#BookReview: The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle

Solid, Maybe Not ‘Real’ For Everyone. This is one of those Hallmarkie type books – from an author who apparently has had a few of her books become Hallmark movies – that goes a bit deep into the whole pro-military, pro-say-your-prayers portrayal of a “small town” that many will love and many others will find doesn’t exactly reflect their own experiences with small towns. But working within that Hallmarkie / conservative Christian / Christian Fiction type niche, this is one that will likely be beloved. And don’t get me wrong, as an overall story it is genuinely solid for *anyone*. It does a great job as it explores some deep issues – including loss of a spouse, second chance romance, unrequited love, and other issues – that many experience well outside of the *exact* target demo for this effort, and thus it opens itself to a much wider audience… as long as you can stomach the not-*quite*-constant rah rah Go Military! type. There is nothing objectively here to hang any star reduction on, as, again, it is a solid story well told. Thus, it is very much recommended.

This review of The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle was originally written on April 21, 2021.

#BookReview: Country Crush by Christina Benjamin

Commingled Couples. Ah. The brother who fled town and never really looked back. The middle child in this band of brothers… and myself (the oldest) in my own. As with Book 2 (Saltwater Sweethearts), there was a fair amount here that hit a little close to home, and the mother yet again proves wise indeed. But arguably the strongest point about this book is just how effectively it weaves in and out of familiar scenes from one or the other (and often both) of the prior books in the series – yet never feels shoehorned in or contradictory to those scenes. Indeed, the mind effect is more akin to a How I Met Your Mother style “ok, now let me tell you what *this* character was doing at that moment” or even, perhaps, an Avengers: Endgame “time heist” sequence where the current characters revisit scenes in “prior” books (though in this case, set in the real world, in real time rather than in the characters’ past) yet blended perfectly in with the existing scenes. Thus showing Benjamin’s skill as a storyteller (and, perhaps, her editor’s skill in keeping things intact 😉 ). Very much recommended.

This review of Country Crush by Christina Benjamin was originally written on February 15, 2021.