Monday, December 31, 2018

Ranking Hallmark's 2018 Christmas Movies

For the last two months, Hallmark has treated us to new Christmas movies multiple times per week. I've watched countless hours of Hallmark programming: according to the Countdown to Christmas app, I watched 15 of 21 new Hallmark Channel movies and 12 of 17 Hallmark Movies & Mysteries offerings. I also watched portions of several of the other new movies, and I've caught many favorites from past years when they aired, as well.

Over on Instagram, I've been posting my reactions to each new movie in my stories. My sister suggested I rank the movies here, and of course I thought that was a great idea 😄. I also thought it would be fun to include the "hot takes" from my stories here.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Review: "Searching for You" by Jody Hedlund

It always makes me a little sad when a series I enjoy draws to an end. Jody Hedlund's Orphan Train series has been such a joy to read, and she saved the best for last with Searching for You!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Review: "Mind Games" by Nancy Mehl

Every now and again, I love reading a good suspense novel. The problem is that often romantic suspense is overly focused on the romance to the detriment of the suspense, and straight suspense can be far too gruesome for me. So I'm happy to report that Mind Games is neither too romance-focused nor gruesome. It's a win-win!

Friday, December 21, 2018

First Line Fridays: "Mind Games"

Happy Friday ... and Happy Christmas Break!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know not everyone gets a Christmas break, and I'm so grateful that my office is closing until January 2. I don't think I've had this long—11 days!—off at once since I took a two-week trip to the west coast with my sisters in 2009. I'm not traveling this Christmas, as all of my siblings are coming here, and I'm thrilled to just be home for an extended period.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Review: "Catching Christmas" by Terri Blackstock

This one's for all the Hallmark Christmas movie lovers! Terri Blackstock's novella Catching Christmas feels like it could be a Hallmark movie (of the Movies & Mysteries variety).

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Winter TBR

Happy Tuesday! It's been a while since I've been around the TTT blogosphere, but ... there were no Hallmark or Lifetime Christmas movies on TV tonight that I wanted to watch, so I thought, "Why not?"

Today's topic is Winter TBR, and I've decided to limit my list to books I either already own or that I know will soon be coming my way for review purposes. In other words, these are books that I legitimately have a chance of reading this winter! I'm making two lists: five that are upcoming releases, and five that are already out and may have been on my shelf (or Kindle) for a while.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Review: "Christmas at the Red Door Inn" by Liz Johnson

I absolutely loved Liz Johnson's Red Door Inn series, so when I heard she was releasing a Christmas novella set at the inn, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it! Fortunately for me, it's available in Kindle Unlimited, so I snapped up a copy ASAP.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Review: "His Wedding Date Fake Fiancée" by Lucy McConnell

I've been living in Hallmark & Lifetime Christmas movie land for a while now ... it was only a matter of time before I read a book that was their equivalent!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Review: Ellie Claire 365-Day Devotional Journals

Are you looking for something different for your devotional time next year? If so, Ellie Claire's 365-Day Devotional Journals may be just what you need!

Review: "Silent Days, Holy Night" by Phyllis Clark Nichols

Can you believe Christmas is less than two weeks away? Amidst the craziness of the season, sometimes it's nice to sit down with a good book, and Silent Days, Holy Night is the perfect option. At just over 200 pages, it's a quick read, and it's oh so satisfying.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Review: "The Making of Mrs. Hale" by Carolyn Miller

When I started reading Christian fiction in the mid-1990's, many of the novels were very preachy ... to the point where full sermons and/or long passages of scripture were included. Often, these sections did nothing except pull me out of the story and cause me to skip ahead.

In recent years, the trend has been to go light on the spiritual content, and I greatly appreciate authors who can include a thoughtful faith thread without coming across as preachy.

The Making of Mrs. Hale is a blend of the two: this is clearly a Christian novel, and one conversation features paragraphs taken straight from Romans, but, somehow, it doesn't come across as preachy, and I didn't feel like skipping any of it!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Review: "It Started with Christmas" by Jenny Hale

Last Christmas, I fell in love with Jenny Hale's Coming Home for Christmas (both the book and the film based on the book). I knew then that I wanted to read more of Hale's Christmas novels, so when It Started with Christmas came up for review, I jumped at the chance to read it!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Review: "My Mistletoe Mix-Up" by Judy Corry

Probably my favorite "new to me" author that I've discovered this year is Judy Corry. She writes clean YA that's emotionally engaging and entertaining. When her Christmas novella My Mistletoe Mix-Up popped up as a Kindle freebie, I couldn't resist!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Review + Giveaway: NIV Adventure Bible Polar Exploration Edition

When I was in the third or fourth grade, I desperately wanted The Adventure Bible. My parents gave it to me for Christmas that year (I mean, were they really going to deny my wish for a Bible???), and I loved it and used it for years.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Book or Movie? "The Second Sister"/"Christmas Everlasting"

A whole passel of Hallmark's Christmas movies this year are based on books. I'm not really willing to spend money to read the books, so as of now, it looks like I'll only be doing "Book or Movie" posts for two of them: Christmas Everlasting and A Shoe Addict's Christmas ... because those are the two I could get from my local library.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Review: "Mark of the Raven" by Morgan L. Busse

While I enjoy fantasy now and then, it's certainly not one of my preferred genres. I kept hearing great things about Mark of the Raven, though, so I decided to check it out. Sometimes, it's a good idea to get out of my contemporary romance rut 😉.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Review: "The Second Sister" by Marie Bostwick

The Second Sister has been adapted into tonight's Hallmark Hall of Fame movie Christmas Everlasting ... so of course I wanted to read it before watching the movie!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Review: "The Wrong Bachelor" by Alexandra Moody

Beware: I feel myself going into a YA slide ... so if you're not interested in YA, let me apologize now for all the reviews that are coming!

I recently jumped on a deal to get three months of Kindle Unlimited for 99¢ ... and KU has lots of YA books, so get ready!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Review: "My Second Chance" by Judy Corry

Judy Corry's latest Ridgewater High novel deals with a subject that can be tricky: teen pregnancy. Having read her previous novels, I was fairly sure that, no matter where the characters began the novel, the pregnancy would end up being treated in a life-affirming way, but I was curious about how everything else—the sex that resulted in the pregnancy, the relationship between the main characters, and the choice for or against adoption—would be handled.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Review: "On Magnolia Lane" by Denise Hunter

Whenever I hear that Denise Hunter has a new novel releasing, my first thought is, "How quickly can I get my hands on it?" So of course when I heard about On Magnolia Lane, I had to read it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Review: Ellie Claire Art Journals

Here's something different and fun! Just in time for Christmas, I got three art journals to review. Each is geared toward a different type of person, but all are fun!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Review: "Wait for Me" by Susan May Warren

Susan May Warren has a way of creating series with characters that end up feeling like friends and family. After I finished the Christiansen family series, I was hesitant yet eager to pick up the Montana Rescue series—how could I possibly love the new characters as much as I loved the Christiansens?

Well, you've probably guessed by now that the PEAK Rescue team has stolen my heart. I've loved every book in the series, and Wait for Me is no exception. Wait for Me finally wraps up Pete & Jess's story, as well as tying up the loose ends regarding PEAK founder Ian's niece Esme/Shae (who disappeared in the prequel novella If Ever I Would Leave You). And it's wonderful.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Review: "The Secret Language of Cats" by Susanne Schötz

As you know if you've been following my blog for very long, I have three adorable cats ... at least I think they're adorable 😉. Isis (unfortunately named, I know), Skaara, and Hammond have been part of my family for nearly 6-1/2 years.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Follow Me on Instagram!

Practically ever since I joined Instagram nearly five years ago, I've been a big fan. My account was basically personal stuff—family, cats, vacations, etc. But every so often, I would post something blog-related—a bookstagram photo here, a review post there.

Review: "An Hour Unspent" by Roseanna M. White

After penning two really enjoyable entries in the Shadows Over England series, Roseanna M. White is back to conclude the series with Barclay's story ... and it's the story that I've been waiting for!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Review: "A Sparkle of Silver" by Liz Johnson

Over the last couple of years, I've had the privilege of reading Liz Johnson's Prince Edward Island Dreams series. (Seriously, so good.) So when I heard about her new novel, A Sparkle of Silver, I had to get my hands on it!

Friday, November 2, 2018

First Line Fridays: "Wait for Me"

Happy Friday! As I sit here on Thursday night prepping this post, I've just returned home from choir practice (for our Christmas cantata), I'm sipping on a glass of apple cider, and I have a Hallmark Christmas movie on in the background. I love this season so much!!! (What I don't love so much is the cold. It's still pretty mild here—it dips into the upper 20's and lower 30's at night and gets to about 60 during the day—but I dread the day that it remains cold.)

Today, I'm spotlighting a book I've been anticipating for a long time—Susan May Warren's Wait for Me.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Review + Giveaway: "Holy Roar" by Chris Tomlin

It's time for another music review and giveaway! Chris Tomlin is one of America's favorite worship leaders, and I was able to preview his new album. I also have a copy to give away, so be sure to click keep reading for info about that!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Book or Movie? "Coming Home for Christmas"

Now that Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas is back, it's time to restart my "Book or Movie" series! This first post is actually about a movie that premiered on Hallmark Channel during the 2017 holiday season, but I didn't get it written then. I just rewatched the movie today, so I decided it was time to get this review written 😊.

File this under "I don't know when else to tell you so I'm doing it here": I've decided to do mini review/hot takes of all the new Christmas movies I watch this year on my Instagram stories. So follow me here, and then let me know if you agree with my takes on the movies!

Review: "Shelter of the Most High" by Connilyn Cossette

I don't read a lot of biblical fiction, but there are a few authors I can't pass up. One of them is Connilyn Cossette; I loved the first book in her Cities of Refuge series, and I was eager to continue the story with Shelter of the Most High.

Friday, October 26, 2018

First Line Fridays: "A Sparkle of Silver"

It's finally Friday! I have a big work event tonight, so the weekend won't really start until about 9:30 p.m., but ... once I get home, I'll be able to turn on a Christmas movie! I just love Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas 😃. While some of the films are, yes, horribly cheesy, I still watch them all, and I always find a few that I love. I made a couple lists of favorites a few years ago (here and here), but I'm thinking it's time for an update.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Review: "#Starstruck" by Sariah Wilson

Here's the thing: it's becoming more and more difficult to tell which books will be clean and which ones won't. I've started some books that looked (and sounded) like they'd be heat-level sweet that turned out to be filled with swearing and sex. Then there are books like #Starstruck that look like they might be erotica but are actually clean. It's so hard to tell, even when you read reviews, which I always do. (I'm not taking about Christian books here, just ones in the general market.)

#Starstruck isn't a book I'd normally pick up, but it was available thru Prime reading, and the reviews made it sound fairly clean. I decided to give it a shot.

Monday, October 22, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (10-22-18)

Happy Monday! I wasn't so sure at the beginning of the day if it would be a happy Monday. Remember that cracked tooth I talked about a few weeks ago? Well, it broke/chipped on Friday. So I went to my dentist this morning with visions of dollar signs in my head, fearful that I'd need a crown. He took one look and said he could fix it with a filling. Just over $100, as opposed to upwards of $1,000? I'll take the filling, thank you very much! I'm such a fan of my dentist! (Dr. Maas in Fullerton, for any of you locals.)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Review: "A Shoe Addict's Christmas" by Beth Harbison

Over the last year, I've really enjoyed reading book that are being made into Hallmark movies. This year's Countdown to Christmas features many movies based on novels, but my local library only has two: A Shoe Addict's Christmas and The Second Sister. My hold on A Shoe Addict's Christmas came in first, so here we go ...

Friday, October 19, 2018

First Line Fridays: "Shelter of the Most High"

Happy Friday! Since it's fall, I thought my First Line Fridays graphic needed a little update—the old one looked very summerish. This one should last me through both fall and winter 😊.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Review: "Enchanting Nicholette" by Dawn Crandall

After Dawn Crandall's The Cautious Maiden released two years ago, I assumed The Everstone Chronicles had reached their end. But then Crandall announced that Enchanting Nicholette would continue the story, so of course I had to read it 🙂.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: "Hidden Peril" by Irene Hannon

I'm a big fan of Irene Hannon's Hope Harbor series, which reminds me of Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove. I knew that Hannon also wrote romantic suspense, but I'd never read any of hers ... until now. I had no idea what I was missing!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Review: "Rose in Three Quarter Time" by Rachel McMillan

A few weeks ago, my Twitter feed started blowing up with mentions of Rose in Three Quarter Time. I didn't really know much about it, but when I looked it up and saw that it 1) only cost 99¢ and 2) featured a marriage of convenience (my favorite trope ever), I decided to get it.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Friday, October 5, 2018

First Line Fridays: "A Tale of Two Hearts"

Happy Friday! It's been a long week, thanks in part to the marathon Cubs game on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning ... which ended (finally!) after 13 innings. It didn't go the way I wanted and ended the Cubs' season. And, while I wish they could've gone all the way (or at least beyond the Wild Card), I'm also kind of relieved ... because I'll be getting WAY more sleep this October than I did the last two Octobers! I've also enjoyed watching some stress-free baseball over the last couple of days, and I'm struck once again just how strange it is that I like baseball. I love the Cubs, but I actually enjoy baseball even when the Cubs aren't involved. I guess people really can change 🤣.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Review: "The Christmas Heirloom" by Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, & Becky Wade

I love a good Christmas novella. I love Becky Wade's writing. So when the two combine, well, that's magic 😃.

The Christmas Heirloom: Four Holiday Novellas of Love through the Generations is a collection of novellas, written by four popular inspy fiction writers, spanning from the 1820s through today. All are loosely connected to the others, and all are delightful.

Monday, October 1, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (10-1-18)

It's Monday again ... and it's been a Monday, if you know what I mean. My day started out at the dentist, where I learned what I feared: I have a cracked tooth. It's apparently not terrible yet, so we can take a watch and wait approach, but eventually I'll need a crown. Joy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Review: "Little Women" (2018)

Little Women has long been one of my favorite stories. I don't think I've ever actually read the whole book, but I've loved several movie adaptations. When I heard about this new modern adaptation, I was intrigued but nervous ... after all, the dreadful The March Sisters at Christmas was a modernization, and after I saw it, I called it "the worst movie I've seen this [Christmas] season."

I needn't have worried—this is how you adapt a classic for a modern audience!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Written by Favorite Authors that I Still Haven't Read

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is all about books by favorite authors that I haven't read yet. For this list, I'm not counting any yet-to-be-released books (even though I do have some advanced reading copies in my possession); these are all previously published books that I haven't gotten to yet.

I've decided to organize these by author, as several favorite authors have multiple books in their backlists that I haven't read yet. I'm sure I'm forgetting something/someone, too ... these are just the first 10 books that came to mind.

Monday, September 24, 2018

2018 Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon: Wrap Up

Another Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon is over! Statistically, I did better this year than last year, as I read 50% of the books on my list! I also read exactly the same number of books as I did last year ... I was just more realistic in my goals this time around!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Review: "12 Days at Bleakly Manor" by Michelle Griep

Fans of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None and the movie Clue will find much to enjoy in 12 Days at Bleakly Manor.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Review: "The Orphan's Wish" by Melanie Dickerson

Ah, Hagenheim. I absolutely love every chance I get to visit Melanie Dickerson's medieval kingdom! When I learned that her latest Fairy Tale Romance would be about Aladdin, well, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. You see, Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie, so I already knew I loved the basic story—I just didn't know how Dickerson would adapt it!

Friday, September 21, 2018

First Line Fridays: "Lies We Tell Ourselves"

It's finally Friday!!! Unfortunately, I don't have much of a weekend—I'm subbing in my school's girls dorm on Saturday, and I have to spend my afternoon on Sunday helping the student council decorate for Homecoming. (Ah, the joys of being an activity sponsor.) And I really need to mow my lawn somewhere in there ...

This week, I'm sharing the first line of the novel I just finished reading: Amy Matayo's Lies We Tell Ourselves. It's a fantastic book that I highly recommend!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Review: "Lies We Tell Ourselves" by Amy Matayo

I've been on the Amy Matayo train for a while now—Lies We Tell Ourselves is her tenth book, and I've read roughly half of them. One thing I love about her books is that you never know what you're going to get! Maybe the book will be dark and serious (The Whys Have It), maybe it will be light and funny (The Thirteenth Chance), or maybe it will fall somewhere in between (Christmas at Gate 18). What's a given, though, is that the book will be totally engaging!

Lies We Tell Ourselves is no different—it's a book that captures you from the beginning and doesn't let go until long after you've turned the final page.

Monday, September 17, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (9-17-18)

Happy Monday! When I woke up this morning, my very first thought was, "What day is it? Why is my alarm going off?" It really felt like today should be Saturday or Sunday ... but certainly not Monday! That's because my weekend was unusual: my mom, sister, and I drove down to the Kansas State Fair on Saturday and drove back home yesterday.