February 22, 2018

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Thirty-Four


Hello, my lovelies! I trust your week is going well. I've had various ups and downs for various reasons here recently. But there's a fun Anne of Green Gables read-along coming up in March to look forward to, as well as ALL the books for the INSPYs! So I have plenty to be happy about. How about you? :)

We are gathered here today to go over a few small reviews for the newest stories that I've read. So let's get to it, shall we?


33503607
Meet Cute by a variety of authors
There was definitely a couple really adorable meet cute's in this anthology. But of the however many super quick stories written here, many more of them were not at all what I'd imagined when I started the book. Perhaps it was that so many of them ended far too soon (which, I know, is the point of the book), so I never really got the chance to actually care about most of the characters. I don't know, I just never clicked with a lot of them, so I found myself skimming through really fast.

However, I can say that two or three of the stories left me hanging enough to wish I could read a full length story about those two characters, so it wasn't a complete wash! I grinned over the cute a few times and remember thinking a couple of the stories were fairly quirky fun. So overall, I'd suggest reading this if you LOVE one of the authors therein.



34930815
Wires and Nerve: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer
Of course I loved this! It's Iko, and Iko is always awesome. :) I especially loved getting an even deeper glimpse of her origins and how she came by her unique personality. It required her to work through some rough emotions, but she wouldn't be our beloved Iko if she couldn't come through stronger on the other side!

It was delightful to catch back up with the Lunar gang and see them always have each other's backs and just simply be the best little surrogate family any Earthen, Lunar, or android could ask for! Grand adventures continue to get thrown in the path of our gang and I just loved seeing them all step up and do the hard thing when needed, yet always with love at the heart it. With all the harshness these characters have faced, I love that they refuse to let it get them down.

I do have to admit that while the art is very well drawn, it isn't my favorite. And there were a few times it bothered me in this particular book. But it didn't take away from my overall feelings of happiness once I'd finished! If you like Iko (and who doesn't?!), then I say dive in! :)



35069089
A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White
I've been hearing nothing but rave reviews for Ms. White's stories for a few years now, so she's been on my radar. And after seeing the same gushing over this particular story, something about it convinced me I needed to try it. I'm so glad I did! Because the chemistry between Willa and Lukas...?? Oh my stars!!! :D

Yet it's not just their chemistry, I think my favorite part is simply how music resonates for both of them. It reaches down deep in their hearts and settles there, inspiring and encouraging them. The way Willa, especially, gets swept up in her violin playing struck me from the very first pages and is why I, ultimately, decided to bring this one home from the store. (Although I can't deny that the romantic tension was also a big factor in that decision! ;)

The combination of connecting with the characters and their delightful romance, as well as the building tension of the mysteries to be uncovered, all come together to create a beautifully written story. I was thoroughly swept up and closed the final pages with a happy sigh. It's a keeper, friends! For sure.




February 21, 2018

Anne of Green Gables Read-Along :: March 2018


My AWESOME blogging friends Jenni, Suey, and Kami are hosting an Anne of Green Gables read-along in March (which starts the end of next week)!!!! So naturally I knew I wanted to participate. I've had chances to read this particular book with other friends, but it didn't suit my schedule as well. This time I'm determined to make it work! :) I love this story, and I love Anne, herself, to bits! But I haven't actually read the book in years, so I'm definitely excited. You should totally join in too! These ladies always host the BEST read-alongs, with fun, thought-provoking questions and every time I've read a book with them, it's always been fabulous.

(So have I talked it up enough yet?? You should listen to me then, and join in. ;)

Anyhoo! Here are all the details:

Reading Schedule:
Chapters 1-13: March 1-11   
Chapters 14-26: March 12-22
Chapters 27-38: March 23-31

There will also be Discussion Posts and Twitter Chats and even a Movie Watching! I have not seen any of the updated Anne movies/miniseries/tv shows (whatever they all are). I hear good things! But I'm still so partial to the '80s movies, so I was thrilled that they are going to watch that one!

Stay tuned, friends. And sign up here! :)




February 12, 2018

My Thoughts on Shakespeare's "Hamlet"

Isn't that an awesome setup?!
{Beware. I have FEELINGS about our lovely playwright...}

So over the weekend, I had the privilege of watching Shakespeare's Hamlet onstage at the American Shakespeare Center's Blackfriars Playhouse. And I have to admit that I was uncertain about it beforehand. As you may or may not know, my dear friend, Hamlette, LOVES this play (as if her name doesn't give that away, right? ;) and so, due to her enthusiasm and the fact that I'd be watching it with her, I decided to give it a go. Just to say I'd seen it once, but mainly to spend more time with her! (I totally admit that latter reason was the biggest one of all.) When someone is really passionate about something, it makes me happy to listen to them expound on why they love it so, even if I don't happen to feel the same way. Such was the way Hamlette feels about Hamlet, and also why I agreed to watch it with her. :)

But y'all!

Oh, wow. To say that I was blown away by the acting? Especially the guy who played Hamlet himself, Josh Innerst? Just WOW.

Okay, so I feel I should preface all of this to explain my relationship with Shakespeare thus far in my life. I've never been a huge fan of his, to say the least. I knew he was considered a "classic writer" or whatever term fits. But there's loads of classics out there that I've no interest in reading! So that meant nothing. In high school, we had to read Romeo & Juliet, and can I just be honest with you? (All R&J lovers out there, please don't hate me) Romeo and his Juliet have got to be the stupidest teenagers I've ever read about. I enjoy love stories, okay? Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity is totally going to know that by now. But R&J? Is SO not a love story in my book. It's depressing and horrible and they make really stupid, life-ending decisions all because they were supposedly "in love". That is not love, guys. Nope. (Sorry! But my dislike of R&J is serious.)

So! As you can guess, my first introduction to our main man, Shakespeare, was a total bust! I hated Romeo & Juliet and, thus, was very uninterested in reading anything else of his. Especially when my English teacher droned on and on about how all of his characters' choices had meaning, the only "meaning" I ever got out of those characters was how depressing they seemed!

{By the by, I'm not saying I was right in feeling this way about his plays, I'm just saying that was my impression at the time...}

But! Somewhere along the way, I found out that he'd written a non-depressing play. What is this craziness?! The idea that he'd written a comedy intrigued me (especially when I figured out there was a bit of romance in it.....what can I say? I'm a hopeless fool for romance in a story.) and so when I had the chance to read Much Ado About Nothing, I took it and fell in love. I will admit that I didn't truly fall in love with it until I saw Kenneth Branagh's version onscreen.

{Sidenote, it was mentioned sometime on Saturday that Shakespeare seems to translate better once you see the character onstage or onscreen versus just reading the lines of the play. I completely agree with this!! I understand so much more of the motives of the characters based on their facial expressions and body language! Plus the humorous lines just come through SO much more clearly and hilariously. I laughed at many moments during Hamlet that I'm not certain I would have by just reading the line itself.}

Maybe I should do a post about the versions of
Much Ado I've enjoyed so far? Hmmmm....
Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson became my Benedick and Beatrice. Their banter was perfect, their chemistry was glorious, and I simply loved every minute of the story. (I know, this post is supposed to be about Hamlet, not Much Ado About Nothing! I'm getting there, promise. Hang with me here just a bit longer!)

Thus, I decided that this guy, Shakespeare, maybe wasn't worth writing off completely just yet. But I still was awfully hesitant about his really popular tragedies. I'm a happily-ever-after girl, okay?! I like my endings to at least have hope! No depressing endings for me, thank you!

So when I asked Hamlette, before we watched the play, to tell me what it is that she loves about this story so much, I was really hoping she'd help me to understand it better. I was planning to spend at least two hours with this, I wanted hope that I wouldn't be miserable that entire time! I am happy to say she did her job. :) I sat down with, maybe not an expectation to love it, but anticipation of a storyline I could understand and sympathize with. And oh, I got that. Boy, did I ever get that! :)

First of all, I was happy to have read a little about the play before watching, so I went into it knowing at least the basics of what was supposed to happen. (Shakespeare's lines, people! You have to admit that he can be a bit hard to understand when you've got an actor/actress spitting out these complicated lines lickity-split.) The best thing though? I laughed so, so many times! I was not prepared for that. I absolutely fell in love with how Shakespeare wrote in all these little moments of sarcasm! Especially during really emotional scenes. Hamlet would be all intense and focused and then suddenly throw out this ridiculous line that would catch me by surprise! It was hilarious and perfect and I think probably my favorite thing about the play. :)

dr ralph ten things to know hamlet josh innerst blackfriars playhouse
image via
Then there was the acting. I already mentioned the guy who played Hamlet. He was AMAZING, y'all. Seriously! He'd go from being all agonizing turmoil, to throwing out this sarcastic little thought, then right back into the intensity, all while never losing his momentum or energy! By the end of the play, I could see the sweat dripping down his face and could totally understand why. Because whoa! The character of Hamlet seriously requires a ton of energy! He might not be in every single scene, but his presence was felt at all times, even when offstage. He definitely had the pressure of carrying most of the heavy weight of this story and man did he ever come through. I was very impressed with his acting. And all the other actors and actresses did a wonderful job as well!

Can I just mention the play itself now though? {Beware spoilers!} Because there was one thing I was stumped on. Having read a bit about the play beforehand, I was wondering what I'd think regarding Hamlet and his "madness". Whatever website I found last week (can't remember now) mentioned about how there are differing opinions on whether Hamlet was putting on a show of being mad or if he truly did become a bit crazy. And I still don't know what I think about that! (So if you know the story, please feel free to enlighten me. I would enjoy some clarification on this.) I began the first half thinking that he was totally putting on a show, but there were moments that I began to feel uncertain. Also, considering that Ophelia then becomes mad near the end, and I do think hers was very real, then that raises the possibility that Shakespeare could have meant that Hamlet did the same. His madness was just much more slighter and he had his revenge to keep him grounded, perhaps. I don't know! All I am certain of is that there are moments when Hamlet is clearly putting on a facade. Yet was he the entire time? I think it was during the scene when he sees his father's ghost up in the ceiling/sky (whichever it was) when he's with his mother that I felt a slight doubt as to him "acting" that bit. But maybe that's just the interpretation of the director of this particular version? Maybe it's purposely vague? I don't know! What do you think?

I do want to mention how fun it was to hear several lines that I recognized but had never actually heard in their context. Like, "To be or not to be, that is the question." And "Alas, poor Yorick...", as well as "Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love." Also, "Brevity is the soul of wit." and "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." Those are the only ones I can remember off the top of my head currently. I've heard or seen those lines quoted lots of times, but I never really understood them. Naturally! Because you need to hear them in context to understand! And I do. Kinda sorta anyway. :)

(Speaking of quotes, I have to mention that I had the privilege of sitting beside Hamlette and watching as she quoted the lines right alongside the actors. Very impressive! :)

Whew! Okay, I think I'd better stop here. Anyone still with me? I hope I haven't driven you all away! But to simplify, in case anyone skips all those paragraphs just to get to this one, it was an excellently done production! I really enjoyed watching it, and it wasn't depressing. I appreciated that there was a slight hopefulness at the end. Very glad I had the chance to watch it! Not so sure I'm going to run out and immediately watch every onscreen version now, but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. Yay!



February 2, 2018

First Line Fridays :: A Brush with the Law


Hello, my lovelies. I am here for week three (for me) of First Line Fridays! How awesome am I?! (You don't need to actually answer that. ;) As usual, the lovely ladies over at Hoarding Books are hosting the fun...

So! Today is a special edition theme: Little Month...Little Book. I am not currently reading any novellas....BUT. I did remember one I read last year right around Valentine's Day and since Valentine's is almost here...

Without further ado, I give you... A Brush with the Law by Janette Rallison


33657885


It was going to be another great Valentine’s Day— at least for someone else. For Bethany Daniels it was another work day— one where her shoulders ached and she was splattered in paint.

Janette Rallison has become one of my go-to author's for sweet romances. Especially when I need a quick little pick-me-up! This particular story is super short, but super adorable! Poor Bethany has a seriously awful day, which only means there has to be a chance for it to become better, right? And when a certain fella makes his appearance? The cute really begins! It's my favorite of all the stories in this anthology and never fails to make me grin no matter how many times I've reread it. (And I've reread it at least ten to fifteen times so far! I told you. I really like it! See my review for further reference. :)

So, what are you reading this weekend? What's your first line?
Open the book nearest you and post the first line in the comments below…
OR just click over here to join in with everyone else!




January 30, 2018

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Thirty-Three


Hello, my lovelies! Here I am with just a couple more reviews for your reading pleasure! I think I'm finally getting caught up now, so yay. I trust your week is going well! So let's dive into the stories, shall we? :)


26309242
The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer
I loved Jack!! And Evie too, but Jack was my favorite. Such a swoony and GOOD man. He’s a keeper for sure. I totally admit that I went in to this one purely for the romance and I ended up being blindsided with just how wonderful Jack is! I loved the little family he created around him, simply by having his door open and being willing to be there for each of his neighbors. And his neighbors were quirky and awesome!

But Jack and Evie together? Oh my heart, I love those two! I love their instantaneous attraction and they way they just simply could not stay away from each other. All the heart-eyes for Jack, reader friends! Trust me, you need to meet this man. He will make you melt with his goodness, especially when it comes to a couple adorable little girls who love to twirl! ;)

Yet this story is so much more than just a romance. Evie and Jack both have to learn to truly open up to each other, and they mutually challenge the other to become an even better person than they already are. Beautiful story, beautiful writing, read this one, friends!



13613020
Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane
I unearthed this little story from the back of my TBR shelf recently, while sorting my books. I'd actually forgotten I had it and upon reading the blurb again, was intrigued enough to read it all in one sitting right then! It's a sweet story that delves into the harshness of tornadoes and the resilience of those devastated by their effects. Kudos to Ms. Zane for making me feel like I was right there huddled with these residents as they endured the tornado and its aftermath! I cannot imagine going through such a horrible experience, and my heart was in my throat during those scenes.

My favorite part was the new surrogate family that the tornado brought together. These people are all so very different and under ordinary circumstances, they probably would never have even said much more than hello to one another. But needs must bring them all under one roof and I loved seeing them help each other through! The romance bits were sweet as well, but as they weren't the overall focus of the story, there's not a lot of time spent there. Ultimately an enjoyable read!



27427642
A (kinda) Country Christmas by Krista Phillips
This is a super cute little Christmas novella that was perfect for a quick read to made me grin. Ms. Phillips definitely has a great sense of humor because her stories never fail to make me giggle! :) Watching Sadie and Nate navigate this "frustrating" attraction was sweet because neither is in any way prepared for it. So they stumble their way around, trying so hard to deny they like each other, while everyone around them just never believes them. :D This is simply a delightful story to read all year round, not just at Christmas!










January 29, 2018

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Thirty-Two


And I'm back with more reviews! Yay! I know how excited you are. Yep. I sure do. So! Enough about all that I know, let's get to the reviews, shall we? :)


25610915
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Much as I love Jane Austen, it's crazy that it took till now for me to read this one, right? And, of course, I loved it! I actually started out listening to the audiobook and got so impatient to read faster that I pulled out my physical copy and finished it up. And then went back and finished the audiobook because it was just that good! :) As always with her books, I am in love with Austen's sense of humor. All the little asides the narrator constantly slips in, just the sheer delight in all the little details! I laughed so much while reading/listening to this, especially at moments that I wasn't expecting to.

I definitely expected to love Elinor and Edward, however, and I did indeed! Elinor isn't perfect and I didn't always understand her, but there's just something about her that I connect with. And Edward makes some awfully foolish decisions himself! (Lucy Steele, anyone? *shudder*) But the two of them together? Ah, my heart!

In all the adaptations I've seen, Marianne tends to frustrate me, so I was curious how I'd like her in original form. She still frustrated me at times, but I definitely liked her a lot better here! And Colonel Brandon? He's certainly a lot more swoony on the page! :)

With Austen's delicious wit and my love of the characters, it's guaranteed that I'd  love this! And I did, naturally. Enough to want to read/listen again and again!


30038855
Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
First, can I just say how much I love this cover? So pretty! And it illustrates the feel of the story very well. As for the story itself, I loved it! The theme of grief is such a difficult one to handle, even fictionally, and Ms. Kemmerer did a fantastic job. I was right there with Juliet as she worked through all her emotions, and I loved seeing her reach a better place by the end. It wasn't an easy journey, but grieving never is. It's often a harsh growth, yet there is beauty there. And I totally understood her need to write out her feelings!

And then there's Declan, who found her letters and, subsequently, forms an immediate connection with this letter-writer. I love, love, love it when characters fall for the written words of the other! That is where we humans tend to let our true selves be known, so the idea of falling for someone that way is just what makes this word-loving girl happy! :D

The chemistry between Juliet and Declan is fairly electric, as well! Watching them open up to each other and deal with their attraction is simply delightful. The build up of tension, the will-they won't-they aspect, was exceptionally well done. But I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed in the payout of that tension. The ending was a little too rushed for me. I liked where they ended up, don't get me wrong! But all the redemption and happiness happened way too quickly in comparison with all the build up before. Yet don't let that deter you from reading this one, friends! Because I did really enjoy it, rushed ending and all.


35213735
The Whys Have It by Amy Matayo
And why did I wait so long to read this? I loved it! Hit all the right emotions and that chemistry between Cory and Sam? *swoon* Ms. Matayo just knows how to write a bad boy with a soft heart, doesn't she? I loved seeing these two characters deal with the fall out of decisions out of their control and how they helped each other through it. Their guilt and uncertainty felt real. And the way they grew closer, almost unconsciously, in spite of the hurt they caused each other. Like I said, their chemistry is amazing!

Both have had it rough, especially Sam, but they endured. And it's that very strength that endeared both of them to me. Faced with situations that seem to constantly beat them down, both Sam and Cory refuse to stay there. They pick themselves back up and move forward. Oh, it's not easy, but they do it. And as they strive harder, they slowly begin to realize how much better they are together instead of alone. Their character growth is beautiful to behold and I was cheering, by the final chapter, to see them making wiser choices and loving so well! This story is Amy Matayo at her best and I can't wait for more of her books! :)


36516659
The Start of Us by Jill Lynn Buteyn
This is super adorable! A quick and fun read that made me grin. I certainly wasn't expecting that little twist, although I probably should have because I could look back and see the hints, but I was happily clueless. It was a very cute storyline though!

If you're in need of a sweet romance, but not much reading time available, may I suggest you give this one a try? I really don't think you'll be disappointed. :)










January 26, 2018

First Line Fridays :: A Song Unheard


It's First Line Friday time again! The ladies over at Hoarding Books are hosting, as always, and I am just excited to actually keep it going for my second week! (I guarantee this every week business won't continue, I just know myself too well. So I'll pat myself on the back just this once! ;)

So, without further ado, I give you... A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White


35069089


The music seeped into her soul like fog over the Thames. Willa Forsythe leaned back against the grimy bricks and tilted her face up to the early-evening mist. It kissed her cheeks, cooled her, dampened her clothes. She let it. It was a reasonable price to pay for this.

I am SO excited to share the first line from my current read today! I had been hearing amazing things about this book and so far they are well deserved! (In fact, this book might have been featured on someone's FLF post last week? I've seen it so many places that I forget for sure. But no matter! I'm featuring it anyway!) This is my first Roseanna White book and if things continue the way they're going, I do not think this will be my last. SO good!

What are you reading this weekend? What is your first line?
Open the book nearest you and post the first line in the comments below…
Or just click over here to join in with everyone else!




January 25, 2018

Review: Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George

30640834
I have struggled to know what to say in this review. Because when a story is this good?! All I can seem to come up with is: YOU'LL LOVE IT, GO READ IT. So you can understand my turmoil, right? ;) For your sake, I'll attempt to be coherent, though...

First, the setting. I never knew that taking Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and placing it in the Roaring 20s would be so completely perfect. But it IS! It really, really is. All the foibles of these characters just absolutely make sense in a prohibition time period. From the Hey Nonny Nonny, to Prince and John and the mob, to the glorious and wonderful bickering into love of Benedick and Beatrice, to the constant fear of the prohibition agents, it just fits so seamlessly together! Sheer perfection, I tell you.

And then there's Benedick and Beatrice. They are, naturally, two of my very favorite characters ever. But if I thought I loved them before, well! These versions made me love them more, a thing I didn't know was possible! Their chemistry is explosive and intense, even as they do all they can to deny it. Oh my heart, how they deny and it is lovely and awesome and hilarious to watch them circle each other and try so very hard not to engage the other in conversation in the beginning, but one says something that the other just can't leave alone and oh my word, friends, I love every single bit of interaction they have!

And John and Maggie....ah, how I didn't expect to fall in love with these two! I was appropriately wary of John every time he came on the page, oh but not Maggie. Never Maggie! She is fierce and amazing and anything but scared of John. And he's a guy that is worthy of fear, let me tell you. He wields his power with control and his facial expressions rarely relax. But oh his soft center that only a certain someone is privy to? Ah, I don't know what to say about these two characters except that you have to meet them! I never in my wildest dreams expected to like Don John, but John Morello? Oh, just go meet him and then you'll see what I'm talking about.

Then there's all the other vast array of characters with their heartbreaks and happiness and all manner of goings-on. They have such relatability, even though I am nothing like nor do I understand anything about how they lived their lives. Yet that didn't matter, because I knew their hearts. I fell in love with so much of this book because Ms. George's words, people. I kept highlighting multiple sentences and whole paragraphs and just simply being blown away by the sheer charm and delight of being swept up in her ability to smoosh together a mere twenty-six letters to create such beauty.

This book, y'all. I could probably spend ten or twenty more paragraphs trying to expound on how much I loved it. (I won't. :) It's definitely more a character-driven story surrounded by a glorious setting, which is always a big draw for me. And just trust me! If you like Much Ado, I think you really ought to give this one a try! It's just SO GOOD, PEOPLE. So, so good! :D

Tiredness hovered within reach like a crouched fox waiting for a chicken, but she didn't give in to it. You couldn't get too comfortable; that was the trick. The comfortable way was usually wherever the current was going, and Beatrice rarely found herself wanting to go that direction.


Clock throwing was to be expected with that sort of idiocy; that was what Beatrice thought, but even so, she did try, she did say: "She's clearly suffering bichloride mercury poisoning; she needs a hospital." (Though Beatrice might not have listened to herself, either, since she had also prefaced it with "you incompetent fool.")


"Whatever compels you to think I care to hear your opinions on my actions, kindly locate that inner switch and turn it off."


The music, loose and unpredictable, played by a full stage band, surrounded them. There was no way to hum along. The mere act of listening, holding on by your fingertips, was a dance in and of itself.


"What are you rambling about, you nonsensical contradiction?"


"Secondly, we both know 'special automotive toolbox' was your name for whatever distraction you were going to cook up to keep me away from the car, and of course now we see why"


"You shoot things and don't fear spiders and are about as sweet as a lemon. What would a man even do with you?" "The better question is what I would do with a man."


Benedick opened his door and stood up, keeping one elbow on the doorframe, the other on the Ford's roof, shedding his exhaustion like a winter coat. His eyes brightened, and his pale, clammy skin managed to defy medicine and glow. "Have I got a story for you!"

And it was a story—in that it was not quite the truth.

But it wasn't a lie either.

Listening to him, Beatrice experienced the afternoon all over again, but this time there was no real danger. There was a boy who'd had a terrific idea that went a little off the rails and a girl who was a good sport and just the kind of sidekick you'd like to have along. Beatrice heard herself laugh when Benedick described her shooting off a man's hat, but it hadn't seemed that funny when it actually happened.

There was a sunniness in his words that somehow even disguised his appearance, erasing the boy shaking with exhaustion, flattening all his mercurial layers into one outfit of razzle-dazzle. But the razzle-dazzle was also real. That was the most baffling part of all. He was this, too.

She let him do it, not only because she came out looking all right in his story, not a clock-throwing ruin of a girl, but also because Benedick's talking about her as if she were already one of them made her one of them.

Words.

What a tricky, tangled science.



January 24, 2018

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Thirty-One


Well! I am severely behind on my reviews! I knew I was, but I hadn't realized just how behind, I guess. I've had a few books I read in between that I had committed to reviewing, so naturally I got those written. But my purely pleasure reads? Not so much. Since October!

So! Here I am finally. And be on the lookout for more coming soon! Because this isn't nearly all of them. Yikes


31142807
Dangerous Territory by Amy Peterson
A new blog I found highly recommended this book and I decided to try it. I don't read much non-fiction in general, but this story? Ms. Peterson's journey swept me up and away to the back hills of China and there I stayed until she was finished. Her journey is so not an easy one! As the title says, there is danger to be had, so beware. But it's a danger with a happy-ish ending and the sojourn to that ending is oh-so-worth discovering, reader friends!

Her descriptions of life on the other side of the world are vivid and detailed just enough for one to find themselves smack in the middle of this seemingly quiet little town. Yet I never felt bogged down with too much, Ms. Peterson mixes things up enough to keep you on your toes wondering where this journey will lead. In fact, I kept having this ominous feeling, like all this build up of tension was surely going to split apart and there would be mess and chaos. And there is! But in a quieter sense than I'd imagined. So yes, this feels like a quiet, little story, but don't let that fool you. There is much to learned from Ms. Peterson and it's well worth discovering right alongside of her! :)


8474242
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
This was super fun! And is that not one of the best titles you've ever read? I love it! It perfectly sets the tone for this quirky little story. I loved so much of September's journey! Especially Ell, the Wyverary. He was the BEST. But it's the pure imaginativeness of it all that kept my unwavering attention. We are thrust into this grand adventure right along with September from the very first pages. There is no need for explanations or discussions, there is simply the Green Wind hanging out by her window and it's up to her (and us!) to jump out with a yes. Each stage of her journey gives and takes so much, and as September grows and struggles and learns all that she needs to, I laughed at times, and shook my head in frustration at others, and ultimately enjoyed getting to know each dear character who refused to do what I'd anticipate they would. Which makes for great reading/listening, I must say! :)

I also have to admit that authors who read their own audiobooks can be a hit or miss for me and, while it took a bit for me to grow accustomed to Ms. Valente's style, I adjusted and she mostly stopped bothering me by the final chapter. So please don't let that stop you from listening! Because this delightful story is so worth discovering, friends.


36486660
O Christmas Bree by Erynn Mangum
As with all of Ms. Mangum's stories, I loved this one! In fact, I really, really, really wish it were a full length novel instead of a novella! I loved Bree and her family! They were so wonderful to each other. I loved how much they cared about everyone, including all their employees. And I could definitely stand to spend a LOT more time with all of them. Their Christmas Tree Farm sounds like an amazing place to visit at Christmastime. And Sam! Oh my heart, I need more time with Sam! Come on, Ms. Mangum. Pretty please??? ;)

If you have a need for reading a super adorable story, but not much time available, this one is for you! It's way too short, in my humble opinion. ;) But oh so worth reading!



29745688
The Carpenter's Daughter by Jennifer Rodewald
I have to admit that I really wanted to love this story more than I did! I really did enjoy the romance portions, and thought Jesse and Sarah had pretty amazing chemistry. I felt each emotional punch as Sarah struggled to find a relationship with God and Jesse struggled to do the right thing with this woman he was intensely drawn to. Sarah's journey was especially poignant and watching her navigate these new feelings felt real. Even in her relationship with her father, I could understand her feelings.

But her dad's feelings? Not so much. I really didn't like his portions of the story, unfortunately. His attitude drove me crazy,  and even though he does get redemption at the end, I could never muster any happiness about it. It just didn't feel real to me. SO many times I grew frustrated with his inability to make sense. He'd feel this way and then he'd feel that way, all in the space of a few paragraphs. He just irritated me enough that it kind of spoiled a lot of the rest of the story for me? :(

So! I, personally, would have liked the story way more if the dad's point of view had been left out. I was totally in this one for the romance and mainly began skipping paragraphs and chapters to get to those bits. But Jesse is awfully swoony. :) And the romance is super sweet!



30763950
A Million Junes by Emily Henry
This a very quirky and interesting story. It went in several unexpected ways, especially towards the end! I had been on pins and needles wondering how on earth Ms. Henry was going to resolve things. She surprised me! In a good way and in a weird way, it all worked.

I loved the magical realism that is never fully explained in great detail. (Which is best! Magical realism always works better when it's not really explained, in my opinion.) I also loved the family relationships, even when they frustrated me, because they felt real. Children can idealize their parents and parents don't always make the right choices in what and how much to tell their children. Mistakes are inevitable. And, of course, the romance was pretty cute! Although it did feel slightly too insta-love-ish to me, I still could appreciate the great chemistry between June and Saul every time they were together.

Ultimately there were bits I loved and bits I didn't and I ended the book happy to have read it, yet not feeling like I'd ever re-read it again. Yet I am intrigued enough to want to try more Emily Henry stories someday!




January 22, 2018

INSPYs :: 2018 Longlists Announced

Hello, my lovelies! The INSPY Longlists are out today! Yay! Congrats to all the nominees. I can't wait to dive into these stories and read the awesome. :)




Hello fellow readers, bloggers and authors. First, we’d like to say a big thank you to every reader and author who nominated their favorite reads of 2017, and likewise to those who shared about the opportunity to nominate on social media. The Advisory Board is again so grateful for the support and interest in this program. Like the last two years, the following nomination process applied to each of our seven categories.

To help simplify our nomination process, we made some adjustments to our awards program. To that end, instead of publicizing our long list of nominations as they poured in, the Advisory Board kept the list private since the method of nomination involved a process of popular vote. The number of books that received the most nominations (the top 15 from each category) came out as the winners, which then determined the long lists.

Due to insufficient nominations or ineligibility, some categories fall short of the requisite 15 novels.

From the lists below, the Advisory Board will be narrowing these respective lists down to five books per category which will become our 2018 short lists. From there, the same judging process and practices will follow.

Grab your favorite beverage, and enjoy browsing through the books that YOU nominated, propelling them into “phase two.”

Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense

- Charming the Troublemaker (Bling! Romance) By Pepper Basham
- Just the Way You Are (Woven Words) by Pepper Basham
- A New Shade of Summer (Waterfall Press) by Nicole Deese
- Chasing Secrets (Revell) by Lynette Eason
- Moving Target (Revell) by Lynette Eason
- Then There Was You (Bellbird Press) by Kara Isaac
- The Writing Desk (Zondervan) by Rachel Hauck
- Jane of Austin (Waterbrook) by Hillary Manton Lodge
- Blind Spot (Bethany House by Dani Pettrey
- All This Time (Larkspur Press) by Melissa Tagg
- The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck (Revell) by Bethany Turner
- True to You (Bethany House) by Becky Wade
- Just Look Up (Tyndale) by Courtney Walsh
- Begin Again (Impact Editions) by Crystal Walton
- Just Maybe (Impact Editions) by Crystal Walton


Debut Novel

- A Season to Dance (Bling! Romance) by Patricia Beal
- Still Waters (Firefly Southern Fiction) by Lindsey P. Brackett
- Freedom's Ring (Tyndale) by Heidi Chiavaroli
- Count Me In (I21 Publishing House) by Mikal Dawn
- Grace in Strange Disguise (Indie) by Christine Dillon
- The Elusive Miss Ellison (Kregel) by Carolyn Miller
- Waiting For Butterflies (Walrus Publishing) by Karen Sargent
- Stars in the Grass (Shiloh Run Press) by Ann Marie Stewart
- Lady Jayne Disappears (Bethany House) by Joanna Davidson Politano


General Fiction

- In the Light of the Garden (Lake Union Publishing) by Heather Burch
- Perennials (Thomas Nelson) by Julie Cantrell
- Looking Glass Lies (Waterfall Press) by Varina Denman
- Catching the Wind (Tyndale) by Melanie Dobson
- A Song of Home: A Novel of the Swing Era (Kregel) by Susie Finkbeiner
- A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression (Kregel) by Susie Finkbeiner
- Life After (Waterbrook) by Katie Ganshert
- The Mark of the King (Bethany House) by Jocelyn Green
- The Esther Paradigm (Radiant Publications) by Sarah Monzon
- The Space Between Words (Thomas Nelson) by Michele Phoenix
- The Austen Escape (Thomas Nelson) by Katherine Reay
- Bringing Maggie Home (Waterbrook) by Kim Vogl Sawyer
- The Memory of You (Thomas Nelson) by Catherine West
- Before We Were Yours (Ballintine Books) by Lisa Wingate
- Home (Shiloh Run Press) by Ginny L. Yttrup


Historical Romance

- A Note Yet Unsung (Bethany House) by Tamera Alexander
- To Wager Her Heart (Zondervan) by Tamera Alexander
- The Road to Paradise (Waterbrook) by Karen Barnett
- Many Sparrows (Waterbrook) by Lori Benton
- A Lady in Disguise (Howard) by Sandra Byrd
- Wings of the Wind (Bethany House) by Connilyn Cosette
- Havencross (Covenant Communications) by Julie Daines
- A Moonbow Night (Revell) by Laura Frantz
- An Inconvenient Beauty (Bethany House) by Kristi Ann Hunter
- An Uncommon Courtship (Bethany House) by Kristi Ann Hunter
- The Dishonorable Miss DeLancy (Kregel) by Carolyn Miller
- Lady Jayne Disappears (Bethany House) by Joanna Davidson Politano
- Once an Heiress (Waterfall Press) by Renee Ryan
- The Sound of Rain (Bethany House) by Sarah Loudin Thomas
- A Name Unknown (Bethany House) by Roseanne M. White


Literature for Young Adults

- The Messengers: Concealed (Concordia Publishing House) by Lisa M. Clark
- The Returning (Tyndale) by Rachelle Dekker
- Unraveling (Thomas Nelson) by Sara Ella
- Spark (Love2readlove2write Publishing, LLC) by J. M. Hackman
- For Love and Honor (Zondervan) by Jody Hedlund
- Playing by Heart (Vinspire) by Carmela A. Martino
- The Lost Girl of Astor Street (Blink) by Stephanie Morrill
- The Evaporation of Sofi Snow (Thomas Nelson) by Mary Weber


Mystery / Thriller

- The Enoch Effect (Waterfall Press) by Rick Acker
- If I'm Found (Zondervan) by Terri Blackstock
- Death at Thorburn Hall (Bethany House) by Julianna Deering
- Crown of Souls (Bethany House) by Ronie Kendig
- A Portrait of Vengeance (Thomas Nelson) by Carrie Stuart Parks
- Imperfect Justice (Thomas Nelson) by Cara Putman
- Without Warning (Tyndale) by Joel Rosenberg
- Fatal Mistake (FaithWords) by Susan Sleeman
- The House on Foster Hill (Bethany House) by Jaime Jo Wright


Speculative Fiction

- Raging Storm (Harvest House) by Vannetta Chapman
- The Beast of Talesend (Indie) by Kyle Robert Schultz
- The Divide (Tyndale) by Jolina Petersheim
- The Girl Who Could See (Indie) by Kara Swanson
- King's Blood (Bethany House) by Jill Williamson


We’d like to congratulate all of the nominated authors and thank all of the bloggers and readers who put forth their favorite reads of 2017.

We’re ready to get to work and find the top five in each of these categories.




January 19, 2018

First Line Fridays :: Speak Easy, Speak Love


The ladies over at Hoarding Books have been hosting First Line Fridays for quite some time now and I've always thought it would be fun to join in. So! No guarantees of this every single week, but today seemed like a good day to begin! I've been in need of some quick and easy (and fun!) posts to spice up the blog a bit and here we are. :) Check out the other links and maybe we can all add to our TBRs together!

For my very first post, I pondered which book I should choose. I figure it works better when you showcase your current or next read, but as I'm currently not in the middle of anything and I don't have any of my next reads with me right now....well! That means you get the first line from a book I read a while back and don't think it's gotten enough love from me around here. (One of these days I will actually get my review written. Promise! :)

Without further ado... Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George


30640834

Benedick Scott was on his way to freedom or profound failure or, if the usual order of things held up, both.

This story is amazing, friends. It was on my list of top ten from 2017 and if you haven't read it (and like Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare), you should totally check it out! It's set in the Roaring 20s and, seriously, it's way more awesome than I can tell you. Way more! :D




Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

January 12, 2018

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things :: 2017 Edition


It's only the second week of January, so it's okay that I'm still looking back at last year, right? We're totally going to go with that! :) I meant to get this post written a couple weeks ago, but alas....

Still, here we are. 2017 was all kinds of interesting for me. It has lots of emotional upheaval, I have to admit. Yet there were way more happy moments than hard ones, for which I am very grateful! So. Grab your mug of your favorite tea, snuggle with a blanket in your favorite reading spot, and let's have some fun reliving the happy that happened last year, how about it? :)

:: Christian Fiction Readers Retreat  {SO, SO much fun! Such an awesome day with blogging friends and authors.}
:: Meeting Serena Chase in person AND having her be so excited to meet me.  {She is seriously the BEST, friends.}
:: Hiking to Cascade Falls.
:: My first year on the Advisory Board for the INSPYs  {All those lovely bookish convos...!!}
:: Visiting Biltmore Estate
:: Seeing Lizzy and Darcy's outfits from P&P '05 on display...!!!!!!!  {This is still one of the biggest highlights of the year that continues to make me grin when I remember it.}
:: The LIBRARY at Biltmore  {Seriously amazing, y'all.}
:: A dear friend from CA visiting and the chance to catch up in person
:: The book cake a friend made for me, for my bookish birthday party, which was amazing.
:: Discovering my new favorite coffee shop.  {They have the best chai tea latte that I've ever had.}
:: Visiting a tea shop with friends and falling in love with their motto {see picture above} AND their tea and relaxing atmosphere!
:: Meeting online friends in person, who turn out to be even more awesome and lovely.
:: Seeing Sense & Sensibility on stage and loving Elinor and Edward even more.
:: Precious convos with friends, both online and off.
:: Falling in love with so many wonderful new stories!
:: Rereading old favorites that fill my heart with comfort and happy.
:: Libraries and bookstores and book sales and all the bookish fun.
:: Hugs and hot tea and Lindor truffles and all the happy my heart can hold.
:: Planning for grand, new adventures on my horizon!

Here's to 2018, my lovelies! I hope yours is full of happiness and delight.




January 11, 2018

INSPYs 2018 :: Nominations Open



Hello, my lovelies! Just a quick check in to remind you (in case you weren't aware) that INSPY nominations are open now. All the info can be found over HERE on the website. Please note, the deadline for nominations is January 16, which is only next Tuesday....!

And we could use a few more, so get crackin'!! :D


{The Inspys were created to select and showcase books with the highest literary standards that grapple with the Christian faith and were designed to help readers in their search for the preeminent faith-inspired literature of today.  This program is organized and judged by book bloggers who have considerable experience and knowledge of books published for both the CBA, general and INDIE markets.}



January 10, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Uncloaked Trilogy by J. Rodes {Blog Tour + Giveaway}



I am so pleased to participate in this Blog Tour today! Because this series is definitely worth getting the word out about. I was intrigued by the premise and once I dived into the pages, well...! Hopefully you'll get the chance to see for yourself, once you purchase your own copy! ;) I listened to the audiobooks and they were excellently done, for the record.




 Review

34924647
The Uncloaked {book one}
I was not expecting to be utterly swept up into the story so quickly! But Ms. Rodes hits the ground running in chapter one and lets the reader rest very little throughout the rest of the book. It feels so close to where life is currently in our country and how rapidly such devastating changes could actually become true. Considering all the heartache that these characters seem to about constantly endure, even before said changes show their true colors, I was so grateful that Braxton and Eliza's friendship was sweet and fairly uncomplicated. Each time they had a cute moment together, it allowed me to take a breather and just imagine being a teenager again. Yet this story is not for the faint of heart. Awful, terrible things begin happening and our characters have much to endure. And then there's that cliffhanger ending! Let's just say it's a good thing that I had book two at the ready immediately.

I will have to admit that Braxton bugged me several times during the story. I know he's a teenager with all his teen angst, but I got rather irritated at his flip-flopping back and forth. He could never seem to land on exactly what he felt about any of the changes happening in his world. A little bit of that I can understand, but when one particular, obvious awful thing happened he still couldn't decide! I was grateful that by the end, he finally seemed to settle a little bit. Book two helped my feelings about him as well.


35387351
Tearing the Veil {book two}
I was hoping for more answers to all my questions left over from book one and I did get a few. But of course, more questions just seemed to get asked and fewer answered! Which, naturally, required that I keep reading. Not a hardship, let me just say! ;) We pick back up with Braxton and I was pleased that he seemed a bit more settled in this book. Plus we get to know Hannah, Eliza's little sister. Now that Braxton has matured, Hannah gets to take over all his immature decision making! But luckily she's got Braxton to look out for her, even if she doesn't want him to. She bugged me a few times, but I quickly got over it.

The tension only rises during this middle story. I confess that there were several times I had to put the book down just so I could remind myself that this wasn't actually happening in real life! Kudos to Ms. Rodes for her incredible ability to write so life-like. Evil continues to run rampant through the story and it takes the courageous few to choose Truth over all the lies. Yet again, this book continues the adrenaline-pumping, uneasy bits, but surrounds them with small tinges of hope that refuse to give up. And that hope is so worth fighting for, as our characters come to realize. And that ending...!


36159960
Charging the Darkness {book three}
Wow. That's about all I can say about this final book in the trilogy! The same edge-of-your-seat tension held me captive from beginning to end. So many things happening and unexpectedly! I tried to imagine where I thought Ms. Rodes was going to take us, but, of course, I was wrong. Hope and forgiveness are incredibly powerful and should never be underestimated or thought impossible! This last book definitely cements this series as top notch and worth reading, in my opinion. :)

I was SO happy that my quibbles with a couple of the characters in the first two books were gone! Genuine maturity arrived and I was firmly on their side as harsh decisions were forced upon them. As per the first two books, the evil and darkness has continued to escalate, which only makes Truth and Hope shine so much the brighter! As each of the characters work through their individual journeys, I was blown away by their growth and determination to do right.

This entire series is well worth reading, my friends! This final book is proof of that, but in order to get to this one, you have to first read the other two. ;) So get to it! I don't think you'll be disappointed.

**I received a complementary copy from the author via Singing Librarian Books. All opinions expressed are my own.




About the Books

From Sellout to hero, by way of the den. Braxton Luther finds himself in the crossfire of a new order, and discovers apathy is a dangerous option.

GOODREADS | AMAZON


About the Author

J. Rodes lives on the wide plains somewhere near the middle of Nowhere. A coffee addict, pickleball enthusiast, and storyteller, she also wears the hats of mom, teacher, and friend. Mostly, she loves Jesus and wants to see the kids she’s honored to teach fall in love with Him too.

GOODREADS | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM
WEBSITE







Giveaway

~ Print copies of the books (US only)
~ E-copies of the books (International)
~ Audio copies of the books (International)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

January 10-Book by Book | Flowers of Quiet Happiness
January 11-Just Commonly ​
January 12-Remembrancy
January 15-amandainpa
January 18-Henry Happens
January 20-Pause for Tales






ShareThis

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...