December 29, 2017

My Favorite 2017 Reads

Well now, here I am again. With one more list! This particular one is always a bit of a doozy to choose. Because I love stories and choosing just a few top favorites is HARD! (Also, with the way that my reading moods were so persnickety this year, I started and stopped so many books simply because I just couldn't get into them. That's not the books' fault, for the record! Totally me.) So if it made this list, you can bet that I LOVED the story enough to get swept up in the storyline and forget real life for a bit. :)

(Also, these are in the order that I read them, NOT listed as most favorite to least favorite or anything of that nature. It was easier for me to pick them as I went down my list from the beginning of the year until now...)


by Katie Ganshert

I have gushed SO many times about this story, so I won't bore you with more of the same. Suffice it to say that I LOVED this book. It hit at a moment when I needed the beautiful reminder to hope.


by Carrie Stuart Parks

When a mystery captures my attention this thoroughly, it's worth a notice! Because I'm not a big mystery fan in general. It takes a special story in that genre to keep me reading. So this one? The synopsis sounds exactly like NOT my cup of tea, but somehow Ms. Parks drew me in and my poor heart was on pins and needles until the very end. And I loved it! :)


by Becky Wade

Because it's by Becky Wade, of course! Do you need any other reason to read this one? No! But if you insist, then just know that Nora is an avid reader herself and her romance with John is just...*swoon* PLUS Nora is a huge fan of period dramas! Seriously, this girl and I are kindred spirits. I just know it! ;)


by Kara Isaac

Because Kara Isaac is now on my list of favorite authors ever! And this one is super cute and adorable. Enough said. Go read it!


by Erin Morgenstern

I was blown away by the sheer vividness of the descriptions in this story. Ms. Morgenstern clearly has a gift for detailing a world so intricately that the reader can smell the popcorn, venture inside each circus tent, and simply immerse themselves completely! And now just thinking back on my lovely reading experience makes me immediately ready to listen to the audiobook again.


by Courtney Walsh

"I especially loved that Drew was this quiet, taciturn type of hero. His inability to express his thoughts would make him seem like not a very romantic sort, but oh let me tell you!! He knows how to make a girl swoon! And poor Beth never even stood a chance. ;) Yet more than just the swooniness of their romance charmed me, it was the way they innately understood each other and how they became such safe places for the other. I absolutely LOVED that all the parts of themselves that they struggled to accept and love were so very easily accepted, loved, and make perfectly imperfect in the other. They complement each other so beautifully! So how could I do anything but love the two of them like crazy in response?" 
(from my review)


by Sarah Monzon

This one is different than anything else I've ever read. But in the BEST way possible! It needs to be read to be experienced. So go read it!


by McKelle George

Oh readers friends, this book is SO, SO GOOD AND AMAZING. I haven't yet written an official review of it, but rest assured it's not because I didn't like it. I struggle to find the words to describe the sheer awesomeness of a retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing set in the Roaring 20s! All I can say is this: read it, read it, read it!! Leave everything else and just go read it right now. Immediately!


by Katherine Reay

You knew this one was coming, right? Because I will always read a Katherine Reay story! She seems to only get better and better with each new book she writes and this one is almost perfection. Of course, it does help that I'm a huge fan of Jane Austen, so I loved all the nods to her stories naturally! But it's not just the Austen aspect, it's the story as a whole, and especially Mary herself. "One of the most fascinating things about Ms. Reay's writing is her innate understanding of people. I always seem to relate to her characters, even when we have completely different tastes and opinions! .... I can say nothing else but that you should read it immediately! Don't wait, don't hesitate, just read it. I can't imagine you being disappointed." :)


by Jane Austen

It's a Jane Austen, so it's guaranteed to be on my list of favorites! You shouldn't need any other reason than that one. :D

December 28, 2017

My Life According to Literature :: 2017

Four of my faves! You should really check them out... :)
Hello, my lovelies! I know I've been scarce around these parts, but here I am for all the end of the year lists. Finally! :) It's hard to believe that we're here again, isn't it? Craziness how fast time goes these days! One of the many "perks" of getting older, I suppose. Yay?

Anyhoo! I hope all of you are doing well and had a wonderful Christmas and all that jazz. My long weekend was fairly quiet, yet still lots of fun with a couple family Christmases to attend, as well as one full day of being home with a few books to reread. I've been sorting my bookshelves here recently in anticipation of moving, so naturally that means lots of rereading has been going on! A reader's gotta do what a reader's gotta do, right? It requires rereading a book to decide if I want to keep it or not.......right? I knew you'd agree! :D

So then, here I am with this fun post again. Looks like this just might become one of my annual traditions! My reading moods were fairly persnickety this past year, so I haven't even come close to meeting my reading challenge over on Goodreads. But still! I did have close to 50 titles to choose from, so that's not too shabby!

Without further ado, I give you.....*drumroll please* My Life According to Literature, edition 2017!

Describe yourself: Life After (Katie Ganshert)  {This year has had a lot of upheaval in it, mainly emotionally, and it has definitely felt like I'm still working my way through the After of a lot of things...}

How do you feel today: My Unexpected Hope (Tammy L. Gray)  {There is SO much hope to cling to!}

Describe where you currently live: Switching Gears (Chantele Sedgwick)  {Because I'm currently in the middle of packing up my things to move...}

If you could go anywhere, you would go to: The Austen Escape (Katherine Reay)  {Um...duh! ;) Of course I'd want to try an Austen escape once in my life!}

Your favorite form of transportation: Wires & Nerve (Marissa Meyer)  {Because all forms require at least a couple wires in order to operate correctly, right?}

Your best friend is: With You Always (Jody Hedlund)

You and your friends are: Kindred Spirits (Rainbow Rowell)  {Need I say more?}

What's the weather like: Wintersong (S. Jae-Jones)  {It is absolutely frigid outside right now!}

You fear: Dangerous Territory (Amy Peterson)  {Not that I'm actually in such a place, but it seems wise to have a healthy fear for danger. Don't you think?}

What's the best advice you have to give: Just Look Up (Courtney Walsh)

Thought for the day: Then There Was You (Kara Isaac)

How would you like to die: For Love & Honor (Jody Hedlund)  {Seems a good reason to me...}

Your soul's present condition: Right Where We Belong (Deborah Raney, Melissa Tagg, Courtney Walsh)  {No better place to be, right?}

December 12, 2017

Review: The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon

I am SO excited to be a part of this blog tour today! Because this story is truly something special. Very different from anything I've ever read before and I can't wait to introduce you to these lovely characters! So let's get to it, shall we? :)

Wow. What can I say about this story? I had previously read Ms. Monzon's Finders Keepers last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. But this story blew that one out of the water! The synopsis initially intrigued me, I mean a story based around the book of Esther with the main character ending up marrying a Sheikh? What a fascinating idea, right? Kudos to Ms. Monzon for thinking it up and clearly doing tons of research! Her attention to detail is very well done, I could easily feel the sand blowing and the stifling weather all due to her excellent world-building.

But it's not the world-building that truly gripped my attention. It was Hannah and Karim. And the way the tension grew whenever they were together. Or even apart, since they couldn't seem to stop thinking of each other! The chemistry between the two is solid and swoonworthy, let me just say. ;) Yet they are from two completely different worlds, so they certainly do not have an easy time of it. I rather enjoyed that Ms. Monzon touches just enough on the harshness of the environment and the culture they are living in to make clear that lives were in peril, yet every bleak moment is constantly surrounded with tinges of hope. That hope is so gently interwoven throughout each chapter and is what keeps Hannah, herself, able to continue going down this difficult path she chose. Of course, having someone like Karim around to sweep a girl off her feet helped quite a bit as well! ;)

Watching the selfless giving of Hannah and her parents in the midst of such a culture was inspiring. It takes complete giving up of self in order to serve in that sort of setting and I liked that Hannah and her parents had a few flaws and a few times they made mistakes. It made them feel less like paragons of virtue and more real. That's what captured my attention the most, I think, the fact that the story feels so very life-like. As if such a circumstance could actually happen. Each of these characters do not seem merely made up, there is life and breath inside them and we get the privilege of journeying right along beside them.

I was thoroughly captivated by this beautifully written story! I kept getting interrupted while reading and it was all I could do not to snap at the one hindering me from finding out how things would resolve! :D I sighed happily once I closed the final page, yet still sad that it had to end. I could've spent lots more time with these characters! Read it, friends. 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.

The daughter of missionaries, Hannah Pratt dreams of starting a school for the Bedouin clan with whom she spent her childhood. After completing her education in the United States, she returns to the desert to pursue that dream—only to learn her parents have been receiving threats from within the community they serve. As the danger escalates, Hannah must decide how far she’ll go to stay faithful to a calling that could cost her everything.

As sheikh, Karim Al-Amir feels the weight of responsibility as the leader of his people. When a mysterious illness ravages the clan’s flocks and threatens to destroy their centuries-old way of life, some of his people believe the American doctors and their daughter, his childhood friend, are to blame. Karim must do something to keep Hannah and her parents safe—even if the only solution is to be found within marriage vows.

In a society where the line is drawn between us and them, where Christianity is outlawed and foreigners suspect, will Karim and Hannah’s union heal wounds . . . or inflict a final, fatal blow?

Old Testament history meets Twenty-first Century tensions in this compassionate, tender inspirational romance.

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings. Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, won the 2017 SELAH award for contemporary romance.


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