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!)

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Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

I’ve enjoyed other stories by Courtney Summers so it’s a logical assumption that her newest one would be a winner for me as well. And that assumption would be correct.

Sadie is on a mission. Some might call it a death wish. She prefers to look at it as a revenge mission, finding and killing the person responsible for her younger sister’s death.

Unlucky enough to have a neglectful mother, but lucky enough to have each other, Maddie was everything she lived for. Her purpose in life was to protect Maddie, to give her as normal of an upbringing as possible. Tragically, in the end she couldn’t save her. But she can punish her sister’s killer.

There are two stories going on at once here. We hear Sadie’s tale as she travels across the country hunting down a murderer. But we also hear West McCray’s voice as he narrates his podcast after Sadie disappears. He takes us back in time as Sadie takes us forward until they meet in the middle.

A good story, although I wasn’t especially crazy about Sadie for some reason. It took me a bit to get into the flow of things, reading excerpts from West’s interviews. The ending was a bit predictable but there were a few surprises along the way.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Sadie

Review: The Late Bloomers’ Club by Louise Miller

Small town story lovers, meet Nora, of the Miss Guthrie Diner. Don’t mess with her customers or her sister. And when the cake lady dies, please don’t try to buy the land to turn it into a big box store. And if you do try such a thing, make sure you’re a good looking guy with a heart of gold and your eyes on a certain diner owner. But don’t be disappointed if she pays no mind… she has a sister to help, a dog to find, cake recipes to learn, and a town to support. And if her diner gets in trouble, well, be one of those people who saves the day. Nora would do it for you.

And definitely, definitely, read the book. There’s nowhere else you’ll get the sister’s boyfriend up to his eyebrows in maple icing, your precious home filled with your sister’s filmmaking equipment, addictive Girl Scout popcorn at the town meetings, and a zoning vote that threatens to divide the town (but come on, nothing can divide this small town). I loved every page.

-calliope

Buy THE LATE BLOOMERS’ CLUB

Review: The Rules of Half by Jenna Patrick

Regret. I have so much regret that this book has been out for over a year now and I’ve just recently read it.

When Regan shows up in Half Moon Hollow, all she’s looking for is family. Still reeling from the recent suicide of her mom, she’s come to town in search of the dad she’s never met. Maybe he can be the one to give her the stability she’s never had. But Will is the last person anyone would think of in the same breath as the word stability. Grief over the death of his infant daughter combined with his bipolar disorder has made him the talk of the town. He’s known as the local crazy man, a role that he relishes. The appearance of Regan, however, makes him question his reputation. Can her love and support be enough to help him overcome his many obstacles?

From the very first page this book had me. It’s everything you’d want in a story. Family issues, romance, drama, a bit of mystery…it’s all there. The characters are likable when they’re supposed to be and vice versa. An outstanding debut novel!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Rules of Half

Review: The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall

I love stories like this. Historical, epic, tales of families and their pasts & presents. And of course, all families have secrets. Those secrets play a big role in this latest book from Susan Crandall.

Tallulah had a very unusual childhood. Growing up in a small town means being part of the gossip. And her family offered up much to gossip about. Her parents’ erratic, volatile relationship meant that she and her siblings were left to their own devices much of the time. It fell upon her shoulders to raise her younger siblings during the many times her mom was off saving the world.

So when Tallulah escapes and goes off to build her own life, she has little intention of ever returning. But she can’t stay away when her brother is accused of murder. And this family reunion of sorts will expose all kinds of secrets from her childhood.

Great story, wonderful characters, and beautifully written!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Myth of Perpetual Summer

Review: Ain’t She a Peach by Molly Harper

Southern charm has a bit of a different meaning in Molly Harper’s Southern Eclectic series. I loved Sweet Tea and Sympathy for the big hug that city-girl-Margot’s extended family gave her when she arrived at their doorstep looking for a shoulder… and a job. In Ain’t She a Peach, Harper fleshes out the character of Margot’s goth cousin Frankie, a born and bred southern woman of many talents (including excellent makeup skills).

I really enjoyed getting to know Frankie. She is more than just silly clothes and rainbow hair and slitty eyes at the teenage troublemakers. Frankie is a pop-tart-lovin, jail-sleepin, cancer-survivin, Aunt-Tootie-toleratin lovable 30-something with a stubborn streak and a coroner’s license. With a nudge from Margot and company, Frankie learns how to speak up for herself, catch a crook, and finally let her guard down when it comes to love.

This book is funny, heartwarming, and filled with puppies. And okay yes, I also really liked that Sheriff Eric was part of the happily ever after. ❤

-calliope

Buy AIN’T SHE A PEACH

If you’d like to read book one first, here’s my review and a link … SWEET TEA AND SYMPATHY

Review: Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper

Margot Cary had been curious about her biological dad for a long time, but nothing ever tempted her enough to leave big city life for a pack of estranged relatives and their rural southern lake life. Until a giant embarrassment at work got her fired – and blackballed from the industry. When a McCready relative offered her a job, she reluctantly went for it.

I loved that Margot took her job seriously at the Funeral Home/Bait Shop. I mean, this girl gave 100% every day. She even showed up in heels. I think Harper did a fantastic job with the cousin relationships, making them believable and three-dimensional without casting a shadow over the main events. And the main events? Meeting her dad of course, and … drum roll … a little sweet southern romance. Except the guy is pretty much just as southern as she is. I appreciated that Harper had Margot stay true to her non-southern-belle self!

This book had a little bit of humor (perfect milieu in the funeral home), and a lot of spunk. One liners abounded as Margot tried to take over running a town event. I think I also read a few Bless Your Hearts, and Harper provided some physical humor as well. All that fun was a good respite from the ever serious issue of Margot wanting to repair the relationship with her dad. Margot even used humor herself when uncertain about her romantic situation.

All in all, I loved this slice of southern life, with fresh characters I believed in, a big and loving family to find comfort in, and a couple of city folk who were making lake life their own.

-calliope

Buy SWEET TEA AND SYMPATHY