The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson – Review

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson


Another delightful Christmas novella from Melody Carlson! The Christmas Joy Ride follows Joy, an eighty-something Christmas blogger, & her thirty-something neighbor, Miranda, on an RV trip down Route 66. Joy is on a mission to spread Christmas cheer to a list of specific people, and she enlists Miranda to help her. In an interview, Carlson said Carol Burnett would be the perfect actress to play Joy in a movie, and I loved having that reference before starting the book. Joy and Miranda will absolutely steal your heart. They are an excellent duo, and I’d love to hang out with them! Carlson’s Christmas novellas are always something I look forward to, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Grab The Christmas Joy Ride when you have a few hours to spend in a cozy chair with a cup of something hot. This book has it all–holiday spirit, heartfelt friendship, a bit of suspense, and a dash of romance. The Christmas Joy Ride is such a fun story. It’s the kind of holiday novella you’ll reach for year after year. It’d also make a great Christmas gift! Highly recommended!

Publisher Info:

Miranda did not put adventure on her Christmas list, but thanks to her eighty-five-year-old neighbor Joy, that’s exactly what she’s getting this year. When Joy tells Miranda that she plans to drive an old RV decked out in Christmas decorations from their Chicago neighborhood to her new retirement digs in Phoenix–in the dead of winter, no less–the much younger Miranda insists that Joy cannot make such a trip by herself. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off with Joy toward Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride–one that could derail the whole venture.

No one captures the heartwarming fun of the Christmas season quite like Melody Carlson. Fasten your seat belt, because it’s going to be an exciting ride!

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than two hundred books with combined sales of more than six million. She is the author of the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, Christmas at Harrington’s, and The Christmas Cat. 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

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.


Once Upon a Summertime by Melody Carlson — Review

Once Upon a Summertime by Melody Carlson


She’s looking for her big break. She never imagined it would depend on a blast from her past.

Managing the Value Lodge in her hometown was not what Anna Gordon had in mind when she set out in the hospitality industry. But it’s a safe choice for a young woman starting out her career.

Then, out of the blue, she gets the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to reinvent herself and reinvigorate her career by moving to New York City. She applies for a management position at a stylish new hotel, The Rothsberg. But the city is full of surprises–not the least of which is discovering that Sean O’Neil, a once-upon-a-time crush, has applied for the very same position.

This sweetly romantic tale of dreams come true takes you through the storied streets of New York City–and into the depths of the human heart.

My Thoughts:

Another winner from Melody Carlson! I was so excited when I heard Melody Carlson was coming out with a new contemporary series. Luckily, I was able to get my hands on a review copy and dive head first into the Follow Your Heart series! Book 1 is called Once Upon a Summertime and centers on Anna Gordon, who has a less-than-fulfilling career and not much else of which to speak. Following a series of events and decisions, Anna winds up in New York City to interview for her dream job. While this story has definite fairy-tale tendencies, it’s not a fairy tale. Anna faces ups and downs in her new city, including a new romance. New York City itself is a main character in this story and has as much a part in the romance as the actual couple. Carlson’s descriptions of the city left me wanting to visit more than any other book has. If you’ve been to NYC, you’ll be itching to go back. If you haven’t been (like me!), you’ll be dying to plan a trip! The setting, characters, and plot are both inviting and envy-worthy. While the ending feels a bit rushed and possibly too easy, it’s well worth the read. Highly recommended for fans of NYC, romance, and Melody Carlson’s other works. I can’t wait for the next book in the Follow Your Heart series!

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

About the Author:

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than 6.5 million. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, includingFinding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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

(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

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!


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.”– 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

The Princess Wars — Review

I just finished reading The Princess Wars  by Melody Carlson!

The Princess Wars is the first book in a new series from Melody Carlson. It’s actually based on a dream she had! She self published this book, which is always a huge risk for an author. I don’t usually read fairy tale type stories, but I decided to give this one a chance because I love Carlson’s work. I’m so glad she took the risk and released The Princess Wars!!

The story follows twin princesses Heather and Rose. Heather stands to inherit the throne, and Rose is extremely jealous. Heather leaves on a journey before their 18th birthday. She wants to get a closer look at her kingdom, and she decides to go in disguise. Her journey is tumultuous to say the least. Throw in an attractive boy, a vengeful sister, and a race for the crown–this book isn’t short on conflict! The story is resolved in this book, but Carlson also gives us little teasers for the sequel!

I really enjoyed this story, and I’m looking forward to the next in the series. It’s the first book of its type that I’ve read and I was completely surprised by how much I fell into the story! It allowed me to escape into fairy tale land for a few hours. As is usually the case with Carlson’s work, this book was so easy to visualize as I was reading it. If you enjoy fantasy/fairy tales–you’ll love this book. If you don’t usually like that genre, The Princess Wars just may change your mind! I couldn’t be more happily surprised with this book, and I hope you’ll give it a chance!

Goodreads Synopsis:

The twin princesses of Raspen Kingdom have been at odds for their entire lives. Firstborn Heather is a no-frills girl who grew up riding horses, fencing, and dreaming of great adventures. Meanwhile her twin sister Rose loves ornate jewels, silk gowns and being treated like royalty. Because the king is sickly, Heather is due to take the throne on the twins’ eighteenth birthday. But before she is crowned, Princess Heather embarks on an exciting journey throughout the kingdom. And it’s not long before Heather’s adventure goes sideways and threatens to undo the entire kingdom.

The Princess Wars is available on amazon here.

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

Once Upon a Winter’s Heart by Melody Carlson [Review]

I just finished reading Once Upon a Winter’s Heart by Melody Carlson [my favorite author!]. See my review below, then tell me about your favorite Valentine’s Day books!

My Review: 4 Stars!

Do you hate Valentine’s Day? Do you love Valentine’s Day? If you answered yes to either of those questions, this book is for you! Once Upon a Winter’s Heart invites us to spend Valentine’s Day with the Burcelli family. We live through the main character, Emma Burcelli, who is a self-proclaimed Valentine’s grinch. It doesn’t help things that her beloved Poppi just died. Emma’s grandparents (Nona & Poppi) had a love for the ages, and Emma is sure love is officially dead with her grandfather’s passing. She returns home for his funeral and plans to stay with Nona for awhile. She’s surprised to see that her mother is staying with Nona, too. Her parents never shone with affection quite the way Nona and Poppi did, but she never expected one of them would move out. Emma also can’t figure out why her sister is divorced and moving on already. A good looking guy who was apparently mentored by Poppi threatens to disrupt Emma’s relationship with her sister. This book is definitely not your typical romance story. Once Upon a Winter’s Heart is a story of love, loss, hurt, and reconciliation, combined with knee-weakening romance a la Dean Martin, wine, and chocolate. My suggestion: put on Dean Martin’s ‘Amore‘, grab a glass of wine or juice and some chocolate, and treat yourself to a relaxing evening reading Once Upon a Winter’s Heart!

Amazon Description:

Emma Burcelli has suffered over a decade of dating disasters. But she concludes that love is officially dead when her grandfather Poppi suddenly passes, leaving her grandmother Nona devastated. To help out, Emma works in the family bookstore, which Nona insists must be decked out in sweetheart décor as Poppi would have done for Valentine’s Day. Although she feels like a V-Day Scrooge, Emma quickly learns to enjoy the task with the help of a handsome family friend, Lane Forester, who shows her that hanging hearts is much more fun when done to the tune of Dean Martin. As Emma and Lane share time and memories of Poppi, she reconsiders the notion that romance is alive.

Just as Emma’s heart begins to lift, however, she learns her sister has already staked a claim on Lane. Emma’s mother and sister insist Lane only sees her as a future sister-in-law, but she can’t help wondering if it could be something more.

This is a great Valentine’s Day read no matter what your relationship status is! But be warned–‘Amore‘ will be stuck in your head for days!

What are your favorite Valentine’s Day reads? Recommend them in the comments section!

Disclosure: I received a digital version of this book for review purposes from netgalley. This is my honest review.

Books ‘n’ Bloggers Swap Reveal

It’s time for the Books’n’Bloggers Swap Reveal!! I was partnered with Ruth from My Devotional Thoughts. Ruth & I have pretty similar taste in books, so we were a great match. We even sent each other the same book!


Ruth was super nice to send me 4 books instead of 3! Here’s the breakdown:

1. A Book She Loves: Cinder

2. A Book She Hasn’t Read But Wants To Read: The Selection (I sent this book from her wishlist!)

3. A Book I Wanted: What Alice Forgot

Bonus: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (I was so excited to get a Christmas book!)

Here are the books I sent Ruth:


A Book I Love: Mixed Bags by Melody Carlson

A Book I Haven’t Read But Plan To: Muffins & Mayhem

A Book On Her Wishlist: The Selection

All the books I sent were on her To Be Read list!

I’m so happy I participated in this swap! Go check out the other reveal posts here. I hope you’ll join us next time! For now, what book is at the top of your wish list?