Book Review: Blankets by Craig Thompson

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Blankets by Craig Thompson.

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Blankets is a graphic novel memoir in which Craig Thompson depicts his growing up years in rural Wisconsin with his younger brother. It covers the sibling rivalry he has with his younger brother, as well as the protectiveness he feels over him. It is also exploration of religion and his doubts about everything he has been taught regarding faith, as well as his artistic talent. It is a coming-of-age story that explores identity, but also the romance between two teens who are trying to figure out their lives, and how the author’s first love served as a catalyst to help him come to terms with his doubts, as well as pursuing his passion for art. With a simple yet vivid art style, Craig Thompson brings readers along on the journey of his formative years and the effect they would have on his life to make him the person that he is today.

Blankets is a bildungsroman of the author, where he brings readers on a journey of his childhood, but more specifically his teen years. As a graphic novel it covers a variety of topics, including prejudice, which very early on we see Craig being bullied by his classmates because his dad looks like he is Latino. They also use this as an excuse to beat him up. He is also chastised by his teachers because of his upbringing and because he doesn’t “apply himself to his studies.”

Another topic that it deals with that will later have an impact on him is that it depicts both he and his brother, Phil, being molested by their teenaged babysitter and the guilt that Craig carried for not protecting his brother from those instances. However, these events make Craig realize that the world can be horrible place, but he uses his talent for drawing as a way to escape, even if it is for a brief period of time.

Escape is definitely another theme throughout Blankets, because not only do we see Craig use drawing as an escape, but her also tries to find escape through Christianity. However, he uses the idea of eternity in heaven as a crutch to not do his best in school and he becomes somewhat legalistic in how he lives out his faith. It also shows how there are certain sect of Christianity that look down upon participation in the arts, instead of viewing it as gift from God. Craig struggles with whether or not art is a selfish pursuit. It is only when he gets a letter from his first love, Raina, that he picks it ups again because she is his muse.

Another theme that is explored is that of first love and the highs and lows that come with it. It also deals a lot with wrestling with faith and skepticism, especially with the reasons why someone might end up abandoning their faith. Craig struggles with his desire to be an artist and being convinced by others that it is an ungodly and selfish pursuit. The final straw for him is when he is studying the book of Ecclesiastes and he comes across what he believes to be some major discrepancies.

While I might not agree with the conclusions that the author comes to in his battle with faith and what he truly believes, and whether his faith will only force him to give up part of his identity – that of an artist – there are also some very relatable moments to his struggle. It also made me think a lot why I believe what I believe as Christian, and even how to give a strong defense of that. Another thing I didn’t like about this graphic novel was the sexual content, just because that is something I just generally don’t like in the books I read, however, I can also understand how it plays into the overarching story that Craig Thompson is trying to share with the reader. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Mini-Reviews #11

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of mini-reviews. Here are my brief thoughts on five books I read at the end of last year.

Fruits Basket Volume 1 by Natsuki Takaya

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I had been wanting to check this manga out for a while and I finally was able to get a copy of it at the library. It was okay, I’ll admit that I did almost DNF it, but it got better after 50 pages. I’m really not sure if I will continue with this series or not…I might read one more volume to just to give it another chance. As I mentioned before, the first 50 pages were slow, however once the elements regarding the curse and the Chinese Zodiac came in things really started to pick up. 3/5 Stars.

Fairy Tail Volume 3 by Hiro Mashima


This volume continues on the story from where it ended at the end of volume 2. The Fairy Tail team have to try and stop the evil wizard Erigor from unleashing the Lullaby, a spell that will instantly kill anyone who hears the song. The build-up to the end of this adventure was interesting and the end was pretty good, but it did seem to wrap up very quickly. I did also enjoy the little bonus short of the search for mushrooms and some of the effects of the mushrooms that Lucy and her friends find. This series isn’t earth-shattering, but it is still a fun series to read and I am looking forward to reading the next volume in the series. 3.5/5 Stars.

Dear Sister by Francine Pascal


I used to read the Sweet Valley High series when I was in middle school, so I was curious to see what I thought of them as an adult. Honestly, there is very little that is redeemable about it. Jessica is awful, Elizabeth is awful in this particular volume. There are some fatphobic comments that were really unnecessary – for example, Jessica thinksabout how glad she is that she lost two pounds because she doesn’t want her date to think she is a “blimpo”. Again, it was unnecessary and uncomfortable. It was interesting revisiting a series I loved, and hoenstly there is nothing great about them, literally the only reason I would pick another one of these up is if I just need something mindless to read. 2/5 Stars.

The New Guy by Cate Marsden


One night I was having a bout of insomnia, I’d just finished Dear Sister and decided to see if another Sweet Valley High book was available through Libby and I happened to stumble across this book that came up in the search. It was a short book that seems like a more modern and paranormal version of Sweet Valley High, while following the same formula. Unfortunately it ends on a cliffhanger and nothing else has been written. I honestly enjoyed this a lot more than the Sweet Valley High book I read. 3/5 Stars.

The Gospel According to Disney by Mark I. Pinsky


This is a book that took me about a year and a half to finish. It’s not that it was bad or boring, it’s jsut that I found I had to be in the mood to read it, especially since it is a more academic read than what I typically read. It was an interesting look at most of the animated movies, as well as some of the issues that have taken place in the history of the Walt Disney Company, for example the Baptist Boycott of the late ’90s. However, my one critique is that I felt that when going through the individual movies, there were times when the author focused more on summarizing the plot than actually providing some more commentary on each of the movies. 3.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson.


Christmas in Winter Hill is set a small town in the Pacific Northwest. Winter Hill over the last decade has become known as Christmasville, due to the Christmas festival that starts after Thanksgiving and goes through until just before Christmas. Almost everyone in Winter Hill loves Christmasville, which will prove a challenge for new city manager, Krista Galloway, who is not a huge fan of Christmas due to a rough childhood. However, with her eight year old daughter, Emily, and the rest of the city, will Krista change her mind concerning Christmas and find the joy in the season, or will something happen to remind her why she doesn’t like Christmas?

Christmas in Winter Hill was a great read, it reads like a Hallmark movie, although not as cheesy and formulaic as some of those movies can get. I loved getting to know the town of Winter Hill, and in some ways I wish there could be a series of novellas following the various townsfolk as they go about their lives, but I also know that I am probably in the minority. I enjoyed most of the characters that we are introduced to, and not just the main characters either!

First, Emily, Krista’s daughter is such a great character and she is so precocious and I love her faith that something good will happen to her and her mom. I liked the secondary story with her and her wish for her and her mom to live in the Christmas House and doing what she can to ensure that happens by entering the contest to win the house.

Krista seems to be a very no-nonsense person and first and looks into things that have to be considered in regards to the town, while also dealing with drama within city hall, especially concerning Christmasville. There were times throughout the novella that I was rooting for her, but other times when I found her unlikable but that makes sense considering the position she is in and she does have to look out for the ebst interests and safety of the town. I also loved how even though Krista is a no-nonsense kind of person, we see that she still has emotions, especially when people start gossiping about her after the town’s CFO – Winston Palmer – is placed on paid leave because he is under investigation for possible fraud, which the town doesn’t know about yet.

Which brings me to the next character, Winston Palmer, Winter Hill’s CFO and the most unlikable character in the book, which is how he is supposed to be portrayed. Every time he was in a scene my blood started to boil because of how despicable he was and just a creep. Based on what ends up happening to him at the end, I think that was the point. I also couldn’t stand Mayor Barry, I get that a lot of times he was trying to be diplomatic with everyone, especially Winston, but he also comes across as a spineless jellyfish who’s only concern is Christmasville.

I also liked the relationship between Conner and Krista, it was really sweet, but I also appreciate that it was not the main focus of the book! I loved that this was much more than a romance, it was about finding a permanent home and the joy of Christmas. It also captures life in a small-town, especially with being the newcomer in the town. I think that it also accurately showed what work within a city government can be like, especially in a small town.

Christmas in Winter Hill was a greeat Christmas story that had me gripped from beginning to end. I highly recommend this if you are looking for a good Christmas read that is light on the romance. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson.


Like Melody Carlson’s other Christmas novellas this was a sweet book that takes place in Maine. Again, it reads like a Hallmark movie, but not as cheesy.

This time we are following Wendy Harper, a widow, who just inherited her grandparents’ cottage in Seaside, Maine. Her and her son, Jackson, go there to fix it up so she can sell it – even though Jackson has his heart set on living there. While there she meets craftsman, Caleb Colton, who befriends her and Jackson and even gives her some advice on fixing up the cottage.

I liked this one, however it wasn’t as good as some of Melody Carlson’s other Christmas books, it just seemed pretty generic to me.

I did like the setting of a small seaside town in Maine, however it would have been nice to have a better name than Seaside – but that could just be me.

The main theme of this book is about trusting God, however it went int he cliched way that if you trust Him, He will give you what you want, which honestly is a faulty view of what it means to trust God. We are called to trust Him even when things seem very uncertain. But I also understand why the author chose to go in that direction.

I liked Wendy, but I also found her to be one-dimensional most of the time. Jackson was okay, but he did annoy me with his constant incessant claims that they were staying in Seaside when his mom clearly told him they would be selling the cottage. Caleb was a good male lead, but again, he was also pretty generic.

One of the side characters I hated was Crystal, she as so horrible to Wendy and just a snob. She was very unlikable, but I guess that is kind of the point.

The romance and the ending was sweet but rushed. Although, honestly maybe the romance wasn’t, it just seemed like it was.

Overall, this was an okay read. It isn’t the author’s best work, but it is okay. She ahs other Christmas books that are honestly a whole lot better than this one. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson

Hello everyone,

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


Once again, Melody Carlson has written a fantastic Christmas novella. The Christmas Blessing is set in 1944 and follows Amelia Richards and her infant son. Her fiancé, James Bradley, died while fighting in the South Pacific. After she loses her job, she decides to go to Rockford, Montana to meet James’ parents and to introduce them to their new grandson. However, things don’t go according to plan and Amelia finds herself having to take drastic measures in making sure her son is well taken care of.

This was a sweet read, that was heavy at times because it is dealing with the grief of losing a loved one. I also appreciated how, until the very end, the author shows how hard it was for Amelia to potentially give up her baby so that he could get the best care that she wasn’t able to give him.

I also liked getting to know the Bradleys, and how Dr. Bradley goes out of his wat to take care of Amelia when she gets really sick, and how his wife Helene, perks up out of her grief when she has a baby to take care of. In some ways, baby Jimmy injects hope back into a grieving family, especially Helene.

There is a romance near the end, but it also goes with a twist that happens, which I wish had been revealed earlier on in the story, but it made sense that it was rushed because it is a novella.

Overall, this was a good Christmas read that deals with grief and hope. I highly recommend this if you want a short Christmas read and/or if you are looking for a Christmassy read set during World War II. 3.75/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb.

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First off, don’ be fooled by the title that this is just another Christmas book – it is so much more than that and it could be read at any time during the year.

Last Christmas in Paris is set in World War I and is told in letters sent between Tom Harding, who has just gone to the Front, and his best friend’s sister, Evelyn Elliot. Through their letters, we learn about the horrors of war, as well as Evelyn’s need to do more for the war effort. We also get some letters from other characters that add to the plot of the novel. The letters are framed by the narrative of an elderly Tom in 1968, who returns to Paris to reread the letters exchanged between him and Evie before reading one last letter she wrote to him before her death (this is not a spoiler because this starts within the first few pages of the novel).

I really enjoyed this book. First, it is told in epistolary style, which I love. Secondly, it is set during World War I, which is somewhat unique because I feel like a lot of the other novels I have read like this are usually set against the backdrop of World War II. I also loved the title and how it is a reference to how Tm and Evie want to spend a Christmas in Paris once the war is over. It is also interesting how it comes into play at the very end of the novel.

I loved the characters, especially Evie and just how effervescent she is and how she serves as a foil to Tom, who is more reserved and as we see him become affected by war and the horrific things he has seen. I also loved getting to know Alice, but I could not stand John Hopper, especially when he almost destroys Tom’s life on the home front.

I feel like I learned a lot about World War I while reading this book, especially how a lot of going on the Front was kept from the civilians, and instead they were propagandized to believe everything was hunky-dory. And how if anyone tried to publish something that said otherwise, they could in trouble with the War Office.

This was a beautiful novel about war, friendship, courage, hope, tenacity, and love. I highly recommend Last Christmas in Paris for anyone who loves historical fiction, epistolary novels, or just enjoys a really good book. If this is on your TBR, read it, you won’t regret it! 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Protecting Annie Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book: Protecting Annie

Author: Jodie Wolfe

Genre: Western Historical Romance

Release date: November 12, 2021

After twenty years living along the trail as a deputy U.S. Marshal, Joshua Walker takes a job as sheriff in Burrton Springs, Kansas so he can be closer to his sister. Only problem is, she no longer requires his protecting.

After the death of her father, Annie McPherson needs a change. She accepts a position as schoolmarm hoping her past won’t catch up with her. Life is good, except for the pesky lawman who creates confrontations at every turn and continually questions her ability to adjust to life in the west.

When the irritating schoolteacher’s past and present collide, dragging Josh into the turmoil, he has to decide who he’s willing to defend.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts 

Protecting Annie was an alright read, the beginning felt slow and it was hard for me to get in engaged with the plot and the characters. However, I did like reading about Annie who is out of her element when she moves to Burrton Springs, and has to adjust to life in the West. I also liked getting to know Joshua, although I did feel like he went out of his way to infuriate Annie at times. I also enjoyed getting to know Jules and how she cares for her brother. And I liked getting to know some of the people of Burrton Springs that we get to meet along the way. 
Overall, Protecting Annie was a decent read, however it just didn’t capture my attention, but I think that had more to do with my mood than the book itself. 

*I received a copy of this book from the author and Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review. 

About the Author


Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Faith, Hope & Love Christian Writers, and COMPEL Training. She’s been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests. A former columnist for Home School Enrichment magazine, her articles can be found online at: Crosswalk, Christian Devotions, and Heirloom Audio. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at

More from Jodie

I’ve always been fond of reading mail-order bride books. Not that I would have ever had the courage to do something so brave. 🙂 But it’s fun writing and reading them. I also love perusing historical journal entries of women who decided to marry a complete stranger. Sometimes it worked out great, other times, not so much. In most cases, the heroine traveled across country to arrive in the west to meet her potential groom. Often they had no idea what each other looked like before they met for the first time. Not that looks matter.

At times the woman was given the opportunity to get to know the fella for a while before they actually married. Other times, they tied the knot as soon as the potential wife arrived at their destination. Some women fled desperate situations in the east, hoping for a better outcome only to find themselves embroiled in another bad position. All of the different scenarios I’ve read about helped to prime the pump for Protecting Annie.

In book one of my Burrton Springs Brides series, Taming Julia, I had the heroine’s brother, Josh set Jules (Julia) up as a mail-order bride. As I was writing that story, I knew it would be fun to change things up in book two and have Jules return the favor by ordering a mail-order bride for Josh. That’s the premise for this new story. Josh isn’t exactly thrilled to learn of his sister’s interference in his life and decision to remain single.

I hope you’ll enjoy the story of two unlikely people who are thrown together.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 30

Texas Book-aholic, December 1

Inklings and notions, December 2

For Him and My Family, December 3

deb’s Book Review, December 4

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 5

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 7

Bizwings Blog, December 7

Connie’s History Classroom, December 8

Mary Hake, December 8

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 9

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 10

Stephanie’s life of Determination, December 10

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, December 11

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 12

Vicky Sluiter, December 12

Labor Not in Vain, December 13



To celebrate her tour, Jodie is giving away the grand prize of an audio CD of 12 historical novels and novellas. Stories of chivalry, adventure and romance!!

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