Saturday, February 17, 2024

The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin (Review)

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: August 8, 2017
320 pages
About the Book:
After two broken engagements, nurse practitioner Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she only trusts herself and God, and she's focused on her eighteen-year-old sister, Lucy, and caring for patients. Just as she applies to work for an international aid organization, a phone call from Lucy, who's pregnant and running off to marry her twenty-one-year-old boyfriend, throws a wrench into all of Mia's plans.
Jake Tanner may have recovered from the physical injuries he sustained on the job as a police officer, but his heart has yet to heal from losing his former partner in the tragedy. He's poured himself into starting a camp for the sons of fallen officers and mentoring Sam, the adult son of his deceased partner, who's asked him to be his best man at his wedding.
Mia is expecting a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn't expecting Jake. And Jake, who can't help envying Sam and Lucy, doubts he'll ever experience their happiness for himself. But maybe Jake's courage and Mia's caring spirit are just what they need to bring them a lifetime of healing and a forever kind of love. . . .

My Rating & Thoughts:    

I recently reread this book for the second time after purchasing a physical copy of the book and loved it just as much as I remember originally loving it. I made notes of quotes while reading and didn't look at my original review until I finished the book. When I did go back and look I discovered that I marked a couple of the same quotes I did back in 2017. That was cool to see. 
Mia and Jake meet randomly in a restaurant but what they don’t know is how life is going to bring them together. I really enjoyed following their story and getting to know them and the other characters. There was a lot addressed throughout the course of the book, finding oneself, learning to trust others and God, dealing with family health issues, and so much more. Both Jake & Mia have to decide if the dreams they are each pursuing is worth the cost or could God be leading them towards something better. I absolutely loved Jake, who can pass up a strong male who has overcome challenges and is willing to put his feelings aside for others. He was wonderful with Mia and I felt they fit well together, but will things work out for them to be together, or will their lives take them in separate directions?
Mia is used to being a responsible one, looking after her younger spontaneous sister and always has every step planned, but after two failed engagements she has a hard time trusting others and is determined to trust only God’s leading. She dedicates her life to her work and following God’s lead, but in the process she feels lead in two directions and struggles with the decision of what to do. Can she learn open her heart to others and follow God`s lead even if it might not be taking her in the direction she has planned?
Each character was dealing with their own struggles that tested their faith. The main focus might be on Mia and Jake but the side characters were also crucial to the story, without them the story would have lost some of the realness. Throughout the hard moments there were many wonderful moments that put a smile on my face while reading. There was so much love for others shown - romantic, family and friendship, that I finished the book feeling wonderful. I feel like I experienced all emotions possible; frustration, sadness, laughter, and happiness, over the course of this story. I absolutely loved this book; the characters were loveable and felt real, I couldn’t help but want them to find happiness. The epilogue at the end just made the story that much better for me. I highly recommend picking this book up.

Favourite Quote: 
“We can adapt and move on, or live in the past.”
“Love is a choice. It's keeping promises when they're tough to keep. It's staying when you want to leave. And it's seeing the other person through the same forgiving lens through which God sees us all.”
(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke (Review)

Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Released: January 1, 2011
287 pages
About the Book:

Dick Van Dyke, indisputably one of the greats of the golden age of television, is admired and beloved by audiences the world over for his beaming smile, his physical dexterity, his impeccable comic timing, his ridiculous stunts, and his unforgettable screen roles.
His trailblazing television program, The Dick Van Dyke Show (produced by Carl Reiner, who has written the foreword to this memoir), was one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1960s and introduced another major television star, Mary Tyler Moore. But Dick Van Dyke was also an enormously engaging movie star whose films, including Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, have been discovered by a new generation of fans and are as beloved today as they were when they first appeared. Who doesn’t know the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?


My Rating & Thoughts:    

I loved listening to Dick Van Dyke tell his story in his own voice. I knew of Dick from Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Diagnosis Murder but didn't really know about him outside of these popular characters he has played. I enjoyed getting to know his background and some behind the scenes stuff from shows I've watched a lot over the year. I respect that he made a decision to stick with family friendly shows. He was honest about struggles he dealt with over the years. I did find at various times he seemed to gloss over some things and noticed that he liked to drop the names of the cars he drove. Maybe that's a guy thing, but if felt like he was showing off on what he drove. He also drops a lot of names of those he was worked with over the years and while I recognized some there were a lot that didn't mean a thing to me. I like how he has tried to stay active and make people laugh with clean jokes and physical comedy. The thing I enjoyed the most about this book was listening to his voice. I'm so glad I listened to the audiobook, if I had read it physically I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it as much. 

(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Monday, February 12, 2024

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce (Review)

Series: Emmy Lake Chronicles #1
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Publisher: Scribner
Released: April 5, 2018
276 pages
About the Book:

London, 1941. Amid the falling bombs Emmeline Lake dreams of becoming a fearless Lady War Correspondent. Unfortunately, Emmy instead finds herself employed as a typist for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt at Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs Bird refuses to read, let alone answer, letters containing any form of Unpleasantness, and definitely not those from the lovelorn, grief-stricken or morally conflicted.

But the thought of these desperate women waiting for an answer at this most desperate of times becomes impossible for Emmy to ignore. She decides she simply must help and secretly starts to write back – after all, what harm could that possibly do?

My Rating & Thoughts:    

Set in London in the early days of the world war two. Air raids have become a common occurrence. We meet Emmy, who is in her 20s, volunteering at a firehouse as a dispatcher. She dreams of being a war journalist and takes a job as a typesetter at a magazine, not realizing exactly what the job was. We follow her everyday life and watch her grow and learn along the way. She makes some unwise decisions, she had the best of intentions but knew it was wrong and did it anyway. Eventually, she has to deal with the consequences of her actions. I especially enjoyed following her friendship with Bunky and reading the numerous letters throughout. There are some difficult situations that happen, but the story is told with a lightheartedness that it wasn't a heavy read. I really enjoyed the ending and feel like Emmy grew over the course of the story.
(I received a copy of this book from a friend; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Friday, February 9, 2024

Blackberry Beach by Irene Hannon (Review)

Series: Hope Harbor # 7
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Publisher: Revell
Released: April 6, 2021
336 pages

About the Book:

Katherine Parker is on the cusp of having everything she ever wanted--fame, money, and acclaim. So why isn't she happy? In search of answers, she comes incognito to Hope Harbor on the Oregon coast for some R&R. Maybe in her secluded rental house overlooking the serene Pacific she'll be able to calm the storm inside.

Coffee shop owner Zach Garrett has found his niche after a traumatic loss--and he has no plans to change the life he's created. Nor does he want to get involved with his reticent new neighbor, whose past is shrouded in mystery. He's had enough drama to last a lifetime. But when Katherine and Zach are recruited to help rehab a home for foster children, sparks fly. And as their lives begin to intersect, might they find more common ground than they expected . . . and discover that, with love, all things are possible?

My Rating & Thoughts:    ⭐⭐

Zach is the owner of the local coffee shop, Kat has arrived in town incognito and is trying to keep to herself while trying to make some decisions. They are neighbours and Zach tries to befriend her so she isn't always alone. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters and following along with them while they tried to figure out the future. It was fun to return to Hope Harbor and learn what's going on in the community now and have mentions of previous characters. Charlie continues to provides wisdom to those around him and make you think. Kat's hobby is making chocolate truffles so there is a lot of references to this, if you have a sweet tooth this may make you want some for yourself. I enjoyed having two possible relationships to root for. I enjoyed the insight of both Charlie and the pastor, each made the characters think. One has made a decision about their aspirations in life and the other is trying to figure out their dreams and God's plan for them. I was invested in all these characters and enjoyed getting the four different points of view. I also liked seeing a reconciliation happen and getting glimpses into what past characters have been up to since we interacted with them in the earlier books.
Favourite Quote: 

I expect most dreams are reachable, if a person's willing to pay the price. The question is whether the goal is worth the cost - and whether the return on investment is positive or negative.”

(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Shadow of Doubt by Terri Blackstock (Review)

Series: Newpointe 911 #2
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: January 1, 1998
368 pages
About the Book:

A poisoned past. A bitter present. Is Celia a murderer ... or a victim? Detective Stan Shepherd lies comatose in the hospital, a victim of arsenic poisoning. The Newpointe police have a Celia Shepherd, Stan's wife. Celia is no stranger to such charges. When her first husband died of poisoning, a technicality scuttled the case against her and Celia got of scot-free. Now it looks like the same old story---only this time, the motive appears plain. An old flame has moved into town under circumstances bound to raise suspicion. And that's just for starters. More evidence is gathering that can put Celia away for good. But attorney Jill Clark thinks the pieces of the puzzle fit together a bit too neatly. Either her client's Christian faith is a sham or she's the victim of a deadly frame-up---and the real killer is still afoot.

My Rating & Thoughts:    ⭐⭐⭐

I really enjoyed the character of Aunt Aggie. She is a feisty fighter, I laughed so hard when she used her purse to get herself locked up. Her neice Celia has been accused of poisoning her husband with all the evidence pointing to her. Aunt Aggie is one of the few characters who believed her and stuck by her amid all those who questioned. I felt like the police were lazy and didn't even consider the fact that the evidence seemed too obvious. However, Celia's sneaking around didn't help her at all. She made some pretty dumb moves. I figured out who was setting her up very early on. I liked Stan. Even though he had a brief period of doubt, he was determined to trust what he knew. He was vocal and questioned his coworkers' findings. I was invested in the story and the characters. I enjoyed the faith element and how Celia put her trust in God during a really difficult time. Also, it was fun to catch up with characters from book one.

(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)