Tag Archives: Melody Carlson

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.)

 

 

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Top 10 Tuesday — Fall TBR List

19 Sep

Can you believe that in two days it will be Fall?! Here in middle Georgia the department stores are sporting Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decor for sale, but the temperatures are hovering in the Summer-range, so Fall doesn’t seem that imminent. But what is imminent is my Fall TBR list (or pile!). The folks at The Broke And The Bookish are asking bloggers to share what they will be reading in the next few months, and I am always eager to oblige. I have a wide variety of reading ahead of me — historical, romance, contemporary, mystery/suspense, and interestingly enough, a couple of Christmas novels! So without further ado, my Fall TBR List!

Top Ten Books on My TBR List

The Case of The Clobbered Cad by Debra E. Marvin

Charming The Troublemaker by Pepper Basham

The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson

Christy by Catherine Marshall

Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport

Deeds of Darkness by Mel Starr

How Sweet The Sound by Amy Sorrells 

Lydia by Diana Wallis Taylor

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris

What are you reading this Fall?

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday — All About Moms!

16 May

I’m back to blogging after a week+ hiatus. The hubs and I spent a wonderful week in Germany visiting friends. In addition to our travels in Deutschland, we spent time in Switzerland and even tiny Liechtenstein. The only glitch to the trip was the virus my husband took with him returned with me. 😦  This is the first day since returning to the US that I have felt well enough to participate in life. That means I missed Mother’s Day and my birthday (also on Mother’s Day). So I am doubly grateful to be a part of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday — All About Moms. Check out the other bloggers’ choices for great books featuring moms HERE.

 

I went way back to find books featuring strong moms. I went over the proscribed 10, but that’s ok. You can never have too many great stories.

Top Fiction Featuring Strong Moms

As I Have Loved You by Nikki Arana 

Leigh Scott is a single mom who just wants the best for her only son, Jeff: a college degree and a good job. But when he starts seeing Jessica, a young woman with a troubled past and a questionable future, Leigh envisions all her best-laid plans going up in smoke. As Jeff spends more and more time with Jessica, Leigh sees her fears realized in Jeff’s dropping grades and bad choices. To top it off, Leigh finds her relationships with her parents, her brother, and a long-lost old flame getting more complicated. Will Leigh get through to her son in time? Or is there more to Jessica than meets the eye? This many-layered, emotional family saga will captivate readers as it shows them the peril of judgment, the need for forgiveness, and the gift of love.

Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers

The first in an epic two-book saga by beloved author Francine Rivers, this New York Times best-selling story explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters over several generations.

Near the turn of the twentieth century, fiery Marta Schneider leaves Switzerland for a better life, determined to fulfill her mother’s hope. Her formative journey takes her through Europe and eventually to Canada, where she meets handsome Niclas Waltert. But nothing has prepared her for the sacrifices she must make for marriage and motherhood as she travels to the Canadian wilderness and then to the dusty Central Valley of California to raise her family.

Marta’s hope is to give her children a better life, but experience has taught her that only the strong survive. Her tough love is often misunderstood, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, who craves her mother’s acceptance. Amid the drama of World War II, Hildie falls in love and begins a family of her own. But unexpected and tragic events force mother and daughter to face their own shortcomings and the ever-widening chasm that threatens to separate them forever.

Intervention by Terri Blackstock

Barbara Covington has one more chance to save her daughter from a devastating addiction, by staging an intervention. But when eighteen-year-old Emily disappears on the way to drug treatment—and her interventionist is found dead at the airport—Barbara enters her darkest nightmare of all. Barbara and her son set out to find Emily before Detective Kent Harlan arrests her for a crime he is sure she committed. Fearing for Emily’s life, Barbara maintains her daughter’s innocence. But does she really know her anymore? Meanwhile, Kent has questions of his own. His gut tells him that this is a case of an addict killing for drugs, but as he gets to know Barbara, he begins to hope he’s wrong about Emily. The panic level rises as the mysteries intensify: Did Emily’s obsession with drugs lead her to commit murder—or is she another victim of a cold-blooded killer?

 

Missing Max by Karen Young

When baby Max is kidnapped during Mardi Gras, Jane and Kyle Madison’s life falls apart. What their daughter, Melanie, does next is unthinkable.

Max vanished into thin air while in the care of his teenage sister, Melanie. Six months later, the family is a shadow of its former self: Melanie blames herself and is acting out and rebellious; Jane is obsessed with finding Max; and Kyle, a lawyer, struggles to cope with his own grief—and a persistent suspicion that one of his cases is connected to Max’s disappearance.

With her family in turmoil and her marriage on the rocks, Jane thinks things can’t get any worse. Then when an affair and an unexpected pregnancy threaten to tear the Madisons’ lives apart, an anonymous caller leads to a break in the case. Can a second kidnapping bring their family back together?

Mother of Pearl by Kellie Coates Gilbert 

Barrie Graeber has two great kids, a loving husband, and a respected job as a high school counselor in her close-knit community. Without warning, everything unravels when her teenage daughter, Pearl, is betrayed by friends and lashes out.

Nothing prepares this mother for the helplessness that follows when her attempts to steer her daughter back on course fail and Pearl shuts her out . . . or when she discovers the unthinkable about her nemesis, the football coach.
Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, MOTHER OF PEARL brings us into the heart of a mother bound by an incredible burden, who ultimately finds she must recognize her own vulnerability and learn to trust in something much bigger.

 

Of Stillness And Storm by Michele Phoenix

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing. 

At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

The Offering by Angela Hunt

After growing up an only child, Amanda Lisandra wants a big family. But since she and her soldier husband can’t afford to have more children right away, Mandy decides to earn money as a gestational carrier for a childless couple. She loves being pregnant, and while carrying the child, she dreams of having her own son and maybe another daughter. . . .

Just when the nearly perfect pregnancy is about to conclude, unexpected tragedy enters Mandy’s world and leaves her reeling. Devastated by grief, she surrenders the child she was carrying and struggles to regain her emotional equilibrium.

Two years later she studies a photograph of the baby she bore and wonders if the unthinkable has happened—could she have inadvertently given away her own biological child? Over the next few months Mandy struggles to decide between the desires of her grief-stricken heart and what’s best for the little boy she has never known.

The Pharaoh’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt’s good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment. She watched him snatch her mother and infant brother during childbirth, a moment which awakens in her a terrible dread of ever bearing a child. Now she is to be become the bride of Sebak, a kind but quick-tempered Captain of Pharaoh Tut’s army. In order to provide Sebak the heir he deserves and yet protect herself from the underworld gods, Anippe must launch a series of deceptions, even involving the Hebrew midwives—women ordered by Tut to drown the sons of their own people in the Nile.

When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt’s gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.

As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king. Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan—for them all?

Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy

A storm the size of Texas brews when Gloria Powell and Kai Chang meet in a Dallas hotel. They have come to discuss the future of Lily, the daughter Gloria adopted from China and the sister Kai hopes to reclaim. Kai is a doctor who had to give up her little sister during the Cultural Revolution and has since discovered that an inherited genetic defect may be waiting to fatally strike Lily. Gloria’s relationship with her daughter is tattered and strained, and the arrival of Kai, despite the woman’s apparent good intentions, makes Gloria fearful. Gloria longs to restore her relationship with Lily, but in the wake of this potentially devastating diagnosis, is Kai an answer to prayer. . .or will her arrival force Gloria to sacrifice more than she ever imagined?

River’s Song by Melody Carlson

Following her mother’s funeral, and on the verge of her own midlife crisis, widow Anna Larson returns to the home of her youth to sort out her parents’ belongings, as well as her own turbulent life. For the first time since childhood, Anna embraces her native heritage, despite the disdain of her vicious mother-in-law. By transforming her old family home on the banks of the Siuslaw River into The Inn at Shining Waters, Anna hopes to create a place of healing―a place where guests experience peace, grace, and new beginnings. Starting with her own family . . .

 

Test of Faith by Christa Allan

Elle Butler has managed to hold on to her politically-driven husband and her secrets until the unexpected happens. When one phone call rips her world apart, Elle will have to decide if the truth is worth the consequences. Especially when it threatens to destroy the world she’s so carefully built around her life and her marriage.

 

 

 

 

Why The Sky Is Blue by Susan Meissner

What options does a Christian woman have after she’s brutally assaulted by a stranger…and becomes pregnant? That’s the heartrending situation Claire Holland faces. Happily married and the mother of two when she is attacked, Claire begins an incredible journey on the painful pathway to trusting God “in all things.”

When Claire’s husband, Dan, confesses he can’t be a father to the expected child, Claire’s decision to put the baby up for adoption creates a sense of tremendous loss for Claire. Later, unexpected circumstances turn this seeming loss into victory.

This wonderful first novel isn’t a love story….but a life story, presenting the twin themes trusting God in tragic circumstances and reaping the rewards that eventually come with sacrificial loving.

 

What’s your favorite book featuring a strong mom?

Top Ten Tuesday — Best Christmas Novellas

13 Sep

Thanks to the folks at The Broke And The Bookish for hosting Top 10 Tuesday every week. This week’s theme is Favorite Genres. To find out what other bloggers love to read, click HERE.

 

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It’s September and while Pumpkin Everything is popping up, the temperatures here in Middle Georgia are still in the 90s. It may be a bit hot, but when the calendar says it’s Fall, I like to begin my Christmas reading. Every year I look for a Christmas fix in books. Here is a list of some great books to read to get you in the Christmas mood, no matter the date or temperature! I’ve divided them into categories, although there is some crossover, so that you can pick the best for your mood and tastes.

Top Christmas Novellas

 

Historic and Nostalgic Christmas

The Christmas Pony by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins

A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs

Remembering Christmas by Daniel Walsh

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Suspenseful And Mysterious Christmas

Holy Night by Colleen Coble

Silent Night by Colleen Coble

Advent of Murder by Martha Oakley

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Romantic Christmas

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

The Christmas Note by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Promise by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere

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Christmas with Dogs And Cats

The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson

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Funny Christmas

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

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Heartwarming Christmas

A Redbird Christmas by Fanny Flagg

A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias

Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias

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What’s Your Favorite Christmas Book?

 

Top 10 Tuesday: Books That Made Me Want to Travel!

26 Jul

Thanks so much to the folks at The Broke And The Bookish who week after week host the fun and fabulous Top 10 Tuesday. This week’s challenge is to list the Top 10 Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do. To find out what other bloggers have learned or are inspired to do, click HERE.

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Well above all else, books make me want to travel. Now as my husband will attest, I am not much of a traveler. But the following books have really sparked my interest. Whether it is to real life places or places I can only dream about, here is my list.

Top Books That Make Me Want to Travel

 

Travel in Unique Ways

Route 66 — The Mother Road by Jennifer AlLee

Public Transportation — Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus by Joyce Magnin

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Travel to Unique Locales

Ca d’Zan Ringling Museum — The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron

Oregon Sea Stacks — Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

Shetland Islands — The Inheritance by Michael Phillips

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Travel Back in Time

Viking Days — God’s Daughter by Heather Gilbert

Medieval Period — The Abbess of Whitby by Jill Dalladay

Ashes to Ashes by Mel Starr

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Travel to Fictional Small Towns

Appleton — Lock, Stock And Over A Barrel by Melody Carlson

Bright’s Pond — The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin

Last Chance — Welcome to Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong

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Travel Across Time/Space/Universe

The Bright Empires Series by Stephen Lawhead

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Where do you want to travel?

Top 10 Tuesday — Small Town Reads

1 Mar

This week the folks over at The Broke And The Bookish are hosting The Top 10 Tuesday theme, What to Read if You Are in The Mood for X. To find out all the great book recommendations bloggers are making, click HERE.

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I am a small town girl. I was born and raised in the city, but I got out as soon as I could! I have lived in small towns for the past 30 years. Although I’ll read just about any genre with any setting, I do enjoy a small town read. The slow pace, the intimate feel, the close-knit relationships, and, yes, the quirky personalities appeal to me. So here are some Small Town Reads that I recommend when you get in that mood too.

Top Small Town Reads

The Quintessential Small Town

Charlene Baumbich has created the quintessential small town in her Welcome to Partonville series. Eighty-something Dorothy Jean Wetstra rides around Partonville, Illinois in her 1976 Lincoln bringing readers fun, laughter and touching moments. There are 6 books in the series, so plenty of reading enjoyment! Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet is book 1.

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Small Town Romance

Cathleen Armstrong creates contemporary romance novels with a small town setting in her Place to Call Home series. Set in the small New Mexico town of Last Chance, this series features real life situations with a strong faith message. Welcome to Last Chance is book one in this 4-book series.

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The Dear Daphne series by Melody Carlson follows the up and down love life of Daphne Ballinger. Daphne moves back to her hometown following her Aunt Dee’s death. Finding out that she will inherit all of her aunt’s estate, if she marries within a year, creates a bit of havoc in Daphne’s life. This is a fun series that has a serious side too as Daphne comes to understand Aunt Dee and herself. The concluding book in the series is due out in April. I can’t wait! Lock, Stock And over A Barrel is book 1.

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Small Town Suspense

Kathy Herman has several wonderful series that feature small towns, but her Baxter series is my favorite and great place to start with this talented author. A lot of mystery and mayhem happens in this small Tennessee town. Recurring characters, such as newspaper editor Ellen Jones, create a cohesive and continuing story line. This is a five book series. Tested by Fire is book 1.

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Small Town Cozy Mysteries

Nancy Mehl has a long list of mystery/suspense novels set in small towns. All are excellent, but if you are looking for a cozy mystery, check out The Ivy Towers Mystery series. Featuring a small town bookstore owner, this series is often laugh out loud funny. In the Dead of Winter is the first book in the 4-book series.

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Mary Conneally is known for her historical romance novels featuring hunky cowboys, but under the name of Mary Nealy she writes mysteries. In the Historical Society Murders series, Carrie Evans is back in her hometown editing the town’s paper and dodging dead bodies and a stuffed mouse. This series is also LOL funny. Book 1 is Bury The Lead.

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Small Town Quirky

While all of the novels listed above have their fair share of quirky characters, it’s hard to find normal within the pages of Joyce Magnin’s Bright’s Pond series. Joyce’s mostly off-kilter world is fun to visit and perfect for those who want a funny and unique small town read. Five books make up this series. Book 1 is The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow.

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So there you have my recommendations for small town reads?

What are some of your favorites?

 

 

Book Review: Home, Hearth And Holidays

28 Nov

51icc0wXDXL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_With holidays approaching in the charming town of Appleton, and Daphne Ballinger’s deadline to “get hitched” drawing closer, Daphne finds herself happily distracted with the unexpected tasks of “motherhood” Young Mabl is enjoying the attention, but the clock is ticking and unless love comes her way, Daphne’s delightful life will start unraveling by spring.

 

 

515ITCagVtL._UX250_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:

The long wait for another Dear Daphne book from Melody Carslon is over! After publisher B&H decided to discontinue its fiction offerings, Carslon decided not to give up on publishing the remaining books in the series. I am so thankful for Whitefire Publishing, because this is a great series. Home, Hearth And Holidays continues big city girl Daphne Ballinger’s quest for a new life and love in small town Appleton. (You can read my reviews of the first 2 books by clicking on the following titles — Lock, Stock And Over A Barrel and Dating, Dining And Desperation.)

Daphne is still faced with the daunting terms of her Aunt Dee’s will — a home she loves and plenty of money, if she marries within a year. The first 6 months went by in a series of romance missteps, so Daphne settles into raising 8 year old Mabel and enjoying her small town life with close friends and family, even if she never meets Mr. Right. Of course, there is no shortage of eligible bachelors, but Daphne wonders if she’ll ever marry.

Home, Hearth And Holidays is not a Christmas book, but rather a book set during the late fall and winter months of November through February. Daphne and Mabel celebrate during this time, but the book is focused on Daphne’s personal growth. She still longs for a romantic relationship, but wants that to develop along a natural timeline, not one imposed on her by the eccentric will. I liked that Daphne is settling in and settling down, resisting the quick fix solutions to the problem of her future. I really like how this series is developing — less slap stick and more real life struggles. There is still plenty to chuckle over though!

Home, Hearth And Holidays is a winner! I cannot wait for book 4.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)