Book Review -The Blue Castle

SUMMARY

All her life, Valancy Stirling lived on a quiet little street in an ugly little house and never dared to contradict her domineering mother and her unforgiving aunt. Then she gets a letter—and decides that very day things need to change. For the first time in her life, she does exactly what she wants to and says exactly what she feels.

At first her family thinks she’s gone around the bend. But soon Valancy discovers more surprises and adventure than she ever thought possible. She also finds her one true love and the real-life version of the Blue Castle that she was sure only existed in her dreams…

MY THOUGHTS

I’m going to admit to my deep shame that I can’t remember ever finishing a book by L.M. Montgomery. Yet, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the Anne of Green Gables television series. So, when The Blue Castle kept popping up as a personal favorite of various authors I read, I knew I had to read it. Still, it sat on my TBR list for longer than I care to admit. Continue reading “Book Review -The Blue Castle”

Top Ten Tuesday -Longest Books I’ve Read

Today’s Topic: Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

Hosted by: That Artsy Reader Girl

I’ll have to confess, this week’s topic gave me pause. I wasn’t sure I would be able to participate. I don’t generally read that many long books. With so many on my TBR pile and so little time, I always figure why read one long one when I can read two or three shorter ones in the same length of time? Also, I have a very hard time DNF-ing books I am not enjoying. So I hesitate to invest my time in a longer book, knowing that if I don’t like it I will still feel obligated to trudge my way through the remaining pages in misery. Still, I have managed to read my way through some longer books in my long years of being an avid reader. Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday -Longest Books I’ve Read”

Book Review -Written in the Stars & Written in the Dust Duology

SUMMARY 

No one is happy about beauty queen Brooke Landgon’s return to Hope Canyon, Arkansas, least of all Brooke herself. Not her old friend Holly Christian, nor Holly’s friend Hunter Pierce, and definitely not Brooke’s first love Gatlin Moore. But after her marriage fails and her grandmother dies leaving Brooke her house, return she does. Brooke has a lot of fences to mend in Hope Canyon, but she would rather hole up at her grandmother’s house and ignore everyone. But that’s almost impossible in a town this small.

Holly is dealing with her own wish to hide after her fiance dies without telling anyone he had broken up with her. She just can’t tell the truth about the town’s golden boy without hurting everyone. So she strikes an odd bargain with her estranged childhood friend. She will give Brooke a place to stay and help Brooke while she fixes up her grandmother’s house if Brooke will act as a buffer for all the well-wishing citizens of Hope Canyon.

But these two ladies are as different as chalk and cheese. Not to mention, there are two men harboring some long-simmering feeling towards these two opposites. Hunter has always been in love with Holly, but was the third wheel in a lopsided friendship with Holly and her fiance Chad. While Gatlin is still boiling mad at Brooke’s abandonment of him years ago.

It’s amazing what the return of a prodigal can stir up in one small town. Change is on the horizon for four people who have forgotten how tight the past can tie people together.

MY THOUGHTS

I don’t know if I ever would have read this duology without the recommendation of Fiction Aficionado. Even then I was on the fence. But I’m so glad I did.

One of the things I love best about these books is how well it captures small town life in the mid-South. Though I’m not from Arkansas but Texas, I’ve experienced this lifestyle which isn’t often featured in books. Driving dusty backroads, meeting up unintentionally at the local hangout, the slow drawl and easy manners as well as the speed at which news both bad and good gets around. These books certainly make all these experiences feel real without resorting to cliche.

I also appreciated how unpredictable the main characters were. Though each of them fit some of the stereotypes associated with them, still I never could quite guess what any of them might do or say. I love being surprised that way. Though this duology finishes with a happy ending, the journey getting there is always fresh and startling.

The first book (Written in the Stars) focuses more on the rebuilding of Brooke and Holly’s friendship. Never an odder pair will you meet. Sometimes I wondered if they even liked each other. But their bargain ensured that each supported the other whether they wanted to or not. Neither one was afraid to challenge the other. Nor did either one of them put on their best behavior for the other. Brooke and Holly are a good picture of iron sharpening iron. Sometimes the friction is hard and unpleasant, but the end result is both are better off. I enjoyed the addition of Brooke’s grandmother’s diary and how it inspired the girls to set off on a road trip to accomplish the same bucket list her grandmother did.

Hunter and Gatlin get more “face” time in book two (Written in the Dust). Both are the picture of southern gentleman, although Gatlin’s reactions to Brooke wouldn’t prove it. These are self-sacrificing men who don’t demand attention, but just do what needs to be done without being asked. Of the two, I was more curious about Gatlin. His anger sparked in every interaction with Brooke and I wanted to know why. In fact, it kind of made me mad at him until partway through book two, when their shared history is finally revealed. And then I was shocked at how quickly that anger turned to passion in his pursuit of Brooke.

I’ve heard about Christina Coryell’s books for years, but this is my first experience with them. However after reading Written in the Stars and Written in the Dust, it certainly won’t be my last.

Have you read any of Christina Coryell’s books? What other books would you recommend with mid-South settings?

Book Review -Where Hope Begins

SUMMARY

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.” -Anne Lamott

Where Hope Begins is the story of grace in the midst of brokenness, pointing us to the miracles that await when we look beyond our own expectations.

Still reeling from a family tragedy years before, Savanna Barrington is just barely holding it together. When her husband leaves her for another woman, she runs away to the solace of her family’s home in the Berkshires to lick her wounds.  Though angry, she must hold it together while she acts as the mediator for her children and her family with the husband who betrayed her.  But Savanna feels as barren as the winter snow outside her front door.

Then she meets her next door neighbors, the elderly but spunky Clarice, her reclusive nephew Brock and his daughter Maysie.  These three invade her solitude and provide her with solace in their own ways. Maysie with her childlike faith and laughter, Clarice with her mature faith and offer to tend a dead garden and Brock with his appreciation and attraction to Savanna.

But running away only offers a temporary reprieve. Savannah must eventually face the problems which led not only to the breakdown of her marriage but also to the breakdown of her family. Continue reading “Book Review -Where Hope Begins”

Top Ten Tuesday -Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read

Today’s Topic: Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read

Hosted by: That Artsy Reader Girl

If I really love an author, I will read every book they have ever written. So it is rare for me to have any unread books among my favorite authors’ book lists. Still, sometimes it happens. Usually, it’s just a case of not yet having had the time to read their latest releases as is the case with most of those on today’s list. Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday -Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read”

Top Ten Tuesday -Fall 2018 TBR List

Today’s Topic: Books On My Fall 2018 TBR

Hosted by: That Artsy Reader Girl

Well, as is already well established, my TBR pile, existing and future, will already require a couple of lifetimes to complete. But hey, why let a little detail like that stop me when there are new releases to drool over. Here are a few I am adding to my TBR library this fall.

An Act of Villainy -I’m still one book behind, but I’m so excited about the latest release in the historical mystery series.

All Made Up -I’m thrilled about the fourth contemporary romance from New Zealand native Kara Isaac! I’m also hoping to catch up with some old favorites from her previous books.

Rose in Three-Quarter Time -I fell in love with Vienna thanks to author Rachel McMillan’s earlier novella. That romance continues in the second. I actually just finished it and Spoiler Alert! I loved it!

On Magnolia Lane -I never miss a book by Denise Hunter. And that gorgeous cover is bound to be a reflection of the equally gorgeous story inside, based on my past experience.

The Liberty Bride -I’m enjoying this multi-author historical fiction series Daughters of the Mayflower. Plus, I’ve been a long time fan of author Marylu Tyndall’s sea-based stories.

Royally in Trouble -Jenny B Jones is one of my must read authors. I adore the humor in what are often deeply thoughtful stories. There’s still no release date yet, but I’m looking forward to the continuation of her cozy mystery series.

Lies We Tell Ourselves -I always look forward to any new releases from contemporary author Amy Matayo. I’ve been a fan since her indie debut. Her latest looks to be emotional and introspective. I’m gonna go on a limb and say I will probably end up crying over it.

Searching For You -Jody Hedlund always writes profound stories based on lesser known stories in history. In this series she tackles orphan trains and the involvement of three sisters. I’m always up for a good sister book especially when it is historical fiction.

Hunting for Silence -I’m obsessed with this series and with Lilly Linton and her boss Rikkard Ambrose. I even joined Radish so that I could read the books that aren’t yet available on Amazon. In the last novel, the two finally admitted their feelings, so I’m curious to see where the story takes them next.

Marilla of Green Gables -This is the book I have been waiting for without knowing it! Who isn’t curious about the earlier people and events that made Marilla Cuthbert who she was in the Anne series?

What are some of your most anticipated TBR new releases?

Book Review -Impossible Saints

SUMMARY

Escaping the constraints of life as a village schoolmistress, Lilia Brooke bursts into London and into Paul Harris’s orderly life, shattering his belief that women are gentle creatures who need protection. Lilia wants to change women’s lives by advocating for the vote, free unions, and contraception. Paul, an Anglican priest, has a big ambition of his own: to become the youngest dean of St. John’s Cathedral. Lilia doesn’t believe in God, but she’s attracted to Paul’s intellect, ethics, and dazzling smile.

As Lilia finds her calling in the militant Women’s Social and Political Union, Paul is increasingly driven to rise in the church. They can’t deny their attraction, but they know they don’t belong in each other’s worlds. Lilia would rather destroy property and serve time in prison than see her spirit destroyed and imprisoned by marriage to a clergyman, while Paul wants nothing more than to settle down and keep Lilia out of harm’s way. Paul and Lilia must reach their breaking points before they can decide whether their love is worth fighting for. Continue reading “Book Review -Impossible Saints”

Top Ten Tuesday -Hidden Gems in Books, Series and Authors

Today’s Topic: Hidden Gems (which books haven’t been talked about as much or haven’t been marketed as strongly that you think deserve some recognition?)

Hosted by: That Artsy Reader Girl

Ooh, I love this week’s topic. Nothing excites me more than discovering a wonderful book or author, that no one else is talking about yet. I love to share these discoveries with other readers. Partly because I’m proud to have found something no one else is talking about but mainly because I like to share the love.  This week’s choices are a mixture of hidden gem authors, series and/or books that I think deserve more praise and attention. Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday -Hidden Gems in Books, Series and Authors”

Book Review – Ramble and Roar

SUMMARY

Eliza Belcourt has everything money can buy, except the love and approval of her parents. After they force her into an unwanted engagement to save her father’s business, Eliza flees to New York City to pursue her dream of being a famous singer.

Hugh Whitmore has loved Eliza for years. When Eliza rejects him, he heads to New York to expand his father’s business. He is also determined to prove to Eliza that they are perfect for each other.

Warren Moore is a dangerous and mysterious man. Only twenty three, he has risen in the ranks of New York’s Irish mafia by doing whatever was necessary. It’s a world where trust doesn’t exist and loyalty is everything. When Warren’s past catches up with him, it is his loyalty that becomes suspect.

Three people looking for approval. Eliza, Hugh and Warren find their lives slowly intermingling in New York. But they may be surprised by just how much they have in common. Continue reading “Book Review – Ramble and Roar”

Top Ten Tuesday -Back to School Themed Books

 

Today’s Topic: Back to School/Learning Freebie (in honor of school starting back up soon, come up with your own topic that fits the theme of school or learning! Books that take place at school/boarding school/during study abroad, books you read in school, textbooks you liked/didn’t like, non-fiction books you loved or want to read, etc.)

Hosted by: That Artsy Reader Girl

So, I’m sticking by the “freebie” idea for this week and not choosing a specific qualifier for my list. Some of my choices feature schools, others are about teachers or governesses. Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday -Back to School Themed Books”