Showing posts with label Chick-lit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chick-lit. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Historical Tuesday - The Brickmaker's Bride


The Brickmaker's Bride (Refined by Love, #1)

The Brickmaker's Bride


By: Judith Miller

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary:
Yearning for a fresh start, Ewan McKay travels with his aunt and uncle from northern Scotland to West Virginia, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial assistance from his uncle Hugh. Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, but it's Ewan who gets the business up and running again. Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner's daughter, and he feels a connection with her, but she's being courted by another man--a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Besides, Ewan has resolved he'll focus on making the brickmaking operation enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business
and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Scotland.

But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan's hard work may come to naught. As his plans begin to crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. She and her mother may have a way to save the brickworks, and in turn Ewan may have another shot at winning Laura's heart.

My thoughts:
This was a fun little read. When you want good clean romance this is a great book for that. I loved Laura and her mother and their interactions. It was a great mother daughter relationship to read. It was also nice to have a new time period and problem faced. Ewan was a great leading man and I found myself rooting for them.

The only reason I kept it from 4 stars was that the villains seemed far too one dimensional for my liking and  it at points I was just wondering why anyone still talked to them. 

It was a sweet christian romance and if that is what you are wanting to read this is a good pick for you.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Angelina's Bachelors


Angelina's Bachelors: A Novel with FoodAngelina's Bachelors: A Novel with Food

By: Brian O'Reilly
Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 5 stars

Summary:
Far too young to be a widow, Angelina D’Angelo suddenly finds herself facing a life without her beloved husband, Frank. Late one night shortly after the funeral, she makes her way down to the kitchen and pours all of her grief and anger into the only outlet she has left—her passion for cooking. In a frenzy of concentration and swift precision, she builds layer upon layer of thick, rich lasagna, braids loaves of yeasty bread, roasts plump herb-rubbed chicken; she makes so much food that she winds up delivering the spoils to the neighbors in her tight-knit Italian community in South Philadelphia. Retiree Basil Cupertino, who has just moved in with his kindly sister across the street, is positively smitten with Angelina’s food. In a stroke of good fortune, Basil offers Angelina (not only husbandless but unemployed) a job cooking for him—two meals a day, six days a week, in exchange for a handsome salary. Soon, word of her irresistible culinary prowess spreads and she finds herself cooking for seven bachelors—and in the process discovers the magical power of food to heal, to bring people together . . . and maybe even to provide a second chance at love. 

My Thoughts:
I have tried to become more stingy with my 5 stars, only offering them to books which changed me in some way, be that on a philosophical plane or something more shallow such as picking up new habits and hobbies. All of my food books that I've read recently has made me want to cook more, but this one seems to take all of what the other books started and brings it all together to the point where I am going out and buying supplies to make my own recipe box. 

Right from the start where she is making her "Frangelico Chocolate 'Dream' Cake" I was hooked. I loved her indignation at someone serving a store bought cake as homemade. (Though this may or may not be something that I am guilty of.) The whole book made me want to get up, go to my pantry and see if I could whip up something tasty. I also really loved the different bachelors that Angelina had coming up to her house. My favorite one being a man who isn't really in the mafia...but still "knows a guy" who can take care of pretty much anything. 

The plot overall is a very sweet, and heartwarming. The writing genuine and well executed. I was actually surprised when I looked at the author's name and realized that it was written by a man, he has good insight in to the feminine perspective.  Also, since he is the head of Food Network's Dinner: Impossible the recipes he includes are all great.

I love it and would recommend it to anyone who wants to read something heartwarming and sweet.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

YA Wednesday - When the Bough Breaks


When the Bough BreaksWhen the Bough Breaks

By: Kay Lynn Mangum
Genre: LDS fiction
Rating 4.5 stars

Summary:
Rachel Fletcher thought that her biggest secret in high school would be her crush on Jason West, but after her father dies in a car wreck, one she thinks is her fault, all of that changes. She has to deal with the problems of a mother who is almost catatonic with depression and worse a brother who is turning into an alcoholic. As time passes and her mother remarries she has to add a new step-father and step-brother into the mix. Rachel's brother's addiction just gets worse. She wonders why God isn't helping out more, but God doesn't always help the way we think He should.


My Thoughts:
I love this book, and have read it several times. It's one that can be hard to read (especially the first time) but almost impossible to put down. Rachel is a quiet girl who prefers to spend her time writing poetry and working on her creative writing skills, she never asked for the problems of a lost father and an alcoholic brother. She has the typical questions of "why me?" I love how real Mangum can make her characters.

A criticism of LDS fiction is that it generally can't deal with the problems which face the world of today -drug and alcohol addictions and what not, this book proves that incorrect.  It illustrates beautifully what it's like to have a family member who is an addict and how people react to it. The whole plot of healing both for Rachel and her brother Ryan left me almost crying a time or two (I have only cried twice while reading) but not wanting to stop at all.


I would recommend this book to both YA and adults, and all religions, it is beautifully done. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fluffy friday: To Win Her Heart

To Win Her HeartTo Win Her Heart
by: Karen Witemeyer
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars

Summary From Goodreads:

Having completed his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father's knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past. But small towns leave little room for secrets...
Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she steels herself against the attraction he provokes. His halting speech and hesitant manner leave her doubting his intelligence. Yet as the mysteries of the town's new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.
Karen Witemeyer is one of my favorite authors and once again she comes through. She is perhaps one of the most balanced Christian novelists I have come across, she has neither too much Christian stuff in there that I feel like I am being preached at, but there is enough for it to definitely be a Christian read. Levi is one of my favorite romantic heroes, with bulging biceps and a massive vocabulary what's there not to love...oh that's right...his murderous past. This has many great ties to the parable of the Prodigal Son and I couldn't put it down.
I really liked Eden, she was spunky, confident, not worried about Prince Charming, and she had her own library - what is there not to like? Not only did she start out great, but she also was allowed to grow throughout the story.
This was wonderfully written, the story woven very nicely, I found the conflict plausible (in historical romances that has been a very rare thing for me) and both leads well rounded and I liked the secondary characters as well. One that I might buy to have for my collection


Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Wedding Invitation

A Wedding Invitation A Wedding Invitation
By: Alice J. Wisler
Genre: Chick Lit
Rating: 2 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
After returning home from teaching English at a refugee camp in the Philippines, Samantha Bravencourt enjoys her quiet life working at her mother's clothing boutique in Falls Church, Virginia. When she receives an invitation to a wedding in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she looks forward to reconnecting with her college friend. Instead her life collides with Carson, a fellow teacher and the man who broke her heart, and a young Amerasian refugee named Lien who needs Samantha and Carson's help to find her mother before Lien's own wedding. When the search for Lien's mother reveals surprising secrets from the past, Samantha must reevaluate her own memories and decide whether to continue to play it safe or take a risk that could change her life.
Sounds pretty good doesn't it? I thought that this would be a very interesting premise, something fresh that I have never come across before...oh I was so wrong

This was one of the most confusing writing styles I have ever read. The fact that it was in present tense didn't really phase me but the thought process of the main character along with the general plot of the story wasn't really plausible for me.

I didn't understand a lot of her reasoning - why one guy was better simply because he was physically attractive in the 80's. They romantic point of the plot was a joke. I could in no way believe that the two characters would really get together. They were static. No growth in anyone's personality and overall I was left extremely dissatisfied.

Were it not for Dovie I wouldn't even have finished the book. Dovie reminded me of the crazy aunt that every one is supposed to have in their life. I loved her and her house and wouldn't mind being her one day.

Pass on this one. I was left confused and not caring about the characters at all.

Many Thanks to Bethany House Publishing for giving me this book for review.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The 5th Hour

So...I accidentally fell asleep at 10 this morning but considering how late I got to bed last night (not my fault, I work the closing shift at my school cafe) and the fact that I was reading D. H. Laurence...yeah so not my fault. But I have finished my first book of the day:




The Choice by Nicholas Sparks.


Summary from Goodreads:


Travis Parker has everything a man could want: a good job, loyal friends, even a waterfront home in small-town North Carolina. In full pursuit of the good life -- boating, swimming, and regular barbecues with his good-natured buddies -- he holds the vague conviction that a serious relationship with a woman would only cramp his style. That is, until Gabby Holland moves in next door. Despite his attempts to be neighborly, the appealing redhead seems to have a chip on her shoulder about him...and the presence of her longtime boyfriend doesn't help. Despite himself, Travis can't stop trying to ingratiate himself with his new neighbor, and his persistent efforts lead them both to the doorstep of a journey that neither could have foreseen. Spanning the eventful years of young love, marriage and family, The Choice ultimately confronts us with the most heartwrenching question of all: how far would you go to keep the hope of love alive?




I read it in one sitting because I am participating in a readathon today and well I was expecting it to end just like all of my previous Sparks books ended...with me in tears. It didn't!...does that qualify as a spoiler? I loved it, I loved Gabby's personality and thought that both she and Travis were very well developed.

What I really like was how controlled the narrative was. The author wrote in such a way that he had the readers thinking 5 different things and all of them wrong. It takes a good writer to exercise that amount of control and, despite all of the teasing I received for reading Nicholas Sparks I think that he is a good writer, much better than others I have been reading for fun recently!





I will check in again later to let you know how it is going!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fluffy Friday: Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart


Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart
by: Beth Pattillo

Genre: Chick-Lit
Rating 2 stars

Summary:
Claire Prescott is a sensible woman who believes in facts and figures, not fairy tales. But when she agrees to present a paper to a summer symposium at Oxford on her ailing sister's behalf, Claire finds herself thrown into an adventure with a gaggle of Jane Austen-loving women all on the lookout for their Mr. Darcy. Claire isn't looking for Mr. Anyone. She's been dating Neil -- a nice if a bit negligent -- sports fanatic. But when a tall, dark and dashing stranger crosses her path, will the staid Claire suddenly discover her inner romantic heroine? Her chance meeting with a mysterious woman who claims to have an early version of Austen's Pride and Prejudice -- in which Lizzie ends up with someone other than Fitzwilliam Darcy -- leads to an astounding discovery about the venerated author's own struggle to find the right hero for Lizzie Bennett. Neil's unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire's journey to finding her own romantic lead. 

While reading this I wondered if Patillo had actually read Austen. The impression I got was that she had simply watched the movies and not the good ones. All of the obvious Pride and Prejudice plot points were there only the characters were so underdeveloped that I really couldn't possibly care less about what happened to them. Clair was irritating and her "budding romance" with James was not at all believable.

The worst parts were the little bits of "First Impressions" that Pattillo tried to pass off as Austen. It was obvious there that Pattillo had never really studied Austen and that's what truly made me question if she had read it. You may try to defend her by saying it was her mimicking the Authoress before she became a good writer. That won't work.  Jane Austen has a very distinctive writing style and whatever Pattillo was doing it wasn't this. 

Pass on this one, it will save you a lot of time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fluffy Friday


Courting Miss Amsel
by: Kim Vogel Sawyer

Genre: Chick-Lit
Rating: 3 Stars

Summary from Goodreads:
Edythe Amsel loves her first teaching assignment - a one room schoolhouse in Walnut Hill, Nebraska. She has big plans for her students and intends on their receiving a fully rounded education. Unfortunately her ideas just may be too much for this town to handle
 Joel Townsend is thrilled to learn the town council hired a female teacher to replace the ruthless man who terrorized his nephews for the past two years. Having raised the boys on his own since their parents' untimely deaths, Joel believes they will benefit from a woman's influence. But he sure didn't bargain on a woman like Miss Amsel. Within the first week, she has the entire town up in arms over her outlandish teaching methods, which include collecting leaves, catching bugs, making snow angels, and stringing ropes in strange patterns all over the schoolyard. When Edythe decides to take her pupils to hear Miss Susan Anthony speak on the women's suffrage amendment, the town's outcry reaches new heights. Even Joel isn't sure he can support her newfangled ideas any longer.

I liked Edythe as a character, her love of teaching and of children was obvious and her creativity in regards to teaching methods was fun to read about. Also learning about her less than happy family life and how it affects her throughout the novel was a nice little part of it as well.

The plot was a bit predictable and I wasn't entirely hooked on the characters change of attitude at the end of the novel but it was good for its genre. This novel is exactly what you expect it to be. It's light and sweet with little bits of history thrown in here and there good for a day when you want a good story without having to think too hard.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fluffy Friday - Head in the Clouds


Head in the Clouds

by Karen Witemeyer

Genre: Chick-Lit, Historical Fiction, Christian Romance
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
Adelaide Proctor finds herself in Texas following her Prince Charming, little does she know that he is really not the man she imagined him to be. With no job or other prospects she jumps eagerly at the chance to be a governess and tutor for a young Isabella, the mute adoptive daughter of British rancher Gideon Westcott. Gideon had come to America in the hopes of making something of himself and was given the charge of Isabella on the ship over. Far from the grasping hands of her uncle both Adelaide and Gideon believe themselves safe; little do they know that trouble is coming for them.

I really thought this was marvelous chick-lit. I give my ratings based on their genre and this one did its job marvelously. The characters were endearing and believable for the most part and I thought the writing style far surpassed in what can be found in Chick-Lit these days. The Christian aspect was balanced well, adding to the story rather than distracting you from it. 

Gideon was a perfect gentleman that women everywhere would swoon for and thankfully Adelaide deserved him. She was intelligent, and from her interactions with Isabella it showed that this author has actually interacted with children. it could be because I have so many dealings with them myself but when a writer writes children in I pay close attention to how they behave and most of the time they are either too young or too old for what their supposed age is. Here Isabella character perfectly suits her.

For those of you looking for some sweet summer reading this would be the perfect thing for a lazy afternoon or two. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Classic Tuesday: Persuasion


Persuasion
by: Jane Austen

Genre: Classic, Chick-Lit
Rating: 5 Stars

Summary:
8 years after Anne Elliot turned down a proposal of marriage, Captain Wentworth, comes back wealthy and waiting to prove himself.  While the years have been kind to Wentworth, bestowing him with fame, wealth, and position, they have done quite the opposite to Anne whose family has fall upon hard times. Though Anne is still in love with him as ever, he - having made his fortune - doesn't seem to feel the same about the woman who jilted him.

This is the final book that Austen finished before she died and if it is any indication, we can believe that she had reached a new depth and had she lived we would be blessed with sheer genius. I love not only, how deep the characters go, but also how different they are. Anne Elliot is 27 years old, an old maid by all standards and she appears as though she has lost her bloom. This is a far cry from our Mariannes and Lizzies of books past. 

Sadly I think that this little gem is overlooked as the better known Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility take the stage. And while I am not saying those aren’t good (I love almost all Austen’s equally) I do wish that Persuasion got the recognition it deserves. And as amazing as Mr. Darcy seems, I think that Captain Wentworth would give him a run for his money.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Book to Movie: The Help

The Help
By Katheryn Stockett

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 Stars

I really have no idea where to begin on this one. It has been put on my "desert island list" and it's one that I have recommended to almost every one of my friends.

Summary found on Goodreads:
The Help details the lives of three women living in Jackson, Mississippi, right when the Civil Rights Movement began. There is Skeeter, a twenty-two-year-old aspiring writer who terribly misses her maid, Constantine. Aibileen is an experienced and knowledgeable black maid who is currently taking care of her seventeenth child, Mae Mobley, even though she realizes what's at stake for both of them. And Minny is a fierce, sassy cook who doesn't take nonsense from anyone, even when it risks her employment. This tumultuous trio takes the first step in sparking a movement that will ignite fire to the racism and hypocrisy of their small town.

There is a depth found in this novel that is hard to achieve. It still has the entertainment value that can occasionally have you laughing and yet is balanced by a parts that can break your heart. I fell in love with Abileen, Skeeter and Minny all in different ways. Abileen is the voice of reason -  the loving mentor who you can go to for anything. Skeeter is the plucky, slightly awkward young woman who comes into her own. And Minny? She takes the cake...or pie in this instance. Part of me thinks that she is the person we all want to be at some point in our lives, willing to tell everyone what we think of them be it good bad or ugly.

I have read about the 60's and segregation before but generally in a more inflammatory sense. Stockett though, while it's obvious where her sympathy lies, I felt that it wasn't told to rile readers up but rather to simply educate and entertain. It's a tricky balance to tell a story on this subject without sounding accusatory or didactic yet it was beautifully done. 


The writing style is something I fell in love with as well. Writing in accents, especially the ones required for this period can often be overdone and seem more like caricature rather than character. It was handled masterfully and contributed greatly to both the overall tone of the work and the plot as well.