Book Review: A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson #ChristmasBooks #FestiveReads

A Christmas by the Sea

By Melody Carlson

72271x_1_ftc.jpg

From Goodreads:

When Wendy Harper inherits her family’s beachside cottage in Seaside, Maine, she sees it as a way to finally pay off the debts that have mounted since her husband died. But before it can be sold, the neglected property must be renovated. She and her 12-year-old son Jackson move in–temporarily, she reminds him–in order to do the work themselves, even though Christmas is coming. The charming town, along with local craftsman Caleb Colton, pulls on both Wendy and Jackson, who even registers himself for school in a bid to get his mom to move them there permanently. Wendy knows that the most responsible thing to do is to sell the cottage and return to Ohio, but the lure of the sea is hard to resist.

Join award-winning author Melody Carlson for a Christmas story that will warm your heart and have you dreaming of your own enchanted seaside holiday. Continue reading “Book Review: A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson #ChristmasBooks #FestiveReads”

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman – Audible Review

The Deal of a Lifetime

by Fredrik Backman

36229962.jpg

Blurb:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and Beartown delivers an insightful and poignant holiday novella about a man who sacrificed his family in the single-minded pursuit of success and the courageous little girl fighting for her life who crosses his path.

It all begins with a father telling a story to his son on Christmas Eve. But this isn’t your typical Christmas story. The father admits to his son that he’s taken a life but he won’t say whose—not yet.

One week earlier, in a hospital late at night, the man met a five-year-old girl with cancer. She’s a smart kid—smart enough to know that she won’t beat cancer by drawing with crayons all day, but it seems to make the adults happy, so she keeps doing it.

As the man tells his son about this plucky little girl, he slowly reveals more about himself: while he may be a successful businessman, idolized by the media and his peers, he knows he failed as a parent. Overwhelmed by the responsibility of fatherhood, he took the easy way out and left his wife and little boy twenty years ago to pursue professional success. Now he is left wondering if it’s too late to forge a relationship with his son, who seems to be his opposite in every way—prizing happiness over money, surrounded by loving friends in a cozy town where he feels right at home.

Face to face with the idea that something is missing, the man is given the unexpected chance to do something selfless that could change the destiny of the little girl in the hospital bed. But before he can make the deal of a lifetime, he needs to find out what his own life has actually been worth in the eyes of his son. And so, he seeks him out and tells him this story…

Written with Fredrik Backman’s signature humor, compassion, and “knack for weaving tales that are believable and fanciful” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), The Deal of a Lifetime reminds us that life is a fleeting gift, and our only legacy is how we share that gift with those we love. –Goodreads

My Thoughts:

I read two books by Fredrik Backman this year and enjoyed them both. When I saw The Deal of a Lifetime floating around on Goodreads, the cover and author sent me right into an impulse buy and I used an Audible credit to purchase it. I didn’t even read the blurb and assumed I was purchasing a Christmas read. It turned out to be very different from what I expected and my review below might contain something you consider a spoiler if you want to go in completely blind. Although, I don’t feel that I reveal anything more than the blurb does.

The story begins with a father telling his son a story on Christmas Eve about how he killed someone. He’s not disclosing details and you won’t find out until the end of the story what really happens, but basically, he knows he hasn’t been an exceptional father. He explains that he’s been obsessed with his legacy and has chosen what ‘he’ considers success over being a good parent to his son. That’s what’s been most important to him–leaving behind a legacy full of everything he thinks is important–wealth and security. Then he meets someone who’s dying of cancer and he begins to question the decisions he’s made. He begins to question how important life is. Do other people’s lives matter? How important is someone else’s life to you if you don’t know them?

When I first started listening to this I began to feel that I wasn’t going to be pleased with it. I appreciated that the places described in the story were real, taking place in the author’s hometown, but when I started to contemplate that there might be a death, I was thinking for sure that I would hate it. By the time I got to the end, it hit me. Had my husband not been in the vehicle with me for the hour drive, I may have used an entire box of Kleenex and bawled my eyes out for another hour. The story is short and it’s quite expensive to buy, but It’s truly thought-provoking and what a powerful and meaningful message it sends. For that I’m giving this 5*****.

Continue reading “The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman – Audible Review”

The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans: Mini Book Review

The Noel Diary

by Richard Paul Evans

35011400

BlurbIn this new holiday-themed novel from the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of The Mistletoe Promise and The Walk, a man receives the best Christmas present he could ask for: the chance to re-write the past.

Bestselling romance author Jacob Churcher hasn’t been home for almost twenty years—not since his mentally ill mother kicked him out of the house when he was just sixteen. When a lawyer calls, days before Christmas, to inform him that his estranged mother has passed away and left her house to him, Jacob returns not just to settle the estate but to try and reconcile with the past and the pain and abuse he experienced as a child. Also, maybe cleaning out her house will be slightly less depressing than spending the holidays alone, watching re-runs of Christmas classics.

But as it turns out, the house holds more than just difficult memories, Jacob’s mother had become a hoarder and he must excavate through two decades worth of clutter. As Jacob digs through the detritus, like an archaeologist, he uncovers many puzzling items including a diary left by someone named Noel, a young woman he has no recollection of, who stayed with Jacob’s family during her pregnancy. That’s not the only echo from the past. Jacob has an unexpected visitor, Rachel, a woman looking for the mother who put her up for adoption thirty years before. United by their quest to make sense of the past and rewrite their futures, Jacob and Rachel begin a search for Noel. Along the way they find more than they possibly imagined, including grace, forgiveness and a chance at love.

My Thoughts:

I’ve read a few Christmas books by Richard Paul Evans and since I enjoyed them, I thought I’d pick this one up. I was surprised that this isn’t truly a Christmas story, but it does occur at Christmastime.

Jacob Churcher is a successful author who’s bitter about his childhood. Growing up with a mother who had mental instability has scarred him. He receives an unexpected phone call informing him that his mother has passed away and he travels back home to a house full of memories as he begins a journey to heal.

The story wasn’t exactly festive or fluffy like I expected, but I still enjoyed it. It’s a fast, light read. I thought the story was believable and it felt real to me. My only issue was the insta-love.

4****

the-noel-diary-9781501172038_hr-back

Continue reading “The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans: Mini Book Review”

Throwback Thursday: Debbie Macomber – Twelve Days of Christmas – December 21st

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

throwback-thursday

 

This week’s pick:

Twelve Days of Christmas

by Debbie Macomber

28502761.jpg

Blurb: Continuing in a festive annual tradition, #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber returns with a new original holiday novel full of romance and cheer—and the magical prospect of finding love in the most unexpected places.

Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.

To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Julia brings him homemade Christmas treats and the disagreeable grinch won’t even accept them. Meanwhile, Julie’s blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures. Julia continues to find ways to express kindness and, little by little, chips away at Cain’s gruff façade to reveal the caring man underneath. Unbelievably, Julia feels herself falling for Cain—and she suspects that he may be falling for her as well. But as the popularity of her blog continues to grow, Julia must decide if telling Cain the truth about having chronicled their relationship to the rest of the world is worth risking their chance at love. – Goodreads

My Thoughts:

I just finished Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber and still have a handful of Christmas reads to get in. This week I’m reading Starry Night which I talked about last week and I’ll be starting this one, Twelve Days of Christmas, after that. I’ve had this one on my TBR for some time! I’ve fallen in love with this author’s writing style and these books are quick reads which are perfect for this time of year. I have no doubt that I’ll be reading Christmas books all the way into January with the amount that I have added! 🙂

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads:

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (October 4, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553391739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553391732

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Debbie Macomber – Twelve Days of Christmas – December 21st”

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber – Book Review

Merry and Bright

by Debbie Macomber

33931111.jpg

Blurb: Merry Knight is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her—minus her photo—and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.

Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects—or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.

My Thoughts:

Merry and Bright is a warm, feel-good, clean holiday romance that will get you into the holiday spirit. I was looking for a light, easy, and satisfying read and this one definitely hits the mark.

Merry is preparing for the holiday season, taking care of her family, and working crazy hours as a temp for a job that will soon be completed. She couldn’t be happier because she doesn’t get along with her boss and has plans to finish her college degree. She lives with her mom who isn’t well, along with her little brother Patrick who has down syndrome. Her mother and Patrick wish she could start a relationship because they feel like Merry is lonely, so they get on the computer and set Merry up with an online dating profile, using a picture of her dog so nobody knows who it us. Her profile catches a wink right away, but it’s a mystery who this man is!

Jayson is Merry’ s boss and he’s truly not a person who’s in the Christmas spirit. He has struggles in his relationship with his father which is far from perfect. It’s bad enough that he simply doesn’t want to see his father anymore. They don’t get along and Jayson’s sort of bitter about everything. He has his best friend to lean on and he’s truly a good person at heart, but just needs a little help opening his eyes.

This was my first Debbie Macomber book and I personally loved this story. It was such a fast read and kept me interested until the end. The narrative is believable and the characters were written perfectly. I didn’t feel that it was super predictable until I got closer to the end because every time I thought the story was going one way, the course seemed to lead to a different outcome. This book is lovely and I’m positive Debbie Macomber is going to be a favorite author.

5*****


Find this on Goodreads and Amazon

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 3, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399181229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399181221

Continue reading “Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber – Book Review”

Throwback Thursday: Starry Night by Debbie Macomber – December 14th

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

throwback-thursday


This week’s pick:

Starry Night

by Debbie Macomber

17910542.jpg

 

Blurb: ’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from Debbie Macomber.

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a mega-bestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places.

My Thoughts:

I have so many Debbie Macomber books added to my TBR, so when I saw this at my local library, I couldn’t resist. I fell in love with the cover and after reading the blurb, I knew it was one I had to try. I haven’t read anything by Debbie Macomber and after seeing that she’s one of my good friend Noriko’s favorite authors, I’m even more intrigued! You’ll have to read her wonderful review of this book on her blog.

So, I thought I’d start out with a few Christmas reads. Along with this one, I grabbed a few others by this author and will be starting them this week! I’m trying to get as many Christmas books in as possible and there simply isn’t enough time to read them all!

Find this book on Goodreads and Amazon

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st Printing edition (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345528891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345528896

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Starry Night by Debbie Macomber – December 14th”

Throwback Thursday: Let it Snow by CJ Carmichael – December 7th

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

throwback-thursday

This Week’s Pick:

23643858.jpg

Let It Snow!

by C.J. Carmichael

Blurb:

Let It Snow! (Christmas Anthology)

Snowbound In Montana (novella)
A broken heart and the need to find peace compel Eliza Bramble to sign up for a Nordic ski holiday at Baker Creek Lodge, Montana. When a blizzard traps Eliza in the remote mountain hideaway, along with rugged ski guide, Marshall McKenzie, and a group of discontented skiers, Christmas looks like a write-off. But Marshall has a special touch with people…and with Eliza in particular. Soon she realizes Marshall isn’t just fixing Christmas—but her broken heart, too.

A Cowgirl’s Christmas (novel)
For years Callan Carrigan has been her father’s right hand man, so when her dad’s will names city slicker Court McAlister the new owner of The Circle C Ranch, Callan feels betrayed on every level. Then she and her sisters find their mother’s diaries, hidden from them by their father since their mother’s accidental death 18 years ago, and the shocking revelations explain a lot. When Court offers her a deal—if she agrees to be foreman at the Circle C for one year, he’ll deed fifty percent of the ranch back to her and her sisters—it seems too sweet at first. Until Callan realizes Court has his eyes on something she protects even more than her family’s land—her heart.

The Gift (short story)
What would you do if a child in need showed up at your door on Christmas Eve? Amy Gold, Bandit Creek’s kindergarten teacher, is not the sort of person to flout the law. Especially since she’s dating the local deputy, Gray Cassidy. But an unexpected Christmas gift is about to change everything–not just Amy’s plans for a traditional Christmas, her her entire future, and Gray’s as well.


My Thoughts:

I’ve been wanting to read this one for some time now. It’s a collection of three Christmas stories by CJ Carmichael–Snowbound in Montana, A Cowgirl’s Christmas, and The Gift.  I took a chance and purchased a copy on Amazon last week because I couldn’t find this Christmas edition anywhere. I’ll be starting it this week.


 

  • Paperback: 346 pages
  • Publisher: Tule Publishing Group (November 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1940296978
  • ISBN-13: 978-1940296975

Find it on Goodreads and Amazon

 

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Let it Snow by CJ Carmichael – December 7th”