Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The Sisters of Sea View by Julie Klassen (Austenprose PR Book Tour)

 


Do you have an auto-read author?  An author that as soon as they publish something new, you have to read it right away?  Julie Klassen is just such an author for me.  I was happy to be invited to be a part of the Austenprose PR Book Tour and to be able to post my review on the release day of The Sisters of Sea view.

The Summers Sisters and their Mother are left without a sufficient income at the death of their father.  Luckily for them, while their father’s estate was entailed away, he did manage to buy a house on the shores of Devonshire in Sidmouth, Sea View.  Sarah, the eldest, is determined to keep the family together and comes up with a plan.  Can they open their home to guests in order to stay together and make a living? 

Viola and Emily are twins.  While Emily loves the spotlight, Viola remains in the shadows wearing a veil.  She was born with a harelip which was fixed surgically.  She does not want to help with hosting visitors, so she starts to read to invalids for money.  Her first client is gruff man in his thirties who has returned with wounds from India.  Will she be able to see past his exterior to the man inside? 

Georgina is the youngest sister and full of fun.  She wonders what happened to her eldest sister, Claire.  Claire suddenly left to become a companion to an elderly aunt in Scotland.  Why have they never heard from her again?

I loved, loved, loved this novel.  I couldn’t put it down and it was pure joy to read it.  The setting was intriguing, and the characters were wonderful and fully developed.  I loved the sisters, their servants, and getting to know the people that stayed at Sea View.  The sweet romances that were started were also very romantic.  I can’t see what happens next.  This is the first novel in a planned series.

One of my favorite parts of reading this were all of the fun call-backs to Jane Austen.  At first when Mr. and Mrs. Elton showed up as guests, I thought they shared the names of Austen characters.  Then I was pleasantly surprised to discover they were the characters from Emma by Jane Austen.  You can read the novel not knowing this and be fine, but it makes it extra delightful for fans of Jane Austen.  The theme of five sisters and their mother trying to find their way after the estate is entailed is straight from Pride and Prejudice.  It felt like the Bennet sisters and their invalid mother, except they were in a better place with owning Sea View.  This story also shared a “ruined” sister.  The characters were completely different than Pride and Prejudice, but I loved the call backs.

I highly recommend The Sisters of Sea View if you love Jane Austen, regency romance, great character driven stories, or just a great book overall.

Review Copy from Bethany House as part of the Austenprose PR Book Tour.  Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

QUICK FACTS

·       Title: The Sisters of Sea View

·       Series: On Devonshire Shores (Book 1)

·       Author: Julie Klassen

·       Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Inspirational Fiction

·       Publisher: ‎Bethany House Publishers (December 6, 2022)

·       Length: (448) pages

·       Format: hardcover, trade paperback, & eBook 

·       ISBN: 978-0764234262

·       Tour Dates: November 28 – December 12, 2022

 

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Some guests have come for a holiday, others for hidden reasons of their own . . .

When their father's death leaves them impoverished, Sarah Summers and her genteel sisters fear they will be forced to sell the house and separate to earn livelihoods as governesses or companions. Determined to stay together, Sarah convinces them to open their seaside home to guests to make ends meet and provide for their ailing mother. Instead of the elderly invalids they expect to receive, however, they find themselves hosting eligible gentlemen. Sarah is soon torn between a growing attraction to a mysterious Scottish widower and duty to her family.

Viola Summers wears a veil to cover her scar. When forced to choose between helping in her family's new guest house and earning money to hire a maid to do her share, she chooses the latter. She reluctantly agrees to read to some of Sidmouth's many invalids, preferring the company of a few elders with failing eyesight to the fashionable guests staying in their home. But when her first client turns out to be a wounded officer in his thirties, Viola soon wishes she had chosen differently. Her new situation exposes her scars--both visible and those hidden deep within--and her cloistered heart will never be the same.

Join the Summers sisters on the Devonshire coast, where they discover the power of friendship, loyalty, love, and new beginnings.

 
VIDEO INTRODUCTION TO THE SISTERS OF SEA VIEW BY JULIE KLASSEN

https://youtu.be/EZDjSuBtFEU

 

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JULIE KLASSEN

https://austenprose.com/2022/11/09/an-exclusive-interview-with-julie-klassen-author-of-the-sisters-of-sea-view/

 

ADVANCE PRAISE

·       “Jane Austen fans will delight in this nimble series launch…Klassen excels at weaving her various story lines, each emphasizing the colorful qualities of her characters and allowing them the space to shine. Readers will be eager for the next installment.” —Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

 

PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF JULIE KLASSEN 

  • “Julie Klassen delights with a winsome love story…” —Publisher’s Weekly, on A Castaway in Cornwall
  • “I couldn’t put it down! It you are a historical fiction fan you need this one on your radar! It was a spooky delight full of heart. ”—Anne Mendez, The Lit Bitch, on Shadows of Swanford Abbey
  • “…a wonderfully engaging novel full of intriguing characters and storylines. I highly recommend it and can’t wait for more in the series.” —Laura Gerold, Laura’s Reviews, on The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

 

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

 

AUTHOR BIO

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. Her books have sold over a million copies, and she is a three-time recipient of 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 Christian Retailing’s BEST Award and has been a finalist in the RITA and Carol Awards. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

 


Friday, December 2, 2022

The Twelve Topsy-Turvy Very Messy Days of Christmas by James Patterson and Tad Safran

 


What is the funniest thing that has happened to you at Christmas?

One of my favorite Christmas stories is that when my eldest son Kile was one almost two, he was very excited to come downstairs and discover all of the toys under the tree. He was so excited, he ran down again the next morning only to discover that Christmas only comes once a year.  Also that same year before Christmas there was a large crash and he and our cat ran out from the living room.  We still don’t know what happened, but the Christmas tree was ruined.

The Twelve Topsy-Turvy Very Messy Days of Christmas is a funny new Christmas novel.  It is the November selection of the Brenda Novak Book Club.   While I read all of the Brenda Novak Book Group selections last year, I have not been as successful this year.  I’m glad that I was able to read this one in November.

Henry is a professor who lost his wife five years ago.  He and his children, Will and Ella, have been struggling since then.  Henry is trying to hang onto his job, while Will and Ella just want to have a Christmas again.  They decide to create a fake dating profile for their dad and find a likely candidate, Ms. Truelove.  Ms. Truelove starts to send mysterious presents to their home in the twelve days leading up to Christmas that follow the Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas.  This wreaks havoc on the family and home, but through it all, will they discover what is the most important thing of all?  And how will they get Ms. Truelove to stop sending the gifts?

I thought this was a very fun book, but it was also heartwarming in it’s look at how a missing family member can impact your holidays and life.  It was also about how to move on.  I would call this a zany Christmas fantasy novel.  It did make me think about the song The Twelve Days of Christmas much more.  Why would someone’s true love really give you all of those gifts?  They are crazy gifts!!

Book Source:  Kewaunee Public Library

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

4:50 to Paddington by Agatha Christie

 


Title:  4:50 to Paddington

Author:  Agatha Christie

Narrated by:  Emilia Fox

Publisher: HarperAudio

Length: Approximately 8 hours and 8 minutes

Source: Purchased from Audible.

Who is your favorite audiobook narrator?  I have always loved Alison Larkin and enjoy her narration of classic stories such as the Jane Austen novels.  I also love Lorelei King and her excellent narration of the Stephanie Plum series.  I’m adding a new favorite narrator to my list, Emilia Fox.  To me, she will always be Georgiana Darcy from the 1995 Pride and Prejudice, but she has many other film credits to her name.  She is also an excellent voice actor.  Her narration for 4:50 to Paddington was excellent with different voices for each character and she acted out the story.  It made it a pleasure to listen to on my long car trip to Michigan.

4:50 to Paddington is the November selection for the #ReadChristie2022 Challenge.  The prompt is “a story featuring train travel.”  This is a Miss Marple Mystery and it’s original title in the United States was What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!

Elspeth McGrillicuddy is in a train watching out her window when a second train passes running parallel.  In the window she sees a man strangling a woman in the other train.  She is horrified and immediately reports it.  With no body, the authorities are sure that Mrs. McGillicuddy has imagined the event.  Troubled, she turns to her friend Miss Marple for help.  Miss Marple isn’t feeling well physically, but she is still able to use her smarts to determine what train the murder occurred and where the likely place was that the body would have been disposed of.  She also enlists her young friend, Lucy Eyelesbarrow to infiltrate the family where she believes the body was disposed of, Rutherford Hall.  The Crackenthorpe family is completed.  As the patriarch crankily rolls the roast, his children stand to inherit the estate and considerable money upon his death.  Once the body is found and a murder is confirmed, Miss Marple requests Inspector Craddock from Scotland Yard to assist in solving the murder.

I thought this mystery was inventive and delightful.  I did not guess the ending.  I like how Miss Marple was involved in the mystery from afar.  She was the brains behind the entire operation.  I love how she had to prove that a crime had even happened before working on who had committed it.  I also loved the characters, in particular Lucy Eyelesbarrow.  I like that she had a romance of her own in the story. 

I realized while listening to this audiobook that The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins heavily borrowed from this Agatha Christie classic.  The narrator of The Girl on the Train also sees a murder from her train window, but as an unreliable witness, she is not believed. 

Favorite Quote:

“The truth is people are an extraordinary mixture of heroism and cowardice.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden (Austenprose PR Book Tour)


 


Have you ever taken a cruise?   If so, where have you gone?  I have never been on an ocean cruise, and with a husband that gets seasick, I don’t think it’s in my future.  I have been across Lake Michigan many times on the SS Badger and that is a fun cruise.

Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden is a historical mystery novel set in 1878.  The wooden pleasure craft Princess Alice has collided with an iron-hulled collier, the Bywell Castle, on the River Thames.  This disaster killed hundreds of people and was the worst maritime disaster in London history. Was this truly an accident or was it a sabotage by the Irish Republican Brotherhood?  Scotland Yard Inspector, Michael Corravan in on the case.  His investigation is made more difficult by the fact that he is Irish born himself and the newspapers have whipped up a frenzy of anti-Irish sentiment.

I greatly enjoyed this historical mystery.  I thought Michael Corravan was an intriguing character and I loved learning more about him and his world.  The novel does a great job of world building in Victorian London, giving the reader a sense of walking through the streets and seeing the City as it once was.  It also gave a good description of politics and prejudices at the time.  I found the mystery to be intriguing and read through this relatively quickly as I wanted to know what would happen next. The writing was very compelling. 

Under a Veiled Moon is the second novel in the Inspector Corravan Mystery series with the first novel being Down at a Dark River.  I read this as a stand alone novel and it worked. I do want to go back now and read Down at a Dark River.

The ending was good and left me intrigued to find out more about Inspector Corravan’s past.  The author also had a great note explaining the real history of the events in the novel.  There are also great questions for a book club to use.

Long time readers of my blog will know that I am always looking for wastewater or water treatment in books I read as I am an environmental engineer and I focus on wastewater compliance with my job.  I was interested in this novel that they referenced Erith as London’s sewage treatment plant and the Crossness Pumping Station.  I took a look on Wikipedia and found a beautiful picture of this pumping station.  It is much more architecturally beautiful than the wastewater plants I usually visit.  Edward, the Prince of Wales, opened this pumping station.  Why did it stink so much in the novel when they pass by in the river in 1878?  Pumping stations were used by big cities at the time to pump wastewater out in the waterways away from the city.  Positive, it’s out of the city, but negative, it’s now in your river, lake, estuary, or ocean.  This was the start of wastewater treatment, but many advancements would take place of the next fifty years including at this particular pumping station.  I was intrigued to see it’s now a museum so I’m adding to my list of things I want to see in London.  My wastewater sidebar is now over . . .

Favorite Quotes:

“We all carry pieces of our past with us.  Sometimes they’re shiny and worthy as new half crowns in our pockets.  Sometimes they’re bits of lint or scraps of paper shredded beyond use.  Plenty of my memories carry a stab of regret or a burn of shame with them, and honestly, there are times when I wonder how we all bloody well live with the fool things we’ve done.” – Great opening paragraph.

“I hadn’t meant that.  But there was no point in speaking.  I’d felt loss like his before, a loss that shredded all reason, a loss that tore language from its meaning, so that nothing anyone said made a whit of difference.”

Overall, Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden is one of the best historical mysteries I’ve read this year and I am eager to read more by this author.

Review Copy from author Karen Odden as part of the Austenprose PR Book Tour.  Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


QUICK FACTS

·       Title: Under a Veiled Moon

·       Series:  An Inspector Corravan Mystery (Book 2)

·       Author: Karen Odden

·       Genre: Historical Mystery, Detective Mystery, Victorian Mystery

·       Publisher: ‎Crooked Lane Books (October 11, 2022)

·       Length: (336) pages

·       Format: Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook 

·       ISBN: 978-1639101191

·       Tour Dates: November 14 – December 19, 2022

 

BOOK DESCRIPTION

In the tradition of C. S. Harris and Anne Perry, a fatal disaster on the Thames and a roiling political conflict set the stage for Karen Odden’s second Inspector Corravan historical mystery.

September 1878. One night, as the pleasure boat the Princess Alice makes her daily trip up the Thames, she collides with the Bywell Castle, a huge iron-hulled collier. The Princess Alice shears apart, throwing all 600 passengers into the river; only 130 survive. It is the worst maritime disaster London has ever seen, and early clues point to sabotage by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, who believe violence is the path to restoring Irish Home Rule. 
 
For Scotland Yard Inspector Michael Corravan, born in Ireland and adopted by the Irish Doyle family, the case presents a challenge. Accused by the Home Office of willfully disregarding the obvious conclusion and berated by his Irish friends for bowing to prejudice, Corravan doggedly pursues the truth, knowing that if the Princess Alice disaster is pinned on the IRB, hopes for Home Rule could be dashed forever.

Corrovan’s dilemma is compounded by Colin, the youngest Doyle, who has joined James McCabe’s Irish gang. As violence in Whitechapel rises, Corravan strikes a deal with McCabe to get Colin out of harm’s way. But unbeknownst to Corravan, Colin bears longstanding resentments against his adopted brother and scorns his help.
 
As the newspapers link the IRB to further accidents, London threatens to devolve into terror and chaos. With the help of his young colleague, the loyal Mr. Stiles, and his friend Belinda Gale, Corravan uncovers the harrowing truth—one that will shake his faith in his countrymen, the law, and himself.

 

ADVANCE PRAISE

  • “[An] exceptional sequel . . . Fans of Lyndsay Faye’s Gods of Gotham trilogy will be enthralled.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • “Victorian skulduggery with a heaping side of Irish troubles.” —Kirkus Reviews
  • “Charismatic police superintendent Michael Corravan is back in a gripping sequel about the mysterious sinking of the Princess Alice. Odden deftly weaves together English and Irish history, along with her detective's own story, in a way that will keep readers flipping pages long into the night.” —Susan Elia MacNeal, New York Times bestselling author of Mother Daughter Traitor Spy and the Maggie Hope series.

 

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

 

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

 

AUTHOR BIO

Karen Odden
earned her Ph.D. in English from New York University and subsequently taught literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has contributed essays to numerous books and journals, written introductions for Victorian novels in the Barnes & Noble classics series and edited for the journal Victorian Literature and Culture (Cambridge UP). Her previous novels, also set in 1870s London, have won awards for historical fiction and mystery. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and the recipient of a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Karen lives in Arizona with her family and her rescue beagle Rosy.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS


Monday, November 28, 2022

Talk Santa to Me by Linda Urban

 


Title:  Talk Santa to Me

Author:  Linda Urban

Narrated by:  Ines del Castillo

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Length: Approximately 5 hours and 59 minutes

Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster.  Thank-you!

 Frankincense “Francie” was literally born in a stable at her family’s Hollydale Holiday Shop in northern Indiana.  After her beloved Grandpa’s death, Francie’s Aunt Carole has returned to town.  She is trying to improve the shop by targeting Grandpa’s Santa School and bringing in Hollywood flair.  Francie is not pleased with these changes and also is not pleased that Aunt Carole has made her work environment impossible with all of the crazy costumes she forces Francie to wear.  How will Francie save the shop and the Santa school?  She has also stepped in to help her father on a local cable show and has become known as Santa’s intern.  As letters flood in, will she be able to answer them all before Christmas?  Will the cute boy, Hector, working at the Christmas tree farm next door ever notice her?

 I loved the upper Midwest feel to this novel and I was actually surprised tor realize it was set in Indiana.  I was thinking it was Minnesota or Wisconsin.  Part of the teenage protagonist’s angst is that she has attended Catholic school her entire life, but she has now started to go to public school.  Her best friend is still at the Catholic school, which makes her sad.  There is also a hockey team and hockey seems to be huge in this school.  Poor Francie is known as a “bad kisser” after an unfortunate incident with a boy from the hockey team and is teased constantly about it.  Her angst about this also seemed real and trying to figure out how to move forward from it.  Although this novel was emersed in the Christmas spirt, Francie’s teen problems seemed relevant and real.  I thought the story was a lot of fun. 

 The story also brought in some sad experiences as it dealt with Francie’s Grandpa’s death and how it affected her.   I thought it took a good and honest look at grief.

  This was overall a clean young adult read.  I liked the romance between Francie and Hector.  They were both great characters.

 Ines del Castillo was a fun narrator of this audiobook and I thought she did a great job of capturing Francie’s voice.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

 


Title:  The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Author:  Kim Michele Richardson

Narrated by:  Katie Schorr

Publisher:  Blackstone Audio

Length: Approximately 9 hours and 26 minutes

Source: Purchased from Audible

 What is the last book your book club has read?  The “Rogue” Book club officially started in 2009.  We’ve had members come and go through the years, but it’s been fun meeting and discussing books and lives.  Our kids have all been growing up through the years too.  We’ve had a hiatus the past few months due to crazy kid sports schedule, but we are finally getting together again in December.  Our book is The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. It’s my pick and the meeting will be at my house.  I’ve heard great things about this book for a while, so I was happy to finally read it.  I had a lot of driving over the past few weeks for work, so I listened to it via audiobook.

 Cussy Mary Carter loves her job as a pack horse librarian as part of Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack horse Library Project.  She works in her local area of Troublesome, but while she meets interesting people on her route, it can also be dangerous.   In particular, Cussy Mary is called “Bluet” by locals because she appears blue due to a genetic disorder called, Methemoglobinemia.   She is treated as a “colored” by locals and feared due to her blue skin.  A local pastor stalks her on her path as he wants to “cure” her.  Her father also has old fashioned standards and is determined to wed Cussy Mary to any man that will take her.  Cussy Mary does not want to marry without love and she does not want to give up her librarian position. Will Cussy Mary be able to escape the prejudice and a forced husband and live the life she wants to live?

 I loved the unique setting and plot for this novel.  I had never read about the Pack Horse Library Project nor the blue people of Kentucky.  I thought it was very interesting.  I was intrigued when Cussy Mary became the point of research to figure out what caused her blue skin.  I loved the descriptions of her travels through the hills and hollers and the difference she made in people’s lives.  Sometimes she was the only person they saw for long periods of times.  She brought them news, novels, recipes, and more.  Cussy Mary was a great character.  She had strength and determination.  I was horrified though that such an independent woman could have that independence ripped away when her father forced her into an unwanted and abusive marriage. I was also horrified by the descriptions of the poor children literally starving to death in the novel. The Depression was a hard time, especially in the Appalachian Mountains.

 Katie Schorr was a fine narrator of the audiobook.  I loved that in my physical copy of the book, it has vintage pictures of the pack horse library project.  It also has questions for a book club and a conversation with the author discussing how she got the idea and wrote this novel.  I already have a hold on The Book Woman’s Daughter, the follow-up novel, at the library.

How to Survive Everything by Ewan Morrison

 


Do you like dystopian novels? After COVID, do you feel more or less prepared for a future pandemic?


Thank you, Partner @bibliolifestyle @harperperennial for the review copy of How to Survive Everything by Ewan Morrison.

SYNOPSIS:

My name is Haley Cooper Crowe and I am in lockdown in a remote location I can’t tell you about.

Children of divorce, Haley and Ben live with their mother. But their dad believes there’s a new, much deadlier pandemic coming and is determined to keep them alive. He wants to take them to his prepper hideaway where they will be safe from other people. NOW. But there’s no way their mother will go along with his plan. Saving them requires extreme measures.

Kidnapped by their father and confined to his compound far off the grid, Haley and Ben have no contact with the outside world. How can they save their mother? Will they make it out alive? Is the threat real—or is this all just a dark fantasy brought on by their conspiracy obsessed father’s warped imagination?

Propulsive and chilling in its realism, How to Survive Everything is the story of a world imploding; a teenage girl’s record for negotiating the collapse of everything she knows—including her family and sanity.

Review Thoughts: With family visiting for the holidays, I haven't had a chance to write up a comprehensive review. I liked that I wasn't sure in this book if Haley's Dad was off in his world or if the pandemic was reality. It told through Haley's first person perspective and I thought it was riveting. Haley wonders about her Mom at first and her friends. She has teen angst about the only teen boy in the bunker, Danny. Do they like each other as the only two teens left in their bunker? There is also a horrifying surgery where the realities of living without modern medicine set in. I was looking for something different to read and enjoyed this one.

This book was published on November 15th.

Monday, November 21, 2022

The Highlander’s Holiday Wife by Vanessa Kelly (TLC Book Tour)

 


Where is a place you would like to visit during the Christmas holidays?

I’ve always wanted to go to New York City at Christmas, but after reading a couple of Christmas books set in Edinburgh, I’m adding that to my list as well!

Braden Kendrick is a doctor who helps those in need in the seedier sections of Edinburgh.  One night as he is helping out a patient, he is set upon by someone with a vendetta against him.  A mysterious man and woman help him out.  They never speak a word, but only speak in sign language.  Who are they and what are they doing out and about at night?

Lady Samantha Penwith is working with her man servant, Donny, to try to find who murdered her husband, Roger.  Roger Penwith had started an orphanage in Edinburgh to help unfortunate children.  Boys have mysteriously started to disappear from the orphanage.  Where are they going and why?

This is a historical mystery with romance included.  It also has some humor.  The romance is closed door.  I wish the romance would have had more time to develop and shine between Braden and Lady Samantha.  The setting is during Christmas, but there isn’t too much of a real Christmas theme to the story and it can be read any time of year.  I loved the two main characters.  They are both smart and independent.  I also loved the Kendrick family overall.  They were a fun and supportive family.  I didn’t love though that they seemed to solve part of the mystery off page.

This is the fifth book in the Clan Kendrick series.  I have not read the other books and thought it did well as a standalone novel.

Review Copy from Zebra as part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

A Christmas Memory by Richard Paul Evans

 


Title:  A Christmas Memory

Author:  Richard Paul Evans

Narrated by:  Richard Paul Evans

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Length: Approximately 3 hours and 35 minutes

Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster.  Thank-you!

What is a Christmas memory that you’ve kept with you through the years?

A Christmas Memory by Richard Paul Evans is a heart rending tale of loss, forgiveness, and grief set at the Christmas season in 1967.  You definitely need to have your hankies ready for this book. 

I listen to Richard Paul Evans audiobooks every year for Christmas.  It’s not Christmas without one of his stories.  A Christmas Memory is a different kind of book than his usual tales.  It’s different as it tells a fictionalized version of events that happened to the author in his youth.  It was also narrated by the author, which I really enjoyed. 

In 1967, young Ricky’s beloved older brother Mark was killed in Vietnam that fall.  After Mark’s death, Ricky’s family fell apart.  His father lost his job and they moved from California to Utah to his grandmother’s old abandoned house.  His parents separate and Ricky has a very hard time at his new school.  Ricky’s one bright spot in life is his neighbor’s dog, that he affectionately names Beau (after Beau Brummel).  He eventually meets Beau’s owner, Mr. Foster. It turns out Beau’s real name is Gollum.  Mr. Foster loves to read and named him after the Lord of the Rings character as the dog is his “precious.”  That made me laugh out loud.  Mr. Foster and Beau become Ricky’s only friends.  But as Ricky’s world continues to fall apart, what lesson does Mr. Foster have for him to can help pull him back from the brink?

 A Christmas Memory was a very touching story.  I loved how it really showed how friendships can be important and how you can make a difference in someone’s life who is having a hard time.  It also shows the importance of family and how grief can impact everyone differently.  I also really liked how the story gave the feel and time of the 1960s and a Christmas during that time period.  There is a lot of sadness in this story, but overall, I found it to be inspirational.

 I highly recommend A Christmas Memory.