Book Reviews · Recommendations

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Save the Date
By: Morgan Matson

Published: June, 2018
Published By: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Format Read: ARC, Net Galley, eBook
Genre: YA Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Rating: 5/5
♥♥♥♥♥

 

I was sent a copy of Save the Date by Morgan Matson, by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

My Thoughts

Morgan Matson is one of those authors who I’ve heard a lot of reviewers rave about. So naturally I became curious and eager to find out for myself if her novels lived up to all the hype. In the case of her latest release, Save the Date, it definitely lived up to my expectations.

Save the Date is much longer than most books in this genre. However I think that I would much rather 1 longer novel than unnecessarily stretching it out into a series. I would describe this novel as a humorous family drama, with a little bit of romance thrown in.

Morgan Matson included some mixed media formatting, with the inclusion of text messages and in the form of a comic strip, illustrated by Charlie’s mother; Grant Central Station. The syndicated comic was based on the hijinks of the Grant family as they grew up. Often times this caused problems within and outside of their home.

This was essentially a comedy of errors that surrounded the nuptials of Charlie’s sister Linney. Anything that could go wrong did and just when the reader begins to think that it is smooth sailing ahead, something else happens.

I found it refreshing to read about a family that felt so real. Charlie’s admiration for her older siblings was very endearing, even if she saw them through rose tinted glasses, so to speak.

Save the Date would make for a fun and entertaining spring/summer read. I would recommend it to those who enjoy light contemporaries in the young adult genre. I look forward to reading more from Morgan Matson in the future.

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Book Reviews

The Road Home by Beverly Lewis

The Road Home
By: Beverly Lewis

Published: April, 2018
Published By: Bethany House Publishers
Format Read: ARC, Kindle, eBook
Genre: Amish Fiction, Christian Fiction

Rating: 2.5/5
♥♥.5

I was sent a copy of The Road Home by Beverly Lewis, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Lena Rose Schwartz hadn’t planned to leave her Old Order community in Centerville, Michigan. But then, she could not have foreseen the accident that made her and her siblings orphans. After her parents’ funeral, her younger brothers and sisters are farmed out to various nearby relatives. But when the deacon in charge of the arrangements tells her there aren’t places enough for everyone, she agrees to go live with her father’s second cousin and his family in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Beside the fact that Lena has never been more than a few miles from home, she’s never met the family she will now be living with. But worse than that is the thought of being separated from her siblings. How will they manage without her to care for them–especially eight-year-old Chris? And what about Hannes Lehman, the beau she was sure would soon be asking her to marry him? It was true that he was not the man her father would have preferred for her. Maybe that was what the deacon was hinting at when he said “a fresh start might do you good.”

It won’t be forever, she consoles herself. I’ll come back as soon as I can to take care of my family–and to make a home with Hannes. But doing so may prove far more complicated then she ever imagined.

My Thoughts

Beverly Lewis is an award winning author of Amish fiction and I have been eager to read from her extensive collection. I was thankful to have been given the opportunity to read and review her latest release and began with very high expectations.

I enjoyed learning about the Amish culture in the two different communities; Lena Rose’s hometown of Centerville, Michigan and her adoptive home in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The comparisons of the different traditions in these two Old Order communities were surprising to me. Including how the women wore their hair and the style of buggies used. The setting and culture depicted in this story, was by far my favourite part.

Although The Road Home was an endearing story, it didn’t draw me in or captivate me like the other books I’ve read from this genre. The style of Beverly Lewis’s writing was much more stern than I anticipated, so I expected the story to take a more serious or tragic route than it did. Instead I found it to be slightly boring and drawn out.

Unfortunately The Road Home wasn’t for me, however I am interested in giving this author another try. I hope that I will enjoy the next novel more.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Meeting Place (Song of Acadia, #1) by Janette Oke & T. Davis Bunn

The Meeting Place (Song of Acadia, #1)
By: Janette Oke & T. Davis Bunn

Published: April, 1999
Published by: Bethany House Publishers
Format Read: Kobo, eBook
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction

Rating: 4/5
♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

A Chance Encounter Forever Changed Their Lives–and Destinies.
Crafted by two masters of inspirational fiction–Janette Oke and T. Davis Bunn–and combining the engaging historical settings, rich characterization, and heartwarming messages quintessential to both authors, The Meeting Place is another timeless story for you to cherish.

Set along the rugged coastline of 18th century Canada in what was then called Acadia (now Nova Scotia and New Brunswick), The Meeting Place re-creates a world that was home to native Indians, French settlers, and English garrisons. Such diverse populations did not live in accord, however. Instead, they were isolated within their own groups by a brewing political tension under the difficult English rule.

Amid such chaotic times two women, both about to become brides and both trying to live lives of quiet peace, meet in a lush field of wildflowers. Louisa, a Frenchwoman, and Catherine, who is English, continue to meet secretly through the seasons, sharing both friendship and growing faith.

The outside world does not mirror their own tranquil happiness, and the dreaded crackdown by the English throne threatens far more than their growing bond. In the face of a heart-wrenching dilemma, Louisa and Catherine strive to maintain their faith and cling to their dreams of family and home.
Winner of the Christy Award, presented by the Christian Bookseller Association to honor the best in Christian fiction.

My Thoughts

Janette Oke is an author with a list of books so long, its hard to know where to start. My first introduction to her books was with Where Trust Lies (Return to the Canadian West, #2) and since then I have been very eager to read more.

I began The Meeting Place with high expectations and definitely wasn’t disappointed. Beginning in 1753, it follows the budding, forbidden friendship between two young women; a French Acadian and an English Colonialist. They learn that despite their different cultures and their warring homelands, they had much in common. The way they built their bond around their Bible study was really quite beautiful.  There were so many passages that I marked to re-read and savor. Strength was a common theme in the Meeting Place, especially when hardships ensued. Catherine and Louisa drew strength from their husbands, their cultures, faith and especially their friendship.

While the cast of characters was interesting, it was the setting that really captured me. My pre-confederation education didn’t exactly shine a light on the British’s expulsion of the Acadian’s, so this era in our history is a fairly new interest of mine. The descriptions of the highland glen, the maritime local and the different seasons the story spanned draws the reader in and plays with their senses. After having the opportunity to visit  Fort Louisburg in Nova Scotia, I was able to vividly picture the landscape and what life was like during that time period. I was pleasantly surprised when that very place was mentioned in this book, as it gave me a better understanding of the different locations mentioned.

The Meeting Place is a wonderful story filled with heartbreak and hope. I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy Christian historical fiction and I very much look forward to reading the second book in the Song of Acadia series.

Notable Quotes

“A man was either French or English, and though villages were but a stone’s throw from one another, most inhabitants would go an entire lifetime without speaking to the other side.”

“The questions which had no answers were best left unspoken, and confessions were best whispered down a dark well at midnight.”

“It’s our meeting place. Our sanctuary. When we come here we come as equals. Women. Wives. Friends. We share the same dreams. The same hopes. We must not let others keep us enemies.”

Additional Notes

To read more about my trip to the Fortress of Louisbourg please visit my old blog: Melissa Lee’s Many Reads.

Books Hauls · Memes

Book Haul: March 2018

Today I would like to share the books I added to my collection during the month of March.

Sent in exchange for an honest review


The Cat Who Ate Christmas by Lil Chase & Thomas Docherty

(Via NetGalley)


The Road Home by Beverly Lewis
(From Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley)

Library Book Sale 

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Vision in White (Bride Quartet, #1) by Nora Roberts
Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts
Where My Heart Belongs by Tracie Peterson
Keeping Time by Stacey McGlynn 

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Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
The Queen’s Accomplice (Maggie Hope Mystery #6) by Susan Elia MacNeal 
Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging (Confessions of Georgia Nicholson, #1) by Louise Rennison 
The Heart of a Good by P.G. Woodhouse

Have you read any of these books? Leave me a message in the comments. 

 

 

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
♥♥♥.5

Synopsis

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

Kindle

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
♥♥♥♥

Synopsis
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
♥♥♥

 

Synopsis

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.

Synopsis

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

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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
♥♥♥.5

Synopsis 

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.