Review: Two Christmas novellas- Forever Christmas & My True Love Gave to Me by Christine Lynxwiler

November means Christmas reading, so I hunkered down the past couple nights with two novellas in my Kindle’s “Christmas” folder. 

These charming and heartfelt stories felt like full-length novels in that the characters were many and varied, the plots had time to twist and meander a bit, and the main characters were wonderfully developed. 

In Forever Christmas, Kristianna tries to live out her own authentic life, fighting through family pressures and a stressful romantic past. I loved that Kristianna’s best friends never wavered in their love and loyalty to her. I enjoyed Kristianna’s fun dates, her surprise gifts, and the relationships she had with the quirky townspeople. Although saving her town of Jingle Bells from corporate intrusion was top of mind, Kristianna eventually got the message that working together for a solution is more effective than cutting off your nose to spite your face. 

In My True Love Gave to Me, loving wife and mom of two Penny has had it up to here with her newly-unemployed husband’s moping. But when he finally does something to snap out of it, she’s not truly on board with that either. The plan? A family RV trip. The reaction? Horror, as you might guess. However, in the spirit of a good Christmas story, the lessons are in the journey. Lynxwiler gives us an entertaining road trip where relationships are strengthened, trust is built, and true love abounds. 

Both novellas have a Christian perspective, with a mentions of “God’s plan” and positively describing other characters as Christian. They both have a happily ever after, too. 

You’ll be glad to know my Kindle’s Christmas folder is full of myriad holiday novels. These were only the tip of the iceberg! 

-calliope 

Buy MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME
Buy FOREVER CHRISTMAS

Advertisements

Review: Thou Art With Me by Debbie Viguie



I’ve been reading and enjoying The Psalm 23 Mysteries since Book 1. Number 11 – Thou Art With Me – might be the best one yet. 

As with the other books in the series, church secretary Cindy  and rabbi Jeremiah pair up to solve a murder. In prior books they developed a friendship and then something deeper. This installment is set around Valentine’s Day, so it’s apt that their relationship evolves even more. 

The murder is a serious one, and there’s real danger to Cindy and Jeremiah. I loved how Cindy got to have the upper hand in this investigation. Her poker skills were amazing, and had I not already loved her she would’ve become my favorite character based on that poker game scene alone.

Debbie Viguie is one of the few authors I’ve read who has a talent for writing a high-quality novel quickly. The dialogue, character depth and authenticity, consistency, and writing technique are TOP NOTCH. Viguie moves the plot along very quickly without sacrificing detail. With this book, and every Psalm 23 Mystery, I am on an amusement park ride that’s fast, fun, and life-changing. I remain impressed, and can’t wait for Book 12. 

-calliope

As of this writing, you can buy books 1-11 on Amazon. If you’d like to order Book 12 or pre-order subsequent books, you may go to Debbie Viguie’s blog and web site.

Buy THE PSALM 23 MYSTERIES

Review: Dubiosity by Christy Barritt

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/3d7/55289528/files/2015/01/img_2321.jpg
Barritt rocks at setting up the suspense in Dubiosity. I was on the edge of my seat the whole ride.

Savannah is taking a break, grieving a personal loss, but she can’t let go of the investigative reporter side of herself. Add Clive, the mysterious newcomer who needs a place to stay, and we’ve got amateur sleuthing in the making.

But the mystery is no joke. Migrant workers are disappearing – and dying. Savannah and Clive come at the crimes separately, but their investigations bring them to the same place. I did guess the culprit mid-story – but it was only a guess. And I was pleasantly satisfied when my guess was confirmed. 🙂

Dubiosity mixes a little romance in with the suspense, and a little God-guidance, too. I liked the variety, the characters, and the wide-eye-inducing scenes.

Christy Barritt, I’ve read a few of your books, and this won’t be the last!

-calliope
buy DUBIOSITY

Review: Mocha Sunrise by Julie Carobini

IMG_1747.JPG
Best friends Livi, Bri and Gaby love each other like sisters, including telling it to each other straight even when the truth hurts. When Livi is mentally tortured by her antagonistic cousin/roommate, Bri and Gaby give Livi good advice – that she fails to follow.

Then Caleb enters the picture. Though he’s fighting his own demons, he forms a trifecta with Bri and Gaby to defend Livi. They push Livi to get out of her rut, push through, face her fears, make some decisions.

I like that Julie Carobini writes this story based on friendship, and maintains that main plot even while other things are happening to Livi – getting arrested, having job problems, meeting a new guy. I read a lot of contemporary romances, and none seem to hold the friendships in as high a regard as the romantic relationship. Mocha Sunrise focuses on the strength of friendship even while the best friends have romance in their lives.

I totally loved seeing Livi and Caleb find themselves as individuals and come together as a couple. Their transformations were amazing – from two uncertain and uneasy characters to honest and discerning people who were so authentic that I shed tears for them. 🙂

I appreciated Carobini’s hopeful and uplifting messages delivered by Caleb. And as I read Mocha Sunrise I felt a sense of peace and joy. How appropriate for this Christmas season.

-calliope

buy MOCHA SUNRISE

Review: Hazardous Duty (Squeaky Clean Mysteries #1) by Christy Barritt

IMG_1185.JPG
Since I’m on a mystery roll, I scoured my early kindle purchases for a fun cozy mystery title. Hazardous Duty fit the bill. It reminds me of Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum books – but subtler, cleaner, and with a smidge of God talk in there.

Gabby is a crime scene cleaner, so she runs into murders and mayhem all the time. Difference is, usually no one tries to kill her! Gabby tries to help a friend and solve a crime while maneuvering around politics and a dirty politician. Between trying to save her own life, spending time in her apartment house of quirky friends, and trying not to fall in love with a man anything like her loser dad, Gabby is a little bit scattered and a lot scared!

Thanks to two new friends who happen to be male, good-looking, and on the right side of the law, Gabby makes it to the end of the book alive. On her way, a little seed of faith is planted, and I can’t wait to see where it takes her in Book 2.

This is a deal at 99¢, and so good that I gladly paid $10 for book 2. 🙂 Yes. I did.

-Calliope

buy HAZARDOUS DUTY

Review: Trading Secrets by Melody Carlson

IMG_0748.JPG
I loved this sweet YA novel about two teenagers – Amish Zach and Englisch Micah. They start out as pen pals, have a big misunderstanding, and end up as friends (with a hint of maybe more).

This is a perfect, clean, appropriate relationship story for ages 11 and up. Carlson makes the dialogue come to life, and shows authentic teenage emotions and behavior. I was invested in Zach and Micah’s relationship. I wanted their friendship to work out. Carlson provided a wonderful balance of heartbreak, emotional baggage, family obstacles; and authoritative understanding, blessings, and reaping what you sow.

I especially enjoyed the contrast in the dynamics between Zach/his mom and Micah/her dad. Zach’s actions showed integrity and courage! And even despite teenage angst, mutual respect and a happily ever after won in the end.

Trading Secrets is a fun, smart, contemporary take on the Amish and their relationship to the Englisch world. Its characters are relatable and flawlessly written. It’s neither preachy nor smarmy. I certainly hope this is the beginning of a series so I can keep reading – and then place on the coffee table for my pre-teen daughters.

-Calliope
buy TRADING SECRETS

Review: A Lady at Willowgrove Hall, by Sarah E. Ladd

01wil

“I think she is looking for her family, looking for a place to belong. But I want us to be her family, and she belongs with me.”

When I received this ARC, I was super excited, because I was hoping this story would be another I could share with my daughter. And boy, was I right!! This is another perfect romance book. I know it’s a Christian book, and many would assume anyone could read it. But some are geared toward adults and have lot more adult feelings. But this was about young people, so it had a bit less adult feelings and more coming of age feelings. If that makes any sense.

Synopsis, via Goodreads
Willowgrove Hall is full of secrets, but soon everything hidden is brought to light.

Cecily Faire has a secret—and she intends to keep it. But when she arrives at Willowgrove Hall to serve as a lady’s companion, she comes face-to-face with the only person who knows the truth about her past.

As the steward of Willowgrove Hall, Nathaniel Stanton is dedicated to serving those around him. Nothing escapes his notice—including the beautiful new lady’s companion. He is certain the lovely Miss Faire is hiding something, and he determines to uncover it. But Nathaniel has a secret of his own: he is the illegitimate son of Willowgrove’s former master. Falling in love was not part of his plans . . . until he meets Cecily Faire.

When Willowgrove’s mistress dies, everything changes. Fear of exposure forces Cecily to leave under the cover of darkness, embarking on a journey to finally find her long-lost sister. When the will is read, Nathaniel’s inheritance makes him question his future plans. Cecily and Nathaniel are forced to make decisions that will change the course of their lives. Is their love strong enough to survive?

I could feel all the emotions, and I loved it!!

Cecily has been brought to Willowgrove, to be lady’s companion, but comes face to face with someone, from her past. He was someone she never thought she’d see again. But having him here is a constant reminder of the secrets and shame she has had to live with. But keeping it secret takes it’s toll on her, especially when she meets Nathaniel.

Nathaniel is the steward of Willowgrove and is drawn to Cecily, but he refuses to do anything about it, since his own secrets could bring about shame and dishonor to his whole family. He tries to stay away and do his job, but it’s proving hard, when she is just down the hall, everyday.

But when secrets are relieved, can they still move on?? And are the secrets really worth the torment of keeping them inside??

Beautiful and sweet romance. Exactly the way I was hoping it would be.

~Melpomene

Release date: 10-7-14
Pre order A Lady at Willowgrove Hall (Whispers On The Moors Book 3)