Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Featured Book: Amazing Gracie

Amazing Gracie by [Woods, Sherryl]

About the Book:

When Gracie MacDougal returns to Seagull Point, Virginia, seeking to reform her workaholic ways, she discovers more than relaxation. The picturesque town calls to her, as does the waterfront Victorian house she envisions as the perfect bed-and-breakfast. But one person stands between Gracie and her new goal…and he isn’t budging. 

Southern charmer Kevin Daniels isn’t interested in selling Gracie’s dream house, but he’s definitely interested in something else…her. Enticing the uptight businesswoman into letting down her hair becomes his new mission in life, but beyond that? He already has way too many people depending on him, and has no intention of adding one more. 

Gracie’s not looking for a home. Kevin’s not looking for a wife. But sometimes even the best intentions can wind up going wonderfully awry.

Previously published by Harlequin Mira in 2010.

My Comments:

As noted above, this is a re-issue.  I read it a few years ago and here is what I had to say about it:  

While perusing the bargain rack at my local used paperback store Amazing Gracie caught my eye.  It is a sweet romance about Gracie, a hotel executive and workaholic who quits her job because she has a different vision for the luxury hotel than does her new boss.  She goes to a small town in Virginia, a place she had vacationed with her family once, as a child.  She realizes that she has no one who is important to her--no family, no close friends.  

While there she falls in love with an old-fashioned Victorian house, which she decides to turn into a bed-and-breakfast.  The only problem is that the property manager, Kevin, won't tell her who owns it (he does) but they start spending time together.  Guess what happens?  

The book has subplots about Kevin's cousins and Gracie's ex-boss but I can't say there was ever any real tension in the book or any doubt about the ending.  I really liked Kevin's aunt, who used to own the house.  All in all, I'd characterize the writing style as somewhere between fair and good and the book as a happy fluffy read.  Grade:  B-

I'm publishing a new post on this book because it is available on NetGalley.  As I got into the book I realized I had already read it.  

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Review: Bella Flora Christmas

About the Book:

The ladies of Ten Beach Road are home for the holidays in this brand-new novella.

Although their lives have changed since their first desperate renovation of Bella Flora, friends Madeline, Avery, and Nicole have always been there for each other. Now they're returning to Bella Flora for Christmas—where Maddie’s daughter Kyra isn’t feeling particularly celebratory. 
Kyra was hoping for a peaceful holiday at Bella Flora—a last gathering before a wealthy, mystery tenant moves into the home she’s been forced to rent out. Instead, she must make a life altering decision by New Year’s -- a decision that becomes even more difficult when unexpected guests arrive at Ten Beach Road on Christmas Eve. Now Kyra, Maddie, Avery and Nikki will need to pull together to secure Bella Flora’s future, as well as their own.

My Comments:

I'm guessing that this book would be a lot more fun if I had read the other books in the series.  As it was, to me, there were far too many characters doing far too little and nothing ever quite grabbed me. 

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  C

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Review: Right Where We Belong

Right Where We Belong

About the Book:

Savanna Gray needs a do-over. Her "perfect" life unraveled when, to her absolute shock, her husband was arrested for attacking three women. With her divorce settled, she takes her two children home to Silver Springs to seek refuge between the walls of the farmhouse where she was born. It needs a little TLC, but she's eager to take control of something. 

Gavin Turner understands the struggle of starting over. Abandoned at a gas station when he was five, it wasn't until he landed at New Horizons Boys Ranch as a teen that he finally found some peace. He steps up when Savanna needs help fixing things—even when those things go beyond the farmhouse. 

Despite an escalating attraction to Gavin, Savanna resolves to keep her distance. She trusted her ex, who had a similarly tragic background, and is unwilling to repeat her past mistakes. But it's hard to resist a man whose heart is as capable as his hands.

My Comments:

I work as a criminal defense paralegal and one thing that most people don't think about when considering the criminal justice system is the family of the accused (or guilty).  Whether the accused is convicted or not, whether he (or she) committed the crime, the family pays a price, whether it is simply the cost of attorney fees or whether it is the loss of the loved ones presence or community censure because of the crime.

Savanna had not been thrilled with her marriage but she did her best to hold things together, for the sake of the kids.  While she initially wanted to believe the police had arrested the wrong man, the more she learned and the more she thought, the more she realized it was doubtful they had.  

They lived in a small town and she was finding herself and her children to be outcasts, even though her husband had not yet been tried, so she took the children and moved to some property she inherited in another state.  This is the story of her trying to rebuild her life and the life of her children. 

For the most part, I liked the story.  However, I found the climax scene to be very unrealistic.  

The thread that ties this story to others is a home/school for unwanted children, which is where Gavin grew up.  The story contains brief mentions of characters from prior books, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade B. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Practice Makes Catholic: My Review

About the Book:

It is said that practice makes perfect, but what else does practice make? If you ask Joe Paprocki, he’ll say that practice makes Catholic—that is, there are certain distinct practices that make us essentially Catholic. The problem is that many Catholics don’t understand—or at least misunderstand—why we engage in the many practices we do. In Practice Makes Catholic, Paprocki addresses the all-important “why” of many Catholic practices by articulating five key characteristics that form our Catholic identity: a sense of sacramentality, a commitment to community, a respect for the dignity of human life and commitment to justice, a reverence for Tradition, and a disposition to faith and hope rather than despair. Under each of these categories, he explores and explains multiple Catholic practices, then describes how following each one can make a profound difference in our faith and in our lives. Informative and inviting, Practice Makes Catholic is the perfect resource for RCIA candidates and their sponsors, for Catholics returning to the faith, and for all Catholics who want to get to the heart of what their faith is really about.

My Comments:

A facebook friend of mine who was raised Catholic recently asked why, when movie producers want to show an exorcism, they always show a Catholic priest.  She wondered if other denominations practiced exorcism.  I did some quick research that showed that some did in one way or another, but then opined that when movie producers want to show ceremony or ritual, they show a Catholic church because that's people's image of Catholicism.  If the producer wants to show a sermon motivating a character's action, on the other hand, the church is likely to look more low church Protestant, because they are known for preaching, not ceremony.

A couple of years ago our parish got a new DRE, and one thing I really like about him is that he has put in adult education programs.  One was a study of Practice Makes Catholic and he offered it either in person or on-line.  Unfortunately, I found that I don't have the self-discipline for on-line.  However, eventually I did read the book.  

In Practice Makes Catholic Paprocki takes a look at many of the rituals and practices of Catholics and explains the "why" as well as the "how". He explains sacramentals, the liturgical calendar, and the uniquely Catholic forms of prayer such as novenas.  He encourages learning more about the Catholic faith and offers resources.  All through the book though, the emphasis isn't on learning about these thing but rather on incorporating them into your life. 

Like The Bible Blueprint which I reviewed last month, Practice Makes Catholic is easy to read.  I'd describe the book as "magazine-like" with short chapters, lots of side-bars and inset boxes, a few cartoons and a lot of use of headlines and bullet points to focus reader's attention.  I think the book is a good outline of how to live a Catholic life.  

I bought the book to participate in my parish program and actually paid full price for it.  Grade:  B+

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