Review: Oh My Stars by Sally Kilpatrick

Love this author. Kilpatrick writes small southern tales with such authenticity. In Oh My Stars, Ivy finds herself playing Mary in a living nativity scene reminiscent of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Lucky for Ivy, Joseph is played by the town pediatrician. Why lucky? Because the baby Jesus turns out to be a real swaddled child in need of help.

So what else? Well…

Heartwarming, realistically seasonal (Christmas is never actually all ice skates, snowflakes, and hot cocoa), and uplifting. Paints the picture of a dysfunctional family without pejorative connotation. And makes me want to read more Sally Kilpatrick, Christmas or not.

-calliope

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Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Sometimes, not nearly enough times, mind you, but sometimes a book comes along and it changes you.

It doesn’t just break your heart, it crumbles it. It grinds it to bits. Sure you can gather all the bits and try to put them back together again, but it will never be the same. Just like crumbled biscuits you can gather them all together and make an amazing biscuit pudding (here’s a recipe! goo.gl/rPn9JF ) but no matter how hard you try to imagine it is hard to remember what the biscuits started out as.

That is my heart now. Different than it was before I started this novel. Perhaps a bit bigger, maybe even a bit better, maybe not, but certainly forever changed.

In the vast history of discrimination in the USA it is sometimes easy to focus on some types, whilst brushing the others under the straw mats of backwoods shacks.

Kya is beautiful. She is mysterious. She is a treasure. Not because she is different, but because she is the same. We all have that need to be seen and to be loved. Even whilst we run from these things, we often are just trying to see if someone will ‘stick’ regardless of it all.

I could go on and on about how an entire (except for a select VERY few) failed Kya. Instead I will challenge everyone, myself included, to see beyond the perceived facts we make about those we know not, and instead, see to the person that actually exists. The richness we find ourselves in or out of in this life, the country we live in, the religion we believe, the religion we scoff at, the colour of our skin, the education we have, well, so oftentimes, it’s just a roll of the dice. We have no control over it. It is decided before we are even born. We are all privileged in some way that another is not. Does that privilege make us a better, or a more worthy person? Or does it mean we need to try harder to be conscious of this and look deeper at those that aren’t so ‘fortunate’ as ourselves? If nothing else, I hope this book shows us that at the end of the day, we are not just cheating those we cast aside, but also ourselves by our inability to see the treasures right before our eyes.

Read this book. I could hardly put it down.

My heart is still ebbing with every rise and fall of the tides…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it here

Review: The Last House on Sycamore Street by Paige Roberts

The Last House on Sycamore Street frames up a slice of life as a suburban mom. You’ve got the preschool /playdate social stratosphere, the how-much-should-i-work dilemma, and the keeping up with the Joneses drama. Except the Joneses are the former owners of the last house on Sycamore Street.

I liked this book – I could identify with the mom and her struggle to work but not work too much. I LOVED that she and her husband had a great marriage – something not every contemporary novel ensures. And the kids were cute – their smarts, their antics, and their occasional obnoxiousness.

But the former homeowners. Whew. What a piece of work those two are. And there’s the rub. I thought with a nutty couple like that, there would be bound to be a plot twist or a psychological thriller element. No such luck, and so I was a bit disappointed. (But to be fair, it was an expectation I came up with from thin air!) So… not a very climactic story, but a contemporary look at life in the suburbs from a people-pleasing mom’s perspective.

-calliope

Buy THE LAST HOUSE ON SYCAMORE STREET

Review: Mercy’s Chase by Jess Lourey

FBI agent Salem Wiley is a tough cookie who was raised by an even tougher cookie. In this book 2 of a series, Salem needs to solve a decades-old mystery involving Stonehenge, secret codes, and underground societies.

I never knew who to trust in this book (I mean, neither did Salem!), and that kept me on the edge of my seat. Even when Salem thought she knew someone… e.g. Agent Lucan Stone… she had no guarantee that her government partners, family members, or colleagues had her back.

I loved the adventure and the suspense, I totally missed a fabulous clue about who the bad guy was, and I got to be a fly on the wall watching conspiracy theories and patriarchal politics intersect. Plus, Salem Wiley pretty much had me by the arm, bringing me from one point of interest to another, giving me the sightseeing tour of a lifetime. Really a fun ride.

-calliope

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Review: Love on the Rocks by Kerry Evelyn

How refreshing! Love on the Rocks is a sweet but realistic view of what happens when a fun-loving, horse-riding, God-fearing young woman has her life turned upside down in an accident. I liked being able to read Kat’s mind as she tried to be the woman she was before the accident – what a window into the soul of someone struggling mentally and physically. And it was great to see Kat continuing through the motions of faith – going to church, helping others, maintaining healthy friendships – as just a normal part of life, even when she didn’t feel normal and was making bad choices in other areas of her life. Kerry Evelyn wrote terrific friendships, too. I was uplifted seeing all the love and support Kat had around her.

My favorite part of this story was Kat’s love for her horse. It represented her past life and her future life, and when her horse was injured it provided a concrete illustration of how sometimes you have to carry on with a different sort of life than you had before — but it’s still life worth living!

Second favorite part of the book? Easton and JC! What a wonderful brotherhood and friendship they shared. Even though there was plenty of brooding and complaining, my heart was warmed seeing JC support Easton’s love for Kat in so many ways.

Love on the Rocks has the requisite romantic happily ever after AND the bonus happily ever after of a woman who felt so broken for so long, and finally was able to see herself as whole.

-calliope

Buy LOVE ON THE ROCKS for kindle. More details below.

About Love on the Rocks

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Kat Daniels regrets the day she chose barrel racing over her fiancé. After a year of reckless choices that led to an incident she’d like to forget, she’s back in Crane’s Cove wondering how it all went wrong and trying to pick up the pieces. Easton Crane has loved Kat for as long as he can remember. But when she shows up after rejecting his proposal a year ago, he’s more confused than ever. After all, he’s already sacrificed six years of his life to care for her after her traumatic brain injury. If his proposal couldn’t keep her in town, what was it that brought her back? Was it him or was Kat hiding something? When a hurricane hits Crane’s Cove and threatens the life of Kat’s beloved horse, the two are faced with the challenge of working together to save her. Can they battle the storm of old memories and wounds to rebuild their love stronger than before?

About Author Kerry Evelyn

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook Page | Facebook Reader Group

Kerry Evelyn has always been fascinated by people and the backstories that drive them to do what they do. A native of the Massachusetts SouthCoast, she changed her latitude in 2002 and is now a crazy blessed wife and homeschooling mom in Orlando. She loves God, books of all kinds, traveling, taking selfies, sweet drinks, and escaping into her imagination, where every child is happy and healthy, every house has a library, and her hubby wears coattails and a top hat 24/7.

Blog Tour Stops

10/15 – Spotlight Post on The Story Sanctuary

10/16 – Review on Susan Loves Books

10/17 – Review on Britt Reads Fiction

10/18 – Review on Random Book Muses

10/19 – Spotlight Post on Reading is My Superpower

10/20 – Spotlight Post on Where the Reader Grows

10/22 – Review on Christian Book-a-holic

10/23 – Review on Writing Pearls

10/24 – Review on Lovely Loveday

10/25 – Spotlight Post on Remembrancy

Optional Fun Stuff

Check out the Love on the Rocks Soundtrack for music which inspired the story.

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win an autographed set of Crane’s Cove novels and a $25 Amazon gift card. To enter, follow this link to the giveaway on Kerry’s Facebook page.

Review: Why Not Tonight by Susan Mallery

This series just keeps going strong! Built of standalone books centered around a family of brothers and a town known for wedding weekends, I thought I’d never see the day when Susan Mallery would write the adventures of brooding brother Ronan. But she did. And from the mudslide to the hidden room to Ronan’s sensitive and generous heart, she wrote a winner. There is no better match for Ronan than Natalie… and I don’t know how Mallery imagined such a perfect foil/love interest for Ronan, but she did.

And though the romance was central to the story, there were a few other fun threads happening at the same time, including friendships, family reconciliations, professional successes, and of course the requisite Happily Inc weddings. A fun and worthwhile read.

-calliope

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Review: The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

Christmas! And sisters! And Scotland! Could there be a better combo? I don’t think so. Ok actually there could be – if Morgan added in some cutie pie kiddos and an awesome set of grandparents and the perfect love interests for the sisters. Which she did. Sigh.

I really liked all the references to New York, Washington state, and then the European locations outside of Scotland. I felt like I was traveling from the comfort of my sofa. And the other thing I so enjoyed was Jason’s admission that being a stay at home parent is not all bon-bons and soap operas. Even though his realization and apology was a teensy bit out of character and not 100% realistic, it was gratifying to read it all the same.

Morgan did a fantastic job individualizing the three sisters, giving them different perspectives on the same childhood tragedy they all suffered, and writing a believable and heartwarming resolution. Love and forgiveness are powerful, especially when you have the support of those around you.

Morgan also added in comic relief in little Ruby, Martha the chicken, and Eric. Beautifully done!

-calliope

Buy THE CHRISTMAS SISTERS

Review: A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson

While I love Melody Carlson’s ability to create fresh plots with believable yet quirky characters, this particular novella required me to suspend my disbelief just a little too much.

Christmas in Maine is cozy – and it was fun to see Wendy and her son set up their little home and become part of the town. But the romance seemed contrived and totally out of character for a worrier like Wendy. And it happened way too fast! A couple of weeks might be enough time for a young single person to let their guard down and fall in love with someone they’re spending 24/7 with… but Wendy didn’t spend all that much time getting to know Caleb, and I thought she’d be a little less trusting due to her nature and just the fact that she’s a mom.

I’ve enjoyed other Carlson books in the past – Christmassy ones too. You can find the link to those reviews below.

-calliope

Buy A CHRISTMAS BY THE SEA

Read Calliope’s reviews of more Melody Carlson books (loved some of these!)

Review: Cooper’s Charm by Lori Foster

Cute story with lots of laughs! Phoenix relocates to the seasonal community of Cooper’s Charm for a fresh start – and is delighted to be surrounded by the beauty of nature… and handsome men. Her sister Ridley soon follows, buys herself an RV, and makes herself at home. Between sibling heart-to-hearts and early morning coffee talk with the guys, the sisters realize that the slower pace of Cooper’s Charm is just what they need.

This book was just the kind of easy reading that I look for after the workweek is over. Some fun characters, heartfelt friendships, warm humor, and people working together for good.

-calliope

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Review: Imposter’s Lure by Carla Neggers

I’ve adored FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan since I began this series. Later I came to appreciate the whole Sharpe clan with their art expertise, and all of those Donovan brothers showing up at just the right time. And while Oliver York was thought to be a criminal art thief for several books, he’s now helping the Sharpes and lovely Henrietta solve crimes.

That’s the backstory of Neggers’ well-developed characters and the intricate relationships among them.

Enter Imposter’s Lure. Same characters – plus some – but a bunch of contrived details that seemed like they were backfilled into a pre-written ending. This book needs paring down and re-writing just so I can understand all the complexities. After whittling away some of the convoluted family and friend relationships that don’t move the plot forward, then maybe I could enjoy the New England chahhhm, the English countryside, and the Irish lowlands as a backdrop to a sinister plot to make money off of art forgeries … and destroy the evidence.

-calliope

Buy IMPOSTER’S LURE

Read the review for Book 4 in the Sharpe and Donovan series – one of my faves!