Tag Archives: Melody Carlson

Book Review: A Christmas by The Sea

23 Sep

When Wendy Harper inherits her family’s beachside cottage in Seaside, Maine, she sees it as a way to finally pay off the debts that have mounted since her husband died. But before it can be sold, the neglected property must be renovated. She and her 12-year-old son Jackson move in — temporarily, she reminds him–in order to do the work themselves, even though Christmas is coming. The charming town, along with local craftsman Caleb Colton, pulls on both Wendy and Jackson, who even registers himself for school in a bid to get his mom to move them there permanently. Wendy knows that the most responsible thing to do is to sell the cottage and return to Ohio, but the lure of the sea is hard to resist.

 

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 Christmas by The Sea is a charming novella with a quaint coastal Maine setting. Featuring a young single mother and her preteen son, the book celebrates the power of place and family and the presence of God. Wendy Harper and son, Jackson, make their way to Seaside after a few years of struggle and heartache. Wendy had grown up visiting the cottage she has inherited and treasures the memories from happier days. Jackson wants a new start for his small family and does his best to influence Wendy into staying put in the welcoming town. Enter Caleb, a business owner even more charming than the town. Everything is set for a heartwarming tale of love.

I loved the setting of A Christmas by The Sea. Maine has long been on my bucket list of must-see destinations, and the fictional town that Carlson has created just reinforces that desire. I hope the real thing will live up to the great fictional world of Seaside! Characters are real and relatable in their struggles, doubts, fears, hopes, and dreams. I especially liked Jackson and his determination to find happiness for his mom. The book is short, so the action comes fast. The romance probably develops a bit more rapidly than in real life, but I didn’t mind. This is a Christmas romance after all! The theme of God’s provision is naturally woven throughout the narrative –but it’s never preachy.

If you are looking for a quick and cozy Christmas read, A Christmas by The Sea fits the bill. It is a recommended read.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

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Top 10 Tuesday — Book Title Mash Up

7 Aug

That Artsy Reader Girl is challenging bloggers to a Book Mash Up! We are supposed to take two books that combined together would make one awesome new book. I’m afraid my brain is a bit creativity-challenged, so I tweaked the topic this week to a Title Mash Up — two book titles combined to create a fun book with little in common to the originals. Won’t you join the fun by leaving a comment with some mashed together titles?

 

Top 10 Book Title Mash Up!

 

The Captured Bride Most Begrudging 

She really didn’t want to get married.

 

Carolina Reckoning at Gossamer Pond

Let’s move the action down South.

 

Chasing Secrets of A Charmed Life

Must discover that secret!

 

Dressed for Death in The Shadows

You have to look good!

An Endless Christmas Angel Project

A women’s project gone awry!

 

Imperfect Justice Betrayed

Justice just can’t catch a break.

 

Lead Me Home at Last

Can’t wait to get there.

 

Phoebe’s Light My Fire 

Sounds like a story of a racehorse.

 

A Rebel Heart Between Us

You just can’t trust the heart.

 

Rules of Murder at The Flamingo

Let’s make sure we follow the rules.

 

What are some more titles that make a good mash up?

 

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.)

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Series I Really Love, but Hate That I Haven’t Finished!

15 May

Because we always want to keep it positive here at By The Book, I chose to tweak the theme of this week’s Top 10 Tuesday (yet again, LOL!). So instead of highlighting books I hated, I am featuring the series I loved, but haven’t finished yet. In most cases I lack only 1 book to check the completed box. How in the world can I NOT finish a series, especially when the last book waits impatiently on my shelf? Here’s my rationalization: books in a series are usually released once a year. There are so many shiny books that come out between the installments that I just can’t resist, hence leaving very deserving books languishing. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Update: This post shamed me into action! I am currently reading A Will, A Way, And A Wedding by Melody Carlson. I’ll be able to check this one off in a few days.

What about you? Have you ever left a series you absolutely love unfinished? What’s your reason?

Be sure to head over to That Artsy Reader Girl where, hopefully, other bloggers are sharing the love not the hate! 😉

 

Top Series I Have Not Finished

 

The Bowers Files by Steven James

 

Crisis Team by Candace Calvert

 

Dear Daphne by Melody Carlson

 

Elite Guardians by Lynette Eason 

 

Inn At Shining Waters by Melody Carlson

 

Kanner Lake by Brandilyn Collins

 

Secrets of Roux River Bayou by Kathy Herman

 

What series do you need to finish?

Top Ten Tuesday — The Neglected TBR Pile

6 Feb

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme should be titled the Shame Pile, at least for me. Bloggers were charged to search their shelves (and other places hoarders collectors stash their books) for the books that have been waiting the longest to be read. Oh dear! I have to close my ears as I walk past the shelves that fill the rooms of my house because the books whisper, whine, and sometimes shout Pick Me! I’d like to say that the books I chose this week have been on my shelves the longest, but the task was so overwhelming that I settled for random selections. I had such high hopes when I bought these books (and the other fifty gazillion that await). I just knew I would love them because I had loved their sisters and brothers — the books written and read by their fabulous authors. And I am sure I will love them . . . someday. *sigh*  As I lovingly returned them to their places of honor, I promised that one day, they too would join the ranks of the read.

To find out what books other bloggers have waiting, please visit the Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Neglected Books from My TBR Mountain

The Beach House by Sally John

Hope Springs by Lynne Hinton

June Bug by Chris Fabry

Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman

‘Mater Biscuit by Julie Cannon

The Passion of Mary Margaret by Lisa Samson

River’s End by Melody Carlson

Ruby’s Slippers by Leanna Ellis

Sandpiper Drift by Vanessa Del Fabbro

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner

What book do you have on your shelf that needs to be read?

Audiobook Review: The Christmas Angel Project

4 Dec

Five women from different walks of life have become close friends through their book club — enjoying one another’s company even more than they enjoy the books. So when the leader of the book club unexpectedly passes away on the cusp of the Christmas season, the four remaining friends are stunned. They relied on Abby for inspiration and motivation. She was the glue that held them together, and they’re sure that without her the group can’t continue.

When the group gathers “one last time” to open a bag Abby’s husband gives them, they find Abby had made each of them an angel ornament for Christmas, crafted especially for each woman and accompanied by a sweet and personal note. Inspired by their beloved friend, together Cassidy, Louisa, Grace, and Belinda decide to commit themselves to becoming Christmas Angels to others in need. Each woman will use her life situation and talents to reach out and help others in her own unique way — little knowing that her own life and her relationships will be changed forever.

 

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:

What kind of legacy will you leave? That is the underlying theme of Melody Carlson’s The Christmas Angel Project. Carlson, known as the queen of Christmas novellas, has another hit with this book. She takes her characters on a journey from grief to hope as she explores how people can use their talents and dreams to make a community a better place.

Four women — Cassidy, Louisa, Grace, and Belinda — find themselves lost and rudderless following the death of their friend, Abby. Abby has befriended, encouraged, and basically loved on all four, and they find themselves unsure how they will get through the next days and weeks leading up to Christmas without her. Although members of the same bookclub, the women feel disconnected from each other without Abby. That is until they receive an unexpected gift from their dear friend.

The Christmas Angel Project is all about finding purpose within the framework of one’s gifts, personality, and passions. Each character built on what they had already developed in their lives and used it to reach out to others in unique and meaningful ways. The projects each woman undertook — veterinary care for the elderly, art classes for the grieving, decorating Habitat homes, and a fashion show for high schoolers — brought dignity, self-confidence, and hope to those they touched. The characters all had fears, self-doubt, and feelings of unworthiness common to all. I liked that about them. They were real women with real struggles who decided to focus not on themselves but on others. And that is what Abby had done in her life, and that is the legacy she left for the four to continue.

I listened to the audiobook of The Christmas Angel Project and was at first put off by the narrator’s voice. Her timing was great, but she made several of the characters sound older than they were. But as I got more and more involved with the story, her voice disappeared and the women emerged.

A heart-warming read for the Christmas season, The Christmas Angel Project gets a recommended rating from me!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: The Christmas Blessing

2 Oct

When she receives the news in late 1944 that her baby’s father was shot down in the South Pacific, Amelia Richards loses hope. Jobless and broke, she has nowhere to turn for help but her infant’s paternal grandparents. The only problem is, they don’t know that she — or their grandson — exists. When Amelia discovers that the family is wealthy and influential, dare she disclose the truth of her relationship with their son? Or could the celebration of the arrival of another unexpected baby nearly two thousand years ago be the answer to her dilemma?

 

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:

Melody Carlson is known for her heart-warming Christmas novellas, and many readers kick off the season with one of her new books. For the 2017 holidays, readers are in for a treat. The Christmas Blessing is part romance, part family drama, and all feel-good reading experience.

In the midst of WWII, young mother Amelia Richards embarks on a life-changing trip with her 7-week old baby. From sunny San Diego, Amelia travels to Montana to find a family for her and her young son. But life is hard on Amelia — first she has her funds stolen, then she and her baby, Jimmy, become ill. Desperate to provide for Jimmy, Amelia makes a hard decision. Will Jimmy and Amelia finally find a home?

The Christmas Blessing is a quick read; I finished it in one day. But don’t think that it is not long on all the things you like about a novella from Carlson. Characters, especially Amelia and Helene, will capture the reader’s heart. Both women love their sons fiercely and are determined to protect them. The setting is perfect for a nostalgic Christmas read — small town Montana from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The quaint town, the snowy scenery, and the chill in the air will make you snuggle up in an afghan with a cup of cocoa or tea. The drama surrounding Amelia may be a bit old-fashioned, but not that different from struggles single mothers face today. Although Amelia’s plight seems hopeless, there is a definite happily-ever-after in store for her and the reader. Carlson also makes sure that faith in God is woven naturally throughout the book.

If you are looking for a book to get you in the holiday mood, then The Christmas Blessing is a good choice.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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