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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I received a copy of Not in the Plans for free in exchange for this review. All opinions are honest and my own.
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Book Review: Accidentally Yours

When grannies June and Ellie open their clandestine match-making business, nothing can prepare them for their first client.

While some people think grannies have turned in all their flavor in lieu of dust and mustiness, it’s hard to argue with Granny June’s sweet pie and salty attitude in the Granny Pact Books. And Jessica Marie Holt knew it when she wrote Accidentally Yours, the second book of the collection. Musty or not, June and Ellie still manage to poke their heads around and find plenty of trouble you’re sure to get caught up in too.

My Thoughts on Accidentally Yours

There’s nothing more fun than watching grannies get involved in their family and friends’ relationships. If you’ve ready Reluctantly Yours, then you know June and Ellie have a knack when it comes to matchmaking. So there shouldn’t be much question as to whether or not their new business, the Match Mavens, can take off. You also know they’ll do just about anything to make sure the right match is made.

This time Maddie is the subject of their affection-making collusion. But Maddie’s mom, who hires them, has clear desires for her daughter: stability and success–anything but some creative working a low-paying, dead-end job. As you can guess, mavens set the fireworks off, and not all of them are romantic.

Accidentally Yours grabs everyone’s attention, keeping characters and readers on their toes. Holt adds one or two more grannies to the mix. Each one with their own flavor of craftiness, and I don’t mean hot glue and Popsicle sticks.

The book is filled with humor, cats, fun, and love–best of all the grannies. No one can go wrong with this sweet romance.

The official blurb

“Love, By Any Means Necessary. “

That’s the new motto of old friends Ellie and June.

Fresh off the success of their first matchmaking endeavor, these two feisty grannies are ready to take their skills to the next level. They’ll do whatever it takes to help Maddie–their next target–find true love, including hijinks, shenanigans, and good old-fashioned subterfuge. Unfortunately, Maddie’s meddling mom makes their task more problematic than they imagined, and they soon find themselves in over their heads. Can they engineer the right outcome? Or, will their schemes all come to nothing this time around?

More info

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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

Purchase your copy of Reluctantly Yours on Amazon.

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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: Sunlight and Shadows

Just as Betty’s life comes into focus and all she wants is almost within reach, tragic circumstances rip it all away in Sunlight and Shadows by Jessica Marie Holt.

Jessica Marie Holt, one of my favorite short-story authors, has released her first novel Sunlight and Shadows. Set in 1870 in North Carolina, this wonderful story whisks you away to where power tools don’t exist and the characters still remind you that some tribulations echo throughout time.

My Thoughts on Sunlight and Shadows

While technology advances and knowledge increases, some aspects of society never change. Secrets, jealousy, responsibility, and insurmountable pain lives within the pages of history similar to the way they exist in most of our digital journals.

Sunlight and Shadows allows us the benefit of another time period with horses and hand-built furniture as it deals with some of the same hardships we have today. The author provides us with another benefit by creating relatable characters with certain talents and undeniable faults.

I started this book and then struggled to put it down. It delves into the life of fictional character Elizabeth (Betty) Everleigh as everything she knows nearly tumbles into a pile of unrecognizable fodder. But as time continues and her life’s story becomes clearer, she finds it easier to relate to those that hurt her most.

Sunlight and Shadows includes some sweet romance and deals most with parent-child and sibling relationships. You’ll also find wholesome themes such as faith and forgiveness as Betty finds her way through life’s trials.

Well-written and edited, this book is a dream for lovers of period fiction as well as general fiction. As a historical fiction piece, this book includes that which is necessary for the story; however, the story is not based on historical events. Don’t let it stop you from reading it, though. It is phenomenal from start to finish.

The official blurb

At seventeen, the only thing Betty Everleigh wants for her future is what she’s always had–a cozy home, a loving family, and a quiet life just outside of town.

Just when her dream is in reach, a sudden tragic event shatters her simple existence. As she picks up the pieces, she learns that her idyllic life was just a façade, and the truth beyond it is more complex and heartbreaking than she ever imagined.

To pull herself and her family together, she must find grace enough to forgive, faith enough to let go, and courage enough to move forward.

More Info

Purchase your copy of Sunlight and Shadows on Amazon.

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Stort Story Review: Elsie

Short story review: Everything in Elsie’s life is changing, yet once again, she finds herself listening to her sons and giving up one of her most precious possessions.

Everything in Elsie's life is changing, yet once again, she finds herself listening to her sons and giving up one of her most precious possessions.

Author of the Homecoming Short Story Series, Jessica Marie Holt, shares the wonderful women's fiction story of Elsie in her first fully-published series of three short stories.  The warmth of the South will fill your heart right from page one as you experience grief and joy alongside the main character.

My Thoughts about Elsie:

Holt introduced me to Elsie through beautiful writing that immediately dropped me into Elsie's emotional mindset. As memories of the porcelain teacup in her hand came forward, I experienced the love of a mother, a grandmother, and a husband. Life through Elsie's eyes continued as I viewed what she saw in explicit detail that didn't detract from the story. When she made a friend, I hoped for her and laughed with her. When her heart broke, mine did too.

Many of today's stories dwell within easy, emotional boxes. We feel sadness or anger for a short time only to move on to blissful love. In this short story, which takes less than forty minutes to read, I experienced a range of emotions usually left for much longer stories. And I enjoyed every second of it!

The style of this story, the way the author adds just the right amount of detail and just the right amount of characterization, held my attention captive. There is no doubt in my mind that if you decide to read Elsie, you will love it as much as I do!

The Official Blurb:

After the sudden death of her husband, Elsie is finally learning to enjoy life again. When her well-meaning, but overbearing sons convince her to turn her world upside-down, will she cling defiantly to the past, or find a way to move forward? A short story about grief, second chances, and finding hope in unlikely places.

More Info...

Purchase Elsie, by Jessica Marie Holt on Amazon for $o.99.
Follow Jessica Marie Holt on Facebook   &  Goodreads

Read more reviews and flash fiction at kameomonson.com, where you can download your free version of Sometimes a Bird has to Fly.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

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