The Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans

9781501119798_d6cc2

The Mistletoe Inn is the second installment in a Christmas series from Richard Paul Evans, referred to as “the King of Christmas Fiction.” The first book in the series, The Mistletoe Promise, was excellent. The books need not be read in order, like most series, because neither the characters nor the plot continue from the first to the second novel. One interesting thing Evans did, however, is to use the story line from The Mistletoe Promise as the book idea for the main character, an author named Kim Rossi, in The Mistletoe Inn. Well played, Mr. Evans. That was a really neat idea, and it brought back fond memories of the first book as I read the second one. I enjoyed The Mistletoe Inn just as much, if not more than The Mistletoe Promise. Every year around Christmas, I’m in the mood for a Christmas story, and Richard Paul Evans books are always perfect to satisfy my reader’s craving.

Kim Rossi is a newly divorced, single 32 year old aspiring writer who spends her days working as a finance officer at a car dealership. She is living in Denver, farther than she would like from her only remaining family member, her father. She lost her mother to suicide at a young age, and she still suffers from grief and guilt about her mother’s passing. To top it all off, she finds out some unsettling news about her father’s health. She decides to attend a writer’s conference at the Mistletoe Inn around Christmas time, in hopes that she will finally be able to get her novel closer to publication. The best part about the conference is that her favorite author of all time, H. T. Cowell, is the keynote speaker. Figuring she has nothing to lose, Kim spends Thanksgiving with her father and then sets off for the conference. The setting for the conference is beautiful, in wintry Burlington, Vermont. She meets a few new friends at the conference, namely Samantha and Zeke, as well as a few interesting characters, as well.

I won’t give away much more of the plot, because I want you to read and enjoy the story as much as I did. Let’s just say that the conference doesn’t turn out the way she thought it would, in more ways than one.

I truly enjoyed this book, and my only regret is that it was a very short read. I finished it in an evening, and then I wanted to read more about Kim and Zeke. Evans has an amazing way of bringing readers to spontaneous bursts of laughter and also tears with his romantic scenes and heart wrenching moments.

Now, to wait for the final installment next Christmas. I’ll be looking forward to it!

 

Advertisements

The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

I had never read anything by this author before, but I had read an early review about this book and was intrigued at the mention of  Alcatraz Island being the setting for a missing girl, in a situation w9780758281180_ad6c3here only one prisoner knew the truth of her whereabouts. It sounded like a great story line, and I enjoyed the book though it started out a bit slow. As it turned out, the story details the life of a young Irish boy named Shanley Keegan, with the missing girl portion of the plot only revealed at the very end of the book.

As a child of 12, Shan is living in Dublin under the care of his abusive Uncle Will, an alcoholic with not much parental guidance or care. Shan’s parents had both passed, and he only recently found a letter to his mother from an American musician, who it turns out is actually Shan’s real father. Shan decides to go to to New York to find his father and try to find a better life than that in Dublin, where he performs vaudevillian acts in nightclubs to scrounge up enough money for a square meal every now and then. Most of the money he earns is snatched up by Will and spent at the local pubs.

On the ship en route to America, Shan happens to be in the right place at the right time to help break up a fight between an Italian American named Nick Capello and some other young lads. Capello, who Shan will find out is quite the ladies’ man, was keeping company with the other young lads’ girls. To thank Shan for his help, Nick repays the favor, helping Shan through immigration in New York, allowing him to pretend to be Tommy Capello, Nick’s little brother. As it turns out, the real Tommy Capello was a sickly child and died at a young age. Nick’s family takes Shan in as part of their own. After many attempts and no success, Shan decides to give up the search for his real father, and assume the role of a Capello. The story progresses until we found adult Shan, now in the wrong place at the wrong time, but also while trying to help Nick. He ends up in Alcatraz, where good behavior earns him the role of gardener for the warden’s greenhouse. Here he meets a little girl who will forever change his life.

I won’t give away any more plot details, because there are some major events that occur which must be read to be fully enjoyed and understood. Readers can’t help but root for Shan, as hard times continue to befall him, and his attitude and outlook remain positive. Even as a prisoner in Alcatraz, he tries to find good in others, concentrating on serving the time without any trouble so he can go “home” to the Capellos. One of my favorite things about the story is the strong family bond between Shan and the Capello family, even though he wasn’t born a Capello, they took him in and he was loved as if he were. I think, perhaps, this is how Shan had the strength to make it through so many of the hardships in his adult life.

Fans of historical fiction would love this story. It reminded me some of The Green Mile, without the fantasy bit.

Lone Star by Paullina Simons

9780062098153_2230bLone Star will be published on November 24, 2015. I was drawn to this book at first because I absolutely loved The Bronze Horseman series by Paullina Simons. I hoped this story would be as beautiful, and it certainly is.

Lone Star is the story of four teenagers, getting ready to graduate from high school and start “real life.” Chloe and her best friend, Hannah, have always dreamed of visiting Barcelona, and they have been saving money to go before they start college in the Fall. When their boyfriends, brothers Mason and Blake, decide to go with them; the girls have no idea what kind of a trip it’s going to be. It is the story of friendships, and the relationships between each of the four teens, best friends since childhood. Their relationships change drastically once they are in the new & unfamiliar environments of Europe, where they can try to be themselves or continue to keep hold of the secrets and lies which bind them together. Then, Johnny, a traveling musician with a star of Texas tattoo on his chest, joins their group in Latvia. Johnny both confuses and charms Chloe at the same time, never even revealing his real name to her, even during a very passionate few weeks.

Though the book is rather long and the story unfolds over the span of 3 years, the writing is fluid and seamless. Simons writes beautiful, flowing descriptions and vivid scenes, much like in The Bronze Horseman. She blends a bit of historical fiction, regarding the Holocaust, concentration camps, and death camps, in with modern day coming-of-age story. The book includes quite a bit of romance, including some steamy scenes, mystery surrounding Johnny’s true identity, his past, and his future, and much drama between family & friends. The descriptions of Latvia, Riga, Italy, & Poland are wonderful, causing the reader to feel as if they are thrown into the story, regardless of where the characters end up.

I started off reading this a little on the slow side, but once the group of 4 made it to Europe, I couldn’t put the book down. I read the entire second half of the story in one sitting. In a scene at the end, after Chloe takes an extremely long journey (to discover something, she hopes,) I got goosebumps because I could feel her elation and hope, quickly followed by her extreme sense of loss and grief.

I loved reading how Chloe’s character developed, the way she learned by trial and error, by making mistakes, proving that she is human and its ok. Once she opened her eyes to what was in front of her all along, she finally begins to live…and to love.

I would highly recommend this romantic saga, as well as The Bronze Horseman series, which is also excellent!