Amazon discounts Book 2 in Carlson’s Dear Daphne series

3d-carsonThe Kindle edition of Dating, Dining, and Desperation — the second book in Melody Carlson’s “Dear Daphne” series — is now on sale for 99 cents (USD), down from the list price of $7.99 (USD). (NOTE: Sis reviewed Dear Daphne 21 July 2016, click here to see that review.)

Description:  Daphne Ballinger has learned to accept her deceased, eccentric aunt’s strange request that she marry in order to inherit her estate, along with taking over her aunt’s hometown paper’s advice column.

But knowing and accepting that God’s will be done becomes harder when a new neighbor, a divorced socialite, learns of Daphne’s predicament and takes on the task of finding her the perfect man, even if it includes speed dating. When God does open Daphne’s heart, it is instead to take in a young girl left parentless and in the care of her dying grandmother. It may be a temporary arrangement until the girl’s uncle returns from the Marines, but God uses Daphne to speak His heavenly love and protection into the life of the child — whom Daphne soon discovers has a very handsome and single uncle.

Macomber’s Rose Harbor series comes to a sweet end

$12.99 (USD) Kindle; $14.99 (USD) hardback.
$12.99 (USD) Kindle; $14.99 (USD) hardback.

Sweet Tomorrows by Debbie Macomber; women’s fiction; published by Random House; list price, $12.99 (USD) for Kindle; $14.99 (USD) hardbound edition; and $13.35 (USD) paperback edition; Audible also available.

Debbie Macomber made me rethink women’s fiction, which hadn’t held any particular interest for me until I read my beautiful mom-by-marriage’s copies of the Blossom Street series.  I missed the earlier books in the Rose Harbor series, but I accepted Random House’s offer to read and review the final book in that series, and I’m glad I did.

Sweet Tomorrows is a sweet story, and it stands on its own quite well, as well as each title in the Blossom Street series and, in my opinion, much better than the long-running Cedar Cove series.

The Rose Harbor Inn, a bed-and-breakfast, is the center of this series, along with the heartbroken widow, Jo Marie Rose, who owns it.  Jo Marie has found healing for her hurting spirit here, and so have others who have visited or worked at the inn.  Such a premise could have been sickening at the hands of a lesser writer, but Macomber shows why she’s a perennial best-seller with this series. One of the ways she succeeds is in how she handles healing. She does not limit it to a physical cure, as so many in secular society do, but allows healing to be less – and therefore so much more – than a mere removal of physical ill and become a removal of dis-ease instead.  So much more powerful, and so much more realistic.

The stories are told in first-person, with different sections narrated by different characters.  Some readers dislike this device, but Macomber is skilled in creating distinctive voices for each character and both adept and experienced in employing this technique, whether in the context of one novel or over the course of a series.  I think it works just fine – better than an omniscient narrator or than restricting the storyline to one character’s perspective.

I find one fault with the novel, though many readers will not agree.  Onerose-harbor storyline, a romance between two wounded souls, develops with unrealistic rapidity. This is more common than not in romantic fiction, of course, and I suspect that many readers crave this speed.  My objection stems from observing too many instances of girls and young women expecting real life to match this pace and, as a result, ignoring small but serious red flags in their relationships.

All in all, though, I enjoyed this one and, if Mom hasn’t bought the others in the series, I will be getting them for both of us.

NOTE: Sis received an advanced reading copy from Random House via NetGalley in exchange for a review reflecting her opinions.  She is grateful to the author, the publisher and the service for this opportunity.

Description: The much-anticipated conclusion to Debbie Macomber’s beloved Rose Harbor series, set in the picturesque town of Cedar Cove, Sweet Tomorrows is a vibrant and poignant novel of letting go of fear, following your heart, and embracing the future—come what may. Nine months ago, Mark Taylor abruptly left Cedar Cove on a perilous mission to right a wrong from his past. Though Mark finally confessed his love for her, innkeeper Jo Marie Rose is unsure if he’s ever coming back. The Rose Harbor Inn barely seems the same without Mark, but Jo Marie can’t bear to lose herself in grief once more. Determined to move forward, she begins dating again, and finds companionship when she takes on a boarder who is starting a new chapter herself. Recovering from a twice-broken heart, Emily Gaffney, a young teacher, is staying at the inn while she looks for a home of her own. Having given up on marriage, Emily dreams of adopting children someday. She has her eye on one house in particular—with room for kids. Although Emily’s inquiries about the house are rudely rebuffed, her rocky start with the owner eventually blossoms into a friendship. But when the relationship verges on something more, Emily will have to rethink what she truly wants and the chances she’s willing to take. The inn seems to be working its magic again—Emily opening herself up to love, Jo Marie moving on—until Jo Marie receives shocking news. With Debbie Macomber’s trademark charm and wisdom, Sweet Tomorrows brings to a close the journeys of cherished characters who feel like old friends. Macomber has created an enchanting place in the Rose Harbor Inn that readers will never forget.


Saturday Savings 23.07.2016

The Scottie Barked at Midnight

Scottie BarkedThe ninth book in this popular cozy mystery series is on sale at $2.99 (USD), half the $5.99 price. This is a series I’ve only recently started, so I have yet to read this mystery, but the whole series gets an enthusiastic endorsement from one of my reading friends, Stacey, and I think she’s a good judge of a good cozy mystery.

Description:  Spring is just a few weeks away, but winter is still digging its claws into Moosetookalook, Maine. With business at the Scottish Emporium frozen up, Liss MacCrimmon is cautiously optimistic when a twist of fate lands her on a reality competition show—until the contest gets a little too cutthroat . . . While driving on an icy road one night, Liss swerves her car when something darts out in front of it. The Scottish terrier she finds shivering in the snow turns out to be a reality TV star. But when the pooch’s owner is murdered, her daughter asks Liss to take her place on the reality show. Before Liss can tell her she’s barking up the wrong tree, she finds herself ensnarled in the strange world of reality competitions and hot on the trail of a deadly competitor. And just as she starts pawing at the truth, Liss realizes she could be next on the murderer’s list.

DunnettAbout the Author:  Kaitlyn Dunnett first caught the Scottish heritage bug when her husband learned to play the bagpipes. Many Scottish festivals and parades later, and after a brief stint as bass drummer with a bagpipe band, she decided to combine her love of things Scottish with her love of writing. The Liss MacCrimmon mysteries are the result. Kaitlyn lives on a Christmas tree farm in the mountains of western Maine and can be reached through her website at www.kaitlyndunnett.com.

Click the image below to see the entire Liss MacCrimmon series:

Kilt Dead

is scheduled to be released 26 July 2016.

I’d heard of Nicholas Sparks, but I never read any of his best-selling novels until I started borrowing them from my beautiful mom-by-marriage, and, I confess, I enjoy them almost as much as she does.  I found The Rescuea novel published in 2000 on sale today for $1.99 (USD). Most of his ebooks are priced at $7.99 (USD), so this is a significant savings.

RescueDescription: When confronted by raging fires or deadly accidents, volunteer firefighter Taylor McAden feels compelled to take terrifying risks to save lives. But there is one leap of faith Taylor can’t bring himself to make: he can’t fall in love. For all his adult years, Taylor has sought out women who need to be rescued, women he leaves as soon as their crisis is over and the relationship starts to become truly intimate. When a raging storm hits his small Southern town, single mother Denise Holton’s car skids off the road. The young mom is with her four-year-old son Kyle, a boy with severe learning disabilities and for whom she has sacrificed everything. Taylor McAden finds her unconscious and bleeding, but does not find Kyle. When Denise wakes, the chilling truth becomes clear to both of them: Kyle is gone. During the search for Kyle, the connection between Taylor and Denise takes root. Taylor doesn’t know that this rescue will be different from all the others.

roger ackroydI’ve collected Agatha Christies since I was in my teens, and I had at least one copy of every title when I was in my twenties, but one in particular — The Murder of Roger Ackroyd — mysteriously disappeared every time I moved. Now, I have a Kindle edition which cannot go astray. Today, this classic mystery is discounted to $1.99 (USD), and it is one that belongs in the library of every mystery fan if not of every well-rounded reader. This is the book that made Christie, the bestselling mystery writer of all time, a household name. Debates raged over whether Christie played fair. I think she did. Other writers have since copied her clever plot device, but, to my mind, no one has ever equaled this effort. This is one I can read over and over and over again and enjoy each reading as much as I did the first time.

Description:  In the village of King’s Abbot, a widow’s sudden suicide sparks rumors that she murdered her first husband, was being blackmailed, and was carrying on a secret affair with the wealthy Roger Ackroyd. The following evening, Ackroyd is murdered in his locked study — but not before receiving a letter identifying the widow’s blackmailer. King’s Abbot is crawling with suspects, including a nervous butler, Ackroyd’s wayward stepson, and his sister-in-law, Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, who has taken up residence in the victim’s home. It’s now up to the famous Hercule Poirot, who has retired to King’s Abbot to grow vegetable marrows, to solve the case of who killed Roger Ackroyd.

And, last but by no means least, the bestselling, epic account of one of the most significant battles of the Vietnam War, We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young by retired Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and Joseph Galloway, is on sale at $2.99 (USD) today. Soldiers Once

Description:  In November 1965, some 450 men of the First Battalion, Seventh Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Harold Moore, were dropped into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley. They were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Three days later, only two and a half miles away, a sister battalion was brutally slaughtered. Together, these actions at the landing zones X-Ray and Albany constituted one of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War. They were the first major engagements between the US Army and the People’s Army of Vietnam. How these Americans persevered—sacrificing themselves for their comrades and never giving up—creates a vivid portrait of war at its most devastating and inspiring. Lt. Gen. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway—the only journalist on the ground throughout the fighting—interviewed hundreds of men who fought in the battle, including the North Vietnamese commanders. Their poignant account rises above the ordeal it chronicles to depict men facing the ultimate challenge, dealing with it in ways they would have once found unimaginable. It reveals to us, as rarely before, man’s most heroic and horrendous endeavor.

Daphne is a Dear!

Lock StockLock, Stock and Over a Barrel: Dear Daphne Series, Book 1 by Melody Carlson; approx. 320 pp; first published in 2013 by Thorndike Books; current Kindle list price $0.99 (USD), paperback edition, $13.68 (USD), hardbound edition, $30.99 at Amazon.com. Book 1 of a 4-book series.

Recommended:  for Christian women – but with the warning that this is the first in a series with a storyline that is not fully resolved until the end of the series.

Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel: Dear Daphne Series, Book 1 is a light-hearted, easy-to-read happily-ever-after, except that readers don’t quite get the happily-ever-after in this volume. Or not all of the happily-ever-after.

The central storyline – whether Daphne can comply with the eccentric terms of her late aunt’s will and inherit the sizeable estate – isn’t resolved and, from all appearances, won’t be until the end of the series. That irks some readers, yet Melody Carlson gives us so much reason to care about Daphne (as well as her family and friends) that I think most will want to continue. I do.

I don’t read a lot of chick lit, and even less romance, but I confess I did enjoy this one. I found myself disappointed to see how close I was coming to the end, and I initially felt a little disappointed with the ending, wishing it had been stronger. Upon reflection, though, I decided the story ended exactly where it needed to end.

Daphne Ballinger, a 34-year-old The New York Times wedding writer who has all but given up on dreams of her own wedding, returns to Appleton for her Aunt Dee’s funeral. Afterwards, her aunt’s attorney stuns the family by announcing that Daphne is the sole heir to her aunt’s estate. He’s got more surprises in store for Daphne, who learns the bequest comes with a few strings.

The premise is, frankly, implausible. No attorney would prepare such a will because any court would overturn it. But this premise is unfolded quite early in the story, and those who read books like this should be prepared to suspend disbelief and get ready to be entertained.  And they will be.

Daphne is a darling. The premise may be incredible, but she isn’t nor are the other characters. And certainly Carlson can tell a story. She doesn’t preach. She doesn’t proselytize. But she does share a message, and one that you won’t find in most romances. Daphne hears it when she accepts an invitation to join a singles group at a local church.

“I realized with complete and utter clarity that I was looking for a human being to fulfill me and make me whole. When what I needed to do was to allow God to fulfill me and make me whole. Suddenly it was crystal clear that until I reached that place where God was making me whole, I wouldn’t have all that much to offer a soul mate anyway,” the pastor tells the young men and women in the group.

The book ends shortly after this scene, and some reviewers object. I don’t agree with those who claim it ends with a cliff hanger, because Carlson does resolve the conflict within Daphne even if she doesn’t resolve the question of whether Daphne can fully inherit her aunt’s estate. To find out that, you’ll have to keep reading . . . but I think you’ll want to anyway.

Description:  With high hopes, Daphne Ballinger lands her dream job at The New York Times. But it’s not long until writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her own failed romance, and her love of the city slowly sours as well. Is it time to give up the Big Apple for her small hometown of Appleton? 

When her eccentric Aunt Dee passes away and leaves a sizeable estate to Daphne, going back home is an easy choice. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the downright odd clauses written into the will. 

Daphne only stands to inherit the estate if she agrees to her aunt’s very specific posthumous terms — personal and professional. And if she fails to comply, the sprawling old Victorian house shall be bequeathed to . . . Aunt Dee’s cats. 

And if Daphne thinks that’s odd, wait until she finds out an array of secrets about Aunt Dee’s life, and how imperfect circumstances can sometimes lead to God’s perfect timing.

Also in this series:


About the author:  Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film or television. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.

Note:  Sis received a complimentary reading copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. She is grateful for the opportunity to read and review it.