Author Archives: Carol Moncado
When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months. But the Scottish countryside holds other plans. Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna’s great aunt—and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation.
Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica’s daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they’ve longed for… or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.
I don’t write a whole lot of reviews for books that I read “just” for fun. Most of the books I read are books I’m an official reviewer or influencer for. Now, I rarely offer to review/influence for books I wouldn’t read anyway, so I think it works out pretty well ;).
But earlier this year, I bought Doon for a birthday gift for my daughter’s friend. I’d not read it, but bought it on the recommendation of my dear friend, author, and NovelSista Jessica Keller. When I saw the Doon ebook on sale for 3.99, I splurged. She’d raved about it just. that. much. And then I read it. And then I bought the hardback copy, preordered the ecopy of book 2, Destined for Doon, and, erm, the hard copy. Cuz. Yeah. That good.
The story is based on the play? musical? Brigadoon (that I don’t know which it is should tell you how much I know about it 😉 – and just how necessary knowing anything about Brigadoon is). It’s Young Adult with a bit of… Narnia-esqueness to it. There is some magic and such, but nothing I wouldn’t let my kiddos read. The romance is probably more than I’d let my now 12yo read, but far less (I presume since I’ve not read them) than something like Twilight, etc. A bit more than say, Melanie Dickerson’s YA novels. The girls are 18 so…
I’m not sure I can put my finger on what I liked so much about it, but I did. The majority of the book takes place in the fictional country of Doon. It’s a curious mix of Medieval and nearly contemporary conveniences (say within the last hundred years or so, which is way modern compared to Medieval ;)).
I absolutely loved the relationship between the two girls. I also loved all three? four? of the romantic relationships that begin in Doon. Only Veronica and Jamie get their HEA (Happily Ever After) in Doon – but there’s more books coming ;).
The bad guy took me by surprise in more ways than one (something that’s generally hard to do) as did the ultimate solution to putting an end to the bad guy’s machinations. At least in this book. I’m still not quite sure if the bad guy is truly banished. In a series, you never know!
Who do I recommend this for? I’d say girls over 14 or 15. The readers’ guides say more like 7th grade, but I’m not sure I’d want my 7th grader reading it, but I tend to be pretty protective of romanticy stuff with her (and she’s really not that interested – and doesn’t question why I paperclip certain pages together in some books where the romance isn’t the main focus). Upper end of the age range? Anyone who’s still young at heart ;).
Be sure to check out the #Dooniverse at www.doonseries.com. Did I mention said friend Jessica has already read book 2? If only I were close enough I could sneak over and read it while she’s at work… 😉 – especially since she’s already told me she liked it even more!
If you’ve read very many of my reviews, you know I rarely give scores of less than 7-7.5, but I also rarely give scores above a 9. I’m not sure I’ve ever given one above a 9.5 so…
Overall rating: 9.25 out of 10 (and I fully expect the others to go up – but since it left me hanging… ;))
Vince Yates earned the nickname “Invincible Vince” because of his reputation for letting absolutely nothing stop him. Not his tyrant of a father. Nor the injuries he suffered in the Civil War. Nor the fact that he is Broken Wheel’s only attorney and sheriff yet has no law degree.
But Vince is about to face his biggest challenge yet: his past has just caught up with him. His father, mother, and the sister he didn’t know he had show up in Broken Wheel without warning. His father is still a schemer. His mother is suffering signs of dementia. And his surprise sister immediately falls for one of Vince’s best friends. Vince has a lot of people to take care of, and Tina doesn’t approve of how he’s handling any of them. But with almost all the other men in town married off, Vince finds himself stuck with feisty Tina over and over again. Of course, Tina is the prettiest woman he’s ever seen, so if he could just get her to give up her causes, he might go ahead and propose. But he’s got one more surprise coming his way: Tina’s picketing at the saloon has revealed a dark secret that could put everyone Vince loves in danger.
Mary Connealy has long been a favorite of mine (starting about the time I won the Lassoed in Texas trilogy 3-in-1 on Seekerville about 3.5 years ago). I’ve read everything she’s written since then (I think… with the exception of that Mary Nealy book X Plagues… I have it though).
I’ve looked forward to Stuck Together for quite a while and she didn’t disappoint. Though not my mostest favorite of her books (that honor will likely always belong to Sharpshooter in Petticoats, though Mary recently said she wrote her funniest wedding scene ever so… we’ll see ;)), I did speed through Stuck Together quickly.
Vince is shocked when his parents arrive in town, not only with his ailing mother (some form of dementia) but a half-sister he never knew existed. A sister who is in her upper teens and tasked with taking care of his mother. Tina is trying to get the saloon closed down, a crusading teetotaler, who will stop at nothing, no matter the cost.
But as they both work to make the town a safer place, for Vince’s family and people in general, they find themselves drawn to each other and eventually, fall in love.
Filled with Mary’s trademark humor, Stuck Together is a great summer read. It can be read alone, but would work a bit better if you read it with the other two.
Mary is also sharing the story of how these four men, Regulators, came to be friends. It is not a romance and not a comedy, but Closer than Brothers is available on her blog.
Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ecopy in exchange for my honest review.
Anglican Mary Langton longs to marry for love. Puritan Barnabas Horton is still in love with his deceased wife and needs only a mother for his two young sons. And yet these two very different people with very different expectations will take a leap of faith, wed, and then embark on a life-changing journey across the ocean to the Colonies. Along the way, each must learn to live in harmony, to wait on God, and to recognize true love where they least expect to find it.
This heartfelt tale of love and devotion is based on debut author Rebecca DeMarino’s own ancestors, who came to Long Island in the mid-1600s to establish a life–and a legacy–in the New World.
As with several other reviews recently, this one is tough to write.
I enjoyed the story as a whole but…
I wanted to slap Baranabas with a trout more than once.
Why a trout? Why not ;).
The couple marries while he’s still in love with his late wife. They both know this but also know that he needs the help with his young sons. I didn’t have a problem with any of that – or even that it takes him some time to realize he loves Mary [hey – it’s a romance, no spoiler there, right?]. But it took WAY longer than I expected. Not pages wise – that was about right – but years. The book covers nearly a decade and they spend most of that time married.
The adventures, in England, aboard the ship, and in the New World, were all fascinating and based on Ms. DeMarino’s own ancestors. There’s little written record of the Hortons and most of what she writes is supposition and educated guesses [again no problem with any of that] but without a record of how long it too them to truly fall in love, it feels more than a bit… ugh inducing ;). The ending felt a bit rushed and I would have liked a few more pages.
All that said, I read it in just a few hours and did enjoy the historical aspects of the book. I don’t know if I’ll pick up Ms. DeMarino’s sophomore effort in the same series or not…
Overall rating: 7 out of 10 stars
Thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Hey there, blog readers!
So, there’s a tiny little change here on “Carol’s Blog” – so tiny you probably didn’t even notice it – but you should
Up there. See that castle? If you look right below it there’s some lines.
Books I’ve Read [it’s [almost] up to date for this year!]
Fun WIP Progress Meters [those aren’t up to date :p]
Reviews [woefully out of date – it’s on the to do list!]
Oh! What? You’re not sure? It’s that Newsletter link! (The giant picture at the top of the post might have helped too ;).)
Yep! I now have an author newsletter! I promise not to be spammy! Honest! But you can’t get it if you don’t sign up. So this month, I’m running a giveaway. Anyone who signs up for my newsletter between now and the end of the month will get their choice of prizes mentioned on that page. The winner will be announced in the first official newsletter in early July!
So CLICK HERE to sign up for the newsletter :D. Make sure to check your email for confirmation.
There’s a couple other ways you can enter the Rafflecopter drawing below – newsletter signup, Facebook like, Twitter follow, and getting my blog emailed to you so you don’t have to pop over ;). There should be links for Facebook and Twitter in the Rafflecopter – but to sign up for the email, all you need to do is fill in that box up on the top right of this page. I promise [again!] to never be spammy :D. Because the newsletter is the fun new thing, signing up for it gets extra points :D.
So, take a couple minutes and sign up? I’d appreciate it – and you could win! What’s better than that?!
After graduating from Fannie Farmer’s School of Cookery in 1910, Charlotte Gregory is ready to stir things up. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to travel, lecture, and give cooking demonstrations on the very latest kitchen revolution–the gas stove–and certainly doesn’t mind that the gas company has hired the handsome Lewis Mathis to perform at her lectures. Lewis encourages her work, especially her crusade to introduce fresh, appetizing, nutritious food to those convalescing in hospitals. But young hospital superintendent Dr. Joel Brooks is not convinced any changes should be made–especially by this outspoken young woman.
When Charlotte and Joel are coerced into planning a fund-raising gala for the hospital, will this combustible pair explode?
Lorna Seilstad is definitely a fan favorite! So glad I had the chance to review the second book in this series! I loved the first one and the second one was no different.
Charlotte is a brilliant young woman who wants to be a chef – but a female chef? In the early 1900s? Not a chance. Instead, she ends up with a job demonstrating a gas oven/range in cities around Minnesota. When she’s home, she’s often at odds with Dr. Joel Brooks. Whether it’s over the care for her aunt when she has a bit of a health crisis or the food at the hospital, the two are like oil and vinegar. They just don’t mix.
Except they do mix. Very well. And despite their pasts, they find themselves drawn to each other. Until those insecurities from the past pop up in their present.
Lorna stirs up a delightful mixture of intrigue [Youngest sister Tessa has a secondary role and I can’t wait for her starring role in book 3!] at the theater and the house and on the road.
I do wish there had been a bit more explanation about the nurse. The explanation given was plausible but a bit… something. I thought there would be a bit… more? Something.
In the ends, big waffy sighs abound and I can’t for Tessa’s story!
Overall rating: 8.25 out of 10 stars
Thanks the publisher for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Sarah Cooley has come home to Last Chance, New Mexico, for one reason–because it doesn’t change. After an engagement gone bad with a man who wanted to change everything about her, Sarah is more than ready for the town whose motto may as well be, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Chris Reed, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to spark some change in the little town. As the new owner of the Dip ‘n’ Dine, he’s shaking things up to draw folks from all over the Southwest into his restaurant.
As it turns out, the winds of change are blowing into Last Chance–just not in the ways that Sarah or Chris might expect.
This is the second book in the Place to Call Home series. Book 1, Welcome to Last Chance, was a quick read and fairly enjoyable. In that review, I mentioned that it felt short – and One More Last Chance felt the same. At 304 pages, it’s a full 80 pages shorter than Becky Wade’s Meant to Be Mine, 64 pages shorter than Melissa Tagg’s Here to Stay, and 48 pages shorter than Victoria Bylin’s Until I Found You. All three of those happen to be contemporary romances recently released by Bethany House while One More Last Chance is a Revell novel and it does seem more in line with the Revell releases [such as Janice Thompson’s Weddings by Design series – it’s 20-50 pages shorter than those].
As a “light snack” of reading it worked well. I read it in an evening while recuperating from strep throat. It wasn’t too deep where I had a hard time concentrating or had trouble remembering who was who.
I did think the thread with Sarah’s ex-boyfriend was a bit too… neatly wrapped up – I guess is the best way to put it.
I enjoyed Chris as he tried to update the diner as well as the secondary characters. I do look forward to book 3 as I was hoping that particular character would get an HEA of her own. I’m not sure when it comes out but I will be watching for it.
Overall rating: 7.5 out of 10 stars
Thanks to the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Jake Knew Something Was Wrong.
But He Never Guessed How Wrong.
A relaxing day of rock climbing takes a disturbing turn when Kayden McKenna’s route brings her face-to-face with a dead climber. Is it a terrible accident or something darker? When the case is handed to overburdened sheriff Landon Grainger, he turns to Jake Westin for help. With Jake’s past now revealed, he’s ready to use his talent for investigation again–but he could never prepare for where the mystery will take him.
Kayden’s climbing expertise soon leads her and Jake to the realization that the death was no accident. And worse, it seems the killer is onto them. When strange things begin happening in Yancey, Jake is terrified that once again his world may put someone he loves in danger. But the truth is far worse than he could ever imagine.
Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series is a must-read for any reader of romantic suspense or anyone who loves the outdoors or Alaska.
The McKenna family love the outdoors and each have their own sort of expertise. Kayden’s is free climbing [you know – without ropes – like Tom Cruise at the beginning of one of the Mission: Impossible movies where he jumps from rock face to rock face]. A climb with her sister leads to the discovery of a dead body. Her brother, the newly-appointed sheriff, is overwhelmed not just with work but with his upcoming wedding. He convinces Jake – whose past as a cop has recently come to light – to investigate for him.
Jake is glad for the time with Kayden. He loves her after all, but she won’t look twice at him – or any other man. Despite her attempts to keep Jake at arm’s length, he continues to worm his way into her life and into her heart.
The whodunit side of this keeps you guessing. I was pleasantly surprised at the ability of Dani to keep us on our toes and take the plot in a direction I never would have guessed.
I look forward to book 5 in the series – Reef and, unless I miss my guess, Kirra – and for whatever Dani has for us after that!
Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars
Thanks to Dani, NetGalley and the publisher for a copy in exchange for my review.
Haley’s three-year marriage to Sam, an army medic, ends tragically when he’s killed in Afghanistan. Her attempts to create a new life for herself are ambushed when she arrives home one evening—and finds her husband waiting for her. Did the military make an unimaginable mistake when they told her Sam was killed?
Too late to make things right with his estranged twin brother, Stephen discovers Sam never told Haley about him. As Haley and Stephen navigate their fragile relationship, they are inexorably drawn to each other. How can they honor the memory of a man whose death brought them together—and whose ghost could drive them apart?
This is a tough review to write. On the one hand, I really enjoyed Somebody Like You. I truly did. Haley and Stephen have to overcome Sam – Stephen’s deceased twin and Haley’s late husband.
Sam and Stephen are so much alike but so different. Haley can’t help but compare the two. Her marriage to Sam lasted three years, but, like so many military couples, they were apart much more than they were together. The things Sam loved about Haley are the same things that make her so resistant to a new relationship at all, much less with Stephen’s mirror twin.
Stephen and Sam haven’t spoken since high school graduation more than a decade earlier. Both wanted to find a way to reconcile, but neither were ever able [willing?] to take that first step. Stephen has little relationship with his mother, just as Sam had little relationship with their father.
The relationship between Stephen and Haley is good and grows organically. But… I thought there were a few things I thought were dropped. I won’t go into what they are, but there were at least two threads that seemed to be important but were never wrapped up. Those things left hanging left me a bit dissatisfied. I could well be the only one, but… it still bugged me. But it won’t stop me from anxiously awaiting Beth’s next release.
Overall rating: 7.5 out of 10 stars
Thanks to Beth and the publisher for a copy in exchange for my review.
She Wants the Freedom of the Open Plains.
He Wants the Prestige of a Successful Career.
Neither is Ready for What Comes Instead.
The train to Garber, Texas, is supposed to bring life’s next victory to Nicholas Lovelace. Instead, it gets held up by robbers who are thwarted by the last person Nick ever expected–Anne Tillerton from back home in Prairie Lea.
Anne’s been hiding away as a buffalo hunter. She’s only in town to find their runaway cook, but the woman flees–leaving Anne with her infant son. With Nick the only person Anne knows in town, the two form an unlikely team as they try to figure out what to do with the child.
But being in town means acting and dressing for polite society–and it’s not going well for Anne. Meanwhile, Nick’s work is bringing new pressures, and being seen with a rough-around-the-edges woman isn’t helping his reputation. Caught between their own dreams, a deepening relationship, and others’ expectations, can the pair find their way to love?
I’ve been a fan of Regina’s since Sixty Acres and a Bride. It remains my favorite book of hers, though I did enjoy Love in the Balance.
Caught in the Middle lets us catch up with Anne, one of Rosa’s neighbors in Sixty Acres and a heroine in her own right by the end of that book. Now, she’s been “one of the guys” hunting buffalo and hiding out from her past and those who would judge her.
Meeting Nick doesn’t change what she wants, but other circumstances mean she must stay in town – and that means no dungarees. She needs to dress as a woman and try to find her place in polite society. Everyone knows who she is and they see right through the veneer of womanhood to her “tomboy” side.
She does her best to help Nick with his business and in his new position on the city council.
They want different things out of life and are forced to make hard decisions. In the end, they make the right ones, but that doesn’t make things any easier. Will it bring them together or tear them apart?
This is the end of the series [or so I understand], but I look forward to the next one.
Overall rating: 8.25 out of 10 stars