☕ Book Break ☕ | Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

~Skipping Christmas by John Grisham~
What’s Christmas without the Kranks? This short novel has become a Christmas tradition for many. Who hasn’t, at one point or another, wanted to forgo the whole crazy holiday furor. I chuckled through the familiar story of the Kranks and Luther’s decision to skip Christmas for one year and go on a cruise instead. I enjoyed this short, humorous tale. It was interesting to read this departure from the types of novels I usually associate with John Grisham. Light hearted and fun, this one got me in the holiday spirit.

☕ Book Break ☕ | Pretty is As Pretty Dies by Elizabeth Spann Craig

~Pretty is As Pretty Dies by Elizabeth Spann Craig~
Myrtle Clover loves to solve mysteries when her son, the police chief, isn’t getting in her way. The retired schoolteacher, an octogenarian, considers herself to be a clever sleuth, and can’t pass up mysteries even when she’s been warned off. This is the first book in the Myrtle Clover cozy mystery series. In this book, Parke Stockard, a local realtor who is not at all well liked in the community, has suffered a fatal blow at the church altar while tampering with the flowers. I read these cozy mysteries out of order, but it wasn’t difficult to go back and fill in with the ones I missed. The main character is full of spunk and attitude. All the supporting characters are just as enjoyable to read about. These cozies make me chuckle. I get a kick out of Myrtle showing displeasure with her police chief son by putting out garden gnomes. The neighbors can tell how irritated she is with him by how many gnomes decorate the lawn. In fact, it’s quite common for her yard guy to be unable to cut the grass due to a plethora of garden gnomes, so he has to weed eat around them.

If you’re looking for a good cozy, I recommend this series.

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls

~The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls ~
12-year-old Bean and her older sister Liz are abandoned by their mother and, left to their own devices, decide to go to search out their Uncle Tinsley, lifelong resident of a small town in Virginia. This is the first time the girls have met their uncle, who turns out to be a bit of a recluse and eccentric to boot. Having nowhere else to turn, they end up staying in the dilapidated mansion that has been in the family for generations. The setting and the storytelling is authentic to the 1970s.
Bean is smart and funny, and a thoroughly enjoyable character. I do tend to like coming-of-age stories. This audiobook was read by Jeannette Walls herself and I always enjoy listening to an author read their own work. I thought this was a good weekend read.

☕ Book Break ☕ | Like A Watered Garden by Patti Hill

~Like A Watered Garden by Patti Hill~⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I know I say this too often, but this book really is one of my favorites. This is an inspirational Christian read. It was published in 2005, but remains at the top of my personal list of best loved Christian inspirational novels. Mibby has lost her husband and is trying to find her footing. This isn’t an easy thing to do, especially with the twists and turns in her story. She’s working to get her small business of designing gardens going while at the same time raising her 13-year-old son on her own. Mibby’s a real woman. She has a pear shaped figure and uncooperative hair. She has a next-door neighbor who dispenses comfort with words of wisdom and sugary home-baked goods. She kind of reminds me of some people I know. It makes me wish for the company of a good friend. I love all the characters in this book.
I don’t generally like characters that cry, but Mibby gets a pass because the scenes are so well done. Her crying fits are honest. None of that fake stuff here. I love a character who finds comfort in prayer, sugar laden snacks, and in the occasional indulgence of a good ugly cry.
It isn’t a fast, action-packed book, but I liked the flow. The pacing seems perfect to me for this kind of book. Is it strange that I find a story about grief comforting even from the beginning? This is the first book in a three-part series and I would like it very much if Patti Hill would write some more of Mibby’s story.?

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

~The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin~⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“We read to know we are not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone.”
This is one of those books that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to tell someone about it.. The book is a beautiful story about second chances, life, and love. Recently widowed AJ owns a bookstore on Alice Island. He is drowning in grief and isolates himself more and more. Then something happens to change his life. I was touched by the novel. It reminds us that life is full of the good and the bad. “In the end, we are collected works. He has read enough to know there are no collections we are each story is perfect. Some hits. Some misses. If you’re lucky, a stand out.”
There’s no magic in this novel, but somehow to me it felt magical.
The book contains some language, tragedy, and a bit of misbehavior, but it is a beautiful and life-affirming work. I find myself quite enamored with it. I suspect that if you are a book lover you would enjoy this one. It makes me want to go visit a bookshop.

☕ Book Break ☕ | Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington

~Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington~ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A beautiful coming of age story. Alice’s father has been deployed to Iraq and she misses him terribly. This story unveils all the emotions, following the lives and struggles of one family as they wait for their loved one to return. This novel had some odd point of view shifts, but is so heart tugging I still recommend it. You are going to cry. I feel like crying just thinking about this book!

☕ Book Break ☕ | Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

~Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate~ Lisa Wingate delivers. This book wrecked my productivity. Once I started I had to finish it. The Tennessee Children’s Home Society was a real organization that removed and sometimes even kidnapped children from poor families and sold the children to wealthy families wanting to adopt.
Twelve year old Rill is the eldest of five, and the siblings are taken away against their will to a boarding house of horrors while waiting to be placed. Rill knows her parents would never give them away. The story alternates between 1939, Rill’s story, and present day when Avery narrates as she unravels the past mystery of deep family secrets.
I had heard about the Tennessee Children’s Home before, but I didn’t realize the extent of the abuse. I was holding my breath hoping for Rill to get away. This one may end up being my favorite Lisa Wingate novel. It is definitely on my list.
This book will make you hate Georgia Tann, the woman who ran the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. I don’t think I can read another story about her for a while.

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell

~The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell~⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I finally got around to reading The Feathered Bone. I love the descriptions of New Orleans and its unique culture. Once I started, I didn’t take long to read this book. It was an emotional read. A few twists in the story surprised me and kept me reading. I will definitely be reading more books by Julie Cantrell. If you like Christian fiction or fiction with a strong theme of redemption this might be a book for you.

Book Review| A Window to the World by Susan Meissner

 

Megan and Jen are best friends, enjoying a typical childhood. Then one day Jen is snatched when the girls are out riding their bikes.

The novel, A Window to the World by Susan Meissner, follows Megan from young girlhood as she grows into an adult, showing how this one terrible event impacts every decision she makes from the moment of the kidnapping. Nightmares haunt her and fear colors her world.

I expected the story to focus on Jen, or her parents, but instead, Meissner told the story of the child left behind. This was a different angle for an abduction story.  I was interested in the story told from the perspective of Megan, although the kidnapping and my desire to know What happened to Jen! was always in the back of my mind. Just about the time I was starting to worry maybe I would never find out, the question was answered. Good storytelling.

This is an inspirational read with Biblical truths at its core. I liked Meissner’s writing style and my attention never flagged throughout the book. This was an easy to read, high interest novel. I listened to the audio book on CDs narrated by Tavia Gilbert. The recording and reading was well done and easy to listen to. It was a good weekend novel.

 Find out more about Susan Meissner’s books at her website here. 

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Book Review|Doesn’t She Look Natural by Angela Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doesn’t She Look Natural is one of my favorite Angela Hunt books. I first read this novel several years ago, and it was one worth rereading. I am drawn the emotional journey of the main character. Imagine having your husband divorce you, life turned upside down, only to find that an unknown uncle has died and bequeathed his estate to you. Unfortunately, this windfall turns out to be a broken down funeral home. This is now life for Jennifer Graham, former chief of staff for a Virginia senator.

I enjoyed the humor sprinkled throughout this inspirational novel. The characters stuck with me long after I read the book, fairly seeming to come to life in the pages of this story. I felt myself commiserating with her tragedies and, at times, wishing I could speak directly to her to tell her stop dreaming and face her issues head-on. I suppose this is a good sign, a character who seems real!

This is a lady who has issues with her mom, issues with her ex-husband, and issues with her children as well. Yikes. The setting is perfect for telling the story of the death of Jennifer’s former life and her need to build a new one. The story was an enjoyable read, one I am glad I revisited.

There are some odd POV shifts I found difficult to follow at times when I was listening to it on my Kindle, although I do not recall having any issues with that when I read the print book. Perhaps there was some indication of who was speaking in the print book that did not make it into the Kindle formatting.

Doesn’t She Look Natural is also written in present tense, which seemed a bit awkward. Even so, these two small issues were not enough to distract me from the story.

I absolutely love the title. I’m not sure how much that played into me remembering this book so well. I love stories that tell about a woman’s empowerment and emotional journey, especially if they are flavored with humor and told through the eyes of a true to life, relatable character.

This is inspirational fiction and the Christian element is strong throughout. All in all, aa enjoyable and encouraging feel-good read.

I have to mention I love that the main character’s mother is a red hatter and is active in the Red Hat Society.

This book is free for kindle right now on Amazon here.

Subject Matter:

Mentions of divorce, mentions of infidelity, one incident of the main character slapping her son, mentions of death, funerals, death of ex-husband, mother/daughter issues

Doesn’t She Look Natural is the first in the Fairlawn series.

Author Website