Trading Secrets by Melody Carlson — Review

Trading Secrets by Melody Carlson

Info from Publisher:

The truth may set you free–but it might also land you in some uncomfortably hot water.

Over the years, Micah Knight has exchanged many letters–and many secrets–with her longtime Amish pen pal, Zach. But Micah’s kept quiet on the biggest secret of all–the fact that despite her name, she’s a girl.

Now Micah finally has the chance to meet her pen pal face-to-face. She wants nothing more than to experience life on Zach’s Amish farm, but she’s more than a little anxious. Will he be angry at her for deceiving him all these years? And will she risk losing his friendship to find something more?

My Review:

Trading Secrets is a fun story that shows life in two different worlds–English and Amish. Micah and Zach have been pen pals for years, but there’s a catch. Zach thinks Micah is a boy! When she goes to visit his family’s farm for Spring Break, things get interesting. I really enjoyed this story by Melody Carlson. Once again, she nails the teen perspective. Without giving away any spoilers, I’ll just say I appreciated the twist in the book. It gives the story another dimension. This is the first of Carlson’s Amish crossover novels I’ve read, but I look forward to reading the others. Trading Secrets is for fans of YA Inspirational Fiction. It will make a great Christmas gift for teen girls who love to read!

About Melody Carlson:

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than two hundred books, including the Dating Games series, the Life at Kingston High series, Double Take, A Simple Song, and My Amish Boyfriend. She has received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. Melody and her husband live in Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.

(I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson — Review

The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson

Info from Publisher

He felt his face flushing as Cara opened the door. Wearing a garnet-colored knit dress and with her dark hair pinned up, she looked even prettier than he remembered. Suddenly he wished he’d thought to bring a hostess gift. Like a cat.

After years abroad, Garrison Brown finds himself at the home of his beloved grandmother who has just passed away. He must sort out her belongings, including six cats who need new homes. While he hopes to dispense with the task quickly–especially since he is severely allergic to cats–his grandmother’s instructions don’t allow for speed. She has left some challenging requirements for the future homes of her furry friends.

Can he match the cats with the perfect new owners? And is it possible that he might meet his own match along the way?

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than six million. She is the author of several Christmas books, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus,The Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington’s, as well as The Christmas Pony and A Simple Christmas Wish. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at http://www.melodycarlson.com.

My Review:

I look forward to Melody Carlson’s Christmas novellas every year. Each book is full of holiday spirit, emotionally relevant, and just the right length for an afternoon or evening of reading by the fire. The covers are always spot-on, as well. The Christmas Cat focuses on Garrison Brown. After his grandmother passes away, he’s left with the arduous task of finding perfect homes for each of her 6 cats. His grandmother left very specific instructions regarding the cats, and Garrison finds there is much he didn’t know about her. Carlson has again woven a heartwarming tale that will be enjoyed by all age groups. She kept the story lighthearted while also addressing heavier matters. I highly recommend The Christmas Cat for all cat lovers, Carlson fans, and those who enjoy holiday novellas. Warning: this story may cause you to run out and get a cat!

Reviews

Praise for Carlson’s Christmas Novels

“A wonderfully sweet story, with vivid descriptions that pull you right into the pages.”–Book Reporteron The Christmas Pony

“This novel should be on everyone’s must-read list for the holiday season.”–RT Book Reviews, 4½ star Top Pick, on The Christmas Pony

“It would make a great old-fashioned gift for many people, especially older dog lovers, grandmas and neighbors.”–FaithfulReader.com on The Christmas Dog

“Bestselling novelist Melody Carlson blends humor and warmth in The Christmas Cat. Recommend as a gift for those who love animals.”

CBA Retailers+Resources

Where Treetops Glisten Part 1: White Christmas by Cara Putman – Review

Where Treetops Glisten

Part 1: White Christmas by Cara Putman

About the book: 
The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime

Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

In Cara Putman’s White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas,trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and His plan for a future?
Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/BwVP9
About the authors: 
 
TRICIA GOYER is a prolific author of nearly forty books, includingChasing Mona Lisa, and a speaker and blogger.
CARA PUTMAN is the author of twenty books including Shadowed by Grace. She is the winner of the 2008 Carol Award for historical fiction.
SARAH SUNDIN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wings of the Nightingale series, the Wings of Glory series, and the forthcoming Waves of Freedom novels.

My Review:

White Christmas is the first story in Where Treetops Glisten. It served as my introduction to Cara Putman’s work. I’m not a usual fan of historical fiction, but White Christmas had all the aspects of contemporary fiction that I loved while allowing me to escape to a different time period without being overloaded with historical facts. I’m not a history buff, so don’t ask me if everything was entirely accurate in a historical sense. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me if every fact doesn’t line up exactly. An author needs room to let their creativity flow! Putman’s story felt contemporary in the sense that I didn’t feel like I was looking back at Abigail’s story or even looking in as an outsider. It felt as though I were living it alongside her. The author’s storytelling masterfully set the scene–I could see every part of Abigail’s world in my mind! A favorite part of the story for me was the description of Abigail’s work in the candy store. The detailed explanation of making candy canes was extremely interesting but not so drawn out that I got bored. I highly recommend the first novella in Where Treetops Glisten to any fan of Christian Historical or Contemporary Fiction. Be sure to have White Christmas & Holiday Inn (the movies) on standby because you’ll definitely want to watch them after reading this story!

Look for reviews on Parts 2 & 3 of Where Treetops Glisten very soon!

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

WWW Wednesdays – What are you reading??

W.W.W. Wednesdays is a weekly event brought to you by MizB from Should Be Reading.  To play along, answer the following questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you are going to read next?

My Answers:

What are you currently reading?

I read several books at a time, so this is kind of a long list!

   

Jesus Calling [Women’s Edition] is my current devotional. Santa Miracles is a Christmas story collection that I’ve been reading for awhile. I just read a few stories at a time. I’m loving the stories and recipes in Bread & Wine! I’m reading & Sons on the recommendation of Joy the Baker, and I’m really enjoying it so far.

What did you recently finish reading?

  

I enjoyed Not That Kind of Girl way more than I expected. I wasn’t really a Lena Dunham fan before, but I am now. Bossypants [Audiobook] was every bit as great as I’d hoped. Tina Fey is infinitely hilarious.

What do you think you are going to read next?

  

 

My favorite author (Melody Carlson) recommended Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I loved the sample, so I’m eager to read the book. I love the movie Christmas with the Kranks, and Skipping Christmas is the book it’s based on. I’ve always heard David Sedaris is incredible, so I’m excited to try out holidays on ice. Of course, if I can get my hands on Yes Please by Amy Poehler or Us by David Nicholls, those will be thrown in the pile as well!

I’d love to hear what you’re reading! Leave your answers or a link to your post in the comments!

The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons by Heather A. Slomski — Review

The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons

Book Description:

Winner of the 2014 Iowa Short Fiction Award, Heather A. Slomski’s debut story collection takes loss as its primary subject and holds it up to the light. In prose spare and daring, poised yet startling, these stories take shape in reality, but reality, they sometimes show us, is not a separate realm from the fantastic or the surreal. Two couples meet for dinner to acknowledge an affair. A mannequin recalls a lover and the life she mysteriously lost.  Two girls observe a young widow’s grief through a café window. A man’s hat is as discerning as Cinderella’s shoe.

In the fifteen stories that comprise this collection—some short as breaths, two of them novelettes—Slomski writes with a keen eye about relationships. About the desires that pull us together and the betrayals that push us apart. About jealousy, obsession, loneliness and regret—the byproducts of loving someone that keep us awake at night.

The characters in these stories share meals, drink wine, buy furniture and art. They live domestic lives, so often wanting to love someone yet ending up alone. In one story, a woman’s fiancé leaves her when she goes to post some mail. In another story, a man can’t move past an affair his wife almost had. Another story describes a series of drawings to detail a couple’s end. But while loss and heartache pervade these stories, there is also occasional hope. For, as the title story shows us, sometimes a breakup isn’t an end at all, but the beginning of your life.

My Review:

This collection of stories by Heather A. Slomski has hits and misses. The two standout stories are no doubt the first and last stories–The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons and Before the Story Ends. The former is a story of 2 couples dining together and acknowledging the infidelity that connects them. The latter is one part fairy tale and one part heartbreaking reality–a story of love and loss. My favorite things about this book may just be the title and cover, which I adore. Most of the stories revolve around loss in one form or another, and some of them felt much too unfinished for my taste. There were stories I wanted to go on and others that lived past their prime. An emotional collection to say the least, but I prefer more finished short stories. It’s obvious that Slomski is a talented writer. If you’re a short fiction fan, The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons is for you. (I received a digital arc of this title for review purposes.)

My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories — Review

My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

My Review:

12 Short Stories by different authors, so of course there are hits and misses!

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell – LOVE. Of course, it’s written by RR and I’ve yet to find anything of hers I don’t love. The format is fun and interesting, the characters are realistic and grab you immediately. One of my favorite stories in the book. Strong start! 4.5 stars

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link – not really my type of story, but it was entertaining and held my interest. I don’t regret spending time reading it, and Link has a style of writing I really like. 3.5 stars

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena – I actually really liked this story! I didn’t expect to enjoy it, but the writing felt real. I liked the characters, and while the story seemed a little generic, I liked it a lot. Probably one of my favorites. 4 stars

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han – not what I was expecting! A story of unrequited love between a human and en elf – but I totally enjoyed it! The story was silly and fun, and I always like Han’s work. 3.5 stars

It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins – I loved this story! It’s one of the more realistic stories in this collection. This is the first piece of writing I’ve read by Perkins, and I wasn’t disappointed. The characters were realistic, the story was original, and the dialogue was fun. 4 stars

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan – I didn’t love this story. It was fun enough, but I’m not usually a fan of Levithan’s work and this didn’t change my mind. The main character seems a little clingy and self-involved, but I liked the underlying storyline. 2 stars

Krampuslauf by Holly Black – I really didn’t like this story. If you like books with a mystical element, including characters that are half-goat and such, you’ll enjoy this. Not my style. 1 star

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman – loved it! I fell in love with the characters, and the story developed perfectly! Another winner from Forman. A favorite from this collection! 4 stars

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire – liked it, but didn’t expect to! This story grabbed my attention with the first line, and it held it to the end! The characters are realistic, the story is funny and original, and the writing is spot on. It had me laughing a lot. A favorite! 4 stars

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White – I liked this story. It seemed a little long and some parts were slow moving, but I liked it all by the end. Predictable, but a good story. 3.5 stars

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter – one of the longer stories. I enjoyed it. Most people will figure out the ending, but it’s an original holiday story with a fun twist. 3.5 stars

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I REALLY didn’t like this story. I seriously considered not finishing the book, but I pushed through it. I’m not a fan of magical or mythological creatures as characters, so this story wasn’t for me. It seemed to be one of the longest stories, too. One of my least favorite. 1 star

As a collection, I found more winners than losers. There’s something for everyone in this book, so I suggest you get a copy and pick out your favorites! It would also make a great gift for the holiday reader in your life. My True Love Gave to Me releases in Hardback and eBook form on October 14.

(I received a digital ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.)

Publisher Info:

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers (Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White), edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone.  So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy.  You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love!