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.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

"All of You" by Sarah Monzon

Besides the cover (which I love), what drew me to All of You is the dual timeline—it's set both in the present and during World War II. While I vastly prefer contemporary novels, my favorite historicals are set during the World War II era, so I figured that All of You would be a win-win for me.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Review Wrap-Up #3: September 15, 2017

Welcome to Review Wrap-Up #3! Over the past month, I reviewed nine books, and I enjoyed most of them! I also read a disproportionate amount of YA fiction—sometimes I do that; I get "stuck" in a genre and read whatever I can get my hands on.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

"Adorkable" by Cookie O'Gorman

In my apparent recent quest to read all the YA things, I stumbled across Cookie O'Gorman's Adorkable. I got this one with another awesome Amazon benefit—the Kindle Owner's Lending Library. This allows you to check out one book per month off of a select list (which I think is just about anything available in Kindle Unlimited, but I could be wrong there). There's a much larger selection here than in Prime Reading, but you're limited to one a month. (This is a total bummer right now, as I would be reading O'Gorman's next book, Ninja Girl, at this moment if I could.)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Another Reading Challenge: Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon

Over the last few weeks, I've been choosing my books on a whim, reading literally whatever I felt like reading. Meanwhile, my TBR pile has continued increasing! So the Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon challenge is coming at the perfect time. Hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, this read-a-thon is for all readers—you don't need a blog to participate!

Friday, September 8, 2017

"Dating on the Dork Side" by Charity Tahmaseb & Darcy Vance

Did you know that if you're an Amazon Prime member, you have access to Prime Reading? I haven't used it much, though I do always have the allotted 10 titles checked out ... I just generally return something I haven't yet read when I want to check out another title. (You can learn more about Prime Reading here.)

Anyway, after I finished reading Tell Me Three Things, I knew I wanted to follow it up with another YA novel, so I went looking through my Kindle library, and I came across Dating on the Dork Side, which I borrowed through Prime Reading on a whim several weeks ago.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

"A Twist of Faith" by Pepper Basham

If you—like me—enjoy modern adaptations of classics, then you'll want to check out A Twist of Faith, a modern-day retelling of Pygmalion.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Were a Chore to Read

As a book blogger, I sometimes choose poorly (though I've gotten much more selective and better at picking books to review), yet I always finish the book because I agreed to read and review it. Sometimes, I end up really liking the book ... and other times, it's a struggle the whole.way.through. If I'm reading a book I haven't accepted for review, if I don't like it, I quit reading—sometimes immediately, and other times after struggling for a while.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is all about those books that we struggle with. I'm going to split my list of Books That Were a Chore to Read into several sections: books I ended up liking, books that were OK, books that I struggled to finish, and books I gave up on. Because why make it simple, right?

Monday, September 4, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (9-4-17)

After a long hiatus, I'm back! It's been a busy month, for sure, in which I didn't do much reading or blogging. (Only eight posts in the whole month of August!) If you want to see some of what I read in the intervening time, check out my Review Wrap-Up #2. I'm going to try to do those posts once a month ... we'll see how long I stick with it.

One of the reasons I haven't been reading and blogging as much, besides the start of school, is the Cubs. Yes, I'm still on the Cubs train. I finally broke down and purchased a subscription to the radio broadcasts of the games (which is much more affordable than purchasing the video feed) because I was getting tired of only being able to follow games through the app on my phone. The Cubs' playoff chances are looking good (they currently lead the NL Central by 3.5 games and are in good position for a wildcard if it comes to that), but I'm thinking they'd be lucky to get past the Nationals in the division series, and it would take something akin to a miracle to beat the Dodgers in the NLCS.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

"Tell Me Three Things" by Julie Buxbaum

What is it about YA? I am well, well past the target demographic for YA novels, but I still love them. It's interesting, though—while I love reading about teenagers falling in love, it really bugs me when adult romances feature women in their early 20's. I'm not exactly sure why that is ...

Anyway, I picked up Tell Me Three Things on the recommendation of Modern Mrs. Darcy, but, as I'm wont to do, I never read it. Then yesterday I saw that one of my blogger friends had featured it on Instagram, and I'm between books right now, so I thought, "Why not?" I started reading this afternoon, and I basically didn't stop until I'd finished.

Friday, September 1, 2017

"The Two of Us" by Victoria Bylin

Last year, I read and really enjoyed Victoria Bylin's Someone Like You. When I saw her next book, The Two of Us, up for review, I knew I wanted to read it ... and that cover didn't hurt!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

"God's Crime Scene for Kids" by J. Warner Wallace & Susie Wallace

I've read a couple of J. Warner Wallace's books—I'd describe them as apologetics for the common man (or child, depending on the title). Last year, I was pretty impressed by Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, so I was eager to read his latest children's release, God's Crime Scene for Kids.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated Inspy Fiction

For this week's Top Ten Tuesday post, I'm taking some liberties ... the official topic is Ten Hidden Gem Books in X Genre. The books that I'm featuring today may or may not be underrated by readers of inspirational fiction, but they're all books I'd like my sister, who will read practically anything except inspirational fiction, to check out. So they're hidden gems in that Val would never pick these books up on her own, but I think she'd like them if she ever did read them.

One of Val's biggest complaints about Christian fiction is that the interweaving of God and faith into a story can be clunky and inauthentic—like the faith aspect is shoehorned in just because it "should" be present. That's totally valid, but I also believe that many authors are doing it well. All of the books I'm recommending either have a very light faith thread (some you wouldn't be able to identify as Christian without looking at the publisher) or feature characters whose faith journeys feel real. You won't find much romance on this list, as romance is much more my thing than Val's, but I did manage to sneak a couple in 😉

Monday, August 21, 2017

"Chasing Secrets" by Lynette Eason

A 25-year-old murder. A teenager who needs protection. A long-forgotten past. An intriguing new cop on the police force. These things converge to take Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan on a ride she'd never anticipated in the finale of Lynette Eason's Elite Guardians series.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

"High as the Heavens" by Kate Breslin

Danger. Romance. Second Chances. All are found in abundance in Kate Breslin's latest World War I-set novel, High as the Heavens.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

"Anne of the Island" by L.M. Montgomery

As a preteen, I read all of L.M. Montgomery's "Anne" books. In fact, the first book-induced ugly cry that I can remember came as I read of a death in Rilla of Ingleside. (If you'd like to know the specifics, go here. I'm purposely trying not to spoil you!)

As a young teen, I was completely obsessed with Anne of Avonlea (a.k.a. Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel), and Gilbert Blythe (as portrayed by the late Jonathan Crombie) was pretty much my dream man. (True confession: I wore out our videotape because I kept rewinding and rewatching the final proposal scene.) I still have yet to watch any Anne, as I'm just not sure I want to see anyone besides Crombie and Megan Follows portraying Gil and Anne!

When I saw that Audiobookworm Promotions had the first three "Anne" books up for review, my first thought was, "GET THEM ALL!!!" Then I came back to reality as I remembered that it takes much longer for me to get through an audiobook than it does a regular book, so I should pick just one. I chose Anne of the Island, as I remembered (and confirmed through a quick Google search) that it's the book where Anne finally realizes she's in love with Gil 💗

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Review Wrap-Up #2: August 15, 2017

Here we go with Review Wrap-Up #2! It's looking like maybe this will be a once a month thing :-) These are the books I've reviewed in the last month, and I'm so glad to report that I loved most of them!

Monday, August 7, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (8-7-17)

Happy Monday! I haven't done too much reading recently because ... life.

1) My uncle moved from Los Angeles to my small town last Wednesday. He's living in a really nice assisted living facility, and though the transition has been a bit rough so far, I'm hopeful that he'll soon settle into his new life.

2) One of my best friends is getting married this Saturday, and her bachelorette party was last weekend. At said party, I had my first massage ever ... it was very nice!

3) I spent some time with my sister in Omaha. We went to a Lady Antebellum concert with our cousin, and the next morning, Blendy treated me to breakfast out for my birthday (which is this coming Saturday—I'll be a little busy with wedding things!), where I had the best gluten free cinnamon roll ever!

4) School. This time next week, I'll be at our back-to-school night, and we start back next Tuesday. Where did the summer go?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

"The Captivating Lady Charlotte" by Carolyn Miller

Earlier this year, I read Carolyn Miller's The Elusive Miss Ellison. In the novel, readers met Lavinia Ellison's cousin Charlotte, a young woman about to make her debut into society. Charlotte intrigued me, so of course I wanted to read The Captivating Lady Charlotte (which happens to have quite the captivating cover, I must say!).

Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Can't Help Falling" by Kara Isaac

Can't Help Falling
 was one of the books shortlisted for the Inspy Award in the Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense category, which I had the honor of helping judge. I'd never read anything by author Kara Isaac before, but by the time I was about 25% into the book, I'd gone back and purchased Close to You, Isaac's debut novel about two of the minor characters from Can't Help Falling.

I'm pretty careful about spending book money, so that shows you just how much I was loving Can't Help Falling!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

"A Name Unknown" by Roseanna M. White

Last year, I read the last two novels in Roseanna M. White's Ladies of the Manor series, and I knew then that I definitely wanted to keep reading her novels. When the first book in her new Shadows Over England series came up for review, I eagerly requested it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"By Your Side" by Kasie West

I've heard a lot about Kasie West over the years—she's a favorite among some of my favorite bloggers—but By Your Side is the first of her books I've read. And while it's not perfect, it's a good one!

Monday, July 24, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (7-24-17)

Happy Monday! This is one of those Mondays when it feels like the weekend just wasn't long enough ... though that's just about every Monday, if I'm honest!

I had been going through a reading lull, only reading what I absolutely had to for review purposes, but over the past three days or so, all I've wanted to do is read. So that's a good sign! While I wasn't reading, I was pretty preoccupied by my free trial of UP Faith & Family. They have a lot of Hallmark-type movies, and I enjoyed most of the ones I watched. (I wrote about my free trial here.) I was also watching every single Cubs game, as I had a free two-week trial to It spoiled me, for sure ... but I won't be continuing the subscription for two reasons: 1. It's WAY too expensive. 2. I felt compelled to watch/listen to every game, and who has time for that in a 162-game season?

"On Love's Gentle Shore" by Liz Johnson

The best kind of reads are the ones you can't bear to put down, the ones you find yourself thinking about when you're not reading them. That's exactly what I experienced while reading On Love's Gentle Shore.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

"Joyful Inspirations Coloring Book" by Robin Mead

Coloring is something I do in spurts. I have pretty much zero artistic talent, so drawing and painting aren't really options, but I do enjoy coloring from time to time ... as long as it doesn't stress me out!

Friday, July 21, 2017

"Grounded Hearts" by Jeanne M. Dickson

While I vastly prefer contemporary novels to historicals, there's one era that I'll always read about: World War II. So when I saw Jeanne M. Dickson's Grounded Hearts, set in Ireland during World War II, I knew I wanted to read it.

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!