The Matchmakers by Janette Oke

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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

The MatchmakersThe Matchmakers by Janette Oke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Since the early passing of her husband, Cynthia has been grateful for her father’s help with her two young sons. Now Cynthia wants a bit more space to get on with her life, but she’s worried about her father being all alone. Her best friend Judith is rather sure that setting Cynthia’s father up with a nice, older widow would be just the ticket in The Matchmakers by author Janette Oke.

This author has been one of my all-time favorites for years, with her simple and touching stories, so I always knew I’d get around to reading this tale from the 90s eventually. What a light, cozy little story it is–and I mean that literally, with its fun and heartwarming plot and the lovely illustrations in the hardback I picked up. Not to sound corny, but this is a bona fide “curl up on the couch with a warm cup of coffee” kind of read.

Or a warm cup of cocoa. I personally don’t drink coffee.

I got a little annoyed at some of the unnamed characters, and even at Judith at one point, for the attitude they’d take about Cynthia’s situation. “I have a family,” Judith reminds Cynthia once, as if Cynthia doesn’t know that–and as if Cynthia doesn’t have a family herself. (No, she doesn’t have a husband anymore. But she does have a family.) And I’m not sure how well a “leave it all in God’s hands and don’t manipulate” frame of mind works in a matchmaking story. If you’re purposely finding ways to leave two people alone in each other’s company, you’re still manipulating the situation.

But, anyhow. I enjoyed this easy and delightful read–predictable, but then, not quite as predictable as I thought it would be.

Pemberton Manor: The Moon Mother by Becky Doughty

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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Pemberton Manor: The Moon Mother: A Serial Novel by Becky Doughty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Lucy Farnsworth is in rather dire straits, but she’s determined to protect and provide for herself, her young daughter, and her unborn baby. However, when a fellow resident of Pemberton Manor reports a disturbing incident at Lucy’s apartment, it could put her desperate situation on blast in Pemberton Manor: The Moon Mother by author Becky Doughty.

And here I am, a reader who doesn’t “do” serial novels until she has all the episodes, going along on this Pemberton Manor journey strictly because she trusts this author. The prequel, The Goodbye Girl, certainly whet my appetite for this first episode, and I wasn’t disappointed.

There’s something endearing about this manor, this apartment building full of misfits, even though I haven’t met all the misfits yet. Even in Lucy’s weakness, her courage is evident. And, seriously, the way she conducts herself in the midst of the mess she’s in had me calling her Wonder Woman—as I’m sure motherhood has a way of revealing the Wonder in many a Woman.

I’ve found such a richness and realness in much of this author’s writing, and this installment of Pemberton Manor is no exception. It’s with all virtue of patience (and anticipation!) that I’m looking forward to the next episode.

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Here’s my review of the Pemberton Manor prequel, The Goodbye Girl.

Once Upon a Sunday by Renée Allen McCoy

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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

once-upon-a-sundayOnce Upon a Sunday by Renee Allen McCoy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Good Friday is turning out to be anything but good for Melinda. The shameful way she loses her job may be nothing compared to how her marriage has recently crumbled. What’s coming around the corner for her this Easter could be the making or breaking of her in Once Upon a Sunday by author Renée Allen McCoy.

I appreciate how much the author packed into a story of this length without overstuffing it or making it feel like disjointed chaos. There’s enough backstory and tidbits about Melinda to help you understand and empathize with her. It’s a very “come to Jesus” type of read for those who like an evangelistic message in their Christian Fiction.

I did find the story’s confusion of tenses to be distracting. As Melinda relates her account to the reader in first person, she switches back and forth between past and present tense quite a bit, and most of the switches don’t seem intentional. Also, as the story wraps up, it starts to wrap up a little too perfectly. I think some of the outcomes would’ve needed more time and development, so as not to feel Happily-Ever-After-like so suddenly.

Still, it’s an uplifting story that deals with hard issues, and I think many other ChristFic fans will enjoy it.

Pemberton Manor: The Goodbye Girl by Becky Doughty

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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. I received a complimentary copy of this book, for which I’ve given an honest review, from the author.
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Five Gold Stars

51ofxpylyglThe Goodbye Girl: A Serial Novel – The Prequel by Becky Doughty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Grace Winters is by no means petite. And perhaps when her fairly big foot accidentally steps on the toes of an apparently pompous August Jones in an antique elevator, he deserves it. But it just may be Grace’s luck (or something else?) when she, August, and a couple of Pemberton Manor residents get stuck in this elevator on Christmas Eve in Pemberton Manor: The Goodbye Girl by author Becky Doughty.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that, as a rule, I don’t do serialized novels. That is, I don’t do them until all the serials are published and I can just read the complete book. Reading a good story in pieces makes me feel teased and impatient.

But I’ll also be the first to admit, as I have before, that I’m up for reading any fiction with this author’s name on it, and The Goodbye Girl prequel was here and waiting. So I broke my own rule to read it and may have to return to the rule later, as I enjoyed this prequel so much that I’m already ready for the next Pemberton Manor installment.

I found this novella funny and distinctly touching, with such an understanding of human nature. And I love this Grace heroine, how compassionate, flawed, and grown she is. Yes, at a pivotal point in the story, I said to myself, “See, that’s what a heroine does when she’s not a self-centered little girl at heart. When she’s grown.” And the story closes–it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger or anything, but it certainly whet my appetite to meet more of the Manor’s misfits.

The fact that it’s also a wonderful Christmas story is a bonus. So although I could see myself reading it at any time of the year, I’m glad I read it this week.

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After this prequel, you’ll want to read Episode One of Pemberton Manor, The Moon Mother.