The 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.
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. One 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 Tomorrowsbrings 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.
Broken Angels is an ambitious, and somewhat successful, attempt to capture the pathos of a man, a woman and a child whose lives and souls are battered against the backdrop of World War II and the ruthless regime that swept across Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.
Ambitious, because Gemma Liviero defies convention to tell the story in the present tense with alternating points of view. Somewhat successful, because this device feels contrived – and because none of the characters develop a distinctive voice. The point of view alternates with the chapters, each character narrating in turn, but the style of speech, of thought, of description remains too constant, to unchanging, to reflect the change of perspectives that each character could, and ideally would, provide.
Most readers will have to work a bit to stay in the story. Those who never tire of reading about the men, women and children whose lives were broken but whose spirits were never destroyed by the evil of this era won’t object and should be willing to follow these lives in their search for redemption. Those who demand much more may not be so satisfied.
NOTE: Sis received an advanced reading copy from Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an independent and unbiased review. She asserts that not only has no one influenced her opinions, no one has even attempted to do so.
From the publisher: A Nazi doctor. A Jewish rebel. A little girl. Each one will fight for freedom—or die trying.
Imprisoned in the Lodz Ghetto, Elsi discovers her mother’s desperate attempt to end her pregnancy and comes face-to-face with the impossibility of their situation. Risking her own life, Elsi joins a resistance group to sabotage the regime.
Blonde, blue-eyed Matilda is wrenched from her family in Romania and taken to Germany, where her captors attempt to mold her into the perfect Aryan child. Spirited and brave, she must inspire hope in the other stolen children to make her dreams of escape a reality.
Willem, a high-ranking Nazi doctor, plans to save lives when he takes posts in both the ghetto and Auschwitz. After witnessing unimaginable cruelties, he begins to question his role and the future of those he is ordered to destroy.
While Hitler ransacks Europe in pursuit of a pure German race, the lives of three broken souls—thrown together by chance—intertwine. Only love and sacrifice might make them whole again.
About the author: Gemma Liviero holds an advanced diploma of arts in professional writing, and she has worked as a copywriter, a corporate writer, and a magazine feature writer and editor. She is the author of the historical fiction novel Pastel Orphans, a coming-of-age story set in 1930s Berlin, as well as two gothic fantasies, Lilah and Marek. Broken Angels is her second historical novel. She now lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and two children.
Available in paperback, $14.95 (USD), and Kindle ebook, $5.99 (USD) — add Audible narration for $1.99. Also available with Kindle Unlimited.