Monday, July 17, 2017

2017 Reading Challenges: Mid-Year Update

Full disclosure: I pretty much forgot about my reading challenges. Life got crazy—very crazy—in May and early June, and I was just struggling to keep my head above water. Things have slowed down for now, though, so I'm playing catch up. And this is one of those things I'm catching up on—more for me than you, though you're welcome to keep reading to see how I'm doing!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Review Wrap-Up #1: July 16, 2017

I've decided to try something new. (You know how that goes around here—I'll start off super excited about a meme—like Top Ten Tuesday—and then I'll just fade out. I'm hoping this endeavor goes a bit better!) I already participate in It's Monday! What Are You Reading? ... sometimes. But often when I post about books I've read, I haven't yet written the review yet. So here's where you can see what I thought of recent review books, all gathered together in one handy place.

"Bellweather Rhapsody" by Kate Racculia

Over the past year, I've purchased several Kindle books recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy ... and as far as I can tell, Bellweather Rhapsody is the only one I've read so far. Perhaps there's a lesson there! (As for what the lesson is, I'm not sure. Request fewer review books so I have time to read the books I buy? Don't be so quick to buy a book? Only buy books when I have time to read them? Or all of the above?)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

"Wings of the Wind" by Connilyn Cossette

Biblical fiction tends to be hit or miss for me. Pulling off fictionalized versions of historical events and people is always tricky, I'm sure, and when you throw in the setting of the Old Testament—an era I'm not particularly interested in (can I say that???)—well, it's a challenge to find a book with those parameters that I'll enjoy. I did really like Lynn Austin's Restoration Chronicles, but they weren't what I'd call quick, easy reads, so you have to be in the right mood for them.

When I saw Connilyn Cossette's Wings of the Wind up for review, I did some research and saw that many book bloggers I follow—ones whose tastes are similar to my own—had really enjoyed her Out from Egypt series, so I decided to give the book a chance. I'm so glad I did.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"The Start of Me and You" by Emery Lord

Oh, my goodness. This book is just the cutest!!! In a YA scene that's growing increasingly sexual and profane, The Start of Me and You is like a breath of fresh air.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

"Finding Love" by Toni Shiloh

Earlier this year, during my whirlwind tour of Kindle Unlimited, I read Toni Shiloh's Buying Love. I enjoyed the book, and I was happy to learn that Shiloh was planning to continue the Maple Run series. So when Finding Love released, I knew I wanted to read it.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

"If I'm Found" by Terri Blackstock

The sequel to Terri Blackstock's (INSPY Award-winning) If I Run is just as compelling as its predecessor—it's a thrill-ride from start to finish!

Monday, July 3, 2017

"A Matter of Trust" by Susan May Warren

Each time a Susan May Warren novel lands in my mailbox, I feel a bit giddy, as I know I'm in for a great read. A Matter of Trust, the latest book in Warren's Montana Rescue series, is just that ... a great read!

Friday, June 30, 2017

"Sweetbriar Cottage" by Denise Hunter

Every time Denise Hunter releases a new book, I'm itching to get my hands on it! I was especially excited to read Sweetbriar Cottage, as it features a (very) minor character from Just a Kiss, the final novel in her Summer Harbor series. (Also—Just a Kiss just won the 2017 INSPY Award for contemporary romance/romantic suspense! Check out all the winners here.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

"The Girl Who Could See" by Kara Swanson

I'll be completely honest—I was drawn to The Girl Who Could See because of the cover. The book description could've probably said anything, and I still would've requested this book. But the fact that it's science fiction made me want to read it even more!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I've Read So Far This Year

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic, The Best Books I've Read So Far in 2017, was too good to pass up. Why? Because it always takes me f.o.r.e.v.e.r to compile and publish my yearly "best of" list ... so if I pick the best ones I've read in the first six months of the year now, I'll have less work to do in December (or January. or February. or March.)! I'm listing them in the order I read them, from most to least recent. Just picking them out is enough work for now—don't ask me to rank them, too!

Monday, June 26, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (6-26-17)

I'm back!!!! It's been nearly a month since I participated, and I've missed it. My schedule is finally slowing down and allowing time for reading for pleasure again! After I submitted the yearbook two weeks ago, I had to dive right into INSPY reading. The winners will be announced shortly, and I'll be sure to share the announcement here :-)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

"The Captain's Daughter" by Jennifer Delamere

While many historical romances feature women starting over again in a new place, what sets The Captain's Daughter apart is its setting—the London theater scene.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

"Jane of Austin" by Hillary Manton Lodge

Simply delightful: Those are the words that spring to mind when I think of Hillary Manton Lodge's modern day twist on Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"The Whys Have It" by Amy Matayo

When I hear that Amy Matayo has a new book coming out, I have just one reaction: How soon can I read it? 

Monday, June 19, 2017

"Heavy Weather" by Normandie Fischer

When I first heard about Heavy Weather, I was intrigued. The synopsis made it sound interesting, and I was looking for a new "listen while I mow" book, so I thought, why not? Turns out, that was a very good decision, as I spent hours enjoying this novel.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

"The Noble Servant" by Melanie Dickerson

I love Melanie Dickerson's medieval novels! They all take one (or maybe two) fairy tales and give them a twist. Dickerson's Hagenheim/Fairy Tale Romance series, which I'm still working my way through when I have a spare reading moment, is absolutely fantastic. The Noble Servant is the third book in Dickerson's other medieval series (admittedly, it gets a little confusing keeping all the books straight!), the Thornbeck/Medieval Fairy Tale series. I loved the second book, The Beautiful Pretender, so I was quite eager to get my hands on this book.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"Looking Glass Lies" by Varina Denman

Last year, I read Varina Denman's Mended Hearts series. I really enjoyed the three books, which revolved around a church in a small Texas town. Looking Glass Lies is also set in a small Texas town, but where the Mended Hearts series mainly dealt with hurts inflicted and/or perpetuated by the church, Looking Glass Lies deals with self-image.

Monday, May 29, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (5-29-17)

Hosted by The Book Date
Happy Memorial Day! If you haven't yet watched PBS's annual Memorial Day concert, you should. It's such a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made in order to allow us to live in freedom. My mom and I watch it together every year, and every year we cry our eyes out. It's always so inspiring! The concert is streaming here on the PBS website.

As I predicted a few weeks ago, I haven't been doing much reading (or blogging) lately. In fact, the only reason I'm posting this today is that I promised myself I wouldn't touch the yearbook today, as it's a paid holiday. My goal has always been to finish the yearbook by the end of May, but it's looking like it probably won't happen. Unfortunately. Because I am sooooooo ready to send it off to the publisher.

"What Hope Remembers" by Johnnie Alexander

The Sullivan/Somers Misty Willow saga continues in What Hope Remembers, this time telling Amy Somers' story.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

"The French Chef in America" by Alex Prud'homme

As someone who has spent countless hours watching Baking with Julia and Julia & Jacques: Cooking at Home, I jumped at the chance to review The French Chef in America: Julia Child's Second Act.

Friday, May 19, 2017

"Searching for Sarah" by Julieann Dove

A single girl in her 30's searching for her Mr. Right? When I heard about Searching for Sarah, I thought it was certainly a book I could identify with!

Monday, May 15, 2017

"Champion" Movie Review

I recently had the opportunity to preview Champion, which arrives in theaters this weekend. It's definitely worth watching!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

"To the Farthest Shores" by Elizabeth Camden

If you've followed my blog very long, you know that I read far more contemporary than historical novels, and many of the historical novels I do read are set during World War II. But there are a couple authors who write historical fiction not set during the Second World War whose books I always want to get my hands on, and one of them is Elizabeth Camden.

Monday, May 8, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (5-8-17)

Hosted by The Book Date

Happy Monday, and Happy Birthday to my dad!
He is SUCH a good sport when it comes to Snapchat filters!
The school year is winding down (tomorrow is my LAST day with my yearbook class), and the weather is warming up (we topped out at 91° today), and I'm definitely ready for summer!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

"Forensic Faith" by J. Warner Wallace

Last year, I read J. Warner Wallace's Cold-Case Christianity for Kids. Even though it's written for kids, I loved it, and I learned a lot, too. So when I heard Wallace had a new book coming out, Forensic Faith, I knew I wanted to read it.

Friday, May 5, 2017

"Searching for Sarah" Grand Finale + Giveaway

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Book Tour Grand Finale for
Searching for Sarah
Julieann Dove

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops, go back and check them out...

Launch - Message from the Author

Welcome lovely Readers! I’m tickled to be able to introduce everyone to the “Searching For Sarah” tour. I’ve been writing Sarah’s journey for some time, and it is with great pleasure that I can now curl back a page and present her story to you.

Monday, May 1, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (5-1-17)

Hosted by The Book Date
Happy May Day! Not only is this the first day of May, but it's also the first day of my first Whole30. I could be wrong, but I figure that after doing AIP, this should be a breeze. (You can see all of my AIP-related posts here.) Why Whole30? Well, after months of feeling pretty good (perhaps as good as one with Hashimoto's can feel), I've been feeling not great. Not terrible, but not great. I thought about going full-blown AIP again, but that just makes me want to cry. So I'm trying Whole30—which is pretty similar to AIP but allows eggs, nuts, seeds, and nightshades (potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, etc.). The only thing I'm nervous about is Whole30 doesn't allow any sweeteners, whereas AIP allows honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar in small amounts. And the "treats" are really what got me through AIP. I'll keep you posted as to how it goes!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

"Searching for Sarah" Blog Tour, Excerpt, & Giveaway

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Welcome to my stop on the Searching for Sarah blog tour! Not only is there a giveaway that you'll want to enter, but I'm also giving you a glimpse of the book through an excerpt!

Friday, April 28, 2017

"The Chilbury Ladies' Choir" by Jennifer Ryan

I love World War II-set novels, but most of the novels I've read are either about members of the US military or are set in Nazi-occupied territory. What really drew me to The Chilbury Ladies' Choir was its setting—a small English village where most of the men have gone to war.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

"The Sound of Emeralds" Birthday Blog Tour + Giveaway

Welcome to The Sound of Emeralds birthday blog tour! I’m posting today about Rachelle Rea Cobb’s third installment in the Steadfast Love series, an inspirational historical romance set during the 16th century!

Rachelle is also the author of The Sound of Diamonds and The Sound of Silver, the first two books in the series. She has also written Write Well, a guide for writers. I’m joining in this blog tour to tell you a little more about Emeralds and spread the news about the rocking giveaway Rachelle is hosting—make sure you enter using the Rafflecopter form to win signed copies of all three books!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Homestands" by Sally Bradley

Homestands is the last book I read in my whirlwind tour of Kindle Unlimited. I decided not to continue my subscription after the free trial because I already own hundreds of Kindle books that I haven't read ... but I certainly enjoyed KU while I had it.

(The other KU titles I read and reviewed are Beauty and Buying Love.)

Monday, April 24, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (4-24-17)

Hosted by The Book Date

Happy Monday! I've been absent for several weeks (blame the busyness of the end of the school year), but I'm back now—because I'm prepping this on Saturday while watching Everest. My thoughts so far: why on earth would you put yourself through that? I certainly don't have an adventurer's spirit!

"Kissed by a Cowboy" by Lacy Williams

I've had the Kindle version of Kissed by a Cowboy for a few years now, but I never got around to reading it. Then last month, author Lacy Williams had a massive audiobook giveaway, and I got a copy of Kissed by a Cowboy. I love listening to audiobooks when I'm mowing (it makes that chore just a small bit better), and I listened to the whole thing in just two days.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"Life After" by Katie Ganshert

The last time I read a Katie Ganshert novel (not counting her YA dystopian series written as K.E. Ganshert), I closed the book with tears streaming down my face. While I wanted to read Life After, I wasn't sure I was emotionally ready for it. Turns out, while Life After is deep and emotional, it didn't wreck me in the way that A Broken Kind of Beautiful did. Yet it also left me with much to consider about God and His goodness.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"Just the Way You Are" by Pepper Basham

Over the past year, I've heard a lot about Pepper Basham—her books are pretty popular with several of the bloggers I follow. Just the Way You Are gave me my first opportunity to sample her writing, and let's just say that now I get what all the fuss is about!

Friday, April 7, 2017

"The Versions of Us" by Laura Barnett

The moment I heard of Laura Barnett's The Versions of Us, I knew I wanted to read it. Multiple versions of the same people, showing how their lives would be different if they'd made different choices? I'm always down for that!

Monday, April 3, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (4-3-17)

Hosted by The Book Date
Happy Monday! This last week has been a great reading week for me ... which is funny, as I was busier than usual and also watched the entire run of Emma Approved. (I didn't enjoy is as much as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but it was still pretty good.) I think the difference is that I felt like reading. That doesn't always happen :-) Once again, I focused on books I really wanted to read, not books that I've agreed to review. (The two aren't mutually exclusive, but there's a freeing feeling in choosing books based on what strikes my fancy instead of being a slave to deadlines.) I've also been bouncing around between books ... something I rarely do. I don't know what's gotten into me lately!

Friday, March 31, 2017

"Buying Love" by Toni Shiloh

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to review Toni Shiloh's Buying Love. I passed on it, as I've started getting very selective about the books I accept for review (for my own sanity). But with my recent unintentional Kindle Unlimited subscription, I've been borrowing books that piqued my interest, and this is one of them. It turned out to be a really engaging book that I read in a couple hours.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

"Beauty" by Robin McKinley

With the release of Disney's new live-action Beauty and the Beast (which I loved), other retellings of the fairy tale are all the rage. I wasn't aware of Robin McKinley's Beauty until it showed up in Modern Mrs. Darcy's Kindle deals list the other day, but as soon as I saw it, I knew I needed to read it!

(Also. If you're not already subscribed to MMD's deals, do it! She's responsible for 90% of my ebook purchases.)

Monday, March 27, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (3-27-17)

Hosted by The Book Date

Happy Monday! I'm working on this much earlier in the day that usual—I normally throw this together at the last minute on Monday evening. But I'm taking a half vacation day today because I'm going to meet with a guy from the city about my trees. (Turns out, all of my trees but one or two actually belong to the city, so they decide whether a tree can be removed.) So while I'm waiting, I'm blogging :-)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

"When Tides Turn" by Sarah Sundin

Lately, I've been in a bit of a reading slump. It's not that I haven't read enjoyable books, but I've only had three 5-star reads so far this year, and I finished the last one (For Love & Honor) at the end of February. I was absolutely ready for another "I love this book so much and I can't put it down and I wish it wouldn't end" kind of read ... and, happily, that's exactly what I found with When Tides Turn.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

"The Healer's Apprentice" by Melanie Dickerson

The Healer's Apprentice
 begins Melanie Dickerson's excellent Fairy Tale Romance series. These books can be read in any order; I didn't start until The Princess Spy, book five in the series, so now I've decided to go back and read the ones I missed!

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (3-20-17)

Hosted by The Book Date

Happy Monday!!! Or maybe I should say, HAPPY MARCH MADNESS!

It's true—I go a little crazy during March Madness. I pay zero attention to college basketball until the tournament begins, and then it's all basketball, all the time. Every single year, I pick Kansas to win it all. Most years, I'm horribly disappointed. But things are looking good so far! (My bracket is still in remarkably good shape. I did have Duke in the Final Four, but my other three teams are still in it!)

"The Elusive Miss Ellison" by Carolyn Miller

When I first heard of The Elusive Miss Ellison, it was being promoted for fans of Georgette Heyer, Lori Wick, and Julie Klassen. While I had to look up Heyer, Wick was my favorite inspirational romance author for many years, and Klassen is currently one of my favorite writers.

That was enough to get me to check out the book.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"Open Hands" by Laura Story + Giveaway

Let me tell you a little story ... last Monday, I got home from work and found Laura Story's new album Open Hands in my mailbox. I went inside and proceeded to spend an incredibly frustrating hour on the phone with the company that manufactured my now-broken television and the company I purchased an extended warranty from. Both phone calls ended unsatisfactorily (you can see my Facebook rant here if you're interested), and once I hung up the phone, I knew I needed to do something to lower my blood pressure. So I popped in the CD. Immediately, I felt myself beginning to calm down. And then I was captivated by the music I heard.

Monday, March 13, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (3-13-17)

Happy Monday! I'm back from a long (but good) day of judging district speech. Tomorrow, I go out again. Went 50 miles east today; i'll go 90 miles west tomorrow. It makes for long days, but I enjoy it ... and the pay's not bad, either :-)

I ended up reading quite a bit last week ... and I also finally caught up on This Is Us (no spoilers here, but oh, the tears!) and watched the first couple episodes of Time after Time. It's a time travel show ... so of course I'll like it :-) It is a little violent for me—I end up covering my eyes often—but I suppose you'd expect that in a show about Jack the Ripper.