Mini-Reviews #9

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of mini-reviews, where I share short reviews on books I have recently read that I was not able to write a full-length review for.

One Piece Volume 16 by Eiichiro Oda


In this volume Luffy and Sanji are rushing to the top of the Chimney Stack to save their friend. At the top they meet a weird doctor who treats their friend, and Chopper, the blue-nosed reindeer who turns into the Hulk when he is mad. We then get his backstory, as well as that of his previous friend, Dr. Hiriluk who died before the events that take place in this volume. It was okay, however I just want to see Luffy find the One Piece which will probably never happen. 3/5 Stars.

Children of the Whales Volume 7 by Abi Umeda 


The volume deals a bit more with the origins of the council of elders on the Mud Whale, as well as the possible origin of Ouni, who has extremely strong powers (known as thymia). 4/5 Stars.

Children of the Whales Volume 8 by Abi Umeda


Volume 8 wraps up the backstory that began in volume 7. We also see the people of the mud whale prepare to go to a new world. However, there might be a mutiny about to break out. 4/5 Stars.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord 


I liked that this had You’ve Got Mail vibes – I am a sucker for that, especially if it is done well, which I feel like it was executed well. While I liked the two main characters, Pepper’s mom and just their whole relationship dynamic bugged me. Tweet Cute was a cute read, but it did drag in some places. 3.5/5 Stars.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baronness Emmuska Orczy 


This is one of the books that my husband recommended that I read. I liked it, but I definitely enjoyed the movie a bit more because we get more development of Sir Percy and Marguarite’s relationship, as well as her relationship with Chauvelin. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Baby-sitters on Board! (The Baby-sitters Club Super Special #1) by Ann M. Martin

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Baby-sitters on Board by Ann M. Martin.


Confession…I’m a huge Disney fan and when I saw that part of this book takes place at Disney World I knew I had to pick it up and I’m glad I did!

Baby-sitters On Board! follows the Baby-sitters as they set sail on another adventure. This time Mary Anne and Stacey have been chosen to go on a cruise and a trip to Disney World as mother’s helpers for the Pike family. However, they are joined by the rest of the club and Kristy’s family when Watson decides to take them on the trip too.

Shenanigans ensue when there seems to be a stowaway on board; Mary Anne meets a mysterious and glamorous orphan; Kristy meets a grumpy old man; and Mallory Pike decides that she wants to try and spy on people on the trip. To add to the shenanigans, Kristy and Dawn are acting passive aggressive towards each other and poor Claudia is caught in the middle. Stacey meets a young boy, wh has a heart defect and is able to bond with him over both of their chronic illnesses. And Claudia has a secret admirer. But everyone still has a fun trip, especially when they spend three days at Disney World.

I enjoyed this special edition, especially since we get to see the Baby-Sitters Club go on vacation – even though Mary Anne and Stacey have to work, they also get to have some fun on the trip. I also liked how Kristy befriends the old man, and it was so pure and we definitely get to see a new side of Kristy that doesn’t always come through in the other books – she is compassionate and empathetic nd strive to make sure everyone is having a fun time.

I also liked that we got chapters told from some of the kids’ perspective – we get Nicky, David-Michael, Karen and Mallory’s points-of view. Usually the books are only told from one of the baby-sitters perspective, but we are told the story from all five of them.

Overall, this was enjoyable – in fact, I think I enjoy the Super Specials a lot more than the original series because they are longer; the action doesn’t seem as rushed; and we get multiple points-of-view. I’m looking forward to reading more of these in the future. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Claudia and the New Girl (The Baby-Sitters Club #12) by Ann M. Martin

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Claudia and the New Girl by Ann M. Martin.


In this next installment of the Baby-Sitters Club we follow Claudia who meets new girl, Ashley, who also happens to be an aspiring artist and they immediately bond over their art. However, Claudia’s new friendship starts to take a toll on her other friendships, and she starts to neglect her duties as a member of the club. It also doesn’t help that Ashley is so focused on is her art. Will Claudia end up quitting the club?

This was another good installment in the series. While the plot is simple it does deal with some important topics, first, on being a good friend. Secondly, how you can do what you love and have several passions, for example Claudia is passionate about art and babysitting and being a member of the Baby-sitters Club. Readers can also see the dangers of becoming too absorbed in something you are passionate about.

It was interesting to watch Claudia’s growth throughout the novel, especially when she realizes that there are other things that are just as important as art. I also felt sorry for Ashley because even though her dogged pursuit of art is admirable, she never understands how solitary her life was, even when Claudia tried to explain to her why it was more important to have a balance of different things than just one thing.

Overall, this was a good addition to the series, probably one of the best since we get to see Claudia grow as a character. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Christmas Swap by Melody Carlson

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Christmas Swap by Melody Carlson.


Before I get started with my review, I would like to thank Revell Publishers and Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Alright…I don’t even know where to start with this review because I had very mixed feelings over this book. I honestly don’t know how I finished it because I was so aggravated for the majority of the time, it’s definitely not one of Melody Carlson’s best work. But before I get into the reasons why I wasn’t particularly fond of The Christmas Swap, let me tell you a bit more about the book.

The Christmas Swap follows Emma Daley who is convinced by her friend Gillian Landers to join her family on a houseswap in Breckenridge, Colorado. After much convincing, Emma decides to go along with her friend. While there she meets West, who happens to be a famous song-writer but he keeps that hidden from her, who is the owner of the house that they are staying in. However, West disguises himself as the caretaker at first, not wanting to be noticed for who he is. But he is immediately captivated by the down-to-earth Emma who sticks out amongst the pretentious and snobbish Landers family. West decides to stay in Breckenridge fora few more days so he can get to know her more, but when Gillian decides to set her sights on him, will any future between him and Emma be destroyed?

Alright, I liked the concept of this story, and I really liked Emma and West. However, Emma is a doormat and should have stood up to Gillian a lot more. Which brings me to the biggest issue I have with this book, Gillian is the WORST!!!! There were multiple times I wanted to throw my kindle against a wall because of her. She is so sinister, conniving, manipulative, rude, spoiled, pretentious, etc. And I can’t believe all she had to do was give an apology and everyone was friends again….I’m sorry no, she needs to suffer the cosnequences for everything she does to Emma! I am so mad because there really was no reason for her to be a big part of the story but she was…and it aggravated me to no end. There was absolutely nothing redeemable about her…and her mother is exactly the same. I mean, Harris was also bad but there wasn’t as much of a spotlight on him as there was on Gillian.

West was also a good character, but he should have been honest with Emma sooner, but it could be argued that he did try – but not hard enough.

Also another thing I didn’t like was that as a Christmas Christian Ficiton book there was almost no faith element present. There was one mention of God very briefly, but nothing else. I felt like there were several scenes where that could have been more prevalent, but I will admit that is more because that is just my preference. The ending was somewhat ambiguous because one thing is alluded to, but then something different completely different happens and I was honestly confused.

Overall, if you are looking for a feel-good Christmas book, just skip this one. Melody Carlson has other Christmas fiction books that are a lot better than The Christmas Swap – which is a letdown from her other works. One I highly recommend is The Christmas Shoppe. 2.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Royal Crush (From the Notebook of a Middle School Princess #3) by Meg Cabot

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Royal Crush by Meg Cabot.


Royal Crush is the third installment in the series and it picks up about four months after the events of Royal Wedding Disaster.

It’s the week leading up to Olivia’s 13th birthday and Mia is due to have her twins at any moment and Olivia can’t wait to be an aunt. Meanwhile the rest of the students at the Royal Genovian Academy are all preparing for the Winter Games in Stockerdolf to compete against the other royal academies. Olivia doesn’t want to go because she wants to be on hand for when Mia goes into labor. But the twins are born early and due to a flu-like illness going around, the royal physician announces that it is best for Olivia and Rocky, her step-brother, to go on the school trip in order to lower the risk of the twins getting sick. Also, Grandmere volunteers to be one of the chaperones on the trip.

Ont top of that Prince Khalil is acting weird and Olivia doesn’t know why, plus why does she feel jealous when her best friend, Nishi, asks her take pictures of him because she has a crush on him.

This was a cute read, however all the events take place over a wee, which honestly bugs me. Also some of the drama that happens seems unrealistic for twelve-year-olds, but then again I don’t know what it’s like being a twelve-year-old in today’s world…I imagine that there some differences from when I was 12, which was 14 years ago (was it really that long ago?!?).

I liked Olivia and her having to go on a trip that she didn’t want to go on, but she makes the best of it.

Honestly, there isn’t much else that can be said about this book except that it was cute, and also there is aflu-like virus running rampant in Genovia, which might be weird to read about because of the current age we are living in because of COVID-19.

I’m interested in seeing what happens in the next book in the series. 3.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Patient One by Shelley Shepard Gray

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Patient One by Shelley Shepard Gray.


Either I am burned out on Amish fiction right now, or this book just wasn’t for me. Part of it is also that I like there to be more of a faith element in the Amish fiction I read, but more about that in a moment, let me tell you more about the book.

The Patient One follows Marie Hartman who moves back to Walnut Creek to get out of the hustle and bustle of city life. One of the perks of moving back is that she will be closer to her group of friends that she grew up with – known as th Eight. She also has feelings for her friend, John B., who is also a member if the Eight. There is just one problem, he is Amish and she is an Englischer. However, what Maries doesn’t know is that John B. returns her feelings and he is trying to figure out where his life is headed, and whether or not he wants to be baptized into the Amish church. When he sees Marie, he knows one thing and that is that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. Just as things between the two of them start to happen, a tragedy takes place and they are reminded of their differences that could drive them apart.

This bok was okay, however I just had a hard time getting into the plot and it seemed to lag a bit. I also did not like Marie, she just seemed flat as a character. Even though we get chapters from her perspective, she still doesn’t have much character development. John B. was also just okay, but at times he comes across as overly protective of Marie and treats her as if she is a child and not an independent woman who can make her own decisions. And while I did like that we get John’s sister Molly’s perspective, and we see her find love, it also didn’t really seem to fit in the story a whole lot. I personally feel like her story deserved its own book, but that’s just me.

As I mentioned before, the faith element was lacking for most of the book, and while it was touched on, it was also non-existent. But that’s just me and my pre-conceived expectations and not necessarily on the author.

Overall, while I liked The Patient One, it wasn’t enough to continue with the rest of the Walnit Creek series. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

An Ivy Hill Christmas Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book: An Ivy Hill Christmas

Author: Julie Klassen

Genre: Christmas Historical Romance

Release Date: September, 2020

Richard Brockwell, the younger son of Ivy Hill’s most prominent family, hasn’t been home for Christmas in years. He prefers to live in the London townhouse, far away from Brockwell Court, the old family secret that haunts him, and the shadows of his past mistakes. But then his mother threatens to stop funding his carefree life–unless he comes home for Christmas. Out of options, he sets out for Ivy Hill, planning to be back on a coach bound for London and his unencumbered bachelor life as soon as the festivities are over.

But Christmas in the country presents many surprises, including encounters with an orphaned apprentice, the first love he disappointed years ago, and Arabella Awdry, a young lady who is far more appealing than he recalled–and determined to have nothing to do with him.

Will Christmastime in Ivy Hill, with its village charm, kissing boughs, and joyous songs, change his heart . . . and hers as well?

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

I’ve been meaning to read the Tales from Ivy Hill series for a while now and for various reasons just haven’t been able to, however after finishing An Ivy Hill Christmas I am determined to rectify that over the next few months!

First off, I really loved the characters. Even though Richard Brockwell is supposed to be somewhat unlikable at first, he was a great character. I really liked how he came across as having some Scrooge-like characteristics and first, but yet readers get to watch him grow from a selfish miser into someone who genuinely cares about his fellow man, and even how he has a lot of past hurt he has to work through as well as learning to forgive others.

Arabella was also intersting character and I loved how kind and charitable she was, however, I did not like how she jumped to conclusions about Richard without talking to him about it. I don’t know to me it seems kind of childish, but then again, I have to remind myself that this also takes place during a different period of time where something like that was not normally done.

The ensemble of supporting characters were amazing and I fell in love with each and every one of them, however my three favorite side characters were Jamie, Aunt Genevieve, and Mrs. Reeves. I especially enjoyed Mrs. Reeves and the wisdom she shares with Richard as he is wrestling with whether or not he can change. Here are two quotes I loved from that discussion:

“My dear boy, none of us deserves forgiveness for our own failings. If we could, God would not have had to send the Son He loved into the world to die for us. But He did, because He loves us” (Loc. 2222).

“Every day God gives us, we must do our best to trust and obey. We fail, but we do the same the next day, clinging to His promises and strength to help us” (Loc. 2234).

Both of these quotes seem to sum up the themes of this novella, redemption and forgiveness. It is also a reminder to be charitable towards our fellow man, and the joys of giving.

I also really enjoyed learning about more of the Christmas traditions they had in Regency-era England, and even seeing that there are still some that kept today – such as the Christmas “crackers”, I remember having those at Christmas during my childhood in South Africa.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed An Ivy Hill Christmas and I really need to start reading the other books in the series. This book reminded me why I enjoy Julie Klassen’s books so much – they’re great stories that convey a great message! 4/5 Stars.

About the Author


Julie Klassen loves all things Jane–Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for 16 years and now writes full-time. Her novels have sold over 1 million copies, and three of her books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and a Christian Retailing’s Best Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

More from Julie

My fascination with England began as a girl when I read The Secret Garden and Jane Eyre, and watched A Christmas Carol. I have now been to Great Britain several times, and my affection for the place has only grown. I love the country villages with their stone buildings and thatched roofs, the narrow, winding roads (though not driving on them), the ancient churches, friendly people, plummy accents, and history. Writing fifteen novels set there has been a real pleasure.

An Ivy Hill Christmas includes all the elements of an idyllic Olde English yuletide: A charming village setting, snowfall, mistletoe, caroling, gifts for less fortunate neighbors, and festive gatherings of friends and family. I thoroughly enjoyed researching 19th century Christmas traditions and weaving them into this novella.

In the story, a confirmed bachelor is determined to remain aloof from the celebrations going on around him—and from his mother’s matchmaking schemes. But divine hope, friendship, and unexpected romance change his heart…and his mind. I love a transformation story; don’t you?

If you’ve read the TALES FROM IVY HILL series, you will enjoy returning to the village and spending time with favorite characters. But rest assured, the novella is a standalone, meaning you can enjoy it whether or not you’ve read the other books, as these reviews attest:

“[A] standalone novella that not only beautifully captures the kindness, hope, love, and faith of Christmas but also skillfully evokes the period holiday atmosphere of Regency England.” —Booklist

“This feel-good tale of love and redemption will delight Klassen’s fans and new readers alike.” Publishers Weekly

And if you like the novella, I think you will like the other books as well. An Ivy Hill Christmas would also make a lovely gift for a reading friend.

Finally, if you want to add a British flair to your own modern-day celebrations, buy (or make) mince tarts or Christmas pudding, place Christmas “crackers” (pull-apart gift tubes) on your table and wear the included paper crowns. Refer to Father Christmas instead of Santa; and instead of “Merry,” wish everyone a hearty, “Happy Christmas.”

Happy Christmas!

Blog Stops

Through the Lens of Scripture, November 30

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, November 30

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 30

Christian Bookaholic, November 30

Andrea Christenson, November 30

Texas Book-aholic, December 1

KarenSueHadley, December 1

Robin’s Nest, December 1

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 1

Blessed & Bookish, December 2

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 2

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 2

Mia Reads, December 2

Wishful Endings, December 3

lakesidelivingsite, December 3

Through the Fire Blogs, December 3

For Him and My Family, December 3

Just Your Average reviews, December 3

She Lives To Read, December 4

Remembrancy, December 4

deb’s Book Review, December 4

Writing from the Heart Land, December 4

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 5

Quiet Workings, December 5

Blogging With Carol, December 5

Spoken from the Heart, December 5

The Christian Fiction Girl, December 6

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, December 6

Connect in Fiction, December 6

Artistic Nobody, December 6 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Worthy2Read, December 7

Genesis 5020, December 7

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 7

Inklings and notions, December 7

Life of Literature, December 7

For the Love of Literature, December 8

Connie’s History Classroom, December 8

Batya’s Bits, December 8

Labor Not in Vain, December 8

Hallie Reads, December 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 9

Older & Smarter?, December 9

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, December 9

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 9

Betti Mace, December 9

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 10

Faery Tales Are Real, December 10

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, December 10

Mary Hake, December 10

Daysong Reflections, December 11

Bigreadersite, December 11

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 11

Splashes of Joy, December 11

Vicky Sluiter, December 12

To Everything There Is A Season, December 12

Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, December 12

Blossoms and Blessings, December 12

The Write Escape, December 12

A Baker’s Perspective, December 13

Bizwings Blog, December 13

Simple Harvest Reads, December 13 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Pause for Tales, December 13




To celebrate her tour, Julie is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of An Ivy Hill Christmas and the other three books in the Ivy Hill series, plus the winner’s choice of Bingley’s Tea!!

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

Library Haul #17

Hello everyone,

Today I thought I would share the library books that I picked up yesterday from my local library. I am really excited for all of these, in fact, I am having a hard time deciding which one to read next.

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 2 by Hiromu Arakawa


Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 3 by Hiromu Arakawa


I just recently read the first volume of Fullmetal Alchemist, and I was hooked. I am looking forward to seeing where this series goes, and I am definitely interested in checking out the anime.

Fairy Tail Volume 3 by Hiro Mashima


Fairy Tail is another manga I just recently got into. I had tried starting it in 2017, but I wasn’t able to get my hands on Volume 2 so that got put aside for a few years. I finally managed to get volume 3 from the library and I’m looking forward to diving back into this world.

Fruits Basket Volume 1 by Natsuki Takaya

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Fruits Basket is another manga series I have heard a lot about, so I thought I would give it a try. I don’t really know a whole lot about it, and I kind of want to keep it that way until I start reading it.

Soaring Earth by Margarita Engle


This is a companion to Enchanted Air, which was a memoir about the author’s experiences growing up as a Cuban American during the tense relations between Cuba and America. I loved Enchanted Air (review is coming soon) and I am looking forward to reading this companion to it.

The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson


A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson


Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson


I love reading Christmas novellas in December and Melody Carlson is one of my favorite Christmas authors, so I decided to check out three of her novellas.

Gods and Kings by Lynn Austin


I read Gods & Kings last year, but I never ended up continuing with the series, but I do really want to! So I decided to reread the first book so that I can be refreshed on all the events that happened.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

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For those of you who have been following the blog for a while, you probably know that The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series. However, I haven’t reread it, so I decided that it’s been five years and it’s time for a reread of the series. I’ve already reread Cinder, and Scarlet is next. I do have the audiobook, but I felt like giving the physical book a try.

The Tinderbox by Beverly Lewis


I have been meaning to pick up this book almost this whole year but never got a chance to pick it up. I’ve heard good things about it, and it is also the second book on the list for my Reading Experiment #3, which so far I have failed at.

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson


I read Truly Devious in October and I loved it and I have been dying to read the next book especially since the first book ended on such a cliffhanger. I might wait to read this though because I wasn’t able to get the third book yet, and I’d like to try and read them back to back.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow


This is a fantasy novel about a woman who can travel through different portals to different worlds (I think, don’t quote me on that!) and it is all about the implications that come with that. Also, this cover is gorgeous!

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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This is another fantasy that I’ve heard a lot about that is inspired by Russian folklore and it sounds really interesting and I can’t wait to read it!

One Piece Volume 20 by Eiichiro Oda

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One Piece Volume 21 by Eiichiro Oda

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I renewed these two volumes of One Piece because I didn’t get a chance to read them before they were due. I am slowly working my way through this long series, I will eventually get caught up, I hope.

And those are all the library books I got at the libary yesterday, and as I said, I don’t know where to start!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.