Saturday, October 28, 2017

Review: Right Where We Belong

Right Where We Belong

About the Book:

Savanna Gray needs a do-over. Her "perfect" life unraveled when, to her absolute shock, her husband was arrested for attacking three women. With her divorce settled, she takes her two children home to Silver Springs to seek refuge between the walls of the farmhouse where she was born. It needs a little TLC, but she's eager to take control of something. 

Gavin Turner understands the struggle of starting over. Abandoned at a gas station when he was five, it wasn't until he landed at New Horizons Boys Ranch as a teen that he finally found some peace. He steps up when Savanna needs help fixing things—even when those things go beyond the farmhouse. 

Despite an escalating attraction to Gavin, Savanna resolves to keep her distance. She trusted her ex, who had a similarly tragic background, and is unwilling to repeat her past mistakes. But it's hard to resist a man whose heart is as capable as his hands.

My Comments:

I work as a criminal defense paralegal and one thing that most people don't think about when considering the criminal justice system is the family of the accused (or guilty).  Whether the accused is convicted or not, whether he (or she) committed the crime, the family pays a price, whether it is simply the cost of attorney fees or whether it is the loss of the loved ones presence or community censure because of the crime.

Savanna had not been thrilled with her marriage but she did her best to hold things together, for the sake of the kids.  While she initially wanted to believe the police had arrested the wrong man, the more she learned and the more she thought, the more she realized it was doubtful they had.  

They lived in a small town and she was finding herself and her children to be outcasts, even though her husband had not yet been tried, so she took the children and moved to some property she inherited in another state.  This is the story of her trying to rebuild her life and the life of her children. 

For the most part, I liked the story.  However, I found the climax scene to be very unrealistic.  

The thread that ties this story to others is a home/school for unwanted children, which is where Gavin grew up.  The story contains brief mentions of characters from prior books, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade B. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Practice Makes Catholic: My Review

About the Book:

It is said that practice makes perfect, but what else does practice make? If you ask Joe Paprocki, he’ll say that practice makes Catholic—that is, there are certain distinct practices that make us essentially Catholic. The problem is that many Catholics don’t understand—or at least misunderstand—why we engage in the many practices we do. In Practice Makes Catholic, Paprocki addresses the all-important “why” of many Catholic practices by articulating five key characteristics that form our Catholic identity: a sense of sacramentality, a commitment to community, a respect for the dignity of human life and commitment to justice, a reverence for Tradition, and a disposition to faith and hope rather than despair. Under each of these categories, he explores and explains multiple Catholic practices, then describes how following each one can make a profound difference in our faith and in our lives. Informative and inviting, Practice Makes Catholic is the perfect resource for RCIA candidates and their sponsors, for Catholics returning to the faith, and for all Catholics who want to get to the heart of what their faith is really about.

My Comments:

A facebook friend of mine who was raised Catholic recently asked why, when movie producers want to show an exorcism, they always show a Catholic priest.  She wondered if other denominations practiced exorcism.  I did some quick research that showed that some did in one way or another, but then opined that when movie producers want to show ceremony or ritual, they show a Catholic church because that's people's image of Catholicism.  If the producer wants to show a sermon motivating a character's action, on the other hand, the church is likely to look more low church Protestant, because they are known for preaching, not ceremony.

A couple of years ago our parish got a new DRE, and one thing I really like about him is that he has put in adult education programs.  One was a study of Practice Makes Catholic and he offered it either in person or on-line.  Unfortunately, I found that I don't have the self-discipline for on-line.  However, eventually I did read the book.  

In Practice Makes Catholic Paprocki takes a look at many of the rituals and practices of Catholics and explains the "why" as well as the "how". He explains sacramentals, the liturgical calendar, and the uniquely Catholic forms of prayer such as novenas.  He encourages learning more about the Catholic faith and offers resources.  All through the book though, the emphasis isn't on learning about these thing but rather on incorporating them into your life. 

Like The Bible Blueprint which I reviewed last month, Practice Makes Catholic is easy to read.  I'd describe the book as "magazine-like" with short chapters, lots of side-bars and inset boxes, a few cartoons and a lot of use of headlines and bullet points to focus reader's attention.  I think the book is a good outline of how to live a Catholic life.  

I bought the book to participate in my parish program and actually paid full price for it.  Grade:  B+

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Review: The Rancher's Christmas Song

About the Book:

Music teacher Ella Baker's plate is already full. But when single dad Beckett McKinley's wild twin boys need help preparing a Christmas song for their father, Ella agrees on one condition: they teach her to ride a horse. She's hoping that'll help mend her strained relationship with her rancher father; it certainly has nothing to do with the crush that's lingered since her one and only date with Beck. 

It isn't disinterest spurring Beck to keep his distance—if anything, the spark is too strong, with Ella reminding him of his ex-wife. Soon what started as an innocent arrangement is beginning to feel a lot like family. But with the holidays approaching, Beck and Ella will have to overcome past hurts if they want to keep each other warm this Christmas…

My Comments:

It's a Harlequin Christmas romance; do I really need to say anything else?  He's handsome; she's beautiful and the kids are good-hearted imps.  They've both been hurt, it is Christmas time and ....

Nope, nothing original at all, and a little over-written, but if you are looking for a heartwarming way to pass a couple of hours you could do worse.  

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley.  Grade:  B-

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Review: Lilac Lane

About the Book:

At the heart of Lilac Lane is Keira Malone, who raised her three children alone after her first marriage broke apart, and who, after years of guarding her heart, finally finds love again. But that love is short-lived when her fiancee suffers a fatal heart attack. Grieving and unsure of what’s next, Keira agrees to move from Dublin to Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, to spend time with her daughter, Moira, and her new granddaughter, Kate, as well as to help her son-in-law, Luke, with his Irish pub, O’Briens.

Not wanting to live underfoot, she rents a charming cottage on Lilac Lane, replete with views of the ocean and her neighbor’s thriving garden—not to mention views of the neighbor himself. The neighbor is none other than Bryan Laramie, the brusque and moody chef at the pub, with whom Keira is constantly butting heads. But things get real when Bryan’s long-lost daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a baby, shows up out of the blue. As Bryan and Keira each delve into their pasts, reopening wounds, the rest of the town is gearing up for the Fall Festival Irish Stew cook-off, and making no bones about whose side they’re on. It’s Kitchen Wars meets This is Your Life—a recipe for disaster…or a new take on love?

You won’t want to miss this epic return to Chesapeake Shores, a place we’re betting you’ll want to stay forever.

My Comments:

The fun thing about series books is keeping up with friends you made in the first book(s) as you read through the series.  The bad thing about them is some writers use series books as a way to be lazy about character and plot development.  I'm afraid that Sherryl Woods has reached that point with the Chesapeake Shores books.

Keira isn't exactly like any other character, but just like in the other books, the O'Brien family is omnipresent, meddling in other people's love lives and gathering for Sunday dinner at Nell's (everyone), at OBrien's Pub (mostly the men) or at the coffee shop (the women).  Of course there is a happily ever after and like Woods' other books it does not have vivid bedroom scenes.  

Given some things said in this book, I doubt this is Woods' last O'Brien book, but it is mine.  It isn't an awful book, and if you haven't read any (or many) of the others and you are looking for a mild diversion one afternoon, this may be right up your alley.  I, on the other  hand, am tired of the O'Briens.  

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

Friday, October 06, 2017

Blog Tour and Review: Sugar Pine Trail

About the Book:

Librarian Julia Winston is ready to ditch the quiet existence she's been living. She's made a list of new things to experience, but falling for Jamie Caine, her sexy military pilot neighbor, isn't one of them. Julia's looking to conquer life, not become the heart breaker's latest conquest. But when two young brothers wind up in Julia's care for the holidays, she'll take any help she can get—even Jamie's. 

Happy to step in, Jamie reveals a side of himself that's much harder to resist. Not only is he fantastic with kids, he provides the strength Julia needs to tackle her list. She knows their temporary family can't last beyond the holidays, but the closer she gets to Jamie, the more she wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever…

My Comments:

Christmas romances can be so much fun, especially if you are looking for a quick easy heartwarming read and don't expect much realism. 

Julia is a sweet small town librarian who has lots of friends, but whose life has been spent meeting the expectations of others.  Not long before Christmas her book club makes wish lists--things they wish they could do, but haven't yet.  Julia's list includes having an orgasm with someone else.  

Julia lives in a large home she inherited from her parents, and which she has divided into two apartments.  A handsome pilot moves in upstairs.  She knows his family and knows that he doesn't do serious relationships, so of course she isn't willing to get close to him.

Right before Thanksgiving Julia notices that two young boys are spending too much time in the library and are walking home by themselves in a serious snowstorm.  She calls child welfare and ends up as their foster mother, and ends up getting a lot of help from the guy upstairs (the pilot).  He ends up seeing her bucket list and helps her achieve most of those goals--and then lets it slip that he has seen the list.

All in all, the book is predictable almost to a fault but they get their happily ever after and that's what Christmas romances are about, right.

Like Thayne's other novels, this one includes a passionate interlude, however, the characters remain dressed.  

Fans of the Haven Point and Hope's Crossing books will enjoy catching  up with many of the regular cast.  

I'd like to thank Little Bird Publicity for inviting me to join this tour.  Grade:  B-

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