Review: The Devoted by Suzanne Woods Fisher

What a terrific book! I loved reading The Devoted for Suzanne Woods Fisher’s excellent writing and ability to touch my heart. Amish Ruthie is thinking of leaving the community to search for something bigger and better. Dok has been there, done that, has the t-shirt… and wore it back home for a reason.  Patrick the Englischer faces matters of his own mortality and wants to become Amish, serendipitously taking away time Ruthie might have with her boyfriend Luke. 

The bishop watches it all unfold, shares his words of wisdom, and takes a stand when individual storing-up grows into a problem worse than the Israelites hoarding manna. I so appreciated the discussions of sufficiency and dependency woven seamlessly into a story that centers around family and community. 

Fisher has a way of bringing the reader into the Amish world, so we wend through problems with the characters, connecting and loving and learning with them. I’m grateful. 

-calliope

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Review: A Cotswold Christmas by Kate Hewitt 

This quick and easy holiday romance was cute, but not as satisfying as I’d hoped. Maybe its brevity precluded some of the depth I’ve come to appreciate in cozy romance novels. 

Anna heads to the Cotswolds from New York City, hoping for a respite from the pressures of life: relationships, work, and family. What she finds is no room at the inn, and a second-rate offer by the innkeeper’s cousin Colin. Colin is a happy go lucky guy who forms an attraction for Anna. 

I won’t spoil it, but when two roads diverge in a yellow wood, Anna and Colin don’t have too many choices: they fall for each other or they don’t… someone moves halfway around the world or someone doesn’t. 

This is book one in a series, and it definitely seemed like an introduction. I wanted more substance, some subplots, and a more memorable hero. But it was charming and well-written, and a nice way to familiarize readers with a new setting… especially for the price ($2.99). Here’s hoping book two hits me right in the heart! 

-calliope

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Review (Take 2): Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult 

Urania reviewed this book recently (Click here for her thoughts) and now it’s my turn. I’ll take a page out of Urania’s book by not including any spoilers.  🙂

This book is about race, truth, blindness, and forgiveness. Picoult will make you uncomfortable. She will push against your cheek until your head is facing truths you’ve denied for so long. She will chip away at the facade of equity that you believe in. You will fight it tooth and nail, chapter by chapter, because you don’t want any of it to be true about you or your best friend or anyone. 

I’m going to say it. I still don’t think just being white makes me racist. But I do see that being white gets me through the day a lot more smoothly than not being white would. For that, I should act responsibly, always standing up for what’s right and true. That will be my small great thing. 

-calliope

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Review: Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

Today I saw someone wearing Christmas socks, despite the unseasonably warm weather we are having, so I thought it would be appropriate to review a Christmas book today! 

Penny lives alone and creates beautiful ice sculptures in solitude … until Henry and daughter Daisy start renting out the annex, and Penny feels compelled to be social. The quirky characters quickly connect with each other and make for a pleasant, predictable romance. 

But it all seemed a bit contrived. My eyes rolled at the cliched tropes and the running into each other too many times to be serendipitous. I like my chick lit light and fluffy, but with enough substance to draw me in and make me believe it’s real. 

If you need a quick Christmas romance in between serious reading, the price is right here at $2.99, but don’t expect substantial character or plot development. 

-calliope 

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Review: Christmas in Paris by Anita Hughes


This is how you know we muses (and Pegasus) post honest, unbiased reviews, folks: 

There I was reading this lovely story, not remembering the title or author, but impressed with the writing and basking in extravagant descriptions of Parisian food, shopping, and architecture. I thought, “Wow, this book reminds me of Anita Hughes’ novels. Everything is so luxurious and magical. The romance is subtle, slow, and authentic.” 

And I kept reading, enjoying the serendipitous meetings of Isabel and Alec. Balconies, cobblestones, gardens, restaurants. I loved the magic of the fortune teller and her adorable daughter. Mathieu was the PERFECT wingman, and Bettina the perfect wicked stepsister. 

I just couldn’t get enough. 

After a satisfying happily ever after I finally checked the title and author. 

Christmas in Paris. Anita Hughes. BOOM. 

Mais, oui, I should have known. 

-calliope

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Musing: Reading in Bed

I may be addicted to reading, but it’s never so evident as before I go to sleep. Now that Kindles have convenient and dimmable front lighting, I can read for hours without disturbing anyone else. 

Problem is, I just keep reading. Many of you might share this same problem… get lost in a good story, and next thing ya know it’s 1am. If you’re me, you see that 1am and raise it an hour or two, very well knowing that the morning won’t be pretty – but hey it’s nothing you haven’t done before. 😂

So if anyone wonders why I reply to an email at 2am, or check GoodReads in the wee hours, that’d be because I Just. Can’t. Stop. Reading. Not for a good night’s sleep, not for reduced under eye circles, not for bright eyes and a bushy tail at 0600hrs. That’s what coffee is for. ✌🏼️

-calliope

Review: A Blind Guide to Normal by Beth Vrabel


I loved loved loved A Blind Guide to Stinkville, and so there was no way I was going to miss out on the sequel, which proved to be very satisfying on many levels. (Both of these books are YA, by the way, for grades 5-7 I would guesstimate.)

First, I understand why many authors use alternating narrators, but frankly it just confuses me and makes the story choppy and less engaging. Beth Vrabel is so clever that she didn’t need to use alternating narrators, because she used Alice as the narrator for book one and Richie Ryder as the narrator for this book. Presto: The benefits of alternating narrators without the abrupt shifts every chapter! 

Second, and I’ve said this about Vrabel’s other books, I just love when the book reflects the personality of the narrator/protagonist. I was so annoyed with Richie Ryder and his jokes and stupid way he had with people. He really got under my skin! I didn’t want to keep reading at one point… and THEN I realized that it was Beth Vrabel’s awesome writing talent making me feel that way. It was like she was channeling Richie across dimensions. (Beth, do you tesser?!)

My most favorite facet of A Blind Guide to Normal wasn’t the fabulous karate competition or the yard horse or even Richie Ryder’s heartfelt friendships with quilting classmates and Alice and Jocelyn and Max. The best part of the book for me was the ending, where everyone figures out that fear is pretty much the ONLY thing that’s normal, and where Beth Vrabel again writes a book within a book. 

-calliope

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