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Snowed in with the Single Dad–twins and more twins

Snowed in with the Single Dad

by Melinda Curtis

Snowed in with the Single DadLaurel, who frequently acts as a double for her famous actress twin Ashley, takes her role too far on a date with handsome actor Wyatt with some lasting consequences. She escapes to Second Chance where she meets Mitch, a lawyer who is managing the inn and his just turned teenage daughter Gabby who has perfected eye rolls. Laurel is a creative dress designer, but she always puts the needs of others, especially her sister Ashley, ahead of her own. Among the locals, the quirky but artistically talented sisters Odette and Flip are mainstays in Second Chance and are instrumental, along with Mitch, in helping Laurel find her own dream as Second Chance lives up to its name in this sweet romance. 

I would like to extend my thanks to Melinda Curtis for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Romance (Clean)

Notes: #2 in the Mountain Monroes Series but works as a standalone. There is a chart showing the family relations and the author provides any background from previous books that is needed.

Publication:   June 1, 2019—Harlequin Heartwarming

Memorable Lines:

She’d seen Mitch smile before. Kind smiles. Polite smiles. Rueful smiles. But never a smile like this. A smile of pure, unapologetic joy. That smile. It reached into her chest like a heart-to-heart hug. It said everything was going to be all right.

He laid his cell hone faceup on the table, the sure sign of a man who considered whatever might happen in the world more important than the person they were dining with.

Her mother was a master manipulator. She recognized the dead end they’d come to and took on a new attack as smoothly as a shark circled back for the kill.

The Mountain Monroes–series summary

The Mountain Monroes

A Heartwarming Harlequin Series by Melinda Curtis

Series Summary:

Grandpa Harlan left the Monroe grandchildren out in the cold by stipulating in his will that their parents, in order to inherit, must fire the grandchildren  from their current jobs.In addition, the cousins must all agree on the disposition of Second Chance, the mountain town they inherited. Meanwhile, the residents of the remote town, who hold leases for one dollar per year, are held to non-disclosure agreements for one year after Harlan’s death. A shrewd multi-millionaire, he has managed to remain in control even after his death.

I recently had the opportunity to read books 2-4 in the series and couldn’t have been more delighted.

The first book in the series is Kissed by the Country Doc and my review can be read here. 

Reviews on books 2-4 will be posted sequentially in individual reviews. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. They are, indeed, “heartwarming” and clean in terms of language, violence, and sex.

Let It Snow–love, snow, and family

Let It Snow

by Sue Moorcroft

Let It SnowCome along for a peek at a British view of Christmas and snow with side trips to Switzerland where Lily and the Middletones, a motley crew of adults and teens, really experience snow with accumulated depth. They embark on a trip that displays the musical talents of the informal singing group as well as Lily’s work as an exhibition artist at a Swiss Christmas Market in Sue Moorcroft’s Let It Snow.

There are lots of complex relationships to watch develop. The back story is critical as Lily and Zinnia are sisters with two “mums,” Patsie and Roma, a situation that caused them grief from classmates as children and later from other adults. Zinnia’s biological father was an anonymous sperm donor, but Lily discovers as an adult that her conception was the result of a heterosexual affair between her mother and a much older man. Her desire to meet her other family upsets both her mothers and her sister, and she is fearful of how her brothers will respond to meeting her. Lily’s family situation gets tied into the pub she works at part time and her business endeavors in Switzerland. Lily has a romantic entanglement with Isaac, the temporary manager of the pub. Their relationship gets complicated when Isaac’s ex re-enters the picture.

I enjoyed watching the intermingling of lives and surprising conflicts that prove to make the story even more interesting. Moorcroft is a master of enticement with setting and mood. I really wanted to be at that Swiss Christmas Market with expensive cuckoo clocks and chocolates. I had visions of hot chocolate, bratwurst, and fondue (but not all at the same time) transferring to my tastebuds. When Lily stood up for herself, I was proud. When she was in physical or emotional pain, I felt for her. Lots of good outcomes make for a happy conclusion, but this tale is close enough to life that not everyone experiences a fairytale ending.

An added bonus to this story is the inclusion of some excitable kids—it is Christmas, after all. An equally enthusiastic Dalmatian named Doggo  accompanies his humans to Switzerland and is quite accommodating to whatever adventures come his way.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Avon Books (U.K.) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

Publication:   September 26, 2019—Avon Books (U.K.)

Memorable Lines:

Feelings don’t always take account of right or logic or justice. They come from inside and sometimes they’re all that matter.

As they reached the car park, fresh flakes of snow began, stinging skin like love bites from the Snow Queen.

‘Pretty,’ Lily breathed, eyes reflecting the thousand lights suspended like stars in the night sky above rows of stalls like little red chalets with snow on the roofs. Each stall glittered with stars and lanterns so the entire market seemed luminous.

No Room for a Pup–Mia doesn’t agree!

No Room for a Pup

by Elizabeth Suneby and Laurel Melk

illustrated by Laurel Melk

no room for a pupWant to read a book guaranteed to put a smile on your face? Read No Room for a Pup by Elizabeth Suneby and Laurel Melk. 

Mia lives in a small apartment in a big city and desperately wants a dog. Her mother is certain their apartment is too small for a pet. Mia has a clever idea and teams up with her grandmother and various friends to show her mother that their home is not too small to share with a puppy.

Children will enjoy predicting the direction this scheme will take and may even guess the ending as depicted showing the puppy grown up. Short, with likable characters and appealing illustrations, No Room for a Pup will be a reread request!

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kids Can Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Fiction

Notes: Age: 4-7

Grade: Preschool-2

Publication:   October 1, 2019—Kids Can Press

Fatal Cajun Festival–Louisiana backdrop

Fatal Cajun Festival

by Ellen Byron

Fatal Cajun FestivalIf you are charmed or captivated by all things Cajun, from zydeco music to Jambalaya with shrimp and sausage, you will enjoy Ellen Byron’s Fatal Cajun Festival. The Louisiana plantation setting is a great backdrop for a mystery that centers around Tammy Barker, hometown girl who made it big in the music industry. She returns to the small town of Pelican to give back, gloat, or maybe exact revenge at the Cajun Country Live Festival.

Local artist, Maggie Crozat, who also helps out at her family’s B&B, is caught up in deciphering the motives of Tammy and her entourage and in clearing her friend Gaynell of suspicion. There is a tangle of relationships which won’t be resolved until the end. Meanwhile, Maggie and her fiancé Bo Durand, a detective, try to keep the peace and everyone alive in Pelican. Maggie’s family has a booth at the festival selling Maggie’s artwork and as many pralines as she can make. There is also a brief side story about a mysterious Carina who may have been involved with Maggie’s now deceased Grand-père. This is an all round fun cozy mystery with lots of Louisiana flavor and interesting characters. 

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1.  #4 in the Cajun Country Mystery Series, but works as a standalone as the author includes a list of characters with notes about them.

2.  Recipes are included at the end of the book.

Publication:   September 10, 2019—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

“You used refined oil, didn’t you?” Nanette flashed a devilish grin. “Chère, that oil’s so refined it could be a debutante.”

“Remember his favorite saying…”  “In Louisiana, we only follow the rules we like,” the couple said simultaneously.

Bo once told her that humiliation was the main motivation behind most murders.

The Dog Who Lost His Bark–pet therapy works both ways

The Dog Who Lost His Bark

by Eoin Colder

illustrated by P.J. Lynch

The Dog Who Lost His BarkOz is a sweet puppy traumatized by a bad experience with a mean family. He ends up in a dog shelter where Patrick discovers and adopts him. Patrick comes from a musical family, and music emerges as the key to socializing Oz who has remarkable pitch when he whines. He starts with “Ode to Joy,” but expands his repertoire quickly. After Patrick’s breakthrough with Oz, he decides he needs to teach him to bark.

In the background of the puppy drama, we can tell, as can Patrick, that something is wrong with his father who is supposedly in Australia playing with his band. Patrick decides that if he gets rid of Oz, his father, who is allergic to dogs, will return to be a part of the family again. Oz goes back to the pound, but Patrick is no happier and Oz is very sad. Patrick learns that his mother and father are separating, but that his dog loves him and will always be his best friend.

The Dog Who Lost His Bark is a sweet story, especially for dog lovers. It could be helpful for children whose family structure is in transition, providing opportunities for discussions of the feelings the various characters have. I would encourage parents to read this book to their child or for a child to read it independently. Sharing with a group is probably not the best choice. The issues could be a trigger for sensitive children and problematic depending on the family situations of the children in a group.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Candlewick Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Children’s Fiction

Notes:  This chapter book is intended for children:

  Ages: 7-10

  Grades: 2-5

Publication:   September 10, 2019—Candlewick Press

Memorable Lines:

This boy seemed kind right now, but that was people’s CLEVER TRICK, to be happy until it was time to be ANGRY. Dog was not going to fall for that one again.

“…teach your dog to bark. Because when a dog barks at something, that dog isn’t so afraid of that thing anymore.”

“You have a friend, Patrick. You have the best friend a boy could ever have. And he loves you even when it looks like you don’t love him anymore.”

What They Meant for Evil: How a Lost Girl of Sudan Found Healing, Peace, and Purpose in the Midst of Suffering

What They Meant for Evil: How a Lost Girl of Sudan Found Healing, Peace, and Purpose in the Midst of Suffering

by Rebecca Deng with Ginger Kolbaba

What They Meant for EvilWe hear reports on the news of massacres of innocents in various countries around the globe and stories of displaced men, women, and children who become refugees and try to survive in crowded refugee camps. Those stories are usually sound bites, quickly discarded for the next big story. Rebecca Deng, a survivor of the horrific Bor Massacre of 1991 in Sudan, gives us the perspective of a six year old girl in What They Meant for Evil. We see her confusion as she flees with family walking through the wilds. She becomes an orphan as those she loves most are killed and grows up in a refugee camp. The UN provides a small amount of maize, without seasoning, to sustain the population. The bathroom is an open area on the other side of a dry riverbed with nothing to provide privacy. I had always imagined a refugee camp as a temporary facility, but Rebecca lived in Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya for eight years before she benefited from a special program that relocated her to the U.S. and placed her with an adoptive family. Many of her Sudanese relatives remained in the camp long after that.

In the latter part of the book, we learn of Rebecca’s life as an adult and her spiritual growth as she comes to terms with her identity and the trauma of her past. She uses her education, her experiences, and her faith in God to help other refugees recover as she sees God’s plan unfold to bring good out of what others intended for evil.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Faith Words for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:  4/5

Category: Christian, Memoir, Nonfiction

Publication:   September 8, 2020—Faith Words

Memorable Lines:

That was what the war did to the tens of thousands of innocent children who lost everything—it took their childhood, their innocence, their families, their homes, even their lives.

More crowds meant less food for everybody. And less food meant more violence. Crime seemed to be everywhere. People began bullying other people, stealing their food, and beating and raping them. These things were unheard of for my people before coming here. My language doesn’t even have a word for rape.

…I had learned that God doesn’t always keep us from experiencing trauma, but his unseen presence is with us, strengthening us.

But there’s another aspect of forgiveness that we too often forget or neglect, and that is forgiving ourselves. If we want true forgiveness, we must forgive ourselves for the ways in which we have failed ourselves. We do more damage to ourselves when we believe the lies others have said about us and the lies the enemy whispers into our minds—the lies that tell us we are no good, we are worthless, we can never experience true freedom or true love.

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