Honest and for True by Jane Lebak

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. My honest review comes by way of a complimentary copy of this book that I received from the author.
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Five Gold Stars

Honest and for TrueHonest And For True by Jane Lebak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Brilliant. Simply brilliant. I’ve never read anything like it!

Well, yes, I have. It was author Jane Lebak’s novelette, Upsie-Daisy, in the Where the Light May Lead anthology that first introduced me to a bright and hilarious lady mechanic, Lee Singer, and her bright and hilarious best chum and guardian angel, Bucky. The two of them are in for an adventurous ride in Honest and for True, particularly because Lee has this terrible habit of lying to every man she dates (lying about her job), and Bucky wants her to drop the dishonesty already before it costs her more than she’ll ever want to lose.

As with its related novelette, I found this novel to be quick and clever, imaginative and real, and a downright riot. But even with all of its laugh-worthiness, the story tugged at my heartstrings–once to the point of my having to set the book aside and go flailing off while inwardly wailing, “BUCK-EEEEE!” (*Ahem.*)

This story takes a thought-provoking look at relationships: romantic, familial, one’s relationship with oneself. And that Lee and Bucky have such an entertaining and well-crafted friendship, one of the best you may ever come across in a women’s fiction comedy. I’ll admit some of the language in the novel took me off guard, from “mild swears” to language not allowed on broadcast television, but I didn’t find it gratuitous, and the strength of the story was certainly enough to keep me reading on.

If you’ve got an appreciation for George Bailey and Clarence Odbody’s adventure in Bedford Falls (or, um, Pottersville), go ahead and check out The Adventures of Lee and Bucky in New York City. Brilliant!

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The adventures continue…

Forever and for Keeps

Single Sashimi by Camy Tang

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Five Gold Stars

Single SashimiSingle Sashimi by Camy Tang

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

This was who she wished to be…
The sight took her breath away, while at the same time a part inside her scolded for how much she enjoyed being beautiful.

Venus Chau. A driven businesswoman in a constant fight for professional respect, particularly respect from men. She’s not exactly the softest or most charming of personalities. Some find her intimidating. And, hey, she even intimidates herself–that is, when she glimpses the glory of her femininity, she does.

Single Sashimi is the second book I’ve read in the Sushi Series by author Camy Tang, and I must say I got emotionally involved in the heroine’s drive, her challenges, her insecurities, her breaking point. I laughed, I steamed, and I got so balled up during the story’s displays of (non-romantic) love and surrender that I felt like part of my soul was sobbing. Beautiful execution on the author’s part.

And, it’s rare that I say this–if I’ve ever said this in a book review at all–but I actually found the hero in this book to be, well, hotness. In the romances I read, whether they’re romance novels or other kinds of novels with a romantic thread in the story, I don’t find the hero attractive just because the heroine or other characters or the narrator keep telling me that he’s attractive, just because he has broad shoulders or flashes his winning smile or smoky scowl around and makes the heroine’s heart race. But to create a passionate but tempered and mature character who isn’t perfect but who knows how to think fast and do some key right things at the right times… Hey, not even romantic things, necessarily; just the right things.

Anywho. The hero here has my respect as more than just a male figure included to play opposite a female for a story’s romantic purposes.

Yup, I’ve got more reading of this series to do.

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Okay, so I wrote this review before I read the next and last book in the Sushi Series, Weddings and Wasabi, which I’ve read now and also rated with 5 stars.
I’ve also read and enjoyed the first book in the series, Sushi for One?

Sushi for One? (Sushi, #1) Only Uni (Sushi, #2) Weddings and Wasabi (Sushi, #4)

Sushi for One? by Camy Tang

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Four Silver Stars

Sushi for OneSushi for One? by Camy Tang

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“Please do something.” She’d wait for Him to do something. She’d wait for Him, even if He didn’t do something.

It’s a little complicated, this whole business regarding Lex Sakai’s becoming (or avoiding becoming?) the oldest single female cousin in her family. Her quest of multiple objectives in Sushi for One? by author Camy Tang takes a lot of turns, and I, while reading about it, had to hang on for the ride.

The novel’s opening, and several other moments along the way, had me laughing out loud, and I took to the heroine right away: funny, flawed, sometimes rash about the mouth, tomboyish, passionate about sports, with a figure folks criticize for not being curvy enough–whatever that is. (Hey, lithe women are beautiful, too!) The story’s romance is well paced, and the volleyball sequences put me in the mood for the Summer Olympics. In the mood to watch them, that is.

There are a lot of mishaps and spillings, the theme concerning Lex’s sensitive stomach makes for some “disgustamundo” parts, and most of the zany characters who sail through, and some who reappear, aren’t exactly likable. (Which is part of the story’s point, granted.) But genuine displays of friendship and family loyalty through painful experience put me in tears. Real tears that required me to pause from reading for a while.

I’ve got to read more of the Sushi Series.

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Since writing this review, I have indeed read and reviewed more books in the Sushi Series:
Single Sashimi
Weddings and Wasabi

Only Uni (Sushi, #2) Single Sashimi (Sushi, #3) Weddings and Wasabi (Sushi, #4)

Series Favorites I Shan’t Fully Review

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My list of all-time Favorite Reads was lacking.

I dug deep (I mean, deep) to finally review the Emily of New Moon trio of books, which I read years ago, and I knew I’d have to do similar digging into the depths of life and memory to review other favorites of mine from years past with that kind of detail. Quite frankly, however, if I wait until I have the time for such digging for all of these other favorites, my master list may remain incomplete for years on end, which I don’t think would be fair to these previously unmentioned books.

So, I’m mentioning them now, and I implore you not to think I love these books any less than my other favorites, even if they haven’t series reviews long enough to give them each a separate page.

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The Love Comes Softly Series by Janette Oke
(best read in order)

Love Comes Softly (Love Comes Softly, #1)Love's Enduring PromiseLoves Long JourneyLove's Abiding Joy
Love's Unending LegacyLove's Unfolding Dream (Love Comes Softly, #6)Love Takes Wing (Love Comes Softly #7)Love Finds A Home (Love Comes Softly Series #8)

Yes, I’m using their covers from the 80s, as I’m partial to the stories in all of their old-fashionedness, before the updated versions of cover art and later book edits that went into newer editions. (I didn’t read all of these in large print, mind you. 😀 ) The first book, Love Comes Softly, was the first I ever read by Oke, my introduction into her sweet, warm, and simplistic style of storytelling that would make her one of my all-time favorite authors, up there with Henry James and L.M. Montgomery. Yes, I love my classic authors with their legendary works, but there’s something to be said for an author who just tells a plain story that gets at readers’ hearts. The first three books are my actual favorite reads here, but the series is well worth reading in its entirety. A pity the film versions from Hallmark gradually strayed so incredibly far from the original stories. The films are enjoyable in and of themselves, but if you’ve only seen the films, you’d do well to see what Oke actually wrote about Clark, Marty, and the rest of these folks.
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The Song of Acadia Series by Janette Oke and T. Davis Bunn
(best read in order)

The Meeting Place (Song of Acadia, #1)The Sacred Shore (Song of Acadia, #2)The Birthright (Song of Acadia, #3)The Distant Beacon (Song of Acadia, #4)The Beloved Land (Song of Acadia, #5)

With these novels, I joined the ranks of readers who know what it is to be in the midst of a series, waiting, even with bated breath, for the next book in the series to be published. I appreciate the style and language that Bunn clearly brought into this co-written historical fiction saga with Oke. I remember being totally engrossed and on edge during a certain crucial stretch in The Meeting Place and was floored by the unembellished end to that nerve-racking rush: “And then it began to rain.” I grew attached to the characters over the course of the series, though I’ll admit I got a bit weary during the fifth novel, as while some of the characters were yet making more grand departures from one another, I lost the sense of what they were actually getting done, apart from moving around the globe. I might’ve been missing and/or forgetting things, though, weary in general after doing so much waiting, and I don’t regret a minute I spent with this saga.
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The Women of the West Series by Janette Oke
(can be read in any order)

The Calling of Emily Evans (Women of the West, #1)Julia's Last HopeRoses For MamaA Woman Named Damaris (Women of the West (Bethany House Paperback))

They Called Her Mrs. DocThe measure of a heartA Bride for DonniganHeart of the Wilderness

Too Long a Stranger (Women of the West, #9)Bluebird and the Sparrow (Women of the West)A Gown of Spanish Lace (Women of the West The Drums of Change: The Story of Running Fawn

 Overall, this is my favorite series (that I’ve read so far) by Oke, where I really reveled in what the author had to bring in all of her sweet, warm, and simplistic glory. However, the books aren’t only warm fuzzies, as Oke does deal with some tough, and even some potentially controversial, issues, giving the reader some points to chew on but doing it in her warm style. I’ve read most of these books more than once (maybe even three times, with The Measure of a Heart), and while not each of them are individual favorites of mine, the series as a whole took me places I’m so grateful to have gone.
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The Savannah Series by Denise Hildreth
(best read in order)

Savannah from SavannahSavannah Comes UndoneSavannah by the Sea

My introduction into Chick Lit and some of the absolute funniest reading of my life. Oh, sure, a few parts of the humor hinge on things one might roll her eyes at and say, “Right. Like that really would’ve happened,” but the fact that Hildreth wasn’t afraid to let loose and get a little ridiculous made me appreciate the series all the more. I mean, why always be confined inside the box of what’s “realistic”? Let your hair down, be a little silly, and laugh about life! Note, though, that what I appreciate most about the books is that they aren’t just all silliness and giggles, as Hildreth gives her heroine some serious lessons to learn, all without bogging the story down with sermons detached from the plot. Excellent!
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The Chronicles of Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis
(best read in order)

The Chronicles of NarniaThe Chronicles of Narnia (#1-7)

  Yeah, I read all of the books in one volume, the edition with the White Witch on the cover, then I loaned the copy to someone who lost it (my first and last time making that mistake with so treasured a volume), so I bought the edition with Prince Caspian on the front. An esteemed classic series, and rightly so. I read more fantasy fiction as a child, the Narnia series likely being the only fantasy books I’ve read as an adult, but I can see why they’re standing the test of time. I’ve got all three of Walden Media’s Narnia films that are currently out (love ’em all), and when the next releases, I’ll be all over that one, too.
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The Cape Light Series by Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer
(the first four books best read in order)

Cape LightHome Song: A Cape Light NovelA Gathering Place: A Cape Light NovelA New Leaf: Cape Light #4A Christmas To Remember (Cape Light #7)

This series answers the question of what would happen if you stepped into Kinkade’s warm, vivid, signature paintings. It starts off with four novels, then continues with several Christmas novels, A Christmas to Remember being the one I’ve read. While the series brought all of the warmth and comfort I anticipated, the characters and their situations turned out to be more real than my initial anticipation thought they would be. Warmth, comfort, and realness without descents into sap and corniness: “feel good” reading at its best.

The Hadassah Series by Tommy Tenney and Mark Andrew Olsen
(best read in order)

Hadassah: One Night with the KingHadassah Covenant

I’ve nothing against hype. Sometimes we need to get hyped up about something or other in life to break out of blah. But, of course, hype can’t always be trusted on a rational level, and while hype about the Hadassah novel and its upcoming film was what alerted me to the book’s existence, I stepped away from the hype to read the book and see what I thought about it for myself. Is it okay to admit that it turned out to be better than I thought it would be? Better than its film counterpart as well, though One Night with the King does have its own points of movie merit (including the wedding scene’s music, which I absolutely loved.) Its obvious weaknesses notwithstanding, I still like the film for what it is, and I think it’s a come-up from earlier Christian features.