Monday, July 20, 2015

Review | If You Dare by Jessica Lemmon

If You Dare by Jessica Lemmon
Published by Entangled Lovestruck
Publish Date: July 21, 2015
Source: Publisher
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 


He'll make her a bet she can't refuse...

Lily McIntire is in the creepiest mansion in town. Alone. At night. Because she's an idiot-and can't ignore a dare from her cocky and infuriatingly hot co-worker, Marcus Black. But she'll be damned if she's going to give him the satisfaction of winning.

Marcus has had a thing for Lily for ages, and he has no intention of losing this bet. His plan? Scare her out of the house, and into his arms. Once there, scaring her turns into protecting her and soon after, into seducing her. And his plan is working...

Lily is having trouble relegating Marcus to the role of "asshat" as easily as before. He came to her rescue, and he's actually funny. Charming. Sexy as sin on a stick. But Lily has a strict no-love-in-the-workplace rule, and even one night of the best sex ever won't make her change her mind. So she's calling everything off...

Surviving a night in the mansion might just be the easy part. Surviving Marcus's increasingly convincing advances is going to take everything she has. Losing is not an option...
 (Goodreads) 

If You Dare by Jessica Lemmon

My Thoughts:  Lily McIntire has accepted a dare from co-worker Marcus Black: Spend the entire night in their town's local haunted mansion. If she can do it, Marcus will give up his recently-won trip to Hawaii. If she can't handle the entire night there, she has to go to a local dinner event with him - as his date! 

Marcus has wanted to go on a date with Lily for ages. He even asked her once, but she turned him down - she doesn't realize that he likes her so much and that he really wants to go on a date with her. 

Marcus has no intention of losing this bet to Lily, especially if it means he earns a date with her! ALSO, he won that trip to Hawaii fair and square. He certainly doesn't wait to give it up. When Lily settles in for a night at the mansion, complete with a few comforts from home (an air mattress, wine, sushi - the works), Marcus arrives on the scene ready to make her stay extra spooky. 

That's right! Marcus isn't above cheating to win the bet

It's great, though. Because it totally backfires on him. The results are super fun. 

Lily has been burned in the past by going out with a coworker - I'll spare you the details, but Marcus has his work cut out for him in convincing her that it's okay to trust wherever their feelings take them. And Marcus is almost jumping up and down to finally get a chance to go out with this gal that he's liked so much for so long - he's a guy that used to play the field...until he found Lily. Yes, I've seen these types of characters before, but I never get tired of them! 

If You Dare by Jessica Lemmon is a quick read, and I totally enjoyed it. My husband remarked to me more than once that I had a big smile on my face while I was reading and YES! that is what happens when I read books by this author. I've read several of hers now and I get so doggone excited when I'm about to pick up another one because I know that when I'm finished, my cheeks will hurt. They're just such fun stories. 

This story was originally a much shorter story, but the author recently expanded it and viola! we have this longer version of the original. To be honest, this less-than-200 page story was exactly what I was looking for right now because I had just finished multiple long, heavy fantasy and nonfiction books - I wanted something light and fun. This book delivers plus has the HEA, without a triangle. I wish that I could have read If You Dare by the pool or at the beach, paired with a cold drink. However, I personally started my day off with this book, so it went perfectly with my coffee. 

I recommend this story for fans of contemporary romances and fun, quick romantic reads.

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If You Dare will appeal to fans of:

Adult Contemporary Romance
Romance: No triangle. 
Humorous

If You Dare by Jessica Lemmon
will be available for purchase on July 21, 2015.

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The Second Chance Series by Jessica Lemmon:

 

The Second Chance Series is one of my favorites! 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Review + Giveaway | The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen - with Audiobook Notes

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #2
Published by Harper 
Publish Date: June 9, 2015
Source: Book - Publisher, Audiobook - Bought
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 


With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out
.
  (Goodreads) 

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

My Thoughts: An interesting shift on my calendar this week has put all three of my children either in camp or at their grandmother's house, which means that I was able to completely lose myself in both the first and second book of this series. And by LOSE MYSELF, I mean I flat-out went to the land of the Tear and lived there for a few days. I have solidly added this series to my "favorites" list for this year. 

In the first book: Queen Kelsea lived a hidden life a life of seclusion while she was being protected and educated by foster parents. At the age of 19, the Queen's Guard came for her as it was time for Kelsea to take the throne. As soon as she arrived among her people, she was saddened, disappointed, and disgusted by what she found: poor conditions, mistreatment, fear. Kelsea knew practically nothing about the rule of her mother, Queen Elyssa, nor her Uncle, the Regent, who ruled after Elyssa's death -- but she could see that these previous rulers did not take care of her people. Kelsea vowed to fix all that was broken - which was plenty, for Elyssa was a weak ruler and her Uncle the Regent was a pathetic one - and she set to that task right away. The Tear people grew to love her and she proved herself as a strong and worthy Queen, a good Queen. 

At the end of the first book, the Tear are anxiously expecting invasion from the Mort people and their evil leader, the Red Queen. And I had to immediately put the first book down and begin the second book. I HAD TO. I had to see what would happen. 


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The Invasion of the Tearling is a seamless continuation, picking up only a few weeks after the end of the first book. The first chapter is exciting, expanding into the backstory of one of the characters introduced at the end of the first book while simultaneously telling what is going on, and BOOM it begins right there. I was once again riveted from page one until the end. This is a world that I certainly would never want to live in, but I enjoyed visiting LIKE CRAZY. These are reread books for me.

By now the Queen has earned the trust of her people but she has also made some huge decisions to try and save the Tear from the dreaded invasion, or at least spare them in the best and most efficient ways possible, which is difficult because of the total lack of resources at her disposal. The Tear army does not have the same quality of weapons as the invading army, the area is not as prosperous, and the people are lacking the self-esteem at this point to put up the sort of fight that she would like - ohhh, if only she could have arrived a little sooner! While Queen Kelsea makes decisions with the best of intentions, her Guard supports her completely (even when they disagree). As the book progresses it becomes clear that not every decision that Kelsea has made has been the best for her people. 

What to do, what to do? Think fast, Queen. 

Kelsea is very smart, she has been educated well. She is a great thinker and is as fair as any. But she lacks the experience to execute great plans and decisions sometimes - sometimes she's just flailing and hoping for the best. She trusts the council of her Guard, as they are her closest advisors - but even when she receives it, she sometimes disregards it. Thus Kelsea still has plenty to learn; who wouldn't when they're thrown into the types of situations she has had to endure since the first day on the job? Kelsea is also learning to control the part of herself that identifies with her special abilities, or with magic, whichever it really is. She can do special things sometimes, and she often has visions of the past and the future, but these situations are not always things that Kelsea is able to control. 

She has a lot going on, this Queen. Imminent war, controlling new magical powers, coming-of-age in the castle, trying to piece together her past, building up her people by patching up their broken hopes and dreams. She doesn't shy away from any of it. The only people that ever really see her weak places are those that are closest to her. I LOVE the Queen. I love the good and not-so-good-yet parts of her, because her growth across these two books has been phenomenal AND the two stories have taken place over less than one year. She's making remarkable progress in her throne. 

ALSO occupying these pages is Lily, the girl from the pre-Crossing. Her chapters were initially odd-sounding to me because Lily comes from the Northeastern US during more modern times; she has modern conveniences and she is wealthy. However, she is living at a time when something has gone wrong: there is an even greater gap between the poor and the wealthy, between men and women, and between the majority and any type of minority. At first, I wondered what Lily's part would be in this story, and I was right to - it honestly takes A LONG TIME for her part to come to fruition but by the time I made all of the connections, I loved having her there. 

Having both Kelsea and Lily be major players in this book made it feel like a very empowering read. These are women that both appear to be weak in the beginning, but they do very difficult things. Add to that Andalie, part of Kelsea's chamber service, and we have a group of very strong, very smart, very capable women doing some amazing things in this book. I appreciated this, particularly since some of the issues that they tackle are pretty tough. 

Ultimately, this sequel is a solid middle-part to this series. I feel like it completely added to my excitement for this story arc and these characters, and I just want to high-five everyone after finishing it. I love the setting, I love the characters, I love the bond between Queen and her Guard, I love the lengths these women (and the Guard) will go to in order to make things right, I love so much about this book. And I'm so ready for the final installment because I still have just a few burning questions. 

I recommend The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen to readers that enjoy fantasy, strong characters, and unique worldbuilding. 

Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is published by HarperAudio and is 18 hours and 10 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Davina Porter, who basically needs no introduction because she has narrated so many worthy and amazing titles like this series. I have to admit that I was surprised to see this narrator reading after the also-excellent Katherine Kellgren read the first installment - I had grown attached to her narration for Kelsea and for this series. BUT as always, Davina Porter was great and I would recommend this audiobook to anyone looking to read this book for the first time or to keep on hand for rereads. One can not go wrong with either of these narrators, really. 


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The Invasion of the Tearling will appeal to fans of:

 Fantasy
Romance: Some, no triangle.
Great Friendship-Relationships
Great characterization
Alternating POV's & Settings
Great Worldbuilding

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
is currently available for purchase.

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Thanks to the generosity of Harper 
and Author Erika Johansen, I am able to offer one copy of 
THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING to a lucky reader! 

(US Only) * (Ends August 1) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Queen of the Tearling Series:


Review | The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen - with Audiobook Notes

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #1
Published by Harper 
Publish Date: July 8, 2014
Source: Hannah @ So Obsessed With - Thank you, friend!
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 


Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom's haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea's forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea's nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen's Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen's vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen's Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as "the Fetch."

Kelsea's quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea's journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.
  (Goodreads) 

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

My Thoughts: I will be honest and tell you that I was so excited to read this book for so long that I COULD NOT. I know, that sounds ridiculous. But I had expectations that were really high and that always makes me afraid. So I avoided it while I also was super-excited about the day that I would finally pick it up. 

I picked up The Queen of the Tearling a few days ago and could. not. put. it. down. Once I entered the land of the Tear, I never really left. I devoured the first book and have eagerly picked up the second book, ready to devour it as well. 


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Kelsea has lived tucked away in hiding and seclusion with foster parents until she is to ascend to her throne as Queen of the Tearling. She has been educated well, but nothing can prepare her for what she finds when she reaches her people: they are in need, they are in want, and they are in fear. Apparently the previous two rulers - her mother and her uncle - were not strong rulers, and the Tear has withered away over the past years. The people have lived in fear of the Red Queen of the neighboring Mort region. The previous Queen, Kelsea's mother, signed a treaty with the Red Queen giving them too much control over the Tear. 

The Red Queen is awful. 

Upon walking into her grounds, Kelsea immediately breaks the treaty in order to set her people free from the evil Red Queen's grip of fear. In doing this, she's just invited invasion by the Mort army, and the Tear army is not equipped to beat the Mort army at all. 

What has Kelsea done?

Kelsea can't let her people suffer like this any longer. The right thing to do is to MAKE THINGS RIGHT. But she can't let the invasion destroy the Tear either, killing all of the great people of the land. 


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I will go ahead and say right up front: it took me a little while to get into The Queen of the Tearling. The chapters are very long and the world was difficult to visualize. Both of these things are a little on the tough side for me. It took me a little while to read and reread the first two chapters, but once I did, I was able to create an image of how I thought the world looked in my head: somewhere in the future, except it looks like the past. Sooo, this setting is some sort of post-America world, except the people wear armor and have swords and ride horses and live in a castle. It has a medieval feel to it? In the future? Okay. 


I decided to just go with it. And it's good that I did because the story is incredible. Kelsea sets out to right the wrongs of the rulers before it, a daunting task, and she has no experience whatsoever with how to do this. Book smarts, she has. Advice from her foster parents, she has. But nothing prepared her for actually BEING THERE, among her people, among the despair and loss of hope and need. But Kelsea is quick to get started and slowly, she becomes a trusted leader, a beloved leader, and she begins to restore the Tear, person by person. 

She has her Queen's Guard to help her. They don't always agree with her decisions and choices - for good reason - but these guys are fantastic. I love the fact that they protect and guard her without concern for other things, because they're sworn. They are exemplary in their positions. And amazingly, they're able to keep a reasonable distance from her as far as relationship goes - what I mean is that they all have more of a family-type bond than any type of friendship-bond, which is important because it means that they tell her when she is being unreasonable or when she needs to chill out a bit. 

I love some of the sub-plots of the story, like how much power the Church has - particularly after Kelsea arrives - and what it looks like when their ruler doesn't go along with the Church absolutely. I love how Kelsea helps to empower some of the female characters by giving them ways to help themselves, like jobs so they can provide for themselves and their children! I love that Kelsea tackles the Red Queen's human trafficking when no one wanted to stand up to her because NO to that junk. Kelsea figures out that sometimes giving people a healthy voice is key in helping them out of crappy circumstances. Also key is just being kind to them, because sometimes people just need kindness and to be seen

One thing that I love about really good fantasy is that there are plenty of things to discuss, and that is what we have here. I'm excited to see where some of these sub-plots and issues go in the next book, and I'm excited to see what happens to some of the characters involved (good and bad) .

The Queen of the Tearling is a great mix of character-driven and action-driven. There are lots of characters that are important, and the author is able to introduce each one along with their backstory in a way that is not overwhelming to me, which I completely appreciate. It is a neat style that I don't often see. There is plenty of action and adventure in here as well, which I love, without the complication of romance. 

I loved this story. I'm SO GLAD I waited to read it, so I wasn't caught up in the hype surrounding the release. I love having questions going into the next installment, and I want more about my favorite characters (Lazarus, The Fetch). I recommend The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen for fans of fantasy. I'm so excited that I can pick up the second book and start it right away. 

Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is published by HarperAudio and is 14 hours and 30 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Katherine Kellgren, who voiced a completely lovely fantasy audiobook here. I have not much else to say other than the audiobook is near-perfection, with Ms. Kellgren's accent and perfect emotive reading of Kelsea's role as the new Queen. She was also a fine reader for the other roles, including the males. I think one of the best indicators of how great an audiobook is is whether or not I find myself holding my breath during action scenes or emotional scenes, and YES I DID. I absolutely recommend this audio for first time reads and for rereads. 


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The Queen of the Tearling will appeal to fans of:

Adult Fantasy
Romance: No.
Great Sibling Relationships
Unreliable Narrator

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
is currently available for purchase.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Review | The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - with Audiobook Notes

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Series: Mara Dyer #1
Published by Simon & Schuster BYR
Publish Date: September 27, 2011
Source: Book - Bought, Audiobook - Bought
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 


Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.
 (Goodreads) 

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

My Thoughts: I purposefully waited to read this series until it was completed because I heard there were cliffhangers and plenty of WHAT IS GOING ON moments. 

Yes, to both of these. 


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Mara wakes up in a hospital after being the only survivor in an awful accident in which her best friend, her boyfriend, and another friend were killed. Mara cannot remember the events surrounding the accident. After her discharge from the hospital, she begins experiencing some pretty crazy hallucinations and nightmares. Her anxiety and post-traumatic stress continues to increase as the book progresses and throughout the story, Mara never seems to have a grip on what is real and what is not. 


There is also a romance. 

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I love unreliable narrators because they often keep me guessing and working hard while I'm reading. Mara is no exception. I read and re-read, and I made my guesses. This was fun, particularly since I was buddy-reading this one with a friend. In truth, I never felt like I had any idea about which direction the plot was taking; after finishing the book, I feel like I know part of what I wanted to know but I still have plenty of questions about Mara, her issues, and what the heck is going on. Reading this book was a little bit like treading water because I would make a little bit of progress with figuring something out and then NOPE! I would be wrong -or- some new plot thing would be introduced. 

While I love Mara as a narrator, I'm not sure how much I love her as a character. It isn't that I dislike her as much as I just didn't make a solid connection. She feels tough for me to love, but I'm not giving up on her. It could be because of something that she does in the last portion of the book (no spoilers here, sorry!). But it is most likely that the audiobook turned me off to her character (which is unfortunate). 

Noah is extremely stereotypical: wealthy, beautiful, well-dressed, confident, and more than a little bossy. But he also knows the right words to say and he means what he says. He wants to make Mara happy, to make her feel loved and appreciated, and he defends her honor. He looks out for her and for her family. He likes and respects her brothers. So far in this series, I like him a ton. Also: [ I love the way he was experiencing things that made him feel crazy too, and I love that he was wary about sharing these things with Mara. I love the way they complemented one another, once they found out that they were more similar than they originally thought.]


As per my usual, I really love some of the secondary characters. Even though I didn't think I would like Mara's older brother Daniel very much at the beginning of the story, it wasn't very long before he and younger brother Joseph really grew on me. And I would love to know more about Mara's friend Jamie, who was very present in the first part of the book but not-so-much in the second part of the book. What will he bring to the rest of the series? 

I have more unanswered questions than answers, I think, and I'm glad that I have the next books on-hand to begin right away. Honestly, I don't know the "why" behind SO MUCH of this story and I don't know the reason for so many of the details, because so many of them still make no sense. Hopefully my questions will be answered as I go on. 

Seriously, I still have a ton of questions. 

I recommend The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin for fans of young adult supernatural with romance and for fans of unreliable narrators. Also I recommend buddy-reading this series because HELLO, there are a bazillion discussable things about it. 


Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin is published by Audible Studios and is 9 hours and 40 minutes, Unabridged. Narrated by Christy Romano. In complete honesty, this is not one of the best audiobooks that I have heard. The author writes plenty of inner dialogue into the story + the main character expresses a wide range of emotions, and I had a hard time differentiating these things based on the narration. Add to that some production issues like a few extended pauses, inconsistent reading speed, etc. and I feel sure that I may have connected to the main character (who is already an unreliable narrator) more easily if I would have read via print alone. As it stands, I've purchased these audiobooks, so I will certainly be listening to them + following along with the print copies. 

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult Paranormal/Supernatural with Romance
Romance: No triangle. 
Great Sibling Relationships
Unreliable Narrator

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
is currently available for purchase.

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The Mara Dyer Trilogy:




Monday, July 13, 2015

Review | Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas
Series: Appalachian Blessings #2
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Publish Date: May 5, 2015
Source: Publisher
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 


When a family tragedy derails Henry Phillips's college studies, he's left unmoored and feeling abandoned. Although Henry tries to find escape in bad company, the only things that can tamp down his anger and grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and sweet but unusual pre-teen Mayfair Hoffman. 

Unfortunately, Mayfair's older sister, Margaret, with the freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has the opposite effect. Worse, she's his grandmother's housekeeper and helper, so she's always around and ready to push his buttons. At first he thinks she doesn't care about his loss, before beginning to understand she's facing her own struggles. Mayfair's health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries, and Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as both Henry's future and Mayfair's life are put at risk.
 (Goodreads) 

Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas

My Thoughts:  I was at first drawn to the Appalachian Blessings Series when I saw the cover for Miracle in a Dry Season. So pretty! I quickly read that first installment and the prequel novella and fell so in love with the setting of Wise, West Virginia and all of its residents. 

Until the Harvest is the second full-length novel in this series, featuring the story of Henry Phillips and Margaret Hoffman. Henry is the son of Casewell and Perla Phillips, the featured couple in the previous book. (Casewell is my favorite character from Miracle in a Dry Season and probably the entire series so far.) This story takes place in 1976. 

(Click to see my reviews for Miracle in a Dry Season and Appalachian Blessings.) 

As the book begins, Henry is a college student when his family suffers an awful tragedy. As a result, Henry stays home from college for a while to help out on the family farm. Feeling angry and displaced for several reasons, Henry begins hanging out with some friends that have an affection for illegal activities, and Henry becomes involved, justifying his involvement because he is earning money, which his family needs. The local authorities have a great respect for his family and try to steer Henry in the right direction more than once, but Henry seems to struggle with his choices. Eventually, his streak of not-getting-caught catches up with him and Henry is forced to untangle himself from the huge mess he has gotten into. 

At the same time, Margaret is working for Henry's grandmother, as a sort-of housekeeper/companion. While she does not particularly need this job, Margaret loves the time she spends out on the farm. Despite the urging of her family to go to college and acquire a degree, Margaret feels sure that she would love to have a farm of her own one day. She loves the feel of the garden soil and the satisfaction of making sure a home is in working order. Her parents regret that she does not aspire to anything "greater" - their relationship is strained. Margaret is forced to make a choice between quitting the job she loves in order to start/further her college career, or move out. 

Margaret is thankful for the relationship that she has with Mrs. Phillips; it is because of her generosity that Margaret is able to find comfortable housing, right on the farm that she loves. It is also because of her job that she is forced into Henry's path, day in and day out. At first, she has a tough time with Henry's attitude (everyone does) - he is grieving and acting out a little bit, and she can't stand it. Eventually the two find an unexpected common ground, and over this the are able to build a friendship: Margaret's sister, Mayfair. 

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I am convinced that this author is one that I will turn to for comfort reads from here forward. Her stories thus far have made me feel like I'm living inside of them and the words make me feel like I'm being hugged. I can think of few better things when I'm reading. Really. 

Here are the things that I loved about this story: I loved returning to the same town that is familiar to me, as I mentioned above. I love that this is another generation in the same family that I love so much. I love that some of the same supporting cast is still present and even more fantastic than before. I love that the characters still feel very real to me and still have very real issues, and the people that are rallying around them are providing a realistic range of advice and guidance. I love that the characters, main and secondary, make mistakes. I love that there is redemption and grace and mercy for those characters and it feels so great to read and experience it. I love that there is plenty of context for me inside of this story without being obnoxiously obvious - it is gentle and kind, just like these characters. 

I also love that one of the characters has just a little something special about her - a little something that she is able to do that others can't. You may or may not remember that before, in the previous book, it was Perla + her special cooking ability... This time Margaret's younger sister Mayfair has the special gift. 

Mayfair is a great character, so pure and kind and loving. She is able to reach out to an entire community and bridge relationships that have been broken for years, to heal people in many ways with her love and her soothing touch. She is the biggest link between Margaret and Henry in this book, and I love the way their relationship grows because of their care and concern over her. Mayfair has an entire plot thread of her own here, and it is pretty amazing.

Speaking further of characters, I want to point out again that the secondary cast is just as enjoyable as the main cast. These people are the support of the book - they're the ones that give that extra push or nudge to Margaret and Henry, and they do plenty more in the story. They're developed so well and I felt like I could see them all in my head, down to their worn, worried faces and their clothes. LOVE THAT. Also, the ones that carry over from the last book? I LOVE THEIR STORY, MY GOODNESS. LOVE. 

While I love this story to absolute pieces, like re-read-status kind of love, it broke my heart a little bit that there were some characters that were no longer present in the book or that had aged significantly and were experiencing difficulties - what did I expect for a series installment that jumped ahead several decades? For everyone to be stuck permanently in time, never aging? All silliness aside, it isn't a bad thing at all. I actually think that this is a testament to how much I fell in love with these characters when I initially met them in previous installments, that I would mourn some of them so much. I kind of love this about this series, that these people are so very in my heart. 

One notable thing about this book: Even though the book clearly lets me know that it takes place in the 1970's from the beginning, I had a hard time picturing it. I continued to picture these characters, their clothes, their home decor, and their cars as still stuck in the 1950's. I'm not sure if I was forcing this or if it is because the story reminded me so much of the last book. There are a few references to pop culture from the time - things like Twiggy, etc - which helped remind me of the actual time setting. I don't mind at all that I kept picturing this as more past-dated than it was. It is just worth noting. 

I adore this book. I adore this series. I am waiting for the next book eagerly. I can't wait to see who and what is next for this series. I want more by this author! I recommend Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas to readers that enjoy Appalachian settings, great secondary characters, great sibling/family relationships, and clean romance. Also: character redemption because it is abundant in this series.

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Until the Harvest will appeal to fans of:

 Inspirational Fiction
Romance: No Triangle
Great Setting: Appalachia, West Virginia, 1970's
Great Relationships

Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas
is currently available for purchase.

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The Appalachian Blessing Series is: 


  

Do you love comfort reads? 

If so, HERE YOU GO!

 
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