Sunday, December 14, 2014

Silent Night, Holy Night, books 43-44

This was a sweet little breath of fresh air for Christmas stories.  I really enjoy reading Colleen Coble and this did not disappoint.  

She is mainly a series writer and while I have read one of them (Hope Beach Series) I have many more on my Paperwhite just waiting their turn.  

This book is actually two Christmas novellas Colleen wrote previously combined into one book.  One story, Silent Night, is from her Rock Harbor series and the other, Holy Night, is from her Aloha Reef series.  

I would have to say Silent Night was my favorite.  It combined a little mystery that is not typical in Christmas books I've read.  And the snowy environment in Michigan really made me miss some serious snow.  

Holy Night, on the other hand, takes place in Hawaii, and while the story itself was good, it is just still hard for me to imagine Christmas with hot weather.  (Of course if my plan of retiring to a condo at the beach actually happens I guess I'll have to get used to it! :) )

Silent Night
As Christmas day nears, Bree Matthews and her faithful search-and-rescue dog Samson follow the trail of a troubling mystery into the snowy forests of Rock Harbor.  Newlywed Bree Matthews and her husband Kade are preparing for Christmas guests when word arrives that a parachuter has disappeared in the North Woods, along Lake Superior's icy shore. Bree and Samson plunge into the search.  Will this snowy, silent night search lead Bree and Samson to the missing girl?

Holy Night
One sinister phone call has derailed their Christmas wedding. Will it keep them apart forever?  Leia and Bane are looking forward to their long-awaited Christmas wedding on the beach. Everything is going as planned—until Leia's phone rings and her world skids out of control. A muffled voice informs Leia that her sister has been kidnapped and will be killed unless Leia calls off the wedding without explanation—and no police. If she disobeys instructions and tells Bane, she'll risk her beloved sister's life. But can she handle this trauma without his help? And will he ever trust her again if she lies to him now?  Irresistible romance meets thrilling suspense in this holiday update to USA Today best-selling author Colleen Coble's Aloha Reef series.  (picture and descriptions at amazon)

Of course, do you know what just happened?  I just added about 10 books from her to my must read list!!!  

Keep reading!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

An Amish Second Christmas, books 39-42

Ok, this may be cheating to count one book as 4, but there were 4 short stories in it so I'm going for it.  

Ahhh, Christmas, Amish, .... does it get any better? After the last few books that I have not enjoyed, this was a breath of fresh air.  I thoroughly enjoyed each and every story, and in this busy season it made me long for this simple lifestyle!

“When Christmas Comes Again” by Beth Wiseman
Katherine knows the first Christmas without Elias will be hard for her and the children. But when a mysterious Englischer appears with photographs of her late husband, Katherine  begins to wonder what other blessings Christmas could have in store. 

“Her Christmas Pen Pal” by Ruth Reid
Joy was expecting a wedding proposal from Henry; what she got instead was news of another woman. But when her heartfelt letter to a cousin ends up in the hands of a young cabinetmaker, an unexpected correspondence between two strangers gets interesting fast. Totally my favorite!!!

“A Gift for Anne Marie” by Kathleen Fuller
Anne Marie and Nathaniel have been best friends since they were kids. Now things are evolving . . . in ways everyone else predicted long ago. But when her mother suddenly decides to remarry in another state, Anne Marie’s new chapter with Nathaniel looks doomed to end before it begins. 

“The Christmas Aprons” by Tricia Goyer
Vanilla crumb pie has been Esther’s mem’s calling card for decades. But when Esther finally gets her hands on the secret recipe, she discovers that vanilla crumb pie is more than just dessert . . . it’s bachelor bait.

(picture and description at amazon)

Happy Reading!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Christmas Sisters, book #38

Ahh, sigh.  Started reading Christmas books and decided to knock this one off my Paperwhite list.  I was hoping it was going to be better than the last book --- and indeed it was --- but there were still lots of problems with it.  (I guess I'm just still reveling in my last good book and nothing is coming up to par.)  It was billed to be an eccentric compliation of a crazy funny family and their adventures, and I suppose it was to an extent.  It just seemed to me that the author was trying too hard.  Some parts of the book they were crazy family, some parts they were just normal, and you just never know which way it was going to go.  I will say, though, that Aunt Bert, was consistently my favorite!

I will confess, though, that this is the first in a series and it may be that even though I did not care for the book I may find myself reading the others simply to see what happens to these folks.  Ready to move on ...

Three sisters who only come home for Christmas have always been the talk of their small southern town but this Christmas they are going to start talking back and what they have to say may just change lives, especially their own.
It's beginning to look at lot like Romance in this charming story of an unlikely minister, the woman he loved but left behind, a special child and a town that might finally bring them all home.  (picture and description from amazon)

Happy Reading!


Saturday, November 15, 2014

A broken kind of beautiful, book #37

I shall wait until I confer with my Book Club cohorts before I share my opinion.  I may have missed something altogether here.  It sounded good, but ......

Sometimes everything you ever learned about yourself is wrong
Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.

If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the fa├žade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still? (picture and description at amazon)

Ready to move on to Christmas books!
Happy Reading!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

From this day forward, book #36

Finally, my friends, a book I can really sink my teeth into!!  I mean, any book that starts out like, "March 1816 'We are going to die!' Rachel Gordon's young maid cried out."

Rachel and her maid, Maddy, are headed towards their new home in South Carolina.  Rachel, now estranged from her family in England over her marriage to Tom, who was actually a really bad guy but she didn't know it when she married him, but Tom actually fell overboard the ship on the way over (in a drunken stupor) so now Rachel is alone, and did I mention 8 months pregnant?  Rachel and Maddy are headed toward their glorious new plantation in the middle of this thunderstorm.  All they have to do is make it to the house and it will be warm and cozy, with their servants waiting to attend to their every need.  NOT!!!  

But on the way the horses end up freaking out in the storm, breaking free of the wagon and sending Rachel and Maddy flying while the wagon goes tumbling.  Luckily (as can only happen these books I read!) who should come by but a doctor (Nathan) -- a single man resolved to live the single hermit life because of his trauma and terrors in his earlier life -- and luckily he lives close to get the girls, take them to his cabin, and deliver the baby.  

And that is just part of Chapter One!!  I mean, who does not get fired up about a book like that?!?  Throw in Nathan's grandfather, who practically raised him, who vehemently hates the English for killing his one and only son (Remember the Revolutionary War?) and kicks Nathan and Rachel off his land; George Butler the neighbor who nearly scared the beegeebees out of Rachel but ends up falling in love with Maddy; and, oh yeah, that grand mansion Rachel was going to?  Just a run down farm with most of its land swampy bog ... and comes with a dead body for free!!  

Needless to say, I highly recommend this!!

Penniless, pregnant, and newly widowed immigrant Rachel Gordon doesn’t believe her situation could get any worse… until she meets her new neighbors. Shortly after the War of 1812, Rachel and her husband set out from England for a plantation in South Carolina, which he had purchased sight unseen. However, while en route, Tom Gordon fell overboard and drowned, leaving Rachel, frightened and alone, to make a home for her and her newborn. Can a battle-scarred American physician who comes to her rescue also heal her wounded heart?  (picture and description from amazon)

Happy Reading!!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bright New Murder, book #35

Another book, another boring escapade.  Ho hum.  This is what I have learned is classified as Chick Lit, where it is written in first person from a young 20-something girl with typical adventures of that age.  

In this one I had serious trouble trying to figure it out.  There is Jake, who at first I thought lived with Jane (main character) and Gemma (roommate who I thought was Jane's sister but really she is her cousin).  But alas Jake does not, there is a love triangle, a murder she is trying to solve after taking one criminal detective class, and she has a cleaning service on the side? and God is just thrown in there as an afterthought.  Yeah, see how I got lost.  Although I did just realize that this is book #3 in the Plain Jane series, so perhaps if I had read the other ones before it this one might make more sense.
Whatever.  I'm moving on....

Homeless preschoolers, angry protesters, frozen yogurt, and murder. Jane Adler is keen to try on her detective hat, and the dead lady at the Christmas fundraiser is her perfect shot.Timing is everything and this murder was timed perfectly to destroy her best friend Jake's growing Fro-Yo business. He's a great friend--just a friend, honest-- and she owes him a favor or two.But discovering who would want to kill the town’s favorite preschool teacher is messy business, and Jane doesn't have a moment to waste! (picture and description from amazon)

I'm ready to keep reading to find something good again!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Carson Newman, how I love thee, Alma Mater hail...

Hello, my name is Melissa and I am a Carson Newman history freak.  Let's just be honest and call it what it is.  But can you blame me?  My family has a VERY long attachment there, with graduates spanning the decades from the 1950s to the 2000s.  I tried to make a list in my head of every one of my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.... but I am sure I missed a few.  The most notable and influential ones being, of course, my mommy and daddy!  

They graduated in 1964, and when I started in 1985 the college was still very similar in many ways to how it was then.  I mean, since that time, the gym was new, Stokely was new, Henderson was on its 3rd round, and Swann had another renovation.  And I'm sure there were other changes also, but they were all physical changes. Many of the professors who were there during the 1960s were still teaching and I loved having that bond with them, like Dr. Turner, Dr. Burts, Dr. Vanaman and others. I was just so excited to be a part of CN history and carry on that tradition.  

One memory I will remember to this day is during freshman orientation.  We were all gathered in Gentry hearing welcoming speeches, etc from the president and others, when dear old Dr. Harley Fite hobbled up the podium.  Now, for those of you who don't know, Dr. Fite was the president while my parents were there and was such an amazing man they named the admin building after him.  Anyhow, I don't remember too much of what he said, but I do remember this.  He was talking about how he claimed as his children the students he had during his tenure as president and how several of us in the audience were the children of those students, thus making us his CN grandchildren.  Me! A CN grandchild of Dr. Harley Fite!! Well, that right there just put me over the edge!!  

Last weekend was my 25th reunion.  I still can't believe it has been 25 years!!  I had the amazing opportunity to bring my children and, bless their hearts, they put up with me and all my stories.  (No eyeballs were permanently damaged, I'm happy to report!) We arrived Friday afternoon in time for a college visit for Rebecca, who could care less about going to CN (breaks my momma heart, but Leah and Katie want to go so there is hope!!) but it was really great to have a guide walk us through campus to see all the changes, all the new stuff and a glimpse of the old.  (And it was good for Rebecca, so we at least have a base to compare other colleges to!)  

Friday night we went to the show, Children of Eden, which was just so amazingly awesome I don't even have words for it. 

Saturday when we got to campus I had all three girls and we walked our little legs off!!  (It really is amazing that despite how "small" CN is, the fact that it is somewhat hilly and the fact that I am now 47 years old, well, let's just say I was pooped!!)  But we took Katie around to the places we went before and went in several buildings and up and down stairs and had a fabulous day! While it was a little bit sad to see all the changes made, making it not as much what it was when I was there, or when my parents were there, it was exciting to see how they blend the old with the new.  While we were there we saw tons of things that were new, but then we would go in a building that had been around, and some things still looked the same.  

So the good news is, despite the fact that it is now a "high and mighty university" it still has the feel of the college I went to.  

OLD: This sign is still in the Baker Building.  It took some hunting but I found it!  When my parents went there, the cafeteria was in this building and as the story goes, the line for food would go down the stairs by this plaque.  (I believe it is downstairs on the North West side)  So, while they were waiting, everyone would rub on the 1 of the 13 in the date, thus wearing out just that letter.  I made my girls do it too!!


NEW:  This right here, my friends, is where the massive card catalog used to be.  As you can see, it has been entirely replaced by computers.  Interesting note: students these days have free printing at the library, 1500 pages a year (or semester, I can't remember!)

OLD: Sweet Sarah Swann is still there, many many many years later.  Interesting and sad note: No one is allowed to go out on the balcony anymore.  I thought someone got in trouble, but apparently the structure and foundation is just too old to support all the craziness that might or might not have happened there.

NEW: Alas, sweet Swann sisters, remember those awesome big rooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors by the top of the stairs?  In the latest renovation, they reconfigured and instead made these huge study areas that stretch across the whole area.  (See how hard those two girls are studying?)  Snazzy leather and soft sofas, table around to study around or write papers, gas fireplaces, aahhh.... Interesting note: I did not find the old typewriter room!  

OLD: Girls still love to have their pictures made in the window on the landing and on the stairs!!

NEW:  See this cool chick in this cool place?  She is hanging out in the new Maples Cafe.  Think Panera and Starbucks combined in the perfect library setting!!  Interesting note:  While the cafeteria is still the popular choice for students to eat, since it is all you can eat with your ID card; your card also entitles you to $100 Eagle Bucks to spend here and at the NEW CHICKFILA on campus!!

OLD and NEW: Carson Newman will ALWAYS have a near and dear place in my heart!!!