Dancing on the Moon by Linda Leigh Hargrove

Romance Book

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.

3 Stars

Book cover with bokeh lights shows a laughing woman with long curly hair, and a smiling man in a suit and tie behind herDancing on the Moon by Linda Leigh Hargrove

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Description: When an abusive relationship forces Dr. Katrina Mason to take a math teaching job at a high school in another state, she’s pleasantly surprised by how much she enjoys it. That is, until she gets a lewd unsigned note to the school’s Valentine dance—a note using the stage name she once had as a stripper. When handsome Principal Nate Thomas finds out about Katrina’s provocative past, will he be inviting her to leave the job?

My thoughts: The title of this short ChristFic romance story has a magical feel, and the lights and laughter on the cover made me decide it was about time to give this one a go.

For me, the read felt a little imbalanced in a way I think may be pretty common in romance: The story shows why she’d be falling for him, but I didn’t see as much showing why he’d be falling for her. It’s a little different if a romantic tale establishes early that the two parties involved already have a solid friendship or they otherwise know each other well, and now they’re taking off from there. If that isn’t really the case, it’s all the more important for me to see characters who don’t only have interesting backstory and inward thoughts but who also outwardly show, in their interactions with their love interest, why they’re a worthwhile, equal match for that person.

The relationship here could have used a better balance of give and take and interesting dialogue on both sides. I also think some deeper development could have kept the declarations of love from feeling like such a leap. The state/progress of this couple’s relationship felt more like the time to enter a conscious, mutual “liking” phase at the end. A good place to start going on dates.

But anyhow, I’m being pretty technical over this read that does deliver what most would expect when picking it up. It’s a quick, positive story where two people with complicated pasts have the blessing of finding each other.

Carver High Series

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D-Dames by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Fantasy Fiction

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. I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

5 Stars

Illustrated book cover shows a serious woman in World War Two service attire, and war planes flying overheadD-Dames by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Description: Four stories of women and elemental magic in World War 2. Meet young women finding both courage and powers as they resist the Axis forces in England (fire), Wales (air), Northern Ireland (earth), and Scotland (water).

My thoughts: I had yet to try any of this author’s work before, but I went to her website and knew I wanted to read this short story collection the minute I saw the title and book cover.

I think it’s pretty safe to say this is the only time I’ve ever read historical fantasy fiction based on the Second World War. I thoroughly enjoyed all four stories and their depictions of imperfect, believable, powerful women. They aren’t almighty heroines who know everything and make nothing but superb decisions all the time (which would’ve been too over-the-top to be interesting). But these women are gritty and incredible when they kick into gear at critical moments, whether the actions they take are dramatic or subtle.

These tales have what I love about good short stories: sharp lines and meaningful details with no dispensable scenes. Vignettes like these reveal what’s important and let it be enough, trusting the reader’s discernment and imagination. Demonstrating how a story doesn’t have to be long to be substantive, with strong characters.

Oh! And after reading the stories straight through, you’ll definitely want to check out the annotations and bonus images. They’re like dessert that’s more than dessert.

D-Dames is currently available at
Laura VanArendonk Baugh’s website.

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Three French Hens by Linore Rose Burkard

Christmas Book

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.

3 Stars

White illustrated book cover shows a small yellow silhouette of a lady, a small red silhouette of a gentleman, and three hens surrounding the green book titleThree French Hens by Linore Rose Burkard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Christine is a half-English, half-French debutante ready to attend her first Assembly ball. But she and her family have fled France in hopes of being safe in England, and in order to make a good match, Christine aims to keep her French heritage secret in Three French Hens by author Linore Rose Burkard.

I stay on the lookout for short stories, and I snatched this one up because of the title. (I didn’t read the blurb beforehand.)

Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable tale. Granted, it’s a little schmaltzy in places, with a bit too much of “he cried” this and “she cried” that. And I’m personally not a fan of having the narrator exclaim (!) at the reader, though I understand it’s sometimes an intentional choice to add an old-fashioned feel. Also, the romance is the kind where the characters feel deeply for each other after a few visits, but I didn’t really feel it with them, and it was easy to see from early on what the major “surprise” at the end would be.

Even so, I especially liked that the read isn’t all sweetness or fluff. There’s tragic backstory, present danger, and a clever application of the Christmastide song the story gets its name from. Anyone else who’d enjoy a quick historical holiday tale may want to check this one out.

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The Greatest Gift: A Christmas Tale by Philip Van Doren Stern

Christmas Book

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.

4 Stars

Red orange book cover has a small green illustration in the center: two Christmas bells attached with a bow and holly on top, set against a little white circle and surrounded by a yellow illustration of a snowflakeThe Greatest Gift: A Christmas Tale by Philip Van Doren Stern

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Husband, father, and small-town bank clerk George Pratt feels that while other men out there are leading exciting lives, his own work is dull and his life is pretty useless. Just when he’s contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve, a mysterious stranger comes and stops George in The Greatest Gift: A Christmas Tale by Philip Van Doren Stern.

It’s been years now since I first heard of this short story upon which the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life is based. I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me before to actually look up and read this original tale. But I do know it can be something of a letdown when you’ve got a beloved story embedded in your soul and then you check out another version of it, and it isn’t the same.

Well. Although I can say that I do prefer the fuller development of the plot and characters in the classic motion picture that’s one of my all-time favorite films, I’m pleased that I didn’t picture George Pratt here as George Bailey, or the mysterious stranger as Clarence Odbody, George Bailey’s guardian angel. For the most part, I enjoyed this short fantasy fiction tale for what it is: a short fantasy fiction tale. Not just a precursor to a movie.

And what George Pratt learns about the life he’s been given is truly an uplifting and timeless message.

Here are my thoughts on It’s a Wonderful Life.

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