Today’s review is on Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman.
Today’s review is on Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman.
Well, here we are, 2019 is over and 2020 has begun. Not only is it the start of a new year, but also a new decade! Last year was pretty great year, both reading wise and with some events that took place in my personal life, and I think 2020 is going to be a great one too – there are a lot of changes on the horizon, but all good things. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll do a life update post, I’m still undecided on whether or not to do that.
Today I’m going to share with you all the books I read in 2019! If you are interested in seeing some of my stats for my reading year, here is My Year in Books on Goodreads.
I decided to split all the books I read this year by month, kind of just to get an idea of how I did each month, and also to see what kinds of books I gravitated towards in those months. Without further ado, here are the books I read in 2019:
Janelle L. C.
Today’s review is on An Amish Home, a novella collection with stories from Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid and Kathleen Fuller.
Today’s review is on Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock.
Tis the season to curl up with many of the contemporary Christmas novels that are on the market for readers! If you read last week’s post you know that one of my favorite authors of Christmas fiction is Debbie Macomber, however I think Terri Blackstock’s Catching Christmas probably outranks many of Debbie Macomber’s Christmas books, and I hope that she writes more Christmas fiction in the future.
Terri Blackstock is a new to me author, I’ve seen her books around, but she tends to write more suspense and thriller fiction, which honestly just isn’t my cup of tea, I’ve tried several times. But I was excited and curious when I saw that she had written a Christmas book, and I knew that I had to add to my ever-growing pile of books to read, and I wasn’t disappointed!
Catching Christmas follows two characters who brought together by a meddlesome grandmother who only wants to see her granddaughter happy. Sydney Baston is a first year associate at a law firm, already she works relentlessly, but when her law firm starts making staff cuts, she is forced to work even harder in order to ensure that she still has a job come the new year. However, it also means that she has to spend less time with her grandmother, who has been needing a lot more extra attention, and she can’t afford to hire a caretaker for her. She resorts to calling a cab company to have a cab driver take her grandmother to her doctor’s appointments. Enter Finn Parrish, a former chef and restaurant owner who was forced to close his restaurant when the recession hit and now works as a cab driver to pay his rent. He then gets a call to pick up a customer, only when he gets there he discovers a wheelchair-bound woman who has no idea who he is and doesn’t seem to know where she is supposed to be going. After begrudgingly helping Miss Callie, he soon becomes her personal driver when she keeps calling the cab company and asking for him specifically. He reluctantly helps her as she goes around town trying to find a suitor for her granddaughter and trying to make it the best Christmas ever. Even though Finn tries to resist Miss Callie’s request, he also feels like this a chance for him to make up for not taking care of his dying mother several years ago.
In case you didn’t pick up on it, I loved this book! I loved the characters and I loved the message of this book. This is not a typical Christmas fiction book that focuses on romance. Rather it focuses on priorities, hope and belonging and the treasure of family. And it is also a story of redemption in various ways.
I loved the characters, Finn was great, and there was a description given of him at the beginning of the novel by a minor character as looking similar to the character Luke Danes from Gilmore Girls…well, he also has similar characteristics to him too, and that definitely helped me to have a better picture of him. Sydney was also a great character, although there were times when it seemed that she didn’t have the right priorities, especially when it came to her grandma, however it was interesting to see her come to that same conclusion in the end. And then there is Miss Callie, Syndey’s grandmother, who is sweet, but also kind of pushy, especially when it comes to Finn, but at the same time, her pushiness seems to be something that he needed in the end.
I really enjoyed Catching Christmas, and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for good and cozy Christmas read! 4/5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.
Today’s review is on A Mrs. Miracle Christmas by Debbie Macomber.
Thanksgiving is over and now the countdown to Christmas begins! For the next few weeks leading up to Christmas I am going to be doing a short series of several Christmas fiction review, and I thought the best way to kick off this series was to share some of my recommended Christmas reads from the past few years. I’m also including a list of books I would like to get to in the future Christmas season to come!
“Every time the Christmas season comes around, we look forward to putting up a tree, giving and receiving gifts, and participating in other traditions that make this wonderful time of year so special. But sometimes the most significant aspect of the season–remembering and focusing on the coming of Jesus–grows old and familiar. In Come Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional, Paul Tripp seeks to recapture our attention and reawaken our awe during Christmastime. Each day is structured like Tripp’s best-selling devotional, New Morning Mercies’ with a compelling, gospel-centered thought followed by an extended meditation for the day. Each of the thirty-one devotions also includes a Scripture reading and notes for parents and children, equipping us to do the one thing that matters most each December–celebrate Jesus” – Taken from goodreads.com
“Ashley Davison, a graduate student in California, desperately wants to spend the holidays with her family in Seattle. Dashiell Sutherland, a former army intelligence officer, has a job interview in Seattle and must arrive by December 23. Though frantic to book a last-minute flight out of San Francisco, both are out of luck: Every flight is full, and there’s only one rental car available. Ashley and Dash reluctantly decide to share the car, but neither anticipates the wild ride ahead.
At first they drive in silence, but forced into close quarters Ashley and Dash can’t help but open up. Not only do they find they have a lot in common, but there’s even a spark of romance in the air. Their feelings catch them off guard—never before has either been so excited about a first meeting. But the two are in for more twists and turns along the way as they rescue a lost puppy, run into petty thieves, and even get caught up in a case of mistaken identity. Though Ashley and Dash may never reach Seattle in time for Christmas, the season is still full of surprises—and their greatest wishes may yet come true.” – Taken from goodreads.com
“Before beginning her dream job as sous chef in one of Seattle’s hottest new restaurants, Josie Avery takes a summer position cooking at a lakeside lodge in the remote Alaskan town of Ponder. Josie falls for the rustic charms of the local community–including Jack Corcoran, the crotchety keeper of Ponder’s famed sourdough starter, and, in particular, the quiet and intense Palmer Saxon, a famed master swordsmith.
Josie and Palmer become close during the long Alaskan summer days, but Josie knows that, come fall, she’ll be returning to reality and the career she’s worked so hard for. Palmer, on the other hand, would like nothing better than to make Josie his wife and to keep her in Ponder. But Josie can’t imagine abandoning her mother back in the Emerald City and sacrificing her career to stay in this isolated town–not even for a man she’s quickly coming to love.
Fate has other plans. Josie misses the last boat out of town before winter sets in, stranding her in Ponder and putting her dream job at risk. As the holidays approach, Josie and Palmer must grapple with the complications that arise when dreams confront reality, and the Christmas magic that can happen when they put their faith in love.
Debbie Macomber is at her best in this beautiful holiday story about the far journeys we travel to find a place to call home. ” – taken from goodreads.com
“Merry Knight is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her—minus her photo—and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.
Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects—or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away. ” – taken from goodreads.com
” Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.
To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Julia brings him homemade Christmas treats and the disagreeable grinch won’t even accept them. Meanwhile, Julie’s blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures. Julia continues to find ways to express kindness and, little by little, chips away at Cain’s gruff façade to reveal the caring man underneath. Unbelievably, Julia feels herself falling for Cain—and she suspects that he may be falling for her as well. But as the popularity of her blog continues to grow, Julia must decide if telling Cain the truth about having chronicled their relationship to the rest of the world is worth risking their chance at love. ” – Taken from goodreads.com
“Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.
Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a megabestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.
Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.
Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places. ” – Taken from goodreads.com
“As the holiday season begins, Laurel McCullough could use some good news. She and her husband, Zach, have been praying for a baby that seems more and more like an impossible dream, and they’ve had to move in with her beloved grandmother, Helen, who’s having trouble taking care of herself. But when Laurel contacts a local home-care organization for help, there are no caregivers available.
Then Mrs. Miracle appears at her door. No stranger to lending a helping hand to a family in need, Mrs. Miracle reveals herself to be nothing short of a godsend. Helen’s even convinced she’s an angel! Still, Laurel has to admit that Helen has become noticeably happier and more engaged, decorating the family Christmas tree and setting up the nativity with Mrs. Miracle’s companionship. In the meantime, Laurel and Zach begin to encounter curious signs, all pointing toward the arrival of a special baby.
With Christmas approaching, there appears to be even more to Mrs. Miracle than meets the eye. In a classic turn of Debbie Macomber’s signature seasonal magic, Laurel, Zach, and Helen experience a holiday of heavenly proportions. ” – Taken from goodreads.com
“As a first-year law associate, Sydney Batson knows she will be updating her resume by New Year’s if she loses her current court case. So when her grandmother gets inexplicably ill while she’s in court, Sydney arranges for a cab to get her to the clinic.
The last thing cab driver Finn Parrish wants is to be saddled with a wheelchair-bound old lady with dementia. But because Miss Callie reminds him of his own mother, whom he failed miserably in her last days, he can’t say no when she keeps calling him for rides. Once a successful gourmet chef, Finn’s biggest concern now is making his rent, but half the time Callie doesn’t remember to pay him. And as she starts to feel better, she leads him on wild goose chases to find a Christmas date for her granddaughter.
When Finn meets Sydney, he’s quite sure that she’s never needed help finding a date. Does Miss Callie have an ulterior motive, or is this just a mission driven by delusions? He’s willing to do whatever he can to help fulfill Callie’s Christmas wish. He just never expected to be a vital part of it.” – Taken from goodreads.com
My rating: 5/5 Stars.
“Harry Mills is a guardian angel on a mission: help twenty-four-year-old Addie Folsom get her life back on track—and, if the right moment strikes, help her find love. Posing as a teacher at a local college in Tacoma, Washington, Harry is up to the task, but not even he can predict the surprises that lay in store.
After trying to make it on her own, Addie has returned home to Tacoma for the holidays, but this time she plans to stay for good, enrolling in the local community college to earn her degree. What she doesn’t plan to do is run into Erich Simmons.
Addie and her next-door neighbor, Erich, are like night and day. Growing up, he was popular and outgoing while she was rebellious and headstrong, and he never missed an opportunity to tease her. Now she intends to avoid him entirely, yet when they’re suddenly forced to spend Christmas together, Addie braces for trouble.
Perhaps it’s the spirit of the season or the magic of mistletoe, but Addie and Erich soon find they have more in common than they thought—and that two people who seem so wrong for each other may actually be just right. With a little prompting from a certain angelic teacher, the two are in for a holiday miracle they’ll never forget. ” – Taken from goodreads.com
My rating: 3/5 Stars.
“Mrs. Miracle on 34th Street
This Christmas, Emily Merkle (just call her Mrs. Miracle) is working in the toy department of Finley’s, the last family-owned department store in New York City. And her boss is none other than Jake Finley, the owner’s son.
For Jake, holiday memories of brightly wrapped gifts, decorated trees and family gatherings were destroyed in a Christmas Eve tragedy years before. Now Christmas means only one thing to him—and to his father. Profit. Because they need a Christmas miracle to keep the business afloat.
Holly Larson needs a miracle, too. She wants to give her eight-year-old nephew, Gabe, the holiday he deserves. Holly’s widowed brother is in the army and won’t be home for Christmas, but at least she can get Gabe that toy robot from Finley’s, the one gift he desperately wants. If she can figure out how to pay for it…
Fortunately, it’s Mrs. Miracle to the rescue. Next to making children happy, she likes nothing better than helping others—and that includes doing a bit of matchmaking!
This Christmas will be different. For all of them. ” – Taken from goodreads.com
My rating: 4/5 Stars.
” In FINDING FATHER CHRISTMAS, Miranda Carson’s search for her father takes a turn she never expected when she finds herself in London with only a few feeble clues to who he might be. Unexpectedly welcomed into a family that doesn’t recognize her, and whom she’s quickly coming to love, she faces a terrible decision. Should she reveal her true identity and destroy their idyllic image of her father? Or should she carry the truth home with her to San Francisco and remain alone in this world? Whatever choice she makes during this London Christmas will forever change the future for both herself and the family she can’t bear to leave. ” – Taken from goodreads.com
My rating: 4/5 Stars.
” The small town of Parrish Springs is not ready for Matilda Honeycutt. A strange older woman with scraggly gray hair and jewelry that jangles as she walks, Matilda is certainly not the most likely person to buy the old Barton Building on the town’s quaint main street. When it becomes apparent that her new shop doesn’t fit the expectations of Parrish Springs residents, a brouhaha erupts. After all, Christmas is approaching, and the last thing the town needs is a junky shop run by someone who looks and acts like a gypsy. But as townsfolk venture into the strange store, they discover that old memories can bring new life and healing. ” – Taken from goodreads.com
My rating: 4/5 Stars.
“After years abroad, Garrison Brown returns home to Vancouver to build a new life. When his beloved grandmother passes away a few weeks before Christmas, Garrison goes to her house to sort out her belongings, including six cats who need new homes. While Garrison hopes to dispense with the task quickly, his grandmother’s instructions don’t allow for speed. She has left Garrison with some challenging requirements for the future homes of her furry friends–plus a sizeable monetary gift for the new owners. Garrison’s job is to match the cats with the right owners without disclosing the surprise gift. Along the way, he may just meet someone who can make him stay.
Humorous and heartwarming, this latest Christmas story from bestselling author Melody Carlson is the perfect gift for pet lovers and anyone in whose heart Christmas holds a special place. ” – Taken from goodreads.com
My rating: 4/5 Stars.
“Each Christmas we are given a promise from heaven. And each year on earth we make promises to each other.
This is a story about how a promise from one person to another shows us the true meaning of faith, remembrance, and love.Seven years ago Gloria endured a family tragedy that almost shook her faith entirely. Each Christmas she places a card in an envelope on her tree, restating a promise she made to her husband before he died. Now, having moved from her small town and all the painful memories it held, she is building a life by caring for people in need. Whether it’s a young mother who can’t pay her electric bill or a family who needs some extra food, Gloria always finds a way. Miriam is a thorn in Gloria’s side. Miriam is a constantly critical, disapproving neighbor who looks with suspicion at all the good things Gloria does. When a twist of fate makes them roommates instead of neighbors, it’s the ultimate test of patience and faith.
Chaz has a good job as head of security at Wilson’s Department Store, but each night he returns home to an empty apartment. He longs for a wife and family of his own but realizes that the life choices he’s made have alienated him. He befriends a young boy whose mother has fallen on hard times, giving him a chance to have a life he thought impossible.In The Christmas Promise, the lives of these characters collide and we learn that even as we move ahead, the past is never far behind. And when we are forgiven much, we love much.
In this warmly humorous and deeply poignant story, we are reminded that the Christmas Promise is the promise of second chances.” – Taken from goodreads.com
My rating: 4/5 Stars.
“In the small town of Grandon, five very different people discover the true meaning of Christmas. Jennifer and Ryan are both single parents, struggling with their own losses and heartache as they attempt to move forward in the present while still holding onto the memories, joy, and heartache of the past.
Sixteen-year-old Kaylee is faced with a life-changing situation that has affected her whole family. Stephen and Lily are happily married and ready to start a family. All of them are facing their own struggles, and all are finding their way through the dark. When they are brought together for a rather unconventional church Nativity, they will learn that with strength, courage, and love, there is always hope. ” – Taken from goodreads.com
My rating: 4/5 Stars
“When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, BENJAMIN LANE.
Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.
Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.” – Taken from goodreads.com
My rating: 3.75/5 Stars
” To bitter, miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, Christmas is just another day. But all that changes when the ghost of his long-dead business partner appears, warning Scrooge to change his ways before it’s too late. ” – Taken from goodreads.com
My rating: 3/5 Stars.
” Flirtation can be an art, or so they say. Well, if so, Ruth and Richard are “the old masters” of the flirting game. Despite their strictly platonic relationship, there’s “something there,” as so many of their friends and families say. Neighbors and friends for ten years, neither seems willing to change the course of their relationship.
Three doors down, at the end of the cul-de-sac, Mason Dickenson has watched his favorite neighbors with an interested eye, but he’s finally had it with the dance. So, with a pack of cards and a few tricks up his sleeve, he’s determined to get them out of the “friend rut” and into romance.
Thanks to Mason’s unique matchmaking scheme, Ruth and Richard concoct one of their own—a deeper, stronger, eternal love and relationship that nothing on earth can match. ” – Taken from goodreads.com
My rating: 3/5 Stars.
Christmas Books I Want to Read:
Janelle L. C.
Today’s review is on Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury.
Today’s review is on Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter.
Today’s review is on Matilda by Roald Dahl.
Today’s review is on The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg.
Today’s review is on A Promise Kept by Robin Lee Hatcher.
Today’s review is on Plain Promise by Beth Wiseman.
Today’s review is on Made With Love by Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore.
Today’s review is on William Shakespeare’s Get Thee Back to the Future by Ian Doescher.
Today’s review is on The Discovery Saga Collection by Wanda E. Brunstetter.
Today’s review is on The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter.
Today’s review is on The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis.
Today’s review is on Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman.
Before I get started with my review, I would like to give a fair warning that there are going to be some spoilers to the first book in this series, Plain Perfect, in this review, so if you are planning on picking it up, I would recommend waiting to read this review until afterwards…unless you’re like me and don’t mind some spoilers.
Plain Pursuit is the second novel in the Daughters of the Promise series by Beth Wiseman, and while it is in some ways a sequel to Plain Perfect, it can also be read as a stand-alone since it follows a new main set of characters, while also revisiting the characters that were introduced in book one.
Readers are introduced to reporter Carley Marek, a friend of Lillian Miller (now Stoltzfus), who is still trying to piece back together her life after being in an accident six months previously that also killed her mother. After being forced by her boss to take a month-long vacation, she decides to go visit her good friend Lillian, who has joined the Old Order Amish church, gotten married and now has a family of her own. During her vacation, Carley hopes to not only be able to write an insightful piece about the Amish community, but she also hope to find the peace that Lillian now has. However, shortly into her stay, Lillian’s son, David falls gravely ill and when local doctor, simply known as Dr. Noah tries to intervene, Lillian’s husband refuses at first to let him do so because he has been shunned by the Amish community. When it becomes a matter of life or death, Dr. Noah decides to do whatever it takes to help save David’s life, while at the same time getting to know Carley along the way.
Plain Pursuit was a good companion to Plain Perfect, not only did we get to revisit Lillian and Samuel a year after their marriage, but we were introduced to some new characters that helped bring to light some new issues in the series. First, I liked how with Carley readers not only see the lasting affects of grief, and emotional recovery from something as traumatic as an accident, but we also see her struggle with faith in God, as well as trying to find peace. It was also to see how she struggles to come to terms with some of the things she experiences during her stay in the Amish community, especially the concept of shunning and how strictly that can be enforced in certain districts. It was interesting to see how her concept of mercy contrasted with that of the view of mercy that her Amish friends have, and even how some of them do struggle with having to shun their own family members. Then there was her relationship with Noah, it was interesting to see how he willingly pursued her, even knowing that there would be obstacles for them to see each other because of his being shunned, and the walls that Carley tries to put up to prevent him from getting close to her. It was also interesting seeing Noah grapple with returning to the area that her grew up in, but not being able to interact with his family because of his shunning, but also wanting to find some way to seek forgiveness for the ways in which he wronged them when he left the Amish church to become a doctor. I also enjoyed getting to see some of the story from both Lillian and Samuel’s perspectives as they come to terms with how gravely ill their son is, as well as individually with Lillian still having to wrestle with some of the ideology of her community, and Samuel as he has to relive some of the hurt that Noah caused to him personally, as well as deserting the church.
Overall, it was an interesting story, especially with some of the conflict that occurs between Carley and Noah, and Noah and his family and how it is eventually resolved. This is a good read for anyone that enjoys a light romance, as well as anything set in the Amish community. 4/5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.
Today’s review is on Plain Perfect by Beth Wiseman.
Lately I’ve been on an Amish kick when it comes to reading, it’s been several years since I read my last Amish fiction book, and honestly, I don’t know why I stopped reading them. But now that I’ve been reintroduced to them I can’t get enough of them. Beth Wiseman is a new author to me, I’m pretty sure I haven’t read any of her books before, and I think I’ve found a new favorite author.
Plain Perfect tells the story of Lillian Miller who is a 27 year-old woman who goes to live with her Amish grandparents in Lancaster County. Lillian’s mother had left her Amish roots behind before Lillian was born, but her life has been a complicated ever since, as has Lillian’s. Lillian is tired of a complicated life and wants to experience peace for the first time, therefore she decides to spend several months trying to practice the Amish lifestyle despite not having an understanding of it. Another complication arises when she meets an Amish widower, Samuel Stoltzfus, and his son David, and the possibility of an unlikely romance that blossoms between them.
I really enjoyed this novel, I felt like Beth Wiseman does a good job of introducing readers to a character who is desperately seeking for peace, a change of pace and even trying to figure out more about having a relationship with God. I didn’t find the book preachy, but rather through Lillian’s journey to find answers, the readers are introduced to where true peace comes from and just how important forgiveness is. We are also introduced to some colorful characters, especially that of Lillian’s grandpa Jonas, who although he is Old Order Amish doesn’t see any issues with bucking against tradition. I also liked how his wife, Irma Rose contrasted with him, even though they deeply love each other, but yet she is also dispense some great nuggets of wisdom to her granddaughter.
Lillian’s love interest, Samuel, was also interesting because not only do we see him overcoming the grief he has had for his wife who died several years before the start of the novel, he also comes to terms with being able to love again, however he feels the need to fight against his attraction for Lillian, an outsider who doesn’t seem to be interested in joining the Old Order Amish community anytime soon. However, I’m sure most readers will know how things eventually end for this couple, but it is still worth reading. David was another great character, and seeing him grapple with some issues in his beliefs at such a tender age, but yet not losing his innocence was great and he really was a great character.
Overall, I think this was a great story, and I really enjoyed the romance between the two characters (Spoiler Alert), and also watching Lillian grow as a person, as well as Samuel even though he is set in his ways. There are a couple of twists that happen in the novel that I wasn’t expecting, but they only add to the charm of this story, as well as providing information on the Amish culture. I am looking forward to reading more of Beth Wiseman’s books in the future. 4/5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.
Today’s review is on As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from The Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes.
If you are a fan of The Princess Bride, then I highly recommend picking up As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from The Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes (also, a big thank you to my boyfriend who gave me a copy of this book as a gift :)). This was an interesting read and it only made me love and appreciate the movie even more than I had before I cracked open this book. I’ll admit that when I first started reading it I had no idea what to expect, especially since I hadn’t heard much about it from anyone. I’m happy to say that I loved it and it exceeded my expectations.
Not only does Cary Elwes chronicle how he got the part of the dashing Westley, but he also talks about how the movie was in production hell, how it got out of production hell, as well as give some insight into the other cast and crew members that were apart of this great movie. It’s hard to write a review of this book because there is so much I would like to say, but I also don’t want to ruin anything for those who are interested in reading As You Wish, because it is a great read. 5/5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.
Book: When You Are Near
Author: Tracie Peterson
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Release Date: March 5, 2018
After her father’s death, Lizzy Brookstone, a trick rider in the all-female Brookstone Wild West Extravaganza, wants nothing more than to quit her role as the star of the show and live a quiet life on her family’s ranch. But returning home would bring Wesley DeShazer, the ranch’s foreman and the man who broke her heart, back into her life. In addition, the Brookstones’ new manager fears that Lizzy’s departure could doom the already cash-strapped show.
Hope grows in Lizzy during a stopover at Fleming Farm. Ella Fleming not only has a natural talent for trick riding and could easily replace Lizzy, but she’s eager to join the show to flee a forced betrothal. However, while there, one of the show’s wranglers is killed in a manner Lizzy finds suspicious. And during her escape from the farm, Ella stumbles across a secret that could affect all of their lives, as well as the future of the Brookstone Extravaganza.
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I really enjoyed When You Are Near. It was interesting read especially since it was about female trick riders in the 1900s.
I loved getting to know the cast of characters, and although I have yet to finish it, I’m loving every moment of it. Lizzy is a great character and I lvolo watching her development over the course of the novel and her decision to leave behind the world of trick riding. It was also interesting to watch her mother go through the process of grieving for her late husband and how seeing her mother’s grief also makes Lizzy question whether love is worth it.
Ella Fleming was another great character and she served as a good character foil to Lizzy. And I also loved watching her character development over the course of the novel. Wesley DeShazer was a good love interest and I loved watching his relationship with Lizzy grow over the course of the novel.
Tracie Peterson did a great job with the plot and it definitely kept me on my toes…I had forgotten how much I really like her writing and I am looking forward to reading more of her works in the future!
Tracie Peterson (www.traciepeterson.com) is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.
Introducing…When You Are Near!
I’m excited about the new Brookstone Brides series and had so much fun researching for the various characters and locations. This is a story about a fictional Wild West show with all female performers. Prior to the rodeos we see today, the Wild West shows traveled throughout America and Europe to entertain people and give city dwellers a taste of what the American frontier was like. At least their version.
Buffalo Bill Cody was famous for his shows, which brought Native Americans and their culture into the world of people who might otherwise never have even seen an “Indian.” Pawnee Bill was another entertainer who sought to keep these shows alive.
For the fictional show in my novels, I wanted to focus on three female characters who became a part of the Brookstone Wild West Extravaganza for varying reasons. Lizzy Brookstone is the heroine in book one, When You Are Near, and as the daughter of one of the show’s owners, she has enjoyed a starring role as a trick rider.
For research I went to Pueblo, Colorado to the ranch of Karen Vold, a famous trick rider and rodeo star. Linda Scholtz, a famed trick rider, was teaching a clinic there along with Karen at the Red Top Ranch Trickriding School.
These are two remarkable Christian trick riders who have long worked to keep the sport alive. I spent three days getting to know them and what they do and learned so much. And just to prove that we weren’t all work and no play, I thought I’d share my attempt at trick riding. What I won’t do for research!
The series will have three books, as usual, and each book will focus on a different lady and her skills. Mary is a trick shooter like Annie Oakley, and Ella is a Roman rider who stands on the backs of two horses for her part in the act. It was so interesting learning about each of these types of performers, and I hope you’ll get a chance to read all three and enjoy the stories of the Brookstone Wild West Extravaganza.
Among the Reads, March 26
The Power of Words, March 26
Christian Author, J.E. Grace, March 26
Inklings and notions, March 26
The Meanderings of a bookworm, March 27
Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, March 27
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, March 27
Vicky Sluiter, March 27
Carpe Diem, March 28
The Avid Reader, March 28
Genesis 5020, March 28
The Lit Addict, March 29
Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 29
Back Porch Reads, March 29
Just the Write Escape, March 30
Splashes of Joy, March 30
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 30
Emily Yager, March 31
Daysong Reflections, March 31
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 31
Life of Literature, April 1
EmpowerMoms, April 1
For the Love of Literature, April 1
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, April 2
Through the Fire Blogs, April 2
Stephanie’s Life of Determination, April 2
For Him and My Family, April 3
Remembrancy, April 3
Inspiration Clothesline, April 3
Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, April 4
Locks, Hooks and Books, April 4
Pause for Tales, April 4
Older & Smarter?, April 5
Stories By Gina, April 5
Book by Book, April 5
Bigreadersite, April 6
Connect in Fiction, April 6
Godly Book Reviews, April 7
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 7
Texas Book-aholic, April 7
Blossoms and Blessings, April 8
janicesbookreviews, April 8
A Reader’s Brain, April 8
The Becca Files, April 8
To celebrate her tour, Tracie is giving away a grand prize of When You Are Near, Tracie’s A $25 Barnes and Noble Gift card, and the three books in The Heart of Alaska series and three other winners will receive a copy of When You Are Near!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/dcdd/when-you-are-near-celebration-tour-giveaway
Title: Flights of Fancy
Author: Jen Turano
Genre: Christian Historical Romance, Gilded Age
Release date: January 1, 2019
Publisher: Bethany House
Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she’s always known and finds herself to be an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.
Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely on his own merits. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he’s unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner.
Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when mysterious incidents on the farm and the truth of Isadora’s secret threaten those they love, they’ll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance at happy-ever-after.
Click here to order your copy!
FLIGHTS OF fancy was a good, humorous read, with some awkward and even some suspenseful moments thrown in.
Before I go on to the rest of my review, I can I just say that I loved how odious the Duke of Montrose was from the very beginning? It made it all the more believable why Isadora had to run away and disguise herself as a housekeeper! Just even some of the stuff he says to her upon their first interaction made me gag (this is a good thing, since he is the villain) and I even had to explain it to some of my co-workers when I was reading the first few chapters during my lunch break one day.
Anyway, on to the main character that are not the villains of the novel. I loved getting to know Isadora, especially as she tries to adjust to the duties of a housekeeper, which with being an heiress she has absolutely no clue what to do, this only made her more endearing as a character.
Then there is Ian and the chemistry that he has with Isadora from the start. He definitely makes a good hero for our leading lady! I loved watching the romance bloom between these two characters.
Overall, this was a good read and I am looking forward to seeing what Jen Turano puts out next!
One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO.
Q & A With Jen Turano
“Flights of Fancy” is the first book in the American Heiress Series. What inspired you to write this series?
The inspiration for this entire series started off with a What If? All of my proposals for new series start off that way, and this time it was – What if Consuelo Vanderbilt had balked when her mother insisted she marry the Duke of Marlborough – and then that led to – What if she’d run away until her mother came to her senses? Just like that, an entire series was born – a bit of a different take on American heiresses because in all three books, my heiresses might decide to go a tad…rogue. We start off with Miss Isadora Delafield – who does run off to avoid marriage to a duke, then we get to meet Miss Poppy Garrison, who is an unexpected heiress but who can’t quite seem to get a handle on the expected social decorum of the day, and then the final book revolves around Miss Beatrix Waterbury – who gets banished to Chicago after she annoys her mother one too many times, and once there, well, gets up to a bit of mischief.
How do you come up with the names of your characters?
I find most of my names as I research the New York Four-Hundred, although I normally take a first name here, a last name there so I’m not stepping on any toes by writing about an actual historical figure – except for some of the main figures in New York society back then, such as Mr. Ward McAllister – who was the social arbiter of the day, or Mrs. William Astor, who was the queen of that society. What I don’t do is simply make up names, no matter how outrageous they may appear. And, no matter how I may love a certain name, if the character decides it doesn’t suit them, that’s it, it’s out and I’m back to the drawing board.
How do you picture your character? Do you use Pinterest, magazines, movies?
Odd as this may seem, I don’t use pictures for my characters. They start off in my mind as a blurry figure, and then, they develop from there – I like to keep my descriptions of them somewhat vague on the pages so that the reader can imagine them exactly the way they’d like them to be.
What are some of your favorite resources for historical research?
I’ve been building up a research library over the past few years and now have over 200 books dedicated to the Gilded Age. My favorites are – “A Season of Splendor” by Greg King, “Society as I Have Found It” by Ward McAllister, “The Gilded Age in New York – 1870-1910” by Esther Crain, and “ ‘King Lehr’ and the Gilded Age” by Elizabeth Drexel Lehr.
The setting for “Flights of Fancy” is a bit of a departure for you since it’s set in and outside of Pittsburgh. Any reason for that?
My mom was born in Pittsburgh, and unfortunately, her father, a prominent attorney back in the day, died when she was only four. I thought it would be cool to set a story in Pittsburgh, which would then allow me to really dive into some research. And get this – while I was doing that research, I found this obscure journal called “Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. In that journal was a bit about my great-grandfather, Fred, his wife, Susie, my grandfather, and his brother and sister, but I’d never heard about this brother, who apparently died quite young. One of the most fabulous research tidbits I’ve uncovered to date.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just recently turned in the content edits for the second book in this series, “Diamond in the Rough,” and I’ve also turned in a novella about the Harvey Girls that will be coming out in a novella collection in Fall, 2019. With those out of the way, I’m now starting the third and final book in the American Heiress series, Miss Beatrix Waterbury’s story, but I’m having a bit of a struggle with the hero at the moment – he was supposed to be Edward, but he doesn’t want to be an Edward – I think he wants to be Norman – but, time will tell on that one – don’t hold me to the name – it’ll depend on if he changes his mind or not – pesky characters.
You seem to enjoy adding animals in many of your stories. Will we find any animals in “Flights of Fancy?”
Since Miss Isadora Delafield ends up on a farm, I do believe you will find a few animals, such as an adorable cow by the name of Buttercup, a few goats that seem to have a great liking for laundry, and…there might be some chickens.
Thanks for stopping by today, everyone! Always enjoy visiting with all of you – in fact, that’s the best part of my job!
All the best,
~ Jen ~
[Insert Blog Stops Here]
To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away a grand prize of a trunk filled with all of Jen’s full-length novels released to date!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d8d1/flights-of-fancy-celebration-tour-giveaway
If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that since 2017 I have taken in the Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge on Goodreads, and I plan on doing it again this year – hopefully I will succeed this year! Here are the reading challenges for 2019:
1. A book that was nominated for or won an award in a genre you enjoy
2. A book with one of the 5 W’s in the title (Who, What, Where, When, Why)
3. A book where the author’s name contains A, T, and Y
4. A book with a criminal character (i.e. assassin, pirate, thief, robber, scoundrel etc)
5. A book by Shakespeare or inspired by Shakespeare
6. A book with a dual timeline
7. 2 books related to the same topic, genre, or theme: Book #1
8. 2 books related to the same topic, genre, or theme: Book #2
9. A book from one of the top 5 money making genres (romance/erotica, crime/mystery, religious/inspirational, science fiction/fantasy or horror)
10. A book featuring an historical figure
11. A book related to one of the 12 Zodiac Chinese Animals (title, cover, subject)
12. A book about reading, books or an author/writer
13. A book that is included on a New York Public Library Staff Picks list
14. A book with a title, subtitle or cover relating to an astronomical term
15. A book by an author from a Mediterranean country or set in a Mediterranean country
16. A book told from multiple perspectives
17. A speculative fiction (i.e. fantasy, scifi, horror, dystopia)
18. A book related to one of the elements on the periodic table of elements
19. A book by an author who has more than one book on your TBR
20. A book featuring indigenous people of a country
21. A book from one of the polarizing or close call votes
22. A book with a number in the title or on the cover
23. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #1 Something Old
24. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #2 Something New
25. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #3 Something Borrowed
26. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #4 Something Blue
27. A book off of the 1001 books to read before you die list
28. A book related to something cold (i.e. theme, title, author, cover, etc.)
29. A book published before 1950
30. A book featuring an elderly character
31. A children’s classic you’ve never read
32. A book with more than 500 pages
33. A book you have owned for at least a year, but have not read yet
34. A book with a person’s name in the title
35. A psychological thriller
36. A book featured on an NPR Best Books of the Year list
37. A book set in a school or university
38. A book not written in traditional novel format (poetry, essay, epistolary, graphic novel, etc)
39. A book with a strong sense of place or where the author brings the location/setting to life
40. A book you stumbled upon
41. A book from the 2018 GR Choice Awards
42. A book with a monster or “monstrous” character
43. A book related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) [fiction or nonfiction]
44. A book related in some way to a tv show/series or movie you enjoyed (same topic, same era, book appeared in the show/movie, etc.)
45. A multi-generational saga
46. A book with a (mostly) black cover
47. A book related to food (i.e. title, cover, plot, etc.)
48. A book that was a finalist or winner for the National Book Award for any year
49. A book written by a Far East Asian author or set in a Far East Asian country
50. A book that includes a journey (physical, health, or spiritual)
51. A book published in 2019
52. A book with a weird or intriguing title
Janelle L. C.
Today’s post is the first of probably many library hauls this year. I recently checked out 22 books from the library, I have no idea if I will read all of them, but it is nice to dream that I can eventually get through them. I’m certainly going to try, especially since I have a few weeks break from Grad. School, so I have a little bit more time to read. Here are the books that I checked out:
Wrong in All the Right Ways by Tiffany Brownlee
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Mirage by Somaiya Daud
The Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwell
Everless by Sara Holland
Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky
Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne
LifeL1k3 by Jay Kristoff
29 Dates by Melissa De La Cruz
Once a King by Erin Summerill
Letter from Skye by Jessica Brockmole
Furyborn by Claire LeGrande
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Rule by Ellen Goodlett
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao
Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor
Meet Me At the Museum by Anne Youngson
The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan
Janelle L. C.
Book: Shelter of the Most High
Author: Connilyn Cossette
Genre: Christian Biblical Fiction
Release Date: October, 2018
The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.
Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a city of refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood, yet chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.
As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Can they uncover the betrayal in time to save their lives and the lives of those they love?
Click here to purchase your copy!
Connilyn Cossette is the CBA bestselling author of the Out From Egypt series. Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, was a finalist for the Christy Award, the INSPY Award, and the Christian Retailing’s Best Award. She lives in North Carolina with her husband of twenty years and a son and a daughter who fill her days with joy, inspiration, and laughter. Connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com.
First, let me start by saying that this is the first book of Connilyn’s I have read, and I really enjoyed it. It was interesting to read a book set in one of the Levitical cities of refuge, especially since it is something I have wondered about how it worked, whether they actually implemented that part of the law, etc. The author does a good job of making this world come alive and made me feel as if I were there.
I also loved the characters, I loved reading about Sofea and Prezi’s life before they ended up in the Kedesh and how they adjust to life in a different place where almost no one speaks the language. I also liked getting to know Eitan, Moriyah, Darek and Nadir throughout the course of the novel and how they ended up in the city of refuge. The plot is great and I love how it kept me on my toes when I was reading. I am looking forward to reading more from Connilyn Cossette in the future.
I was given a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not asked to give a favorable review or given money in exchange for it. All opinions expressed in my review are my own.
Shelter of the Most High, the second book in my Cities of Refuge Series, will be the first I’ve written to have been influenced by my trip to Israel last year. When I started writing Biblical fiction almost nine years ago, I was limited to exploring the Land of Promise via Google Earth, books, and through a plethora of photos on the good ol’ world wide web, but of course nothing can compare to actually experiencing the atmosphere and scenery for yourself.
So although I’d already written Shelter of the Most High by the time I hopped on a plane to join fellow author Cliff Graham’s GoodBattle Tour, once I returned my editing was filtered through the sights and sounds I’d witnessed for myself. It had been a life-long dream to go to Israel and it did not disappoint, in fact it just went way too fast!
One of my greatest fears was that I would see the places I’d written about in my books and realize I totally messed up my descriptions, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that for the most part I’d been fairly accurate (although I did tweak a few things here and there).
Standing on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee I was able to envision Eitan, our hero in Shelter of the Most High, sitting on one of the black boulders there, defeated and weary as he searched for his love. I was able to look toward the snowy peaks of Mount Hermon in the north and over the fertile Hula Valley just below the ancient ruins of Kedesh, the city of refuge, and consider how Sofea must have felt as she experienced the landscape of her new home for the first time, both the fear and the awe.
One of my favorite sites was Tel Dan and although it does not feature in Shelter of the Most High it’s lush greenness and dense forest gave me a better sense of what Israel must have been in the past before deforestation, war, and shifts in climate have done to the fertile land God himself called a land of milk and honey. Since I was so affected by Tel Dan (or Laish in ancient times) that city will be one of the settings in my upcoming third installment of the Cities of Refuge Series, Until the Mountains Fall.
Being a super visual person who is highly sensitive to sensory input, I took great pleasure in absorbing with all my senses as we walked paths, climbed mountains (yes, mountains), slogged through a long, cold, and wet tunnel deep beneath Jerusalem, hiked up to the secret oasis of Ein Gedi where David hid from Saul, and rocked along on a boat over the glassy surface of the Galilee. I felt like a sponge just soaking up every little detail and every grand vista.
Smelling the salty breeze off the Mediterranean and hearing the waves crash against the sandy beach in Tel Aviv and Caesarea Phillipi made me imagine our heroine Sofea looking over that enormous, blue expanse and wondering what sort of god had control of such a powerful thing.
Feeling the timeworn cobblestones beneath my feet gave me a sense of what it must have been like for Eitan and Sofea to walk through the streets of Kedesh, their own sandals scuffing against the rough-hewn stone as they went about their daily activities.
Running my fingers along the pitted surfaces of ancient buildings and tracing the chisel marks from craftsmen of the Bronze Age wrapped me in a whirl of imagination about who the people were that hefted those same rocks into place and the ingenuity it took to create structures that have lasted so long.
Tasting the unique spices and flavors of the Middle East gave me a sense of the passion Moryiah (our hero’s mother) has for creating delicious new dishes to feed her growing family and the guests at her inn.
Although I write fiction, my stories are woven into Biblical accounts so going to Israel was a perfect reminder for me that the people that lived between the pages of Genesis to Revelations were real. They breathed, they cried, they loved, they mourned, they suffered, and they celebrated with their families. I am so grateful to have gleaned some great new insight into the Land and its resilient, vibrant people and hope that through Shelter of the Most High readers get a small sense of the beauty and wonder I experienced there. I cannot wait to go back!
A Baker’s Perspective, November 20
The Power of Words, November 20
Among the Reads, November 21
Gensis 5020, November 21
God’s Little Bookworm, November 22
Book by Book, November 22
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 22
Remembrancy, November 23
Real World Bible Study, November 23
Inklings and notions, November 23
The Becca Files, November 24
Christian Centered book Reviews, November 24
Baker Kella, November 24
Bibliophile Reviews, November 25
The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 25
By The Book, November 26
Reading Is My SuperPower, November 26
Aryn The Libraryan, November 27
All-of-a-kind Mom, November 27
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 27
Abbas Prayer Warrior Princess, November 28
Christian Author, J.E. Grace, November 28
Simple Harvest Reads, November 29 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
For the Love of Literature, November 29
Janices book reviews, November 29
The Lit Addict, November 30
Texas Book-aholic, November 30
Just the Write Escape, December 1
A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 1
Connect in Fiction, December 2
The Christian Fiction Girl, December 2
Bigreadersite, December 2
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 3
Purposeful Learning, December 3
Carpe Diem, December 3
To celebrate her tour, Connilyn is giving away
Grand Prize: All five of Conni’s novels, including Shelter of the Most High, plus AHAVA Dead Sea Bath Salts
Three other winners will receive a copy of Shelter of the Most High!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d66d/shelter-of-the-most-high-celebration-tour-giveaway
Today’s review is on Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson.
It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.
On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?
Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.
Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?
Kiss a stranger? Um…
Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find?
Go skinny-dipping? Wait…What?
I’ll admit that when I first picked up this book, I was skeptical about whether or not I would like it because some of Morgan Matson’s books have been pretty hit-or-miss with me. However, Since You’ve Been Gone has changed my mind – I LOVED IT!
At first I struggled to get into it because I was going through a minor reading slump when I started it, but once I got past the 100-page mark I flew through it! I loved the concept of the list of “challenges” that Emily has to complete – although I hated how Sloane just ditched her.
I enjoyed getting to know Emily and her family – I loved watching her grow as a person while the list. I also liked how in some ways she starts to find autonomy a part from Sloane. Then there is Frank Porter…he is such a cute character and I love him, he is an adorable cinnamon roll and I wish there were some actual guys like this in reality!
I also enjoyed getting to know Dawn and Collins and seeing how they, along with Frank, try to help Emily on her quest. I liked Sloane, however I also disliked her because of how she basically drops out of Emily’s life without saying goodbye, but the explanation that is given for this makes sense.
I really liked the playlists that appear throughout the book are awesome – I wish there were more. And I also liked how each chapter jumps back to the past to explain certain items on the list, or even just certain things that happen in the present day.
I really loved it, and it made me want to pick up her latest release, Save the Date, right away. 5/5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.
Today’s review is on Once and For All by Sarah Dessen.
As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.
Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.
Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself
Sarah Dessen has a way of making readers feel all the feels in almost all of her books and Once and For All was no exception.
I like how we, along with Ambrose, were kept in the dark about Louna is so cynical when it comes to true love – the reason made sense and was very fitting with today’s current events and when it is revealed it is hard not to cry!
I liked all of the characters, although I found Louna to be a bit too mopey at times, although it did make sense. Ambrose was also interesting, although his way of trying to win Louna is ridiculous. I also enjoyed the side characters: Natalie (Louna’s mom) and William and their whole wedding planning business.
As I mentioned before, Sarah Dessen has a way of writing books that have readers tear up at some point, and there was scene towards the end of the book that had me in tears because of the build up to it, and Dessen makes the reader think that something similar happens to Ambrose that happened to Louna’s first love.
This was a good contemporary read that has a lot of perfect fluffy moments, but yet still has scenes that are tear-jerkers, which is a perfect reminder that life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, and that bad things do happen. 3.5/ 5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.
Today’s review is on From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon.
Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.
When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.
Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?
Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.
Even though I liked When Dimple Met Rishi, I enjoyed this one a lot better, especially the ending. I loved getting to know Twinkle and how the format of this book is setup like her diary (I am a sucker for books like this). I also liked how her entries are written to different female movie directors that she looks up to. I also loved how this read as a good classic romantic comedy and it is the perfect summer read.
Sahil is the typical (but still awesome) hero of this rom-com. I loved how he was always trying to push Twinkle to be the best she could be, while also letting her figure out stuff on her own.
It was also interesting to see that in order to truly grow as a character, Twinkle had to become her worst self and realize that she had to change. It was also interesting to see all the different family dynamics that take place in the novel: Sahil and his inferiority to his twin brother Neil; Twinkle and her grandma, Twinkle and her parents who seem disinterested in her life. I also liked how it dealt with friendships and relationships in general: Maddie and Twinkle; Maddie and Hannah; Twinkle, Victoria and Francesca. I also liked how it dealt with some of the issues that people that immigrants face when they leave their home countries behind.
I am looking forward to seeing what Sandhya Menon writes text. 4.5/5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.
Today’s review is on Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly deVos.
High school senior Cookie Vonn’s post-graduation dreams include getting out of Phoenix, attending Parsons and becoming the next great fashion designer. But in the world of fashion, being fat is a cardinal sin. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly compared to her supermodel mother—and named after a dessert.
Thanks to her job at a fashion blog, Cookie scores a trip to New York to pitch her portfolio and appeal for a scholarship, but her plans are put on standby when she’s declared too fat to fly. Forced to turn to her BFF for cash, Cookie buys a second seat on the plane. She arrives in the city to find that she’s been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich. Bowing to society’s pressure, she vows to lose weight, get out of the friend zone with her crush, and put her life on track.
Cookie expected sunshine and rainbows, but nothing about her new life is turning out like she planned. When the fashion designer of the moment offers her what she’s always wanted—an opportunity to live and study in New York—she finds herself in a world full of people more interested in putting women down than dressing them up. Her designs make waves, but her real dream of creating great clothes for people of all sizes seems to grow more distant by the day.
Will she realize that she’s always had the power to make her own dreams come true?
Before I get started with my thoughts I am grateful to have received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
This year there seems to be quite a few novels dealing with weight and body-positivity for teens, which I think is great! However, I honestly didn’t read through the synopsis thoroughly so I found the events that unfolded to be a surprise, which I guess is a good thing.
I found it weird that there were two story lines – the past when Cookie was fat and when she is skinny in the present. I liked how it explored some of the misguided reasons for losing weight. I liked how Cookie discovered that life doesn’t become all sunshine and roses when she is skinny.
In some ways I found “fat” Cookie to be relatable especially with the emotions she goes through when she starts her journey. I loved watching her pursue her dreams in fashion and comes to realize that no matter what size she is, it is still a cut-throat industry.
I hated her relationship with Gareth Miller, especially since she was 19 and he was 35…it was just weird – I found this to be one of the pitfalls of the novel. I also wanted to love Tommy, her ex-best friend and crush, but he kept messing up and was just an idiot.
I loved her grandma, her parents were just awful. I loved her best friend Piper and how she deals with Cookie and her antics.
I liked the ending although I wish there was more resolution with her parents. And I also wish there were not quite as many F-bombs. 3/5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.
Today’s review is on Katie in Waiting by Erynn Mangum.
There were so many jokes that were said in this novel that I feel like explain me to a “T”! Some of the things that Katie goes through, such has having become stagnant in her walk with the Lord is something that I myself have struggled with myself.
I liked how even though there was a possibility of romance it still ended up with Katie coming to terms with her singleness and finding contentment with the Lord. I also enjoyed getting to know Eliza and Ashten and I can’t wait to read each of their stories very soon. 4/5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.
Today’s review is on Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews.
Book: The Thief of Lanwyn Manor
Author: Sarah E. Ladd
Genre: Regency Romance
Release Date: January 7, 2020
In this sweet Regency romance, Julia knows Matthew Blake, copper mine owner and very eligible bachelor, is the gentleman she should set her eyes upon. But why can’t she steal her gaze away from his younger brother, Isaac?
Cornwall, England 1818—Julia Twethewey needs a diversion to mend her broken heart, so when her cousin invites her to Lanwyn Manor, Julia eagerly accepts. Lanwyn Manor is at the heart of Cornwall’s mining industry, and as a guest Julia is swept into its intricate world. It’s not long, though, before she realizes something dark lurks in the home’s ancient halls.
As a respected mine owner’s younger son, Isaac Blake is determined to keep his late father’s legacy alive through the family business, despite his brother’s careless attitude. In order to save their livelihood—and the livelihood of those around them—the brothers approach the master of Lanwyn Manor with plans to bolster the floundering local industry. Isaac can’t deny his attraction to the man’s charming niece, but his brother has made his intentions to court the lovely guest clear. And Isaac knows his place.
When tragedy strikes, mysteries arise, and items go missing, Julia and Isaac find they are pulled together in a swirl of strange circumstances, but despite their own best efforts to bow to social expectations, their hearts aren’t so keen to surrender.
Click here to buy your copy.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I read this book. The last time I had attempted to read a historical romance novel I ended up putting it aside. I expected to slog through The Thief of Lanwyn Manor, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The Thief of Lanwyn Manor starts off with a bang, right in the beginning we’re thrown into the action – and I loved it and I was fully invested in the story. The pacing of events seemed to be pretty good until about the middle when it dragged, but it quickly picked up again. My only complaint is that it took a while to get the “thief” part of this book.
I really enjoyed the plot, it was pretty intriguing, but about half-way through the book I kind of predicted the big reveal that comes at the end, which honestly felt a bit rushed.
I enjoyed getting to know the characters in this novel. Julia was a great leading lady, and although I know that the previous book in the series isn’t abut her, I am intrigued to see her as one of the side characters in The Governess of Penwythe Hall and see her character development since then.
Isaac was a great male lead, but there were times he aggravated me, especially towards the end of the novel. I get that this is also set in a different era where societal expectations and norms were different, but I was still bugged and I don’t know inf I can pinpoint an exact moment without sharing a spoiler.
U also found Julia’s aunt and uncle – Mr. and Mrs. Lambourne – extremely irritating, especially with her aunt’s disregard for Isaac and her uncle’s disregard for the mine that he owns. I will say that the villains in this novel – I don’t want to reveal who they are, because it is a spoiler – but they were developed really well and I liked how their dastardliness was slowly revealed until they were fully exposed to the other characters. I also liked Margaret Benson and how she also contributed to the story, albeit in a small way.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Thief of Lanwyn Manor, I think the story was pretty great despite the couple of things I didn’t like. This was the first book I’ve read by Sarah E. Ladd, and I think I will be reading a lot more of her books in the future. I am giving this a 3.5/5 Stars.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and Celebrating Lit in exchange for an honest review.
Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing family and spunky golden retriever. Visit her online at SarahLadd.com; Facebook: SarahLaddAuthor; Twitter: @SarahLaddAuthor.
Click here to read an excerpt from the book.
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