Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Mini Reviews

I write a lot of book reviews. (Many of you are saying, "duh," right now.) But did you know that I read more books than I review? Over the past year, I've read a handful of books that, for whatever reason, I didn't review. But I do have thoughts about them (of course I do!), so I thought I'd do a mini review wrap up of the ones I remember reading.

Friday, December 29, 2017

"The Wanderers" by Meg Howrey

I began The Wanderers with high hopes—it was being compared to The Martianwhich I loved. But this is nothing like The Martian ... the characters don't even actually go to Mars! (I did recognize a few sciencey/spacey terms from The Martian, but that was were the similarities ended.)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Top Ten Book Reviews of 2017

It's hard to believe, but the calendar tells me we're at the end of 2017! While I'm nowhere near ready to publish my favorite books list yet (though hopefully it won't take me as long as the 2016 list did), I thought I'd pull together the top ten reviews by page view... because that doesn't require any deliberation on my part 🙂.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2018

Happy Wednesday! This Top Ten Tuesday didn't get posted on Tuesday because of spending time with my family ... and it's been mostly a good time!

Our family Christmas won't be until this coming Saturday, but we did have a mini celebration on Christmas.
Blendy and I decided to wear ugly Christmas sweaters, but I neglected to get a full-on picture 🙁. We ate lots of food, watched Christmas movies, played games, put together a puzzle, and just enjoyed being together. It was a practically perfect day.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hope Santa Brings

When I was growing up, my mom always gave each of us kids a book for Christmas, so this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic, Books I Hope Santa Brings, is perfect! Maybe this post will even inspire Mom to put a book under the tree this year 🙂.

Monday, December 18, 2017

"A Dangerous Legacy" by Elizabeth Camden

Elizabeth Camden is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers of historical inspirational romance. Her latest novel, A Dangerous Legacy, kept me captivated from start to finish.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

"One Enchanted Noël" by Melissa Tagg

Is there anything better than Maple Valley at Christmas? I don't think so 🙂. For the third consecutive Christmas, Melissa Tagg enchants with her Enchanted Christmas collection.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"A Time to Stand" by Robert Whitlow

In a story that feels ripped from the headlines, Robert Whitlow takes readers to a small town divided by racial tensions.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

"All Things Now Living" by Rondi Bauer Olson

A few years ago, YA dystopian novels—like The Hunger Games and Divergent—were all the rage. I (like many others, I imagine) tired of the genre, and it's been ages since I've read YA dystopian. But All Things Now Living caught my eye, and I decided to give it a chance.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

"The Happiness Pact" by Liz Flaherty

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

I love a good "best friends falling in love" story. That premise is what drew me to The Happiness Pact, a book in the Harlequin Heartwarming line.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"Lady Jayne Disappears" by Joanna Davidson Politano

I used to read mysteries all the time. As a child, I devoured every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book I could get my hands on. Though it's a completely different setting, Lady Jayne Disappears has a similar feel to those mysteries I so loved.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

"Runaway Romance" by Miralee Ferrell

As a general rule, I don't like Amish romances ... and that buggy on the cover of Runaway Romance certainly makes it look like an Amish romance! (It's not really, by the way, but it looks like it!) I would've given the book a hard pass had I not recognized Trevor Donovan (of Hallmark's Marry Me at Christmas and the CW's 90210 reboot) on the cover. Then I realized it was being made into a movie, and, well, I've been all about that lately!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Book or Movie? "The Mistletoe Inn"

Why yes, I have read/watched another book & Hallmark movie pair! This one is The Mistletoe Inn, and it's the most enjoyable pair yet! (See my thoughts on Miss Christmas and Marry Me at Christmas.)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

"What to Say Next" by Julie Buxbaum

Last summer, I read Julie Buxbaum's delightful Tell Me Three Things. Then What to Say Next released, and my sister highly recommended it, so I requested it from my library. (Remember how awesome my library is?) It turned out to be every bit as good as I'd hoped!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck" by Bethany Turner

What if the nation's most popular erotic romance writer became a Christian and then fell in love with her pastor? This is the unlikely premise of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

"The Mistletoe Inn" by Richard Paul Evans

As part of my fun endeavor to read most of the books that have been made into this season's Hallmark Christmas movies, I picked up the audiobook version of The Mistletoe Inn.

The movie premiered on Hallmark tonight (I'm writing this from a hotel room on Thanksgiving, though I probably won't get it posted until after I get home Monday), so I thought it was perfect timing, as I listened to the whole audiobook during my 7-hour drive to Denver yesterday ... but then my hotel, which is fantastic in every other way, doesn't get the Hallmark Channel. Seriously???

Monday, November 27, 2017

"Charming the Troublemaker" by Pepper Basham

Earlier this year, I read Pepper Basham's much-acclaimed A Twist of Faith. While I enjoyed it, I didn't love it like so many others did. Still, I liked it enough to want to come back for the sequel, Charming the Troublemaker ... a book that I ended up loving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

"ESV Illuminated Bible" + Giveaway

How blessed are we to live in a time and place where we can easily own multiple copies of God's word? I probably own 10 or so copies myself between the various versions and study Bibles I've collected.

So why did I need another one?

I'll be honest ... I didn't. But I was immediately drawn to the beauty of the ESV Illuminated Bible, and I wanted to see it up close.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

"Christy" by Catherine Marshall

In the mid-90's, I was a big fan of the TV show Christy that aired on CBS, and I hated that it was cancelled before we knew who Christy would marry. (Apparently a series of TV movies wrapped up that mystery, but they aired on Pax TV, a station we didn't get, so I never saw them.)

My mom had a copy of Christy, so after the show's cancellation, I found the book and flipped to the end to see what happened ... only to close it in disgust, as Christy ended up with the "wrong" (to my 15-year-old mind) man. And that was the end of my journey with Christy ... until now.

Twenty years later, things look a little different, and I've relished this opportunity to read the Catherine Marshall classic!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"Alpha/Omega" by Kutless + Giveaway

For a time, I was a member of my church's worship choir. It was an amazing experience until I had to step away due to some health issues (which are thankfully under control now). Our director taught us some wonderful worship songs that I'd never heard before but that resonated with me on a deep level: songs like "Cornerstone" and "Great Are You Lord." So when I started listening to Kutless' new album and realized both those songs were on it, I knew that I'd found an album I'd love.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Book or Movie? "Miss Christmas"

Last week, a Christmas book popped up in one of the free book newsletters I subscribe to. Nothing unusual about that—free Christmas books are a dime a dozen this time of year. But this one caught my eye because of the elongated title: Miss Christmas: A Heartwarming Romance and 2017 Hallmark Film. (It's still free as of this writing, by the way.) It's a stupid title but brilliant marketing—Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas is wildly popular, so proclaiming a book's connection to Hallmark in the title is sure to catch a few eyes. It did for me, anyway!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"The Distance Between Us" by Kasie West

Of the now 3-1/4 Kasie West books I've read, The Distance Between Us falls somewhere in the middle. I liked it a lot, but I didn't love it ... probably because I read it right on the heels of On the Fence, which is shaping up to be one of my favorite reads of the whole year 🙂.

(One day, I might be able to drop that 1/4 book ... I'm just not sure if I'll ever go back and finish Lucky in Love. Why spend time on a book I can't get into? Lucky in Love seems to be an anomaly, though, so if you've tried it and not loved it, you should still give West's other books a chance.)

Monday, November 6, 2017

"Blue Ridge Sunrise" by Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter is one of my must-read authors. Her books routinely make my yearly "best books" lists, and I often stay up far too long while reading her books.

That's why I was so disappointed when her last book, Sweetbriar Cottage, didn't land for me. Of course, I still had hope for the books to come, saying,
I have great hope that Hunter's next book, Blue Ridge Sunrise (also set in Copper Creek, Georgia), will be a return to the achingly romantic, captivating stories that are Hunter's hallmark.
Thankfully, my hope wasn't misplaced, as Blue Ridge Sunrise is wonderful!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Book or Movie? "Marry Me at Christmas"

I've often heard this saying, and I'm sure you have, too: "The book is better than the movie." While I've found that to often be the case, I can think of a handful of movies that I enjoyed more than the books that came before them. The Time Traveler's Wife is always the first example I think of, but I could come up with several others.

Now that Hallmark Channel has started showing Christmas movies, it's giving me ample opportunity to compare movies to the books they're based on.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What's Val Reading? (October 2017)

Welcome back for the next installment of "What's Val Reading?" Please take note of how timely we are with this post—it's November 1, and I'm posting it today, which is quite the improvement over last month 😃.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Library Love

Growing up, visiting my local public library was one of my favorite things to do. I was a voracious reader from the moment I learned to read, and the library opened up so many worlds to me.

We moved into town when I was in the 6th grade, and suddenly I could go to the library basically whenever I wanted. I walked, rode my bike, and eventually drove to the library constantly. I checked out every Baby-Sitters Club book ever and discovered Janette Oke and Gilbert Morris on the shelves of the adult section. (At the time, Christian books lived with all the other fiction books, but they were marked by a round sticker on the spine.)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

"On the Fence" by Kasie West

Moms of teenage girls, listen up: If you're looking for YA romance novels that are safe for everyone, check out Kasie West's books. I've now read 2-1/4 of her books (that 1/4 is her latest, Lucky in Love, which I just couldn't get into), and I can't remember a single swear word, instance of teen drinking, or sexual content that goes beyond fairly undescriptive kisses. Plus, the books are, for the most part, so much fun to read!

I read On the Fence in about three hours because I simply couldn't put it down! It's easily my favorite of West's books ... so far, anyway!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

"Colors of Christmas" by Olivia Newport

If the Hallmark Channel can show Christmas movies in October, then I can read Christmas stories in October, right?

Olivia Newport's Colors of Christmas novella collection features two sweet Christmas stories—and they're low on romance, so if that's not your thing, you can still enjoy them!

Friday, October 27, 2017

"Champion" Movie Giveaway

Now that it's getting colder, one of my favorite things to do in the evening is curl up on the couch with a blanket and a movie. So I'm really excited that I have a great film to give away to one of my readers—it's perfect for one of those cold nights on the couch, and it's great for the whole family!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey" by Carolyn Miller

Carolyn Miller is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers of regency romance. Her Legacy of Grace series has been a treat to read from start to finish, and I think this final installment, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, is the best yet!

Monday, October 23, 2017

"Turtles All the Way Down" by John Green

Full disclosure: The Fault in Our Stars is one of my DNF (did not finish) books. So I probably wasn't the best candidate to read John Green's new novel, Turtles All the Way Down. But I saw it on the new release shelf at my local library and snagged it. I mean, how could I not? With so many book lovers so excited for its release, I thought I should give Mr. Green another chance.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review Wrap-Up #4: October 15, 2017

Welcome to Review Wrap-Up #4! I'm prepping this post as I watch Game 5 of the National League Division Series. The Nationals are currently beating the Cubs 4-1. By the time you see this post, there's a good chance the Cubs won't be playing anymore this season, and that makes me sad. I started following the Cubs more than casually almost exactly a year ago (Game 4 of the NLDS vs the Giants). It still astounds me when I think about the fact that I knew none of these guys' names a year ago. That I knew nothing about baseball. That I found baseball to be the most boring thing ever. What a ride this year has been! Even if the Cubs don't win tonight, I had great fun following the season.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

"An Inconvenient Beauty" by Kristi Ann Hunter

Earlier this year, I read Kristi Ann Hunter's An Uncommon Courtship. I really enjoyed it, and one of my favorite supporting characters was Griffith, brother of the main male character. So of course when Griffith's story released, I had to get my hands on it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Ninja Girl" by Cookie O'Gorman

After reading Cookie O'Gorman's Adorkable last month, I couldn't wait to read her next novel, Ninja Girl.

Except I had to.

Adorkable and Ninja Girl are both part of Kindle Unlimited, and Kindle owners can choose one KU book per month to read for free. Adorkable was my September pick, so I had to wait until October 1st to check out Ninja Girl.

Trust me, I checked it out as soon as I could 🙂

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Christmas at Gate 18" by Amy Matayo

I love Christmas. I love Amy Matayo books. Combine Christmas and an Amy Matayo book, and you've got a read I can't resist!

Monday, October 9, 2017

"All This Time" by Melissa Tagg

All This Time took me, well, all this time to read for one simple reason: I didn't want the Walker Family series to come to an end!

(Yes, that is a bad joke, but I don't apologize for it!)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

"Blind Spot" by Dani Pettrey

If you're looking for inspirational romantic suspense that's both believably romantic and believably suspenseful, you can't go wrong with a Dani Pettrey novel! (Believe me, it's hard to find romantic suspense novels that hit both of those aspects well, but Pettrey has the formula down.)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

What's Val Reading? (September 2017)

You may not know this, but I'm not the only avid reader in my family. In fact, I think everyone in my immediate family (parents, siblings) loves to read, though two of us read much more than the rest. My sister Val reads nearly as much as I do, but we rarely read the same books. Since our reading tastes are so different, we thought it would be fun for Val to do a monthly wrap-up of her reads here on Christian Chick's Thoughts. So here's Val, and from here on out I'll try to be more timely in posting her monthly recap!

Friday, October 6, 2017

"The Answer" by Jeremy Camp + Giveaway

It's been a while since I've had a music review + giveaway for you, so I'm really excited about this one! It's Jeremy Camp's new album, which released today!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"Justice Buried" by Patricia Bradley

Apparently, reading about cold case detectives is becoming my thing ... last week, I read Bringing Maggie Home, where one of the main characters is a cold case detective, and I just finished reading Justice Buried, which is part of a series about cold case detectives!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

"Bringing Maggie Home" by Kim Vogel Sawyer

In Bringing Maggie Home, Kim Vogel Sawyer has written a novel that pulls you in with the mother-daughter-granddaughter dynamic and keeps you engaged with a decades-old mystery.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Tackle Your TBR Read-A-Thon Wrap Up

I knew I was being ambitious when I chose the books I wanted to read during the Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon challenge ...

I've finished exactly two books. But I'm also halfway through another, I just started another, AND I discovered that one is going to be one of my rare DNF (did not finish) books. So I guess that's a win, right?

One thing this read-a-thon helped me do was focus my reading. I've been kind of all over the map with my reading lately, picking up whatever strikes my fancy. While that's fun, it also puts me in a bind when I have a review due date coming up, and I've been reading everything except that book! During the read-a-thon, I only read books from the list, so that helped me finish things in a timely manner. I'm disappointed that I didn't get farther through my list, but I'm happy that I read what I did!

So, here's my progress (clicking on the book title will take you to the Amazon page, which is an affiliate link, and clicking on the rating will take you to my review):

Books I Finished

All of You by Sarah Monzon. In this dual timeline story, I strongly connected with the contemporary story and basically sped-read through the WWII story. Overall, I did enjoy the book, and I'll be looking for more from Monzon. (3-1/2 stars)

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton. Oh my goodness! This book just gets better the more I think about it. It's set just prior to the Revolutionary War, which is not generally a time period I enjoy reading about, but wow. Soooooo good! I realize all I've done here is gush, so if you'd like to actually know what the book is about, go check out my review 😉 (4-1/2 stars)

Books I'm Still Reading

All This Time by Melissa Tagg. According to my Kindle, I'm 53% of the way through this book. I'm hesitating to read more because, well, I just don't want the Walker series to end!

Justice Buried by Patricia Bradley. I've only read 21 pages so far, but I really enjoyed Justice Delayed (the first book in this series), so I'm looking forward to reading more.

Book I Will Not Finish

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I've heard great things about Rowell's writing for a long time, but I'm thinking Fangirl wasn't the right book to start with. While I do appreciate the setting (the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska), I'm not enjoying the characters, the blatant rip-off of the Harry Potter series (and normally I'm all for adaptations of other works), or the content of the fan fiction written by the main character. While I still want to try Rowell's Attachments and Eleanor & Park, I've decided that Fangirl just isn't for me.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, September 23, 2017

"Many Sparrows" by Lori Benton

Revolutionary War-era historical fiction isn't usually what I'd choose (I tend to stay firmly in contemporary land with occasional forays into the World War II era), but I'd heard so many wonderful things about Lori Benton's writing from bloggers and authors I respect that I decided to try out Many Sparrows.

I wasn't disappointed.