The Theory of Happily Ever After by Kristen Billerbeck

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About the Book:

Paperback, 277 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Revell
ISBN
0800729447 (ISBN13: 9780800729448)
Edition Language
English

Other Editions (3)

According to Dr. Maggie Maguire, happiness is serious science, as serious as Maggie takes herself. But science can’t always account for life’s anomalies–for instance, why her fiancé dumped her for a silk-scarf acrobat and how the breakup sent Maggie spiraling into an extended ice cream-fueled chick flick binge.

Concerned that she might never pull herself out of this nosedive, Maggie’s friends book her as a speaker on a “New Year, New You” cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Maggie wonders if she’s qualified to teach others about happiness when she can’t muster up any for herself. But when a handsome stranger on board insists that smart women can’t ever be happy, Maggie sets out to prove him wrong. Along the way she may discover that happiness has far less to do with the head than with the heart.

Filled with memorable characters, snappy dialogue, and touching romance, Kristin Billerbeck’s The Theory of Happily Ever After shows that the search for happiness may be futile–because sometimes happiness is already out there searching for you.

 

MY REVIEW:

What better setting for a chick-lit book than a singles’ cruise! Kristen Billerbeck certainly takes off on the right boat here in the Theory of Happily Ever After.

Each chapter starts with a quote from Maggie’s own book, The Science of Bliss. Yet, of course, Maggie can’t find bliss herself. Her friends feel the need to drag her on a cruise to restart her work and social lives.

Maggie seems unable to pull herself out of her own swamp of despair and live by her own advice. That was just irritating. Maybe I am beyond the Chick-lit genre.

The ending glosses over the hard feelings that have been building. Yes, people forgive. However, sometimes it takes a while for the feelings to catch up with reality and sometimes relationships change because of issues, even forgiven ones.

“The church is simply people, Maggie. Flawed and sometimes just plain wrong when they make their own rules.” Haley says this to comfort Maggie. While Maggie needed to realize the humanity of the people in the church, I would hope that she would find the God of the Church very real, and another congregation better showing His love. Church was mentioned a lot, but God Himself didn’t seem so important in the characters’ daily lives.

This book might work well for twenty-something singles who want a light read. I gratefully received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley and the publisher. This in no way influences my review, which I am voluntarily leaving.

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Kristen Billerbeck

About Kristin

I grew up with a strong sense of justice. I simply knew the way things should be. And since I’m not smart enough to be a district attorney, I am a novelist. My childhood was slightly confusing. I blame my parents for this. Oh heck, I’m going to blame them for everything. I think I would have turned out normal if it weren’t for them. the billerbeck’s

Okay, probably not. I am a fourth-generation Californian, and an American mutt, but identify most strongly with my Italian heritage. My mother’s family, of strong Norwegian/German descent, tried to teach me how to do things right. How to cook, clean, sew, budget accordingly – all the things a proper young girl should know to be a contributing member of society. I, however, failed miserably. For my 40th birthday, my grandmother gave me a cookie gun, so it’s clear she hasn’t given up on me yet! That is eternal optimism!

My dad’s Italian family taught me about the good life. The indulgent life. How to eat, shop and be merry. My Nana had very tiny feet and a penchant for shoes (she worked at the Emporium, no doubt to fund her shoe addiction). My afternoons at her house had no lessons, other than how to walk in her high heels, drape myself in her mink stole and drip myself with rhinestones. Tastefully, of course. I picked up on this lifestyle much quicker.

I graduated San Jose State University with a degree in Journalism & Mass Communications (emphasis in Advertising), gave my life to Jesus during college and found my true love in a Christian Singles’ Group, which yes, I skewer in “What a Girl Wants”. He is German. Practical. And a Contributing Member of Society. I am still Italian, fluffy and an aficionado of fine shoes & handbags. Together, we have four children and now it’s our turn to confuse them. The circle of life. Dysfunctional family style.

 

 

 

 

Too Many Crooks Spoil the Plot, #1 Ditie Brown Mystery by Sarah Osbourne

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About the Book:

Pediatrician Mabel Aphrodite Brown adores kids. So when a childhood friend asks Ditie to babysit her kids for a few days, she jumps at the chance. She never imagined she’d be solving a murder too . . .
 
Despite growing up together, Ditie hasn’t seen Ellie Winston in two years, and she didn’t even know Ellie was living in Atlanta. But when Ellie asks her to take care of Lucie and Jason for the weekend, she thinks nothing of it. They’ll bake cookies together, play with her dog—it’ll be fun! Until the police call with terrible news . . .

Ellie may not have been the best friend, but who would want her dead? Could it have something to do with the vague get-rich-quick scheme she mentioned to Ditie? Or the men in a black truck following her and breaking into her home? Not sure who to trust other than her best friend, Lurleen, Ditie’s buried maternal instincts kick in to protect the kids and find their mother’s killer—before they’re orphaned again . . .

Includes Family-Friendly Recipes!

MY REVIEW:

I am always on the lookout for a new mystery or series. Too Many Crooks Spoil the Plot by Sarah Osbourne is a fast-moving, intriguing mystery that has some very likable characters, a few to dislike, and a few from which to run.

Ditie(short for Aphrodite), Lurlene, and Jason and Lucie are arguably some of the most likable. Ditie is a pediatrician who finds herself suddenly in charge of her friend’s children. Jason and Lucie are adorable, childlike and adult-like by turns, making one’s heart ache and eyes overflow. Lurlene pretends to be French in a cute way and also helps with childcare.

Mason and Dan give the ladies in the book some romance. My complaint would be that Mason never really romances Ditie, he just acts “settled” that she is for him.

The author does a great job of providing plenty of twists and turns in this mystery until my head was reeling with suspect possibilities. I found it hard to figure out who was really behind the murders.

One thing I didn’t care for was a spate of bad language thrown in towards the middle. Maybe to keep the book from getting a PG rating? I would personally prefer the PG rating. One of the tenets of a cozy used to be “no bad language.”

The recipes at the back were quite reasonable, even for someone who considers herself a non-cook. Yum!

I will be checking out the next book, to see how the series progresses. If you like children, police business, and cozies, you may want to check it out this series, also.

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      Sarah Osbourne

A Rebel Heart, #1 Daughtry House by Beth White

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About the Book:

Five years after the final shot was fired in the War Between the States, Selah Daughtry can barely manage to keep herself, her two younger sisters, and their spinster cousin fed and clothed. With their family’s Mississippi plantation swamped by debt and the Big House falling down around them, the only option seems to be giving up their ancestral land.

Pinkerton agent and former Union cavalryman Levi Riggins is investigating a series of robberies and sabotage linked to the impoverished Daughtry plantation. Posing as a hotel management agent for the railroad, he tells Selah he’ll help her save her home, but only if it is converted into a hotel. With Selah otherwise engaged with renovations, Levi moves onto the property to “supervise” while he actually attends to his real assignment right under her nose.

Selah isn’t sure she entirely trusts the handsome Yankee, but she’d do almost anything to save her home. What she never expected to encounter was his assault on her heart.

MY REVIEW:

I am beginning to appreciate more and more how divided our country is at this time. How could things be any more ready to ignite? And yet, throughout our history, there have been times of great cataclysm. The Civil War was surely one of those times. In A Rebel Heart, by Beth White, after Ithaca Plantation has been destroyed by marauding Northerners, how can genteel Selah Norton work with an out-of-favor neighbor and a northern carpetbagger to restore the glory of her former home?

Courage has to be one answer. Whether it is Selah’s courage to follow Levi Riggins’s directions in their first mutual disaster, or her willingness to head up the whole project that Riggins later proposes. The former slaves have to have the courage to agree to work with Selah, trusting they would be treated well, not like the slaves they have been. Wyatt Priester, agreeing to live with Selah and her sister and work, hoping to get some apprenticing, again shows a great amount of courage. He is only 14 when he makes that decision. Riggins himself is quite brave. While helping restore Ithaca, quite a bit of scheming is going on which could cost him everything. Riggins says,
“Doing what you have to do when you’re afraid. That’s what courage is.”

I really enjoyed the great mix of history, romance, intrigue, and even plotting, involving the Pinkertons.

I would have appreciated a small glossary. There were several big words I had to look up. Good thing I was reading on my Kindle!

“A couple of quotables could go a long way today if only people would take them to heart:
“History always matters because it impacts the present and the future.”
and
“When everyone knows something is
true, you don’t question it.”

There is, of course, a teaser at the end for the sequel, which will be Joelle and Schuyler’s story. I am ready for it!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. No positive review was required and all opinions are solely my own.

 

 

About the Author:

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Beth White teaches music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. Her hobbies include playing flute and pennywhistle and painting, but her real passion is writing historical romance with a Southern drawl.

A native Mississippian, she is a pastor’s wife, mother of two, and grandmother of two–so far.

Also published as Elizabeth White, her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award.

Minding the Light, #2 Nantucket Legacy by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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About the Book

Book Title: Minding the Light

Author: Suzanne Woods FisherFIsher_MindingtheLight2-222x300

Genre: Historical Romance

Release date: July 3, 2018

From the back cover:

Six long years ago, Captain Reynolds Macy sailed away from his bride, looking forward to the day when he would return to Nantucket Island with a ship’s hold full of whale oil.

But when that momentous day finally arrives, Ren soon discovers that everything has changed in his absence. Everything. “Is nothing on this island as it appears to be?” he whispers in despair.

Unlike most islanders, bold and spirited Daphne Coffin doesn’t defer to Ren as an authoritative whalemaster, but sees through his aloofness to the aching heart beneath. She encourages him to return to his Quaker roots and “mind the Light,” finding solace in God and community. As Ren becomes the man she believes him to be–honorable, wise, faithful–she finds herself falling in love with him.

But how can she, when her heart is spoken for? Tristram Macy is Ren’s business partner, cousin, and best friend–and Daphne’s fiancé. Love always comes at a cost, but when is the price too high?

Suzanne Woods Fisher welcomes readers back to the Quaker community on Nantucket Island for this riveting love story, full of unexpected moments.

 

MY REVIEW:

———————————————————————————————————————***** 5 stars

Superb Historical Addresses Social Issues… Food for Heart and Soul

What a great book Minding the Light, by Suzanne Woods Fisher, is for a book club! Chock-full of little-known history from whaling Nantucket Island, this split- time novel contains an enticing and clean romance and an insider’s look at the Quakers on the island. This book will weave its magic around your heart while challenging your sensibilities. Frankly, I wish I were a high school English or history teacher in a parochial school, who could use this book as a wonderfully fun teaching tool.

I often love novels that divide their time between narrators of different time periods. It is interesting to see how Great Mary’s life affects individuals of future generations on the island who are fortunate enough to receive her diary and learn from it.

This book really made me think about so many issues. Daphne made Ren want to be a better man. How do I make my husband want to be a better man?

Tristram says, “And the only islanders who end up getting hung are Wampanoags.” The Quakers were guilty of social injustice while preaching racial equality. Every society seems to pick another culture to abuse and subjugate.

Patience, when asked about her life and family, replied it was complicated and things are not as they seem. Truly, a lot of things in this book were surprising and not what one might have expected. The novel is full of incongruities lived out in people’s lives: some flaunted, some hidden as long as possible.

While richer for being read as part of the series, enough backstory is provided that one will enjoy this story by itself. I gratefully received a complimentary copy from the publisher, NetGalley, and CelebrateLit. This in no way affects my opinions, which are freely given, and for which I am solely responsible.

Click here to purchase your copy!

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a $10 Starbucks gift card to five winners!!

Be sure to leave a comment on one of the blog stops for 9 extra entries into the giveaway. Click link below to enter.    (hint: highlight link, then click)

https://promosimple.com/ps/d1c4/minding-the-light-celebration-tour-giveaway

About the Author

suzanne-woods-fisherCarol-award winner Suzanne Woods Fisher writes untold stories about inspiring people. With over one million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction, ranging from Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World to the historical novel Anna’s Crossing.

 

 

 

Guest Post from Suzanne

8 Curious Facts you Probably Didn’t Know about Nantucket Island

 

This beautiful island, thirty miles off Cape Cod, is steeped in history. Here are just a few interesting reasons to add a visit to Nantucket to your bucket list.

1) During the first half of the nineteenth century, Nantucket was considered to be the wealthiest port in the world…all because of whale oil.

2) Petticoat Row is a 19th century nickname for a portion of Centre Street between Main Street and Broad Street. Many shops on Nantucket were run by women while the men were off to sea in whaling ships for years at a time. Quakerism, with its emphasis on equality, provided working women with community respect, value and esteem. The next time you’re visiting Nantucket, be sure to stop by the Petticoat Row Bakery for a morning glory muffin.

3) The use of laudanum (opium) was described by a visiting French as prevalent among the women of Nantucket. Loyal Nantucketers vehemently denied his claim. However, in the 1980s, construction workers digging to Nantucket’s sewer lines found heaps of opium bottles buried in the ground.

For centuries, laudanum was considered to be not only harmless but beneficial. Its very name in Latin is landare, which means to praise. Other names for it: Mother’s Helper (to sedate children), Sea Calm (for seasickness). It was used for all kinds of ailments, from sleeplessness to menstrual cramps to treatment of chronic pain, and available without prescription up until the twentieth century, when it was found to be highly addictive.

4) Nantucket Cent Schools were a carryover from England and the cost was exactly what the name implied. In New England they were kept by refined, thrifty women who often taught their own or their neighbors’ children until they were old enough to enter schools of a higher grade. I came across a story of a boy whose mother stuck a penny in his mouth each day so that he would remember to pay the teacher.

5) Moby Dick, written by Herman Melville in 1851, was based on a true-life event that occurred in 1820 to the Nantucket whaleship Essex and her crew. You can find out more about this ill-fated voyage if you visit Nantucket’s awesome whaling museum.

6) Speaking of…the whaling museum on Nantucket Island is called the Peter Foulger Whaling Museum. Peter Foulger was one of the early settlers to the island, and could be considered a Renaissance Man: inventor, surveyor, teacher, missionary to the Wampanoag Indians. And his grandson was none other than Benjamin Franklin.

7) Nantucketers were, for the most part, related to each other in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. The prosperous island was settled by a small group of families, with less than a dozen surnames: Coffin, Macy, Starbuck, Bunker, Hussey, Gardner, Mayhew, Swain, Barnard, Coleman, Worth, Mitchell. Those names are still common on the island.

8) There’s a good reason those surnames sound familiar to you—many of those early settlers had descendants who started business empires. Recognize these? Macy (retailer) and Folger (coffee).

 

 

 

Blog Stops

Carpe Diem, July 3

Livin Lit, July 3

midnightbookaholic, July 3

The Avid Reader, July 4

Margaret Kazmierczak, July 4

The Power of Words, July 4

A Baker’s Perspective, July 5

Blossoms and Blessings, July 5

A Reader’s Brain, July 5

Just the Write Escape, July 6

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 6

Bibliophile Reviews, July 7

Mary Hake, July 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 7

Texas Book-aholic, July 8

Simple Harvest Reads, July 8 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Janices book reviews, July 9

Captive Dreams Window, July 9

Book by Book, July 9

Back Porch Reads, July 10

Reading Is My SuperPower, July 10

Splashes of Joy, July 10

The Morning Chapter, July 11

Vicky Sluiter, July 11

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

Among the Reads, July 12

proud to be an autism mom, July 12

Two Points of Interest, July 12

Abbas Prayer Warrior Princess, July 13

Tell Tale Book Reviews, July 13

Blogging With Carol, July 13

Truth and Grace Writing and Life Coaching, July 14

Maureen’s Musings, July 14

Southern Gal Loves to Read, July 14

Godly Book Reviews, July 15

Inklings and notions, July 15

Bigreadersite, July 15

Connie’s History Classroom , July 16

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 16

Pause for Tales, July 16

Have A Wonderful Day, July 16

 

 

I would love to hear any comments you may have regarding the book or my review below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pelican Point, #4 Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon

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About the Book

A crumbling lighthouse is not part of the inheritance Army doctor Ben Garrison expects to claim when he journeys to Hope Harbor. Fresh out of the service, he wants only to unload the tower of bricks, decompress from years of treating battlefield trauma, and prepare to launch his civilian career.

Hope Harbor Herald editor Marci Weber has other ideas. She may not be a Hope Harbor native, but the small Oregon seaside town has become home–and she’s determined to save the Pelican Point landmark.

Sparks fly as the two go head to head over the fate of the lighthouse. But when they start to cooperate, a different kind of fire ignites. And as they work together, might Hope Harbor heal the hearts of these two romance-wary souls?

Bestselling author Irene Hannon invites readers back to their favorite town for a story that will light a beacon of hope within their hearts.

 

MY REVIEW


What a neat book. Two couples, two romances. One romance that needs to start for the first time, and one that needs rekindling. A red-haired, frightened hot-head and a calm, military doctor who clash over a local landmark, that Ben actually refers to as “Skip’s Folly.” I liked getting to see inside the lives of Ben and Marci and Greg and Rachel. How they handle conflict ultimately will decide if their relationships will make it or be broken forever.

The townspeople are great in their care for their own. My favorite person is Charley. the taco maker. He seems to be very smart and insightful into others’ needs, yet he is eccentric enough to talk to the seagulls. Maybe that is what makes him a non-threatening counselor of sorts.

Twists I didn’t anticipate turned the course of the story. But isn’t that true of real life?

This was the second romance I have read in this Hope Harbor series of Ms. Hannon’s, but I intend to rectify that. The town and the people are just too wonderful to leave before one must.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, which I am leaving voluntarily and for which I am solely responsible.

Fowl of the House of Usher, #7 A Bird Lover’s Mystery by JR Ripley

 

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From the back cover…

It really is the dead of winter in Ruby Lake when a party becomes an invitation to murder for Birds & Bees owner Amy Simms . . .

No one ruffles Amy’s feathers like Craig “The Gigolo” Bigelow. Not only has the two-timer returned to town, but his new girlfriend has invited Amy to a dinner party. And at Usher House of all places—legendary home to ghosts, freak accidents, and now, most horrifying of all, an ex-boyfriend and his fiancé. Regrettably, there are also sick ducks on the property that need attention. For a bird lover like Amy, it’s fowl before pride.

When everyone becomes snowbound, Amy can’t imagine the evening getting worse. Until a guest is found with a carving knife stuck in his chest. And he’s not the first to call it a night. Now Amy’s got till dawn to go hunting for a killer—before someone else ends up a dead duck . . .

MY REVIEW

—————————————————————————————————————————————–This was my second book to read by JR Ripley, although Fowl of the House of Usher is actually the seventh in A Bird Lover’s Mystery series. It is a very tense time for Amy and Kim, who along with a handful of other guests, are snowed in at a mountain retreat, guests of Amy’s ex-boyfriend Craig and his girlfriend. First, they find one guest murdered. After that terrible beginning, the remote location and the weather both collude to cause events to move quickly downhill.

I enjoyed getting to know the recurring characters a little more. Ripley had an ace up his sleeve that he holds onto until the last moment; perfect. Bits of humor are interspersed periodically with good timing. I thought Amy’s carping at her ex is a little over the top, but this is a cozy, so that could be part of the “quirky.” However, someone needs to assure North Carolina folks that 30 degrees F., while cold, is not freezing in the first minute.

All in all, I really did enjoy this book. Now I have a whole series to catch up on. If you are looking for a cozy without bad language or embarrassing scenes, check out A Bird Lover’s Mystery. I think you’ll like it, too.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. I was not required to leave a positive review, and I am solely responsible for all opinions.