~The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson~
“It’s as if heaven has grown closer somehow. It used to feel so far away and otherworldly. But knowing that my loved ones are already there makes it seem more real.”
“Sometimes we have to let our dreams go in order to allow God to bring them back to us –in his way and his timing.”
Anytime I need to get into the holiday spirit, I pull out a Melody Carlson book.
Abby has been known as an “Earth Angel” for her many good deeds, and when she passes away, her book club members are devastated at the loss. In preparation for Christmas, Abby had made an angel ornament for each of the four women. When her husband delivers the angels, the friends make a pact to carry on her tradition of doing good.
This short Christmas novel follows four friends as they attempt to follow in Abby’s footsteps. New beginnings and lessons learned enrich the lives of the friends as they purpose to honor their friend’s memory.
A feel good, heartwarming read. Inspirational. Touch of romance. A story in the tradition of her past Christmas books. Enjoyable, easy read.
Do you have a favorite Christmas author?
~Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber~
“Christmas is a condition of the heart.”
Merry’s loving, but meddling, family sign her up for an online dating service. They don’t post a photo of her. Merry’s boss, who she perceives as cold, comes across the dating profile. He doesn’t post his photo, either. Inevitably, the two strike up a conversation without knowing the true identity of the other and develop an online relationship. You know where it goes from there.
Classic, well done romcom of the best sort. Merry Knight is an adorable character, and her situation with her love interest is charming. As it turns out, Jayson Bright is not really the bad sort he’s been pegged as. Both our hero and heroine have a complicated family life and issues to deal with. Good story line that kept me reading.
Every time I try to write about this one, I end up giving spoilers, so instead let me just say, if you like charming romcom with a Christmas theme you should get this book. Cute, warm, satisfying. An enjoyable holiday read.
This year I’ve discarded more Christmas books than I finished, but this is a good one.
Have you read any good Christmas books this season?
~A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy~
“She was still vaguely hopeful that there was love out there somewhere—just a little less sure that she might actually find it.”
“Her life was like her house—a colorful fantasy where anything was possible if you wanted it badly enough.”
Chicky Starr revamps an old mansion, turning it into a holiday resort for those wanting to spend time in an out-of-the-way place. Stone House is in a remote area on the cliffs of Ireland, part of a small village. The novel follows a varied cast of characters. A warm read. Humorous. Relatable.
Maeve Binchy was one of a kind. I’m not sure how she did it. The stories she wrote are rich with characters in situations that we often find ourselves. I find myself becoming attached to her characters, and remembering them long after the last page has been read. This was her last novel.
While this is not my favorite novel of hers, it was a joy to revisit for this fan.
This one may be a bit slow in parts, and does seem to meander a bit, but I think it’s well worth the time. It leaves me with a warm, cozy feeling.
~An American Marriage by Tayari Jones~
“A marriage is more than your heart, it’s your life. And we are not sharing ours.”
“Home isn’t where you land; home is where you launch. You can’t pick your home any more than you can choose your family. In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land.”
Celestial and Roy have only been married a year when Roy is falsely accused of a crime and sentenced to prison. Roy is incarcerated unjustly, and the focus of the novel is how the marriage unravels in the face of what has happened to them. Each chapter is told in alternating points of view. The story is complex and the writing amazing. I can see why this novel is so popular.
The novel is effective, causing one to think about the consequences of racial injustice and the far reaching impact it can have on lives. It’s also an examination of marriage, love, and commitment. It can be hard to read at times due to the subject matter.
This novel is an Oprah Book Club Selection and a 2018 National Book Award Nomination for Fiction.
A must read.
~So B. It by Sarah Weeks~
“Not knowing something doesn’t mean you’re stupid. All it means is that there’s still room left to wonder.”
Twelve-year-old Heidi doesn’t know her extended family. She doesn’t even know her mother’s name or anything about her background. Her mentally disabled mother depends on a neighbor, and it has been this way since Heidi was an infant. The neighbor, Bernadette, is agoraphobic. When Heidi discovers some undeveloped film, she follows the clues left in the photos. She is determined to travel across the country to find out where she came from and the identity of her mother, who calls herself So B. It.
This is a beautiful story. I’m not really sure how I missed this one. This book is suitable for ages ten and up, but I found it to be very enjoyable.
Heart tugging. Fantastic characters. The mystery of how Heidi and her mother came to be in this apartment alone kept me turning pages. Such a brave little girl. I was rooting for her all the way.
This book is been made into a movie and now I want to check it out.
If you haven’t read this one, you should put it on your list. Another great read.
~Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli~
I adored this book.
A new girl shows up at school. She different. For one thing, she dresses funny, and has a penchant for approaching her schoolmates in the lunchroom to sing to them on their birthday.. To add to the strangeness she does this while playing the ukulele she carries on her back. She’s starting 11th grade, but this is her first school. She was homeschooled.
Leo is drawn to her, and an innocent romance develops between the two.
Our heroine goes by a name she choose for herself, Stargirl. At first her classmates shun her, but then come to accept her when she becomes a cheerleader. Then the tide turns. Now they despise her.
Leo asks her to change, so she does, attempting to fit in. It doesn’t work.
This short book is chock full of loveliness and lessons. It unfolds beautifully, examining human nature. It’s a story that might cause a bit of reflection.
This is one to put on your must read list. Marked as MG or YA, I think adults would enjoy it as well. If you liked Wonder, you might like this novel.
General All Around Good Read
I will reread this one.
“She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a cork board like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.”
“She was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day.”
“The trouble with miracles is, they don’t last long.”
~Summerlost by Ally Condie~
“Why does the end always have to be what people talk about?”
“I have been in the presence of a lot of greatness. And people I love who loved me back. It might be the same thing.”
After a tragic accident takes the lives of Cedar’s father and younger brother, Ben, Cedar comes to spend the summer in Iron Creek and gets her first job at the Summerlost Theater. She and her new found friend, Leo, are determined to unravel the mystery of the festival’s most famous actress who died years ago. Items appear on Cedar’s window sill, items like the things her brother, Ben, would collect and Cedar tries to puzzle out who left them there.
Sweet, coming-of-age novel. I absolutely adore the main character, Cedar, and her vulnerability and honesty about her feelings for her brother.
This is a novel about Cedar’s coming to terms with losing her father and brother. Her grief, her experience.
It has a lovely summery feel to it, that fleeting warmth and sweetness of twelve-year-old summer, the time in between childhood and adolescence where things are bright and raw. Cedar’s summer is tinged with grief and memories.
This is a story of friendship between a boy and a girl. I like that it wasn’t necessary to have the friendship cluttered by romance. I love the message that it is perfectly acceptable to have a friend of the opposite sex, especially at this age. I remember the looks and raised eyebrows from the adults in my life when I was twelve and my best friend was a boy. Sometimes it’s about friendship, not kisses.
Sensitively done. Beautiful work. Moving.
In the author’s notes she mentions the neurodiverse community. I like that.
~Finding Hero by Diana L. Sharples~
Finding Hero is a young adult mystery, but rather than a straightforward whodunit, the characters each have their own story. I first read Diana Sharples’ work with her book, Running Lean, a story about a girl with an eating disorder. All of Diana Sharples’ characters in Finding Hero encounter problems other than simply solving a mystery. She writes a complex story.
Finding Hero is a multi layered tale involving teenage life, complicated family history, and a mystery from the past that could have severe consequences for Daniela and Devon. A storm wreaks havoc in their lives, not the least of which is uncovering a long buried body.
I like this new book. When I first downloaded it and saw all those little dots I thought it was on the long side, but as I was listening it did not seem long at all. It’s hard for a book to keep my interest when I listen to it on kindle, but Finding Hero did. I was hooked from the beginning.
I’ve been a sucker for Shakespeare since I first encountered The Bard, so when the book opens it with the character Daniella Cooper auditioning for a part in Much Ado About Nothing my antenna went up. If you’re not a Shakespeare fan the title is referring to a character in the play. You don’t have to be into Shakespeare to enjoy this book, by the way.
The only thing I did not like in this book was the behavior of some of the adult characters. I found myself getting angry at the failure of the grownups, but I understand that that was intentional. They just made me mad! However, simply having a child does not make one a mature adult. These characters reflect true people and the behaviors and obstacles encountered in real life. .
Finding Hero is a clean read. All of Diana Sharples books that I’ve read are, but this one is actually published by clean reads.
I received an advanced copy of this book and was asked for an honest review.
Bonus Review! I know it’s not Wednesday, but it took me so long to get this up and if you haven’t picked your August selection yet I wanted to let you guys know what I thought about this book.
~The Storyteller’s Secret: A Novel by Sejal Badani~
I chose this as my August Kindle First Read. This wasn’t a book I would have normally selected, but I was glad to have the opportunity to read it. One of the best things about Kindle first reads is that the program reduces my options so I discover new authors I would’ve otherwise passed over.
Jaya is struggling to come to terms with repeated miscarriages and the disintegration of her marriage. Leaving New York behind, she travels to India to reconnect with her mother’s past. .
The story spans of three generations of women. The novel immersed me in a culture I was unfamiliar with. I was fascinated by the people and descriptions. I could relate to each of these women and the story gave me a window into a different world. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction, general fiction, or women’s fiction.
A rich, well told, historical/contemporary read. This novel was a wonderful surprise. If you haven’t selected your August first reads choice, this is a good one. I plan to look for more by this author.This book has no language or graphic violence.
Do you have kindle first reads? What book did you pick?
~Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish~
What a lovely read. Christa Parrish is one of my favorite contemporary Christian fiction writers. Her prose always touches me. It feeds my soul.
Liesl McNamara spends her days making bread. She learned this talent from her mother and her grandmother. Her days are busy with her bread making business, and life is simple until people and event complicate it. The delivery man, a single father, begins to win her affection, and one of her employees enters Liesl as a contestant for a cooking show. Secrets her parents kept from her are revealed and she must deal with them.
The novel has flashbacks scattered throughout, but I had no difficulty following any of the storylines. .
Another cast of true to life characters who are less than perfect and uniquely human. The novel is not preachy, but the message is there. I like Christa Parrish’s voice, her style. Excellent writing. Parrish is one of those authors whose books I pick up without even bothering to read the description because I know I will enjoy the read.
This one didn’t seem as complex plot wise as some of her others, but I still loved it. I will reread it again and again. Sweet story.