July 14, 2017

it's the little things...

drinking hot tea
reading books
wearing sandals
trees rustling in the wind
convos with friends
long and tight hugs
dreaming of trips to come
having wanderlust
rainy days
movie marathons
warm smiles from strangers
long roads with mountains
bright and cheerful flowers
unexpected compliments
text messages from friends
fresh blueberries
crisp mornings
warm blankets
handwritten words
ocean waves
relatable characters
the sound of turning pages
hearing "I love you"
favorite songs
lyrics that understand
the quiet of nature
hearing someone laugh
holding a newborn
knowing that someone misses you
discovering words for feelings
receiving a letter/card in the mail
sleeping in
eating watermelon outside
long drives
reminiscing with friends
black and white photographs
endless possibilities
finding brave
knowing it's Friday! :)

July 13, 2017

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Twenty-Nine

Hello, my lovelies! Long time no talk. I'm still here! Though I'm sure you've been in doubt. Completely understandable! Life has been....interesting for me this year and it seems so many things I love have gotten pushed to the side. And I don't like it. I keep hoping to restart blogging, as well as a few other things, but something always seems to happen to prevent it. So. Whether I'm here for a while or just a couple posts....I'm not certain. But I'm going to try and begin posting a little more regularly again! Hope with me, how about it? :)

Meanwhile, on to the mini reviews...

Because You're Mine by Colleen Coble
The opportunity to review this one came up and it intrigued me. It's a story very much out of my usual comfort zone, but that can be a good thing! So I said "Why not?", and here I am, striving for words to describe my feelings. It's an interesting premise for sure! I absolutely must commend Ms. Coble for creating this very Gothic atmosphere, for one thing. I could feel the same unease and confusion about everything that Alanna was feeling. I wasn't certain what was going on exactly and I knew it didn't feel quite right. So kudos to her for affecting my emotions so vividly! It was enough to keep me turning the pages to find out how it all would end.

Yet I have to admit to not quite enjoying the entire story at the same time. Alanna bugged me several times, with how she'd react to things. And overall, the weirdness of the plot just wasn't something I found very pleasing. It was simply a bit too odd for my liking, I suppose. I've never been a huge fan of Gothic-type stories, but I was hoping this one would be an exception. Sadly, not. But if you enjoy those sorts of stories yourself, this may just be right up your alley! Especially if eerie and atmospheric mysteries fascinate you. :)

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

Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy
I have to hand it to Ms. Connealy. She was able to convince this non-western-reader to read a western and thoroughly enjoy myself! :) And how she did it was her brand of humor. I laughed so many times during this story! (Probably even during moments that aren't supposed to be funny exactly, but so many lines just tickled my funny bone. :) My favorite bits are watching Justin and Angie dance around their attraction. They slowly began opening up to each other and the sweetness of their interactions just made my heart swoon.

The mystery aspects are sufficiently mysterious and the cast of characters are simply wonderful (except for the villains, naturally ;). I loved the Boden family as a whole! They rank high on my list of favorite families now because the way they love and care for each other is so completely heart-warming. I also have to say that, as I haven't read book one yet, I was glad Ms. Connealy offered up just enough information that I wasn't entirely lost. Especially since I got the feeling things in the beginning pretty much pick up where No Way Up left off. So while I think there were a few times it would have been helpful to read the books in order, it's okay if you don't. Which I'm grateful for because now I'm ready for book one and book three! :)

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

July 12, 2017

Review: My Unexpected Hope by Tammy L. Gray

This is not an easy story to read, but oh so worth it! Because Laila and Chad's journey is fraught with pain and hurt. And lots of it. Much like their best friend Katie's story (My Hope Next Door, which I loved!), they've both made a few (or several) wrong choices and the consequences are gut-wrenching for them. But these two characters could not be in more capable hands than Ms. Gray's because she excels in filling characters' difficult trajectories with bits of hope. So don't let the fear of hard scare you away!

I admit to not quite being sure I liked Laila in book one, but I was intrigued by her. She's one tough cookie, this lady! :) Watching as she struggles to figure out how lovable she truly is and to be able to forgive herself, as well as Chad, is a beautiful redemption. It's a hard road to get there, but once she arrives...ah my heart! It broke so many times during this story, but by the final pages it was mended whole again. And Chad. So many times I wanted to shake him! But as he grew stronger in his faith walk, so, too, did my appreciation for him. Neither he nor Laila have it easy, but they refused to give in completely and became wonderful examples of hope!

The title of the book truly describes what happens during the story. For all the hard and yucky things these characters have to endure, their friends, and ultimately their Father above, refuse to let them surrender! And hope is reborn again and again, much like our real lives. That's what I love most about Ms. Gray's stories, I think. The rawness of the emotions felt, the very real heartbreak that exists and is so easily related to. The layers upon layers in the characters, who never seem to fit into just one box of personality, precisely how we human beings are. We're complicated! And her characters show it. She writes about serious things, things we've either experienced or possibly know someone who has. She takes her readers to difficult places, yet never lets us forget that love never gives up. That grace and mercy and forgiveness are actually possible, no matter how impossible they may seem!

And she ends it all with hope of the good yet to come in the characters lives long after the final pages are closed. The reader only has to trust where she intends the journey to go. And it's worth it, friends. Believe me. :)

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

You can try and fight, and maybe even sometimes succeed, but without faith, you cannot call it freedom. It's simply bondage on hold.

Grief so crippling that on days like today, she began to doubt whether she'd ever truly be whole again.

She wanted from him the same thing he expected from Laila. Forgiveness. Something so simple, yet so impossibly hard.

She'd been fighting all this time to stay in control. But maybe that was the problem. Maybe it was time to give all of herself to a God who had never rejected or abandoned her.

July 11, 2017

Review: Distorted by Christy Barritt

What is it about Christy Barritt's stories that keep me coming back to them again and again? I'm not normally a fan of mysteries! But Ms. Barritt continues to hook me in every single time and I can never say no to one of her books. :) Per my usual, this one is no different. I was a goner from the first chapter until the last, every pulse-pounding minute of it!

First, let's talk about Mallory. I cannot even imagine going through a tenth of what this girl has endured! The sheer terror of her life before the story begins permeates everything in her present day. Which is only to be expected, because I don't think one just "gets over" that sort of thing. Human trafficking is a terrible and awful evil, but I absolutely loved her determination to survive despite it all. She is so fiercely driven to live, as well as make sure no one else experiences what she did. To face all the emotions and "stuff" she has to in order to become hope for someone else? That takes a tremendous lot of strength, of which Mallory has in spades. Can you tell I liked her? I really, really wanted to jump in her story (at the very end, of course, after all the action, because hello, I'm a wimp! ;), hug her tight, and give her someone else to lean on. Not that Tennyson isn't enough for her though. Because wow, that man!

Tennyson is certainly hero material. I loved how he knew just the right amount of caring and encouragement that Mallory needed. Plus he's just really good at keeping an eye on her. For more reasons than one. He's not perfect, but goodness is he ever perfect for her! For all the tension due to the constant threats, Ms. Barritt also created some serious chemistry between these two people, I swooned fairly often as they grew closer. Her ability to keep both the romantic tension and the whodunit balanced is so well done! Definitely a big reason I'm a fan of her writing. :)

There's simply no way to sit down with this story and not devour it all in one sitting. I read much too late in the night (jumping at all the creaking noises in my house, so....not recommended for late night reads if you're a scaredy-cat like me! ;), and closed the final pages with a happy sigh. A thrill ride from start to finish, I remain a huge fan of Ms. Barritt's after this story! And happily anticipate her next one, whenever it comes out...

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

Like water, love had the power to sustain life or to devastate it.

Darkness can blind you, but one flicker of light drives away the night and changes everything. The smallest flame can help us see what we couldn't see before.

Someone once told me you can't be a victor and a victim at the same time. I choose to be a victor.

No matter how painful, it's only after you face the truth that you can find healing.

June 19, 2017

Review: With You Always by Jody Hedlund

After thoroughly enjoying Jody Hedlund's An Uncertain Choice trilogy, as well as Newton and Polly, I knew I'd want to try more of her stories. And once again I was not disappointed! As a reader who used to devour historical novels but has become drawn to contemporaries more often of late, it takes an exceptional author to get me back in the genre again. Let me just say that Ms. Hedlund is definitely exceptional! :) The characters, the setting, it drew me in and left me with all the feels by the final pages.

I grew rather fond of Elise as her journey progressed. She's had such a rough life and I admired her strength to keep going in spite of everything. I cannot imagine the sheer determination required of those who lived back then, the squalor and painful, hard work that they endured every single day. Makes me glad to live in modern times, for sure! I loved watching Elise create this new little family around her once she arrives out west. Especially how her friendship with Fanny grows slowly, but surely.

And then there's Thornton! I admit to getting a little thrill every time his name was on the page, just because it reminded me of Elizabeth Gaskell's John Thornton. (swoon ;) This Thornton is fairly swoonworthy as well, he and Elise certainly have great chemistry! Yet I was glad that they were both given a nice dose of reality in the initial stages of their romance because they needed it. But never let it be said that I didn't enjoy their adorableness together! For all their differences, they truly did complement each other very nicely.

I was easily swept up into these characters lives and was more than happy to stay there as long as possible! I do have to say that the ending felt slightly abrupt to me though. I figure that's mostly for setup to get me interested in book two and it worked! So while it kind of bothered me, I can easily forgive it. And anticipate the months until the next book comes out! :)

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

"Was that the way it was with God too? When she was hurting and crushed by the weight of heartache, was God there holding on to her hand, telling her He'd never let her go?"

"The only sound that rose in the night was the lonely whistle of the train preparing to leave. Without her."

"How about if we forget about eating sandwiches and just start with the pie?"

"She was stuck into unbreakable patterns in so many ways. So many people of her class were and had so little hope of change."

June 6, 2017

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Twenty-Eight

I'm trying to keep up with all my reading a little better this year, as in attempting to write my review in the not too distant aftermath of reading a book. So! That means I have more mini reviews for y'all! :)

True to You by Becky Wade
I don't know how Ms. Wade does it, but she excels at writing romances that make me swoon! John has some serious and oh-so-sizzling chemistry with Nora. And Nora herself is a bookworm librarian who loves period dramas! Perfect combination in my book. :) I loved their interactions, and how totally gone over him Nora was. It was pretty much love at first sight for her, and while John took a bit more time (silly man!), their genuine friendship was a wonderful build up to their eventual romance. They simply complemented each other, in spite of all the ways they were so vastly different. And the plot twist near the end was completely unexpected! (In a good way.) As was how very anxious I am to read the other two sisters' stories now. Aaahhh, I dislike waiting! ;)

Yet I also have to mention that, for as much as I love this story, I have a few quibbles with it as well. The main one being a particular plot point. After all the angst Nora feels in the beginning due to what had happened to her in the past, I was disappointed that she essentially does the same thing to someone else. I do realize it wasn't intentional on her part, but I just wasn't a fan of the fact that she ends up helping hurt someone else the same way she was hurt, unintentionally or not. I will say that Ms. Wade does handle the situation very nicely overall, so that helps. Quibbles and all, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and highly recommend it!

Model Misfit by Holly Smale
I love Harriet Manners! I mean, how can you not? She's a bit clumsy, a lot insecure, fabulously geeky, and all around awesome! Her adventures never fail to make me grin. And her knowledge of all things random is the BEST. I love how she spouts off all these odd facts to everyone around her. Yet it's not just her intelligence that endears her to me, it's how she learns and grows through the story. She has much to learn about life and much to enjoy at the same time! And she is constantly working her way through the myriad of characters surrounding her, some becoming the best of friends and some not so much, especially in this book. I'm not sure whether Japan was really ready for Harriet, nor that she was ready for it, but there she goes anyway. Through everything that happens, she never loses her inherent "Harriet-ness", for which I am grateful! I love her to pieces, faults and all, and cannot wait to read about more of her adventures in the next few books. Harriet Manners for the win! :)

My (not so) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Sophie Kinsella writes very addictive stories! Catchy and fun, I pick them up and can't put them down until I'm finished. While I admit that it took a bit before I decided I liked Katie herself, once she leaves the city behind, I quickly found myself swept up into her life. She doesn't always make the right choices, but is smart enough to figure out ways to make the best of them. Once Demeter enters her life again, the fun really begins! I simultaneously laughed and cringed my way through Katie's antics, and the friendship that slowly springs up between the two is wonderful to watch.

The romance bits were cute and funny as well. I wasn't sure about our hero for a while, but he gradually tugged me over to his side, and he and Katie's chemistry was rather nicely complementary to the rest of the story. They moved a bit more quickly than I had anticipated, but overall I liked watching them figure each other out and grow closer. This isn't a perfect story by any means, but has just the right amount of sweet and serious, coupled with several laugh out loud moments. Very enjoyable!

June 5, 2017

How I Feel About Audiobooks

So I occasionally (read: like only four times in the last five years) have participated in Booking Through Thursday. (And yes, I DO realize this is a Monday.) I happened to notice this question from a couple years ago and my mind started spinning! :)

I’m guessing most of you like reading (or why would you be here), how do you feel about audio books?

For me, “reading” means using my eyes, not my ears. As much as I acknowledge their usefulness while doing chores or using your hands, I only ever use audiobooks for the rare long drive–listening, no matter how pleasant, is not READING, yet people persist in telling me they like to read and that audio books are their favorites. Am I the only one to feel that’s just not the same thing?
I admit that when I finally got around to trying audiobooks a few years ago, I never even considered whether I should count the book as actually read or not. I just counted it and went on! But then I periodically started noticing fellow bloggers talking about how they counted them as books read or they didn't and all the reasons why or why not. So thinking about it more in depth, I have officially come to this conclusion:

Whichever way I read the story makes no difference to me, I'm still counting it on my list of Books I've Read.

Now! I should clarify that both sides have lots of great reasons for why they count them or why they don't. And I even agree with lots of those reasons! But my personal reasoning is simply this, audiobooks consist of having someone else read the story to you, no different than when I was a child and my mother read to me before bedtime. Perhaps I didn't physically have book in hand and my eyes reading the actual words, yet I still know the story. I know exactly what happened and who did what and said what. In fact, I have figured out that by listening to a story versus reading it, I can sometimes gain a deeper appreciation for it.

Take, for example, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I listened to the audio before I read the book and the narrators did such a fantastic job that I fell in love with the story immediately. I figure I would've loved the story regardless, but the experience of hearing the different voices and accents make the story more pleasurable than just me reading it in my head (where I can't do justice to those lovely accents, for the record!). I would say the same thing about The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien. The actual books intimidated me, so I thought listening might be easier and it was!

I read this post that stated it was more a question of how you define "reading" and I think the writer has a point. All that being said, I am, by no means, saying that my opinion is Right or Correct. It's just my opinion and there you have it.

The most important thing of all is that stories are taken in, providing a sense of connection in the reader, and thoroughly enjoyed! Regardless of how it's consumed. :)

June 3, 2017

Percy and Books

Percy does not like it when I read a book.
He puts his face over the top of it, and moans. 
He rolls his eyes, sometimes he sneezes. 
The sun is up, he says, and the wind is down. 
The tide is out, and the neighbor’s dogs are playing. 
But Percy, I say, Ideas! The elegance of language!
The insights, the funniness, the beautiful stories 
that rise and fall and turn into strength, or courage. 
Books? says Percy. I ate one once, and it was enough. Let’s go.

~ Mary Oliver

May 26, 2017

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Twenty-Seven

Hello, my lovelies! How's everyone's May going? Crazy as it seems, this month is almost over and I have hardly any new posts to show for it! However, that doesn't mean I haven't been reading or doing fun things I'd love to share with y'all. In fact, I've done quite a bit of reading, at least for me! :) So let's get to the fun stuff, shall we?

For Love & Honor by Jody Hedlund
Each book in this series is just full of adorableness, yet with the slightest touch of tension so as to keep you turning pages. And this one is no exception to that! :) I instantly fell for Sir Bennet in book one, so had been looking forward to seeing what lady would catch his eye. Lady Sabine is perfect for him! I wanted so badly to make everything easier for her, poor lady has in no way had an easy life. Her "blemish" that makes her so insecure actually makes no difference to those who truly love her. Especially her grandmother, who is absolutely the best! Their relationship was definitely a favorite. And, of course, I loved each of Bennet and Sabine's conversations. They are clearly equals when it comes to intellect, and their shared love of art and history, not to mention their mutual attraction, made for lots of banter, sarcasm, and wit being thrown around. :)

As in the previous books, Ms. Hedlund fills her story with sweet romance and a swashbuckling good time. This might even be my favorite of the three books? I'm not certain, but I will definitely say that Lady Sabine is my favorite character!

Right Where We Belong by Deborah Raney, Melissa Tagg, & Courtney Walsh
So much swoony happiness in these stories! I loved all three and if I had to pick a favorite, I'm not sure I could do it. Ms. Raney's meet cute between Lily and Gage was super cute! And the way Lily kept ordering stuff one day at a time just so the cute guy could keep coming back to her house? Too funny! Yet the chemistry between Ms Tagg's Megan and Eric? Wow! There was no denying it, no matter how much they both tried. The same goes for Ms. Walsh's Eleanor and Jason! They had good chemistry and best of all, history behind it. I loved watching the two of them swoon over each other. :)

So! Long story short? These three stories are absolutely adorable fun and I sorely wish they were full length novels because I could've used a few hundred pages more with each of these characters!

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell
SUPER adorable and MUCH too short! I absolutely loved this little novella and so, so wish it were a complete novel. There is ever so much more that could've been expounded on! But I'll take what I can get and what I got was cute and funny. Ms. Rowell certainly has a way with words and I loved every minute, from Elena's arrival at the line until they all walk out of their first viewing of the movie a few days later. I know a bit about Star Wars, but still haven't watched all the movies yet, so I was glad that I didn't get lost in some of the references. Also I cannot imagine actually camping out for days and days like people have done in real life! But I suppose if I was guaranteed a cute boy to hang out with, maybe that might sweeten the idea? ;) Probably not. Still, Elena was willing to do it and her adventures in line go quite a bit differently than she expected. Some not so fun (I mean, the whole bathroom situation? Yuck.) and some rather sweet and then we get to that ending! So much laughter and cute to be found in this story, I highly recommend it.

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
I've read a few reviews which mention comparisons to You've Got Mail, and I can agree with that. But the online chats really got pushed into the background so the story could focus on the "real life" portions more. Which was a good choice because the real life interactions between Bailey and "Alex"? So much fun! I rather enjoyed their antagonistic attraction, which leads to many a good sarcastic and banter-filled convo between them. I also really enjoyed watching Bailey's relationship with her dad grow over the course of the story. Definitely a highlight of the book!

Yet for all the cute that I liked, there were a few things that bugged me. I wasn't all that impressed with the amount of coarse language used, for one. A little bit I can usually overlook, but this felt slightly excessive and unnecessary. Also, the violence portrayed was a little much for my comfort. It's not overly explicit, but just the way the characters respond to it bothered me. Especially Bailey herself. So while it was, overall, a very enjoyable read for me, my feelings are too mixed for me to recommend it wholeheartedly.

The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley
I am definitely a fan of Ms. Kearsley's without any doubt now! Her ability to string together words and phrases and create these atmospheric tales of interesting characters and places is incredible. So far (of the entire 2 1/2 books of hers that I've read), I love how the details of the geography and the architecture of the areas she describes feel so real to me. It's almost like they become characters themselves. The ruins around Chinon certainly felt like that in this book.  Enough to make me wish I could go visit! :)

Emily, herself, is a character I easily connected to and I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing this "forced" holiday with her. All the vast and interesting people she meets and the certain someone who continually remains on her radar, especially when she'd rather not be quite so aware of him. The romance bits are limited, but do they ever pack a punch! Ms. Kearsley excels at using few words, yet depths of emotion are felt. While I wouldn't say I loved this story with no reservations, I can absolutely say I am planning to read more of her books in the very near future!

May 25, 2017

The BEST Part of my Trip to Biltmore

Some friends and I visited Biltmore Estate the other weekend and I hadn't realized they had period drama costumes on special display right now. BEST surprise ever! Because those lovely costumes you see up there? Tell me y'all know who had the privilege of wearing them!

Yes! Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice '95. (!!!!!!) As soon as I stepped into the library and caught a glimpse of them, I knew immediately what they were. To say that I was dancing on the inside would be an understatement! (It was a busy day and there were far too many people around me to make dancing for realsies actually possible. ;) Needless to say, this Jane Austen fangirl was very, very happy. :D

I don't know if any of y'all have ever visited Biltmore yourselves or happen to know any of the history. Delightful author Pepper Basham is always posting pictures of her numerous visits to the estate on social media, so I knew a tiny bit from what she's shared. But I had no idea that George Vanderbilt (the original owner of the house) was such a huge reader.


I mean, look at all those books...

(Yes, that is a balcony up there. It went around the entire room.) I think we were told that there were upwards of at least 10,000 books in there, in several different languages. Can you imagine owning such a library?! I wanted SO badly to have hours to wander that room and look at all the beautiful stories encased within. If only... *daydreams*

I also enjoyed seeing one of Mia Wasikowska (and yes, I did just go and google how to spell her last name) and Michael Fassbender's costumes from Jane Eyre '11.

Also, I learned that Alicia Vikander (I had to go look up her last name too) is much shorter than I. And definitely much shorter than Matthew MacFadyen! (Although I'm thinking that lots of people are probably much shorter than he. ;) Seeing their costumes from Anna Karenina side by side, the difference in height is quite obvious. I haven't watched that movie, but I did like the costumes they chose to display.

And lastly, this is Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts' costumes from Far From the Madding Crowd. I haven't seen that movie either (I've heard really good things about it, so I'm hoping to watch it one day soon), but I've seen lots of pictures and that particular pose is familiar. I knew who it was even before I read the sign! :)

There were many more costumes throughout the house, but I didn't recognize any of the movies or period dramas they were from, so I took no other pictures. Still, my period drama and especially Jane Austen fangirl heart was absolutely delighted! :) The estate itself is incredible and the costumes were the icing on the cake of the entire day. Not to mention it was wonderful to hang out with dear friends the whole time.

Best weekend of the year! (So far. :)

May 3, 2017

Sunshine blogger Award :: take two

I know I just did one of these a couple months ago, but I saw Hamlette's post for this yesterday and since she didn't tag anyone specifically, plus I was searching for some post ideas, here we are! I thought the questions were fun.

{Also, I'm not tagging anyone specific either. So if you want to join in, have at it!}

1. Do you like to read an entire series at once or spread out the books over time?

I would much prefer to read them all at once. If I have to wait, it's incredibly painful. (I'm looking at you The Lunar Chronicles). And then once I've read them all and loved them, I can reread again and again all I want! :)

2. Would you rather be stuck in the past or the future?

Hmmmm. That's a tough one actually. I'd say the past, at least I could have some semblance of understanding what's going on (maybe?).

3. Have you ever had dream re-runs? (In other words, the same dream twice. XD)

I have no idea. If I ever actually remember my dream, usually I've forgotten it a couple hours later.

4. What is your favorite vacation you've ever taken?

Not a pic from that trip, but
imagine thousands of these
all in rows.
There's several that would be in my top ten, but my most favorite ever? I'd probably go with this one: back in 2001, a couple friends and I drove straight through from VA to CA (it took 41-45 hrs....I think?), stayed there a few days, then drove up the west coastline to OR and WA. We stayed in each of those states a couple days apiece, then drove east. We stopped at the Grand Canyon for a few hours on the way out, and Yellowstone National Park and Mount Rushmore on the way back. We also saw the most beautiful (and HUGE) fields of sunflowers in South Dakota, as well a very large amount of motorcycles around Sturgis, SD. Not to mention we did a lot of tent camping, which brought it's own flavor of adventure to the trip. (You try chopping up a long piece of wooden board that we found alongside the road into firewood without an axe. Lucky for us, a rather handsome gentleman came to our rescue. ;) I have the best memories of that two and a half weeks. It was crazy, a bit chaotic, but awesome!

5. Do you like to chew gum? If so, what is your favorite flavor?

Not really, so I don't have a favorite.

6. If you found the entrance to Narnia, would you tell anybody? Who would you take with you if you did?

Yes! I would tell a couple good friends of mine, who I know would be thrilled beyond bits to go on an adventure like that with me. :)

7. Waffles, pancakes, or neither?


8. Do you use the Shift key or the Caps Lock key every time you capitalize something? (Odd question, but it's something I always wonder, haha.)

The Shift key, unless I'm typing in all caps like I do for work. But for just one letter capitalization, I use Shift.

9. What is one smell that never fails to make you happy?

Anything freshly baking in the oven.

10. Have you ever been rollerskating?

Many, many times. Mom and dad's house has a basement with a cement floor and two poles in the middle of it. So around and around we went as kids, in skates and trikes and anything we could find with wheels! :)

11. You've gone into hiding and have to conceal your identity. What new alias would you adopt?

I have no idea? Off the top of my head, how about....Anne Shirley. :D

May 2, 2017

2017 INSPY Awards Shortlists

The day has arrived. We are ready to announce our 2017 INSPYs shortlists.

We thank you so much for your continued support, especially in light of the 2017 changes as we strive to create a program that is considerate of the many wonderful novels written in this genre.

Following multiple book deliveries plus multiple time zones, and juggling our respective schedules, the INSPY Awards Advisory Board is thrilled to (finally) announce the 2017 shortlist contenders. As each year does, another daunting task was placed before us to pick just 5 books in each category from a long list nominated by readers and bloggers around the world. After careful consideration and deliberation, the INSPYs Advisory Board is pleased to announce that the following books have been shortlisted in the 6th annual INSPY Awards.


Can’t Help Falling (Howard) by Kara Isaac
Her One and Only (Bethany House) by Becky Wade
Just a Kiss (Thomas Nelson) by Denise Hunter
A Twist of Faith (Southern Firefly Fiction) by Pepper Basham
You’re the One that I Want (Tyndale) by Susan May Warren


Close to You (Howard Books) by Kara Isaac
Counted with the Stars (Bethany House) by Connilyn Cossette
Leaving Independence (Waterfall Press) by Leanne W. Smith
The Secret to Hummingbird Cake (Thomas Nelson) by Celeste Fletcher McHale
The Undoing of Saint Silvanus (Tyndale) by Beth Moore


The Alliance (Tyndale) by Jolina Petersheim
The Feathered Bone (Thomas Nelson) by Julie Cantrell
Land of Silence (Tyndale) by Tessa Afshar
Long Way Gone (Thomas Nelson) by Charles Martin
A Portrait of Emily Price (Thomas Nelson) by Katherine Reay


A Flight of Arrows (Waterbrook) by Lori Benton
The Lady and the Lionheart (Mason Jar Books) by Joanne Bischof
A Heart Most Certain (Bethany House) by Melissa Jaegers
The Captive Heart (Shiloh Run Press) by Michelle Griep
The Ringmaster’s Wife (Thomas Nelson) by Kristy Cambron


Conspiracy of Silence (Bethany House) by Ronie Kendig
Cold Shot (Bethany House) by Dani Pettrey
Dressed for Death (Bethany House) by Julianna Deering
If I Run (Zondervan) by Terri Blackstock
When Death Draws Near (Thomas Nelson) by Carrie Stuart Parks


A Daring Sacrifice (Zondervan) by Jody Hedlund
Gilt Hollow (Blink) by Lorie Langdon
I’ll Be Yours (Sweet Pea Productions) by Jenny B. Jones
Siren’s Song (Thomas Nelson) by Mary Weber
Unblemished (Thomas Nelson) by Sara Ella


Accelerant (Enclave) by Ronie Kendig
The Calling (Tyndale) by Rachelle Dekker
The Long Journey to Jake Palmer (Thomas Nelson) by James L. Rubart
Seasons of Glory (Blink) by Lisa T. Bergren
The Shattered Vigil (Bethany House) by Patrick W. Carr

Congratulations to all of the nominated authors and shortlist contenders! We now turn the job over to our 2017 judges to select a winner in each category. Winners will be announced June 28th.

Download Press Release here.

May 1, 2017

A few things I'm "weirdly passionate" about...

Hello, my lovelies! Look, I'm back again! Isn't that fabulous? I knew you'd think so. ;)

Anyhoo! I haven't been blogging much recently, as all of the maybe five whole people who probably still read my blog know all too well (thank you for sticking with me, for the record! I'm so grateful I still have at least a couple regular readers). Still, all evidence may seem against this, but I haven't given up on blogging! Nope. Hence, I stumbled over this post from a new-to-me blog from last week and it made me think. Laura read this quote that she loved and it struck a note with me as well...

"We should all find something to be weirdly passionate about." 
~ Emma Mills

Laura wrote a great post on why we shouldn't give up on the things that we're weirdly passionate about which others may never understand. (Seriously. Go read her post, it made me smile. :)

Enthusiasm is a good thing! Whatever it is we're passionate about, it doesn't matter if others understand it or not. Which reminded me of a conversation I had this past weekend with friends of mine. Somehow my enthusiasm for books and reading came up (I definitely didn't bring it up myself! So not my fault.) and I had the delightful opportunity to gush over my fun experience with the INSPYs. (Mainly because that's been my focus when it comes to reading for the past few weeks and when I was asked what I'd been reading currently, well...)

It was lovely to have the chance to show a bit of my enthusiasm and, while those listening didn't share the same feelings as I, they seemed to enjoy the fact that I was happy. That doesn't always happen, so yay! :)

So! I thought I'd share two things that I am, without a doubt, "weirdly passionate" about:

1. books (obviously) - This passion of mine is one of the biggest reasons I began to read blogs and was brave enough to start my own. I've said before that I've loved reading since before I can even remember. Probably since I was old enough to learn to read! :)

2. korean dramas (I love seeing Suey's enthusiasm for these and her courage inspires me) - I was a silent watcher of these for several years before I was brave enough to even mention it to a single person. And even then, I was a bit embarrassed to admit it. I don't know that I can even explain to someone what it is about them that I love so much. All I can tell you is I stumbled across one on youtube one day a few years ago and decided I must needs find more! And the rest, as they say, is history. I will say that when I've had a few reading slumps in recent past, or been sick and unable to concentrate on reading, kdramas have kept me happily distracted. Crazy, yes! But crazy awesome, if I do say so for myself. :D

What are you weirdly passionate about?

April 30, 2017

Little Letters :: Fifteenth Edition

Dear spring weather, thank you for finally arriving and sticking around! I was so ready for winter to be officially over.

Dear library book sale, I am SO sad that I totally forgot you were happening! Yes, yes, I know I was sick, but still. I could've at least come on the last day... *sniff*

Dear library, thanks for always being there. I've neglected you of late, but it was so comforting to return and find you still peaceful. My heart was happily restful in your presence.

Dear books on my TBR, I've been concentrating on the INSPYs for the past couple months, but am determined to get back into reading for pure pleasure now. So be on the lookout, I'm coming for you! :)

Dear Beauty and the Beast, you were such a delight! Thank you for existing.

Dear Lindor truffles, mmmmmmmmmm. :D

Dear dad, I'm happy you're happy. Truly! It's still a bit of adjustment for me, but it's definitely good to see you smiling again.

Dear Carrabbas, thank you for helping me "eat my feelings".

Dear weekends, why can't you last longer than just two days?

Dear old world, you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.


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