A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman


A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman
Publisher/Year:ย Revell, 2010
Format:ย Paperback
Pages:ย 505




The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O’Connor is the epitome of the new woman–smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband–good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face-to-face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?

What I thought

This book was a lovely surprise. I was expecting just another light read, but it actually turned out to be an engaging story about family, friendship, love & God. Honestly, it kind of reminded me of reading <i>Little Women</i>, in that 1) it was one of those cozy family-oriented stories and 2) the narrative didn’t follow just one character, it really revolved around the whole family. Granted, the overarching plot was Katie’s story, but I was glad Katie wasn’t the only focus.

I will say, I had a little trouble telling Katie’s sisters apart, but only at first–once their stories developed, I was fine. That could also have to do with the fact that apparently readers first met the O’Connors in another of Julie Lessman’s book series. Not having known that though, I still found this book was easy to follow, not like I missed a huge chunk of backstory. (Although, now I definitely want to read that other series!)

Overall, I really enjoyed this sweet inspirational novel, and if you enjoy inspirational stories with a smidge of romance & historical settings, I highly suggest checking this one out!

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan


The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
Publisher/Year:ย Scribner, 2014
Format:ย Hardcover
Pages:ย 208



An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.

Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at theย New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.

As her family, friends, and classmates, deep in grief, joined to create a memorial service for Marina, her unforgettable last essay for theย Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits. She had struck a chord.

Even though she was just twenty-two when she died, Marina left behind a rich, expansive trove of prose that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation.ย The Opposite of Loneliness is an assemblage of Marina’s essays and stories that, likeย The Last Lecture, articulates the universal struggle that all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world.

What I thought

This book has been high on my radar for a long time, so I was really excited when my library hold came in. Reviews seem pretty mixed, but I had a feeling I was going to love this & love it, I did.

Marina’s death was so tragic, and now having read this, it seems all the more tragic to me. She was so bright, and it shines through her writing. These stories & essays are ablaze with potential, and it makes me so incredibly sad that this is all we are going to have of Keegan’s writing. There was just an honesty & genuine candor here that I found incredible coming from someone so young.

Say what you will about why this was published (& by such a big-name publisher), but I truly thought that Keegan showed immense talent & I think it’s a damn shame that this world lost such a budding writer. She had such a way with words that after reading each story, I had to close the cover just so I could absorb it & catch my breath again.

Overall, I think this is an excellent collection & well worth anyone’s time. I need to actually purchase a copy of this so I can peruse it from time to time when I’m looking for something genuine.

Must Love Mistletoe (Holiday Duet #1) by Christie Ridgway

32950597ย Must Love Mistletoe by Christie Ridgway
Publisher/Year:ย Christie Ridgway, 2011
Format:ย E-book
Pages:ย 242
Rating:ย ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ



Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Bailey Sullivan can’t stand Christmas, even though her family’s business is a store specializing in the perfect holiday. But now her hometown’s chief supplier of rooftop Rudolphs and treetop angels is in danger of going under–and it’s up to Bailey to save the shop.

She has it all planned: She’ll arrive on December 1 and be gone by Christmas. Plus there’s always spiked eggnog to ease the pain. But “Humbug” Bailey’s not the only one home for the holidays. Finn Jacobson, legendary local bad boy turned Secret Service agent and Bailey’s long-lost high-school boyfriend, is once again the boy next door. Only this time he’s all grown up, and the sparks are flying faster and hotter than ever!

Bailey believes in true love about as much as she believes in Santa Claus. But as the holiday draws closer, she’s starting to think about one thing she’d like to find under the tree…

What I thought

This was one of those books that just wasn’t for me, unfortunately. Honestly, I wish I liked it more than I did. I loved the general idea of the story, but for me, the execution just fell through. I stress that this is just my own opinion because I really didn’t think this was a bad book. I just thought it was okay.

I think part of the problem was that I found myself unable to really connect to the characters. Objectively, I knew that it was the bad boy/good girl, both with trust issues, thing between Bailey & Finn, but I thought how it actually played out was lacking. Half the time, I got the impression that they didn’t even like each other, it was just about sex, so the “falling in love” wasn’t believable.

My biggest issue was Bailey’s lack of character development. She had a chip on her shoulder for the entire story & I get it–she has HUGE trust issues. But she doesn’t change throughout the whole novel & yet has this epiphany right at the end? I’m sorry, but I didn’t buy it. Also, minor annoyance–I really, really, really did not like the nickname GND. I don’t really know why that bothered me so much, but it did.

I hate to sound so negative. There were some things I did like. As I said before, I really did like the premise. It was cute & romantic enough to put you in the holiday mood with some naughty bits on the side. I adored The Perfect Christmas, and it made me nostalgic for the days I spent working in a a “‘Tis the Season Shoppe.” Plus, the occasional humor really helped to lighten up some of the more dramatic parts.

Overall, for me this turned out to be an “okay” read. A few issues, mostly lack of connection, kept me from loving this. But if you are looking for a simply entertaining story with some angst to put you in a Christmas mood, this might be the book for you.