Tag Archives: Melody Carlson

Reading Road Trips — Cruising The Atlantic Beaches

10 Jul

I grew up 40 minutes away from the white sand beaches of Florida. I spent a lot of hours playing in the surf, baking in the sun, enjoying the sounds of the waves and seabirds and the smell/taste of hot French fries from concession stands. Those days of driving the beaches and walking the dunes are gone (conservation, you know), but I will never forget the great memories of sunny, carefree days. This week I am featuring books set among some of the beach communities along the Atlantic seaboard. It certainly is not an exhaustive list, but it will get you started on a beach-y getaway. Some of the books on my list are set in real places, others are imagined, but representative of what you will find along the coast. I hope you will find one to love!

 

Cruising The Atlantic Beaches with A Good Book

Florida

The Discovery by Dan WalshGerard

Warner was not only a literary giant whose suspense novels sold in the millions, he was also a man devoted to his family, especially his wife of nearly 60 years. When he dies he leaves his Charleston estate to his grandson, Michael, an aspiring writer himself. Michael settles in to write his own first novel and discovers an unpublished manuscript his grandfather had written, something he’d kept hidden from everyone but clearly intended Michael to find. Michael begins to read an exciting tale about Nazi spies and sabotage, but something about this story is different from all of Gerard Warner’s other books. It’s actually a love story. As Michael delves deeper into the story he discovers something that has the power to change not only his future but his past as well.

Georgia

As The Tide Comes In by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall

When an unthinkable loss sends Tara Abbott’s life spiraling out of control, she journeys from North Carolina to Georgia’s St. Simons Island. Although confused and scared, she hopes to find answers about her past – her life before the years of foster care and raising her two half-brothers as a young adult. Will she find steady ground on the island, surrounded by an eccentric-but-kindhearted group of older women called The Glynn Girls and a determined firefighter? Or will the truth splinter what’s left of her identity into pieces?

Cape Refuge (book one of a series) by Terri Blackstock

When the kindest couple in Cape Refuge is found murdered at their church, their daughter will have to find the killer . . . before her own husband is convicted.

Wade and Thelma Owens run a halfway house on the small island of Cape Refuge that caters to wayward souls just out of prison. So when Wade and Thelma turn up brutally murdered, the town goes into shock, concerned that one of the Hanover House residents is a murderer who could strike again.

Shattered by her parents’ deaths, Morgan Cleary struggles to keep Hanover House running while her husband, Jonathan, has been arrested for the murder.

As the killer runs free, a lethal race against time ensues, with far more than the halfway house at stake.

To Have And To Hold (book one of a series) by Judith Miller and Tracie Peterson

When Audrey Cunningham’s father proposes that they move to Bridal Veil Island, where he grew up, she agrees, thinking this will help keep him sober and close to God. But they arrive to find wealthy investors buying up land to build a grand resort on the secluded island–and they want the Cunninghams’ acreage.

Contractor Marshall Graham can’t imagine why the former drinking buddy of his deceased father would beckon him to Bridal Veil Island. And when Boyd Cunningham asks him to watch over Audrey, Marshall is even more confused. He has no desire to be saddled with caring for this fiery young woman who is openly hostile toward him. But when Audrey seems to be falling for another man–one who has two little girls Audrey adores–Marshall realizes she holds more of his heart than he realized. Which man will Audrey choose? And can she hold on to her ancestral property in the face of overwhelming odds?

South Carolina

Still Waters by Lindsey Brackett

Cora Anne Halloway has a history degree and a plan: avoid her own past — despite being wait-listed for graduate school. Then her beloved grandmother requests — and her dispassionate mother insists — that she spend the summer at Still Waters, the family cottage on Edisto Beach, South Carolina.

Despite its picturesque setting, Still Waters haunts Cora Anne with loss. At Still Waters her grandfather died, her parents’ marriage disintegrated, and as a child, she caused a tragic drowning. But lingering among the oak canopies and gentle tides, this place also tempts her with forgiveness — especially since Nan hired Tennessee Watson to oversee cottage repairs. A local contractor, but dedicated to the island’s preservation from development, Tennessee offers her friendship and more, if she can move beyond her guilt.

When a family reunion reveals Nan’s failing health, Cora Anne discovers how far Tennessee will go to protect her — and Edisto — from more desolation. Will Cora Anne choose between a life driven by guilt, or one washed clean by the tides of grace?

The Wedding Machine by Beth Webb Hart

Welcome to Jasper, South Carolina. A place where Southern hospitality thrives. Where social occasions are done right. And where, for generations, the four most upstanding ladies of this community ensure that the daughters of Jasper are married in the proper manner.

Friends from school days, “the gals” have long pooled their silver, china, and know-how to pull off beautiful events. They’re a force of nature, a well-oiled machine. But the wedding machine’s gears start to stick during the summer their own daughters line up to tie the knot. In the lowcountry heat and humidity, tempers flare, old secrets leak out . . . and both love and gardenias bloom in unlikely places.

North Carolina

The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman

Treasure is found in the most unlikely places.

The envy of all her friends, wife and mother Saphora Warren is the model of southern gentility and accomplishment. She lives in a beautiful Lake Norman home, and has raised three capable adult children. Her husband is a successful plastic surgeon–and a philanderer. It is for that reason that, after hosting a garden party for Southern Living magazine, Saphora packs her bags to escape the trappings of the picturesque-but-vacant life.

Saphora’s departure is interrupted by her husband Bender’s early arrival home, and his words that change her life forever: I’m dying.

Against her desires, Saphora agrees to take care of Bender as he fights his illness. They relocate, at his insistance, to their coastal home in Oriental—the same house she had chosen for her private getaway. When her idyllic retreat is overrun by her grown children, grandchildren, townspeople, relatives, and a precocious neighbor child, Saphora’s escape to paradise is anything but the life she had imagined. As she gropes for evidence of God’s presence amid the turmoil, can she discover that the richest treasures come in surprising packages?

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper–the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble

Welcome to Hope Beach. A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.

Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer’s talent and love of history. She’s delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she’s met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.

But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she’s there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby’s under suspicion for the crime.

Libby’s dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.

A Vast And Gracious Tide by Lisa Carter

A wounded veteran and the police chief’s daughter must work together to bring a killer to justice

Caden Wallis lost friends, his girlfriend, and even his leg to the ravages of war. He arrives on the Outer Banks broken and still reeling, struggling to make peace with his new life.

McKenna Dockery has been stuck in limbo since her fiancé died three years ago. Now, when the handsome yet heartbroken Caden arrives at her doorstep, she starts to wonder if there may be hope for her heart after all . . .

But no sooner do they meet than a man is found murdered on McKenna’s property–and Caden is the prime suspect. The two must learn to trust each other, or no one will be safe in the tangled web of conspiracy, greed, and deceit lurking in the tidal marshlands of the Outer Banks.

Maryland

Deadly Isle by Dani Pettrey

 

Tennyson Kent is trapped on the isolated island of her childhood by a storm surge, and she is shocked when the typically idyllic community turns into the hunting grounds of a murderer. Cut off from any help from the mainland, will she and first love Callen Frost be able to identify and stop a killer bent on revenge before they become the next victims?

 

 

 

Massachusetts

Phoebe’s Light (book one of a series) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Phoebe Starbuck has always adjusted her sails and rudder to the whims of her father. Now, for the first time, she’s doing what she wants to do: marrying Captain Phineas Foulger and sailing far away from Nantucket. As she leaves on her grand adventure, her father gives her two gifts, both of which Phoebe sees little need for. The first is an old sheepskin journal from Great Mary, her highly revered great-grandmother. The other is a “minder” on the whaling ship in the form of cooper Matthew Mitchell, a man whom she loathes.

Soon Phoebe discovers that life at sea is no easier than life on land. Lonely, seasick, and disillusioned, she turns the pages of Great Mary’s journal and finds herself drawn into the life of this noble woman. To Phoebe’s shock, her great-grandmother has left a secret behind that carries repercussions for everyone aboard the ship, especially her husband the captain and her shadow the cooper. This story within a story catapults Phoebe into seeing her life in an entirely new way—just in time.

Maine

A Christmas by The Sea by Melody Carlson

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.

On A Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Sometimes love hurts — and sometimes it can heal in the most unexpected way.

Camden Grayson loves her challenging career, but the rest of her life could use some improvement. “Moving on” is Cam’s mantra. But there’s a difference, her two sisters insist, between one who moves on . . . and one who keeps moving.

Cam’s full-throttle life skids to a stop when her father buys a remote island off the coast of Maine. Paul Grayson has a dream to breathe new life into the island — a dream that includes reuniting his estranged daughters. Certain Dad has lost his mind, the three sisters rush to the island. To Cam’s surprise, the slow pace of island life appeals to her, along with the locals — and one in particular. Seth Walker, the scruffy island schoolteacher harbors more than a few surprises.

With On a Summer Tide, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher begins a brand-new contemporary romance series that is sure to delight her fans and draw new ones.

Book Review: Harbor Secrets

26 Jun

A Peaceful Coastal Town . . . Threatened by a Storm of Secrets

It’s 1916 when newspaper woman Anna McDowell learns her estranged father has suffered a stroke. Deciding it’s time to repair bridges, Anna packs up her precocious adolescent daughter and heads for her hometown in Sunset Cove, Oregon.

Although much has changed since the turn of the century, some things haven’t. Anna finds the staff of her father’s paper not exactly eager to welcome a woman into the editor-in-chief role, but her father insists he wants her at the helm. Anna is quickly pulled into the charming town and her new position…but just as quickly learns this seaside getaway harbors some dark and dangerous secrets.

With Oregon’s new statewide prohibition in effect, crime has crept along the seacoast and invaded even idyllic Sunset Cove. Anna only meant to get to know her father again over the summer, but instead she finds herself rooting out the biggest story the town has ever seen—and trying to keep her daughter safe from it all.

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 young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors 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 RT’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. 

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My Impressions:

Melody Carlson has been a long time favorite author of mine. Her Christmas novellas are special treats each year. Harbor Secrets, the first book in the Legacy of Sunset Cove series has many of the things I look forward to in a book by Carlson — easy style, detailed setting, and relatable characters — plus the inclusion of a mystery. The result is a fun read that was the perfect traveling companion. Recommended!

The year is 1916 and the place is the Oregon Coast. The nation is undergoing changes and facing a looming crisis. Women are making their way in the business world, but slowly, and the ripples of the war in Europe are reaching our nation. In small town Sunset Cove, times haven’t changed all that much, but when Anna McDowell returns, there is a definite shakeup of the status quo. Anna is a newswoman, a rarity in the male-dominated field. Her father’s illness places her right in the middle of his newspaper, a place she relishes. Whispers of sinister goings on and political corruption cause Anna to be on the case.

There is much to love about Harbor Secrets — the family drama, the historical context including women’s rights and Prohibition, the mystery that engulfs the small coastal town, and the promise of romantic developments. Characters are well-developed, and the narrative proves to be a light and quick read. This book accompanied me on my bucket list trip to Alaska. With a cozy mystery-vibe, I found this book easy to pick up among all my vacation-doings. Despite the distractions of travel and the days of not getting to read at all, I found it easy to slip back to Sunset Cove and Anna when I got the chance.

I really enjoyed my time with Harbor Secrets and look forward to traveling back in time to Sunset Cove in book 2, Riptide Rumors.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE

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

If you liked Catching Christmas . . .

12 Dec

My book club read Catching Christmas this month. This heartwarming novella is a departure from Terri Blackstock‘s normal fast-paced suspense, but we all really liked it. It was just the right length for a very busy time of year, it was sweet and touching, and the author’s afterword was an inspiration. So what to read next? If you too liked Catching Christmas, consider the following books for the days leading up to Christmas.

The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere

Lauren Gabriel spent many years of her childhood in foster homes, wishing her mother would come back for her and be the family she needs. Now twenty-years-old, she still longs for a place that she can truly call home. Her work as a cashier is unfulfilling, and at Christmas it’s unbearable with the songs and carols and chatter of Christmas that she hears throughout the day.

When Lauren ends her shift one night, she finds herself driving aimlessly in order to avoid returning to her lonely apartment. And when she witnesses a car accident she is suddenly pulled into the small town of Grandon, first as a witness but then as a volunteer for the annual fundraiser for Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who need assistance. Could this town and its people be the home she has always longed for?

An Irish Christmas by Melody Carlson

For Colleen, life is spinning out of control. She just lost her husband, and her relationship with her young adult son Jamie is crumbling. Should she confess to him the secret that has been haunting her for twenty years? Jamie has a few secrets of his own. When he announces his plans to join the military, Colleen decides it’s time for the two of them to take a trip together — to Ireland. The truth they discover there could fulfill both their dreams in a way neither ever thought possible.

 

 

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

Rick Denton lives his life on his terms. He works hard, plays hard, and answers to no one. So when his mother calls on Thanksgiving weekend begging him to come home after his stepfather has a stroke, Rick is more than a little reluctant. He’s never liked Art and resents the man’s presence in his life, despite the fact that his own father abandoned the family when Rick was just twelve. When what was supposed to be just a couple days helping out at the family bookstore turns into weeks of cashing out old ladies and running off the homeless man who keep hanging about, Rick’s attitude sours even more.

Still, slowly but surely, the little bookstore and its quirky patrons — as well as the lovely young woman who works at his side each day — work their magic on him, revealing to Rick the truth about his family, his own life, and the true meaning of Christmas.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Cozy Winter Reads aka Christmas Novellas!

4 Dec

Nothing says cozy to me more than a wonderful Christmas novella. And since ’tis the season  . . . here is a list to warm your heart as you snuggle with a hot beverage next to the fireplace. Even if it is 90 degrees where you live, these Christmas novellas will give you a warm feeling that won’t make you sweat 😉 . Funny, poignant, or just plain full of the Christmas spirit, these books run the genre gamut. Grab one (or two, or more) and get ready for some great reading!

For more great cozy winter reads, check out the bloggers who have shared their lists at That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 10 Cozy Christmas Reads

The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury

Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock

The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Promise by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Remedy by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias

 

What’s your favorite cozy Christmas book?

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.)

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.)