November 19, 2017

Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter

An exciting interview with Denise Hunter after her latest release: Blue Ridge Sunrise

1. If someone has never read your books before, what would be the one thing you’d hope they take away from your novels?

My primary job when writing a novel is to make the reader feel something. Specifically, I want the reader to experience the vicarious thrill of falling in love, feel each crushing heartache, and ultimately enjoy a satisfying sigh as the couple achieves their happily-ever-after. I hope to make the reader laugh and cry, because when we’re fully engaged in a story that way, we feel empathy, and we learn right along side the protagonist. Story can be a very powerful tool.
2. Without giving away spoilers, what was your hardest scene to write in Blue Ridge Sunrise? 

The most challenging scene for me is usually the last scene and epilogue of the book. I really labor over those last couple of chapters, making sure they strike just the right note. I’m not just a writer—I’m a reader too—and I know how frustrating it is when the ending of a book let’s me down. I try my hardest to make the ending of every book I write gratifying for the reader.

 3. How do you select the names of your characters? 

I keep a “Baby Names” book on hand for that. I always make sure I put it away before we have company over lest they make an erroneous assumption!

4. Is it harder for you to write from the male or female character point of view? Why? 

I actually feel comfortable writing both points of view. Of course, being a woman, I have no trouble getting into a female protagonist's head. But I also have a husband and three sons, so I think I’ve been adequately exposed to the male perspective also!

5. It’s so exciting that you’ve had two of your books, The Convenient Groom and A December Bride, adapted into original Hallmark movies. 

Hallmark movies almost always revolve around romantic love, so contemporary romance novels that have lots of good “feels” fall right into their sweet spot. They also keep their content clean so it makes sense that they’d actively seek wholesome novels like mine.

6. Romances have a way of making us both laugh and cry. What is the first romance that made you laugh? First that made you cry? 

When I was in the seventh grade my sister introduce me to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. That story met both of those requirements and then some! “No sight so sad as that of a naughty child," he began, "especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?" "They go to hell," was my ready and orthodox answer. "And what is hell? Can you tell me that?" "A pit full of fire." "And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?" "No, sir." "What must you do to avoid it?" I deliberated a moment: my answer, when it did come was objectionable: "I must keep in good health and not die.” “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! - I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!”

7. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones? 

I think I’m in the minority here, but yes, I do read reviews. The good ones encourage me, and the bad ones help me become a better writer. That’s not to say they’re always easy to read; a writer’s work is very personal. But the skin does get thicker with time, and I find that the potential for growth outweighs the momentary sting of criticism.

October 24, 2017

Hometown Girl

Hometown GirlHometown Girl by Courtney Walsh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't normally do this but with this book I fell in love with the cover! I just love the yellow polka-dotted rain boots so much! And I've loved everything I've read by Courtney Walsh so I didn't even bother to read the back cover or the description!

So I have to admit I was a little surprised to find out this book had some mystery to it! It took me a little while to get sucked into the story. But once I did I couldn't wait to unravel the mystery, to get to know Drew and Beth better. And to find out what would happen with the apple orchard/farm.

It is always hard for me to read books where the characters keep secrets. Especially from each other. I kept wanting to scream "Tell him/her the truth, now!" throughout this book. But at the same time I understood why there were things that were hard for the characters to admit. And when the truth did come out I was glad that it wasn't 100% perfect and easy and that there were sometimes repercussions for keeping the secrets.

I really liked what Walsh did with Drew's character. How she gave him such an all encompassing fatal flaw. I really felt for the guy and was rooting for him to find peace and closure. However, I didn't feel the same empathy toward Beth. In fact I spent most of the book wondering why she was the ways she was. In the end I think I just related better with Drew's problems than Beth's.

I'm sad to say that I've either never been to an apple orchard or at the very least don't remember it. Many of my friends growing up went to one with their families and I always heard about the apple cider donuts but alas that isn't something I have memories of. But reading this book makes me want to visit an orchard soon.

One of my favorite parts of this book was Drew's work ethic. I really admired how he jumped right in before he even had a job to help Beth and her sister. I love men who work hard when they need to. I love men who have the character to do what is right even if it is hard work. I also loved seeing some of the motives behind his hard work.

And I can't forget to mention that while romance isn't the only theme in this book it is an important one. I really loved watching Drew and Beth get to know one another. And I loved their first kiss.

I'm hoping that Walsh is considering writing Callie's story. As a side character she wasn't in this story a lot but just enough for me to want to know what happens next for her!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This is my honest review.

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October 14, 2017

Review: With You Always

With You Always With You Always by Jody Hedlund
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this historical set in both NYC and in Quincy, IL. I liked the contrast of the two settings and also enjoyed the time period.

It was fun to see characters from the previous novella again. I liked Elise a lot in the novella and was glad she was the main character in this one. I love her type in historical books. The type that gives as good as she gets. The type that doesn't back down from the men - especially not the ones that don't want to pay a fair wage and take good care of their employees! I really loved how she puts Thornton in his place - more than once!

I also liked the little bit of mystery and suspense that Hedlund threw in. I did figure out part of it but not every detail. But it was the perfect amount to keep the pages turning without detracting from the story.

I did feel like the romance went a little fast but I do know why it had to and I guess sometimes when you know, you know.

I also have to admit that I didn't love the younger sisters this time. I was actually quite annoyed with the middle sister in this book.

I loved the research that obviously went into publishing this book. I loved the historical significance of the time and also the details on the different train loads that were taken west.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This is my honest review.

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Review: Any Dream Will Do

Any Dream Will Do Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really liked the redemption story in this book. I also liked the forgiveness given numerous times. It isn't often that a mainstream book leaves me feeling this good but this book was wonderful!

I'll admit when I first met Shay I really didn't think much of her. Of course that is because that is how Macomber wanted me to feel. And honestly I didn't think much of Drew either! But as the story progressed and I got to see more into both of their lives and especially personalities I grew to like them both more and more.

I loved how hard Drew worked to keep life normal for his kids. And I loved how hard Shay worked to better her life. And I really loved how Shay poured herself into those less fortunate in little ways that made a big impression.

But I'll admit what I really loved was that I just read a mainstream book about a preacher and a woman and there were a lot of fiery kisses but no premarital sex. In fact he was quite careful about not putting themselves in that position. Loved that. Even some of the Christian novels these days are starting to push the border a little bit. And I understand it because they want to relate to more people and they want to be more realistic. But I like the fact that this book was realistic and it was a little edgy with Shay's past. Yet it still remained very clean while still having passion. I will definitely continue to read more from Macomber!

I did receive an advanced copy from NetGalley. This is my honest review.

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