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.


Discover Catherine Cookson

MaryJo Dawson, who writes the clean and cozy Sally Nimitz mysteries, brings to MiddleSisterReviews a series of reviews of authors from days gone by — writers who may not be as well known to today’s readers as they should be.  Today, she focuses on Catherine Cookson:

cooksonCatherine Cookson was born in 1906 into a humble household in rural England, where she knew hardship and poverty. By grinding hard work she saved enough money to buy a home and turn it into boarding house to make her own living. She married happily in her early 30s, but after a number of miscarriages, she was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder that meant she could not have children.

In her disappointment and grief, she turned to writing.

And what a talent this woman had! Most of her stories take place in Britain in the mid to late 19th Century, focusing on survival and victories amid grueling poverty, ignorance, and class distinction. Her attention to detail and her ability to weave a good story brought her well-earned success, accolades, and often record sales. Move over Agatha Christie: at one point Cookson held the record for books sought after and checked out in the British library system. Her heyday was from the 1960s to the 1980s, but her books are in reprint and most are available in ebook formats.

whipRecently I’ve re-read one of her later works, The Whip. It is the story of Emma Molinero,  beginning when she is orphaned before she was eight years old, and continuing through the next 24 years of her life. The daughter of a local farmer and a Spanish carnival performer who was a master with knives and whips,  Emma is transported from a life of love and protection at the carnival to the harsh realities of rural life in Tyneside in the mid-19th Century.

The young, kindly, new local parson and a local painter are two of the people who make life bearable for the girl during long days of drudgery and negative – sometimes cruel – attention from those who have no patience or understanding for someone who doesn’t conform. With her intelligence, independent spirit, and unusual good looks, Emma always stands out.

The years will bring bitter disappointments and cruel losses, but sometimes hope and humor. Cookson is a master at showing human nature at its best and its worst. When Emma’s husband’s twin brother losses his mind completely due to jealousy and hate, he is determined to destroy Emma if it’s the last thing he ever does. He almost succeeds.

The Whip is currently $5.99 (USD) on Amazon in the Kindle Store. Many of the original 1983 printed hard copies are available for very reasonable prices (ranging from $2.01 USD and up). The prices for the secondhand print editions vary, by seller and condition. Click to read a sample:  The Whip.

Other Cookson novels available in the same price range include: The Dwelling Place, Our Kate, The Girl, The Mallen Girl, The Invitation, and The Blind Years.

From Amazon’s author page: Catherine Cookson was born in Tyne Dock, the illegitimate daughter of a poverty-stricken woman, Kate, whom she believed to be her older sister. She began work in service but eventually moved south to Hastings, where she met and married Tom Cookson, a local grammar-school master. Although she was originally acclaimed as a regional writer – her novel The Round Tower won the Winifred Holtby Award for the best regional novel of 1968 – her readership quickly spread throughout the world, and her many best-selling novels established her as one of the most popular of contemporary women novelists. After receiving an OBE in 1985, Catherine Cookson was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1993. She was appointed an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda’s College, Oxford, in 1997. For many years she lived near Newcastle upon Tyne. She died shortly before her ninety-second birthday, in June 1998.

Sis thanks MaryJo for her contributions and for bringing another writer to her attention. She hopes that you, too, will enjoy these flashbacks and find some new-to-you writers to read and enjoy.


Saturday Savings: More histories, more mysteries

Endeavour Press discounted two biographies of Queen Victoria and one of Prince Albert, her husband, today (Saturday, 10 September 2016):

victoria1Queen Victoria, compiled by the queen’s librarian, was written to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and relies on the queen’s own notes. Richard Rivington Holmes provides contemporary insight into the queen, her peers, her background and her heirs. He also explores her lineage and how she came to inherit the throne and rule the British Empire. It’s on sale today for 99 cents (USD), a significant savings from the print list price of $25.95 (hardbound) or $26.95 (paperback). Sir Richard Rivington Holmes (1835-1911) was a British archivist and courtier, best known for being Librarian to the Queen at Windsor Castle. He was reappointed this role in 1901 by King Edward VII. He is also well known for his large Ethiopian artefact collection that has been catalogued into the British museum. Holmes is buried in Buckinghamshire.

A second Jubilee memoir, Victoria, Queen and Empresswas also written tovictoria2 celebrate 50 years of rule. G. Holden Pike received access to Victoria’s diaries to pen his biography.  It, too, has been discounted to 99 cents (USD), from a list price of $22.95 (hardbound). Holden Pike covers topics such as the Queen’s education, through to Prince Albert’s death, and finally to the Golden Jubilee, alongside other contextually relevant aspects of the Victorian era. Godfrey Holden Pike (1836-1910) was the sub-editor of The Sword and The Trowel for twenty years. He contributed many articles to the magazine, alongside penning many historical and biographical works such as Oliver Cromwell and His Times, and From Slave to College President.

albertHector Bolitho, the renowned biographer of royals, tackles Victoria’s husband in Albert, Prince ConsortThis one is also on sale for 99 cents (USD) today. Bolitho explores the life and personality of Prince Albert, from his birth in Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, his marriage and restraining influence on Queen Victoria and his early death from typhoid.

Earlier this week, Lea Wait’s Shadows on a Morning in Mainethe eighth in her Antique Print Mystery series, was released. It’s available for $4.99 (USD). (See my Sister Sites page for more info on Lea’s website.) I’m really, really, really ready to escape from the unrelenting heat and humidity of the Gulf Coast, so a virtual vacation to Maine sounds perfect.

shadowsDescription: Antique print dealer Maggie Summer’s making big changes in her life. She’s taken a sabbatical from her college teaching job and moved to the coast of Maine to run an antique mall with Will Brewer, her significant other, and is finally hoping to adopt the daughter she’s been hoping for. However, the troubled girl referred to her doesn’t want any part of the plan, showing affection only for harbor seals, which remind her of her “real mother.” Maggie’s distraught when someone starts shooting the seals — and the a young fisherman is murdered. When Will then confesses a secret from his past, she begins to wonder if moving to Maine is the biggest mistake of her life.

R. Allen Chappell has been compared to Tony Hillerman — which is recommendation enough for any mystery fan. His Navajo Autumn is discounted to 99 cents (USD) today from $2.99. I read a sample, enough to make me want to read more.

Description: Thomas Begay is found dead-drunk under the La Plata Bridge …not unusual for Thomas Begay. What is unusual, is BIA investigator Patsy Greyhorse, found lying beside him …not drunk, or even a Navajo, but very dead nonetheless. Long time friend Charlie Yazzi, fresh from law school, risks his career …and even his life to help his old schoolmate. The Answer seems to lie with the Yeenaaldiooshii …should one choose to believe in such things. In the far reaches of the reservation there still are traditional Navajos living their lives with few concessions to modern mores. Guided by their strong sense of cultural heritage these outliers remain a strong anchor for the Navajo Nation. This story follows the lives of such people, caught up in a plot that could have far-reaching implications for the entire tribe.

Saturday Savings 03.09.2016

Histories, mysteries and more . . .

Labor Day weekend brings an end, for some, to summer, and the beginning, to others, of college football season. Mister Sister and I spent the last few days giving our house a much-needed deep cleaning as we get ready for Game Day celebrations. I’m ready to relax (after the game, of course) with some good books. Here’s what I’ve found on sale today:

TitanicWalter Lord’s account of the Titanic disaster earned him a reputation for meticulously researched literary non-fiction. Open Road Media brings his A Night to Remember and The Night Lives On, which examines factual and fanciful theories surrounding the ship and its sinking, in The Complete Titanic Chronicles, discounted today to $4.99 (USD) — $20 off its list price!

Endeavour Press offers the sensational and best-selling history from Lord Russell of Liverpool of Nazi war crimes, detailing the illegal as well as immoralScourge atrocities committed against Germany’s own citizens, prisoners of war and others.  Lord Russell of Liverpool—né Edward Frederick Langley Russell, 2nd Baron Russell of Liverpool—was Deputy Judge Advocate General for the British Army of the Rhine, and was a chief legal adviser for Britain during the war crimes trials following World War II. The Scourge of the Swastika, his history of those crimes, is on sale today for $1.99 (USD), down from $14.99 (USD).

Mysterious Press discounts Aaron Elkins’ fourth Gideon Oliver mystery, Old Boneswhich won the Edgar Award and which was voted one of 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century by the Independent Booksellers Association, to $1.99 (USD) from $7.99.

BonesBook description: With the roar of thunder and the speed of a galloping horse comes the tide to Mont St. Michel goes the old nursery song. So when the aged patriarch of the du Rocher family falls victim to the perilous tide, even the old man’s family accepts the verdict of accidental drowning. But too quickly, this “accident” is followed by a bizarre discovery in the ancient du Rocher château: a human skeleton, wrapped in butcher paper, beneath the old stone flooring. Professor Gideon Oliver, lecturing on forensic anthropology at nearby St. Malo, is asked to examine the bones. He quickly demonstrates why he is known as the “Skeleton Detective,” providing the police with forensic details that lead them to conclude that these are the remains of a Nazi officer believed to have been murdered in the area during the Occupation. Or are they? Gideon himself has his doubts. Then, when another of the current du Rochers dies—this time via cyanide poisoning—his doubts solidify into a single certainty: someone wants old secrets to stay buried . . . and is perfectly willing to eradicate the meddlesome American to make that happen.

I love Rudyard Kipling’s stories, and Kim, the classic story of an orphaned boy, a lama and two empires clashing over one magical land, is free today, thanks to Open Road Media.