The Hatmaker’s Heart- Carla Stewart

Sometimes you just need a feel good book. Sometimes you just need to remove yourself from reality and step into someone else’s.

Carla Stewart did a brilliant job with this novel. As has created a story with a few of my favorite elements.

1. HISTORY! I have a serious problem, if you haven’t been able to deduct this from my previous book reviews then you might want to go take another look. This novel takes place in 1920’s New York and it is splendid. Absolutely lovely. To give it another layer of depth, she throws in some London, England in there too. Which leads me too…

2. ENGLAND! I love how she incorporated England into the main character’s life, the plot AND threw in the royal wedding. Kudos and extra points for that one. Having just had a royal wedding a few shorts years ago, it was super relatable for me.

3. Relatable characters. Prunella was darling. There are so many things I liked about her character. Her innocents, her passion, her integrity, her faith, her love and loyalty to her family and friends- she was a breath of fresh air. How lovely to have a female be her own hero and not be a cotton headed ninny muggins. Yup. I said it. Everyone has dealt and come across people like the characters in “The Hatmaker’s Heart” in their life. The nasty boss, the cruel girl in school, the first love of childhood, the crazy relatives, the beloved grandmother- it’s like walking out of your life and comfortably walking into someone else’s.

This was such a great read. I read it in a few hours. It was refreshing to read a book that was appropriate in language, plot, and romance. The ending was just so right. There’s something to be said about reading a book that really does just have a happy ending for everybody, even if it does seem fantastical and silly. But, what girl doesn’t want to see love win out in the end?

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Appaloosa Summer- Tudor Robins

Appaloosa Summer is book one of the Island Trilogy by Tudor Robins. It was a cute little summer read. I read it on the plane over to Northern Ireland a few weeks ago.

Meg, the main female character goes through the tragic loss of her horse. In an attempt to have a change of scenery, pace, and peace from what has happened she find solace at her parents vacation house along the St. Lawrence river working at the local bed and breakfast.

Jared, the main male character is the classic, attractive hurting cowboy. Twist of fate and tragedy in his own life have left him distance and withdrawn.

The two of them find each other that summer and bond over their grief, their fears and a scruffy appaloosa mare.

It was obviously a young adult book. I do look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy as they are available. I found the characters absolutely endearing and charming. I hope that as the series continues that the characters themselves continue to grow and really come into their own. Though Meg and Jared are in their mid-late teens, they have a lot to learn and growing up to do. Hopefully, they will continue to do both of these things together. Because they are so freaking adorable in that totally mushy gushy perfect way. I would definitely recommend this book to my younger high schoolers, or even middle schoolers.

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Elly In Love-Colleen Oakes

I’ve got a bone to pick before I actually get into the review. There are two “trends” I guess I could say, that I have noticed with any kind of chick lit I’ve read recently. Or ever.

1. The man is always loaded. Legitimately, you think for once, she’s falling for an average Joe in an average house, average job, average life. Something to give us average people hope. NOPE. SURPRISE! He is A. The CEO of his own company and loaded. B. An heir to a very LARGE fortune. C. A combination of the two. Oh yeah, and they’re never just kind of well off. They’re like, “I have millions in the bank” kind of loaded.

2. Florists. I read 4 books this month where the main female character owned a flower shop. And they all were kind of bah-humbug about the whole love thing because they’re in a “romantic business” and love has screwed them over somehow. Seriously, I know 1 florist. Out of all of our friends, family, kids I went to school with, I know 1.

This has nothing to do with the above two, but I LOVE TLC “Friday Bride Day.” I am a total sucker for all things wedding related. It must have something to do with the rock I get to rock on my left hand. I like how Oaks threw in a fictional TV show that would fit in PERFECTLY with that line up.

These two things being said, Elly In Love had both, but in a good way.

Elly was charming and endearing. She’s the underdog you cheered for throughout the entire book. Regardless of what happened, who came into her life or left, she was awesome. I loved how real she was. When she was sad, she ate ice cream and watched TV. When she was uncomfortable in social situations, she just wanted to read a book in her jammies. Story of my life. I enjoyed the breath of fresh air having a more “normal” female lead.

Keith was good. An absolute sweet heart. The right kind of cheese ball+tough guy= adorable. The kind of quirky prince charming we all hope for at some point in our lives. I was empathetic to his own little hidden plight in life. He was protective, he was understanding, and he was human.

I wish Snarky Teenager had a name. Honestly, she was such a huge part of the story. It got kind of annoying. Give the poor girl a real name. By the end of the book, she’s not so much Snarky Teenager anymore.

The other supporting characters were great. All of the big characters had dynamic, layers and growth. The book kept pace, and it was a good summer read. It was a great “clean,” romantic comedy really. It was refreshing to read a romance that wasn’t necessarily a Christian romance, but wasn’t like the author threw in a porn scene either. Seeing where life takes Elly, Keith and the rest of the gang would be an absolute delight.

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