October 31, 2016

Review: The Promise of Rayne by Nicole Deese

After loving so many of Ms. Deese's past stories, I was eagerly anticipating this newest one. There's just something compelling about the characters she writes and the stories she creates around them. Rayne and Levi are two perfect examples of this! I remember reading where she stated this book was one of her hardest to write and I think it shows. There's so much going on for the reader to see beyond just the words on the page, the writing pulls at you to seek deeper in between what the characters are saying and doing, to see their hearts and all the unknowns that they're trying to hide. This book felt like Ms. Deese had taken her already amazing writing abilities and delved into their heart and soul, opening them up and finding more hidden layers yet to be discovered. I love when an author causes me to see deeper into the story and feel each emotion of the characters!

Rayne and Levi feel very fleshed out, with so much going on in their hearts and minds. To the point that when one or the other is not in the current scene, it feels like they are clearly still moving in the background even if we can't see them. They aren't perfect people, they both make some mistakes and they hurt each other more than once, yet the emotions that build between them are raw and genuine. They're aided by the fact that they have a bit of a past, which sets up these current interactions and helped me feel like their relationship wasn't moving too fast. I loved Rayne especially, even during the moments when I wanted to shake her so she would wake up to realizing how toxic her family is! And Levi...oh my goodness how I loved that man. He is so completely wonderful! I confess to swooning pretty often over him. ;) Their romance will melt your heart!

Yet it's not just the characters that I loved. It's the symbolism of the surrounding fires going on, the way Ms. Deese uses each situation to set up the next one, to push our characters further down their respective journey's. Each moment builds on another which builds on another, until I was on pins and needles wondering how all the secrets would finally get out and what that would do to my beloved Rayne! The tension builds steadily and I was so ready for our characters to finally get their happy ever after.

In short? I loved this story! I think you just might, as well. So you should read it! And then thank me later, okay? ;)

**I received a complimentary copy from the author via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Fear had an uncanny way of motivating people.

Levi ducked into the kitchen while Rayne perched on the edge of the sofa. There was no cushion in the world soft enough to make this exchange comfortable.

"Truth always leaves a trail," she whispered.

All the condolences she'd offered over the last couple weeks, the families she'd assisted, and the stories she'd heard reverberated throughout her mind. Her intentions had been well meaning, her words genuine, yet not even the sincerest of hearts could bridge the gap between sympathy and empathy.

A promise she tucked into the pocket of her heart.

"So that's your position, then?"
"Truth isn't a position."

October 30, 2016

Review: The Q by Beth Brower

{Just a heads up, this is a gushy and lengthy review. Because I had to. Couldn't help it.}

This book, y'all. Oh my word, this story. These characters! Quincy grabbed my heart pretty quickly and then never, ever gave it back. I heart Quincy so, so much! As well as every other character inhabiting this beautiful and heart-wrenching world of Beth Brower's! Oh friends, where do I even begin? (Perhaps I'll start by directing you to Angie's review, which convinced me to try it.)

Quincy is the reason I downloaded the rest of the book after trying the first couple chapters. She is one of the most compelling and fascinating characters I have ever read! I am nothing like her, yet I felt the strongest connection that I was unable to shake. I'm not sure I even have words to describe what I felt, other than she became a part of my very heart. She has layers upon layers that slowly peel back as the story develops. She knows she is different from other folk and she embraces that, her confidence in who she is is one of the first things you notice about her. Yet don't ever suppose you truly understand her, there are a rare few that do. The second thing you notice? Her love for The Q.

It didn't take long for me to fall in love with The Q myself! What is The Q, you ask? It's a place that must be experienced. Full of the quirkiest and most wonderful of people, who all adore Quincy (and rightly so!). (Well, except for one, but they eventually come around. Just you watch how it happens! ;) The Q is Quincy. Quincy is The Q. These two entities do not exist without the other. It is a world like nothing else, when you enter the doors of The Q, you are entering Quincy's domain. She inhabits every single part of this place, it is the very breath she breathes day in and day out. But it's not just the place, it's the people. All the workers that know their jobs intimately, as well as all the myriad of people who walk in the doors planning to share bits of their hearts, albeit unknowingly a lot of the time. There is no part of Rhysdon society that is not affected by The Q, and thus is affected by Quincy.

One of the best things about her is her ignorance of just how awesome she is. There are deep wells of thought and emotion that only the most truest of her friends get to see, yet even those who only get glimpses of it are drawn almost reluctantly into her orbit. Especially one such James Arch! I loved each and every barbed interaction, the way they struggled to understand each other, even the way they hurt each other. The journey of their friendship involves two steps forward and three steps back. It's a tangle of chaos, and requires a lot of work as well as forgiveness, yet they attempt the hard again and again. That's the beauty of friendship with Quincy, she may hurt with her bluntness, yet once you see beyond her initial sharp edges, you cannot help but want to know more, want to try and really understand her. Like Fisher does. I loved their friendship! I loved that no matter what, they always had each other's back. When you've survived the things those two have, it creates a bond that cannot be broken in any way. Not even when they hurt each other. Which Quincy does the most often because the girl in no way understands how to be tactful. At all. Yet all the hard they've been through, and even the hard yet to come, only makes them stronger together. Even distance can't break it! :)

See? I keep coming back to Quincy. She is the heart and soul of this story. Once you become one of 'her people', you become privy to things she only shares with the worthy, and then you become protective of her and she of you. The family she creates around her is little, but mighty. She, herself, one of the mightiest! (Don't let her fool you, that small body houses a fierce mama-bear!) She is an irresistible force that made me want to hug her so many times, even though she'd have hated every minute of it. Her quirkiness, her bluntness, the way she struggled to understand the hidden cues of society, the way she didn't fit society at all, just the very fact that a character such as her exists!

Yet it's not just Quincy that I love, the writing is exceptional! I kept highlighting so many phrases on my kindle, I fear I'm going to have trouble narrowing down which to feature below. Thank you, Ms. Brower, for this story. For creating the gloriously imperfect Quincy for me to fall in love with! For these words that necessitated I stay up entirely too late reading. For The Q and this world that felt so much bigger than just a building and a few streets in the city. For this engrossing story that inhabited my mind and every moment of my life until I finished the final page! (And even for days after that.) For making me wish I could enter the pages and become a part of the story myself. This book is going on my top ten reads of this year, no doubt about it. It's incredible! You should read it. Trust me, you really should.

Quincy stood before the black casket, hands behind her back, a ruined pile of rusted thoughts and sharp emotions torn up and left in her empty chest.

In all actuality, Quincy knew that, when riding in a wagon, your thoughts had plenty of room to wander and move and never bump into those of your companions. But in a carriage, with its confined space, people often felt compelled to speak with one another, even when their companion didn't wish it. And Quincy did not wish it. She thought that the truest test of humanity was riding in a coach and saying absolutely nothing to one's traveling companions. Few, if any, had ever succeeded.

And his conclusions as to the meaning of Boy Blue's question felt layered and restless. This was opposite from her modus operandi of comfortably tabled ink and gears, and she did not like what she did not understand. So Quincy did what she knew always gave her the same results, she shut him out by locking her interior doors.

The song reminded her of grief, of emotions that were simpler as a child, more straightforward, that were now taken and turned into something she was hesitant to touch but could not forget.

There weren't as many lights here as there were along the more respectable streets of Rhysdon, but those that were present, half tilting and thoughtful, hung their mystery well. Quincy and Fisher walked through all this in silence. Silence was the most common stock-in-trade between them, and the portfolio of their friendship was thick with it. So, without words, they stepped across the streets, their feet pressing the pavement with the same sounds, their toes turned just so; they knew what life was like at each other's side. Sometimes he would speak, or she would, small offerings on the altar of their joint survival.

She kept thinking that a time like this required words--one million lines of type, laid out perfectly, with no ink stains, no backward letters--to say what should be said. But that couldn't happen, and she didn't know what else to put in its place.

October 28, 2016

Anne of Green Gables Week tag

Hello my lovelies! I trust you're all doing very well. I can say that I mostly am. Today is mom's birthday and oh how I wish I could celebrate it with her. I miss her terribly. I'm not really Okay yet, but I think I'm getting there. Kinda. Maybe. I'll get there someday! Happy birthday, mom. 

Anyhoo, a few weeks ago I had seen where Miss Evie was having an Anne of Green Gables Week. In fact, Movie Critic made sure to email me so I'd know about it. (Which I so appreciated!) I thought I'd get the chance to join in before the last day and well.....as you can see, I didn't. *sigh* Life! Still, better late than never, right? I love Anne (how can you not?!), so I decided I'd join in anyway and here I am!

Let's get to it, shall we? :)

Image result for anne of green gables movieHow did you get introduced to Anne of Green Gables?

I know I read the books at some point in my childhood, I just can't remember exactly when. And then I watched the first movie and fell completely in love! (I admit it, Gilbert had a whole lot to do with that. ;)

Are you more like Anne or Diana? Why?

Hmmm...I'd say I'm probably a mix of both. I like big words and can do a whole lot of talking fast when I'm excited, plus I like to use my imagination, a bit like Anne. Yet I tend to be on the quieter side most of the time and definitely not the instigator of ideas, much like Diana.

Now that I'm thinking on it, I'm probably more Diana than I am Anne...

If Rachel Lynde called your hair as red as carrots, how would you react?

I'm sure I wouldn't feel complimented, but I'd hope that I would be adult enough to just ignore the statement.

Gilbert or Morgan Harris?

GILBERT of course!! Who'd choose Morgan Harris???? That's really a no-brainer.

Honest opinion on the third Anne film.

I like it. I know most people seem to bash it a lot, but most movies/miniseries always change something. While I wish they hadn't changed it quite so drastically, so long as I turn my brain off, I thoroughly enjoy watching grown up Anne and Gilbert together!

Image result for anne and gilbert
See what I mean?
I will watch those two no matter how awful the movie itself is. (I really don't think it's that awful though. Just very, very different.)

Have you seen the New Anne film?

I'm not sure which new one you're referring to... I know there was a new one a couple years ago that was based around her earlier years, before she went to live with Matthew and Marilla (I think?). And I know there are a couple new ones getting ready to come out, one yet this year and one next year. (At least, I don't think they've come out yet...) I haven't seen any of them, but I'm interested in trying the new ones yet to come. I decided I should reserve judgement until I see them. After all, if I hate them then I can always just rewatch the ones with Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie (*sighs dreamily* ;) again.

What in your own words is a Kindred Spirit?

Someone who truly understands you. You connect and relate with each other.

Movie Gilbert or Green Gables Fables Gilbert?

Ooo, that's a toughie. I like both! For different reasons, because they're really two different guys. I mean, they're both Gilbert, yes, but one is modern and one is not. Both are pretty adorable though! ;)

GGF Gilbert
{Incidentally, if you haven't watched Green Gables Fables, I recommend it! It's great fun.}

Does anyone know where we can watch Road to Avonlea online?

Nope, sorry.

Favorite book cover?


The films or the books?

Both! (Is that a cop out? Ah, well. I'm going with it anyway.) Naturally the books are where we get the most detail and descriptions. Yet I love the movies as well! There's just nothing like seeing Jonathan Crombie woo Megan Follows on my screen, what can I say? :D

October 24, 2016

Review: Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations by V. Joy Palmer {Blog Tour + Giveaway}

This was a cute story! Mostly. There's a lot of mess in Izze's life and her journey to get it all figured out made me smile in some parts and cringe in others. She doesn't always make the best decisions, but then who does? (Certainly not me.) She was always willing to admit she was wrong once she discovered it and do all she could to correct the mistake. I really appreciated her ability to bounce back no matter how far she had fallen! And Miles, her "nemesis" turned love interest, added much depth to the story. Especially as we get to see his perspective every once in a while. He keeps Izze on her toes and causes her to take a look at her life and decide what she really wants.

Their chemistry is pretty great, right from the beginning. The attraction between them is more or less immediate, even if Izze refuses to acknowledge it. Then they proceed to drive each other crazy! :) Theirs is a bickering relationship, which means we get lots of back and forth between them as they discuss just about anything. I think they tend to be a bit too alike in thinking they're always right, so both have to swallow a few hard pills during the course of the book. Which is good for them! They have a lot of growing to do, and learning to really trust someone else. Vulnerability is never easy, so I could sympathize with their fears.

Yet I have to confess that there were a lot of times when the horrible things that Izze would say to Miles or how she would treat him made me wonder what he saw in her. He decides pretty quickly that he loves her and stays steady in that much of the rest of the story, which is very commendable! But I couldn't see what it was that he loved so much. She tends to be extremely dramatic in everything and there were several times I got annoyed. I wanted to like her because I knew she had high walls protecting her heart due to pain in her past, yet even as she spoke of growing and changing for the better, I could never actually see it. It felt more like she was telling me, but not showing me and I wanted so much more for her. My feelings never fully invested in her journey, there was always a slight detachment from the story, which disappointed me. One thing that I definitely loved about Izze though? Her love of books! That bit just made me very happy.

So! Bottom line for me is that I enjoyed the story overall but definitely struggled in liking Izze most of the time. It's a pretty quick and easy read though, with lots of sweet moments, which helped to alleviate my frustration somewhat. Plus I really liked the writing style Ms. Palmer used! So I'd like to try another book of hers, perhaps about some of those intriguing secondary characters. (Pretty please, Ms. Palmer? :)

**I received a complimentary copy via Singing Librarian Books. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

​V. Joy Palmer is an avid blogger and is co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. She is a youth leader at her church, and loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens. When Joy isn’t urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she’s hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their two socially awkward cats. This is her debut novel.



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Tour Schedule

October 17--Bibliophile Reviews
October 18--Wishful Endings
October 19--Christian Bookaholic
October 20--Faithfully Bookish
October 21--Singing LIbrarian Books
October 22--Zerina Blossom's Books
October 24--Flowers of Quiet Happiness
October 25--A Holland Reads
October 26--Reading Is My SuperPower
October 27--Bookworm Mama
October 28--Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
October 29--Red Headed Book Lady Rachael's Reads

October 21, 2016

Lena's Triple Trick-or-Treat Cover Reveal {+ Giveaway!}

Today I get to share some pretty new covers with all you lovely people! I figured it was high time for something a little different around here and when Amber asked if I'd be interested, I said 'absolutely'. :D

So! Before we get to the covers themselves, I figured I should mention that I haven't read two of these books yet, but I did read Songstone back a few years ago. I just have to say that I definitely like this new cover much better than the old one. And now I'm intrigued enough to want to try Haunting Joy: Book 1 and Haunting Joy: Book 2. The covers for those two are pretty eye-catching! Let's see what you think...

All three together are pretty striking, right?? :) I do love those crisp colors...

About the books

In celebration of Lena Goldfinch’s upcoming release, HAUNTING JOY: BOOK 2, she’s revealing three brand-new book covers! The two HAUNTING JOY books are light paranormal stories, and SONGSTONE is a fantasy romance. All three books are sweet—and slightly spine-tingling—young adult reads, perfect for cozy autumn nights!


“A sweet and charming ghost story that completely won me over.”
—Lena Coakley, Witchlanders

Joy’s new dress has a secret—one with a little supernatural history, one that’s a little more than she expected.

It all starts one ordinary afternoon, when seventeen-year-old Joy tries on some thrift-store clothes. The little white dress fits perfectly. Trouble is, now it won’t leave her alone. Soon Joy is swept up in an extraordinary journey to help a ghost complete some unfinished business.

If only that didn’t involve Joy driving through dangerous intersections...
Or calling up her high-school crush, Nick...
Or getting stuck in a cemetery after dark.

Just how much is Joy willing to risk to uncover the truth?


Joy’s story continues with another ghost, this time a boy who seems intent on disrupting her senior year…


“An original fantasy world inhabited by superstitious tribal nations and intriguingly developed characters.”
—Serena Chase, USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog

A dark, twisty tale of sorcery, tummy-tingling romance, and adventure, inspired by the folklore of New Zealand's Māori people.

Kita can meld song into stone—a skill called “storytelling,” which is greatly honored in a world with no written word. But Kita is slave to a sorcerer who practices black magic using drops of her blood. She fears he’ll use her beautiful gift for a killing spell, so she conceals it. Yet each day, his magic tightens around her neck like a rope.

Then Pono, a young journeyman, arrives from the other side of the island. He’s come to fulfill a pact between their villages: to escort a storyteller back to his village. Finally, in Pono, Kita sees her one slim chance at freedom—and she’ll risk her life to take it.

Kindle | Nook | Kobo | Paperback

About the Author

LENA GOLDFINCH writes sweet historical western romance/inspirational romance and books for teens. She’s always been a sucker for a good old-fashioned romance, whether it’s a novel or short story, young adult or adult, fantasy or realistic, contemporary or historical. Lena has been a finalist in several national writing contests, including the RWA Golden Heart and ACFW Genesis contests. She enjoys life in a quiet, small town with her husband, two kids, and two very spoiled Black Labs.


No tricks with this giveaway—just a treat for three lucky winners! Each winner will get a copy of one of Lena’s featured books (winner’s choice): Haunting Joy: Book 1; Haunting Joy: Book 2; OR Songstone.

Note: Paperback copies are only available to winners who are US residents. Ebook versions are available to all winners.

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October 20, 2016

Review: A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck

Seriously, can anyone else write such swoony, royal romances like Ms. Hauck? I think not! I have been a fan of her Royal Wedding series ever since book one, Once Upon a Prince, and this one is just as wonderful as the rest. I mean, we have another chemistry-laden couple who bicker a little and fight their attraction, a past romance that helps to complicate the present, we catch up with Nathaniel and Susanna's happily ever after, plus it all takes place in Brighton Kingdom at Christmas time (well, mostly)!!! What else do you need to know to convince you to read it?? ;)

Our main couple is definitely the highlight of the story. Avery and Prince Colin have a history that proves just as potent in their present. When the two of them are in close proximity neither can see anyone else! No matter how much they both deny it, their chemistry speaks for itself. Yet their past is not so easily overcome. Pain causes Avery to withdraw, while duty does the same for Prince Colin, and they have to work to rebuild trust in each other. Still, ignoring isn't an option since familial relationships mean they are required to spend time together. We all know where their story is going to end, but it's each hard conversation, as well as giddy moments filled with sweetness, that makes the journey so fun. Plus when they needed the push, a certain centuries-old tradition involving a bell decides to help. I loved all the supernatural bits added in, true love will not be denied!

All the side characters are just as interesting, especially since we get to spend more time with Nathaniel and Susanna, who end up being voices of much needed reason. And I so appreciated how Avery and Susanna, along with their mother, were honest about their grief for their father. Losing someone you love is difficult, it changes every aspect of your life, which is something I know well. So to see the sisters, especially Avery, working through the emotional upheaval was poignant. Ms. Hauck described the unknowns and emotions of grief very accurately. It was true and honest, and heartfelt.

The fairytale-like elements are another part of this story that I loved. What young girl hasn't dreamed of marrying a prince at some point? Ms. Hauck takes that idea and brings it to life for us again and again. Which just makes me *happy dance*! I read through the story with a constant grin on my face. I would certainly not be opposed to more books in this series, Ms. Hauck! More swoony romance please! :)

**I received a complimentary copy via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sad thing about losing your parent is a door to your childhood closes. One you didn't even know was open.

October 18, 2016

Review: Unblemished by Sara Ella

This was quite a fun adventure! But I have to confess that I did not realize it was going to be part of a series so when I got to the end, I was a bit....unprepared shall we say. Because I am a very impatient reader! :) Hence I decided I should clarify that first, lest any other unsuspecting readers choose to try this book expecting for everything to get resolved by the final page. It doesn't! I'm just going to put that out there right now. However. There were a lot of my questions that did get explained, at least enough to satisfy me for now, so that helped. There's a bit of a cliffhanger, but it's not too terrible. As someone who hates to wait a long time for the next book in a series, I truly hope the wait isn't forever though!

Anyhoo, on to the good stuff. I liked Eliyana, but it did take a bit for me to warm up to her. Perhaps she's a bit too teenagerish for me? That's not a complaint, I just think I was expecting her to make adult decisions sometimes, which isn't fair because she's not an adult yet. I simply had to remind myself that she's only seventeen. Yet I could definitely understand the myriad of emotions she felt at the beginning, grief for her mother, confusion and fear as things began happening around her, not to mention all the anger and pain that heartache brings, which she has no time to even begin to process. She has a huge amount of new information and new people (some of whom are trustworthy and some not, neither of which is easy to decipher) thrown in her path in quick succession. Thus I could cut her a little slack at moments when she frustrated me.

The world building is pretty wonderful. I liked the fact that we get a map in the beginning (maps are always so helpful when it comes to fantasy worlds!), and I really liked that much of the storyline takes place in a different, yet still kind of recognizable New York. I appreciated having familiarities to ground me when things got a little crazy! And boy did things get crazy. There's so much going on and we, along with Eliyana, get thrown right into the mix of things with little explanation. It served to intrigue me and keep me turning pages. (Well done, Sara Ella!) As things move at a pretty quick pace right from chapter one, it's best you put your seat belts on and hang on for the ride. :D

There's a lot of familiar tropes in the story, as well as several times I had to go back and reread a paragraph to be sure I understood what just happened! Kudos to the author for surprising me with unexpected plotlines and character decisions. I really loved the way some of the characters were so ambiguous. I loved it and I hated it. What a quandary, right?! ;) When an author inspires FEELings in me, I know that's a really good sign! But I also must tell you that there's the dreaded love triangle. *heaves a big sigh* I am not a fan of those. At all. I do have a preference, but future books (?) will have to tell me if I'm right or not. Which is why I don't like love triangles! I like to know who to root for, okay? Also! What is with parents and/or guardians of these "special snowflake" main characters who never explain what's going on? They always talk about how "it's for your safety", but come on. Is it really? I, for one, think a little communication prior to where our story starts would go a long way to preventing some of the chaos! But then, I suppose we wouldn't have a lot of the story, would we? Nevermind then.

Full of epic adventure, swoony romance (yes, even with a love triangle ;),  and excellent writing that pulls you in, this is a wonderful story! Even if I have to wait ages, I will definitely be looking forward to more!

**I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson and Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

"Could you explain this whole Calling thing to me? I'm getting a little confused."
"We've got hours until the others wake. Might as well. What do you know?"
I relay what I've learned from Joshua, Robyn, and Wade. I stride beside Ky, keeping a respectful distance, our pace unhurried. The cottages are dark. It's a ghost town, minus the gunslingers and saloons. Even before night fell, the Village was dead. Is this how these people live? In constant fear? The Haven is large, but it's still a prison. No matter the breadth between, walls are still walls.

October 17, 2016

Review: Since You've Been Gone by Christa Allen

It's interesting to me how some people who've gone through a difficult death in their life can read books about characters who are going through similar feelings, while others cannot. I can see where both ways would be very natural. Right after my mother passed away, I don't think I could have read a story such as this, I would have been way too emotional. But now? Now I completely connected with Olivia and so much of what she deals with emotionally in this story! I'm not sure I would have even wanted to try this book prior to experiencing a loss in my life. Maybe, maybe not. But either way, I'm so glad I tried it now.

It was really the emotions that Olivia goes through, from anger and frustration to grief and heartache to all the myriad of feelings that are almost indescribable even to the one feeling them, that captivated me throughout this novel.  Emotions are so very personal and we never know how we're going to react to certain situations. Olivia's emotional upheaval felt very real to me, they fluctuate and come and go, they don't even make sense sometimes, which is very true to life.

As for Olivia herself? She's not very likable in the beginning. Yet that's part of her journey, realizing the parts of herself that need changing, and by the end I was solidly on her side. She has a lot of growth to go through and begins to realize how lost she is, how much she cannot do on her own. Her relationship with her parents, especially, is quite turbulent. I have to admit that I didn't really like Olivia's mother. I think that was the point, but she reacted so judgmentally. I really wanted her to see that how she was acting was not coming across as loving at all, hence why Olivia reacted so strongly in retaliation. But Ruthy, Olivia's grandmother, on the other hand? I loved her! She was a breath of fresh air every time she entered the scene, imparting wisdom and truth into her granddaughter's life. Working through her family relationships is not easy and requires much patience as each step forward seems to come with a half step back. But little by little, Olivia's chaos begins to settle and I was happy to see it!

Ms. Allan's writing flows easily, although I did think some of the flashback scenes, especially in the beginning, got a little confusing since we jumped back and forth between them and present day with not much explanation. As the story went on, things smoothed out a little better, which I appreciated. The romance is quiet and in the background, with just enough sweetness to keep me grinning. I liked Evan quite a bit! All in all, it's a simple story with lots of layers. As they peel back one by one, there is a lot of heart to be found and enjoyed! :)

**I received a complimentary copy from the author via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

If God were as compassionate as my mother believed Him to be, then He'd dole out tragedy on a rotating basis. You'd stand in line, then He'd reach into His bushel of adversity, hand one over, and you'd go to the back of the long stretch of mankind. You'd have time to deal with it, dress it in different clothes, ignore it, shove it someplace in your heart before your number was up again.

I didn't cry.
I sobbed.
Because when someone knew that all the chaos in your spirit was reflected in the mess that surrounded you and quietly restored your dignity, how else could you thank them?

"I really believe it's true...what my sister says about people coming along to help. They're not always who we expect them to be, but they show up."

October 10, 2016

Review: Can't Help Falling by Kara Isaac

I LOVED this book! That's it, the end. No other embellishment is needed. That should be enough to make you immediately go out and buy it, right? ;)

Seriously though, this story is absolutely delightful! After reading and loving, Close to You earlier this year, I was highly anticipating Ms. Isaac's next book. Even more so when I knew Jackson and Allie would be secondary characters in it! In fact, those two featured quite a bit more prominently that I thought they may, but you'll get no complaining from me, no sir. I loved seeing their life after the 'happily ever after'. But my absolute favorite bits? Were any time that Peter and Emilia were on the page! Because while I loved how perfectly Jackson and Allie fit each other, Peter and Emilia's connection was even more so.

Ah, what is there to say about those two? First of all, that meet cute has to be in my top ten! Seriously all kinds of adorable! The best part is it happens twice, and it sets the stage for many more amusing moments between them. They have crackling chemistry and when you get the two of them close....ooohhh my! ;) They also have this innate perception of one another. They can see the pain inside the other, for neither has a life filled with happiness and rainbows at the moment. They each carry scars, both figuratively and literally, yet that's the beauty of their individual trajectories. As they interact, slowly but surely they bring healing and peace into their own lives. Peace has been something the pair of them has been lacking for quite a long time. They've both tried to fill that void, very unsuccessfully. It takes meeting each other and being forced to face their problems head on before they can find true rest and comfort. Their journey's aren't easy, they're rather difficult actually, but as they slowly open up to one another, they begin to learn that forgiveness and grace are not earned, they are freely given.

Slipping in between all the swoony romance and great character growth comes one of the biggest highlights of the story for me. Emilia is a fan of C.S. Lewis (as am I! :), hence all the references to his works, especially The Chronicles of Narnia! Ms. Isaac excels at establishing the themes of Lewis' stories as a foundation and then using them to create this really wonderful mix of faith-building and self-discernment, all while feeling comfortably immersed in classic literature. Quite similar to Katherine Reay's books as a matter of fact, except with a bit more romance! (One of the highest compliments I can give. :)

I don't know how Ms. Isaac did it, but this sophomore novel felt so much more than her first. Close to You was excellent, but this one really showcases her rising skill. I'm not sure how to describe it, it just felt like she had settled more comfortably into her writer voice. Both stories are amazing, but this one simply feels exceptional. These characters put down roots in my heart and refused to leave. For hours and days after, I was still thinking about them and needing to go back and revisit all my favorite bits. That doesn't happen with every story I read, so when it does? I know I've found a good one! :) It goes without saying that I recommend this story, friends. Try it and see what you think!

**I received a complimentary copy via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wherever you are, Emmy, you will always find safety here. And one day, one day, you and me? We'll find the wardrobe. 
The words her mom had whispered to her tiptoed through her mind. Whispers of the past that haunted her every step.
The door swung open without even a squeak. Smoothly, on hinges that felt like they'd been oiled seconds ago, even though the cobwebs in the top corner told a different story.
She stuck her head in. Darkness met her like a warm embrace. For all the unfulfilled promises her mother had made, for some reason the one about always feeling safe in wardrobes had stuck. Along with the compulsion to continue her mother's lifelong mission to find the one.
There were rules, of course. No feeling for the back until you were inside. No playing it safe, keeping your feet on the outside and reaching out. You had to commit. Narnia would never be found by those who were uncertain or ambivalent.

October 8, 2016

Random Bits of Fun

  • I recently (as in only a week ago!) started an Instagram account for books only. I've had a personal account, where I would occasionally post bookish stuff, but a lot of real life friends follow me there and they aren't readers. I didn't want to bombard them with umpteen pics of books. So! If you care to check it out and see for yourself whether I'm any good at taking pictures, then click over here. :)
  • One of my coworkers introduced me to this hilarious song because she knows how much I love to read. Have you heard of it before? I laughed and laughed the first time I listened! :D
  • I recently watched Love and Friendship, the movie based on Jane Austen's novella Lady Susan. I had read so many differing opinions on it that I wondered what I would think. I liked it! I didn't love it, I'm glad I only borrowed from the library because I could take it back without spending any money. But I did like it! I thought the way they introduced the characters and incorporated bits of letters in it was a wonderful call back to the story. Because Ms. Austen's original is in epistolary form. And Lady Susan is just as conniving and beautiful as I imagined. I thought Kate Beckinsale did a fantastic job actually! Have you seen it? What did you think?
  • That's it for today, my lovelies! I hope you're having a great weekend. See you next week for more reviews! :)

October 5, 2016

Review: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Kasie West has been slowly creeping up my list of favorite authors and this book cements her place there! Because I LOVED it. I am such a huge fan of stories where one or both parties fall in love with the other's words! Maybe it's because I'm so much better at writing my own thoughts than actually saying them out loud, but whatever the reason that aspect of this novel was pretty much the deciding factor as for whether I'd try it or no. Then I read a review somewhere that stated how this had similarities to You've Got Mail, which just happens to be one of my most favorite movies EVER! So that was that, I was going to read it and love it. Sure enough, I did! And friends, let me tell you, it is simply delightful.

The biggest reason I loved it is because of how these two people fall for each other! Writing anonymous letters to someone they don't know (at first) allows for heart truths to come out. They write things they wouldn't normally admit to. Especially to each other! But their written words open their hearts and before they know it, they matter. A lot. Which then brings complications, naturally. (Where would we be without the requisite complications? :) Things happen, Lily finds out just who she's been writing to, and cue the angst! I had a pretty good idea who her mystery guy was, but that didn't lessen my happiness once she found out (which happens about half way through). On the contrary, the fun really began! Because these two definitely had similar vibes to Joe and Kathleen (from You've Got Mail). And watching them banter and stumble their way through figuring out how to handle their feelings is the best!

I also love Lily herself. She is a wonderfully awkward teenager, who doesn't always react in the best ways. She makes mistakes and is still in the process of learning who she is and whether she's brave enough to show her true self to the world. Yet she's so confident in owning her quirky style and how she doesn't fit in with her peers at the same time! So, she's a mix of insecurity and determination, with a fabulous best friend, and this guy who discombobulates everything. He causes our girl much angst and frustration, yet the slow build of how perfectly they fit together made me swoon all the harder once we got to the happy parts! :D

This book is light and frothy and absolutely adorable. I can't stop grinning even now, just thinking about it! If you enjoy likable leads paired with fun bickering and cuteness galore, not to mention letter-writing!, then this one must be added to your TBR pile, friends! Trust me.

"Isabel, help me in the kitchen."
She followed me in and when I was sure the guys couldn't hear, I whispered, "Why would you do this to me?"
Isabel sighed. "I thought that if you didn't know you were going on a date tonight, you wouldn't have time to stress. That you wouldn't practice lines in your mind and imagine outcomes."
"You thought my awkwardness was from preconceived plans to be awkward?"
"Yes, actually."
I laughed. "Well, now you know the truth."

"I called your name outside but you were running like someone was chasing you."
"I'm practicing for cross-country."
"You are?"
"No, I'm not. Running is the worst. Why do people do that on purpose?"

October 4, 2016

Review: Love Everlasting by Julie Lessman {Blog Tour + Giveaway}

I had been eagerly anticipating this book ever since I first read the synopsis for it. Not to mention everyone and their sister has been gushing over book one of the series, Isle of Hope. But it wasn't until I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Lessman in person a couple months ago that my impatient nature began showing itself. After hearing her speak on the personal reasons that inspired her to write this series (I love knowing the background stories which galvanize an author to begin writing), I knew that October couldn't get here fast enough. Now it's here, I finally got the book in my hands, and I loved it! I think you will too. :)

Firstly, it's those characters who pull me in (as usual). I loved Shannon and her sweet and caring nature, who can also be bold enough to stand her ground when the occasion calls for it. (Although I will admit that I wasn't as big a fan of her nickname. It's used constantly and kind of bugs me, but that's just a personal quibble.) The close relationship she has with her family is wonderful to watch play out. The O'Bryen's are awesome! They all clearly love one another dearly and even when one makes a mistake, they confront the issue with love and grace as needed and move on. When problems arise, they're all guaranteed to do whatever they can to make things better, they look after each other fiercely. They actually remind me a lot of the McKenna clan from Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series, who just happen to be one of my very favorite fictional families!

Then there's Sam, aka Dr. Love. He's got the biggest amount of growing to do because he starts out with layers that are in desperate need of peeling back. As we're reminded (a little too) frequently, he's a player and perfectly happy to be one! I don't think we have enough nice guys in fiction, but I do have to admit that there is just something about a bad boy who gets redeemed, isn't there? That's precisely who Sam is at the beginning, a bad boy with a tender heart that he keeps hidden. Watching as Shannon slowly batters down his walls, almost unbeknownst to him (or her either), is hilarious at times and awfully swoony at others! Because can I just say that the chemistry between those two is off the charts! Yet the very best part is how they inspire each other to change and become better versions of themselves. Neither are without fault though, so their relationship requires a lot of patience and grace from each other.

I can't forget to mention Tess and Ben's relationship because we spend a good deal of time with them as well. I gathered that there is some backstory from book one which I haven't read, but Ms. Lessman provides just the right amount of indication of what happened to keep me from being confused. I had no trouble jumping right into their part of the story, which is full of enough angst and swoons and amusement to make any reader happy. I do have to confess that their storyline didn't hold my attention quite so fully as Sam and Shannon's though, and I would often skim through some of their chapters. I still enjoyed getting their perspectives though! Especially when the O'Bryen's were all together.

Chemistry-laden swooniness plus character growth plus really wonderful writing equals a delightful story so worth your time! I highly recommend this one, friends. SO good! :)

**I received a complimentary copy via Singing Librarian Books in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. A lover of all things Irish, she enjoys writing close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.

Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series, Julie Lessman was named American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered 17 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also named on Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction list.

Julie’s most recent novel, Isle of Hope was voted on Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015, and Surprised by Love appeared on Family Fiction magazine’s list of Top Ten Novels of 2014. Her independent novel A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. You can contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at www.julielessman.com.


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Tour Schedule

October 1--
October 2--Bibliophile Reviews | Wishful Endings
October 3--Book by Book | Singing Librarian Books ​
October 4--Flowers of Quiet Happiness 
October 5--Getting Your Read On | The Green Mockingbird 
October 6--Faithfully Bookish | Just Commonly 
October 7--Daysong Reflections Bookworm Mama
​October 8--Smiling Book Reviews Zerina Blossom's Books

October 3, 2016

Review: The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall

Ms. Crandall's Everstone Chronicles series has been highly recommended to me ever since book one came out, but for some reason I'd never tried reading one of them until now. Craziness! Because I really enjoyed this one! (And even though it's part of a series, I didn't feel that discombobulated reading book four first.) I've been a big fan of stories that take place in Victorian England for years, so that aspect of the novel was absolutely a plus in its favor. But not only the setting is wonderful, so are the characters! Ms. Crandall's writing swept me into Violet's story and kept me on my toes wondering where things would go next.

I enjoyed getting to know Violet. Her sweet and innocent personality make her very likable. She's a great mix of boldness and uncertainty. She knows when to stand firm in her beliefs, yet she's susceptible to her own insecurities. Although I will admit to feeling some frustration with her. There were times where some of the choices she'd make didn't seem to fit what I knew about her. And I wanted to reach in the pages and give her a good shake a time or two. Luckily she has Mr. Vance Everstone around! He keeps an eye out for her safety and boy oh boy does the tension fairly crackle between them. Get those two in close quarters and they are aware of no one but each other! ;)

I was intrigued with Vance from the beginning, just as Violet is, and I loved watching his layers peel back little by little. I had some speculation over what he may be thinking at different points, and sometimes I'd be right and sometimes not. Which is just the right amount of mystery surrounding the hero of the story! But what I loved best about him is how determined he is to overcome his terrible reputation and prove to Violet that he's a new man, committed to doing the right and honorable thing. This takes some tremendous self-control on his part because Violet is so completely unaware of the effect she has on him!

There were unexpected twists, a few predictable plot points, sufficient mystery and tension, and such swoony moments to make my shipper heart happy! The feels that Vance and Violet caused....I have no words, my friends. All I can say is you need to go read their story and find out for yourself! :D

**I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Upon returning, Vance took a seat again and held most of the pins out for me to take.
I did so, but answered, "I don't understand. My hair is too short--"
"I think we can figure something out. I wouldn't want you to miss out on having dinner with us on account of feeling unpresentable." He studied my hair once again.
I forced myself to breathe and averted my eyes as he focused on me so completely. how was it that he could make me feel so reassured, and yet on edge at the same time?
And then, without warning Vance took a lock of my hair, deftly twisted it about his fingers and pinned it above my ear, causing me to sit up straight, wide-eyed. "What are you doing?"
"Making you look presentable..."


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