Tag Archives: chick lit

Top 10 Tuesday — Best Book Friends

13 Aug

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone who regularly reads my TTT posts, but I decided to do things a little differently than the suggested prompt. This week, bloggers are asked to list characters that would make for best friends in real life. Sounds like a great topic, I just wouldn’t couldn’t come up with characters to list. 😉 So instead, I asked my real life book-loving friends for their favorite genres and topics and came up with recommendations for them. This exercise really was so much fun, but also challenging. All of the women are part of my book club and are avid readers, so I looked hard for books that I didn’t think they had read yet. I thought I knew what they liked, and for the most part I did. But there were a few pleasant surprises. You will find that we are an eclectic bunch, reading across genres. I hope you will also find a book to love.

For more BFF Fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Reading Recommendations for My Book-Loving Friends

Beth

Beth and I have a lot in common. We definitely clicked the first time we met. I finally persuaded her to join our book club, and I think she likes it. 😉 She inadvertently read ahead on our selection list, but loved the mistake! She is now a fan of Janice Cantore.  Here are a couple of books in the same vein.

Always Watching by Lynette Eason 

The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have more than just skill and prowess in common–they’re also all women. When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians in order to protect his son.

But when Wade’s bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap. Olivia’s skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade’s stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him. Olivia has the feeling that she’s next on the list. And to complicate things even further, she realizes that her heart may be in as much danger as her client.

Bestselling author and fan favorite Lynette Eason drops readers right into the action in this fast-paced new series with a unique twist. Readers will love these strong female characters who put it all on the line to save lives.

The Real Enemy by Kathy Herman 

Brill Jessup would rather work than deal with the bitterness she feels about her husband Kurt’s infidelity. They’ve made a fresh start with Brill taking a job as the new police chief in a small East Tennessee town. Kurt is genuinely contrite and making every effort to show his commitment to Brill. Meanwhile Emily, their nine-year-old, is being the perfect little girl, as if she can make everything okay again. So why can’t Brill get over this anger? Work presents the perfect distraction as rumors and superstition are running rampant in the wake of the disappearances of seven people in seven days. As fear rises in the community, Brill works desperately to solve the mystery . . . until it threatens her family and she is forced to confront the real enemy.

Carrie

Carrie may be 20 years younger than me, but we have a real connection that goes beyond our love of books. A super-teacher, Carrie is an enthusiastic advocate for reading in and out of the classroom. She likes suspense with twists, turns, and a touch of romance. She also enjoys historical romance set in the 1800s to the early 1900s. Hope she hasn’t read these yet!

The Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello

When nobody talks, the stones cry out

In the searing heat of a Virginia summer, two men plummet from a roof top to their deaths on the sidewalk below. One of them was a white police officer. The other, a black man with a murky past. Hundreds of people stood on the sidewalk below, yet nobody will say what happened.

The FBI wants a quick verdict — with or without the truth — and sends in rookie agent Raleigh Harmon.

Between the tight-lipped witnesses and the secrets hidden among the city’s most powerful families, Raleigh’s forced to use her forensic geology skills to uncover the truth.  But can she solve this case before the city’s simmering rage burns out of control?

With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden

In the shadow of the nation’s capital, Kate Livingston’s respectable life as a government worker is disrupted by an encounter with the insufferable Trevor McDonough, the one man she’d hoped never to see again. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and business is the only reason he has sought her out now.

Despite her misgivings, Kate agrees to Trevor’s risky proposal to join him in his work to find a cure for tuberculosis. As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor’s past, his hidden depths fascinate her. However, a shadowy enemy lies in wait and Trevor’s closely guarded secrets are darker than she ever suspected.

As revelations from the past threaten to destroy their careers, their dreams, and even their lives, Trevor and Kate find themselves in a painfully impossible situation. With everything to lose, they must find the strength to trust that hope and love can prevail over all.

Dionne

Two elementary-aged kids and a preschooler keep busy mom Dionne hopping! She finds time to read between her kids’ activities and church responsibilities (she’s a talented accompaniest on the flute). Her favorite genres are historical fiction set during WWII and chick lit with a bit of romance thrown in. I think the following are perfect for her.

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

For fans of bestselling World War II fiction like Sarah’s Key and The Nightingale comes an illuminating tale of courage, sacrifice, and survival, about two couples whose lives are ravaged by Hitler’s mad war yet eventually redeemed through the fate of one little girl.

Seemingly overnight, the German blitzkrieg of Warsaw in 1939 turns its streets to a war zone and shatters the life of each citizen — Polish, Jewish, or otherwise. Sophie Kumiega, a British bride working in the city’s library, awaits news of her husband, Janek, recently deployed with the Polish Air Force. Though Sophie is determined that she and the baby in her womb will stay safe, the days ahead will draw her into the plight of those around her, compelling her to help, whatever the danger.

Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich never imagined they would welcome their longed-for first child in the Jewish ghetto, or that they would let anything tear their family apart. But as daily atrocities intensify, Rosa soon faces a terrifying reality: to save their daughter’s life, she must send her into hiding. Her only hope of finding her after the war — if any of them survive — is a medallion she cuts in half and places around her neck.

Inspired by true events of Poland’s darkest days and brightest heroes, The Medallion paints a stunning portrait of war and its aftermath, daring us to believe that when all seems lost, God can make a way forward.

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal — complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb — a friend from her years in and out of the hospital — reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

Jane

Jane has a real servant’s heart. She takes care of her grandkids, regularly checks-in on her mother and in-laws, and is a big behind the scenes help at our church. In her spare time, she loves thrillers, especially if they are unpredictable. She also favors books with a Mitford-esque feel. Both Redwood and Baumbich should fit the bill.

Proof by Jordyn Redwood

Dr. Lilly Reeves is a young, accomplished ER physician with her whole life ahead of her. But that life instantly changes when she becomes the fifth victim of a serial rapist. Believing it’s the only way to recover her reputation and secure peace for herself, Lilly sets out to find — and punish — her assailant. Sporting a mysterious tattoo and unusually colored eyes, the rapist should be easy to identify. He even leaves what police would consider solid evidence. But when Lilly believes she has found him, DNA testing clears him as a suspect. How can she prove he is guilty, if science says he is not?

Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet? by Charlene Ann Baumbich

For the legions of readers who enjoy books that celebrate life’s simple pleasures, eighty-seven-year-old Dorothy Jean Wetstra and her beloved farming town of Partonville, Illinois, will become instant favorites. In this hilarious, touching series, Charlene Ann Baumbich introduces readers to Dearest Dorothy, who tools around town in a 1976 Lincoln Continental nicknamed “The Tank,” plays bunco regularly with her pals, and grabs a stool at Harry’s counter often enough to stay on top of the latest-breaking news—which she is often creating. In the series debut, Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet?, Dorothy faces a decision that may change her town forever, and her gift for shaking things up comes in handy. In the second book, Dearest Dorothy, Slow Down, You’re Wearing Us Out!, the town’s irresistible cast of characters is back in full swing as they confront some of the many surprises life sends their way. So pull up a chair and get ready for fireworks, laughter, and we’ll-get-through-it-all-with-faith friendships.

Janice

Janice is a great-grandmother, but her reading tastes are definitely not your grannie’s fiction! She likes thrillers and doesn’t shy away from disturbing scenes or topics. I recommend 2 from Steven James for her. 

The Rook by Steven James (we read The Pawn for book club years ago)

An arsonist has struck a top-secret research facility at a key US naval base. But it’s not just a random terrorist attack. These people were after something specific. When Special Agent Patrick Bowers is called in to investigate, he is drawn into a deadly web of intrigue and deception. With his own criminology research being turned against him and one of the world’s most deadly devices missing, Bowers is caught up in a race against time to stop an international assassin before it’s too late.

Full of fast-paced action and mind-bending plot twists, The Rook is an adrenaline-laced page-turner that will keep readers up all night. Book 2 in the Bowers Files, this riveting look into the criminal mind is the perfect follow-up to James’s well-reviewed The Pawn.

Placebo by Steven James

One man must uncover the truth — even when others will stop at nothing to keep it buried. While covertly investigating a controversial neurological research program, exposé filmmaker Jevin Banks is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms. Jevin is seeking not only answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program but also answers to his own family tragedy.

Rooted in groundbreaking science and inspired by actual medical research, Placebo explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith. This taut, intelligent, and emotionally gripping new thriller from master storyteller Steven James will keep you listening late into the night.

Laurie

I have known Laurie for over 20 years. She was one of the first members of my book club, and we have shared tears and laughs along the way. A dealer in antiques and vintage articles, it should come as no surprise that she likes mystery/suspense featuring old houses that hold secrets.

Chateau of Echoes by Siri Mitchell

Suddenly widowed in a foreign country, Frederique Famer did what any girl would do: She bought a castle. She just never imagined that its mysterious fifteenth-century owner would hold the keys to her second chance at life.

She opens a bed-and-breakfast, hires a capricious graduate student, and gets talked into hosting a handsome American for an extended stay. Little does she know, she’s unwittingly concocted a recipe for intrigue, romance, and possibly disaster.

A Sound Among The Trees by Susan Meissner

A house shrouded in time.
A line of women with a heritage of loss.

As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, it isn’t long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.

With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak —  and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.

Martha

Oh the places we’ve been and (hopefully) the places we’ll go! Martha, her husband Jeff, and my husband and I have been traveling buddies for the last 3 years. We have had so much fun, especially with Martha’s globe-trotting expertise along. She loves a good story with smart characters, regardless of genre. Here are two for her.

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner 

When Annie Jacobson’s brother Mike enlists as a medic in the Army in 1967, he hands her a piece of paper with the address of their long-estranged father. If anything should happen to him in Vietnam, Mike says, Annie must let their father know.

In Mike’s absence, their father returns to face tragedy at home, adding an extra measure of complication to an already tense time. As they work toward healing and pray fervently for Mike’s safety overseas, letter by letter the Jacobsons must find a way to pull together as a family, regardless of past hurts. In the tumult of this time, Annie and her family grapple with the tension of holding both hope and grief in the same hand, even as they learn to turn to the One who binds the wounds of the brokenhearted.

Author Susie Finkbeiner invites you into the Jacobson family’s home and hearts during a time in which the chaos of the outside world touched their small community in ways they never imagined.

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels 

When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request–that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos — seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.

At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse north of Detroit, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time–from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Michigan’s Underground Railroad during the Civil War–to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.

Pat

Pat is retired from her days of being an elementary school principal, but she has not retired from education. Now she’s teaching teachers to be all they can be. Pat reads across genres, but her favorite is contemporary fiction that tackles real-life issues a la Jody Picoult and Kristin Hannah. Here are two for her. 

Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells

Folks are dying fast as the ash trees in the southern Indiana town ravaged by the heroin epidemic, where Jaycee Givens lives with nothing more than a thread of hope and a quirky neighbor, Sudie, who rescues injured wildlife. After a tragedy leaves her mother in prison, Jaycee is carrying grief and an unplanned pregnancy she conceals because she trusts no one, including the kind and handsome Gabe, who is new to town and to the local diner where she works.

Dividing her time between the diner and Sudie’s place, Jaycee nurses her broken heart among a collection of unlikely friends who are the closest thing to family that she has. Eventually, she realizes she can’t hide her pregnancy any longer ― not even from the baby’s abusive father, who is furious when he finds out. The choices she must make for the safety of her unborn child threaten to derail any chance she ever had for hope and redemption. Ultimately, Jaycee must decide whether the truest form of love means hanging on or letting go.

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

Sometimes we’re allowed to glimpse the beauty within the brokenness . . .

Savannah Barrington has always found solace at her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, and it’s the place that she runs to when her husband of over twenty years leaves her. Though her world is shaken, and the future uncertain, she finds hope through an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, and a man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove to Savannah that she is worthy of love.

But soon Savannah is given a challenge she can’t run away from: Forgiving the unforgivable. Amidst the ancient gardens and musty bookstores of the small town she’s sought refuge in, she must reconcile with the grief that haunts her, the God pursuing her, and the wounds of the past that might be healed after all.

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.

Tina

Tina is another long-time friend — 20+ years. She is retired now, but she was once in the Air Force and part of an all-female flight crew! She and her husband, Vic, are also gun safety instructors. She is our go-to resource on accuracy in our suspense reading. Tina loves romantic suspense novels plus the dual-time novels by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould. Here are two recommendations for her. 

The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

When one Coast Guard officer is found dead and another goes missing, Coast Guard Investigative Service special agent Finn Walker faces his most dangerous crime yet. His only clues are what little evidence remains aboard the dead officer’s boat, and the direction the clues point to will test Finn and the Guard to their limits.

When investigative reporter — and Finn’s boss’s sister — Gabby Rowley arrives, her unrelenting questions complicate an already volatile situation. Now that she’s back, the tug on Finn’s heart is strong, but with the risks she’s taking for her next big story, he fears she might not live through it.

Thrown together by the heinous crime, Finn and Gabby can’t ignore the sparks or judgments flying between them. But will they be able to see past their preconceptions long enough to track down an elusive killer, or will they become his next mark?

Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson 

From the award-winning author of Catching the Wind, which Publishers Weekly called “unforgettable” and a “must-read,” comes another gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted evil in their own extraordinary way.

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan―even their very lives―in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

 

What books would you recommend for your book-loving friends?

 

 

 

 

Book Review: A Will, A Way, And A Wedding

21 May

As Daphne begins making reluctant plans to let Aunt Dee’s house and life go and pick up the pieces of her fractured life, the guy she’s been dreaming about begins to change his tune. Of course, another huge obstacle pops up at about the same time, threatening to ruin what might finally be true love. Meanwhile, she continues writing the advice column, learning more about love and commitment than she ever thought possible. But will she cinch the deal in time?

To purchase, click HERE.

 

 

 

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller”. Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/.

 

My Impressions:

A Will, A Way, And A Wedding had been on my shelves waaay too long. The final installment to Melody Carlson’s Dear Daphne series had been whispering my name for *gasp* a couple of years! I finally succumbed to it, having been shamed by my admission of unfinished series. What had I been waiting for!? This charming and funny finale is a winner!

Daphne Ballinger has spent the better part of a year looking for a husband due to the peculiar terms of her great aunt Dee’s will. But only one man out of many has caught her eye and her heart. Unfortunately there always seems to be something that comes between them. This set-up is the perfect foundation for a fun romance. Carlson puts her main character through the ringer 😉 , as Daphne decides if love and marriage are really in her future, or does God have other plans. I liked that despite the meddling of best friend Sabrina, Daphne puts her plight in God’s hands. Daphne’s faith journey is naturally woven into the story. She relies on God’s wisdom, prays in all situations, and rests in His will. Nothing about the novel seems preachy or contrived. I also liked the small town setting of Appleton and its sometimes quirky residents. A Will, A Way, And A Wedding takes on the small town’s slower pace, even as the deadline Daphne faces looms ahead. Supporting characters are great, especially those closest to Daphne — adopted daughter Mabel and neighbor Sabrina. Daphne comes to the realization that she can face an uncertain future with her friends, family, and God by her side.

I wouldn’t attempt reading A Will, A Way, And A Wedding without first reading the other books in the series. Each novel builds upon each other. But don’t worry, all are great books and are quickly read, so a fun binge is in store for you!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to WhiteFire Publishing for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Book Review: Life on The Porcelain Edge

16 May

Tessa Tarrington’s life is swirling out of control. No job. No apartment. Sick Dad…And she’s back in high school! Teaching at her Gibson’s Run alma mater would be tolerable, except she’s sharing purgatory with her mortal enemy, Ryland Jessup. But eight years post-high-school, and after tragedies she can barely understand, Ryland no longer fits her mental image of the over-sized bully he once was. In fact, much to her disgust, he’s finding his way into her heart. After the sudden death of his wife, Ryland hung up his professional shoulder pads and picked up a whistle. Now he’s focused on coaching the high school football team and raising his daughter. The sudden return of his childhood crush, Tessa Tarrington, has reawakened long-ago feelings. But if God’s giving him a second chance to impress Tessa, the Man Upstairs has a funny way of showing it. Just when Tessa starts to lighten up, Ryland’s best friend returns. Will the always-irresistible Joey Taylor stifle any hope Ryland has to ignite the dream of a relationship with Tessa?

 

C.E. (Courtney) Hilbert is the author of new release – Life on the Porcelain Edge (Pelican Books). This marks her second release with Pelican Books (From Scratch) and her third novel (debut: The Wooing of Jane Grey (Deep River Books) – nominated for 2012 Christian Book Awards Best New Author).

Her writing career began when she had to wait a WHOLE week in between Bookmobile visits. To fill the gap, she pulled out a pen and some paper and began to jot down stories while she awaited the next round of books delivered on wheels. And a passion began.

She enjoys the opportunity to share God’s love through her writing in a tangible, real and somewhat quirky way. She is convinced God has a sense of humor which is equal to the size of His patience level!

Outside of writing, she heads up the youth program at her church and one of her greatest passions is reaching young people on behalf of Christ. She is a sports fan (bordering on nut) and is happiest at a hockey game when her team is winning, a Spring Training baseball game soaking up the sun or at a college football game cheering on a victory.

My Impressions:

Looking for humorous chick lit with a serious message? Then you definitely need to check out Life on The Porcelain Edge by C. E. Hilbert. Hilbert has created characters who struggle with the same things as real life people — vulnerability, self-doubt, and fear of rejection — while entertaining the reader and presenting the hope and grace that is promised by God. This charming novel was a delight to read. Although main characters Tessa and Ryland are the ages of my children, I could definitely identify with their dreams and fears.

Tessa returns to her hometown in shame. Her life seems to be circling the bowl — lost job and lost reputation. Faced with her high school tormentor, this self-acknowledged runner is in for a period of growth or stagnation — her choice.

I loved the characters in Life on The Porcelain Edge, especially precociously cute Emma. They could easily be the boy or girl next door, or your nosy neighbor, or best friend. Hilbert has a way of making them fun and funny and true to life. They also grapple with real life issues that go to the core of who we are. In addition, this novel is a wonderfully written romance — there’s plenty of chemistry between Tessa and Ryland. The novel is also firmly grounded in faith, presenting truth to both the characters and the reader.

A quick read, Life on The Porcelain Edge is no puff piece. And for fans of Hilbert, you will recognize characters from her other books. Don’t worry if you haven’t read anything by this author; this one is a standalone. But don’t be surprised when you want to read more!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Dating, Dining and Desperation

28 Aug

679310Daphne Ballinger has learned to accept her deceased, eccentric aunt’s strange request that she marry in order to inherit her estate, along with taking over her aunt’s hometown paper’s advice column.

But knowing and accepting that God’s will be done becomes harder when a new neighbor, a divorced socialite, learns of Daphne’s predicament and takes on the task of finding her the perfect man, even if it includes speed dating. When God does open Daphne’s heart, it is instead to take in a young girl left parentless and in the care of her dying grandmother. It may be a temporary arrangement until the girl’s uncle returns from the Marines, but God uses Daphne to speak His heavenly love and protection into the life of the child — whom Daphne soon discovers has a very handsome and single uncle.

 

 

bio_photo5Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus. She also writes many teen books, including Just Another Girl, the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the True Colors series and the Carter House Girls series. Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon. Visit Melody’s website at http://www.melodycarlson.com.

 

My Impressions:

Dating, Dining and Desperation is the second book in Melody Carlson’s Dear Daphne series. (You can read my review of book 1, Lock, Stock and Over A Barrel, HERE.) It is just a few month after Daphne’s Aunt Dee has died and named her as her heir, with a catch. Daphne has one year to meet and marry or she will forfeit all claim to the estate. While Daphne feels the pressure from the will, her family and her friends to find Mr. Right, she is sure that the desperation she feels is just not what God wants.

New friends and old characters arrive in Daphne’s life. The perky, Southern divorcee, Sabrina Fontaine, offers comedic touches to the story, while young neighbor, Mabel, touches Daphne and the reader’s heart. I like that Daphne decides to step  away from her own life, problems and the parade of somewhat eligible men and gives her time, money and love to this child in need.

Dating, Dining and Desperation has a small town setting that provides a relief to busy and stress-filled lives. The charming town and its lovable residents will make you want more. I am looking forward to more adventures with Daphne as she discovers what is important and what God wants for her life.

Note: The first two books were published by B&H Publishers. Due to changes at B&H, Carlson will be publishing books 3 and 4 in an ebook form. I am hoping they will be available soon!

Recommended.

Audience: YA to Adults.

(Thanks to B&H for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this novel, click on the image below.

Author Interview and Book Review: The Wooing of Jane Grey by C. E. Hilbert

25 Sep

Jane Grey’s life is fine—fabulous career, fun friend, faithful volunteer. So why is she feeling lumpy, lonely, and lost? Could two handsome suitors be the “tonic” she needs? Successful attorney Paul Wade seems to be the perfect match. But pro hockey player Lindy Barrett might be out of her league. Only God knows the right choice! 

C.E. Hilbert is a Christian novelist making her debut with The Wooing of Jane Grey.

Her writing career began when she had to wait a WHOLE week in between Bookmobile visits. To fill the gap, she pulled out a pen and some paper and began to jott down stories while she awaited the next round of books delivered on wheels. And a passion began.

She enjoys the opportunity to share God’s love through her writing in a tangible, real and somewhat quirky way. She is convinced God has a sense of humor which is equal to the size of His patience level!

Outside of writing, she heads up the youth program at her church and one of her greatest passions is reaching young people on behalf of Christ. She is a sports fan (boardering on nut) and is happiest at a hockey game when her team is winning, a Spring Training baseball game soaking up the sun or at a college football game cheering on a victory.

She currently lives in a 110+ year-old fixer upper with her dog Daisy and she believes that life goes best with Jesus, a cute outfit and SportCenter!

Impressions:

I had the best time sitting down with C. E. (Courtney) Hilbert at the ICRS in Orlando in July. She and her sister Jennifer were in town to promote her debut chick-lit novel, The Wooing of Jane Grey. And I must say, her book is as delightful as

Courtney and I at the ICRS

Courtney. Here are the results of our talk and my impressions of the novel.

Courtney began writing stories as soon as she could write. Not a big risk taker (she likes life lived in a box), she kept them to herself. Her mother was the first to read the 100 page manuscript that would become The Wooing of Jane Grey. She loved it and encouraged Courtney to finish. The first complete manuscript was finished in 2009 after working on it for several years. And following a lot of polite nos, she decided to enter a writing contest she found in a Google search. She was awarded Deep River Books 2011 Writer’s Contest Certificate of Merit and became a published author. Courtney calls her publication a God Thing since He has given her the desire to write a light hearted story with a character with a love for Christ.

The Wooing of Jane Grey finds plain Jane Grey looking for a change. What she first thought was a move to a new career becomes an unexpected attraction to two men — her long time crush and hockey star, Lindy Barrett and the very handsome and Christian attorney, Paul Wade. But Jane has a hard time knowing what she and God want for her love life. What follows is a smart and sassy novel full of engaging characters and laugh out loud moments that I just did not want to end. Courtney wants the reader to take from her story that you have to trust God, because He has our best interest at heart.

I asked what part of The Wooing of Jane Grey is all Courtney. She stated that she is definitely a rule follower and the quirkiness of the characters definitely comes from her. The relationship between Jane and her sister Mollie is drawn from Courtney’s own life. And of course the hockey part is all her. Set in Columbus, Ohio, Courtney enjoyed sharing the city with her readers.

What else should you know about Courtney Hilbert? Courtney works in fashion retailing and serves as her church’s youth director. She unequivocally states that Jesus is her boyfriend. She loves her family and sports and has a dog named Daisy. Her friends say she does too much church stuff. And she enjoys books that entertain, citing her favorite authors as Kristen Billerbeck and Karen Kingsbury. She loves chick-lit and feels it is important to increase this genre within the Christian market.  When I asked her sister Jennifer what one word best describes Courtney, she had trouble coming up with just one. She describes her sister as faithful, determined, convicted and fun to be around.

So, what do I think overall? I loved meeting Courtney Hilbert and I loved her book! I look forward to many more from this talented writer. (She is currently in the writing phase of another book that features one of the secondary characters from her first novel.)

Highly Recommended.

(I received The Wooing of Jane Grey from Bring it On! Communications in return for a review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Weddings And Wasabi

3 Oct

After finally graduating with a culinary degree, Jennifer Lim is pressured by her family to work at her control-freak aunty’s restaurant. But after a family dispute, Jenn is determined to no longer be a doormat and instead starts her own catering company. Her search for a wine merchant brings John into her life -a tall, dark, handsome biker in form-fitting black leather, who’s Hispanic to boot. It would be wonderfully wild to snag a man like that!

Shy engineer Edward tentatively tries out his birthday present from his winery-owner uncle – a Harley-Davidson complete with the trimmings. Jennifer seems attracted to the rough, aggressive image, but it isn’t his real self. Is she latching onto him just to spite her horrified family? And if this spark between them is real, will showing her the true guy underneath put it out? And what’s with the goat in the backyard?

My Impressions:

Camy Tang has written a fun, witty contemporary romance novel that will keep the reader entertained.  Weddings and Wasabi features the extended Sakai family, a Japanese-Chinese American family with one foot in the modern world and one foot in the traditional world.  Jenn has always been the good girl; the compliant daughter and niece.  But when she sees what her family really thinks and expects from her, she begins a course of independence that causes the Aunties to take the offensive to get her back in line.  Jenn’s foray into independence is supported by her cousins and her mother.  And with that support she steps out in faith — getting a new outlook and a new romance.  I enjoyed Tang’s funny look at traditional Asian family life and the struggle to achieve one’s own identity.

Recommended.

For more information about Weddings and Wasabi, click HERE.

(I received Weddings and Wasabi as part of the First Wild Card Tour.  All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Weddings and Wasabi

3 Oct

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Weddings and Wasabi

WinePress Publishing (June 7, 2011)

***Special thanks to Camy Tang for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Camy Tang grew up in Hawaii and now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious mutt, Snickers. She graduated from Stanford University and was a biologist researcher for 9 years, but now she writes full-time. She is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of the Sunday worship teams. On her blog, she ponders knitting, spinning wool, dogs, running, the Never Ending Diet, and other frivolous things. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ to read short stories and subscribe to her quarterly newsletter.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

After finally graduating with a culinary degree, Jennifer Lim is pressured by her family to work for her control-freak aunty’s restaurant. But after a family blowout, Jenn is determined to no longer be a doormat and instead starts her own catering company. Her search for a wine merchant brings John into her life—a tall, dark, handsome biker, in form-fitting black leather, and Hispanic to boot. It would be wonderfully wild to snag a man like that!

Shy engineer Edward tentatively tries out his birthday present from his winery-owner uncle—a Harley Davidson complete with the trimmings. Jennifer seems attracted to the rough, aggressive image, but it isn’t his real self. Is she latching onto him just to spite her horrified family? And if this spark between them is real, will showing her the true guy underneath put it out?

And what’s with the goat in the backyard?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 124 pages
Publisher: WinePress Publishing (June 7, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414120591
ISBN-13: 978-1414120591

Read my review HERE.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The goat in the backyard had just eaten tonight’s dinner.

Jennifer Lim stood on her mother’s minuscule back porch and glared at the small brown and white creature polishing off her basil. She would have run shouting at it to leave off her herb garden, except it had already decimated the oregano, mint, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, and her precious basil, which had been slated for tonight’s pesto.

Besides, if it bit her, she was peeved enough to bite back.

“Mom!” She stomped back into the house. Thank goodness the pots of her special Malaysian basil were sectioned off in the large garden on the side of the house, protected by a wooden-framed wire gate. Jenn was growing it so that she could make her cousin Trish’s favorite chicken dish for her wedding, which Jenn was catering for her. But everything in her backyard garden was gone. The animal was welcome to the only thing left, the ragged juniper bushes. Were juniper bushes poison? If so, the animal was welcome to them.

“Mom!” Her voice had reached banshee range. “There is a goat—”

“You don’t need to yell.” Mom entered the kitchen, her lipstick bright red from a fresh application and her leather handbag over her arm, obviously ready to leave the house on some errand.

“Since when do we own a goat?”

“Since your cousin Larry brought him over.” She fished through her leather purse. “His name is Pookie.”

Jenn choked on her demand for an explanation, momentarily distracted. “He has a name?”

“He’s a living being. Of course he has a name.” Her mother fluttered eyelashes overloaded with mascara.

“Don’t give me that. You used to love to gross me out with stories of Great-Uncle Hao Chin eating goats back in China.”

Mom sniffed and found the refrigerator fascinating. “That’s your father’s side.”

Jenn swayed as the floor tilted. You are now entering … the Twilight Zone. Her parent had evoked that feeling quite often in the past few weeks. “Where did Larry get a goat and why do we have it now?”

“They were desperate.”

Actually, Jenn could have answered her own question. That goat was in their backyard right now because everyone knew that her mom couldn’t say no to a termite who knocked on the door and asked if it could spend the night.

And outside of physically dropping the goat off at someone’s house—and she didn’t have an animal trailer, so that was out of the question—Jenn wouldn’t be able to get anyone else in the family to agree to take the animal, now that it was here. That meant leaving a goat in a niece’s backyard because no one else wanted to go through the hassle of doing anything about it.

Mom said, “You wouldn’t have me turn away family, would you?”

“Uncle Percy knows, too?”

“No, not Percy.”

“Aunty Glenda?” No way. Even if Larry were thirty-one instead of twenty-one, Aunty would still dictate to her son the color underwear he wore that day—how much more his choice of pet?

“No.” Mom blinked as rapidly as she could with mascara making her short, stiff lashes stick together, almost gluing her eyes shut.

The tiger in Jenn’s ribcage growled. “Mother.” Her fist smacked onto her hip.

“Oh, all right.” Mom rolled her eyes as if she were still a teenager. “It belongs to Larry’s dormmate’s older brother, but really, he’s the nicest young man.” Burgundy lips pulled into what wanted to be a smile, but instead looked hideously desperate.

Jenn tried to count to ten but only got to two. “I know Larry’s a nice young man. If an abundance of immaturity counts as ‘nice’ points.”

“Jenn, really, you’re so intolerant. Just because you’re smart and went to Stanford for grad school …”

The name of her school—and the one dominant memory it brought up—made her neck jerk in a spasm. It had only been for two years, but that was enough. Desperately lonely after spending her undergrad years living with her cousins, Jenn had only formed a few friendships among the other grad students, none of them close. There was only one she’d never forget, although she vowed she would every morning when she got up and saw the scar in the mirror.

“Why. Do we have. A goat.”

“It’s only for a few days—”

“We don’t know a thing about how to take care of—”

“They’re easy—”

“Besides which, this is Cupertino. I’m sure there are city laws—”

“It’ll be gone before anyone notices—”

“Oh, ho, you’re right about that.” Jenn strode toward the phone on the wall. “I’m calling the Humane Society. They’ll take it.” Although they wouldn’t provide a trailer to transport it. How was she going to take the goat anywhere, much less to an animal shelter?

Mom plopped onto a stool and sighed. “That boy was so cute. His name was Brad.”

There went her neck spasming again. But Brad was a common name. She grabbed the phone.

“Such a nice Chinese boy. Related to the Yip family—you know, the ones in Mountain View?”

The phone slipped from her hand and bungee-jumped toward the floor, saved only by the curly cord. She bent to snatch it up, but dizziness shrouded her vision and she had to take a few breaths before straightening up.

“Oh, and he went to Stanford. You two have something in common.” Mom beamed.

No. He wouldn’t.

Yes, he would.

“Brad Yip?”

Mom’s eyes lighted up. “Do you know him?”

Sure, she knew him. Knew the next time he came for his goat she’d ram her chef’s knife, Michael Meyers style, right between his eyes.