Review: Bless Her Heart by Sally Kilpatrick 

Some people might rate this book 4 or 5 stars for the authentic southern characters that Kilpatrick introduces with such aplomb you feel like you’ve known these people forever. Some readers might fall in love with “fun Posey” who uses the 7 deadly sins as a guide to make up for 10 sucky years married to a controlling, manipulative jerkhead.  And some readers might call this book a winner for its excellent writing – and easy dialogue among a hippie mom, sisters named after natural elements, and a best friend who literally saves more than one day. 

I’m giving Bless Her Heart a bunch of fat stars because it made me so sufficiently mad at Chad Love, so ticked off that he thought it was okay to treat any human being the way that he treated his wife, and so angered with a patriarchy that thinks “Wives, submit to your husbands” isn’t part of a speech that says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … Love your wives like your own bodies,” that now I am taking steps to help some people who are in situations like Posey’s. Sally Kilpatrick, any gratitude that comes my way from women who are tired of being controlled and interrogated and mentally beaten down – that gratitude is due to you. 

-calliope

Buy BLESS HER HEART

Advertisements

Review: Most of All you by Mia Sheridan


Mia Sheridan books melt my heart. They really do. And Most Of All You was no exception. From the very first chapter, my heart was in my belly. The pain and sadness was real. Mia brings out all the feels in this beautiful story about being broken and finding the strength to put yourself back together.

Gabriel and Ellie had horrible beginnings. And I do mean horrible. The worst. No matter what I type out, nothing could explain the heartache that these two have felt. But as with all Mia books, the hurt in necessary to get to the healing.

How had it come to be that I was broken and lost, heading home with a man I barely knew, a man I couldn’t begin to understand, a man who both soothed me with his gentle manner and scared me with his knowing eyes? And yet as I lay there, I admitted he was also a man I somehow innately trusted when I trusted no man. Ever.

My goodness.

I love Gabriel. He was pure in his feelings and naive in his actions. He’s lived a half life. In fact some would say he was alive but not living. That is until he met Ellie. He saw something in her and he needed it. Too bad it took her a while to understand what that was. She was too broken to believe that she was good enough to help anyone.

“You have hands for creating beauty.”

“I don’t create beauty, Eloise, I just reveal what’s already there.”

That is what he did. He dusted her off and chipped away at her outer shell until she shone with blinding beauty and realized that she was loved. There’s was a slow burning relationship. That made it all the more sweeter, in my eyes.

“I don’t mind chasing you, Ellie. Just let me catch you once in a while.”

In true Mia fashion, I was crying a few times. Ellie was so strong and yet not. She wanted to be loved, plain and simple. She needed an angel. She needed Gabriel to show her the way to healing.

“I win every time I’m bold in how I love. I want to say I win a hundred times a day, a thousand, by loving the sunrise, and the wind, and the way raindrops sound on my window…

“And you. Most of all, you.”

Read this book.

~Melpomene

Buy Most Of All You http://amzn.to/2zexvVw

Review: The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

This reminded me of Beaches. Yep, the movie. The plot wasn’t the same, but it just had that same kind of feel. 

Sister and cousins all return to a beach house one summer to share memories from their childhood summers, and to spend time with Megan who has cancer. 

The beginning of the book pretty much focuses on Megan and her needs. Then we hear about Charley and her current life problems as they relate to her childhood problems… but Megan kind of fades away in the background. I was like Hey! Don’t forget about that Megan character! 

Sadly, it happened again when we are introduced to Krista, the ex con. Megan is barely mentioned, and Krista totally overshadows the Charley character. I had just gotten invested in Megan and Charley… and they were dropped like a hot potato. 

Carr’s Virgin River series illustrated how to have a developed protagonist as well as an ensemble cast. I was hoping for the same in The Summer That Made Us. Had the character development been more balanced, and had the characters not been such stereotypes, this novel would have an extra star!

I enjoyed the somewhat predictable plot, I appreciated the well-written dialogue, and I was impressed that Robyn Carr still comes up with fresh ideas for new novels. This one just wasn’t for me. 

-calliope

Buy THE SUMMER THAT MADE US

Review: Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber 

Sometimes predictable is just the thing you need, especially when it’s painted with the brush of faith and hope. Macomber is an expert in helping her characters gain faith in humanity and hope for themselves – even when it seems impossible. 

Any Dream Will Do is the motto of Shay’s new friend — the one who will help Shay save herself from the pit of despair she needs to step out of. But Shay hasn’t believed in dreams in so long, that’s a tough order to fill. 

I enjoyed this quick read centered around redemption and loving others. I’m not sure the story was quite realistic – there were some hokey parts where I suspended my disbelief – but it certainly was hopeful. And although only a small part of the book focused on romance, Macomber wrote a lovely happily ever after. 

-calliope

Buy ANY DREAM WILL DO

Review: Before Everything by Victoria Redel 

This book is a lot of work to read. It’s emotionally taxing (although I didn’t even cry until near the end) and, frankly, depressing. Anna is dying of cancer. And that’s no spoiler, pal. That’s the premise of the book. 

Before Everything is also about love and friendship and family and a few secrets. Victoria Redel designs Anna’s friendships so realistically that the secrets the women have make me remember secrets I have with my friends … not contrived or hyperbolic or beyond belief, but just stuff we know about each other because we’ve been friends for so long. 

I read this book in hopes that I’d come to a better understanding of what it’s like for the family of a person dying of cancer. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let myself feel it 100%. So instead I read with my shoulders tensed, my mind rushing to get to the next scene, and only half my heart with Anna. 

It’s a good read if you can let your guard down. I held back because otherwise it would’ve been too painful. Thinking about that, well, maybe I did learn what it’s like to be close to someone who’s dying. 

-calliope

Buy BEFORE EVERYTHING

Review: Return to Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand

This installment of The Matchmakers series is just as good as the rest were – and fine to read as a standalone. What sets this one apart is the angst! Most of Beckstrand’s other books are fun and flip, adventuresome and whimsical. In Return to Huckleberry Hill, Reuben deals with the demon of pride, and though I didn’t feel bad for him in the least, I did sympathize with those around him. 

Fern King, too, deals with demons. Oh how I wanted to cry for her — trying to be strong, always showing a cheerful face, never complaining, yet truly dying inside. Fern endures so much, and I really almost couldn’t take it! (I’ll never forgive you, Ms. Beckstrand, if Barbara Schmucker doesn’t get her due.)  But Fern also gets to see Reuben and her brother John in a new environment – and witness their growth (or lack of it). 

Anna and Felty remain the cute elderly couple that gets in everyone’s business trying to make love connections. I haven’t tired of them yet, and I’m almost endeared to Anna’s creative cooking.  

This is a non-traditional Amish novel in that it doesn’t center around faith and obedience as much as some might; yet Beckstrand gives the main characters the gift of self-reflection… something that made me want to be best friends with Fern, and let me forgive Reuben for almost all of his trespasses. 

-Calliope

Buy RETURN TO HUCKLEBERRY HILL

Review: Franco by Kim Holden

francoThis is a book about love, determination, friendship and family. The Bright Side family is the best family out there. In fact, I wish I was a part of this family. I want people in my life like this. They know when to joke, when to give advice and when to just be there. Gah! This story was filled with the full range of emotions. Plus, I loved seeing Gus and how he’s doing. I love him.

SYNOPSIS

Franco Genovese is the drummer for world renowned American rock band, Rook. He’s got it all. A killer smile. Tattoos. Talent. Razor sharp wit and humor. And a heart as big, and generous, as they come.
Life is good. Steady. Uncomplicated. Just the way he likes things.
Until one night at an unassuming L.A. bar changes everything.
Enter Gemma Hendricks.
She’s a successful young architect from Northern England with an adorable smile, sarcasm for days, and an unparalleled trusting heart.
The attraction is instant.
So is their friendship.
It’s also temporary because they’ll both be heading home, thousands of miles apart from each other, in a few days.
Or is it?
There’s something Gemma wants more than anything else.
And when Franco propositions her to provide what she’s looking for, everything changes.
Will it transform friendship into love, or will it be their ruin?

From the moment I was inside Franco’s head, I loved him. What attracted me to him was his attitude toward women and his friends. Seriously. He knows what he likes and isn’t shallow in his feelings. Immediately I was hooked and I wanted to see who he was going to end up with. Every girl should want a Franco in their life. And when he thinks about his friends, he embraces their differences and quirks and loves them for it. I want a Franco in my life.

Gemma was the absolute best. THE BEST. I want to meet her and be her friend. She is strong and resilient. She makes me think of Kate and how, no matter what life throws at her, she takes it head on and keeps going. I wanted to reach in a hug her so many times. She is going through something so difficult, I can’t even imagine how she’s hanging on. I don’t know if I could be that strong.

“Do you think dream are better left as dreams because they still hold possibility and wonder and there’s no room for failure.”

“No. I believe that dreams fuel life. And it’s when you’re chasing them that you’re most alive. There’s no reward in settling for status quo.”

Franco and Gemma’s connection was instant. Their relationship was both sexy and sweet. I had a blast watching them grow together and experience what life had in store for them. They were made for each other. The best of friends that grew into more.

She’s my other half. Like for the first time in my life, I know what being unquestionably whole feels like.
And I realize that the notion that my heart beats for me alone is a lie.
It beats for us.

This is one of those books that’s hard to review without saying to much. What I can say is that I woke up at 3:30 am to finish this book before I had to wake up my kids. I needed to know what happened. I laughed and cried and squealed at one certain part. You’ll know it when you read it, if you know me at all. It was so exciting. This story had my heart overflowing until it was a puddle on the floor.

~Melpomene

You don’t need to read Bright Side or Gus to fully enjoy this book, but I really wish you would. Your heart will thank you. Trust me.

Buy Franco HERE
Buy Bright Side HERE
Buy Gus HERE