Tag Archives: Melody Carlson

Book Review: A Christmas in The Alps

6 Oct

I always like to start off my Christmas reading with a novella from Melody Carlson. This year’s offering is A Christmas in The Alps, a feel-good story about reconciliation. A recommended read, this book will whisk you off to the charming French Alps — bucket list anyone?

After a time of heartache and loss, Simone Winthrop discovers a tantalizing letter from her French great-grandmother, which seems to suggest that she is heir to a family treasure. Ever practical, Simone assumes the claim is baseless, but her best friend encourages her to find out for sure. Despite her deep-rooted fear of flying, Simone boards a jet to travel to Paris at Christmastime to uncover the truth.

During the long flight, Simone meets the charming Kyle Larsson, who’s on his way to France to become an apprentice clockmaker. Though they abruptly part ways, an unexpected rendezvous in the French Alps at Simone’s family’s clock factory may lead to the discovery of the family treasure . . . and so much more.

For anyone who is wearying of staying home, Melody Carlson invites you to spend Christmas with her in the beautiful French Alps this year. So pull on your mittens, tie your scarf tight, and prepare yourself for a magical mountain holiday.

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books 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/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/.

My Impressions:

I always like to start my holiday reading off with a novella from Melody Carlson. This year, Carlson takes readers away to the French Alps with a young woman who longs for family in A Christmas in The Alps. Simone has been left alone after the death of her grandmother. Facing an uncertain future, she allows herself to be talked into a trip to her great-grandmother’s home village to discover a mysterious treasure. Throughout the book I was reminded of the verse in Matthew 6: for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Several of the characters learn the truth of this scripture as they search out lost family connections. Simone finds family, love, and a new purpose on her trip. The story isn’t complicated and is somewhat predictable, but I enjoyed it. Sometimes I just need a sweet read that turns out the way I want. 😉

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

First Line Friday — A Christmas in The Alps

24 Sep

Happy Friday! It’s fall, y’all! While many people are polishing their pumpkins and sipping cider or spiced lattes, I begin my Christmas reading. It’s never too early for a little Christmas cheer, right? This week I am featuring the first of my Christmas reads, A Christmas in The Alps. What better way to kick off the season with a Melody Carlson novella.

When do you start your Christmas reading?

Here’s the first line:

Simone Winthrop knew all about loss.

After a time of heartache and loss, Simone Winthrop discovers a tantalizing letter from her French great-grandmother, which seems to suggest that she is heir to a family treasure. Ever practical, Simone assumes the claim is baseless, but her best friend encourages her to find out for sure. Despite her deep-rooted fear of flying, Simone boards a jet to travel to Paris at Christmastime to uncover the truth.

During the long flight, Simone meets the charming Kyle Larsson, who’s on his way to France to become an apprentice clockmaker. Though they abruptly part ways, an unexpected rendezvous in the French Alps at Simone’s family’s clock factory may lead to the discovery of the family treasure . . . and so much more.

For anyone who is wearying of staying home, Melody Carlson invites you to spend Christmas with her in the beautiful French Alps this year. So pull on your mittens, tie your scarf tight, and prepare yourself for a magical mountain holiday.

Top 10 Tuesday — Fall TBR

21 Sep

Happy Tuesday! After a few challenging TTT topics, I am relieved to have an easy one — Fall 2021 TBR. I can always come up with lots of books that I will be reading soon. As always I have a mix of genres, so you can find a book to suit your tastes or whims. Let me know if any books on my list made yours.

For more Fall TBR lists, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Books on My Fall TBR List

A Christmas in The Alps by Melody Carlson

Deadly Target by Elizabeth Goddard

Everywhere to Hide by Siri Mitchell

In The Shadow of Your Wings by JP Robinson

Labyrinth of Lies by Irene Hannon

The London House by Katherine Reay

Out of The Water by Ann Stewart

Point of Danger by Irene Hannon

A Season on The Wind by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

Top 10 Tuesday — Hunky Heroes

31 Aug

Happy Tuesday! Today’s Top 10 topic is fictional crushes. I rarely have a crush on a character, but I can recognize a hunky hero a mile away. 😉 My definition of a hunkster may differ from yours, but generally they are brave, all in, easy on the eyes kinds of guys. They usually have a sensitive side too. As in real life, it is the heart that matters. To come up with my list I put hunky in the search bar of the blog and chose the first 10 books in which I used hunky in the review — it’s all very scientific over here! Hunky is definitely in the eye of the beholder, but you will find them in a variety of genres — romance, suspense, historical, cozy mystery — and with a variety of occupations — farmer, 19th century naval officer, author, and tech geek, to name a few. I hope you find a hunk and a book to love!

For more book crushes, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Hunky Heroes

Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

The Christmas Swap by Melody Carlson

Flood Watch by Christy Barritt

The Forgotten Life of Evelyn Lewis by Jane Rubietta

The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall

Living Lies by Natalie Walters

No Safe Place by Sherri Shackleford

Prose And Cons by Amanda Flower

The Red Ribbon by Pepper Basham

Sweet on You by Becky Wade

Top 10 Tuesday — Bookish Animals

27 Apr

This week our Top 10 Tuesday prompt is animals from books. I had a post like that back in November. Could I come up with another? Yes! I love when authors include animals. Some of these books I have read; others are in my TBR pile.

Do you have a favorite book that features an animal?

For more bookish animals, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Bookish Animals

Wild And Wonderful

A wild boar from More Than Meets The Eye by Karen Witemeyer

A python from Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

A parrot from Trial And Error by Robert Whitlow

Canine Companions

Called to Protect by Lynnette Eason

Cold Case Pursuit by Dana Mentink

No Filter by Heather Day Gilbert

Friendly Felines

The Cat That God Sent by Jim Kraus

The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson

Crime And Poetry by Amanda Flower

Top 10 Tuesday — Books with Ocean (References) in The Title

6 Apr

Happy Tuesday! Today’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge is listing books that I would throw in the ocean. Uh, even if I don’t like a book, I am not sure I could throw it into the ocean! So instead I am listing books with ocean (or ocean references) in their titles. They include historical fiction, contemporary romance, and suspense — something for everyone!

Have you ever wanted to throw a book in the ocean? (Or at least across the room? 😉 )

For more Top Tuesday posts, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books with Ocean References in The Title

A Bridge Across The Ocean by Susan Meissner

A Christmas by The Sea by Melody Carlson

Far Side of The Sea by Kate Breslin

The Inn at Ocean’s Edge by Colleen Coble

The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

The Turning Tide by Melody Carlson

A Vast And Gracious Tide by Lisa Carter

If You Liked . . . The Christmas Table

16 Dec

I normally do the If You Liked posts at the end of each month, but you really need these recommendations early. You don’t want to miss out on some great Christmas-y reading! The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere had laugh-out-loud moments and some tear-inducing scenes. The book features an heirloom table and some special family recipes and includes great messages of hope and the power of prayer. This novella is my favorite so far by VanLiere. I have selected the following books that have similar themes and elements. I hope you find one to love!

 

Another Favorite from Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Promise

Seven years ago Gloria endured a family tragedy that almost shook her faith entirely. Each Christmas she places a card in an envelope on her tree, restating a promise she made to her husband before he died. Now, having moved from her small town and all the painful memories it held, she is building a life by caring for people in need. Whether it’s a young mother who can’t pay her electric bill or a family who needs some extra food, Gloria always finds a way.

Miriam is a thorn in Gloria’s side. Miriam is a constantly critical, disapproving neighbor who looks with suspicion at all the good things Gloria does. When a twist of fate makes them roommates instead of neighbors, it’s the ultimate test of patience and faith.

Chaz has a good job as head of security at Wilson’s Department Store, but each night he returns home to an empty apartment. He longs for a wife and family of his own but realizes that the life choices he’s made have alienated him. He befriends a young boy whose mother has fallen on hard times, giving him a chance to have a life he thought impossible.

In The Christmas Promise, the lives of these characters collide and we learn that even as we move ahead, the past is never far behind. And when we are forgiven much, we love much. In this warmly humorous and deeply poignant story, we are reminded that the Christmas Promise is the promise of second chances.

 

Family Heirloom

The Christmas Heirloom (4-novella collection) by Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, and Becky Wade.

In Kristi Ann Hunter’s Legacy of Love, Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman’s grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer’s Gift of the Heart, widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas’s A Shot at Love, Fleeta Brady’s rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family’s brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade’s Because of You, Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?

 

Funny and Poignant

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

Miranda did not put adventure on her Christmas list, but thanks to her eighty-five-year-old neighbor Joy, that’s exactly what she’s getting this year. When Joy tells Miranda that she plans to drive an old RV decked out in Christmas decorations from their Chicago neighborhood to her new retirement digs in Phoenix — in the dead of winter, no less–the much younger Miranda insists that Joy cannot make such a trip by herself. Besides, a crazy trip with Joy would be more interesting than another Christmas home alone. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off to Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride — and a hidden problem that could derail the whole venture.

No one captures the heartwarming fun of the Christmas season quite like Melody Carlson. Fasten your seat belt, because it’s going to be an exciting ride!

 

Importance of Family

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

Rick Denton lives his life on his terms. He works hard, plays hard and answers to no one. So when his mother calls on Thanksgiving weekend begging him to come home after his stepfather has a stroke, Rick is reluctant. He’s never liked Art, despite the fact his own father abandoned them when Rick was twelve. Rick’s attitude sours even more when a couple of days helping at the family bookstore turns into weeks of cashing out old ladies and running off the homeless man who keeps hanging about,

Slowly but surely, the little bookstore and its quirky patrons — as well as the lovely young woman who works at his side each day — work their magic on him, revealing to Rick the truth about his family, his own life, and the true meaning of Christmas.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Christmas Books

8 Dec

Happy Tuesday! The countdown is on until Christmas. Have you gotten all your decorating and shopping done? I still need to do some things around the house, but my shopping list has grown shorter. But one thing I have made sure to do is get some Christmas reading in. Priorities! 😉 So far, I have read The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere (reading her novellas is a yearly tradition) and I should be finished with The Christmas Heirloom novella collection today (really great; review to come). Because Christmas books often fall into the romance genre (who doesn’t like a good romance?), I have decided to split my Top 10 Tuesday list into 7 genres for those who want a bit of mystery, or history, or a good laugh too. I think there’s something for everyone on my list. I hope you find a Christmas book to love — now get reading!  Be sure to visit That Artsy Reader Girl for more Christmas fun!

 

Top Christmas Books

 

An Amish Christmas

Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Christmas Remedy by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall 

 

A Classic Christmas

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

 

An Historical Christmas

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins 

 

 

A Laugh-Out-Loud Christmas

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Promise by Donna VanLiere

 

A Mysterious Christmas

All Is Calm, All Is Bright by Colleen Coble

Silent Night, Holy Night by Colleen Coble

 

A Poignant Christmas

The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

 

 

A Romantic Christmas

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

The Wedding Dress Christmas by Rachel Hauck

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday Halloween Edition– Outbreaks and Epidemics!

27 Oct

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday is a Halloween Freebie. If it’s not too early for you, I have a list of books that feature outbreaks and epidemics — real life scary! And because they are all Christian or clean fiction, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are a couple of historical novels that feature the Spanish Flu, some mystery and suspense that explore potential viruses/bacteria and other biological agents that get loose, and a YA dystopian that explores the aftermath of an epidemic. A couple of the authors are even doctors. If the subject isn’t too frightening for you, I hope you find a great book.

 

For more Halloween goodness, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

 

Top 10 Books Featuring Outbreaks and Epidemics

 

An Air That Kills by Christine Poulson

The atmosphere in the lab is toxic.

It is only a matter of time before there is a flu pandemic with the potential to kill billions. Or so wealthy entrepreneur Lyle Lynstrum believes. That is why he is funding research into transgenics – the mechanism by which viruses can jump the species barrier – at a high security lab on a tidal island off the North Devon coast.

A suspiciously rapid turnover of staff has him worried. He sends in scientist Katie Flanagan as an undercover lab technician. Something is clearly very wrong, but before Katie can get to the bottom of what is going on, a colleague is struck down by a mysterious illness.
Has the safety of the facility been compromised, allowing a deadly virus to escape? Katie begins to suspect that the scientists are as deadly as the diseases – and that her cover has been blown.

Then the island is cut off by high seas and a terrifying game of cat-and-mouse begins . . .

Airborne by DiAnn Mills

Heather Lawrence’s long-awaited vacation to Salzburg wasn’t supposed to go like this. Mere hours into the transatlantic flight, the Houston FBI agent is awakened when passengers begin exhibiting horrific symptoms of an unknown infection. As the virus quickly spreads and dozens of passengers fall ill, Heather fears she’s witnessing an epidemic similar to ones her estranged husband studies for a living ― but this airborne contagion may have been deliberately released.

While Heather remains quarantined with other survivors, she works with her FBI colleagues to identify the person behind this attack. The prime suspect? Dr. Chad Lawrence, an expert in his field . . . and Heather’s husband. The Lawrences’ marriage has been on the rocks since Chad announced his career took precedence over his wife and future family and moved out.

As more victims fall prey days after the initial outbreak, time’s running out to hunt down the killer, one who may be closer to the victims than anyone ever expected.

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters – Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa – a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

Captives by Jill Williamson

In a dystopian future, eighteen-year-old Levi returns from Denver City with his latest scavenged treasures and finds his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many – including his fiancée, Jem – taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe. Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Lands has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams. Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only the people of his village, but also possibly find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone within the Safe Lands’ walls. Will Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Lands’ façade before it’s too late? 

The Gabon Virus by Paul McCusker and Walt Larimore

An ancient disease, a modern pandemic, and the one person who offers hope for a cure has been dead for 350 years

In 1666, a horrible disease took the lives of almost every person in Eyam (pronounced Eem), England. Helping the sick and the dying was the mysterious and ghostlike Blue Monk, whose strange appearance terrified even those who were comforted by him.

More than three centuries later the disease has returned, more virulent than before. Every day more people are infected; every hour more die.

The lives of millions rest in the hands of a bio-team — the Time Scene Investigators — that studies history to find cures for modern diseases. But the newest member of the team, Dr. Mark Carlson, has suffered a heartbreaking loss.

With every tick of the clock the world approaches a global pandemic. A race against time becomes a race across continents — to find a frightened boy who is carrying and spreading the disease wherever he goes, to thwart the machinations of corporate greed and fanatical sabotage, and to find the connection between a great tragedy of the past and a potential catastrophe of the present. Our present.

The Influenza Bomb by Paul McCusker and Walt Larimore

Masses of people are dying from a mysterious flu. While the TSI team searches for a cure, a notorious eco-terrorist group, Return to Earth, uses an influenza bomb to poison the water. It’s a race against time — with the outcome impacting the entire world.

By the time the team discovers that the terrorists are using the water supply to infect people, the sickness is spreading worldwide and no one has a cure. When Return to Earth makes off with a mysterious device called the influenza bomb with the intent to destroy all of mankind, Dr. Hutchinson must stop the contamination from being spread before it’s too late.

Lethal Remedy by Richard Mabry

An epidemic of a highly resistant bacteria, Staphylococcus luciferus, has ignited, and Dr. Sara Miles’ patient is on the threshold of death. Only an experimental antibiotic developed and administered by Sara’s ex-husband, Dr. Jack Ingersoll can save the girl’s life.

Dr. John Ramsey is seeking to put his life together after the death of his wife by joining the medical school faculty. But his decision could prove to be costly, even fatal.
Potentially lethal late effects from the experimental drug send Sara and her colleague, Dr. Rip Pearson, on a hunt for hidden critical data that will let them reverse the changes before it’s too late. What is the missing puzzle piece? And who is hiding it?

Outbreak by Davis Bunn

The waters off the West African coast are a menacing red, full of algae thick enough to stand on in places. In nearby villages, mysterious deaths start to occur — and the panic mounts. But before an alarm can be sounded, the sea currents shift, the algae vanishes, and the deaths stop. Everyone is relieved when things return to normal, and local government officials are happy to sweep the publicity nightmare under a rug.

An American biological researcher, Avery Madison, is dispatched by his employer to piece together exactly what happened, having long feared an ecological disaster just like this could occur. He’s had little evidence to go on before now, and what he finds in West Africa is rapidly disappearing. But Avery knows the danger hasn’t disappeared — it has just moved on.

Point of Origin by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

When virus-infected pirates hijack a humanitarian medical ship from an African port, they trigger the threat of a global pandemic.

How do you keep hope alive in a sea of darkness?

An African fisherman.

Foreign exploitation of Africa’s natural resources has destroyed the fishing business of Dabir Omar. Hijacking oil tankers brings cash to his family in their remote village, but it doesn’t buy the medical care needed to stop the deadly sickness attacking his people. When Dabir’s son becomes ill, the desperate pirate sets sail for the Liberty, an international humanitarian medical ship ported on the coast. 

An American surgeon.

Against his better judgment, Dr. Josiah Allen agrees to work a two-week surgical stint on the Liberty, moored in Douala, Cameroon. Shortly after he arrives with his precocious six-year-old daughter, Josiah is sent ashore to investigate a mysterious illness at the ship’s post-op clinic. While he’s gone, Ebola-infected pirates hijack the medical ship where Josiah left his daughter.

The woman compelled to save them all.

When pirate negotiations fail, Mackenzie Scott’s privately-owned extraction unit comes in for the rescue. But when the medical ship where Mac had taken a wounded comrade is hijacked by pirates, the former military pararescue jumper becomes the pirate’s key hostage. 

Both fathers go to war to save their children. If Mac can’t convince them to work together, the winner of this conflict will be a deadly virus intent on destroying the world.

The Turning Tide by Melody Carlson

As the Great War rages on, Sunset Cove continues to feel its impact. Running the small town newspaper, Anna McDowell can’t escape the grim reports from the other side of the world, but home-front challenges abound as well. Dr. Daniel is serving the wounded on the front lines. And Katy, expecting her first child, with her husband in the trenches, tries to support the war effort with her Red Cross club. Even as the war winds down the costs are high— and Sunset Cove is not spared.

 

First Line Friday — The Christmas Swap

18 Sep

Happy Friday from Colorado! A lot of our travel plans were upended this year — I know you can relate! Ireland was cancelled, as was an impromptu trip to the beach. But this week I am enjoying the cooler temps and beautiful scenery of the mountains. We did miss the snow storm of last week though. 😉

What better book to feature this week than The Christmas Swap by Melody Carlson. Its Breckenridge setting is just 30 minutes down the road from my present location. We are so blessed to stay at a friend’s family’s home, kind of like main character Emma.

Here is the first line —

Emma Daley had always loved Christmas as a child, but . . . not so much as an adult.

 

All Emma Daley wants this holiday season is a white Christmas. But the young teacher and struggling musician sure can’t find that in sunny Arizona. Luckily, there’s someone living in a perfect mountain home in the Colorado Rockies looking to make a vacation trade this year.

Tyler Prescott is an in-demand songwriter and talented musician who put his own singing career on hold to write songs for celebrity acts to perform. When his mother convinces him to do a vacation trade for Christmas, he never imagined one of the houseguests would be so sweet–or so strikingly pretty. Naturally, he decides to stick around, and, to get better acquainted, he poses as the house’s caretaker. But when Emma’s friend Gillian discovers his true identity and sets her sights on him, things
get . . . messy.

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/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/

 

For more fabulous first line fun, head over to Hoarding Books.