December TBR

Hello Everyone!

Welcome back to another TBR post. This month I have a lot of books that I am excited to get to, especially since my classes are almost over and I will hopefully have a little bit more time to read.

I also want to apologize for some of the incomplete posts that have gone up in the last few months, I am trying to get better at making sure all my posts are finished when they go up, but a lot of stuff has happened in my personal life the past month or so that I am just now being able to catch my breath and figure out what it is I need to do. So to sum up, I am going to try and have my blog posts complete before they go up as scheduled, even if it means I have to post it later on in the day.

And now, without further ado, here are the top five books I am hoping to read in the month of December:

  1. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas28260587
  2.  Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend36260006
  3. Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin
  4. Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell38349296
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling820343


Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.



All the Light We Cannot See follows Marie-Laure, a young blind woman, who lives with her father in Paris just before the German invasion. Once the Germans invade her and her father are forced to flee to the town of Saint-Malo, however her father also has a prized possession from the Natural History museum in Paris that could eventually cause trouble for them. The novel also follows a young German boy, Werner, who gets caught up in the idealism that the Nazi party seems to offer him, however he also starts to see the cracks in this seemingly perfect system, but also realizes that there is very little he can do if he wants to stay alive. The novel follows these two characters throughout the duration of World War II and how their paths eventually collide.

I enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See, although I went through a slight slump with my reading kind of in the middle of it, but I switched to the audiobook and enjoyed it all the same. Anthony Doerr has a lyrical way of writing that it is beautiful, but yet still captures the somberness of the era that he writes about.

The characters were really fascinating to get to know, especially Marie-Laure and Werner. It was interesting to get the perspective that we  do from Marie-Laure who is at a disadvantage of being physically blind, but yet there is Werner who is, as a young boy, blinded by the idealism of the Nazi party. While Marie-Laure comes to terms with her blindness and learns to adapt to her surroundings and day-to-day life, Werner comes to a realization the inhumanity of what the Nazi party stands for, but also realizes that in order to stay alive he needs to go with the flow.

Some of the other side characters that are mentioned in this book were interesting, some of the most notable ones were Frederick, Marie-Laure’s father, her uncle, Madame Manec and Werner’s sister, Jutta. It was good to read from their perspectives and everything they went through during the war, and even some of their experiences afterwards.

The plot moves steadily, although there are some slight lags that will probably make some readers frustrated. But overall, it was a really good book and I highly recommend it for anyone that enjoys historical fiction set in World War II.  3.75/5 Stars

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette


  p1 About the Book


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!

About the Authorp2

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

My Thoughts

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.

Guest Post from Connilyn

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!

Blog Stops

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.



Book Review: A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell.


I chose to read A Simple Favor because I wanted to find out what happened without going to see the movie. It sounded interesting, and I wanted to see what happened to make it suspenseful. Plus the whole idea that it involves a mommy blogger who ends up being harassed by her supposedly dead friend was also intriguing.

Mommy blogger, Stephanie’s world is turned upside down when her best friend Emily disappears one night, with only one request, that her son spend the night at her place. Stephanie tries to use her blog to help get any clues as to the whereabouts of Emily, and also stands by Emily’s husband’s side as they try to figure out what happened. However, Emily’s body is soon found and the case is closed, or so they think! Several weeks after the discovery of Emily’s body Sean and Stephanie start sleeping with each other, and soon after that Stephanie receives a phone call from someone claiming to be Emily. Is her friend still alive, or is it someone playing a sick trick on her? Plus she is also scared of some secrets from her past being exposed if Emily chooses to exact revenge on her.

I really wanted to love A Simple Favor, however it just didn’t draw me in. The only reason I kept reading was so that I could find out what really happened to Emily, and even that was kind of anticlimatic. I didn’t like any of the characters, Stephanie is awful and Emily is even worse. And then there is the whole back story of how Stephanie’s son was not her husband’s child, but rather her half brother’s and that she was having an affair with him when both he and her husband were killed in the same car accident (which may or may not have been a suicide/murder). It was just disturbing! And then Stephanie goes and sleeps with her best friend’s husband and tries to justify it!

Then there is Emily, who granted we are not supposed to like, but she is an awful, manipulative person who puts her husband and son through a great trauma and expects everything to be okay when they are reunited after they get the insurance money that she faked her death for. Sean is also despicable because when he discovers that she is alive, he holds onto that information and plays along, although she does kind of blackmail him into lying about her death. Also, her backstory was interesting and sad.

I did like the inclusions of Stephanie’s blog posts scattered throughout the novel. It did add something extra to the novel, even though the plot was seriously lacking in good pacing. It had the potential to be a great novel, but it fell flat in several areas. But then again I am beginning to think that suspense novels are just not my thing because this is the second one I have read and I didn’t like the first one I read. Even though I did not like it, there are many who will eagerly lap up this popular offering, especially with the recent release of the film last month. 2/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber.


 I chose this because Debbie Macomber has long been a favorite author of mine and her books are usually good, clean romances. It is also set in a seaside town, which is one of my favorite settings.

Annie has been in funk ever since her family was killed in a tragic mudslide on Thanksgiving sixteen months before the opening of the book. One day she decides to take a trip to Oceanside, a small town that her family used to go to on vacation when she was in her teens. While there she starts to feel a peace that she hasn’t felt since she received the news about her family, so she decides to get a job and move to Oceanside to continue the healing process.

In Oceanside she comes to know Keaton, a shy artist and carpenter, Mellie, her reclusive landlord, and Britt, a teenager who has a troubled background. They all help her heal and make her realize what is important in life.

First, let me start off by saying that there is something about Debbie Macomber’s novels that is addictive, and once you have read one, it is hard to stop. Cottage by the Sea  was no exception, however it had a more serious tone than some of her other books, but I still appreciate how she tackled with the issue of grief and even long-lost love. I also loved the setting of the small town of Oceanside and I wish I could live there, Macomber needs to write more books set in this town!

I enjoyed getting to know the characters, especially Annie and watching how she was wracked with grief and guilt because she believes that she should have died with her family during the mud slide, instead of making the selfish decision to not go visit them for Thanksgiving. It was also interesting to see how she makes the major life decision to move to Oceanside in order to get over grief, because it was a place where she was at her happiest.

The love interest, Keaton, was also interesting to get to know. At first he is lovable, but he becomes super frustrating when he completely shuts Annie out when he finds out that she might be leaving Oceanside. He doesn’t even talk to her, he just blocks her out of his life – I get that he has issues with his father, but it still was not a good enough excuse to treat her that way.

I also enjoyed getting to know Mellie and finding out why she is a recluse and stays in her house all the time and doesn’t really talk to anyone except Keaton, and Preston. Preston was another good character, and I wish he could have talked some sense into the bull-headed Keaton at times, he is also a good influence on Mellie and his love for her, and her returned affections for him eventually cause her to leave the house. I like how it is shown how exasperated he gets after he is constantly trying to show her he cares, especially since he has been trying to win her heart since high school. Britt was another good character, and I liked getting to know about her rough home life, and her decision to give her baby up for adoption to a deserving couple in Oceanside.

Overall, this was a good novel about moving on and getting past an all-consuming grief, and reconnecting with a long-lost love. This is a perfect summer read for fans of clean romance and any of Debbie Macomber’s other works. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer.


 I chose this book because it came up on a list on Novelist of thrillers to read. I was also intrigued by the fact that it was set in Cape Town, South Africa (where I grew up) and that it had been translated from Afrikaans. I was interested to see how some of the South African slang translated across into audiobook format, especially since the narrator is British, not South African.

Captain Mat Joubert is still grieving over the death of his wife from almost three years ago when he is called to investigate the murder of a businessman who has been shot with a century-old gun. While trying to crack the case, two more men end up dead, both with the same weapon as the first victim, but there is seemingly no connection between the three of them. It doesn’t help that while tracking down the serial killer, there is also a bank robber on the loose that is hitting various banks across the Cape. Are the killer and bank robber the same person? Will they be apprehended? These are the questions that will be answered by the end of Dead Before Dying. 

There were a lot of reasons why I expected to love this book, mainly because it is set in my home town and a lot of the landmarks mentioned throughout are areas that I am familiar with. The mystery was interesting, however there were some pretty graphic sex scenes, and a graphic rape scene towards the end of the novel that made me feel very uncomfortable. Especially since one of the scenes is a main character, who is 35, and his 18 year old neighbor (even though she isn’t a minor, it was honestly just gross). There was also a lot of unnecessary cussing, which is also a big turn off for me personally.

Again, the plot itself was pretty good, however there were flashback scenes and dream sequences that were never really identified as such and I was left trying to figure out how things had escalated so quickly when meanwhile it was just the character daydreaming. I also appreciated hearing the different places that were mentioned, and even some of the slang that was used that I haven’t heard in while, however there were certain names where it was obvious that the narrator was not South African because he overcompensated on the pronunciation.

Captain Mat Joubert was an interesting character, who had some redeeming qualities, but it also seemed like it was constantly thinking about sex, especially when there was a single female in his presence. It was interesting to see him grapple with his life starting to fall apart and striving to regain some control over it, even if it means going to see a psychologist and giving up cigarettes. In a lot of ways he is a good modern depiction of the hard-boiled detectives of old (e.g. Philip Marlowe), but his story is definitely not for everyone, especially those who don’t like reading constantly about the sexual desires of the character.

It was also interesting to see how, even though he is extremely flawed, he does look out for his friends, especially Benny Griesel who has a drinking problem. I also liked getting to know Hannah Norte (?) the psychologist who seemed very sweet and was shocked to find out how she was involved in the case.

I found it interesting that Meyer gave readers the bank robbery scenes, as well as some murder scenes to keep us guessing as to who was the killer, especially when one of the suspects ends up dead. I also appreciated a few scenes that we got from several of victim before they were murdered because it gave more dimension as to who they were and why they might have been murdered. In the end, it was interesting to see how it was a previously committed act of rape that was the motive behind the murders, which was shocking, and I felt like there was no necessity for all the gory details of that particular scene, which the author provides anyway.

Overall, while the majority of the plot is pretty decent, the novel suffers from an overload of sexual innuendos and descriptions that some might find disconcerting. However, maybe because I listened to the audiobook I was able to pick up on it more than if I was just simply reading the physical book. 2/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin.


One of the big draws to me was the cover, which is gorgeous. I was also intrigued when I found out that it was about two female doctors and that there was something that happened back when they were students that could change their friendship forever. It also sounded like it would be a good read for someone who is a fan of the TV show, Grey’s Anatomy.

The Queen of Hearts follows doctors Zadie Anson and Emma Colley who have been friends since med. school. They are now both happily married, mothers and successful in their vein of medicine. Even though their lives are chaotic, they still find time to spend with each other. However, their lives are soon turned upside down with the arrival of Dr. Nick Xenokostas, a man from their past who knows a secret that could change their friendship forever, especially as it brings back memories of the tragic events that happened during their early years as medical students.

The Queen of Hearts is kind of a medical drama that forces two best friends to come terms with a tragic event that occurred almost 20 years ago when the “new” doctor, Nick Xenokostas, arrives in town.

I liked how the author slowly unfolded the reasons why both Zadie and Emma don’t like the fact that Dr. X has returned into their lives. It also reads like a story arc of Grey’s Anatomy, but not quite so much drama as in the show. I also liked seeing the contrast between the two main characters from when they were med. school students to the present day events of the novel. It was interesting to see Zadie’s growth as a character and her daily struggles with being a good wife, friend, doctor, and mom. I also liked Emma and how she seems so sure of herself until Dr X shows back up  the scene, as well as when she has to endure the pain and aftermath of losing her first patient ever as a medical professional.

Readers will appreciate how Kimmery Martin masterfully portrays the theme of how one’s past grievances can come back and them in the butt. I did enjoy it, even though it took me a while to get into it, especially since the author takes her time unveiling certain details. However, I am looking forward to seeing what she has to offer readers next. 3.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Austen Escape

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay.


 I chose this book because it has the intriguing concept of a vacation in England at a Jane Austen “reenactment” manor. It was also interesting to see how and why Mary’s best friend, Isabel, all of a sudden loses her memory and really believes that she is living in the Regency era. It also seemed perfect for fans of Jane Austen.

Mary Davies is an engineer in Austin, Texas who is devoted to her job. She also has a crush on the consultant that her company has hired to help figure out how to move forward. However, there seems to be something missing from her life.  When her childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer invites her to go along on a two-week trip to stay at a manor house close to Bath, she is convinced into going. Shortly after arriving at the manor house, which also happens to have the guests acquire the persona of Jane Austen characters during their stay, Isabel loses her memory and really believes that she is living in the Regency Era.

She is forced to try and help her friend while surrounded by strangers. Mary also discovers that there is more to Isabel’s life than she knew previously, especially the fact that her boyfriend happens to be Mary’s crush from work. All while trying to make sure that she still has a job when she goes back home.

Initially I was excited to read this book because it involves Jane Austen, period costumes, and living as if it were during the early 19th-century. Overall this was an okay read, I felt like there were various elements that could have been executed better. An example of this is that it took over 100 pages for Isabel to finally lose her memory and the whole incident only lasts about 100 pages and the rest of the novel returns to focusing on Mary. While it was interesting to read about Isabel’s memory loss, it also seemed unnecessary.

Mary was an interesting character , but she also comes across as unlikable because she makes some major life decisions near the end of the novel based on what she thought was going to happen, even though she ended up being wrong. I did love Nathan, the love interest, he was swoon worthy and I loved how we swept in to save the day. I also enjoyed getting to know the side characters, especially the older couple, they really made the novel, and Gertrude was another great character.

Even though this wasn’t necessarily the best written book, it will hold readers’ attention, especially if they are fans of Austenland by Shannon Hale. While the author does try to tackle some significant issues, they could have been executed better, because there were sections of the novel that seemed to lag. This is a good summer read for Jane Austen fans, however the quality could have been better. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Murder Past Due

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Murder Past Due by Miranda James.


I came across the latest release in this series when I was working on processing new books at work. I was instantly intrigued when I saw that one of the characters was a Maine coon cat and I knew that it was a series I wanted to check out. Fast forward to a few weeks later when I was walking around Barnes and Noble and I came across the first book in the series and I decided to buy it and read it that very same day. In short, I am a sucker for anything that has a cat as a main character, especially a Maine coon.

In the town of Athena, Mississippi, almost everyone knows librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine coon cat Diesel, who goes almost everywhere with Charlie. In this first installment of the Cat in the Stacks series, a best-selling author and former classmate of Charlie’s, Godfrey Priest, comes back to Athena for a visit. However, within hours of his arrival he is found murdered, and Charlie and his faithful sidekick Diesel take up the task of finding the murderer.

I enjoyed this cozy mystery, especially since it is one of the first ones I have read in a while. This was a good start to the series  and I did like the mystery. One aspect that I liked about this book is that it kept me guessing to the very end about who the suspect was, and it ended up being on of the people I least expected to commit a murder. I appreciated how even though there were obvious motives for the murder there were still some twists that surprised me.

I loved following Charlie as he went about his day with Diesel. Diesel, although he can’t talk, definitely stole the show at times and it was interesting to see how he aided Charlie in his search for the killer.  I also really liked getting to Azalea and Melba and how they help Charlie both with the mystery and just with his everyday life. And, based on the last page of the novel, I really hope that we get to see Charlie find love again after the death of his wife.

Overall, this was a great introduction to the cozy mysteries genre and it made me want to read more of them. Murder Past Due will have readers looking forward to finding out what cases Charlie and Diesel crack next. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.