Saturday, June 18, 2016

All Summer Long - My Review

Melody Carlson's book All Summer Long is a great beach read for this time of year.  It is light-hearted and a fairly quick read, but that may be because I had trouble putting it down.  I love when a book becomes a page turner, and the story follows a fluid path.  From being introduced to the main characters, to finding out and understanding the plot of the text, each scene flowed easily from one page to the next, and I was excited to see how each part of the overall story played out. 

Tia D'Amico is an aspiring chef who longs to not only further her career but also cannot wait to jump at the chance to leave behind her hometown of Norton, Washington.  Even though it has been in the family for generations, Tia feels that her talents can be put to better use somewhere other than her uncle's restaurant, and she longs for a new adventure to come her way.  When it finally does, her immediate excitement turns to worry as she takes a giant leap into the great unknown.  Will she be able to successfully manage the next page in her life?  Or is she making a terrible mistake?  These are the thoughts that run through Tia's mind as she boards the plane to San Francisco to meet her aunt and uncle.  Unfortunately, her destination will uncover a secret from her past along with great amounts of heartache and prayer.

Leo Parker has always dreamed of being a sea captain.  That is after he abandoned the family plan of becoming an attorney.  Despite his father's trepidation at this news, Leo continues in his plans of wanting to live a life at sea.  Interestingly, he gets offered the position of sea captain aboard the Pacific Pearl.  There is one problem though.  The Pacific Pearl is not ready to set sail much less even be boarded at the dock.  After much loving care, maybe she will be ready to make her maiden voyage.  In the midst of trying to recover this rare gem from the past, Leo confronts his own past while trying to start a new chapter.  Some unforeseen troubles might derail his plans, yet they might also be the steps he needs to take in order to secure his own happiness in life. 

This book is filled with joys, sadness, questions about the past and future, along with trying to reconnect with people and places you never thought you knew or needed.  Carlson's addition of colorful characters along the way will keep you guessing as you wonder how the actions and consequences of each person's life will turn out.  There were even moments I wished I could join in with the gang and makes s'mores by the campfire with them! 

In addition to her relatable characters, her style of writing is easy to read and understand, and she modernizes her text by using familiar names, such as Whole Food and Starbucks.  I highly recommend checking this story out!

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, for my copy.

About The Book

*She's ready to take on a new challenge.  What she doesn't expect is an old flame.  Tia D'Amico is thrilled to move to San Fransisco to help her aunt transform an old luxury yacht into an upscale floating restaurant.  What's not to love?  Sunset dinner cruises, posh wedding receptions--the possibilities are endless and far more appetizing than staying in a monotonous job in her Podunk hometown.  Besides, some of her best memories are tied to San Fransisco--especially the memory of Leo Parker, her crush from a long ago sailing camp.  

When Leo Parker himself turns out to be the yacht's captain, Tia is floating on air.  But will it all come crashing down around her when she discover his heart belong to someone else? 

Get ready for a romantic summer in San Francisco, where the future glistens brighter than the Bay at Sunset.  

*Synopsis is from the back cover of the novel.

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, including Finding Alice.  She and her husband live in central Oregon. 
Learn more at:

Thursday, June 16, 2016

New Books from Bethany House Publishers

*Famed actress Charlotte Ward stepped away from from the Victorian London stage five years ago.  Now in desperate circumstances, she tries to restart her career--only to experience a complete collapse.  Against her better judgement, Charlotte's estranged daughter, Rosalind, comes to her mother's rescue and moves her to a quite English coastal village where her mother can evade the gossip columnists, at least for a time. 

Charlotte is grateful to re-establish even tenuous family ties with Rosalind.  As one with regrets over her own romantic past, she's happy to see love blossom for her daughter.  For Rosalind, however, it's time away from teaching, and now she must care for the mother who wasn't there for her.  And what could possibly be more complicated than romance?  

But there can be no permanent escape from the threats of recent months.  As the privacy they seek is threatened, mother and daughter must make some difficult decisions--ones that jeopardize those they care most about.  

*Men are optional. That's the credo Emma Chandler's suffragette aunts taught her and why she established Harper's Station, a women's colony that offers a fresh start to females in need.  But when an dangerous and shadowly assailant tries repeatedly to drive them out, Emma is forced to admit they might need a man after all.  One who can fight.  And there is only one man she trusts enough to ask. 

Malachi Shaw has finally earned the respect he's always craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma's telegram arrives, he rushes back to Texas to repay the girl who once saved his life.  Only she's not a girl any longer. She's a woman with a mind of her own and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn't deserve.

As the danger intensifies, Emma, Mal, and the ladies of Harper's Station must choose safety or whether to risk everything to fight for their future.  

*Stella West's artistic talent made her the toast of London, but when her beloved sister dies under mysterious circumstances she abandons everything and heads for Boston.  With single-minded determination she fights to pierce the ring of secrecy surrounding her sister's death.  Upon meeting Romulus White, a publisher with connections into every important power circle in the city, she quickly realizes he could be a valuable ally in navigating Boston society.  

Romulus White has been pursuing Stella for years to create art for his magazine.  Her luminous illustrations are the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry, and he will stop at nothing to get on board.

Sparks fly the instant they join forces, but Romulus is unsettled by the unwelcome attraction he feels toward Stella, fearing she might be the one woman who could disrupt his hard-won independence. He may have finally met his match in Stella, but in helping her solve the mystery of her sister's death worth the risk to his publishing empire?

*Each synopsis is from the back cover of each novel. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Secret Garden

The Key to the Garden
Excerpt from The Secret Garden
by:  Frances Hodgson Burnett

Two days after this, when Mary opened her eyes she sat upright in bed immediately, and called to Martha.

"Look at the moor! Look at the moor!"

The rainstorm had ended and the gray mist and clouds had been swept away in the night by the wind. The wind itself had ceased and a brilliant, deep blue sky arched high over the moorland. Never, never had Mary dreamed of a sky so blue. In India skies were hot and blazing; this was of a deep cool blue which almost seemed to sparkle like the waters of some lovely bottomless lake, and here and there, high, high in the arched blueness floated small clouds of snow-white fleece. The far-reaching world of the moor itself looked softly blue instead of gloomy purple-black or awful dreary gray.

"Aye," said Martha with a cheerful grin. "Th' storm's over for a bit. It does like this at this time o' th' year. It goes off in a night like it was pretendin' it had never been here an' never meant to come again. That's because th' springtime's on its way. It's a long way off yet, but it's comin'." 

"I thought perhaps it always rained or looked dark in England," Mary said.

"Eh! no!" said Martha, sitting up on her heels among her black lead brushes. "Nowt o' th' soart!"

"What does that mean?" asked Mary seriously. In India the natives spoke different dialects which only a few people understood, so she was not surprised when Martha used words she did not know.

Martha laughed as she had done the first morning.

"There now," she said. "I've talked broad Yorkshire again like Mrs. Medlock said I mustn't. `Nowt o' th' soart' means `nothin'-of-the-sort,'" slowly and carefully, "but it takes so long to say it. Yorkshire's th' sunniest place on earth when it is sunny. I told thee tha'd like th' moor after a bit. Just you wait till you see th' gold-colored gorse blossoms an' th' blossoms o' th' broom, an' th' heather flowerin', all purple bells, an' hundreds o' butterflies flutterin' an' bees hummin' an' skylarks soarin' up an' singin'. You'll want to get out on it as sunrise an' live out on it all day like Dickon does." "Could I ever get there?" asked Mary wistfully, looking through her window at the far-off blue. It was so new and big and wonderful and such a heavenly color.

"I don't know," answered Martha. "Tha's never used tha' legs since tha' was born, it seems to me. Tha' couldn't walk five mile. It's five mile to our cottage." 

"I should like to see your cottage."

Martha stared at her a moment curiously before she took up her polishing brush and began to rub the grate again. She was thinking that the small plain face did not look quite as sour at this moment as it had done the first morning she saw it. It looked just a trifle like little Susan Ann's when she wanted something very much.

"I'll ask my mother about it," she said. "She's one o' them that nearly always sees a way to do things. It's my day out today an' I'm goin' home. Eh! I am glad. Mrs. Medlock thinks a lot o' mother. Perhaps she could talk to her."

"I like your mother," said Mary.

"I should think tha' did," agreed Martha, polishing away.

"I've never seen her," said Mary.

"No, tha' hasn't," replied Martha.

She sat up on her heels again and rubbed the end of her nose with the back of her hand as if puzzled for a moment, but she ended quite positively.

"Well, she's that sensible an' hard workin' an' goodnatured an' clean that no one could help likin' her whether they'd seen her or not. When I'm goin' home to her on my day out I just jump for joy when I'm crossin' the moor."

"I like Dickon," added Mary. "And I've never seen him."

"Well," said Martha stoutly, "I've told thee that th' very birds likes him an' th' rabbits an' wild sheep an' ponies, an' th' foxes themselves. I wonder," staring at her reflectively, "what Dickon would think of thee?"

"He wouldn't like me," said Mary in her stiff, cold little way. "No one does."

Martha looked reflective again.

"How does tha' like thysel'?" she inquired, really quite as if she were curious to know.

Mary hesitated a moment and thought it over.

"Not at all--really," she answered. "But I never thought of that before."

Martha grinned a little as if at some homely recollection.

"Mother said that to me once," she said. "She was at her wash- tub an' I was in a bad temper an' talkin' ill of folk, an' she turns round on me an' says: `Tha' young vixen, tha'! There tha' stands sayin' tha' doesn't like this one an' tha' doesn't like that one. How does tha' like thysel'?' It made me laugh an' it brought me to my senses in a minute."

She went away in high spirits as soon as she had given Mary her breakfast. She was going to walk five miles across the moor to the cottage, and she was going to help her mother with the washing and do the week's baking and enjoy herself thoroughly.

Mary felt lonelier than ever when she knew she was no longer in the house. She went out into the garden as quickly as possible, and the first thing she did was to run round and round the fountain flower garden ten times. She counted the times carefully and when she had finished she felt in better spirits. The sunshine made the whole place look different. The high, deep, blue sky arched over Misselthwaite as well as over the moor, and she kept lifting her face and looking up into it, trying to imagine what it would be like to lie down on one of the little snow-white clouds and float about.