A Wedding on the Beach by Holly Chamberlin

beach.png

Pages: 448

Publisher: Kensington

Published: June 25, 2019

Rating: 3 stars

NetGalley:

A summer wedding, a college reunion, a gorgeous Maine beach house—it’s the ideal setting for bestselling author Holly Chamberlin’s captivating novel about the connections that shape us, sometimes break our hearts, and forever change our lives . . .

Bess Culpepper has long been sure of two things—that her group of college friends would stay close, and that love is worth the wait. At forty-two, she’s found the right man, and she’s celebrating her upcoming wedding by inviting her best friends to beautiful Kennebunkport.

Bess has always been at the helm of these reunions, herding everyone together despite distance and outside commitments. As usual, Marta and Mike journey from their home near New York City, while Chuck and his husband, Dean, travel from Los Angeles. But Allison, half of a devoted couple since college, is making the trip from Chicago without her husband, Chris. None of the others knows the reason for their impending divorce. There are other tensions too. The usually level-headed Marta is conspicuously on edge, and Chuck reveals devastating personal news.

As reality encroaches on her dreams of the perfect gathering, Bess begins to second guess her assumptions about friendship and fidelity. If relationships like these, nurtured over decades, can flounder, how can any couple stay committed? Is it possible to truly know the ones we love—or even to predict where one’s own path will lead?

My Review:

I hate rating books below 4 stars but I could not rate this book any higher.

Major reasons why I was not thrilled with the book:

  1. It was never-ending. I felt like it went on and on and I was reading every single minute of their lives.
  2. For Bess, to be in her early 40’s she sure was whiney and self-centered. I understand it is all about the bride but this went overboard. She acted like everyone had to run their lives by her or it was poor pitiful left out me.

I normally like Holly Chamberlin’s books and plan on reading more. Give this a whirl if you love summer beach weddings, you may find it a favorite.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Kensington, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Where I End: A Story of Tragedy, Truth and Rebellious Hope by Katherine Elizabeth Clark

where

Pages: 226

Publisher: Moody Publishers

Published: January 2, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

Katherine Clark was just an average wife and mother with two young children when she was in a tragic playground accident in late May 2009. A little boy playing on the jungle gym jumped and landed on Kate’s head, knocking her over and snapping her neck. Kate was paralyzed from the neck down. The doctors diagnosed her with quadriplegia and said she would never walk again.

This terrifying prognosis could have been the end of the story. But instead, God chose to work a profound miracle in Kate’s life and in the life of her family.

Where I End tells the incredible story. Kate describes how God’s presence carried her through the trying journey of re-learning to walk, both physically and spiritually. Throughout, she shares the deep theological truths that sustained her as she and her family traveled this difficult road.

My Review:

An emotional read that leaves you gasping for air.

I admire Katherine’s faith not only in God but in her marriage and friends. How many of us could say that if we suffered a tragedy in our life even as half as devasting as Katherine did that our family and friends would be as steady and loving? Put the shoe on the other foot and think about how you would react if something happened to your spouse and life as you know it is changed forever?

I appreciate that Katherine did not solely focus on how the accident affected her she talked about her family and friends especially her young children. I think a lot of times the children get lost in the craziness after a tragedy and so many like to believe that “children are resilient and will be fine” when in fact they have no idea how to process their feelings and fears. Katherine does not shy sway in sharing how her son felt like he was “far from God.” How many times in our lives have we felt this way and do not admit that fear to those closet to us because of fear of rejection?

Where I End is a book to read if you are “far from God” and need hope and encouragement to find your way back or if you or a loved one is suffering from a life-altering illness or injury and need hope you will come out on the other side.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Moody Publishers. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

All He’ll Ever Need (A Little Child Shall Lead Them #1) by Loree Lough

all.png

Pages: 288

Publisher: Kensington

Published: August 27, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Among the New-new Order Amish of Oakland, Maryland, children bring precious hope, joy—and sometimes an unexpected second chance at love . . .

For Amish widower Phillip Baker, providing for his family in the wake of his wife’s death means backbreaking work and renewed dedication to his faith. Still, his strength can’t help him relate to his little son’s struggles. It seems a godsend when new doctor Emily White is able to treat Gabe’s shyness and fear even as she helps heal him. But no matter how strongly Phillip is drawn to the caring Englisher from the city, their differences may be too great to overcome . . .

Reeling from her own tragic loss, Emily keeps loneliness at bay through her clinic work. Somehow, though, Gabe and his gentle, sad-eyed father are making her want to risk opening her heart again. But can she find acceptance in their Plain world—and a way to turn their separate lives into a family forever? . . .

My Review: Amish romance is one of my favorite genres. I like it because I’m guaranteed a clean romance with unnecessary sex scenes and crude language.

Loree Lough has delivered that in the first in a new series. Emily and Phillip’s story is one of heartache, loss, and hope. A story that makes you cry and smile.

My only issue with it was I felt the romance was rushed into way too soon. I wish it had taken more time to develop. Does it hurt the story? No. Does it make me like the story any less? No.

I love the premise behind this series of “a little child shall lead them.” I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Kensington, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Roll with It by Jamie Sumner

roll

Pages: 256

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Published: October 1, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: In the tradition of Wonder and Out of My Mind, this big-hearted middle-grade debut tells the story of an irrepressible girl with cerebral palsy whose life takes an unexpected turn when she moves to a new town.

Ellie’s a girl who tells it like it is. That surprises some people, who see a kid in a wheelchair and think she’s going to be all sunshine and cuddles. The thing is, Ellie has big dreams: She might be eating Stouffer’s for dinner, but one day she’s going to be a professional baker. If she’s not writing fan letters to her favorite celebrity chefs, she’s practicing recipes on her well-meaning, if overworked, mother.

But when Ellie and her mom move so they can help take care of her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start all over again in a new town at a new school. Except she’s not just the new kid—she’s the new kid in the wheelchair who lives in the trailer park on the wrong side of town. It all feels like one challenge too many until Ellie starts to make her first-ever friends. Now she just has to convince her mom that this town might just be the best thing that ever happened to them!

My Review: A beautiful read. If you like Wonder than you will love Roll with It.

Ellie is an inspiration that will stick with you. I couldn’t put this book down and I was hooked from page one. Yes, at times Ellie could be a tad whiny and smart-mouthed but what pre-teen isn’t and sometimes she had a right to be whiny. It made her character seem believable.

I definitely will be buying a copy or five for some local elementary schools in my area. I want to share Ellie’s story with as many as I can.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Killer in the Carriage House(Victorian Village Mysteries #2) by Sheila Connolly

killer 2.png

Pages: 288

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: July 9, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Welcome back to Asheboro, Maryland, where real estate can be a matter of life and death. Killer in the Carriage House is the second book in the Victorian Village Mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly.

Coming back to her hometown was never on the agenda for hotelier Katherine Hamilton. But when she’s offered a chance to lead the charge of transforming the landscape into a Victorian village and tourist attraction, Kate can’t quite refuse. The only problem? Nobody in Asheboro has the passion, nor the funds, to get plans off the ground…until Kate teams up with handsome historian Joshua Wainwright, who has ambitious ideas of his own involving an old mansion and a treasure-trove of documents that could attract investors and help seal the deal.

Then, just as Kate and Josh seem ready to pull the trigger, a dead body turns up in the town library. Do these mysterious papers spell danger instead of dollars? That’s what Kate intends to find out before all bets are off…and someone else ends up six feet under.

My Review:

I love the idea of turning a town into what it looked like in the past. Honestly, though, I wasn’t sure how this series was going to progress after the first book and still stay interesting. I was pleasantly surprised. The premise of Thomas Edison selling his electricity patents and Henry Barton buying them was a joy to read. I’m ashamed to say I have not taken the time to look this up and see if there is a smudge of truth to this or if creative artistic license was used. Either way, it made for interesting reading.

I am eagerly anticipating the third book in this series to see where we go next in the development in the town.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo

beverly kate.png

Pages: 256

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Revisiting once again the world of Raymie Nightingale, two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo turns her focus to the tough-talking, inescapably tenderhearted Beverly.

Beverly put her foot down on the gas. They went faster still.
This was what Beverly wanted — what she always wanted. To get away. To get away as fast as she could. To stay away.

Beverly Tapinski has run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid. By now, she figures, it’s not running away. It’s leaving. Determined to make it on her own, Beverly finds a job and a place to live and tries to forget about her dog, Buddy, now buried underneath the orange trees back home; her friend Raymie, whom she left without a word; and her mom, Rhonda, who has never cared about anyone but herself. Beverly doesn’t want to depend on anyone, and she definitely doesn’t want anyone to depend on her. But despite her best efforts, she can’t help forming connections with the people around her — and gradually, she learns to see herself through their eyes. In a touching, funny, and fearless conclusion to her sequence of novels about the beloved Three Rancheros, #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo tells the story of a character who will break your heart and put it back together again.

My Review:

I had never read Kate DiCamillo until a year and a half ago when several of my students had to read Because of Winn-Dixie for their third-grade class. I have been hooked since.

I’m a huge fan of coming of age literature. DiCamillo does an outstanding job in showing us how sometimes we have to choose our family whether that includes a favorite pet or an elderly woman who is fighting to live on her own. It is ok for family to be those friends you pick up on the way during your life’s journey. Love comes in many different forms and sometimes when we least expect it.

Beverly, Right Here is another perfect read-aloud book to promote discussion with the middle-graders in your life. I enjoy how DiCamillo left the story open-ended as we have the hope to visit the Three Rancheros again.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Candlewick Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble

strands.png

Pages: 337

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Strands of Harper Taylor’s childhood are resurfacing—but will the truth save her . . . or pull her under?

Harper Taylor is used to being alone—after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own.
So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name?

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.

My Review:

Wow, Coble has made me think twice about doing a DNA test to see my ancestry. I never thought about it being used maliciously. I’m a little scared now.

The mystery is a page-turner and interesting. I appreciate how Coble keeps the romance and the language clean.

There are many characters and some may find that a tad confusing but if you think about it when half-siblings come into play families get large very quickly. I would have loved to know more about Annabelle and Harper’s newfound sisterhood. Maybe someday we will see them in a future book as side characters.

If you are looking for a good mystery with family at the core Strands of Truth is a perfect read.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

The Humiliations of Pipi McGee by Beth Vrabel

pipi.png

Pages: 384

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Published: September 17, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

The first eight years of Penelope McGee’s education have been a curriculum in humiliation. Now she is on a quest for redemption and a little bit of revenge.

From her kindergarten self-portrait as a bacon with boobs to fourth grade when she peed her pants in the library thanks to a stuck zipper to seventh grade where…well, she doesn’t talk about seventh grade. Ever.

After hearing the guidance counselor lecturing them on how high school will be a clean slate for everyone, Pipi–fearing that her eight humiliations will follow her into the halls of Northbrook High School–decides to use her last year in middle school to right the wrongs of her early education and save other innocents from the same picked-on, laughed-at fate. Pipi McGee is seeking redemption, but she’ll take revenge, too.

My Review:

A perfect read for middle schoolers or about to be middle schoolers.

I hated middle school. I felt awkward with who I was and who I wanted to be. Luckily though I did not have the experiences Pipi did kindergarten through 7th grade. I felt embarrassed for her as I was reading.

Lesson one learned: Revenge is never as satisfying as you think it will be. If only adults would learn this as well. Kids need to learn this lesson early on and a lot of unnecessary heartache and drama would be avoided. The author handles this so perfectly with Pipi and Vile Kate.

Lesson two learned: Everyone is fighting something inside themselves you don’t know about. Being kind to even the nastiest person will make you feel better in the long run. My favorite line in the entire book: “hurt people hurt people.” Oh, how true is this statement. Once we understand that it is much easier to overlook the nasty in others.

Parents, aunts, grandmothers buy this book for the tween in your life. Read together and let it open up a world of discussions between you. I think you’ll be happy you did.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Perseus Books, Running Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson

winter .png

Pages: 162

Publisher: Revell

Published: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Krista Galloway is not a fan of Christmas. After her rough childhood in multiple foster homes, the holiday season just brings too many bad memories to the surface. But when she accepts a job as a city manager in the mountain town of Winter Hill, Washington, Christmas is part of the deal. The small town is famous for its Christmasville celebration, something that the city manager . . . well, manages.

As she tries to make her tiny new apartment feel like home for her and her eight-year-old daughter, Emily, Krista begins to wonder if this move was a mistake. She doesn’t always feel welcomed in the close-knit town, and Emily continually wonders, “Where’s the snow?” Can a friendly stranger and his family help restore Krista’s Christmas spirit before the big day?

My Review:

A sweet quick Christmas read filled with hope, warmth, and love. The perfect book to sit by a warm fire with a cup of peppermint cocoa and lose yourself in the joys of Winter Hill.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Revell, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

The Sisters of Summit Avenue by Lynn Cullen

sisters.png

Pages: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The sisters of summit ave

NetGalley:

From Lynn Cullen, the bestselling author of Mrs. Poe and Twain’s End, comes a powerful novel set in the Midwest during the Great Depression, about two sisters bound together by love, duty, and pain.

Ruth has been single-handedly raising four young daughters and running her family’s Indiana farm for eight long years, ever since her husband, John, fell into a comatose state, infected by the infamous “sleeping sickness” devastating families across the country. If only she could trade places with her older sister, June, who is the envy of everyone she meets: blonde and beautiful, married to a wealthy doctor, living in a mansion in St. Paul. And June has a coveted job, too, as one of “the Bettys,” the perky recipe developers who populate General Mills’ famous Betty Crocker test kitchens. But these gilded trappings hide sorrows: she has borne no children. And the man she used to love more than anything belongs to Ruth.

When the two sisters reluctantly reunite after a long estrangement, June’s bitterness about her sister’s betrayal sets into motion a confrontation that’s been years in the making. And their mother, Dorothy, who’s brought the two of them together, has her own dark secrets, which might blow up the fragile peace she hopes to restore between her daughters.

An emotional journey of redemption, inner strength, and the ties that bind families together, for better or worse, The Sisters of Summit Avenue is a heartfelt love letter to mothers, daughters, and sisters everywhere.

My Review:

I enjoyed this book enough to give it four stars but I was not thrilled with the style of writing. The story jumps from past to present and between the sisters and Dorothy. Normally that does not bother me but in this book, I thought it took the punch of the story away. I would get really invested in the current storyline and then, bam, it would switch.

I knew going in, this was a work of fiction but I really thought I’d get to the end and be told it was loosely based on a true story. Alas, that did not occur. I have found myself reading what I can on the creation of Betty Crocker.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Gallery, Pocket Books, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.