relate to our main character was a single mother, but I didn’t quite feel enough emotion was conveyed as well as I would have liked. The World War II era time line was my favourite part of this story. However I enjoyed the characters and plot in Melody Carlson’s The Christmas Joy Ride, much more.

That being said it was a cute story that would make for a nice holiday movie and I would recommend it to fans of this author.



Book Reviews · Recommendations

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas


Dangerous Girls

By Abigail Haas

Published: July 2013
Published By: Simon Pulse

Format Read: eBook, Rivited
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 5/5


Anna Chevalier never had many friends until she transferred to an elite Boston prep school and met Elise Warren. Together they were inseparable and began living a wild life of excess. But, before long it would all come crashing down.  While on spring break in Aruba, Elise is found brutally murdered and Anna is suspect number one.

My Thoughts..

Abigail Haas’ Dangerous Girls is a fast paced young adult thriller that I picked up on a whim. Am I ever glad that I gave this one a chance because I couldn’t put it down. This mystery had me hooked from the first chapter.

The story is told from Anna’s perspective and shifts back and forth from when she first met Elise up to Anna’s more present situation. Sometimes books like that are hard to follow, but that wasn’t the case in this instance. It actually made for a really quick and intriguing read. The author also used different formats such as; call logs, text message conversations and television interviews. This book was chalk full of twists and turns that kept me guessing who the killer was right to the end. My suspicions of the characters would change with each page.


Dangerous Girls is easily one of the best books I’ve read in 2017. I would recommend it to fans of young adult mysteries.