Goodbye Nauvoo: A Book Review

Based on real events Goodbye, Nauvoo by Marie Woodward tells the story of three women who battle their fears as Latter-day Saints prepare to leave their beloved homes behind.

Marie Woodward introduced her first book, Goodbye, Nauvoo, to the public in November 2019. A dramatized history of her pioneer ancestors, Woodward relates the stories of three women who joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These women traveled to Illinois during the height of threatening mobs and before the martyrdom of Joseph Smith Junior in the mid-19th century.

My Thoughts on Goodbye, Nauvoo

As a teenager, I’d walk into my parents’ bedroom and search the shelves for something new to read. Oftentimes, I looked for Latter-day Saint historical fiction. Mom occasionally suggested one of the books on the shelves, and like most genres, I’d digest it quickly.

Those of us with ancestors who lived during the birth of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ often feel closer to them when reading their stories and other stories from their time. Much of our religious knowledge and culture come from that time period.

And our ancestors didn’t simply form a church and worship together. In a country that touts religious freedom, they lived through threatening mobs. Mobs who beat, robbed, and killed many of them before chasing all of them from their homes because of their religion… and the government turned a blind eye.

Being a Latter-day Saint wasn’t easy. Those of us who are their descendants are grateful for the sacrifices they made and the faith they instilled in their children. It provided us with the gift and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Memories of these feelings surfaced when I discovered Goodbye, Nauvoo, and I chose to read it. Woodward set the story in Nauvoo at a time when the Saints prepared to leave the city for what later became Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Good

Goodbye, Nauvoo includes some lesser-known historical facts. It touches on the sentiments after founder Joseph Smith Junior’s murder. And mentions certain groups, such as the Rigdonites, who broke away from the Church after the Prophet’s death. Readers learn of the hardships Saints faced when selling their property as well as how they thronged to the Nauvoo Temple and feared the mobs while holding to their faith.

The book flows well. Woodward did a good job of mirroring one true story with a fictional one–Giving the book a nice lift and creating my favorite part. When she used fiction to fill in the blanks, she chose appropriate-to-the-time situations.

The Okay

Today’s authors tend to repeat the mantra “show don’t tell.” It reminds us that people want to immerse themselves in the story. While reading Goodbye, Nauvoo, I was an outsider looking in. The book tells readers how each character felt, the thoughts that they had, and why. I struggled to connect to the characters because of this. A certain amount of “telling” is good, even necessary, but I prefer less than what is found in Goodbye, Nauvoo.

I believe Woodward, whether accidentally or on purpose, set the characters apart from the audience in order to stay as true to her family history as possible–something she explained in the back-matter as important to her. Readers who expect that will receive better enjoyment from the story.

Knowing the history

While some details of the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are given, Goodbye, Nauvoo glosses over much of it. Readers who know the history will better appreciate this book. Woodward hasn’t set out to explain all of what happened to this religious group. To cover such a great amount of history would take volumes upon volumes.

People who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should still be able to understand the basics of the story. In fact, they may find themselves wanting to learn more about this rarely known tidbit of American history. Afterall, Latter-day Saints were chased from the early United States, then helped settle much of the west. But Goodbye, Nauvoo won’t provide more than a basic insight into that history.

The official blurb of Goodbye, Nauvoo

Goodbye, Nauvoo is based on the lives of three real women from a pioneer family: Martha, a young mother who wants nothing more than to see the completion of the Nauvoo temple and to keep her family together; Lydia, who doesn’t believe she could ever let herself love again after the death of her husband Danny; and Lucy, who wrestles with her own past demons as she struggles to parent her daughters. All three women learn about love, family, and forgiveness in a town they can no longer call home.

more info

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Vasilisa: A Book Review

Vasilisa knows she’s forest born, but what exactly does that mean? Others call her ogre-child, but that can’t be true. After all, she’s good, not evil.

M.L. Farb, author of the King’s Trials duology, has created Vasilisa, a fantasy fairy tale youth and adults won’t want to miss. First, read my review. Second, read the book. Third, enjoy the back matter that Farb stocked with questions, explanations, and definitions!

My Thoughts on Vasilisa

I may write women’s fiction, but I am a sucker for good fantasy. In fact, it may be my favorite genre. Why do I write women’s fiction then? Because I have no idea how to create worlds filled with magic and wonder. So, for now, I stick with what I understand: stories with a different kind of magic.

That said, I won’t set foot near poorly written fantasy, and plenty of that lands on Amazon. But self-published M.L. Farb is up there with some of my favorite fantasy authors. Jeff Wheeler, M.L. Forman, and Brandon Mull, to name a few.

Basics of the Story

Vasilisa takes readers into a world echoing that of Slavic Russia. The main character, born in the forest, now works as a servant on the lands owned by her best friend’s parents. Her forest heritage gives her strength, but to keep her mother and friend safe, she often allows others to bully her.

Like me, Vasilisa yearns for the forest. She aches to return to her birch trees. Her dreams call her there, but she has to wait. And waiting is especially difficult when she keeps getting in trouble. The lack of knowledge surrounding her forest heritage only adds to her longing.

This incredible novel tells of a young woman who finds herself while protecting those she loves. Called evil by others, now she proves her skills of trickery and deception can also be used for good.

Only Good

Farb labels her books YA, but adults will love Vasilisa as much as any other fantasy book. Public unrest, self-discovery, war, romance, and the choice to be good or evil pack these pages. Teachers and parents, this book is perfect to read together. The questions in the back only make it better. Whether you need a book for yourself or your child, you can count on a perfectly clean read with adventure at every turn!

Official Blurb

Vasilisa has always been strong. She’s strong enough to break the arm of the bully that daily taunts her. She won’t because she and her mother are servants at the Orlov manor, and her mother would be punished for her retaliation. Instead, Vasilisa bides her time until she is sixteen and can return to the forest.

Only Staver, the master’s son, shows her kindness. His friendship pulls as strong as the forest, but their classes are divided forever by law. She is a forest born, fatherless servant and her future at the manor holds mockery filled drudgery.

War threatens. The forest calls. Will she stay to protect the one who can never be more than a friend, or flee to the peace that the forest offers?

More Info

Purchase your copy of Vasilisa on Amazon; preorder for $2.99 through May 17, 2020

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The Other Family: A Book Review

Ally Anderson’s daughter needs her help, especially after a peanut scare at school. But is Ally ready for all that comes her way when the doctor requests genetic testing?

The Other Family by Loretta Nyhan is book number six for this author! Nyhan’s books range from middle-age coming-of-age stories to paranormal-witchy stories. Like me, she admits to not living well without chocolate. And really, can you blame her? She also loves green tea and her Brady-Bunch family that she’s raising in the Chicago area.

My Thoughts on The Other Family

I chose to read Nyhan’s most recent novel after realizing it deals with similar topics as I NOT David. A skeptical spouse and a child with a medical condition in the same genre as my book? Yes, please! I wanted to see how her characters handled situations and familiarize myself with her writing style.

What’s the basics of the story?

The Other Family deals with main character Ally Anderson and her life as she tries to deal with her daughter’s autoimmune problems and allergies. But that’s not all she has on her plate. Her soon-to-be-ex throws a few kinks in her direction. Moreover, her daughter’s latest doctor thinks genetic testing would help narrow down the possible diagnoses. However, Ally is adopted, and her mom has never spoken of her birth family. And, of course, Ally meets some relatives and then can’t figure out how to tell her mom.

The Good

This book, written in first person, has several quirky events and characters to add just the right amount of humor. Its current Amazon rankings, which are above the top 15 books in both women’s humorous fiction and humorous literary fiction, easily prove that point.

For me, the main character’s newly found family, best described as lovingly eccentric, balances Ally’s serious mother well. But, occasionally, they seem a little over the top. Still, they know how to love life even when hardship strikes. They also understand what’s most important in life. Those things say a lot, and I’d probably invite them into my home for a short period of time.

The Not Bad

Ally, on the other hand, is one high-strung character who doesn’t give up. Many mothers of children with health conditions find themselves in similar positions. Ally takes on the world from every direction. She sets some important things on the back burner because the rest of life exhausts her. And she finds herself in a few pickles because of it. In many ways, she’s realistic.

She drives me crazy–batty.

We generally love books with characters we can relate to. Those who make us cry, laugh, and smile. Ally made me want to scream. She’s the mother who does everything for her child by running around like a chicken with its head cut off. It’s her weakness. Nyhan did a great job building her weakness. Ally knows what she wants. She’s determined to get there. But she takes some asinine steps along the way.

None of that makes her a bad character. She’s just not a character for me. I didn’t relate to any of the characters like I wanted to. So you’ll understand why The Other Family isn’t my favorite book of all time. But it could still be yours.

Clean factors

The Other Family contains a spattering of moderate curse words as well as separated-but-still-married characters who contemplate dating others. The book is clean of sexual discussion but does have one slightly funny moment of accidental nudity. The scene is harmless, but I mention it for those who might feel differently. While a book I consider clean enough for older teenagers, its subject matter is for adults.

The Official Blurb

With a dissolving marriage, strained finances, and her life in flux, Ally Anderson longs for normal. Her greatest concerns, though, are the health problems of her young daughter, Kylie. Symptoms point to a compromised immune system, but every doctor they’ve seen has a different theory. Then comes hope for some clarity.

It’s possible that Kylie’s illness is genetic, but Ally is adopted. A DNA test opens up an entirely new path. And where it leads is a surprise: to an aunt Ally never knew existed. She’s a little wild, very welcoming, and ready to share more of the family history than Ally ever imagined.

Coping with a skeptical soon-to-be-ex husband, weathering the cautions of her own resistant mother, and getting maddeningly close to the healing Kylie needs, Ally is determined to regain control of her life. This is her chance to embrace uncertainty and the beauty of family—both the one she was born into and the one she chose.

Other Info

Purchase your copy of The Other Family on Amazon.

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Book Review: The Redpoint Crux

When Red finds herself no longer able to qualify for rock-climbing competitions, she returns home, defeated, to the ballet.

Morgan Shamy’s personal knowledge of ballet and piano along with her husband’s gold-medal expertise in rock climbing makes her uniquely qualified to write the Redpoint Crux, where the three skills are woven together in a retelling of the novel Phantom of the Opera and the ballet Giselle.

My Thoughts on The Redpoint Crux

After reading the description of this particular book, I wondered if it could be a retelling of the Phantom of the Opera. A few phrases stood out, making me think it might be. These included: “A series of murders” and “a tortured young man who lives beneath the depth of the theater.”

The first chapter of the Redpoint Crux takes place in the mountains where the main character, Red, finds herself in quite a predicament… dying after falling from a cliff. An older sensation, similar to being whisked back in time, opens the next scene as readers are introduced to the theater and its new owner, Liam.

Most of the story takes place in the theater, which is located in Halifax, Canada.

Being a person who enjoyed the Phantom of the Opera novel by Gaston Leroux, my mind started making connections. I found Christine, Raoul, Meg, Carlotta, Madame Giry, a few other characters, and obviously, the phantom within this new novel. Throughout the story, other similarities came into view, a mirror with a hidden passage leading into a private room, a chandelier scene, a music box, a torture room of sorts, a violin at a funeral… a noose.

Of course, the story line caught my attention, too. But as I continued reading, the Redpoint Crux diverted from the Phantom of the Opera. Some characters changed. becoming different than they first appeared. Other mysteries popped up–mysteries I now recognize as similar to the story told throughout the ballet Giselle. Ghost-like ballerinas, a mentally-tortured character, a hero, and a love story that I hope isn’t over.

The difference between the chapters that take place at the theater and the chapters that take place away from it is fairly stark. Candles and behaviors similar to those found in the late 19th to early 20th-centuries with tutus and pressed suits (except for the main character, who misses rock climbing and wears casual clothes) fill the pages surrounding the theater. Modern technology and speech patterns cover the pages of the scenes away from the theater. These differences work well together throughout the story, and combine toward the end when Red must make a choice.

As I discovered similarities between the Redpoint Crux and the Phantom of the Opera, I worried they were too alike. I worried because the author’s description doesn’t mention a retelling. But in the end, I enjoyed The Redpoint Crux. Morgan Shamy writes well. She does a great job setting up a scene and making your heart race at the right moments. The ending of her novel surprised me some, and I hope there is a sequel planned. I still have questions that a character promised to reveal answers to. And they haven’t been answered yet. So, don’t take too long, Morgan; I’ll be waiting.

I do suggest the author mention her story is a retelling in the description. That way people familiar with the other stories (especially the well-known Phantom of the Opera) know to expect that. However, the fact that it is a retelling shouldn’t stop anyone from reading the Redpoint Crux. The differences are enough to make it time-worthy.

The Official Blurb

When Megan Van Helsburg gets kicked off the U.S.A. Climbing Team, she has no choice but to return home and leave her climbing career behind. With no coach, no money, and no prospects, she joins the corps de ballet determined to improve her strength and agility. But the ballet theater is in dire straits. Not only do a series of murders break loose, but the ballerinas are becoming deathly thin and brain-dead. As Megan investigates, she meets Bellamy, a tortured young man who lives beneath the depths of the theater. Megan falls hard and fast for Bellamy, who becomes her mentor, but something is off about him.

It isn’t until the company announces they’re doing Giselle for the fall performance that Megan realizes the parallels between the ghost story and the lives around her. Megan must find a way to not only save her climbing career, but balance her feelings for Bellamy, and stop the murders and dying girls before she, too, is numbered among the dead.

More info

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Book Review: Time Twist

Arianna agrees to decorate the Victorian mansion, hoping for a break from reality. Instead, she discovers a different kind of reality.

Jeanie R. Davis, author of Time Twist, calls herself an Arizona transplant. As mother of four daughters and a grandmother with extensive travel experience, Davis somehow manages to write wonderful books for us to enjoy. Her experiences certainly add flavor to her writing talents.

My Thoughts on Time Twist

Until Time Twist, I hadn’t read a time-travel novel in years. But I have watched a couple of time-travel Hallmark movies. I enjoyed the differences in Davis’ story. People don’t wake up in some weird century with no way to get home or with no understanding of how they got to the 21st-century. From the start, Christopher knows how he came to exist in the world of motorized vehicles and cell phones, and by the time he meet Arianna, he’s figured out modern society. Arianna doesn’t spend time introducing him to carbonated soda or the microwave. In fact, she has no idea Chris is from the future.

So, instead of the bumbling, but adorable Englishman who can’t figure out the 21st-century, readers find intrigue, adventure, and a love story worth reading. Arianna, an interior decorator, deals with a mad-man of a client, and Christopher supports her in the background as he works to solve his own mystery.

The first chapter of Time Twist immediately grabbed my attention. However, the second chapter almost felt foreign as I found myself in the beginning scenes of a Hallmark-style novel. Then, that specific trope fell away in an appropriate and pleasing manner as the stories of the first and second chapters wove together.

As I read and learned the backgrounds of the characters–the disappointments in their lives and the pains and agonies they’d experienced–I came to expect the story to go a particular way. It didn’t. It’s travel down the story-telling path worked well, but still left me with a minor question I hope to have answered as I read the rest of the series. In no way, though, was the book a disappointment. I enjoyed every minute I spent reading it.

I recommend Time Twist for readers 14-years-old and above, though it is adult fiction. Readers will find some discussion of sex before marriage and how it relates to Arianna’s ‘old-fashion morals’ as well as some violence. There are also a couple of kissing scenes.

Official Blurb

Arianna Miller tosses her luggage and her hopes into her Subaru and sets out to prove her talent—by decorating a Victorian mansion thirty miles from nowhere. She needs a fresh start and a break from painful memories. However, she is soon haunted by reminders of her past and endangered by foreboding mysteries.

Christopher Flemming is determined to stop his father’s crime spree, which began in nineteenth century London and now threatens present day Colorado. He must find and destroy the time-traveling machine that brought them forward in time. More importantly, he needs to save Arianna.
Because of Christopher’s blurred focus, Arianna finds her attraction to him untenable. She wants to help him, but he refuses to reveal his connection to the mansion.

Everything changes when Arianna stumbles onto the time machine before Christopher does. Will her future end up in the past?

More Info

Purchase your copy of Time Twist from Amazon. You can also pre-order your copy of Time Trap: The Somerset Series Book Two, which is available March 16, 2020.

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Book Review: The King’s Shadow

With civil war on the horizon and his brother dying, King Halavant must decide who to save first, his country or his family.

M.L. Farb, author of The King’s Trial, a Whitney Award nominee, has released The King’s Shadow (The King’s Trial Book Two). Don’t be surprised when you love it as much as I do.

My Thoughts on The King’s Shadow

As I’ve mentioned before, Amazon is riddled with poorly written fantasy. So much so, I am extremely careful when determining what fantasy books to accept for reviews. It would, then, make sense that becoming an award nominee in the fantasy category would not be a simple task. Yet, as I suspected, M.L. Farb managed the task. Don’t be surprised when The King’s Shadow shows up in the next Whitney Awards round. Just as wonderful as the first in the series, this book captures hearts.

The King’s Shadow continues the story of brothers Yoseph and Halavant. After traversing the King’s Trial and helping to save their people from Halavant’s evil mother, Yoseph remains with his brother. Together they work on a plan to equalize their people. But Yoseph is dying. In a last ditch effort to save him, Halavant travels to the land of the Carani in search of a cure for what ails his brother.

With old and new characters joining the story, readers follow the journeys of Yoseph, Katrin, Halavant, and Elise. Each battle their own demons as they strive to protect one another and their country. Fighting for all but themselves, they also learn to trust those around them and Yoseph’s god.

Filled with plenty more action, romance, and a story line that instills faith in God within its readers, The King’s Shadow has me hooked just as much as its predecessor. Expect mild war scenes, some PG-level violence, and mild kissing.

Official Blurb:

Two princes lead a war-broken people. One rules while the other serves in the shadows, haunted by encroaching death.

Halavant overthrew his queen mother to save his people from slavery, and now she seeks his life. Yosyph acts as the new king’s eyes and ears, but being invisible comes at great cost and his life is slipping away.

To save his closest friend, Halavant travels to the land of the skin-carving Carani, leaving Yosyph to rule a troubled people despite his ill health and the nobles on the verge of rebellion.

Unless Halavant can survive in the land of his enemies to find a cure and Yosyph can unite the frightened and starving people against a second war, both will die and their budding democracy will crumble under a new tyrant.

More Info

Purchase your copy of The King’s Shadow (The King’s Trial Book Two) on Amazon.

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Book Review: Frozen Secrets

When thirteen-year-old Max finally gets his chance to live on Jupiter’s moon, mysteries unfold in unexpected ways.

Myles Christensen has his hands in a lot of technology, an area some might consider an odd recipe for the makings of an author. As a design engineer and freelance product developer who teaches CAD at the university, he likely gets pieced in with those who live their lives surrounded by nothing but logic. However, each of these skills require creativity and finesse. Add game inventor to Christensen’s list of accomplishments, and author isn’t such a far stretch.

Christensen’s first novel Frozen Secrets is a middle grade, science fiction story that takes readers on an adventure to space and throws in an action-packed mystery in a way I didn’t expect.

My thoughts about Frozen Secrets

In Frozen Secrets, main character Max and his group of friends get tangled up in a mystery while on their way to Jupiter’s moon Europa. Before he knows what’s happening, someone tries to kill him… or a friend… or the pilot of the shuttle they are touring. Max thinks it’s because of something he saw, and he’s determined to learn the truth. What thirteen-year-old boy wouldn’t want to solve that mystery?

Though I’ve read some middle grade novels in the past, most of what I have read has bordered on the YA side of things. So, when I first started Frozen Secrets I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Too young my mind shouted at me. I had expected the book to fit within a higher reading level. Once I acclimated to the necessary he felt sentences, my interest in the story rose a surprising amount.

While reading, my eyes widened at times. My heart even raced. Such reactions were unexpected, considering my need to adjust to the reading level. But, instead of focusing on my other reading projects, I found myself intrigued with what would come next in Frozen Secrets.

Christensen’s writing and the editing done on this book is impeccable. Usually, I find at least a few typos in review books. None–that’s how many I remember in Frozen Secrets. And while those things matter, especially when I’m reading as a reviewer, the true test is whether or not the story pulls me in. While Frozen Secrets took a bit of time for me, an adult, to fall into, I believe young readers will have no problem immediately entering the adventure Christensen has laid.

Squeaky clean. Parents will find no swearing. There is a mild murder mystery and some middle grade ‘crush’ romance. Christensen lists the reading level at 8-18, which I agree with, especially on the lower end. Narrowing it significantly, I believe most 8 to 10-year-olds will find it a fantastic read. Who can go wrong with a space adventure?

Official blurb

Thirteen-year-old Max Parker is a grounded Earthling with the soul of a space explorer. So when he learns his family is relocating to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, he readily agrees to stay out of mischief. But his promise is soon forgotten, and his snooping lands him on a shuttle doomed for a fiery disintegration.

Convinced someone sabotaged the craft to cover up the theft he witnessed, he digs into the incident. Why was this robbery worth attempted murder? Dodging a series of deadly accidents, he follows the clues to an abandoned outpost and discovers a secret that could blow the lid off a moon-wide conspiracy…

Can Max solve the mystery before his interplanetary escapade gets him killed?

Frozen Secrets kicks off the thrilling, teen science fiction series, Europa Academy. If you like fearless friends, high-orbit mysteries, and immersive worlds, then you’ll love Myles Christensen’s action-packed adventure.

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Book Review: Not In the Plans

Jackson and Emory learn a special lesson this Christmas. Sometimes it’s not the giving but the receiving that matters.

What’s Christmas without a new Christmas story filled with holiday giving and romance? Some may say nothing, but this year, I prefer how Jessica Marie Holt explores the other side of giving–that of receiving in Not in the Plans: A Christmas Novella.

My Thoughts on Not in the Plans

One of the beautiful attributes of Holt’s writing is her ability to tell more than a story. Each one of her books and short stories leaves you with a little bit to ponder. Which character are you like? Have you felt the sting of rebuke? The angst of loss? The pull from something unexpected?

Not in the Plans is more than a story about two lonely people coming together at the hands of a darling little boy. And he is darling. Inside its few pages comes a story about two people desiring to be loved for who they are, willing to give everything, but who are still learning to recognize love and receive it graciously.

How many times do we need help? I’m not talking about those days when we want help and a little cheering up. Though those days can certainly be applied with this concept. I’m talking about those times when we cannot function because our water heater blew up our house, and then the hotel provided to us afterward floods. I mean those times when our choices are losing nearly everything or accepting help.

Do you dig in your feet, like I do, and continue to on a path you deem the only acceptable way? When someone gives too much, do you thank them, or do you say ‘it’s too much’ and question the reason why they attempted such a grandiose gift?

But it’s more than that… Do we let a little bit of ourselves go in order to accept the differences of others? Isn’t that a part of receiving?

Not in the Plans still brings two beautiful and truly charming people together. And the pure love of a child leads the way, but when you read Not in the Plans this week, be sure to consider the act of receiving. It can be as important as the act of giving.

The official Blurb

Two neighbors, on a quiet street, in a cozy Southern town. Jackson is a once-jilted bachelor looking for a way to patch up his broken dreams. Emory is a struggling single mom determined to hold things together on her own.

When Emory’s little boy brings them together unexpectedly, they find a new source of hope in each other, just in time for Christmas.

But then Emory’s past threatens to derail her little family’s future, and her new relationship with Jackson. Will hope be enough to save them?

More Info:

Purchase your copy of Not in the Plans on Amazon

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Book Review: Reluctantly Yours

Besties June and Ellie made a pact twenty-five years ago, and now it’s time to see it through: help their grandchildren James and Sarah to fall in love.

Jessica Marie Holt has spread her delicate wings and written her very first rom com. Reluctantly Yours brings us two best friends, bickering grannies who long-ago made a pact to bring their grandchildren together. But first, they have to get the two stubborn adult grandchildren to like each other again. This hilarious story kept me happily entertained and is guaranteed to do the same for you.

My Thoughts About Reluctantly Yours

Growing up, I had one grandmother who kept a spot on the couch for her dog. We couldn’t sit there. She also kissed us on the lips with Dad in the background saying, ‘Mom, stop spreading your germs.’ And she piled National Geographics in the corner for decades. I loved her.

My other Grandmother lives further away and is now in need of help, but when I was younger she made the most amazing baked goods. She also tried to serve us a frozen turkey on Thanksgiving. And certain forms of dry humor soared right over her short, little head. I love her too.

Still, neither of my grandmothers can compare to the quirky, conniving, methods Ellie and June enact, all in the name of love and family. These two hilarious grannies definitely love their grandchildren, and they may, or may not, have their favorites. James and Sarah.

We’ve all been there: friends, sisters, parents, and fate try to set up the perfect, or not-so-perfect couple. My husband and I are the product of a successful set-up ploy. But have you ever considered, the bickering Bettys who’ve been besties for decades and have passed on their loveable, yet stubborn traits to their grandchildren that they want to see get together try? Spats, trips to the veterinarian, coffee, shared meals, more spats. And the kind of acting that usually only happens on stage. Filled with nothing but fun, Reluctantly Yours hits the mark, at least in this book.

Holt brings her wonderful writing skills to the table, showing her ability to cross genres without faltering. Best yet, Reluctantly Yours is the first in the Granny Pact Collection. I can’t wait to see what kind of a scheme these two loveable characters dream up next.

The Official Blurb

Ellie and June have been neighbors and best friends forever. Together, they’ve weathered it all—marriages, babies, strange wardrobe choices, terrible haircuts, small-town gossip—only to have their friendship come out stronger on the other side. 

But now, they’re up against a hurdle unlike any they’ve faced so far.

Unmarried grandchildren. 

Tragically—and inexplicably—James, Ellie’s absolute treasure of a grandson, is single. And so is Sarah, June’s unmatched delight of a granddaughter.

But these Grannies aren’t worried. They have an ace up their sleeve

The Granny Pact.

Yes, these doting grandmas have vowed to engineer the romantic happiness of their grandchildren—by any means necessary. 

Unfortunately, James and Sarah are not that easy to convince. And, unbeknownst to the grannies, their two grandkids share a past that will make their job much, much harder—and might even test the limits of their fifty-year friendship.

More Info

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I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for this review. All opinion are honest and my own.
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Book Review: My Christmas Darling

When Lucy Carpenter secretly suggests her Christmas novel to her boss for publication, all kinds of crazy ensues in My Christmas Darling by Vivian Mayfair.

Vivian Mayfair must have a love of holidays. Most of her humorous books revolve around fun-filled holidays. My Christmas Darling is no different. Be ready for a world of name, novel, and TV scene dropping that will make you pat your sleeping partner as you laugh. It happened to me.

My Thoughts about My Christmas Darling

When the Christmas bug bites you, do you curl up on the couch with your favorite snuggly blanket, maybe a mug of hot chocolate, and a Hallmark movie crafted after your favorite holiday romance novel? If you do, then this adorable book by Vivian Mayfair is your next read.

The descriptions and dialogue Mayfair created had me imagining some of my favorite Hallmark stars as I read. Sara Rue is my choice for main character Lucy Carpenter, who wants nothing more than to have her Christmas novel published and help her mom, who was blinded in an accident, along the way.

What better way to insert a comedic romance into a holiday than have the story revolve around the publishing of a Christmas novel? I couldn’t think of one. And this story takes has it all. Christmas decor, a grinch, a clueless elf who wants nothing more than to help, Ms. Claus spreading Christmassy goodness, and a misunderstood boy and girl that need to do nothing more than find each other to fix it all.

While I did enjoy My Christmas Darling, I do want to let my readers know there were a few word choices that made me wonder. When the main character thinks about the fragrance of her love interest, I was certain she’d say he stank, because the word ‘smell’ was used. I also wondered at the use of ‘confiscated’ when it was used to describe be seized in the hall for a kiss. None of it was significant to my enjoyment level, but it did pull me out of the moment a couple of times. I still recommend the book, especially at the $0.99 price point.

The official blurb

A SNOWDROP VALLEY BEGINNING…

Christmas has come to New York, but it doesn’t feel very festive for Lucy Carpenter. Single, disgruntled in love from past hurts, she disappears into the world of books as a manuscript reader for a mid-level publishing company on the East Side. Plagued with guilt for a mistake that took her mom’s eyesight, Lucy dreams of achieving financial success despite growing medical bills and unpaid rent. Her only hope of survival is to publish her little Christmas novel despite repeat rejections by big publishers. When her boss requests her publishing recommendations for the month, Lucy submits her manuscript under a false identity against strict company guidelines in what becomes the great holiday literary hoax of Manhattan where lies spin out of control and stockings are filled with coal instead of chocolates.

Known as the ice fish of Big Apple Books, William Harcourt longs for acceptance from a nitpicky father who rules the publishing industry with an iron fist. When a sweet Christmas manuscript about a father and daughter in a fictional book town crosses his desk, he believes it to be the ticket that will bring his company into the Top Five and finally gain him his father’s love. What he didn’t expect was to fall in love over email with an enchanting mystery author whose book thawed his wounded heart and opened his eyes to the true meaning of self-acceptance and self-love. My Christmas Darling is a heartwarming holiday romance to remind us why we love Christmas. This adorable love story draws you in fireside and proves how the spirit of the season goes beyond pretty wrapped packages under a tree. 

Cozy up with a crochet blanket and a cup of peppermint hot cocoa and absorb into a festive world where books reign and true-love wishes come true. Ideal reading for fans of sweet and clean contemporary romance authors such as Debbie Macomber, Sheila Roberts, Holly Martin, Tilly Tennant, and Debbie Mason.

More Info

My Christmas Darling releases September 15, 2019, and can be pre-ordered now for $0.99 on Amazon.

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I received this book in exchange for a this review. All opinions are my own.
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