Book Review: The Summer Before (The Baby-sitters Club #0) by Ann M. Martin

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin.

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The Summer Before is set the summer befre Kristy has her idea for the Baby-sitters Club. We follow each of the characters on their journey throughout the summer.

For Kristy, she is hoping that her estranged father will come back and is disappointed when he doesn’t. She is also opposed to the fact that her mom is seeing someone else. Mary Anne finally gets her dad’s permission to start babysitting, which she is ecstatic about. Claudia feels ike she is growing apart from Kristy and Mary Anne, and she experiences love for the first time. And we also drop in on Stacey, who is getting ready to move from New York City to Stoneybrook, Connecticut. She is also adjussting to being diagnosed with diabetes and being ostracized by her former best friend.

I am going to be honest…while I do like the Baby-Sitters Club series, I personally feel like this book was a let down. It just seemed unnecessary, and there were a few incosistencies that we are given about these characters compared to what we are told in the first four books of the actual series.

Overall, it’s okay, but it isn’t necessary to read. I personally would tghink that it is best to skip this one and just jump into the series. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Scrumptious Independence

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About the Book

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“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

And so is Beth’s cooking! It’s a good thing, too. After a lifetime of her family’s smothering embrace, a whole new world opens to her with the passing of her beloved grandmother.

Armed with an inheritance she never expected and orders on how to use it, Beth sets off for Merriweather Island and fulfillment of a lifetime of dreams.

Or so she hopes.

What she didn’t hope for was what most women would—a man who fills her thoughts at the most wonderfully unwelcome times. She doesn’t have time or space for a relationship, but how do you tell love to just go away?

Of course, starting over in a new place is never easy, especially as an outsider in a small community. Add to that a mayor who has her dander up and a woman bound to make her life miserable, is it any wonder that Beth begins to doubt God’s and Gram’s plans?

With her heart betraying her resolve and challenges to her faith, Beth finds it takes bravery she didn’t know she had to discover just how scrumptious independence can be.

This “Merriweather book” is the second in a new series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Island Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Melissa Wardwell is a new-to-me author, and I think I can honestly say that after having read Scrumptious Independence, she has become a new favorite!

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this next installment in the Independence Islands series, but I really enjoyed it, and it is definitely a great, clean beach read.

I enjoyed getting to know Beth, as she comes to terms with what her grandmother did for her, and trying to find independence from her parents, especially her mother who can very suffocating. Thankfully, Gram made her sole heir with the intention that Beth follow through on her dream and open her own food truck and cook to her heart’s content. However, as with almost every new business, we see Beth go through the up and downs of trying to get customers, as well as having to deal with gossip spread by some of the residents on the islands.

I also enjoyed getting to know Scott and how he tries to be a friend to Beth when she needs one the most. He even tries to protect her when he hears of some plans to run her off the island. What I liked most about Scott was that he had a strong faith, and he still pursued Beth even when she tried to push him away.

The villain of this story was so dastardly and I will say it was satisfying to see how that part of the story concludes, however, it was wrapped up very quickly and a lot of the action had a lot of background. I would have loved to see the scene when we see the villain confronted once and for all.

Overall, I really enjoyed Scrumptious Independence! It was a great addition to the Independence Islands series, and it was a great introduction to Melissa Wardwell’s writing, I definitely need to check out more of her work in the future! 4.5/5 Stars.

About the Author

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Melissa Wardwell resides in Owosso, Michigan with her husband Jonathan, three children, a cat, and two pitbulls.

Besides writing, she enjoys reading, having coffee with friends, and spending quality time with her husband kayaking and fishing.

Melissa likes to joke about the voices in her head, but it is those voices have inspired her to write several romance novels such as “I Know the Plans” (a story based in her hometown of Owosso) and “Finding Hope in Savannah”. When she is not penning works of fiction, she is busy reviewing books on her blog, Back Porch Reads.

To see more from Melissa Wardwell, visit www.melissawardwell.com

More from Melissa

“Lord, I don’t know how I can keep doing this.”

That was my prayer one evening in 2019 as I made my way to praise practice. I knew that writing was something God had called me to (because He never seems to call you to do something you enjoy) but the finances were just not there to publish another book. I felt lost in the uncertainty of the path moving forward and I needed a light. I had just shared all my concerns with my parents and left with my dad’s words ringing in my head. Are you writing to gain notoriety or are you writing for God?

The next morning, CelebrateLit had a post looking for submissions for a new and innovative series. Hope burst within me and I know I needed more information. I followed instructions and spoke with Sandy Barela and Chautona Havig. The more I was told, the more excited I became because I knew I needed to be part of this collection.

Ideas were hatched, characters began to talk, and a book proposal was sent. I continued to work on the development of characters and the mobile business knowing in my heart that God had given me this opportunity. I wouldn’t do things halfway. And when the confirmation email came, I was ready to share the beautiful story and characters that developed.

Beth is a food truck proprietor, so that means she spends most of her time cooking. In an effort to grow her recipes, I have been making videos of me cooking some of our family’s favorites as well as raiding my mom’s recipe box. The result is some amazing food to share.

Every book, pre-order card, and my YouTube channel has recipes on it. And so will this tour.

With it being summertime, our family doesn’t want those heavy meals so sometimes chips and sandwiches are all we need in the evenings. One favorite is my chicken salad.

Now, this recipe is easily substituted with other things like however, you like your chicken.

Melissa’s Chicken Salad

Feeds 4 (unless you have big eaters.)

2 cans of chicken (you can use cooked but this is quick and easy

1/2 cup of red grapes – halved

1/2 cup celery – diced

Make sure you rinse all of this well as you prep the salad

Dressing

1 1/2 cup of miracle whip (you can use mayo)

1/2 tsp mustard powder

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tsp of sugar

Mix everything together and serve on your favorite bread option or on a bed of lettuce. I like mine in a pita pocket or on lettuce. This time it was with a pita pocket with a side of lightly salted chips and a pickle.

Now, just a little side note, you can add what ever veggie or fruit you like. Apples and cucumbers would be a great addition as well. So, don’t feel like you have to do things exactly like I do. Make it your own.

Bon appétit

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 21

Soulfully Romantic, September 21

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 21

Sara Jane Jacobs, September 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 22

Texas Book-aholic, September 22

Inklings and notions, September 22

For Him and My Family, September 23

deb’s Book Review, September 23

Artistic Nobody, September 23 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

She Lives To Read, September 24

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, September 24

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 24

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 24

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 25

Quiet Workings, September 25

21st Century Keeper at Home, September 25

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions , September 26

Older & Smarter?, September 26

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 26

Blogging With Carol, September 27

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, September 27

Batya’s Bits, September 27

Emily Yager, September 28

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, September 28

Stories By Gina, September 28

Reviewingbooksplusmore, September 28

CarpeDiem, September 29

Christian Bookaholic, September 29

Cultivating Us, September 29

Aryn the Libraryan, September 30

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 30

Connect in Fiction, October 1

The Collaborative Press, October 1

Livin’ Lit, October 1

Simple Harvest Reads, October 2 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

The Meaderings of a Bookworm, October 2

Godly Book Reviews, October 2

Joanne Markey, October 3

Captive Dreams Window, October 3

Vicky Sluiter, October 3

Blossoms and Blessings, October 4

Splashes of Joy, October 4

Pause for Tales, October 4

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Melissa is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10105/scrumptious-independence-celebration-tour-giveaway

First Line Friday #21 – The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books.

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith 

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“On the first day of September, the world went dark. But from where she stood in the blackness, her back pressed against the brassy wall of an elevator, Lucy Patterson had no way of knowing the scope of it yet.” 

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan.

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The Girls of Atomic City has been on my radar ever since I read The Radium Girls by Kate Moore almost two years ago. Even though it took me a while to pick this one up, I’m glad I finally did!

The Girls of Atomic City is a non-fiction book that follows the lives of several women who worked and lived in Oak Ridge, Tennessee during World War II. Oak Ridge was a secret government reservation where research and manufacturing of uranium was done for the Manhattan Project. Those who lived and worked at Oak Ridge knew very little about what they were doing, some know more than others, but they were not allowed to talk about it for fear that there were spies among them who might get confidential information and pass it along to the enemy. While there were men that worked there, there were a lot more women due to the fact that many men had been sent to fight in the war. This book follows the lives of the people of Oak Ridge and how almost everything they did was a secret, how they were willing to do what the could to help end the war and the shocking discovery of what they had been working on after the bombing of Hiroshima.

I enjoyed The Girls of Atomic City, I found it fascinating to learn more about one facet of the Manhattan Project and just how it affected the lives of those who worked on it. It was interesting to see how secretive everything was and just the effect it had on the people of Oak Ridge, especially marriages were the husbands were not allowed to share anything with their wives, and the wives struggle to trust that they are not being unfaithful.

While the book mostly follows what happened at Oak Ridge, Denise Kiernan also provides information about the various discoveries that were made regarding uranium, fission and atomic energy, as well as the women who helped with those discoveries.

Kiernan does a good job of discussing a topic that is controversial from a neutral point of view, but it is still compelling! There are times when the book slows down, but the payoff is worth it!

The Girls of Atomic City is non-fiction, but it is part scientific, part thriller, part mystery and even slightly part horror, however it provides the story of the women who’s only goal was to help bring the war to an end even if they didn’t know what exactly they were doing, or how their jobs contributed to the overall Manhattan Project. I recommend this for those who enjoyed Kate Moore’s Radium Girls, as well as those who are interested in World War II history and those who wish to learn more about the Manhattan Project.

I loved reading the story of these real-life women and I hope to visit Oak Ridge sometime and to learn more about life there. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

 

 

 

First Line Friday #20 – Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

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“Miri woke to the sleepy bleating of a goat. The world was as dark as eyes closed, but perhaps the goats could smell dawn seeping through the cracks in the house’s stone walls.” 

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

First Line Friday #17 – Dear Reader by Mary O’Connell

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books.

Dear Reader by Mary O’Connell

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“Miss Sweeney disappeared on the first day of March, and icy Thursday morning of gloves and boots and veneers of diamondy frost on the windows of Sacred Heart High School. Her classroom was not bathed in the stark yellow glow of school-issued lightbulbs; the only light came from the windows, and it was morning-soft gray and gave the classroom a surprising bedroom coziness.” 

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Dual Power of Convenience

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About the Book

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Book: Dual Power of Convenience

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Release Date: July 28, 2020

When Richard Danforth inherits the family estate on Merriweather Island, he doesn’t have time to deal with it—especially not from halfway across the globe. He’s too busy working to become the world’s newest billionaire and avoiding the women who would detract him from his goals.

Enter Lyla Santana. Fresh out of Oxford University with a degree in antiques and a relationship that nearly killed her to leave, she’s eager for the isolation and treasure trove that is Danforth Hall. Lyla also is determined to avoid men at all costs. Forever.

It was supposed to be a match made on paper. With him halfway across the globe, they’d never have to see each other again.

So, what’s Richard doing on Merriweather just weeks after the wedding? And how will his arrival test Lyla’s faith, not to mention stretch their so-called relationship?

In a twist on billionaire romance and marriage of convenience, this “Merriweather book” kicks off a new series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Island Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

Dual Power of Convenience was an interestign read. It is slightly different from some of Chautona Havig’s other works, but you know what, I liked that this was a book that you could take to the beach and read (which is kind of the point of this series).

I enjoyed getting to read more about Mallory – who was introduced in Christmas on Breakers Point – and seeing how she is getting along with her mobile book store. I loved how she befriended Lyla and was willing to give her advice when she needed it, even if she didn’t necessarily ask for it.

I also liked getting to know Lyla over the course of the novel, however even though we get brief details about what happened in her past, I really wish we had been given more details…but that’s just me, I like knowing all the details of a character’s past especially if it affects how they treat others. But again, I did enjoy getting to know her and even watch her grow throughout the novel, even with her troubled past.

Richard was also a great character, but there were times he could have had more gumption and ask some of the hard questions he should have asked especially when it comes to whether or not she is a Christian…that’s an important question that shouldn’t really be avoided…but again, that’s probably just me. But he was great and I loved how sympathetic he was of Lyla, even when she seemed to want nothing to do with him. I also loved watching their friendship blossom.

Overall, Chautona Havig once again provides an interesting concept and makes it work. I highly recommend this for anyone looking for a fun beach read with a hint of seriousness. This is a perfect feel good book that has characters that readers will root for throughout the whole book! 4/5 Stars.

Thank you to the author and CelebrateLit for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author

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Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

 

More from Chautona

Did I Really Agree to Write a Romance Series?

When my fledgling little idea for a single book transformed into a series that then transformed into a SERIES, I kind of missed the part where I agreed (and likely suggested, if truth be told), that the books should be contemporary romance.

I mean, beach reads. Romance. Duh.

There’s just one problem? I rarely write a straight-up romance. And if I do, it’s usually a short novella in a collection—often at Christmas.

Why?

Isn’t it obvious?

Despite nine kids and being married for almost thirty-two years, I am THE most unromantic woman on the planet. No habla amor. Or something like that.

So there I was, toodling down the 395 (a treacherous bit of road between my house and the publisher’s) when all of what I’d agreed to exploded in my brain. I’m still scraping brain matter off the windshield and trying to stuff it back in. I need every last one of those “little gray cells,” thank-you-very-much!

Romance. My heart sank. Boy meets girl. They like each other. They fight. They get back together. They live happily ever after.

It’s a thing, folks. A formula. And if you deviate, true romance readers get annoyed. What was I going to do? I didn’t want to write romance. Not really. I had ideas. The prequel book had been all about trying to bring a young woman back to the Lord. That’s more my speed, okay?

The wheels began churning.

The ones in my head, I mean. The tires still rolled along the ground. Fortunately, my cranial explosion hadn’t caused an accident or anything. Just in case you were curious.

I considered making each one loosely related to a fairy tale retelling. I’d have a Cinderella story, a Beauty and the Beast, a… nope. That made it that far and I just couldn’t. The minute we got to Sleeping Beauty, I’d have my readers in comas. No. Thanks.

Next came Rom-com. We’d make it funny. All the stuff that happens in beach romances gone wrong. Why not? We live once!

I was yawning before the thought finished forming.

Right about then, I think, is when I wondered what kind of tropes I needed to consider.

See, romance tropes are a thing. I even talk about them on my podcast. The tingling sensation that comes when a good idea is brewing happened. A grin formed.

Tropes. I’d play with tropes. I’d take all those familiar things and twist them somehow. Why not? It would be fun.

And it was.

Right about then is probably when I began recording my ideas. Creosote and sage whizzed past at breakneck speeds (let me dream. I’m not a speed demon, but c’mon… for the sake of poetic license and all?). And the ideas whizzed faster (no license needed. They really did).

Book 1. Marriage of convenience. I mean, those are always fun, right? So why on earth would someone need to get married?

Every idea I came up with has been done… and done again.

That’s when I upped the stakes. Authors do that, you know. We come up with a way to torment our characters, and then we say, “Okay, now how can I make this worse? Nope, I need it even worse. Oh, and…” Bam! The story goes from interesting to can’t-put-it-down. All because we’re not afraid to be cruel to non-existent people. Score!

How’d I do it with this one? I added in another trope. One I personally just can’t “get.” People love the things, and I’ve got no idea why. But it answered my first question of why someone might need a marriage of convenience or… as my gal puts it… “a paper marriage.”

My guy became the world’s newest billionaire.

Yep, you read that right. I wrote a “billionaire romance.” Sort of. Now, if I could figure out how on earth I’d take two people on opposite sides of the world and get them together.

*insert hands rubbing together in fiendish delight*

Oh, yeah. I did it. And even more than that, I love it. I made my characters do some stupid things. I really did (you know, like how two Christians didn’t even pray about their marriage decision? Like how they didn’t even ask if the other person was saved? Why should they? They’ll never see each other again… they said. Ha! The Lord had other ideas. Sorta. This is fiction, right? Oops! I suddenly feel like that crazy Kathy Morningside in Miss Congeniality).

From Adelanto to Kramer Jct., I planned out that first book—Dual Power of Convenience.

(the title gives away that reason for marrying, no? Also, links may be affiliate links that provide a small commission at no extra expense to you.)

It was almost too easy.

Then I started playing with the next ones, and the series became a reality to me.

Dual Power of Conveniencewhen a woman too afraid of men goes to work for a man who is too busy making money to want anything to do with that whole marriage and family thing.

Bookers on the Rocks— This couple’s marriage is on the rocks (that’s the trope, of course), and neither of them has a clue. They’ve been married for twenty-five years, neither is having an affair, no one wants a divorce, life is good, so why is it on the rocks? You’ll see…

Directing Hearts— The Crawforths got tricked into allowing a reality matchmaking show film on their islands. Brooks Crawforth tangles with the director until their verbal battles turn into a different kind—a battle for their hearts (enemies to “lovers”)

Just a Memory— In this one, Mallory Barrows (who makes appearances in all of the books) comes across an old journal that tells a story she’d never heard. It’s the old Patti Paige song “Go On with the Wedding” but over forty years later! Mallory knows something that might just create a (here comes the trope) second chance at romance.

Printed on Her Heart— After being instrumental in so many couples’ relationships, it’s Mallory’s turn in this dual-trope story. In this one, we get a mashup of friends to more and love at first sight. Can’t wait to share it. Squee!

Okay, that’s the deal. Yes, I really did agree to write a romance series.

And yes, it probably was my idea.

I might deny it to my dying day, but it is also a whole lot of fun… so far.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, August 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 5

Inklings and notions, August 6

lakesidelivingsite, August 6

deb’s Book Review, August 6

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 7

Rebekah Jones, Author, August 7

For Him and My Family, August 7

Artistic Nobody, August 8 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 9

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 9

21st Century Keeper at Home, August 9

She Lives To Read, August 10

Simple Harvest Reads, August 10 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 11

Adventures of a Traverlers wife, August 11

Emily Yager, August 12

Stories By Gina, August 12

CarpeDiem, August 12

cultivating us, August 13

Connect in Fiction, August 13

Livin’ Lit, August 13

Read Review Rejoice, August 14

Quiet Workings, August 14

Blossoms and Blessings, August 14

Just Your Average reviews, August 15

Rebekah Reads, August 15

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 15

Lis Loves Reading, August 16

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, August 16

Splashes of Joy, August 16

Pause for Tales, August 17

Captive Dreams Window, August 17

Spoken from the Heart, August 17

Lots of Helpers, August 18

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 18

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book (winner’s choice of eBook or paperback format)!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/ff14/dual-power-of-convenience-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

First Line Friday #15 – Ink, Iron and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books.

Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare

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“Elsa crouched beside the tide pool, the hem of her skirt gathered over her arm to keep it off the algae-slick rocks. A new species of starfish had emerged, but whether it would persist in the world or not was an open question.” 

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Tempting Tait

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About the Book

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Book: Tempting Tait

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

Release Date: July 30, 2020

 

He chose to be a dad before he realized he’d need a wife, too.

When Tait took in an abandoned girl, he had no idea it would change his life.

Tait Stedtmann–accountant, fledgling do-it-yourselfer, and all-around nice guy. He’d been more than a little interested in Bentley Girard and had finally worked up the courage to ask her out. That was before that fateful day at the rest stop when he saw a girl shoved from a car and abandoned there.

She’s not like any girl he’s ever met, and now she’s given him an ultimatum. Adopt her baby, or she’ll abort it.

Eden doesn’t think he’ll do it. She can have the abortion and move on with her life–far away from these creepy Christians in Fairbury. But when Tait agrees, she finds herself keeping her word… and the pregnancy.

Nine months later, Tait is wracked by guilt as relief sets in when Eden leaves and terrified as he decides he can’t do this daddy thing alone. Bentley figured out how to make marriage happen for her.

Would she help him, find someone, too?

Tempting Tait is the second in the Marriages of Conviction series.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

I was a little bit skeptical about picking up Tempting Tait because I really loved Blessing Bentley and I wasn’t sure if there was a way that it could be topped. However, I was proved wrong. I loved Tempting Tait, in fact it’s probably knocked Blessing Bentley out of the top spot of one of my favorite Chautona Havig books, as well as favorite Christian fiction book!

I enjoyed the premise of the story which tackled a topic that is prevalent in the society, and was convicting to read for someone who is pro-life, however, in true Chautona Havig form, it tackles this serious issue in a light-hearted way…or rather it was infused with light-heartedness that while the story is convicting, it is still a fun read.

Tempting Tait is almsot like reading two books. The first half deals with Tait as he tries to save an unborn baby’s life by agreeing to adopt her. We also see how Tait tries to be an example to the baby’s birth mom, even though she wants no part of anything to do with Christianity. The second half of the book follows Tait as the father of a newborn and realizing that he can’t do it on his own and he needs a wife. And he enlists the help of Bentley to help him find a wife – who, in my hoenst opinion, even though they didn’t get together under “normal circumstances”, is perfect for Tait.  Will his search be successful? You’ll have to see for yourself.

Tempting Tait was entertaining, thought-provoking and humorous all at the same time. There were some great one-liners in it, especially towards the end of the book. It was a beautiful story that deserves to be read by many. And all I can say is that I am  looking forward to reading the last book in the series, Charming Chloe, when it comes out next year! 5/5 Stars.

About the Author

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Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

 

 

 

More from Chautona

How One Man Turns A Mess into a Miracle

It’s been ten… maybe fifteen years since Eden Pohl waltzed into my brain and settled in. Despite my focused attention on other books, her taunts never strayed far from my hearing.

If you really believed what you say about abortion, you’d tell my story.

You just don’t want to have to write the messy stuff.

Ouch. Worst of all, she was wrong. And she wasn’t.

I don’t mind attacking the hard things when it’s the right time, but I only had half a story. I knew what would not happen but not what would.

So, she languished there in what is probably the longest pregnancy in fiction.

After my friend, Sandy, killed my dreams of combining Tait and Bentley’s stories and added Tait’s (and therefore Eden’s) into a series, things clicked. Duh. Tait would need a wife. Being a single parent is hard. It isn’t how God designed things, you know? We’re supposed to have help. A spouse, extended family, the church.

But sometimes things don’t work in this fallen world. Sometimes we find ourselves parents—even by choice—without the daily support of another parent. Not only that, sometimes our own parents aren’t in a position to be able to help. Age, illness, or distance can remove us from the God-given networks we should have and don’t.

Finally, our decisions sometimes cause us to isolate ourselves even from God’s family, and the result can mean we don’t have that help that we otherwise would.

One verse came to mind over and over when I planned out the rest of Tait’s story.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

Sometimes the words tried to transform themselves into, “It is not good for a father to be alone, so God will find him a helper parent suitable…”

And I had to silence that voice.

First, because we don’t just change Scripture to suit our purpose. Or rather, we shouldn’t.

Second, because that’s even more out of order than having a baby before marriage. It happens sometimes—sometimes by choice, as in Tait’s situation. However, the healthiest marriage will usually put a strong emphasis on the marriage relationship first (after the Lord, of course) and then focus on the children. Why? Because it is best for the children if their parents are in unity. Children find security and strength in knowing their parents love and are committed to each other.

So many times, I started to put that emphasis in the wrong place struggled to get it right. Then one day I realized that this was the very thing I needed to do. Show that struggle. I needed to show that Tait’s focus was wrong—that he created problems he could have avoided simply by being a good daddy… but also by being an even better husband.

I hope you’ll enjoy Tait’s story, and I pray that his heart for the unborn will touch your life in a real and tangible way.

Blog Stops

Batya’s Bits, July 29

Godly Book Reviews, July 29

Among the Reads, July 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 30

Texas Book-aholic, July 31

Book of Ruth Ann, July 31

Inklings and notions, August 1

Cultivating Us, August 1

For Him and My Family, August 2

Read Review Rejoice, August 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 3

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, August 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 4

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, August 4

Aryn The Libraryan 📚, August 5

deb’s Book Review, August 5

Older & Smarter?, August 6

Back Porch Reads, August 6

Through the Fire blogs, August 7

Daysong Reflections, August 8

Pause for Tales, August 8

She Lives To Read, August 9

Spoken from the Heart, August 9

Artistic Nobody, August 10 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 10

Lots of Helpers, August 11

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 11

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a paperback copy of Tempting Tait and an original watercolor of “Tait’s Wedding”!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fe37/tempting-tait-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

First Line Fridays #14 – Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

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“The boy and the girl had once dreamed of ships, long ago, before they’d ever seen the True Sea. They were the vessels of stories, magic ships with masts hewn from sweet cedar and sails spun by maidens from thread of pure gold. Their crews were white mice who sang songs and scrubbed the decks with their pink tails.”

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries #1) by Meg Cabot

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot.

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The Princess Diaries movies were a favorite of mine as a kid, and I remember when started reading the book in about 5th grade and being excited to finally read it… and if I remember correctly, there were several of us in the class who were reading it at the same time.

Before Is tart this review, I think it is important to note that there are some huge differences between the book and the movie, but both are good in their own way.

The Princess Diaries follows high school freshman, Mia Thermopolis, who feels like a freak and is failing Algebra. Then her father, who is a diplomat in the small (fictional) country of Genovia, drops a bombshell, not only is he a prince, but Mia is a princess! Her life just got turned upside down. She now has to take princess lessons with her Grandmere (who is not as sweet and kind as in the movie!) and hopefully keep a low-profile about the whole princess thing. But then the story is leaked to the press and now everyone knows about her royalty status, but on the plus side her crush, Josh Richter, is paying her some attention.

I did like this book, it was a fun read, however it is very different from the movie. I feel like Mia is more overdramatic, but again we are actually reading her diary! I do not have much say except that it was a fun read. However, I do want to note several differences between the book and the movie:

  1. In the book Mia lives in New York, whereas in the movie she lives in San Francisco.
  2. Her dad is still alive in the books.
  3. Her mother dates her Algebra teacher, whereas in the movie it is her Debate teacher.
  4. Grandmere is awful in the books, however she is very endearing in the movie (especially since she is played by the amazing Julie Andrews!).

There are probably other major differences that I have mised, but these seem to be the main ones. I’m looking forward to continuing my reread of The Princess Diaries series in the days to come. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Kristy’s Great Idea (The Baby-sitters Club #1) by Ann M. Martin

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin.

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With all the craziness going on in  2020, I decided to revisist another one of my favorite series from when I was an adolescent, The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin. I was also inspired to read it when one of the BookTubers I follow read it, as well as the fact that Netflix released a series based on the books. I remember loving them as a kid and I was able to find the first 5 books in the series at my local used bookstore, and it looks like almost all of them are available on e-book through my local library. I am planning on writing reviews for each of the books as I read them. I don’t know if I will read all the books in the series since there are over 150 books (!), but I want to read at least the first 15-20 books in the series. Also, it should be noted that these books can be read in any order.

Kristy’s Great Idea follows 12 year old Kristy who, after watching her mom struggle to get a babysitter for her younger brother, comes up with the idea of the Baby-sitters Club where clients can call and have access to four experienced babysitters. She asks her friends to join her: Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, and Stacey McGill. As they get started there are a few hiccups at the beginning, for instance prank calls, and someone calling for a petsitters, but things seem to go well!

The book follows each of the girls on one of their jobs, which in turn introduces the readers to some of their regular clients. It aso deals with Kristy having to come to terms with and accepting her mom’s relationship and engagement to Watson Brewer, and the fact that her parents aren’t getting back together.

We also get to see these four chracters come together and become friends and how they are all different and how it initially causes conflict, especially since Kristy is very opinionated and doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone.

I enjoyed getting to know each of the main characters and I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with them as I start rereading the series. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

 

First Line Friday #24 – Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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“The scythe arrived late on a cold November afternoon. Citra was at the dining room table, slaving over a partivularly difficult algebra problem, shuffling variables, unable to solve for X or T, when this new and far more pernicious variable entered her life’s equation.” 

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

 

 

Book Review: She, Myself and I by Emma Young

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on She, Myself and I by Emma Young.

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She, Myself and I is a book tha has been on my physical TBR for over three years – ever since I received an ARC at YallWest in 2017 – and I’ve finally had a chance to get to it. Before I get started with my review, I do want to note that this a review for the ARC and not the final version of the book, so there are probably some difference from what I read and the final copy.

She, Myself and I follows Rosa who is a quadraplegic as a resut of a nerve disease which is slowly killing her. However, she has an opportunity to have a new lease on life when a doctor in Boston asks her to take part in an experimental surgery – a brain transplant. Her and her family move form Londno that she can have the surgery.

Everything goes according to plan and Rosa’s brain is successfully transplanted into the body of brain-dead Sylvia Johnson. While Rosa starts to recover from her surgery, she struggles to find her identity – is she Rosa or Sylvia? Who is she really? Matters are not helped when she overhears a nurse praying over her for her death because she believes that the brain transplant was evil. This incident haunts Rosa and causes her to question herself and her existence even more. The one day she meets Joe, and intern for Bostonstream, who writes stories about the people he meets in the park outside the hosputal. With his help, Rosa sets out on a journey to find out who Sy;via was in order to find herself – she ultimately disocvers that it is up herself to decide who she is moving forward as Rosa.

I liked this book – however it lagged in places and seemed a little bit jarring at times. I liked following Rosa on her journey to discovering herself and her self-worth. I did enjoy the allusions to Frankenstein in this book and how Rosa in some ways views herself as a type of Frankenstein’s monster because of the brain transplant.

I also enjoyed getting to know Joe and how he treats Rosa and respects her privacy, even though he is a journalist. I like how he cares about upholding integrity and not making advances in his career.

Another character I really liked was Rosa’s brother Elliott. Even though he was a typical brother, he also provides some wise advice to Rosa, which ultimately helps her come to terms with her identity.

While I liked the novel, it was hard to get into and it just seemed very open-ended, which I think was the point. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review (Super Spoilery Edition): Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

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So I jumped right into my re-read of Obsidio as soon as I finished Gemin. I don’t know why, but ti seems a bit slower than the previous two books – maybe it’s because I plowed through Illuminae and Gemina, and I’ve slowed down some. It could be that it seems to contain a lot more video surveillance footage reports than the other two. But sit back and please enjoy this spoilery review/ reading journal of Obsidio.

Obsidio follows two storylines, one is with Kady, Ezra, Hanna, Nik and everyone else after the destruction of the Heimdall Jump Station and realize that they might be better off going back to Kerenza, especially when they intercept a BeiTech report that there are still a good number of colonists still alive on Kerenza.

The second storyline takes place back – at the same time – back on Kerenza and this time we are following Kady’s cousin, Asha, who is a pharmacy intern who is being forced to act as a medic. She is also part of a rebel group that is trying to regain control of Kerenza and overthrow the BeiTech trrips that they are forced to labor for. However, things get even more complicated for Asha when comes face-to-face with her ex-boyfriend, Rhys, who happens to be a part of the enemy’s team!

It’s interesting how we get a three-deimensional sketch of the characters through the chants and surveillance footage. Especially Ben Garver, who was the security chief on Heimdall and he keeps trying to dispute the decisions made by the captain. However, even though we mostly see him as a pain in the but, we also see his compassionate and kidn side, by going out of his way to take care fo his best friend’s wife and son. I thought this was very sweet and allows us to see him as someone other than a jerk.

After marathoninh the previous two books, I can honestly say that Obsidio is definitely a slow burn read. I don’t know why. However, it was super satisfying to see how everything was wrapped up in the end. And also AIDAN, why do I have a feeling there is more to it’s story?

Overall, this was a great conclusion to the Illuminae Files, however it just didn’t grip me or shock me as much as the other two. I am looking forwar to checking out the latest series by this duo – I hope it is just as good as the Illuminae Files! 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review (Super Spoilery Edition): Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

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After I finished Illuminae, I jumped right into Gemina. Even though it is more of a companion sequel to Illuminae, it is still important to read Illuminae before picking this up. Honestly, I remembered less of what happened in Gemina than in Illuminae, but I was excited to read it!

Just like I did with Illuminae, this is going to be a spoilery review/reading journal.

Gemina follows two new characters, Hanna and Niklas, who live aboard the Heimdall Jump Station, which is still intact! (In Illuminae, the Kerenza refugees were wondering whether or not it was still around.) This novel opens up about a week or so after the end of the events of Illuminae. Hanna is the commander’s daughter , and is dating one of the young officers. Niklas is a drug dealer who works for his uncle’s cartel, the House of Knives. On Terra Day a mutiny is staged and the ship is under siege, and a whole lot of stuff goes down, however Hanna and Niklas fight to stay alive and keep the Heimdall going, especially when they discover that the Hypatia is on the way.

First off, at the beginning Kady’s dad is still alive, which is god because she thinks he is dead. Also, I love how the dossier that makes up this installment is framed by the narrative of the executive director of BeiTech on trial for everything that happened in Illuminae, this book, and Obsidio. I also liked how Gemina deals with wormholes and how they are used for travel.

I forgot that Sam Wheaton, who Hanna strongly dislikes, was working undercover for BeiTech and that he is the one who made sure the Heimdall did not know that the Hypatia was coming. Also, I forgot how Niklas is unknowlingly partially responsible for getting the BeiTech special ops team on board!

Also, it makes me sad that Hanna’s dad is killed because they had a pretty good father-daughter relationship.

For whatever reason whenever I read Falk/Cerebus (the Commander of the BeiTech special ops team) I keep reading it in the voice of Anton Ego from Ratatouille…I have no idea why, maybe it’s his frequent use of the word “bliss.” But as far as I know he’s a lot younger than Anton Ego. My brain is just weird.

It’s a little unnerving how ruthless Director Frobisher is – she’s willing to have thousands murdered all for the sake of saving BeiTech’s butts. Also just shows how greedy and bloodthirsty someone corrupt can be. However, I do appreaciate how Sam Wheaton starts to have doubts about his involvement in BeiTech’s hostile takeover of the Heimdall….and I have just remembered that it isn’t really Sam who is the undercover BeiTech agent, it was Jackson Merrick, Hanna’s boyfriend posing as Sam, I remember that that was a great twist! I had remebered that he was involved with Falk’s crew showhow, but I had forgotten that he was actually Rapier (Falk’s call name for him.) Dang that was good!

And who can forget thaose weird worm-like creatures, Lamina, crawling around the station and feeding off of peple so they can grow bigger. There is so much crap going down and it’s and even wilder ride from about the 300 pages mare. But the Lamina are definitely the creepiest part of Gemina! Especially the eldest one who decidcdes to go in search of more “food” within the Heimdall.

Once the wormhole is brought back online things start to get even more interesting – and even a bit trippy.

Now I remember the pain of Nik dying and Hanna being all alone.

It is also interesting how the multiverse/ parallel universes is brought into play. I think it is well done, but I’m going to be honest and say that even when rereading it, I still do not fully understand it, but I think that it’s supposed to be that way intentionally – I think. Also, I really liked how Nik is still alive and that it was his parallel universe self that was killed.

It was cool how Jackson redeems himself by sacrificing himself so that Nik, Hanna and Ella can escape to safety in the end.

Overall, Gemina is a great follow-up to Illuminae, although it does suffer from that second book slump in certain places. However, I will say I really enjoyed it, in fact I think I enjoyed it a lot more than the first time I read it! It gets trippy a bit, but it is still really good. Although not as good as Illuminae, and I think that is because ity had a lot more mixed media pages, whereas Gemina was more heavy on the video surveillance transcripts. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review (Super Spoilery Edition): Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

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So for whatever reason, I decided to reread Illuminae. I’ve been meaning to do so for a while but never got around to it – probably because I felt pressured to read all the other books on my TBR (pressure I put on myself). After struggling to get into another book, I decided it was time to reread an old favorite and remember why it was a favorite, as well as whether I still feel the say way about it almost 5 years after reading it for the first time.

Now, I do already have a review for Illuminae, However I wanted to write another one (without looking at my previous one) to see how different this review ends up being from the original one. This will also contain more spoilers, because this is going to be part review and part reading journal. So without further ado, here is my new and, hopefully, improved review of Illuminae.

Ilumminae starts off on the illegal mining colony planet Kerenza, everything is business as usual when all of a sudden the planet is attacked by a BeiTech fleet (which is a huge corporation in this world), people are dying but several thousand make it off the planet safely – including Kady Grant and Ezra Mason, our main characters who also broke up several hours before the start of the book. There are three ships that make up the fleet: war vessel Alexander, science vessel Hypatia  and freighter Copernicus. Their goal is to make it to the Heimdall jump station before they are caught and taken down by the Lincoln, a BeiTech vessel that will show no mercy, but they might have trouble on their hands amongst themselves, and especially with the Alexader’s AI, AIDAN.

Just like it did the first time, it took me about 20 pages to get into Illuminae, but after that it is very quick-paced! However, I deliberately took my time with readint it because I wanted to savor it. It’s also amazing what I ended up remembering from the first time I read it, and what I didn’t remember.

First, I forgot how much the leadership kept the evacuees in the dark about what was going on – I get that they were trying to keep people calm. Also Captain Torrance is a major jerk with how he tries to strong arm everyone!!

Also I forgot that Kady is a strong character and how she is willing to do whatever it takes to discover the truth of what is going on – however, she is kind of morally gray considering the fact that she doesn’t seem to really caree who takes the fall for her actions.

And I forgot that at the start of the novel there were there were three ships of Kerenza evacuees…now I know why… AIDAN goes rogue and forces the Alexander to destroy the Copernicus because there is a threat of a virus on board and it determines it is the “best” outcome. It is interesting to see how it has become somewhat sentitent, but in a selfish way.

I had also forgotten about how the Phobos virus was the result of a bioweapon that BeiTech had dropped on certain parts of Kerenza. It was interesting to read, especially since I was reading it in the height of COVID-19.

I also love how we are finding out the information along with the characters over time, especially regarding what really happened on the Copernicus before it was destroyed.

I also forgot how ruthless AIDAN, like it knows that it’s job is to protect the fllet and wants to do so, but it also doesn’t want to be shut down again It’s answer to get rid of the very people who have the power to do so is to release the quarantined people who have the Phobos virus and are deranged as a result, to go after the leadership of the Alexander, as well as expose everyone to the virus. It’s almost like it thinks it is a merciful thing to do, especially since the Lincoln will comeback to destroy them. I think it is interesting that AIDAN keeps repeating the phrase, “Am I not merciful?” when it really isn’t. But it also can’t tell the difference between right and wrong because it is an AI, but yet it is sentient of the fact that it does not want to be shut down again and seems to be protecting itsef – almost as if it feared death. It definitely reminds me of HAL300 from 2001:A Space Odyssey, which is a book I really need to read since I’ve only seen the Stanley Kubrick film. In fact, whenever AIDAN speaks or we read from it’s perspective, in my head I read it in the same voice as HAL3000. The same kind of chilling, calm monotone voice, that has a “perfect” explanation for it’s actions.

What’s even more intersting is when it threatens to destroy the Hypatia when it tries to get as far away from the Alexander as it can. AIDAN’s logic is faulty, but then again it doesn’t really have feelings -although it seems to have some sense of self-preservation and revenge.

The way Ezra describes some of the scenes of what he sees the “afflicted” doing on the Alexander seem to be like something out a horror movie, but it doesn’t faze me much…maybe there are some types of horror I can endure? Who knows? I don’t think I want to try and find that out.

I love how there’s a conversation with the phrase “O Captain, my captain,” and it bother refers to the poem by Walt Whitman and the movie Dead Poets’ Society (which is a great movie and I highly recommed it) even though that conversation ends in a sad way.

RIP James McNulty! The scene with his last will and testament is so sad! There are so many side characters in this book (and series) whose deaths are so gut-wrenching. I almost cried several times during my reread.

Even though AIDAN is the villain, it is interesting to get it’s persepctive of the people descending into madness because of the virus, and even it is kind of surprised by it. I find it fascinating that it beleives that what it is doing was for the greater good, even though a lot of the chaos that takes place is it’s fault. It’s also interesting because there are moments when it seems like AIDAN is having an existential crisis even though it is merely an AI,

Even though Kady at first seemed to be morally gray, she has a good sense of what is right and what is wrong. She willinly sacrifice her life for the several hundred survivors still left on the Alexander, as well as the lives of those on the Hypatia. It’s interesting how AIDAN cares for Kady and it cannot bear the fact of anything bad happening to her and does what it can to stave off enemies. Even as an AI, it clearly is grappling with some kind of emotion, an it’s confused by it because it is something that it had not previously known. It’s also interesting how the ship serves as AIDAN”s body. Thankfully, the bad guys, the dreadnought Lincoln, are blown to smitherens and the Hypatia is able to continue on her journye to the Heimdall Jump Station.

I found it interesting that near it’s impending doom, AIDAN seems to be scared of “death” or going offline.

I completely forgot the big reveal in the last 10 pages… we sicover that Ezra’s mom is the Executive Director of BeiTech, which definitely adds a whole other dimesnsion to why Kerenza was attacked, especially since we are told that the reason Ezra and his dad moved to Kerenza was to hide from her!

I really loved my re-read of Illuminae – in fact, I read it a lot quicker than I thought I would. Once again, I enjoyed the format of a dossier folder with mixed media text. It definitely kept me engaged the whole time.

I am planning on doing reviews like this for both Gemina and Obsidio, so stay tuned for those, especially since I decided to marathon them since I have not read them back to back before. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Movie Review: Dumplin’ (2018)

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is a movie review on Dumplin’ which was released in 2018.

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Instead of jumping into a summary of the movie (which is the same as the book), I’m jsut going to jump into my review.

The opening scene is really great with a flashback to a scene with Willowdean and her Aunt Lucy, and of course, a Dolly Parton son. It also shows the beginning of her friendship with Ellen. I also love the foreshadowing of what happen to bully Patrick Thomas later on.

Also, I really love how they kept the influence of Dolly Parton in the movie, especially by playing her music in the background.

Jennifer Aniston does a great job in her portrayal of Willowdean’s mother. I also like how her character is a lot more three-dimensional than what was given in the book. I also like how we get to see more of how Willowdean feels like a disappointment to her mom.

There is also a lot more development between her and Bo, also he keeps going to Holy Cross as opposed to transferring to Will’s school, which happens in the book.

I love th scene of  sign-up day for the pageant. I especially love the following quote that Willowdean says to her mom, “A swimsuit body is just a body with a swimsuit on it.”

Then there is the scene when Bo and Willowdean watch the meteor shower and she schools him on Dolly Parton. Also when things get awkward between them when they kiss because she becomes self-conscious of him feeing her back rools and freaks out about it.

I also liked how Willowdean and Ellen’s argument is based on more than on Ellen signing up for the pageant, the movie shows it as rooted also in sight jealousy when her mom shows Eleen attention that she wants from her. It was sad to see how her mom doesn’t really suppot her participation in the pageant.

Bo is a sweetheart, especially when he tells Willowdean that he loves her the way she is.

I also liked how the movie focuses more on preparing for the pageant.

There is also a scene where Rosie (Willowdean’s mom) realizes that she never really knew her sisters and that if it wasn’t for Lucy she probably would not have won the pageant. We see her coming to terms with her sister’s death. And then during the pageant we finally see that she is proud of her daughter.

Overall, this was a great adaptation of the book, in some ways I like it better than the book. I just foudn the different relationships presented in the movie were a lot more dynamic than they were in the book, especially the relationship between Willowdean and her mom. There were some notable differences between the book and the movie, firstly, the character Amanda wasn’t in it at all. And second, Willowdean’s first boyfriend, Mitch was also missing, which I was fully okay with because I didn’t really like that plot point in the book. Honestly, I really like the movie a lot more than the book. 4/5 Stars.

Happy reading and watching,

Janelle L. C.