Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: The In-Between Hour

About the Book:
Bestselling author Will Shepard is caught in the twilight of grief, after his young son dies in a car accident. But when his father's aging mind erases the memory, Will rewrites the truth. The story he spins brings unexpected relief…until he's forced to return to rural North Carolina, trapping himself in a lie.

Holistic veterinarian Hannah Linden is a healer who opens her heart to strays but can only watch, powerless, as her grown son struggles with inner demons. When she rents her guest cottage to Will and his dad, she finds solace in trying to mend their broken world, even while her own shatters.

As their lives connect and collide, Will and Hannah become each other's only hope—if they can find their way into a new story, one that begins with love.

My Comments:
I downloaded this one to my Kindle quite some time ago, and never got around to reading it.  Judging by the description, it was just another romance, and somehow it never made its way to the top of the stack.  Then Kathleen Basi invited me to the Women's Fiction Cafe Week with Barbara Claypole White.  If figured it might be interesting and I started the book--and then life got in the way.  Still, I loved it.  I loved the story, I loved the characters and I loved the writing.  

A big issue in this book is mental illness.  Will's mother was mentally ill (my guess is bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia) and because of that, his childhood was anything but ideal.  Still, he knew his parents loved each other.  Hannah's son suffers from depression, and depression is the reason her father committed suicide. Will's father is losing his memory.  Barbara Claypole White manages to show the real effects mental illness has on other family members.

There are bedroom scenes in the book, though they aren't terribly graphic.  I don't generally recommend books with bedroom scenes to people who don't like them, but in this case, I will.  The bedroom scenes are easy enough to skim through and the rest of the book is good enough, different enough to make it worthwhile.  

Barbara Claypole White's descriptive writing was absolutely beautiful.  It slowed me down and made me savor the words and the pictures they painted.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley and I'd like to thank Kathleen Basi for moving this book from the bottom of my stack to the top.  Grade:  A.  

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sunday Snippets--Final Edition

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other. To participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and link to your posts for  the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. I'm mostly a book blogger so my posts are generally book reviews, some Catholic, some not. Make sure that post links back here. Once you publish it, come back here and leave a link below.

Well folks, there gets to be a time when you have to decide something has run its course.  I think Sunday Snippets has run its course.  I started Sunday Snippets when the old Catholic Carnival folded because the organizer didn't want to do it anymore.  There was no other major gathering of Catholic bloggers and I hoped to make this such a place.  Via this link-up, I've met some terrific bloggers and learned a lot about the Catholic blog world.  However, our numbers are getting fewer each week and frankly, I don't have the desire I once did to contact new bloggers and invite them to join.  There is a new(ish) (if they are new than us, they are new, right) group called Catholic Bloggers Network which is doing what I set out to do years ago.  They give Catholic bloggers a place to network with each other, and since they are a large group, I'd say they are more successful than this link-up has been.  Click here to join them.    I hope to see you all there and I appreciate you all linking up here all these years.  I'm sure my stats will go down by shutting this down, but honestly, I'm ready to move on.  

I published two book reviews this week.  One is a double-threaded story, and a clean romance.  The other is a general market romance. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bliss and the Art of Forever: My Review

About the Book:
Now that she’s committed to leaving Hope Springs, she’s falling for the wrong man…but he just might give her all the right reasons to stay.

Two years after her husband’s death, kindergarten teacher Brooklyn Harvey is leaving Hope Springs for her in-laws’ vineyard in Italy—with no plans of coming back. That is, until she meets a disarmingly sexy biker-turned-chocolatier. He might be the man of her dreams, but he’s also the father of one of her students; as such, he’s strictly off-limits.

Callum Drake knows a good thing when he sees one, and he doesn’t want to let Brooklyn get away, even if his rival for her affection is the ghost of her dead husband. He’ll do whatever it takes to win her over, including making chocolates concocted just for her—chocolates that evoke memories of their time together. But can he create a second love bright enough to pull her, and her heart, out of living in the past?

My Comments:
Since I loved the other books in his series, I was eager to read this one.  While I enjoyed it, the other books were better (but the chocolates described herein seemed divine!).  Brooklyn is a kindergarten teacher, a lover of medieval romance novels and a good friend to people in this small town.  Because of the danger involved in his job, Brooklyn and her husband chose not to have children.  After he dies, she is alone.  She decides to join his family in Italy and is in the process of closing out her life in Hope Springs, and then she meets him--the bad boy biker who is the loving father of one of her students.  Sparks fly, chocolate is made, a  cute kid almost steals the show and in the end...

While it takes them a while to end up in bed, eventually they find their way there, and readers get to watch. 

I liked the fact that this book really showed the art of courtship.  He wanted her right away, and in a lot of ways, she wanted him too, but she wasn't ready, and he knew it. He was  there, he kept letting her know how much she meant, and in the end...

I'd like to thank the publisher for providing a complimentary review copy via NetGalley.  Grade:  B.

The Memory House: My Review

About the Book:
New York Times bestselling author Linda Goodnight welcomes you to Honey Ridge, Tennessee, and a house that's rich with secrets and brimming with sweet possibilities 

Memories of motherhood and marriage are fresh for Julia Presley—though tragedy took away both years ago. Finding comfort in the routine of running the Peach Orchard Inn, she lets the historic, mysterious place fill the voids of love and family. No more pleasure of a man's gentle kiss. No more joy in hearing a child call her Mommy. Life is calm, unchanging…until a stranger with a young boy and soul-deep secrets shows up in her Tennessee town and disrupts the loneliness of her world. 

Julia suspects there's more to Eli Donovan's past than his motherless son, Alex. There's a reason he's chasing redemption and bent on earning it with a new beginning in Honey Ridge. Offering the guarded man work renovating the inn, she glimpses someone who—like her—has a heart in need of restoration. But with the chance discovery of a dusty stack of love letters buried within the lining of an old trunk, the long-dead ghosts of a Civil War romance envelop Julia and Eli, connecting them to the inn's violent history and challenging them both to risk facing yesterday's darkness for a future bright with hope and healing.

My Comments:
On the one hand, this book has "series romance" written all over it, from the (Honey Ridge) after the title, to the setting in a bed and breakfast (what a stage for new characters to come and go) to the parts of the plot that did not wrap up neatly.  On the other hand, this story stands well by itself and frankly, the loose ends, the unanswered questions, make it much more realistic than those books where not only do he and she live happily ever after, all questions are also answered.

Julia's son disappeared one day, and as of the start of this book, there had been no trace of him found. Her marriage crumbled and she became depressed.  She and her sister purchased an old plantation home and have turned it into a bed and breakfast.  At this point it ranks higher on the charm scale than on the profitability scale.  Eli just got out of prison and has just been contacted by his son's great aunt.  It seems the mother of his son has died, and the aunt is too old to raise him.  She wants Eli to take on the job.  On the way there, Eli's car breaks down, he meets Julia, and things go from there.  Taken by itself, this part of the book would be a pretty standard good but not great romance full of hometown charm, an ex-husband who makes you roll your eyes and a bad guy boyfriend for the flakey younger sister.  However, this thread is not the whole story.  

The rest of the story is set during the Civil War, and it too is a romance.  By the end of the book there are several parallels between the two stories but they come together as the letters of the Civil War couple are found by the modern couple.  Sections are dated so it is easy to tell which story you are reading in each chapter.  

I looked up Linda Goodnight and found that she generally writes short inspirational romances.  While it is metioned that characters go to church and pray, we don't hear sermons and prayers are short.  It is a clean romance with no bedroom scenes or suggestions that they happened.  One of the heroines is married and though she has romantic feelings for her hero, her marriage is respected by both of them. 

I don't give many A's and I'd guess that most I give aren't to romance novels, despite the number of them that I read but this book is exceptionally good so I'll give it an exceptionally good grade, A.

Thanks to the publisher for making a review copy availble via NetGalley.

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