Featured

Weekend Reading Memorial Day Edition

This edition of Weekend Reading will be a departure from my usual list of links and reading suggestions. As we move into Memorial Day weekend, the country is mourning the loss of 19 children and two adults in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX. No words can properly address the grief the families, community, and nation are feeling. Too many times, we have had to send our thoughts and prayers to those suffering loss from gun violence, especially violence against children.

I’m struggling to find something meaningful to say in this situation. It is so heartbreaking that one could easily be silenced by the gravity of the situation. Hug your children and family members, I want to say. Take action. And, after everything, remember. Remember the feelings you have now and use that hurt to create a safer world.

In the poem “Still I Rise,” Maya Angelou describes resilience in the face of hate. I find her words appropriate:

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Gather your own families together and cherish the chance to spend extra time together this weekend. Lay wreaths in cemeteries and attend military Memorial Day ceremonies. Welcome the promise of summer and a new chance to make things better. Then, take action against violence, knowing the fight is worth the effort.

If you are interested in donating to the families and surviving victims, consider the Robb Elementary School Memorial Fund Here’s a link to the information.

Find information about advocating for mental health support in schools here and here.

One way to help is to donate blood through a Red Cross blood drive.

Find contact information for your members of Congress here.

— Amy

Featured

Get Cozy With Deborah Blake — The Interview

Let’s get cozy with Deborah Blake, author of the new book Claws for Suspicion. Its the third book in the Catskills Pet Rescue series.

Things I learned:

Deborah is a delight! We had a nice conversation that covered her book, her writing process, and some behind-the-scenes info on the publishing process.

Deborah has some serious fans for her series. So much so that she said if the fourth book in the series doesn’t get picked up by a published, she’s considering self-publishing it (one can hope!)

For writers: Deborah is one of many authors who follows the idea that first time authors should write the book they’re passionate about and worry about selling it later.

Cozies are in-demand with readers, but not necessarily being bought by publishers. Show your support by pre-ordering your upcoming wish list whenever you can to keep the new books coming.

Check out my Bookshop.org shop to purchase Deborah’s cozies while supporting your favorite indy

Watch the interview below:

Happy reading!

-Amy-

Featured

Get Cozy With Deborah Blake, Author Of Claws For Suspicion

It’s time for our April author interview. This month’s featured author is Deborah Blake.

Check back on April 25th for video from our talk together.

A little bit about Deborah:

Deborah Blake is the author of multiple romance series, including the Baba Yaga series, as well as over a dozen nonfiction titles. When not writing, Deborah runs the Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and also works as a jewelry maker, tarot reader, and energy healer. She lives in a 130-year-old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with numerous cats who supervise all her activities, both magical and mundane. Learn more online at deborahblakeauthor.com.

She has a new book out May 3rd, Claws For Suspicion, the third book of the Catskill Pet Rescue series. Here’s a synopsis:

When someone from her past comes to town to cause trouble, Kari Stuart and her sassy kitten Queenie will have to work hard to protect the Serenity Sanctuary in this new Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery.

     Kari Stuart is finally starting to relax into her role as the new owner of the Serenity Sanctuary and is looking forward to the various fun autumn activities in the beautiful Catskills town of Lakeview, like the annual Oktoberfest celebration. It’s time for friends and quality bonding with handsome vet Angus McCoy. Until the unexpected arrival of her unpleasant ex-husband, Charlie Smith.

      He comes bearing a shocking revelation—the paperwork on their divorce never went through, and they are still married. Worse yet, he thinks this entitles him to half of her lottery winnings—although he’ll happily take partial ownership of the sanctuary instead. Kari isn’t sure if he’s telling the truth, or if it’s just another one of Charlie’s lies. 
 
But things go from bad to worse when an unexpected death makes Kari the main suspect in a murder investigation. Will she and Queenie be able to find the real killer and keep the home they’ve built at the sanctuary safe, or is their string of luck finally tapped out? 

Learn all about her new book, her career, her writing process, and her thoughts on the cozy mystery genre. Footage will be posted Monday April 25th!

Have an author you’d like to hear from? Let me know and maybe they will be my next interview!

Happy reading!

-Amy-

Featured

Winter Reading Roundup 2022

Spring is here! Time to once again believe that I can actually grow things and keep them alive. Also time for walks while listening to audiobooks and reading out on my patio. It is nice to come out of hibernation after a chilly winter.

Winter is a busy time for me, so I don’t generally get a lot of reading done. But I was able to squeeze in two mysteries and two cozies. These were just enough to round out the season. The four books I chose included my favorite mystery so far this year (The Appeal) and maybe of all-time!

I’ve decided this year (based on a recommendation I heard) to keep a top five list of all the books I’ve read this year and, as I add new books, see if any crack the top five. I thought this was a cool idea and a great way to analyze how I feel about my reading year overall. Here are the first few candidates:

The Appeal by Janice Hallet

The book is amazing. I don’t often say that but the premise, the structure, and the execution of the novel was just stunning to me. The book centers around a theater group in England, where the leaders are making an appeal (thus the title) for money to pay for a cancer drug for their granddaughter. The cure is said to be from the United States at a cost of one-million dollars. 

The structure is made up of correspondence between one attorney and two others asked to review the material and draw conclusions, along with emails and texts between members of the theater group and those involved in the appeal. We know from the opening correspondence between the attorneys that a murder has been committed. The rest of the case slowly reveals how that murder came about, and drops a hefty number of suspects on the table. To tell more would give too much away.

The mix of characters includes some likeable people, some not so much, and all unreliable narrators. It’s an easy to access mystery with plenty of twistiness to it. I enjoyed sorting out what happened from the perspective of the people involved. It was almost an Agatha Christie style locked room mystery, in that you know someone among the emails and texts is responsible.

I highly recommend this book. It is the best I’ve read this year and I believe it will stay in my top five through the end of December.

Rating: Five stars! This will be one of the rare books that I will reread as time passes.

Batter Off Dead by Maddie Day

Maddie Day’s latest in the Country Store Mystery series is a delight. Robbie Jordan finds herself trying to unravel the murder of the special friend of Grant Bird, father of South Lick’s police Lieutenant Buck Bird. She was stabbed with a knitting needle after the town’s summer fireworks show. The investigation takes a turn to include a look into the death of Buck’s mother years ago.

Day’s writing is fun and engaging and I find myself rooting for the characters. Robbie is interesting and intriguing as a newly married woman to her husband Abe. I last read Maddie Day’s seventh book in the series, Nacho Average Murder and I liked her then too. I’m definitely going back to read from the beginning of the series to see how things started and progressed. Definitely worth a read.

I recently got to interview Maddie Day for my blog and she was great fun to talk to. It was nice to get some insight into her books in this series, as well as her others.

Rating: Four Stars

Fortune and Glory: Tantalizing Twenty-Seven by Janet Evanovich

Another rollicking adventure with Stephanie Plum, New Jersey’s wackiest bounty hunter. This one has Stephanie and Grandma Mazur on the hunt for a treasure that Grandma’s late [mob-connected] husband Jimmy held the key to (or keys). Jimmy’s mob cronies, the Laz-E-Boys (named for their favorite chairs set up in the back room of a strip club) are after the treasure too and won’t hesitate to kidnap or kill to get the clues and keys needed to get the treasure.

Stephanie and Lula still doing her bounty hunting and gains a massively allergic follower who insists he needs to protect her. But Stephanie’s got her hands full protecting her family and avoiding scary mobsters who want to kill her. Morelli and Ranger make their appearances, and a mysterious woman in a Mercedes that has the skills to step in in a difficult situation shows up in Morelli’s kitchen.

I enjoyed the progression of this book, which moves Stephanie from just doing bounty hunting on to trying to find the treasure. A lot of it is familiar territory, but the new emphasis adds some kick. It gives the book a different flavor than the others. It makes me wonder if the series is drawing to an end soon, but Janet Evanovich hasn’t made any indications that she’s wrapping things up. Not my favorite, but in the top five.

Rating: Four stars

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder by Joanne Fluke

Joanne Fluke continues to impress readers with her long running Hannah Swenson series. This installment has Hannah trying to clear her sister from a murder charge when Andrea finds Mayor Bascomb dead in his office, other hours after she’d argued loudly with him. Hannah has the sheriff’s department’s blessing to investigate and she gets right to work on the lengthly list of suspects. This one has an interesting twist and is an engaging whodunit.

I’m a big fan of the series and devoured this and am ready for the next. My only issue is that it does seem to be getting a little repetitive. Fluke keeps it interesting, but once again we see Hannah in her familiar position of investigating by delivering baked goods and doing a will-they or won’t-they dance with Norman. The author shakes it up some in this book, but is running the risk of becoming formulaic. Then again, fans like knowing what to expect from a Hannah Swenson book, so that’s comforting. I’m not sure which way I lean on that. But that’s the only reason for my slightly lower rating.

Thank you to NetGalley for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: Four Stars 

I’ve got a good TBR lined up, which includes more cozies from Leslie Meier, Vivien Chien, and Allie Pleiter (new to me!) along with The Club by Ellery Lloyd, a romance by Mary Kay Andrews and some audiobooks from the library. What are you looking forward to this spring? I love to hear from readers, so share your plans below.

Featured

Get Cozy With Maddie Day!

Time to Get Cozy with Maddie Day/Edith Maxwell! She is such a delight to talk with. We had a fun chat.

Remember, Batter Off Dead, her latest in the Country Store series, is out now! Pick it up at Bookshop.org or get an autographed copy from Jabberwockybookshop.com. If you’ve already picked up a copy, you can get a signed bookplate at her website edithmaxwell.com.

Here’s the video of our chat:


Thanks again to Maddie Day (Edith Maxwell) for taking the time to chat. Next up Thursday: It’s Reading Roundup time. Check out all the books I’ve read since the middle of January.

Love author interviews? Check out my chat with Abby Collette, author of the Ice Cream Shop mysteries.

Who would you like to hear from next? Comment below with your picks.

Happy reading!

Amy
Featured

Author Maddie Day Coming To the Get Cozy Book Nook

Author Maddie Day is coming to the Get Cozy Book Nook! We’re having a chat that will be posted here on February 22nd. Each post leading up to then will include tidbits about Day and her writing. Here’s some to get started with:

Maddie Day is the author of the super popular Country Store mysteries. The series centers around Robbie Jordan who runs the Pans ‘N Pancakes country store restaurant in fictional South Lick, Indiana. Each book in the culinary cozy series includes recipes to go along with Robbie’s adventures as she finds herself solving murders. Get started with the first book in the series Flipped For Murder. Her newest book in the series, Batter Off Dead is out this month.

What do you want to know about Maddie Day, the process behind writing cozy mysteries, or what’s next for protagonist Robbie Jordan? Submit your questions here by Friday at noon and I’ll be sure to include them when I talk with her that afternoon.

Stay tuned Friday for a preview of my conversation with Maddie Day!

Want in? Order Flipped For Murder, Nacho Average Murder, or Batter Off Dead HERE and support the independent bookstore of your choice.

Stay tuned for more as we get cozy with Maddie Day here at the Get Cozy Book Nook!

Enjoy author interviews? Check out my chat with Abby Collette, who writes the Ice Cream Shop Murders series. Buy her books HERE

(This post includes affiliate links, so if you make a purchase I receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks!)

Featured

Great Tea Time Mysteries For Cold Winter Days

It’s tea time at the Get Cozy Book Nook! Temperatures are frigid across Southern Indiana (where I live) and much of the U.S., so it’s a great time to snuggle in with a hot beverage and a good book. Tea shop mysteries are super popular. And, they’re great for (of course) tea lovers, but they also feature rich settings and interesting characters for even the most dedicated coffee (or soda, wine, whatever your pleasure) drinkers.

These are some of my favorite tea-themed series, along with a few I’m dying to try:

Laura Childs Tea Shop Mysteries

Tea shop owner and amateur sleuth Theodosia Brown uncovers and solves murders with southern charm. The books are set in the historic district of Charleston, South Carolina and have a flavor that matches the setting. These are thoughtful page turners, and the cast of characters fits the setting without being outlandish or like caricatures. The first book is Death by Darjeeling.

Seaside Cafe Series by Bree Baker

Be sure to check the author. Because there is another (different series) by another author. But, the Seaside Cafe series features Everly Swan’s beachside iced tea shop and cafe. In the first book, Live and Let Chai, the poisoning of a curmudgeonly customer sets off trouble for the new business. A fun series with colorful characters.

Tea By the Sea Mysteries by Vicki Delaney

This series centers around ex-New Yorker Lily Roberts, who opens an English tea room next to the Cape Cod bed-and-breakfast owned by her spunky English grandmother. In Tea and Treachery, her grandmother finds herself in hot water after someone she threatened is murdered. These are smart mysteries with a fun cast of characters.

Some sips I’d love to try:

Tea and Read Mysteries By Joy Avon

These book-themed mysteries center around tea party organizer Callie Aspen and her Boston terrier (books, tea, and a dog-trifecta!). And, they’re supposed to be good for Lorna Barrett and Jenn McKinlay fans (me!), so I’m looking forward to starting this one. The first book is In Peppermint Peril and is set at Christmas time.

Teapot Collector Mysteries by Amanda Cooper

These center around another former New Yorker (Sophie Taylor) who returns to her grandmother’s tea shop after her restaurant fails. So in the first book Tempest in a Teapot, tensions boil over at a bridal shower there, and later the groom’s mother dies while sampling a scone at a competing shop. Now, Sophie must get to work solving the mystery before more people die. Looks like a fun one and features antique teapots.

Wild Card:

I really enjoyed the Seaside Cafe series and am dying to try it. And, there aren’t very many books yet, so it’s easy to get in on the ground floor. The books are easy, breezy and have awesome titles.

My Next Pick:

I will definitely be reading the Tea and Read mysteries. I love any books about books, tea,(and a dog!). I like that the first book is centered around Christmas, even when spring approaches. And,I can get in early before there are, like, 30 of them.

Want some food to go with your tea? Try out these culinary mysteries I’ve featured before!

What’s your next pick? Will you be adding a tea-themed mystery to your TBR? Love another tea series, but I didn’t mention it? Let me know in the comments!

Featured

Holiday Rebound Reading

Holiday Rebound Reading

It’s time for a holiday rebound. Just for those of you who like to extend the Christmas mystery and romance reading through the month of January, here’s a list of some great ones I read and two that are still on my list. Feeling the post-holiday blues? Rebound back to that magical time with one of these reads.

Thank you to NetGalley for the electronic review copies. All opinions are my own.

First, the Cozies…

I love Christmas themed mysteries. This one was fun and I liked the idea of it. The set up was pretty good. I did have trouble keeping up with all the characters because there were so many. This made it hard to get into the book because I was flipping back and forth to see who was whom. 

The mystery was enjoyable and nicely challenging. It wrapped up satisfyingly. I liked the main character too and, of course, the newspaper editor. I also like how the Bruno’s who owned the bar played off each other. 

Good book, just not a favorite for me. I would recommend it. Other readers may have more bandwidth to keep up with the characters. Probably just a case of Christmas brain for me.

Rating: Three stars.

This is a two books in one compilation. It contains Christmas Caramel Murder and Christmas Cake Murder. Christmas Caramel Murder is told as a flashback, while Christmas Cake Murder is set in the past when Hannah was just in the process of starting her bakery. 

Both are satisfying for fans and can be stand alones for people new to the series. These were satisfying rereads for me.

Rating: Four stars

The second book in the Beacon Bakeshop series (and the first I’ve read) is a quirky fun mystery with lots of twists and turns. Darci Hannah does a great job embedding quirks into her characters without being showy or obvious. Her main character Lindsey is likable and has a lot of personality with just the right amount of exasperation to not be annoying.

I read a lot of cozy mysteries and this one was a great Christmas read. It had enough Christmas magic and busy-ness to ring true, but still had a twisty mystery to solve. This one did keep me guessing. I’ll likely go back and read the first in the series soon.

Rating: Four stars

Rosemarie Ross has a great protagonist in this smart, snappy mystery. It’s the third book in her series, and I will definitely be going back to read more. 

The plot centers around a baking competition. where Courtney Archer meets up with five other ambitious bakers vying for the prize. Judge Shannon Collins causes some controversy, but its one of the producers that ends up dead–strangled with an apron from Sharon’s line. Courtney must sort it all out.

The Christmas setting adds some joy and interest to the story, but is not so much the main character as to get in the way. This is a smart mystery with a quick-witted amateur sleuth. It’s twisty and interesting, and it kept me guessing, though I figured it out at the last minute before the reveal.

I do want to go back and read the first two. I liked the dynamic of the lead character and want to know more about her.

Rating: Five stars

And, now…some Christmas romance…

I always enjoy Fern Michaels. She tells great stories of strong women . The four women in the story were high school friends and meet for a reunion at Christmas time for a cruise. Over the course of the cruise, each looks for love in her own way. Definitely a happy-ever-after, but how Michaels gets there is a joy. 

I love the magic of a Christmas romance, and Fern Michaels really knows how to pull at the heartstrings and play to the season without being cloying. I will continue to read her books. This isn’t my absolute favorite, but it was very enjoyable.

Rating: 4 stars

Ah, the marriage pact. It’s a tried and true trope of romance novel, but that’s mostly because it works. Evie and Dan vow to marry each other if they haven’t married anyone else by the time their thirty. Then, they wake up Christmas Eve (and the eve of her 30th birthday) to find themselves married, in Las Vegas, in the honeymoon suite. A quick divorce is their solution, but will it be that easy?

This is my favorite romance trope (the slow burn “silly” marriage pact) and Jo Lovett does a marvelous job with it here. It pushed all the right buttons and included the sparkle of Christmastime. I had not heard of Lovett before (is this a debut? not certain.) but I look forward to reading her work again.

Rating: 4 stars

Ivy Perkins in newly divorced and buys a house on the Internet sight-unseen. While sorting through the stuff left behind, she finds a Santa suit with a letter in it from a little girl that sets off a mystery. She integrates into the small town and learns more about the owner of the suit and the previous owners of her house. Her super helpful and handsome realtor gives a helping hand and sparks fly.

Let me start by saying I love Mary Kay Andrews. She is one of my favorite romance authors and her book Hello, Summer is an all-time fave. That said, this one just didn’t light it up for me. I liked it just fine and it had all the right elements to make a great Christmas romance, and I bet most people loved it. For me, it just seemed a little overly sentimental for my taste. I’m not sure quite why this combination of story elements didn’t sit as well with me as most of her stories. But it just didn’t, and that made me sad, because I love her books.

Rating: 3 stars (my that’s mostly due to personal taste and not writing skill)

Two books still on my list…

Jacket copy:

Maybe this Christmas can thaw his frozen heart–and heal hers.

Hollywood starlet Tia Beckett knows one moment can change your life. Her career had been on the fast track before a near-fatal accident left her with a debilitating facial scar. Certain her A-lister dreams are over, she agrees to house-sit at her producer’s secluded estate in Silver Springs. It’s the escape from the limelight Tia’s been craving, until she discovers she’s not the only houseguest for the holidays. And her handsome new roomie is impossible to ignore.

Artist Seth Turner has good reason to keep his distance. Losing his wife after only a few years of marriage has left a deep scar, even if he is still happy to spend a semester teaching art classes at the New Horizons Boys Ranch for troubled teens. Despite nursing her own wounds, Tia finds her curiosity piqued by enigmatic Seth, whom she recognizes as something of a kindred soul. Maybe spending Christmas together could be another game changer for both of them–this time, for good.

I got to meet Elin Hilderbrand last year at Carmichael’s in Louisville and she was very gracious. She gave each book in the set a personalized signature. I finally have time to read it and figured the best time would be during the dreary January weather.

Jacket copy:

Spend the coldest days of winter on a Caribbean beach with New York Times Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand. 

Join New York Times Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand on the stunning beaches of St. John for the beginning of her thrilling new winter series-The Paradise. Welcome to Paradise, the first book in the Paradise series, has everything that readers have come to know and love about an Elin Hilderbrand novel, plus a healthy dose of intrigue. Irene Steele’s idyllic life-house, husband, family-is shattered when she is woken up by a late-night phone call. Her beloved husband has been found dead, but before Irene can process this tragic news, she must confront the perplexing details of her husband’s death. He was found on St. John island, a tropical paradise far removed from their suburban life. Leaving the cold winter behind, Irene flies down to the beautiful Caribbean beaches of St. John only to make another shocking discovery: her husband had a secret second family. As Irene investigates the mysterious circumstances of her husband’s death, she is plunged into a web of intrigue and deceit belied by the pristine white sand beaches of St. John’s. This exciting first book in the Paradise series will transport readers to a new beach locale-another world that Elin knows as well as her beloved Nantucket-and have them longing for winter

Share your favorite kind of book to read during the holidays. Do you read holiday books into January?

Happy Reading!

-A-

Featured

Reading Roundup – What I’ve Read Lately

Reading Roundup

Fall 2021

My husband and I live just north of Louisville it’s been devastating to follow the news of all the tornadoes that struck various areas of Western Kentucky December 10th. CLICK HERE to give toward relief efforts if you are so moved at the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief site.

I wanted to post a Reading Roundup before the year got away from me. We are mere days from January 1st, and so much has happened this fall. Our family was able to get together for Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Christmas plans became much more complicated as our adult children begin to make their own way in the world. Flight cancellations and the pandemic didn’t help matters. Through everything, one thing that has been a constant in my life is reading.

As we approach a new year, I’ve been spending time on my backyard reading patio on warm days while our beagle runs around and tucked under a blanket on the chilly days. I’ve focused a lot on my favorite cozies, but have also branched into romance, contemporary fiction, and non-fiction.

Everything below is available through my Bookshop.org store (this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through some of these links, I will receive a small compensation at no cost to you. Bookshop.org links also allow you to support your favorite indie bookstores.):

What has your fall reading experience looked like? Comment below to share your favorite fall read.

Broken by Jenny Lawson

Now I have to go out and read everything by Jenny Lawson! She is absolutely hilarious in this memoir dealing with her perspective on her mental health issues. She writes at a frenetic pace, which takes some getting used to, but that pace also pulls you along and, as you hang on to the tide, you can’t wait to see what’s next. 

Lawson is wry and sardonic in her humor and is compelling in each of her chapters, but also touching. Her stories create an understanding with the reader, reaching out to say “I see you” to those struggling with their own issues.

I was new to Lawson’s work, but I am now a fan.

Thank you to NetGalley for the electronic advanced copy of the book.

Rating: 4 stars

Murder By Page One by Olivia Matthews

I am a cozy mystery lover, and this one delivers. The author nails a leisurely southern drawl to her story about a New York librarian who has moved to Georgia and gets caught up in a murder investigation. I liked the set up of the murder, almost a locked room mystery, with the victim killed in the back room of a bookstore where only the suspect (who the main character is trying to help) had been through before the murder.

The southern atmosphere permeates the book and, at times, sets back the pacing. But the plot is compelling enough to move the reader through. 

It wasn’t my favorite book, but I did like the characters and the setting. I just felt the slow pace, which fits the setting, hurts the book. That’s really the reason for my lower rating. There’s a lot to like about it, it’s just hard to access with the slow movement of the plot. I would read another book in the series to see if the pace picked up.

Thank you to NetGalley for the electronic advanced copy of the book.

Rating: 3 stars 

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

I highly recommend listening to the audio version of this. McConaughey is expressive in his telling of his stories, journal entries and and poetry (yup, poetry!). The memoir focuses on the actor’s career with some personal anecdotes included. He really wants to get across what he’s learned from his history, choices, and opportunities.

It’s not particularly deep, but is a good exploration of one man’s journey from Texas to Hollywood and how his background affected his opportunities.

The “green lights” are touchpoints McConaughey encountered in his life that he found to be life changing, whether big or small.

The book was enjoyable and, again, I think it is best consumed in the audio version.

Rating: Four Stars

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

This is tightly written and compelling. The action centers around a former MFA Low Residency writing instructor that had one breakout novel, but has a faltering writing career. While an instructor, he encounters a student who reveals only to him the plot of what he believes is a “can’t miss” novel. Fast forward a few years later, and he finds out that the student has died before he ever wrote his mega-novel, and decides to steal the plot. “His” novel becomes a sensation and all is well, until the mysterious messages start coming in.

The author winds a wicked tale of intrigue, toying with what “authorship” truly means. There are all kinds of interesting twists, some of which I guessed but were still satisfying.

If you’re a writer, or even an avid reader, I’d call this required reading.

Rating: 5 stars 

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

What a fun book! Eve and Jacob’s story is one of redemption, but also a show of enduring strength while dealing with neurodiversity. They meet after Eve’s parents cut off her trust and require her to get a job, hopefully a lasting one. She’s dabbled in many things but can never find the right fit. She goes off on a drive to clear her head and ends up at a small bed and breakfast advertising for a chef. She crashes the interviews and meets Jacob, who really needs a chef before the Gingerbread festival. Things go badly, but then he runs after her to offer her the job and she kind of, sort of…runs him over! Now he’s hurt ANd desperately needs a chef, so she stays on for a trial. 

Eve and Jacob have their own ways of coping with the world and it’s intricacies, and her light-as-you-go attitude definitely clashes with his firm structured life. But somehow…well you’ll have to read the book to find out. 

This is the third in a trio of books about three sisters: Chloe, Dani, and Eve. Warning that this and the other two books include very open door scenes and lots of sweating, so if that bothers you, this probably isn’t for you. 

I like the author’s unique voice and plan to read the other two books.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing an electronic copy for review. All opinions are my own. 

Rating: 4 stars (but only because you kind of know how things are going to go from the beginning, but isn’t every romance kind of that way? I still love them)

Atomic Habits by James Clear

This book provides a great guide on how to approach forming habits that make your life more effective. I listened to the audio version, and it was a great experience. The author reads the text and it really ends up sounding like a motivational workshop. The strategies went beyond the basics and showed how to make small steps in a specific way to accomplish longterm routines.

Not having a hard copy makes some of the resources inside inaccessible for review, but some of the resources are available at the atomic habits website. I intend to use these to integrate some new habits into my life.

Rating: 4 stars

It’s Better This Way by Debbie Macomber

I love Debbie Macomber’s writing style and books, and this is no exception. She tells the story of divorced Julia Jones, who was left by her husband for another woman. After a blowup between the mistress’s children and her children, harsh words are spoken and relationships are broken. 

Julia moves on but isn’t looking for love when she meets Heath in the fitness center at her condo building. Sparks begin to fly, but relationships are complicated and obstacles come up.

There are some twists in this book that stretch the imagination, but stay just this side of believable. Nevertheless it is a satisfying story with fully realized characters. I will continue reading Macomber’s books. (I took this one in on audio and found the narration delightful).

Rating: 4 stars

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

It’s been too long since I read Louise Penny’s first book in the Gamache series Still Life. I was slightly resistant because, while I enjoyed the first book I found it to have a slow pace. I kept hearing praise for the series and gave it another chance, this time with an audio book. This book was much faster paced and included some interesting subplots.

Penny expands on the characters in the first book, giving them more depth as Gamache investigates the murder of new Twin Pines resident CeCe de Poitier (not sure of spelling). CeCe is high strung and verbally abusive to most people around her, especially her husband and daughter. She’s electrocuted at a curling match just after Christmas and Gamache sets off on a wide-ranging look into the people of Twin Pines while also looking into a separate murder in Montreal. Everyone has some kind of motive, but twists and turns in the story make it difficult to figure out whodunit.

Loved the story, revisiting the characters, and the intricate plotting by Penny. Already have the next audio book on my library holds.

Rating: Five stars 

The Ten Thousand Doors Of January by Alix Harrow

This unique book is a fantasy adventure that follows a young girl and she travels through “doors” that she conjures up to find her father. A group is working against her, trying to control her power.

This book came to my attention through another book club, and it was definitely a page turner. The young protagonist was strong and innovative, working to reach her objective with tenacity. It wasn’t easy for her, but the journey was amazing.

Rating: Four stars

Peachy Scream by Anna Gerard

This book combines some of my favorite things: bed and breakfast mysteries and Shakespeare. The book is the second in a series that follows the owner of a Georgia B&B. She has previously had a conflict over the rightful ownership of the property with the former owner’s nephew. The nephew is a famous actor and has returned to the B&B with his amateur Shakespeare troupe to perform Hamlet at the town’s Shakespeare festival. But when the (unliked) actor playing Hamlet ends up dead, our B&B owner has to team with the nephew to investigate.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing an electronic copy for review. All opinions are my own. 

Rating: Four stars

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

I always love Katherine Center books. She weaves in drama with every day issues and frustrations of life and a little romance thrown in. The one follows a school librarian in a Texas private school that she loves. The school’s beloved principal dies and an aggressive board member forces the hiring of a security focused, anti-fun replacement. Except, our librarian worked with him in California and he was a totally different guy– a fun loving, silly, engaged teacher that made learning fun. She has to figure out how to navigate the major shift at the school and reconciling the man she knew with the man she’s faced with now.

Center draws characters that you can deeply invest with, even the “villain.” No one is flat or a caricature. You grow to love the characters and really feel their feelings. The mixture of drama, a little bit of silliness, hope, and romance is deftly written. There’s nothing that feels forced or fake, but there’s enough real conflict to move the story forward. The ending had a bit of a twist, but you know what you’re rooting for as you read. It’s not my favorite book of hers, but it’s engaging.

Thank you to NetGalley for the electronic copy for review. My opinions are my own.

Rating: Four stars

The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer

Wow! This book was awesome! I love spy thrillers and this one didn’t disappoint. It’s a dense book and there is. a lot to keep track of as CIA “Tourist” Milo Weaver unravels a far-reaching and complicated conspiracy. The spy stuff was really cool, in the vein of John Le Carre books, and immerses the reader into Milo’s world; the good, the bad, the ugly. It is twisty and suspenseful and just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, some other twist happens.

This book is dense and long, but compelling. It’s not for people who don’t have an interest in spy novels and political intrigue. It’s far from a cozy and there is violence. But if you’re a fan of the Jason Bourne series (book better than movie!), this book is for you. It’s also a three book series, so I’m anxious to move on to the next book.

Thank you to NetGalley for an electronic review copy of the book. My opinions are my own.

Rating: Five stars

Seven Sundays by Alec Penix

This book is a Christian twist on the fitness/diet book. It combines Bible verses and spiritual motivation with a laid out fitness and nutrition plan that lasts the titular seven weeks. Each day starts on Sunday and includes “walks with God”, diet challenges and an increasingly difficult strength training regimen.

I think this book can be helpful to many people, but it didn’t appeal to me. I found the spiritual notions and Bible verses to be watered down and made to fit the author’s approach to fitness. I think it just didn’t match up with my Lutheran Christian beliefs. And I think it shrank down the magnificent messages in the Bible to fit a fitness routine.

People who have a different approach to Christianity may find this approach to fitness and nutrition helpful and may like the spiritual connections made. It’s not a bad book and it seems to be a workable program. It just didn’t jibe with my approach to fitness and nutrition.

Thank you to NetGalley for the electronic review copy of this book. All opinions are my own. 
Rating:: Three stars

Halloween Party Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, Barbara Ross

These three stories are the perfect way to get in the mood for Halloween.. Meier does it again with her Lucy Stone story. Lee Hollis and Barbara Ross offer fresh voices even with their vast experience. A good book for fans of any of the authors. 

Rating: 4 stars

Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad

I didn’t realize, for some reason, how gut wrenching this would be to read. I should have known by the topic. And yet, there are touching moment in this journey. It is raw and real with the ups and downs of a serious cancer diagnosis, treatment, and the aftermath.

What surprised me most was the aftermath she went through and continues to fight through. Those of us who are well can’t understand how being “well” isn’t a switch that can be thrown. She tries to reconcile the blessing of being well again and the challenges of what well really looks like, the difference between cancer-free and truly well. And what it’s like to go back into the world after being so immersed in the world of cancer.

The honest nature of the book gives a new perspective on the “brave survivor” myth and gets down to the nitty-gritty of survival that doesn’t fit into a convenient narrative.

I can’t say its an enjoyable read, but it’s an honest and eye-opening look at living with a disease that is so frightening.

Thank you to NetGalley for the electronic copy for review. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 stars (just because of the difficulty of the subject matter)

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

I really liked the premise of this book. It was fun and spooky for Halloween. I did have a hard time liking the male lead. Of course we’re not supposed to like him at first, but it was hard to root for him to get together with her. 

This was the only part of the book I had trouble with. Otherwise it was an enjoyable romp.

Thank you to NetGalley for the electronic review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: Three stars

Up Next: Christmas Cozies You May Have Missed

Featured

Weekend Reading 8.12.21

It sure has been hot here in Southern Indiana (I live right across the border from Louisville), with temps in the 90s and humidity so thick it feels like you have to swim through the air. But the peaches are ripe, so it’s a good time to stay inside and eat peach cobbler and ice cream while reading a cozy mystery (starting Peachy Scream today.

I’ve been staying inside this week after spending last weekend moving our son to his new apartment, where he began his teaching career this week! I am one proud Mom, who is now using the vacated space for an office with my husband. There will still be room for an air mattress when our son comes to visit, so no worries there. Our daughter is settled where she is for now, so no more moving duties for us this year.

I’m having a little post-Olympics let down. I always love watching the Summer Games. It’s the only time I get to see water polo, artistic swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, and equestrian show jumping on TV. Now I’m back to watching episodes of Hometown and Fixer Upper on Discovery Plus (instead of actually working on my own house, which I should be doing, right after I see the reveal on this Craftsman style home).

My husband and I are going to try to catch the Louisville Ballet’s dance interpretation of Shakespeare at Shakespeare in the Park tonight. Then we have a weekend to ourselves (first in ages! squee!). I’m hoping to get to this cozy by Sunday after church.

What are your plans for this weekend? Leave a comment below and share what you’re up to and what you’re reading.

Here’s are some things that have been going on in the book world (and other stuff too):

This one goes back a bit, but is a nice list of cozies coming out during the second half of the year (including several first-in-series).

In the mood for a different kind of read? Check out this review of the Japanese thriller (translated into English) Bullet Train.

It may be hot now, but Christmas is coming! Here’s a list of fun gifts for mystery lovers.

Love a beach read? One writer argues against reading at the beach in this article.

How would you update this 2017 list of the “absolute best” cozy series.

This “Cozy Mysteries” scented candle is calling to me. Search cozy mystery candles on Etsy to find more choices. #notsponsored

Home renovation is hot right now, so check out this list of remodeling/decorating themed cozies.

The book links to my Bookshop.org shop in this post are affiliate links, so I receive a small commission if you purchase at no extra cost to you. Check out my store there if you’d like and help support independent booksellers with your purchases too!

Stay cool and enjoy a good book this weekend!

Happy reading!

-Amy

Featured

Reading Roundup Spring 2021

Welcome to the Spring Reading Roundup! I have been in a reading slump. Maybe some of you can relate to that lack of concentration that makes it difficult to focus on reading during this pandemic. Even as the world has started to reopen, I’ve still found it hard to concentrate on books. I also moved halfway across the country in May and had to declutter the old house and unpack the new one while helping my adult and college aged kids set up house in two different states.

So I’ve been squeezing my reading into little bits of time here and there. I haven’t done a roundup on here in awhile, so this one will cover March, April, and May. Titles cover a variety of genres, but my heart is still into the cozy.

During this time I started the Ice Cream Parlor series by Abby Collette. I got a chance to speak with her recently. Check out our conversation HERE about the series, writing habits, mystery twists, uncooperative love interests, upcoming titles, and a shared love for Pepsi.

Here are the books I read this Spring:

A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette

I’ve found a new favorite series. Heroine Bronwyn “Win” Crewse renovates and takes over management for her family’s ice cream parlor in Chagrin Falls. On her opening night (in October!), she wanders out to gather snow to make her grandmother’s recipe for snow ice cream and stumbles on the body of a man her family had bad blood with.

Win is happy to let the police handle it, despite her sleuth-loving friend Maisie, but then her father becomes the prime suspect. She has to find out whodunit before her father ends up in prison.

Abby Collette’s series is full of quirky, but believable, characters in an interesting setting. She includes some interesting twists and I was left guessing until the very end (and I’m pretty good at figuring out mysteries pretty early). Even if you do guess early, the journey is worth it.

Rating: 5 stars

Note: Reading this and the second book (see below) in the series inspired me to invite Abby Collette for our first “Get Cozy With…” author talk. Find it HERE.

Murder Likes It Hot by Tracy Weber

This tightly written mystery isn’t a comical cozy with quirky characters. It follows it the infertility journey of the main character, owner of a yoga studio, and her experiences at a center for homeless teens. When the director there is killed, she must unravel the mystery before runaway Rainbow gets convicted of the crime. This is not her first rodeo, as this is a later book in the series. I jumped in with this book and there were a few references to previous cases that I didn’t always get. There is no shortage of suspects and the end is satisfying. I’d read more of this series. I’m curious if they are all this heavy.

Thank you to NetGalley for the electronic review copy. All opinions are my own. Rating: 4 stars

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

An interesting tale of intertwined lives that gives you a peek into the culture of food and how people relate to it. The book delves into each of the characters’ lives briefly, but not in a shallow way, and ends up showing how they all are connected in some way without hitting you over the head with it.

There is swearing and adult content, so be aware, but I think the character studies are really good in this and I like how the ends are tied up without being put into a nice bow. Plenty of shoutouts to Minnesotans in this one.

Rating: 4 stars

The Basement Quilt by Ann Hazelwood

Not what I expected, so I think that affected my view of the book. The plot involves a group of related women who put together a quilt in the basement of the mother’s home. It follows their lives and has some supernatural elements.

I read this for our book club and had the impression it was supposed to be a Christian book (which it only kind of was). I think that affected my ability to enjoy the book. 

It was well written, but it just didn’t sit well with me. I’m not sure what it was that didn’t click for me, but it just didn’t click.

Rating: 3 stars

Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion

This is a great survey of Joan Didion’s best essays. The subjects vary from a Gambler’s anonymous meeting to Martha Stewart. Each essay shows insight and research into the topic with a charming voice. Didion is a favorite of mine, especially Year of Magical Thinking. If you want a deep dive into Didion’s body of work, this is the book for you.

Rating: Five stars

Twisted Twenty-Six by Janet Evanovich

Another great Stephanie Plum book! Stephanie is protecting her Grandma Mazur from a group of gangsters known as the Lazy Boys (as in the chair) after her brand new husband Jimmy dies suddenly on their wedding day. Jimmy was the “keeper of the keys” and the Lazyboys want those keys. But someone else is after them too. 

Throw in a couple of quirky FTAs and Stephanie’s up to her neck in danger. Morelli and Ranger make appearances too.

The mix of characters is good in this one, and there’s lots of Lula, who I love. You get some insight into Connie’s connections as well. The ending is fun and leaves you wanting more.

Rating: 4 stars

Irish Parade Murder by Leslie Meier

eslie Meier has done it again! She continues her Lucy Stone series with a fresh mystery about the death of a corrections officer and corruption in the county sheriff’s office. Ted Stillings has gotten a grant from the Truth Project and bought the Gilead Gabber, a weekly in a neighboring town. He’s also brought in hotshot new reporter from Cleveland Rob Callahan to bring a new take to local news. Lucy and Rob butt heads from the start, but when Rob is accused of murder, she comes to his aid. But can she overcome the grip of the county sheriff and get to the truth? 

The mystery is compelling and the characters are still fresh, yet familiar. We begin to see new sides to many of the regulars in Tinker’s Cove. Meier is a bit heavy handed with her focus on women’s place in society and the influence of the church. The Irish theme to the book also gets a bit forced. But after a wandering beginning, the book jumps to a compelling story that you can’t wait to finish. Another winner. I rated this four stars only because of the heavy-handed issues-focused parts. I like Lucy’s determination to stand up for herself and keep up with current trends and issues, but some of it was a little over the top and didn’t fit naturally into the story.

Thank you to NetGalley for the electronic review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 stars

A Game of Cones by Abby Collette

A great follow up to the first book in this series. Bronwyn “Win” Crewse is doing swift business at her family’s ice cream parlor and doesn’t think she’ll be affected too much by the proposed new mall in town. But when the mall developer’s messenger is murdered following a meeting of business owners where the mall was announced, Win ends up sleuthing again (though still reluctantly). Maisie and her friend from New York (who stumbles on to the body and becomes a suspect) work together to figure out who the killer is before he (or she) has a chance to kill again.

I figured this one out just before the reveal, but the whole journey was satisfying. This latest twist on the traditional cozy mystery plot is fun, with whimsical characters and a whopper of a subplot that could throw Win’s whole world off kilter.

Thank you to NetGalley for the electronic review copy. All opinions are my own. Still my favorite new series.

Rating: 5 stars

What have you been reading? Comment below with your latest picks.

Happy reading!

-Amy

Stay tuned! Weekend Reading posts on Friday. An overview of a popular series is coming Monday, and June/July Reading Roundup will follow next Wednesday.

Featured

Get Cozy With Abby Collette!

This week I had the pleasure of chatting with USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling cozy mystery author Abby Vandiver, writing as Abby Collette. Collette’s recent titles include A Deadly Inside Scoop, A Game of Cones, and the upcoming A Killer Sundae, all part of the ice cream parlor series. Watch as we talk about cozies, writing habits, and a shared love for Pepsi.

Check out Abby’s website here.

Check out my Bookshop.org shop here to purchase titles by Abby Collette and other authors while supporting indie bookstores. (affiliate link, so I get a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase)

Want more cozy of my cozy reviews (more coming over the weekend)? Visit here.

Weekend Reading will post tomorrow followed by a Reading Roundup on Monday, featuring everything I’ve read this spring/early summer.

Happy reading!

-Amy

Featured

Coming Soon: Interview With Cozy Mystery Author Abby Collette!

Are you a fan of cozy mysteries (or even just book talks)? Abby Collette is coming to the Get Cozy Book Nook!

Watch the blog on Friday July 30th when I will post an interview with Abby Collette! Our Zoom discussion will happen Thursday, and I can’t be more excited!

Collette wrote A Deadly Inside Scoop and her latest book A Game of Cones. Her upcoming Stay tuned here and sign up for email notifications to be notified when the interview is posted!

In the meantime, check out Abby Collette’s website at http://www.abbycollette.com.

To purchase A Deadly Inside Scoop click here or A Game of Thrones click here (or to preorder A Killer Sundae click here) while supporting indie bookstores, check out my shelf at Bookshop.org.

Happy reading!

-Amy

Featured

New Focus For Get Cozy Book Nook Plus 7 Tasty First-In-Series Food-Based Cozies

Here at Get Cozy Book Nook, I’ve focused on providing book news readers can use. As time has progressed, I find myself increasingly focus on cozy mysteries (my faves!), and so the tone of the blog is going to change. The main focus of most posts will be cozy mysteries, with some book-related content. I’ll still do my Reading Roundup, which will include books from many genres that I’ve read over the past month. Also continuing will be the Weekend Reading feature, where I share links about bookish topics, though most of the links there will focus on cozy mysteries.

So what’s a cozy mystery? Cozies generally focus on an amateur sleuth (though not always-love you Louise Penny!) solving a mystery that doesn’t show graphic violence, sex, or salty language on the page. Cozy titles are often a pun on the heart of the mystery, which can focus on anything from food to crafting to books to travel. They’re my favorite type of books. Don’t know where to start? Everyone loves a good, tasty dish, so here’s a list of the first-in-series cozies that focus on food.

Goldy Bear, a Colorado caterer, serves a meal at a wake, when her ex-father-in-law dies. Now Goldy’s accused of adding poison to the menu and must clear her name and save her burgeoning catering business.

Theodosia Browning owns Indigo Tea Shop in South Carolina and is catering tea for 200 at the historic homes garden party when a distinguished guest is found dead with a tea cup clutched in his hand. Theodosia and her staff set out to find who poisoned one of the city’s elite while trying to protect the reputation of her shop.

Hannah Swensen bakes up a Minnesota mystery when her chocolate chip crunchies are found scattered in the back alley of her bakery around the body of a delivery man. Someone’s cooking up trouble in Eden Lake, and Hannah and her friends need to find out who, before her mother sets her up with the town’s dentist and without getting in the way of the town’s newest detective. Hannah soon finds herself torn between two great guys while trying to protect her bakery after a murder just outside her doors.

Lana Lee ends up back at her family’s restaurant in Cleveland’s Asian Village after a bad breakup, when the property manager winds up dead after a delivery from her family’s restaurant. Lana has to solve the mystery before she ends up the next victim.

When Haley Snow applies to by a food critic at a Key West lifestyle magazine, she doesn’t know that her boss would be Kristen Faulkner, the woman she caught with her boyfriend. Then Kristen turns up murdered, and Haley is the prime suspect in the key lime pie poisoning. She has to find the real killer before she becomes a victim herself.

When Bronwyn “Win” Crewse reopened her family’s renovated ice cream shop, she finds a body just down the hill only days after opening. Not just any body, the body of a man who tried to swindle her grandma out of her own shop. Then Win’s father becomes a prime suspect, and she reluctantly embarks on her own investigation with her friend Maisie. This one’s got a cast full of quirky characters, secrets, and a whole lot of ice cream. Will Win and Maisie figure out who the killer is before the killer melts them?

Winona Mae Montgomery and her Granny Smythe run the struggling Smythe Orchards. They cook up an old-fashioned Christmas festival at the orchard to bring in locals and tourists. Things are sweet until Granny’s nemesis Nadine Cooper is found lodged in the apple press. Granny’s the number one suspect, and she and Winona must find the rotten apple before someone else ends up cooked.

Felicia runs a food truck business and gets steamed when everyone dismisses her suspicions when unlikeable retiree Mrs. Dunn passes out while walking home from Felicia’s truck. She’s sure someone’s cooking up trouble and she’s determined to find out the French fried truth.

If you’re down for a tale where mystery’s brewing, one (or all!) of these books could be for you. Murder can happen anywhere in a cozy: a small town, a big city, or right outside your shop door. Join me as I steer this blog toward a new and mysterious adventure in book loving. Keep coming back for more cozies and book-related content.

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Reading Roundup February 2021

This month was a slow reading month. After finishing nearly ten books last month, I only finished four books, three of them audio books. The short month seemed to fly by. I’m in the middle of three books, so March’s book total should go back up. Here’s my February book haul:

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand has done it again. Even though I read this in the wintertime, I was transported to Nantucket for 28 summers of a beautiful love affair. Mallory and Jake have a “Same time next year” relationship where they only get together on Labor Day each year and recreate their first weekend together. The affair carries on through all the ups and downs of their lives, with a stunning conclusion.

Hilderbrand shows her characters’ full personalities, flaws and all, but there are no demons in this book. She always finds the balance in each character without making them flat and unmemorable.

The setting, the characters, and the plotting of the book all meld together into one unforgettable story. I listened to this on audio and recommend it, though it is a big time commitment.

Rating: Five stars!

Who I Am With You by Robin Lee Hatcher

I read this for our church book club and it didn’t disappoint. The story was sweet and jumped back and forth in time between contemporary times, featuring a young, pregnant widow and her neighbor, who’s gotten himself into political hot water, and the Depression, with the love story of the heroine’s great grandfather and grandmother.

I love the time switch aspect and how the stories mirrored each other. Things seemed to develop naturally in the plot and there weren’t many twists. You can sort of predict the ending, but it is so much fun getting there!

Rating: 4 stars

Killer Content by Olivia Black

This book is not a typical cozy. It follows Odessa Dean, a temporary Brooklyn transplant from small-town Louisiana. Odessa’s is a waitress at a book store and cafe when her fellow waitress Bethany leaves mid shift to meet some on in Domino Park and mysteriously falls from a medium high bridge to her death. Odessa is convinced it was murder and sets out to investigate.

Odessa is a great character, not your usual mystery heroine. She’s young and in the city for the first time, so the reader gets to follow not only the mystery, but her journey to find her place in New York. There are places in the middle of the book where the mystery seems to be forgotten for a bit and the pace slows, but towards the end the action ramps up to a fever pitch with an unpredictable ending. It kept me guessing.

What also kept me guessing was that there was no real love interest developed for Odessa. This is probably intentional, but I kept waiting for it to develop and it never did. Even the handsome detective ends up with someone else.

The book gets into the tech without getting too techy. I liked the relevance of that.

Overall, I really liked this book, even if it didn’t shout out as an all-time fav. I would definitely read the next one in the series.

Thank you to NetGalley for the complimentary electronic copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 stars

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

“Somewhere between life and death, there is a library.” After an extended depression, a job loss, and the death of her cat, Nora decides to overdose, only to find herself in a library with her childhood librarian. In the library, she looks through her Book of Regrets. She then has the opportunity to choose any of the books that will allow her to face one of her regrets and live an alternate version of her life based on a decision she made differently.

I found the premise fascinating. Most people have wondered what their lives would be like if they had made different choices at different times in their lives. After all, what would lead to the perfect life? The journey Nora goes on is interesting and unpredictable, as is the ending.

The whole concept doesn’t fit with my spiritual beliefs, but was an interesting exercise in looking at alternative beliefs. The characters are rich and vibrant and the events are believable, but unexpected. It can be difficult to read at times, but it is definitely compelling.

I listed to this on audio and finished it in two evenings. I think the audio version adds another layer of “personalness” to the book.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes the “sliding doors” concept in a book.

Rating: 4 stars

I may not have read a lot of books in February, but each of these books was impactful. And, as I said above, I have three books in progress, plus two audio books, so I’m off to a good start for March.

What did you read in February? Have you read any of the above books? If so, what did you think of them? Share in the comments below.

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Weekend Reading 2.26.21

It’s been one crazy week for me. There’s been a lot going on in the news, so my (night) job has been really busy. I don’t work Fridays and Saturdays, so I’m looking forward to getting in some good cozy reading time. I’ve also taken on a project for Lent where I get rid of (donate/toss) one (kitchen-sized) garbage bag full of clutter in my house each day. I’m a bit behind, but plan to catch up some this weekend. There’s a lot going on in the book world too, and I wanted to share some of that with you. Have a great weekend!

Goodreads has this convenient list that includes the first book in many popular cozy mystery series.

Looking for an inspirational image/quote related to reading? This Pinterest page includes over 200!

I love a bookish candle and am dying to try this Little Women inspired one from the Classic Literature collection from Rose and Adder.

I am behind the times, but finally bought the first three books (find the first one here) in the Bridgerton series. (Am I the only one who hasn’t binged the Netflix series?)

I got this, this and this cookbook for Christmas and I am obsessed (Ina’s chicken pot pie? Yes, please!) Up next: Antoni: Let’s Do Dinner and Cheese, Wine, and Bread by Katie Quinn, out in April.

This buyer’s guide popular blue light reading glasses from one of my favorite blogs Hooked to Books provides a good sampling of what’s out on the market.

Great ways to style your bookshelves. I’m going to restyle the one in my living room this weekend using this guide.

Try these tea and book pairings for an elevated experience.

Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny are working together on a new thriller.

I’m really looking forward to reading Who is Maud Dixon?, one of The New York TimesNew Books to Watch for March.

It’s supposed to be sunny but cold up here in the mountains of Colorado this weekend. Perfect for a nice walk, followed by snuggling by the fire with a A Deadly Inside Scoop and an e-galley of Antoni: Let’s Do Dinner. Share below in the comments if you’ve got something fun to read this weekend.

Happy reading!

–Amy

**Want to support indie bookstores (and me)? Use one of my book affiliate links to purchase to benefit your favorite indie. Anytime you use these book links, I get a small amount at no extra cost to you. I only feature what I love. Thanks for your support!**

Featured

New Feature: What’s Up Wednesday: Audiobooks

How’s your week going? I’ve been trying to get things done around my house, but haven’t made much progress so far (see clothing-covered chair). But I have been making progress in my reading life. I just finished this Killer Content (watch for a review at the beginning of March) and am in the middle of listening to The Midnight Library (find the hardback here and the audio version here to support indie bookstores). I have five more audiobooks on hold through the Libby app at my local library. So I thought I’d kick off this new feature on the blog with..

What’s up with…audiobooks?

For a long time, I didn’t have the patience to listen to audiobooks. Some can be ten hours long or even longer (President Obama’s new book is 29 hours and 10 minutes long!). Then I started working nights. And I had eight hours at night where I had nothing to listen to while I worked besides TV (I work from home, so that would wake my husband up), music (distracting), podcasts (a good choice, but requires keeping up with a list of episodes) and audiobooks (also distracting sometimes, but…). Audiobooks tend to be my favorite choice.

Double your productivity with an audiobook

A lot of (uncited, but real) research is showing that audiobooks have become more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. People are at home more and have found themselves listening to audiobooks while they declutter, do laundry, bake sourdough bread, or engage in hobbies. An audiobook also makes for good background sound while working. And, many of us audiobook listeners are finding that we can squeeze in more “reading” time while getting other things done. And there’s nothing I like more than increased productivity.

Consume more books

Audiobooks give you a chance to consume more books when you don’t have a lot of time to sit and dedicate to reading. Just as it adds to your productivity in getting other things done, it can help you check more titles off your list. So many books come out each week (even with the erratic publishing schedules during the COVID era), way more than anyone can fit on a TBR. Anything that helps you consume more books in less time helps readers to meet those lofty reading goals we all seem to be setting.

More audiobook choices

It used to be, if you wanted to access an audiobook, you could either get the CDs (or further back, tapes) from a bookstore (at an exorbitant price) or the library and lug them home. The they became available digitally through Audible.com on Amazon. But that was your only choice. Now, audiobooks are available through loads of sources, such as Apple Books, Libro.fm (a personal fave because you can support indie bookstores), and even using the Libby app through your local library (nothing beats free, which often makes it worth the waitlist). More competition means better prices that are closer to the price of a hardcover.

It’s all about that narrator

The quality of a narrator can make or break your audiobook experience. I am starting to have favorite narrators for fiction choices, and some books have a full cast of narrators that can really add to the experience (especially if the book has multiple points of view). Many, if not most, memoirs (a favorite audio choice of mine) are read by the author, so you get that person’s story read in their own voice, which creates a more intimate experience.

Some of recent my favorite audiobooks: The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark; Why Not Me? by Mindy Kahling; American Royals and Majesty by Katharine McGee; 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand; The If I Run series by Terri Blackstock; Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, and The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

Have you tried any good audiobooks lately? What have been your favorites? Share your recommendations in the comments below.

Happy reading!

–Amy

**This post includes some affiliate links, so using them may earn me a small commission at no cost to you. I only feature what I really love and all opinions are my own. Thank you for your support!**

Featured

Keep the Romance Alive: Seven Books For Your Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) Day Hangover

Love is still in the air, even though Valentine’s Day was two days ago (and Galentine’s was three days ago). Whether you celebrate the Hallmark holiday of romantic love (based on a story with Christian roots), or are through with relationships, there’s a romance for you. Some are steamy, others tame, and still others take the hate-to-love trope VERY seriously, but all of them have happy endings. If you’ve found your happy ending with someone else, or are happy all by yourself, thank you very much, here are seven books that will make you say “what if…”

Steam level ratings:

1-No love scenes; 2-Closed door love scenes; 3. Semi open door but not overtly specific love scenes; 4. Open door love scenes; 5. Steamy, specific open door love scenes.

If You Believe In Long Lost Love

Out of the Storm by B.J. Daniels

Kate Jackson never believed her husband died in the Texas refinery explosion 20-some years ago. But she’s moved on with fiancé Collin, and takes a trip with him to Montana to see the snow for the first time. Their rental breaks down in the small town of Buckhorn, where she meets a man she swears is her long lost husband Danny. Except his “real” name is Justin and he’s got a secret of his own. Collin is thrown by this turn of events and the trip goes south. As Collin and Kate head into danger, can “Justin” save the woman he’s falling in love with, without getting himself killed in the process? First in.a series.

Steam level: One level three scene

If You Have A Steamy Secret Crush…

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

When Mama Strong dies, leaving behind her failing knitting shop, serial heartbreaker Jesse tries to convince the other Strong foster brothers to save the business. The cozy knitting shop has a strong sense of community, and Jesse doesn’t want to see that lost.

Part-time employee Kerry has grown up with the boys and has always harbored a secret crush on Jesse. As they spend time together, their chemistry is undeniable. But can it last?

Steam level: Definitely a four.

If You’re a Single Mom With Faith and Dreams…

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

Single mom Tandi Jo Reese finds herself going through the belongings of a late, long-time resident of Hatteras Island while trying to raise a rebellious daughter and a withdrawn son. As she begins to clean out the house, she learns more about the life and love story of the woman who lived there. Tandi Jo is currently in a relationship with a wealthy but demanding man, but begins to put roots down on the island and starts a growing friendship with her son’s science teacher as she regains her independence. The house is threatened with a forced sale and her neglected children’s lives begin to go off the rails, she must save her son and daughter, save the house she’s grown to love, and decide whether or not to open her heart.

Steam level: One, this is a Christian fiction story (not strictly romance, but has romantic themes)

For Fans Of Jane Austen And The Bachelor

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

A modern day retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set in modern day Cincinnati. Liz and her older sister Jane return to their family home after her father has a health scare. Studious Mary and their younger sisters Kitty and Lydia (who are way into CrossFit) also live there.

Enter new doctor-in-town Chip Bingley, fresh off a stint on the reality dating show Eligible and his reserved and cranky friend Fitzwilliam Darcy. Chip and Jane hit it off immediately, Liz and Darcy, not so much. But in this combination story of true love and hate-to-love, first impressions can be deceiving.

Steam level: Definitely a four, leaning toward five. Not your mother’s Pride and Prejudice.

If You Believe True Love Can Conquer All…

The Return by Nicholas Sparks

It doesn’t get more traditionally mushy, and dramatically romantic than Nicholas Sparks. Trevor Benson is a veteran and surgeon with PTSD moving back to New Bern, North Carolina. He was injured and can’t perform surgery anymore and struggles with demons from his time in Afghanistan. When his grandfather dies and leaves Trevor his home, he must decide what to do with the place.

Then he falls in love at first sight with town sheriff Natalie Masterson. But she has a secret that’s keeping them apart. Can their love overcome it? I think we all know the answer.

Steam level: One, maybe two if I remember right, but could just be one.

If You’re Staunchly Single, But Love A Meet Cute…

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The first in a series of interconnected romances, The Wedding Date begins when happily single Alexa Monroe meets Drew Nichols when the two are stuck in an elevator. Drew asks Alexa to be his date to his ex’s wedding and she accepts. They have more fun than they can imagine, but have to return to their high-powered careers, Alexa as the mayor’s chief of staff in Berkeley, and Drew as a doctor in Los Angeles. Can this long-distance romance work, or are they headed for a disaster? What happens when what you think you need doesn’t always match up with what you truly want?

Steam level: Definitely four, leaning strongly toward five.

If You Love A Good Wedding Story…

Vision In White by Nora Roberts (First in Bride Quartet series)

Nora Roberts is one of the queens of romance fiction and can’t be forgotten in this list. The first installment of the series focuses on Mackenzie “Mac” Elliot, who is an experienced photographer who owns a successful wedding planning business with three close friends. She has a rocky relationship with her parents and is skeptical about romance. Then she runs into Carter, an old high school classmate, and a relationship is sparked. Their journey is endearing, with some steamy love scenes and a satisfying ending.

Steam factor: Four or five depending on the scene.

As the Valentine’s candy in stores is replaced with Easter candy, its easy to feel some whiplash after weeks of buildup to a romantic day-of-all-days. But romance remains strong long after the boxes of chocolate are empty and the conversation hearts go stale(r). I’m a big believer in the escape that romantic fiction can provide. My first love will always be the cozy mystery, but a close second is a good, mushy or sassy, and smart romance novel.

Do you have a favorite romance? Or do you hate all romantic fiction? Somewhere in between? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Featured

Reading Roundup January 2021

I got off to a great reading start this year. January is a pretty quiet month for me, and I got to celebrate my birthday, which meant more self-care stuff and more BOOKS! I almost like it better than Christmas. Lots of cold, snowy days here in Colorado left time for cozy reading afternoons. And, my (night) job writing news summaries for a radio media company allows me to listen to audiobooks while I’m working. I’ll admit, sometimes I have to turn them off because they get distracting (still trying to finish 28 Summers by Elin Hildebrand). But most of the time, they are a nice background to my work.

I read (and listened to) seven books in January, so let’s get to it:

Fierce by Aly Raisman

My family has a membership to the Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs, and that’s where I picked this up. (Awesome museum, you should totally go!) I wish I’d had this book when I was 8…or 10… or 13. All through those years when I was so insecure about how I looked and so unconfident. While I was never going to be an Olympic athlete, or any kind of athlete, I would have really taken inspiration from this book. I was one of those girls who watched gymnastics (especially Olympic gymnastics) and admired all the gymnasts and felt like I knew what the sport was all about. I still watch, loving how the gymnasts get to see the results of their hard work (or feeling for them when they have deductions that kick them out of the medals). Aly has a body positive and inspiring tone to her book. More than just a behind-the-scenes look at the world of Olympic gymnastics (though there’s plenty of that), its a look into the mind of an ambitious young woman where ambition isn’t always rewarded as it should be.

I loved how open she was about her life while still maintaining her privacy (especially about the sexual abuse she suffered, something I wrote about for my job as a news writer when the Larry Nassar scandal broke). She maintains her dignity while still speaking out for survivors and for young girls who could find themselves in a difficult situation. She’s a great role model for young women, especially, but also for boys on how to relate well to girls and women.

I highly recommend this book, even if you’re not huge into sports, but especially if you are into the Olympics and/or gymnastics.

Rating: 5 stars

Killer Kung Pao by Vivian Chien

I’ve got several of the books in this series, but this was the first one I read. I loved it. It’s a unique approach to the cozy mystery that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Asian characters are rarely represented in cozy mysteries, so that was great to see. The mystery was twisty and I really liked amateur detective and manager of her family’s restaurant Lana Lee. She was likable without be perfect and she was appropriately nosy. All of her interactions flowed naturally and it was easy to keep up with the characters without having read the other books.

I wasn’t excited about the ending. It was interesting and unexpected, but I’m not sure it felt natural.

I recommend this series. It’s a fresh take on the cozy mystery. It’s probably not the best one in this popular series, though.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ebook preview copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3+

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kahling

I listened to the audiobook version of this and I highly recommend it. Hearing the essays in Kahling’s voice added another layer to the book. Her stories are entertaining and touch on culture, dating, Hollywood, and a writer’s life. I’m going to listen to her other book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? next.

Rating: Four stars

The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark

This is an amazing inter-generational story that provides an interesting look at the role of race in the South dating back to the days of slavery. It tells the story of bi-racial Millie, whose Black mother sends her from Charleston as a young woman to Alabama to pass as white. She meets Franklin on the train, setting off a chain of events that provides a rich family history.

The story is told in alternating time periods that explain Millie’s family story and the story of a satchel of heirlooms (which is based on a real life satchel) first given to a nine-year-old slave who is sold away from her mother. The story also revolves around Millie’s dream to own a dress shop.

I love stories that alternate between time periods and those that connect different people into one big story. I listened to this on audio. My favorite book so far this year, and may end up being a perennial favorite.

Rating: 5 stars

The Late Bloomers’ Club by Louise Miller

This is a sweet story about two sisters living completely different lives who inherit land from an elderly woman who was their neighbor growing up. One stayed with the family dinner and helped raise her sister after their mother died, then took over the diner after their father died following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The other sister seemingly flits from place to place and project to project, chasing her dreams. Cue the friction

A big-box store is interested in building a store on the land, which threatens to up end the small Vermont town. The sisters disagree on whether to sell and the situation is complicated when the responsible sister begins to have feelings for the big-box store consultant sent to sell the town on the new store.

The story is nice, and there are some twists, but it has a rather predictable ending. I liked it and I like how the author wrapped things up, but it almost seemed a little too neat. Just a personal preference thing.

I’ve previously read the City Baker’s Guide To Country Living and loved it, so not sure where the disconnect is here. I will definitely read the author’s next book.

The book is well-written and interesting and the characters and town are well drawn. It just wasn’t for me. I listened to it on audio, so maybe it didn’t translate as well for me.

Rating: Three stars

The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi

I read a lot of books on organizing and time management, but this one felt unique. I liked the idea of the “lazy genius,” who lands somewhere between a perfectionist approach and a lazy, not productive approach. To me, this is the sweet spot of operation where you can get things done without worrying about being perfect. It’s an ode to the “good enough” life, one where happiness can be found without the stress of perfectionism.

It’s not really a system, per say, but does have techniques described for how to approach things in life. The techniques were pretty simple to use and I’ve tried to integrate them into my everyday way of being.

The book has a humorous tone and is not written as information given from on high. I highly recommend this for anyone who’s looking for a unique way to approach life.

Rating: Five stars

Death by Chocolate Snickerdoodle by Sarah Graves

This cozy mystery is set in Maine and centers around Jake (Jacobia) and Ellie who run a chocolate dessert shop in a Maine tourist town. The two occasionally get involved in mysteries that happen in the town and this book focuses on the killing of a reclusive elderly man who frequently changes his will. Jake’s son is business partners with suspect Billy, who was apparently the beneficiary of one of the wills.

Billy previously had to kill his father to save his two sisters from abuse. Now a dowdy aunt is threatening to take custody of the girls and make them into dainty ladies (they like to go fishing and are saving for their own boat).

Also, Jake and Ellie are trying to perfect a chocolate snickerdoodle for the town’s cookie contest to bring publicity to their shop.

The book starts out a little slow, possibly because I’m jumping into the series on the fourth book. But once the action gets going, I couldn’t put it down. The end is a real thriller, and I didn’t predict the twists that happened. Highly recommend this series, though I’d probably start at the beginning because Jake’s family alone has a lot of characters in it.

Thank you to NetGalley for the complimentary e-book preview copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: Four stars

I am seven books closer to my goal of reading (listening to) 60 books in 2021. How did your January reading plans go? Share your goals and successes (as well as your challenges) in the comments below.

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Eight Reading Goals To Consider For 2021

I spend most of each January setting goals for the coming year. I feel like January is a month for planning, rather than instant resolutions made New Year’s Day. It seems to me that quick resolutions tend to fizzle out before month’s end. I just like to take my time setting up my plan for the coming months.

There are lots of ways to set goals, and reading goals are no different. Why set a reading goal? I’ve found that having some kind of structure in place leads to more enjoyment when I read. (And, it’s part of my job as a reviewer to organize my reading life.) Check out some different approaches to reading goals.

  • Reading a certain number of books: This is one of the most common goals out there. So what’s the magic number? That has to do with how much time you want to dedicate to reading, how fast you read, what type of books you want to read, and many other factors. One person’s 12 books-in–year goal could take as much effort as reading 50 books would be for someone else.

  • Reading a Specific Genre: Maybe you have a specific genre of books that you really want to get into in a deeper way. I love cozy mysteries and could read them all day. Maybe you want to get a survey of a genre to get to know what it’s all about. Or, you could choose a genre you’re less familiar with and want to learn more about.

  • Completing a Series: Some authors have lengthy series’ that can take awhile to work through. I have several series I want to get through at some point (Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen, and Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series).

  • An Author’s Complete Works: Some authors are more prolific than others (Terry Pratchett, Sue Grafton, Stephen King, most romance writers), so this may be a more lofty goal depending on who you want to focus on. This goal could be a fun way to check out a relatively new author with a smaller catalog.

  • Debut Authors Only: Who doesn’t like a shiny new author? This goal would give you the chance to get in on the ground floor with a variety of authors in as many genre’s as you like.

  • Book Club Picks: There are lots of book clubs out there, from your neighborhood or church group to online groups (Modern Mrs. Darcy, Reese’s Book Club, and of course the grandmother of them all, Oprah’s Book Club). This can direct you to a lot of new and interesting books.

  • Read What You Own: As the owner of many bookshelves full of works I haven’t read yet, I considered this as my goal for this year, but chickened out. I hate the idea of a year of no new books. But for some people, this could be a relief, shopping your own home bookstore.

and finally…

  • All Paper/Digital/Audio: The format of a book changes how you take in the story. With paper books, you have the joy of turning pages, enjoying the cover image and jacket copy, and having something to hold in your hand. Digital books offer convenience (hundreds of books in one compact container), the ability to read in the dark (I know, weird, but this is what sold me on e-readers), and font/size adjustments. Audiobooks bring back the joy of being read to (like when you were a kid). The narrator can bring a lot to a story, and you attend to general tasks or exercise while you listen.

Since I review books for this blog, my goals have an interesting combination. Overall, I want to read at least 60 books this year, divided up each month in the following way:

  • Church book club selection
  • Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club selection
  • NetGalley review book (3 to 4 of these)
  • Home/Organization/Non-fiction book
  • Audiobooks (2 to 3 of these, could fulfill a book club selection)

For January, I’ve read:

  • The Dress Shop on King Street (audio, church book club)
  • The Late Bloomer’s Club (audio, MMD book club)
  • Killer Kung Pao (NetGalley)
  • Death by Chocolate Snickerdoodle (NetGalley)
  • Paw and Order (NetGalley)
  • The Lazy Genius Way (non-fiction)
  • Welcome Home (non-fiction)
  • Why Not Me? (audio)

I feel like I’m off to a good start, and I work nights as a news writer for a media company, so I can listen to audiobooks while I work. I have three other audiobooks lined up, but I won’t finish them until early next month. My favorite audiobook sources are the Libby app from my local library and Libro.fm, where you choose your favorite indy bookstore to support.

Do you set any yearly reading goals? Are yours similar to the ones listed here? Or are they something else all together? Share in the comments below. We’ll be checking in with this topic every month.

Happy reading!

— Amy

Featured

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Stories and Songs of Faith

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Stories and Songs of Faith by Alexis Goring

About the Book

Book: Stories and Songs of Faith

Author: Alexis Goring

Genre: Christian Devotional

Release Date: April 25, 2020

Stories and Songs of Faith: My Journey with God is a 52-week devotional that will bless your heart, soothe your soul, encourage your mind, and strengthen your God-given spirit.

Join author Alexis A. Goring on an inspirational journey. Each devotional builds from real-life experiences that impart many faith lessons learned along the way.

Each day is built on the foundation of a Bible verse or edifying quote, followed by Goring’s personal story and reflection questions for a personalized experience.

All of the devotionals are tied to a song in order to go a little deeper into the heart of the message. A song directory at the end of the book connects the reader with music online to further enhance the study experience and glorify God.

Spend a year on a journey growing closer to the Lord through Stories and Songs of Faith, and discover personal transformation as time with Jesus Christ changes your heart to look a little more like His.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.

More from Alexis

Stories and Songs of Faith: My Journey with God was published in April 2020.

However, the idea for this devotional wasn’t a thought in my head until around the beginning of last year. It’s interesting because though I have been writing devotions since recovering from a health crisis at age 16, and have had my devotionals published in books, on blogs and on websites since then, I never thought of putting together a book filled with my original devotions until January 2019.

It’s amazing how God works! Because at the time that God inspired this project, I was actually still trying to recover from writer’s block and work on another fiction book which I planned to have published before the end of that year. But God had other plans.

And His plans were (and always are) perfect!

God put this devotional on my heart and I went to it! First, I gathered all of the devotions that I’d written over the years that were published on other blogs. Since they didn’t pay me to publish my work, I still had the rights to each one. So that meant I now had about 25 percent of the content for my book! Next, I reached out to the women’s devotional book editorial team who had published several of my devotions over the span of about 14 years. I planned to ask permission to re-publish those devotions that I wrote, this time in my own devotional. But later, I decided that it would be a better idea to simply write new material for my book. And so I did! But it wasn’t easy.

At first, I was barely writing more than one devotion every two or three weeks. It was then that I realized that as a trained journalist, I thrive on deadlines (never missed one). So I decided that it would help motivate me to write consistently if I gave myself a deadline for each new devotion. Around that time, I had been writing a few times a month for a friend’s blog called Whispers in Purple. I decided to sign up to write a new devotion for her blog every week until I was done putting my devotional together. So I booked myself for one of my new devotions to be published every Friday from around February 2019 through Summer 2019.

By Summer 2019, I had a total of 44 devotions and thought I was done. However, God knew I was not and He let me know that through two professionals in the publishing industry. The first was a popular book editor who told me, “You know, Alexis, if you wrote 52 devotions then it could be a weekly devotional because there are 52 weeks in a year.” I gave her a nod but wasn’t convinced that was the best idea for me as the author. Not soon after, a literary agent gave me the final push by simply saying, “You need to keep going.” And so I, reluctantly then but gratefully now, did keep writing more devotions. I booked myself to be a guest on Whispers in Purple blog every Friday through the rest of that year and then finally by the end of February 2020 (the next year), I wrote devotional number 52. I was so relieved to be done writing my book!

Not only does God have perfect timing; He positions you perfectly for success! Long story short: My publisher had hired a new editor who has decades of professional experience in editing devotionals and she (Patty) was the editor who my publisher assigned to me! Patty had a wonderful idea that really shaped my book by giving it the perfect title and bonus idea. The title of my devotional, as you can see, is about my real-life stories and faith-based songs that guided me on my journey with God. And the fun bonus idea was to have links to the songs that I mentioned in each devotion. These links were made available for the reader in a song directory at the end of my devotional in both the print and e-book versions. Even better, the link is live if you are using a Kindle to read my book meaning that the reader can just click on the hyperlink and hear the song via YouTube while using their Kindle app or Kindle device, without having to look it up first online. Patty said that there’s really not another book on the market yet with this kind of idea and format. She told me that it may help a lot of people, especially music lovers. As a music lover myself, I loved this idea!

But God wasn’t done directing my steps (praise the Lord!): He allowed 20 professionals from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences to agree to read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of my book and write an endorsement. We’re talking actresses, journalists, pastors, doctors, teachers, authors, bloggers, singers and a Christian radio show host … a wonderful variety of people who were all behind my book!

The final part of this amazing experience that brings joy to my heart is the fact that this is the first book I wrote where all of the first few reviews were each 5-stars on Amazon.com! That has never happened to me before (I have three other books published though they are all fiction stories but this devotional is my first nonfiction work).

Several of the people who have endorsed and/or reviewed my book have said that it was timely and needed for such a time as this (the Coronavirus pandemic, intense politics, increased racial tensions, and everything else that’s been hitting us hard this year on and off the news). Only God can do that so I give all the glory to Him!

In closing, I’d like to share words from my friend Morgan’s endorsement.

She said: “God has profoundly touched my life through Alexis A. Goring’s uplifting and personable weekly devotional book sharing God’s love through her own experiences and insights. It is so well-written and in a voice that feels as if a close friend is having coffee with you and talking of God. Every entry is backed by Scripture, as well as highlights meaningful songs that God has used to touch the author’s heart. As a fellow journalist, I love how the author uses her talent of observation to see God at work all around her as well as the use of thought-provoking questions at each devotional’s end to further connect our lives to that entry’s theme and the Scripture truth it has been based on. If you are looking for a devotional that is short but powerful, this is it. It would be a perfect gift for a special person in your life.”

Morgan’s words about how reading my devotional made her feel like she was having coffee with a close friend and talking about God is how I want every person who reads my book to feel. And if you don’t like coffee then we can have tea or ice water! At the end of the day, I hope and pray that God uses my devotional to touch your heart and bring you closer to Him.

My Review

This 52-week devotional includes a weekly personal story from the author, lessons learned, scripture, reflections, and a song to accompany the topic. I enjoyed the format of each week’s study and found the devotions inspirational. I plan to return to this in January and go more in-depth with each week for the coming year.

As a devotional, I found it to be useful for learning and growing in faith. It provides a personal connection not only with the author, but also with others who are experiencing similar issues.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit for the review e-book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4+ stars

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 11

Spoken from the Heart, December 11

Texas Book-aholic, December 12

Inklings and notions, December 13

Mary Hake, December 13

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 14

Splashes of Joy, December 15

Kathleen Neely, December 15

For Him and My Family, December 16

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 17

Captive Dreams Window, December 17

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 18

Get Cozy Book Nook, December 18

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 19

Happily Managing a Household of Boys , December 20

deb’s Book Review, December 20

Artistic Nobody, December 21 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 22

Simple Harvest Reads, December 22 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 23

Godly Book Reviews, December 24

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Alexis is giving away  the grand prize package of a $10 Starbucks gift card, an eBook copy of “Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories”, and a signed copy of Alexis’ devotional book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/104a6/stories-and-songs-of-faith-celebration-tour-giveaway

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Book Review and Giveaway – Christmas Stalkings & New Year’s Revolutions

Book Review and Giveaway – Christmas Stalkings & New Year’s Revolutions Author: Chautona Havig On Tour with Celebrate Lit

About the Book

Book: Christmas Stalkings & New Year’s Revolutions

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Fiction / Christian / Romance / Holiday

Release Date: January 29, 2017 and December 31, 2016


Christmas Stalkings

If her life had to transform into a TV movie, couldn’t it have been a sweet romance instead of a creepy suspense?

Wendy Nabity has redefined “crazy cat lady,” and she’s just fine with that. She’s got a tree and a stocking for reach of them, too.

All that festivity turns ominous when things begin turning up in odd places—places her fur babies couldn’t move them. The local police? They think she’s as crazy as the fleas jumping from cat to cat—or something like that.

Her neighbors aren’t much help. The nice one won’t come near her, despite his obvious interest, and the other hates her enough to torment her every chance he can. Seriously, if Neal Kirkpatrick makes one more rude demand of her, she might just start dumping the litter box on his front porch!

However, when a threatening note appears in one of the stockings, even Fairbury’s police officers have to admit no cat could have written it, and one officer takes it upon himself to do something.

Who knew Christmastime could feel so sinister?

____________________________________

New Year’s Revolutions

His life is spinning out of control, and his heart isn’t far behind!

Neal Kirkpatrick: project manager, staunch atheist, and town grump. Aside from an apparent soft spot for a neighborhood boy, the man has nothing to recommend him.

So when he overhears criticism from a neighbor he secretly respects, Neal decides maybe it’s time for professional help. With the same straightforward tenacity he uses in his job, Neal goes on a hunt for a therapist to help him unravel the mystery of himself.

His therapist says he’s in love, but Neal Kirkpatrick does not do relationships.

Does he?

Is any woman worth changing his entire life for?

Is He worth it?

You met him in Christmas Stalkings. Now it’s time to get to know him.

Discover what happens when the town curmudgeon steps out of his comfort zone and into a psychologist’s office to learn what’s up with his heart.

Click here to get your copy of Christmas Stalkings!

Click here to get your copy of New Year's Revolutions!

About the Author

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

SOMETIMES, YOU JUST CAN’T LET A CHARACTER GO

I met him in my book, A Bird Died. Neal Kirkpatrick. Grumpy, snappish, the man just seemed to look for something to grouse about. Except when it comes to a little boy in the town, and then a soft side came out that no one expected.

A few years later, I got the idea for a Christmas comedic suspense “noella” (Christmas novella), and the minute I knew what I wanted to write, I knew I’d be writing about him, too. He’d be the main character’s neighbor and always on her case about something. Instant conflict and subplot. Oh, yeah!

Something unexpected happened as I wrote the story, though. I fell in love with the cranky guy and didn’t want to let him go. Did I have time to write a book for New Year’s, too? I mean, how cool would that be? After much deliberation, I decided to go for it.

I’m kind of glad I didn’t know what kind of Christmas our family would have that year or I would never have decided to do it, and I doubt Neal’s story would still be languishing in the slush-pile of my mind (for the story of our family’s Christmas that year, you might want to check out Sand & Mistletoe).

That story turned into something unexpected.

First, there was more to his story than I’d ever imagined. A dysfunctional family, a past that he didn’t even choose himself, and a rather immoral life I wouldn’t usually care to consider. But reality made me admit that a man with no concern for what the Lord says about things wouldn’t necessarily live the kind of life I think people should! Don’t worry, I didn’t do deep into those kinds of details! My prudish streak got pushed, but not pushed aside.

More than just “his side of the story,” New Year’s Revolutions tells the story of a man who sees himself through the lens of someone he respects and goes on a journey to see why he is as he is and if there is something inherently wrong with it or if the trouble lies with others (as he suspects).

Both a personal and a spiritual journey ensued that made me dig deep into Scripture to discover what it had to say about Jesus, relationships, and honesty. Neal’s discovery of what the Word says about things drove me to study and restudy things that I believed. We didn’t always come to the same conclusions, but it was interesting and I learned more than I would have expected to.

I hope you love Neal as much as I do. I know one thing for sure… this isn’t the last we’ll see of him.

My Review

I first encountered Chautona as an author when I read Sand and Mistletoe. I enjoyed her then and I love these followups.

Christmas Stalkings 

I love a good Christmas mystery and this one doesn’t disappoint. It is quirky and fun. Wendy is a hoot as a “crazy cat lady.” Neal is interesting too. He has a rough exterior, but you kind of know something else is there (spoiler second book!) Overall this is a fun and enjoyable mystery to read.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit for my e-book copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4

New Year’s Revolutions

This book follows Neal’s story as he searches for a way to become happy. I realizes he’s in love with Wendy, and must reconcile their differences (he is n atheist and she is a Christian). It’s interesting to see the growth Neal goes through and the ending is satisfying.

Chautona weaves a faith theme through this book in an easy and natural way. It never seems forced.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit for the e-book review copy of this. All thoughts are my own. 

Rating: 4

Blog Stops

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 14

For Him and My Family, December 15

Get Cozy Book Nook, December 15

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 16

Captive Dreams Window, December 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 17

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 18

Holly Jo Morris, December 18

Inklings and notions, December 19

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 20

Mary Hake, December 20

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 21

deb’s Book Review, December 22

Blogging With Carol, December 22

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 23

CarpeDiem, December 24

Godly Book Reviews, December 25

Artistic Nobody, December 26 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Simple Harvest Reads, December 26 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Texas Book-aholic, December 27

Batya’s Bits, December 27

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of each book, Christmas Stalkings & New Year’s Revolutions!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/104a9/christmas-stalkings-new-year-s-revolutions-celebration-tour-giveaway

Featured

Book Review and Giveaway: Something Borrowed

Book Review and Giveaway – Something Borrowed Authors: Weaver, Dawn, Boyd, Tysinger, Shiloh On Tour with Celebrate Lit 

About the Book

Book: Something Borrowed

Author: Weaver, Dawn, Boyd, Tysinger, Shiloh

Genre: Christian/Contemporary/ Romance / Holiday

Release Date: October 20

Old friends, new loves, and a borrowed tiara.

Always Been Yours — Hanady’s planning her dream wedding, but her injured best friend Keenan isn’t the groom. If she can’t see she’s marrying the wrong guy soon, his leg won’t be the only thing broken.

All the Moore — Leilah Anderson has been living behind the screen to hide her disability, then she meets Reggie Moore face-to-face. Can their relationship survive the truth and distance between them?

A Holly, Bolly Christmas — A dream wedding venue at Christmas? Sign Chahna Kapoor up. Even if her fiancé doesn’t know it…

Somehow, This Christmas — When not-so-merry mishaps threaten wedding planner Cate Forsyth’s holiday wedding and reputation, will her own happily ever after with sweetheart Noah Bennett melt away?

A Promise So Sweet — Lydia Osborn hasn’t heard from her ex in ten years, so imagine her surprise when he shows up proposing marriage. Tis the season for love?

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Jaycee Weaver Author
Lover of Jesus, family, books, coffee, music, and crafting (in that order), Jaycee Weaver is perpetually pursuing at least one of her passions. She writes contemporary Christian romance with realistic characters in everyday situations where they always find a happy ending. Visit her at www.jayceeweaver.com.

Toni Shiloh Author
Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness. Visit her at www.tonishiloh.com.

Mikal Dawn Author
Mikal Dawn is an inspirational romance author, wedding enthusiast, and military (retired) wife. When she isn’t writing about faith, fun, and forever, she is obsessively scouring Pinterest (with coffee in hand!) for wedding ideas for her characters.

Mikal lives in Oklahoma with her husband and two of their three children. Visit her at www.mikaldawn.com.

Teresa Tysinger Author
Teresa Tysinger is a wife, mother, and communications director for a national non-profit. She writes charming Christian romance, inspired by grace. Teresa now resides in Texas, though part of her heart remains in North Carolina. She loves Jesus, coffee, and happy endings. Visit Teresa at www.teresatysinger.com.

Andrea Boyd Author
Each of Andrea Boyd’s series represents a different genre but all fall into the category of romance. All offer an element of her own brand of humor. And all are a tribute to God. Besides writing, she loves spending time with her family, quilting, going to car shows, and driving around in her 1968 Barracuda convertible. Andrea lives with her husband, Tommy, and at least a couple of cats in York County, SC. Visit her at www.andreaboyd11.com.

More from the Something Borrowed Authors

Dear Readers,

Thank you for stopping by the Celebrate Lit blog tour of Something Borrowed. Before we share our excitement for the collection, we’d like to give a brief history of how it came to be.

Last year, the five of us crafted the Once Upon a Christmas collection, but Teresa needed to step down and we were blessed to have Angela Ruth Strong join us in her stead. Early this year, we rejoiced as Teresa was able to resume her place, and then our hearts broke as we learned of Angela’s breast cancer battle. Through all life has thrown our way, we’ve formed a beautiful friendship and have plans to write more collections together!

In January, we decided on a Christmas weddings theme, but we wanted it to be different and unique. Ideas sprang to life and six college roommates emerged, each from a different walk of life but bound by friendship. And then, we found ourselves missing our sixth. With prayers and a blessing over Angela’s health and a writing endeavor that’s been a dream for years (read her story on Facebook!), we found a way to include her in the form of a sixth roommate who no longer needed a love story.

Enter Ruth Ann. Married right out of college, she’s been busy cranking out babies like nobody’s business. And when the next bride, Jaycee’s character Hanady, brings them together for a girls’ reunion weekend, it’s Ruth Ann who produces the perfect something borrowed for this circle of friends.

Hanady’s planning a wedding to the wrong groom—just ask Keenan, the injured best friend who’s loved her for years. Wheelchair-bound Leilah doubts she’ll wear the tiara, but her online gaming friend might be too wonderful to resist. Chahna “Ana” Kapoor just knows she’s going to wear the tiara, so she books her dream venue—she just needs her boyfriend to propose and her parents to tone down the drama. After being engaged to Noah for years, Cate is more than ready for the tiara to be hers, but not-so-merry mishaps the week of the wedding threaten a happily ever after. And finally, having watched all of her friends marry and start their families, when Lydia’s ex shows up on her doorstep with an outrageous proposal, she finds it hard to believe her turn might finally have come.

We are so happy to present to you this collection of five interconnected stories where friendship and faith take center stage. For some, it’s new love. For others, it’s finally sealing an old one. Each tale is unique and yet together they weave one overarching message of love, joy, hope, and peace through the Christmas season.

As you read these stories, we pray they touch your heart. We pray they entertain you and maybe even make you laugh a time or two. And lastly, we pray the Christmas truths bless you this holiday season.

Blessings,

Jaycee, Toni, Mikal, Teresa, and Andrea

My Review

I love story collections–and weddings–and Christmas. What a joy to find all three in one place. Each author brought her own style to the collection, but the interconnectedness of the stories (five brides all sharing a borrowed tiara) shows through in a cohesive way. I’ve never read these authors before, but I’m sure I’ll pick up their collection next year.

I really can’t pick a favorite among any of the novellas. Each main character had her own spark. I suppose if I had to, my favorite character is Ana Kapoor. I liked her hopefulness and vibrancy.

I’ll be looking for works by each of these authors. I enjoyed the style and voice in each of the offerings and want to explore more from these authors.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit for the review e-book copy of this. All impressions are my own.

Rating: 4+ stars

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, December 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 7

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 8

Labor Not in Vain, December 8

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 9

Get Cozy Book Nook, December 9

Remembrancy, December 10

Connect in Fiction, December 10

Texas Book-aholic, December 11

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 12

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, December 12

For Him and My Family, December 13

EmpowerMoms, December 13

She Lives To Read, December 14

Through the Fire Blogs, December 14

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, December 15

deb’s Book Review, December 15

Inklings and notions, December 16

Captive Dreams Window, December 16

Artistic Nobody, December 17 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Livin’ Lit, December 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 18

Simple Harvest Reads, December 18 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 19

CarpeDiem, December 19

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 20

Cultivating Us, December 20

Giveaway

To celebrate their tour, the Something Borrowed Authors are giving away the grand prize package of an Amazon gift card, pens, and chocolate!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10462/something-borrowed-celebration-tour-giveaway

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Recent Reads 12.1.2020 – August/September

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a reading round up so this is Part One – August/September. So hearken back with me to late summer/early fall, when the the sun was still blazing before the breeze picked up too much. When we made the switch from flip flops and sandals to sneakers and (some days up here in the mountains) boots. When everything moves from soft and breezy to cozy and crisp. Now that you’re there with me, here are some books I read during that time:

Nacho Average Murder by Maddie Day

What a fun book set in a great location (Santa Barbara)) for a summer read. Robbie is on vacation For her ten year high school reunion and comes across information that her mother, who died of a brain aneurysm, might have been murdered instead. Before she knows it, she’s trying to sort out a feud with a high school nemesis, a toxic chemical, and an old friend trying to get her life together. This has a few twist and turns with no shortage of clues. I liked the ending but kept expecting one more twist that left me feeling a little unsettled. Would definitely recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley for the Review copy of the book. All opinions are my own. Rating: Four stars

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

I love this book! I’m not usually a big fan of World War II books, but this one really grabbed me from the very first line. The characters of Charlotte, Horace, And Julian have strong depth. I felt like I was right there for every raid, every kiss. The tension was palpable and the choices Charlotte has to make are wrenching. Charlotte’s daughter Vivi was a bright light and I liked the journey of her character. Very compelling! Not an easy read, but it pulls you in and won’t let you go. I highly recommend it! Rating: Five stars 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Griffin Press and NetGalley for the review copy of this book.

Leaning Out: An Alternative Perspective for the Modern Corporate Woman by Monica E. Pierce (Audiobook)

This was an interesting perspective on the corporate work world for women. It explores the question: what about women who want to foster a balance in their lives and don’t want to go for the corner office. Leaning out is not giving up on any ambition, but is a balance of ambition and family/personal life. 

I’m one who has always leaned out so I could relate. It agues strongly for choice in the work world. A good read, but dragged in some spots. (listen- I listened on audio).

Thank you to NetGalley for the review audiobook. All opinions are my own. Rating: Three stars

Christmas Carol Society by Rebekah Jones

I LOVE Christmas stories. This one was an especially fun one. A riff on the Dickens story, the author did a good job of taking the twist and creating an inspiring story full of faith. Charlie’s story was compelling and kept me reading. This would be a great addition to anyone’s Christmas reading list. Start the season early when this one comes out.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit and NetGalley for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: Four stars

September

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (Audiobook)

Bourdain provided a deep dive behind the scenes of some of New York City’s famous (Rainbow Room) and not so famous restaurant kitchens. A gritty (and foul-mouthed) look at what it’s like in the militaristic hierarchy on the kitchen line, Bourdain shows the interesting, and sometimes ugly, side of where upscale food is made. He minces no words about his own experiences starting as a dishwasher and working his way up to chef in various restaurants. The book was written while he was chef at Les Halles, before he went on to host his own travel-food show on CNN. He outlines his successes, his many failures, and the inner workings of restaurants. The book is filled with colorful characters (many pseudonyms are used) unique insights into human character, especially his own.

Some parts of the book unappealingly gritty or revealing, but anyone who’s ever thought that they wanted to be a chef (not me, especially not now) needs to read this book. It also a good book for restaurant patrons who want to be “in the know” about the origins and etiquette surrounding their food.

I listened to the audiobook version of this, which is narrated by Bourdain whose own voice adds more life to his words. I recommend it. Rating: Four stars

The Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Hauck

I chose this book for my church book group (Faith Fiction Fans-woo!) because it had a bookish theme and a thread of a faith story that wound through it. The book follows five people who get mysterious invitations to a story society at a book shop on Fifth Avenue: a professor who is trying to finish his dissertation on a famous writer, his ex-wife who is struggling to get the recognition she deserves at her job, a cosmetics company owner who almost became a princess, an Uber driver trying to reconnect with his kids, and an older gentleman who wants to write the story of his ideal marriage.

As the group continues to meet weekly, secrets are shared and each person grows in unexpected ways. The faith storyline is deftly thread into the story without being overbearing. The characters are likable and unlikeable in turn and every time you think you know what’s going to happen, a twist gets thrown in.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially the characters of the professor and the cosmetics company owner. The bond the group forms is realistic and close and reflects the same connection I have with my book group.

Rating: Four stars

Girl Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis (Audiobook)

I listened to this on audio, which I recommend as the way to consume this book. It was a great motivational book that helps you to let go of excuses and to train your behaviors for success. It’s about dreaming big and setting big goals. I felt like some of it applied to my life, while some of it was focused on creating a business that is scaled way up (which is not my goal). Still, she shares her experiences and has some good advice for anyone who has some ambition to build a business or just expand your experiences in life.

This book is aimed at women, so many men may not be able to relate to some of the advice. Not the end-all, be-all of self help books, but some great motivational tips and ways to set yourself up for success.

Rating: Four stars

Spies and Sweethearts by Linda Shenton Matchett

I love a good spy story, and this was a fun one. Throw in romance and the World War Two era, and you’ve got a great suspense novel. The author did a great job making the setting come to life and really breathed life into the characters. They were interesting and I really cared about their story. The suspense was just right, put you on the edge of your seat without going overboard. It’s the tried and true hate-to-love trope without being tired and worn. This is book one of a trilogy, and I intend to come back for the next two installments.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit and NetGalley for the review ebook copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: Four stars

Cost Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff by Myquillyn Smith

I loved the style in this book. I’ve been looking for a way to describe my aesthetic and this is it. It was also nice to learn some decorating techniques that I can use with what I have. Definitely getting her next book.

Rating: Five stars

If I Run (If I Run #1) by Terri Blackstock

What a thriller! Terri Blackstock really knows how to move the plot along in this Christian thriller. This is the first of the three book series where we follow Casey, who is on the run because she is a suspect in her best friend Brent’s murder, and Dylan, the victim’s childhood friend who is hired to find Casey and bring her back to the police. 

As Casey starts on a journey to discover who is responsible for Brent’s murder and for framing her, she also begins a journey toward faith. Childhood pain, the loneliness of being on the run, and Casey’s good heart will help the reader start putting the pieces together. Dylan’s is also suspicious of the evidence that sets Casey up as a suspect and starts to discover the real truth behind the murder. As he works to manage his PTSD and to find Casey, he relies on his faith to get him to the truth.

Be sure you have the second two books queued up so you can read (or listen to- I took it in as an audiobook) them right after you finish this one. You won’t want to wait.

Rating: Five stars

Stay tuned tomorrow for my October-November reads, followed Friday by a special Holiday Gift Guide edition of Weekend Reading on Friday.

Happy reading!

— Amy

Featured

Book Pages, E-Books, and Audiobooks Oh My!

Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

I can’t decide my favorite way to read. There’s the appeal (and wonderful smell) of paper books (and with a book light, you can read in the dark). E-books offer a compact way to carry hundreds of books (and you can read in the dark!). Audiobooks offer a personal way to experience a story through the voice of the narrator (and you can listen in the dark! — can you tell that’s a biggie for me?). But which way is best? Not a question I can answer.

When e-books were new, I started out as a die-hard paper book person. I didn’t see how anything could beat having books on shelves and stacked on my nightstand. Who wanted to be stuck to a screen that may run out of juice before you’re done reading? One of my brothers passed down an early Kindle to me, but we lived in a rural area and downloading books was difficult. It was intriguing, but I never thought I’d convert. Then I discovered an all important fact a few years later…

You can use an e-reader in the dark.

Sure, there are booklights, but they’re awkward and can still keep your partner up if you have one. I got a Nook e-reader for Christmas when they were a new thing and was fascinated. It had a cool Tiffany blue cover, it was (kind of) a tablet that could be used for Kindle books too. And I could carry tons of books in a compact device. I also love magazines, and could get cheap magazine subscriptions and read them on my color screen. And I could read it in the dark without disturbing anyone or getting a crick in my neck. I was hooked.

Maybe a little too hooked. The downloading capabilities had improved, and all it took was a card on file and a click and I had a new book or magazine to read instantly. My collection grew quickly and so did my reading costs. I quickly got ahold of that (hello, book budget), but it was a whole new world for someone who lived hours from the nearest Barnes and Noble. I’m a book collector by nature, so being able to amass a collection that I didn’t have to find shelves for was awesome.

Then we moved from rural Kansas to a suburb of Detroit. Paper book purchases were easier and I had a (large) built in bookshelf in my basement. I bought a balance of e-books and paper books during this time and my collections of both grew (a lot!).

Five years later, we moved to a rural area of the Colorado mountains. No more Barnes and Noble, though we do have a small bookstore that will order books. I continue to read paper books during the day and usually have a regular book and an e-book going at once. Online ordering makes it easy to get paper books and e-books. I also discovered NetGalley, where bloggers and others who write about books can get e-book early copies, and Celebrate Lit, where I can get early copies of electronic copies of Christian books (I always disclose in my reviews when a book was received through NetGalley or Celebrate Lit). The Libby app makes it easy to access library e-books. So e-books are a major part of my reading life.

I didn’t get into audiobooks until recently. I’ve worked nights from home for the last four years and it’s kind of quiet. I used to listen to music or watch TV, but discovered audiobooks are a great way to up my book total (audiobooks count as reading). I listen as I work and can knock out most books in two to three nights. I access my audiobooks through the Libby app and I’m not afraid to wait for books I really want. I just received audiobook copies of Mexican Gothic and Majesty, and have 28 Summers and Last Train To Key West on hold that should come in the next few weeks. I’ve recently been listening to a Christian mystery series by Terri Blackstock and found the first two at my library, but had to buy my first audiobook to get ahold of the third in the series when my library didn’t have the audio version.

I don’t think I’ll ever settle on a favorite style of reading (I can do all three in the dark!), and I think that’s ok. Each type fills a different need for me. Now if I could just get through my TBR lists for each, I’d really get somewhere.

Do you have a favorite way to consume books? Comment below on your approach to reading and whether you’ve got a stance on the book/e-book/audiobook debate.

Happy reading/listening!

— Amy

Featured

Weekend Reading 10.30.2020

Fall is well underway now (had over a foot of snow in Colorado earlier this week!) and it’s time for sweaters and blankets and tea and a cozy nook to read a book (see what I did there?). I love pumpkin and made a two ingredient pumpkin cake (see link to recipe below) last week, but I’ve traded my PSL for salted caramel creamer in my coffee (pretty good!). I’ve always enjoyed the changing colors and crisp air that fall brings. And this year, with so many publication delays, fall is bringing a wealth of new books! This weekend I’m finishing up some fall yard work and then snuggling into my glide rocker (in a sweater and under a fluffy blanket with some tea) with a cozy mystery (Gourd to Death by Kristen Weiss). What’s on your weekend agenda? Comment below and check out these links for some fun thoughts and ideas.

Thoughts and book recommendations from comedian and author Steve Martin.

Time magazine’s list of the best new books coming out in November.

Some awesome throw blankets for cuddling by the fire on a chilly day.

A homemade PSL, a great list of fall teas, and an easy recipe for pumpkin cake (two ingredients!).

This sweater is going on my fall wish list (four colors — my fav is coffee bean).

Shopping for the holidays early? Here are some unique bookish gifts for your favorite reader.

Just gonna leave this right here (It’s never too early! Hallmark holiday fans unite!)

Just discovered this site that has a whole bunch of bookish candles and other cool stuff too! (Fall ones too!)

Some fun, bookish stickers for your laptop.

It’s Halloween weekend, and I hope you have something fun (and COVID-safe) planned. So in honor of my favorite superhero, here’s some cool Wonder Woman stuff here, here, and here.

Have a fun weekend, and happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Blog Tour and Giveaway: A Christmas Tale For Little Women

“A Christmas Tale for Little Women” by Linda Brooks Davis Book Tour and GiveAway

A Christmas Tale for Little Woman

About the Book

Book: A Christmas Tale for Little Women

Author: Linda Brooks Davis

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release Date: September 15, 2020

A Christmas Tale for Little Women

Broadview is attired for Christmas. Oklahoma heiress, Adelaide Fitzgerald, is hosting two young girls who have chosen to celebrate Christmas with Auntie Addie rather than their family in Colorado.

Adelaide must give these girls a Christmas like no other. Has she thought of everything? What would top off this holiday in an extraordinary way?

The answer lies just the other side of Rock Creek. But what will it take for her to realize it is the Christmas topper she’s been seeking?

It’s 1912, and Adelaide Fitzgerald’s view of Christmas is about to emerge as a tale for a lifetime.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This Christmas story is written as a prequel for Little Women, a book I loved as a young girl. The characters are richly drawn and reflect those created in the classic. The atmosphere of the 1912 setting is brought out clearly and adds to the joy of the book. The theme is uplifting and shows the joy of faith.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit for the review e-book. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Davis_LindaBrooks_300dpi_2x2.5 copy

Linda Brooks Davis is a lifelong Texan who devoted 40 years to special education as a therapist, teacher, and administrator. She retired in 2008 and now writes full time.

Linda’s debut novel, Amazon best-selling The Calling of Ella McFarland,Book One in the Women of Rock Creekseries, is set in 1905Indian Territory prior to Oklahoma statehood. It won Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel in 2014 and subsequently, ACFW’s Carol award for debut novel 2016. The sequel novella, A Christmas to Remember, is set in 1908Oklahoma. A second novella, A Christmas Measure of Love, is set in 1910 and is the prequel to Linda’s second full-length novel, which is set in 1914, Amazon best-selling The Mending of Lillian CathleenBook Two. The third novella, A Christmas Tale for Little Women, releases in 2020 and is set in 1912. It is a prequel to Book 3in The Women of Rock Creek series, The Awakening of Miss Adelaide, which is set in 1918.

Linda and her beloved husband Al worship and minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio and dote on six grandchildren. Readers may contact Linda through her website, www.lindabrooksdavis.com.

More from Linda

Everyone worked at my home on a South Texas farm near the U.S. border with Mexico.

My playmates were children of Hispanic laborers. Language never hindered playing la casa, making mud pies, or rocking los bebésFrijolesand tamalesserved from stewpots over open fires tasted deliciosoin either language. I learned outside their homes a broom works great on hardened soil.

Daddy paid workers on Saturdays, some by the hour, others by production. Lining up, they extended their hands, and he laid cash across their open palms. They checked the figures they had scribbled on paper scraps, trusting el patrónto correct discrepancies. Humble, grateful people, they showed respect.

My father verified immigration paperwork for those whom he housed. Others lived in the shadows, arriving around sunup and disappearing before sundown. Each evening a car or truck would rattle alongside the field, and the shadowworker would slip inside. Then the vehicle would clatter toward the horizon. And returned another day.

Occasionally, however, an alarm shouted in Spanish would sound across the field. Dropping his cotton sack, a worker would dash toward the cotton trailer in the turn row. Like hounds burrowing under a house, he and a compadrewould leap over the trailer’s sides and dig a hole in the freshly picked cotton. The first crawled in, and the other covered him.

The immigration officer making his rounds would walk into the field and occasionally stomp around inside the trailer, searching for man-sized lumps. I never witnessed the discovery of a shadow worker, but I heard about them on other farms. Worst of all, I heard about tragedies. With very little oxygen between tightly packed fluffs of cotton, a man could suffocate and occasionally would. I wondered what would lead a man to take such chances and how my law-abiding, God-loving father justified his complicity. So, I asked, and he answered, “Desperation, sugar. All they want is work. A man wants to provide for his family wherever or however he can. I can’t turn them away.”

Sounded like work was a gift. Huh? my ten-year-old brain asked itself.

Years later, I understood this principle. The second chapter of Genesis shows us that God created man not to laze around all day, but to work.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.Genesis 2:15

Therefore, not only in “the beginning,” but on our farm in 1956, a man’s strength to work was God’s gift. The opportunity to work was Daddy’s gift to the men. The fruit of each man’s labor was the gift he sent home each week and the fulfillment of his need to provide for his family.

At Christmas we enjoyed preparing bushel baskets of meats, fruits and vegetables, candy and nuts, and toys for each family. I wondered about those who stayed around for a single day. Would their children find fruits, nuts, or even a piece of candy on Christmas morning?

Answers evaded me then—-as they do now—-but as a writer in my eighth decade of life, one truth I hold onto is that the strength for each day of writing and less pain in my arthritic hands and back are gifts from God. Each opportunity to write is an opportunity not only to entertain but to inspire readers to seek God in their everyday lives. Each word, unique turn of a phrase, or plot idea . . . is my gift to Him.

Protecting our safety is a far more complicated endeavor in 2020 than it was in 1956. Threats arise like none presented five decades ago, but work is still a gift. God wired it into our DNA. Come to think of it, the ideas for A Christmas Tale for Little Women and the subsequent novel—one set in the southern tip of Texas, a story about a loving, destitute man who wants only to provide for his family—are gifts.

Those diligent workers of 1956 and other years deserve a story that honors them. My gift to them and to Him is A Christmas Tale for Little Women.

Thank you, Lord.

Note: Photos from Pixabay

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 20

Blogging With Carol, October 20

Through the Lens of Scripture, October 21

Connect in Fiction, October 21

Get Cozy Book Nook, October 21

She Lives To Read, October 22

Artistic Nobody, October 22 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

For Him and My Family, October 23

deb’s Book Review, October 23

Splashes of Joy, October 23

Connie’s History Classroom, October 24

Jeanette’s Thoughts, October 24

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 25

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 25

Mary Hake, October 25

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 26

Ashley’s Bookshelf, October 26

KarenSueHadley, October 27

lakesidelivingsite, October 27

Pause for Tales, October 27

Older & Smarter?, October 28

Inklings and notions, October 28

Betti Mace, October 29

Captive Dreams Window, October 29

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 30

CarpeDiem, October 30

Texas Book-aholic, October 31

Batya’s Bits, October 31

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 1

Moments, November 1

Lighthouse Academy Blog, November 1 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 2

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 2

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away the grand prize package of all 6 eBooks in the The Women of Rock Creek Series!! (The Calling of Ella McFarland, A Christmas to Remember, A Christmas Measure of Love, The Mending of Lillian Cathleen, A Christmas Tale for Little Women, and The Awakening of Miss Adelaide)

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10264/a-christmas-tale-for-little-women-celebration-tour-giveaway

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Sand and Mistletoe by Chautona Havig

About the Book

Book:  Sand & Mistletoe

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre:  Contemporary Christian Romance (Holiday)

Release Date: November 24, 2018

Sand & Mistletoe

What’s Christmas without family drama, an accident, and mistletoe?

If you ask Portia Spears, it’s a horror movie—especially since she’s never the one caught under that mistletoe. And who thought it was a good idea to spend the last Christmas as a family unit away from their family home?

Her bossy older sisters, that’s who.

Christmas at his parents’ house with his son—just the way Reese Whitaker likes it. But a chance encounter on the beach might just change everything. How often do you meet someone who loves kids and knows American Sign Language?

Not often. Trust him.

However, with just two weeks to get to know each other and two families that couldn’t be more different vying for their time, will they even have a chance to test out that mistletoe they found?

Find out today in Sand & Mistletoe.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

I absolutely loved this book! I found Portia endearing, without being sappy or unrealistic. Despite the somewhat unrealistic way Portia meets Reese and Duncan, it somehow works. It was nice to see interaction between Portia and young Duncan, who is a member of the Deaf community. It’s something that’s rarely featured in novels, especially contemporary Christian romance.

I like how faith is weaved naturally into the story. It never feels forced. I think Portia’s family is a hoot and I love their Shakespearean names.

The story’s complications are realistic and the ending is satisfying. A great, feel-good holiday tale.
Thank you to Celebrate Lit for the review e-book copy of this book. Opinions are my own.

Rating: Four stars

About the Author

Chautona

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

What Happens When an Author Rewrites History

To be fair, almost none of us wanted to be there.

And really, that wasn’t fair. Two of our daughters planned as a “destination Christmas” bash for the whole family—just a nice getaway in San Diego for the “last” Christmas we’d probably all be in the same place on the same days.  The kids were getting older, getting married, and even moving out of state. It was a beautiful thing for them to try to do for us.

But Havigs are homebodies who like their traditions, and most of us left in Ridgecrest weren’t too thrilled being “dragged” four hours south to celebrate Christmas in a beautiful house on a cliff overlooking the San Diego countryside.  It had everything, game room, lots of space, yards, hiking trails, an infinity pool, a hot tub…

Yeah. That hot tub kicked off the weekend with a splash all right.  With no lighting around it, and no railing either, my husband stepped out of it and right off the ledge—down a hill (at least fifteen feet), bouncing off boulders and thankfully, stopped by a fence. Otherwise, he’d have rolled for a LONG way.

Get this.  He broke nothing.  Don’t even ask me how (because we all know Who took care of that, right?

Still, I spent my Christmas Eve sitting in an ER waiting for someone to tell us the damage (superficial scrapes and deep bruising). The whole time I thought, “This has got to be a book.”

Two years later, it was.

I say this at the end of the book, but I need to say it again.

People who know our family will recognize some of my kids (I left four of them out of the story).  They will also say, “Wait, she’s not like that!”

And that’s the point.  I put just enough of real people in it to really capture the feel of the personalities, meshed some quirks (including the ones that got left out), and then set them in a stressful situation and really way over-exaggerated actual responses.  I want to say this here again.  None of us acted just like I portrayed us in Sand & Mistletoe (although, frankly, I wouldn’t have blamed a couple of them if they’d wanted to). Unlike A Bird Died, I didn’t even try to stick to facts.

Instead of San Diego hill country, I put us at my favorite beach—Ventura. I stuck our rented beach house where the Pierpont Inn is/used to be (don’t even know if it exists anymore). Reese’s parents live in the house I lived in when I was nine—right there on Pierpont just a block from the beach.  And where they went to get mistletoe… one of my favorite places in the world.

So, here’s my version of the tale—the one I wrote instead of told.  Just like Francie Nolan learned from her teacher in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  When I tell the story, I tell it exactly how it happened.  However… I wrote what should (not) have happened!  (this is much more interesting than the real story).

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, October 12

Emily Yager, October 12

The Book Chic Blog, October 12

Inklings and notions, October 13

Get Cozy Book Nook, October 13

For Him and My Family, October 14

Blogging With Carol, October 14

deb’s Book Review, October 15

lakesidelivingsite, October 15

Ashley’s Bookshelf, October 16

Splashes of Joy, October 16

Labor Not in Vain, October 16

She Lives To Read, October 17

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 17

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 18

Mary Hake, October 18

Livin’ Lit, October 19

Artistic Nobody, October 19 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Sara Jane Jacobs, October 20

Spoken from the Heart, October 20

Lots of Helpers, October 21

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, October 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 22

Batya’s Bits, October 22

As He Leads is joy, October 23

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 23

Simple Harvest Reads, October 24 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

SusanLovesBooks, October 24

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, October 25

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 25

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, October 25

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the prize package including a signed paperback & a handmade ornament!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/101f6/sand-mistletoe-celebration-tour-giveaway

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Blog Tour: Spies and Sweethearts

Spies & Sweethearts

About the Book Spies & Sweethearts

Spies & Sweethearts

Book: Spies & Sweethearts

Author: Linda Shenton Matchett

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: April 15, 2020

A secret mission. A fake bride. A run for their lives.

According to the OSS training manual, the life expectancy of a radio operator in Nazi-occupied France is six weeks. Partnered with one of the agency’s top spies, Gerard Lucas, newly-minted agent Emily Strealer plans to beat those odds. Then their cover is blown and all bets are off.

The border to neutral Switzerland is three hundred miles away—a long way to run with SS soldiers on their heels.

Will Emily and Gerard survive the journey?

And what about their hearts? Nothing in the manual prepared them for falling in love.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review:

I love a good spy story, and this was a fun one. Throw in romance and the World War Two era, and you’ve got a great suspense novel. The author did a great job making the setting come to life and really breathed life into the characters. They were interesting and I really cared about their story. The suspense was just right, put you on the edge of your seat without going overboard. It’s the tried and true hate-to-love trope without being tired and worn. This is book one of a trilogy, and I intend to come back for the next two installments.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit and NetGalley for the review ebook. All opinions are my own.

About the Author of Spies & Sweethearts

Spies & Sweethearts

Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is also a trustee for her local public library. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry. Linda has lived in historic places all her life and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors.

More from Linda

Dear Reader,

Take a moment to travel back to an era when ordinary women did extraordinary things. After the attack at Pearl Harbor, stalwart American gals stepped out of their comfort zone to take jobs never before held by women…sometimes dangerous jobs. Jobs in which they could lose their lives.

As a docent at the Wright Museum of WWII, I meet people from all walks of life who lived and served during the second “war to end all wars.” Many of these people haven’t shared their stories with loved ones for myriad reasons, but when they arrive at the museum, the floodgates of memories open, and words begin to pour out.

I’ve listened as ladies shared the stress of working outside the home, and juggling finances and childcare issues while their husbands were away in the armed forces. I’ve heard some speak about the excitement of learning new skills and gaining confidence. However, others were not as forthcoming because what they did was not only perilous but secret. Fortunately, in the last few years, documents have been declassified to shed light on the undercover work and projects performed during the war.

It is my hope that Spies & Sweethearts, book one in my Sisters in Service trilogy, will honor these brave women in some small way.

Blessings,

Linda Shenton Matchett

Blog Stops for Spies & Sweethearts

Hebrews 12 Endurance, September 15

lakesidelivingsite, September 15

Worthy2Read, September 16

deb’s Book Review, September 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 17

Genesis 5020, September 17

Betti Mace, September 18

Emily Yager, September 18

Texas Book-aholic, September 19

The Book Chic Blog, September 19

Inklings and notions, September 20

Get Cozy Book Nook, September 20

For Him and My Family, September 21

Where Faith and Books Meet, September 21

She Lives To Read, September 22

As He Leads is Joy, September 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 23

CarpeDiem, September 23

Artistic Nobody, September 24 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 24

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 25

Connect in Fiction, September 25

Connie’s History Classroom, September 26

Mary Hake, September 26

Blossoms and Blessings, September 27

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, September 27

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, September 28

Life, Love, Writing, September 28

Giveaway for Spies & Sweethearts

Spies & Sweethearts

To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away the grand prize package of an autographed copy of Spies & Sweethearts, an autographed copy of WWII Word Find, hand-cut wood fleur de Lis earrings, pewter Eiffel tower ring holder, and a fleur de Lis Coaster!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/100e4/spies-sweethearts-celebration-tour-giveaway

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Weekend Reading 9.11.2020

Today is a unique day in American history as we remember the victims of (and heroes who responded to) the 2001 attacks in New York City and Washington, DC, as well as the passengers in the failed hijacking of Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Our son was three and our daughter was not quite one when the attacks happened. Still, we felt the implications even in the small Kansas town where we lived at the time. As the daughter and sister of military veterans (including my father who once worked in the Pentagon and an older brother who deployed to Afghanistan and later Kuwait), I especially think of the soldiers who have fought against terrorism and have seen the way this became a turning point for our country.

Learn more here about opportunities available for today’s National Day of Service and Remembrance. No matter where you live, use the database on the site to find a way to serve in your community. Our family has a tradition of taking cookies to our local fire department or law enforcement office wherever we have lived each September 11th (send them with someone the department knows, or they might not be able to eat them). A small gesture of thanks, but it has always been appreciated and it is our way to give back to some of those who risk their lives for ours.

And now, for something completely different… (thank you Monty Python)

This library scented candle is a great way to ring in the fall season

Why we like reading about plagues and disasters (even as they are happening around us)

Check out this interview with Louise Penny about her latest Inspector Gamache installment.

Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel has released its schedule of cozy mystery movies for September.

Read about the debate over the world’s first novel.

Check out this book about women’s fight for the right to vote. Look here for a feature of a book that focuses on women of color’s struggle for the vote.

Looking for some book rec’s? This list features 25 of the best books for fall.

Find some audio books with great narration.

This interview with Morgan Jenkins about her new memoir dealing with Black identity and culture as she traces her ancestry is an interesting read.

I’m starting in on some new cozy mysteries and holiday romances (yup, they’re already starting to come out for the year) this weekend. What are you up to? Share in the comments below.

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Throwback Thursday Title: Educated By Tara Westover

I’m trying a new feature on the blog. Each Thursday, I’m going to dig into my reading archives to feature a relevant backlist title. As students are heading back to the classroom (or onto their computers for distance learning), I thought it would be good to look back on a title that focuses on what schooling really means.

I listened to Educated by Tara Westover as an audiobook and found that to be a great way to take in the story. While not narrated by the author, I think the audiobook provides good insight into the memoir. This book was a hard listen. It reveals the difficult upbringing and educational transformation of Westover. That upbringing involved mental and emotional abuse by a mentally ill, survivalist father and physical and emotional abuse by a sibling. Submission by her mother to her father’s will added insult to injury, leaving Tara and her siblings at the mercy of their unstable father. The memoir looks at the issue of reality and whose reality is accurate. It also shows the eye-opening growth of Tara from an unschooled mountain child to a well educated and “whole” woman with a Ph.D from Harvard.

The book is also a good investigation into the relationship between learning and schooling. Westover shows that her education wasn’t just in a classroom, but in the mountains and fields of her hometown, a hardscrabble learning experience that formed her character and her ambitions to gain a traditional education that helped transform her outlook on truth and the wider world.

I can’t say the book was enjoyable, but it was a fascinating look at the psychological mind games and emotional manipulation Tara says she endured. Her story seems fantastical, but credible; something you don’t realize happens in modern society. It looks at a unique pocket of America that relies on home cures, home schooling, and extreme versions of Mormon faith to create what they think is a self-sufficient, off-the-grid lifestyle. Tara is sure in the introduction to say that the book is not an indictment of Mormonism or Mormons, but is her experience with her family within an extreme version of that faith. It is a gritty tale, difficult to hear but arresting in its honesty.

The book is a great motivator in this challenging back-to-school season. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a unique perspective on what it means to be educated. Just be sure to follow it up with something light.

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Christmas Carol Society: Blog Tour and Giveaway

Christmas Card Society by Rebbeka Jones 

Chrismas carol society FB Banner

About the Book

Book: Christmas Carol Society

Author: Rebekah Jones

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Christian Fiction

Release Date: October 30, 2019

Christmas Carol Society Cover

Christmas Carol Society – How Do You Impersonate a Christmas Ghost?

The Christmas season has arrived. The members of the newly-formed Christmas Carol Society are beginning their weekly meetings. Charlie Baker finds the first meeting odd enough, but when the assignments start, he has to wonder why he allowed himself to get roped into attending. Miss Dartmoor tells her members to impersonate the Ghost of Christmas Past for their own personal Scrooge.

Just how does a mere human accomplish such an absurd task? Charlie tries to figure it out, but begins to see the Lord might plan for the assignments to have a deeper impact on him than he expected.

An impact that Charlie isn’t sure he wants to face.

Click here to get your copy!

 My Review

I LOVE Christmas stories. This one was an especially fun one. A riff on the Dickens story, the author did a good job of taking the twist and creating an inspiring story full of faith. Charlie’s story was compelling and kept me reading. This would be a great addition to anyone’s Christmas reading list. Start the season early when this one comes out.

My rating: 4 stars

About the Author 

Rebekah Jones, Author

Rebekah Jones is first and foremost a follower of the Living God. She started writing as a little girl, seeking to glorify her King with her books and stories.
Rebekah is an old soul in a young body (she’s not 12 —honest!) While her exact age is classified, her interests are not. Among them are reading a variety of books, singing, playing, and composing music, studying all manner of subjects, nannying an adventurous group of youngsters, and, of course, writing her books, poems, articles, and short stories. She writes a wide range of books from gentle children’s adventures to family sagas to murder mysteries.

More from Rebekah Jones

Christmas Carol Society is a book very near and dear to my heart. Partly because of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which is among my favorites, and partly due to my characters. Especially, Charlie Baker.

Charlie is very special to me. He wants to hide in his tiny corner of the world, and give up. He wants to give up on a world that has hurt him tremendously or taken people he loved. He wants to push away any possibility of repeating the past; he doesn’t want to be hurt again.

Charlie doesn’t want to join the Christmas Carol Society. He doesn’t want to find a “Scrooge.” He doesn’t want to make new friends. He doesn’t want to do any of it.

He joins because he loves his cousin. He doesn’t do it for any other reason.

 His father encourages him to do it right, if he’s going to do it at all. His cousin calls him out, when his Christianity is at odds with his behavior. And Albert, his would-be friend, just doesn’t give up on him. 

In a sense, Charlie is a Scrooge – and yet, he’s not. He has to find a Scrooge of his own. And through it, he finds himself doing all the things that he really doesn’t want to do at all – and it’s a good thing. Painful sometimes, but good. Scary at times, but good.

The characters that the LORD uses to teach me the most, end up being particularly special to me. Charlie is one of them. In some ways, I relate to Charlie rather a lot, and writing this story drove me to prayer often, so I would know what to do next. I frequently wasn’t sure where the story would go. But I learned along with Charlie. 

I hope that my readers will love Charlie Baker as much as I do, and that his story, along with the others in this book, will in some way bless and encourage my readers for the LORD’s glory.

To the KING be all the glory! 

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, August 26

deb’s Book Review, August 26

Inklings and notions, August 27

Splashes of Joy, August 28

Mary Hake, August 28

For Him and My Family, August 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 30

Captive Dreams Window, August 30

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 31

Blogging With Carol, August 31

Just the Write Escape, September 1

Get Cozy Book Nook, September 1

She Lives To Read, September 2

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 3

Artistic Nobody, September 4 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Batya’s Bits, September 4

For the Love of Literature, September 5

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 6

Connect in Fiction, September 6

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 7

Emily Yager, September 7

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 8

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 8

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rebekah is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of Christmas Carol Society, a copy of A Christmas Carol, and an ornament!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/ffb6/christmas-carol-society-celebration-tour-giveaway

Featured

Blush: Book Review and Blog Tour

About the Book

Book: Blush

Author: Danielle Ripley-Burgess

Genre: Nonfiction

Release Date: September 15, 2020

NOBODY SAID growing up is easy. For Danielle, the safe suburbs of Kansas City always felt warm. Inviting. But one day, everything changed. Not only did she hate what puberty was doing to her body, she had spotted a few scary specks of blood after going number two. Gross. As an insecure tween who blushed during “the talk,” one who refused to buy toilet paper at the store, nobody could know her little secret. So she hid it from everyone—Mom, Dad, her brother, and her friends. This went on … for years.

Busted. Eventually, her secret came out. Danielle was rushed to the doctor and into a colonoscopy. Shock took over when she was diagnosed with a rare colon cancer (something the internet called an “old man’s disease”) just a few weeks after her seventeenth birthday. Seriously!?

High school mornings in classrooms morphed into nightmare days in cancer-center waiting rooms. Yet Danielle stayed hopeful, even grateful, for her illness. The way she saw it, fighting cancer spiced up her otherwise-boring testimony. And it brought her true love. Not until she heard the dreaded “It’s cancer” again at age twenty-five did she start to resent so much suffering and question her faith. Yet Danielle wasn’t about to stop. From Times Square to the White House, she became an outspoken survivor by starting a blog, as well as a young wife and a mom. Eventually, she found the self-acceptance she’d been looking for—it was guided by a still, small voice that had been with her all along.

In this soul-baring memoir, Blush: How I Barely Survived 17, Danielle reminds us that growing up is never easy, and she shows us how to go head to head with God. With out-of-body wisdom beyond its years, Blush beautifully inspires us to accept our imperfections and embrace every season of life.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This is a touching memoir that follows Danielle’s ups and downs through surgeries and recovery and learning to live a new type of life after her initial diagnosis. She is an outspoken advocate and I admired that in her words. Her faith in God throughout it all is inspirational. I think this is a must read for young people, but really is a good story for anyone.

My rating: 4 stars

Thank you Celebrate Lit for the electronic review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Danielle Ripley-Burgess is a two-time colon cancer survivor first diagnosed at age seventeen and an award-winning communications professional. She writes and speaks to encourage those facing trials, under a motto of “faith that survives.” She’s the author of Blush: How I Barely Survived 17(Redemption Press, 2020), The Holiday Girls (Little Lights Studio, 2018), and Unexpected: 25 Advent Devotionals. Her story has been told around the world through outlets like The Today Show, BBC’s World Have Your Say, Sirius Radio’s Doctor Radio, the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, among others. Home is in Kansas City with her husband, Mike, and daughter, Mae. When she’s not writing, she can be found baking her favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. It’s a good one. Follow her blog at DanielleRipleyBurgess.com or connect on social media at @DanielleisB.

More from Danielle

I walked into the classroom, hung my backpack on a designated hook and glanced at the chalkboard as I took my seat. Sigh. It was spelling bee day. I’d dreaded it for weeks.

Most people probably didn’t realize I loathed the spelling bee, especially my teacher. As a book-loving student who aced nearly all English exams, anyone could have rightly assumed I would be jazzed about the competition. I was a great candidate to represent our class. But there was one little problem: it sounded like a nightmare. I wanted nothing to do with it. The idea of the whole school looking at me on stage—the chance of people noticing the zits on my face, seeing a bra underneath my shirt, or calling me a nerd because I was a strong speller—sounded awful. No thanks.

“Riiinnngggg”

A buzzer echoing throughout the hallways kicked off our school day. My teacher, dressed in a popular floral dress from the 1990s, walked to the chalkboard to take control of our classroom. The pledge of allegiance, math worksheets and recess distracted me from the schedule until the dreaded hour came.

“Everyone please stand up, push in your chairs and join the circle,” my teacher insisted as she waved her hands to gather us. It was time.

Fortunately, I had a plan: I was going to cheat.

If my spelling test grades were any indicator, I had a good chance of making the spelling bee. So, I decided to purposely spell my word wrong. I would use a wrong vowel toward the end of the word and pause to hear, “I’m sorry but that’s incorrect.”

Let’s just say my plan worked like a charm. Relief flooded my chest when I was asked to sit down and join the others who were knocked out of the competition. A few weeks later during the school-wide spelling bee, I deeply exhaled and smiled widely as I watched my classmates compete on stage from the gymnasium floor. I was so glad it was them and not me.

Today, 25 years later, this memory is both a victory and a tragedy. I can’t help but see my younger self, a tween girl who felt embarrassed about her body, and feel proud of her for identifying what she did and didn’t want. That moment in fifth grade helped her find her voice. Yet her empowerment came at a high cost.

Convinced that hiding her true self—her body, her smarts and her opinions—was the only way, this thinking led to her nearly losing her life. If I could go back and chat with her today, I’d affirm her fears yet encourage her to see God gave her the smarts—being a strong speller and a good writer is a gift and not a bad thing. I’d challenge her to accept herself and say that dominating the school-wide spelling bee could actually be a great thing.

Blush is a memoir that tells many other stories like my fifth grade spelling bee. The book is dedicated to my daughter, who is just now becoming a tween. As I’ve relived my life by writing this book, I’ve not only found nuggets of truth to pass on to her as she navigates adolescence, but also confidence and redemption in my story.

Many of us have believed the lie that to be accepted, we must hide. I wrote Blush not only for my daughter, but for anyone looking for inspiration and hope. It’s a book especially for those who are ready to finally face their insecurities and consider how to stop sitting it out and instead take the stage.

Danielle Ripley-Burgess is a two-time colon cancer survivor first diagnosed at age 17, an award-winning communications professional and author of Blush: How I barely survived 17. Follow her blog at DanielleRipleyBurgess.com or connect on social media at @Danielleis

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, August 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 22

Simple Harvest Reads, August 23 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, August 23

For Him and My Family, August 24

Inklings and notions, August 25

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 26

Spoken from the Heart, August 27 (Author Interview)

Artistic Nobody, August 28 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Get Cozy Book Nook, August 29

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 30

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 31

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, September 1 (Author Interview)

Emily Yager, September 2

Lights in a Dark World, September 3

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Danielle is giving away the grand prize package of Danielle’s favorite local coffee, Betty’s Recipe from the Roasterie in Kansas City & a signed copy of the book!! (here’s a link to the coffee: https://theroasterie.com/product/bettys-recipe/)

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/ffa2/blush-celebration-tour-giveaway

Featured

Glimpses of God: Summer Devotional for Women Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Glimpses of God: A Summer Devotional for Women
Author: Shirley Crowder & Harriet Michael
Genre:  Devotional
Release Date: April 29, 2020

Creator God made the world in which we live. He placed the moon and stars in the sky, the rivers and ocean on the earth. He also created seasons throughout the year. Each season is defined by specific features/attributes that are common although the degree varies depending on where a person lives. In winter we think of cold weather; in spring, blooming flowers; in summer, warm weather; and in the fall, beautifully colored leaves.

As Christ-followers we also experience spiritual seasons. These seasons do not come in order like seasons in nature, which come regularly without fail. Each spiritual season we experience is defined by certain features also. In spiritual winter we think of the coldness of our relationship with God; in spring, new

This devotional is focused on summer—both calendar and spiritual. Our spiritual summer is a time of growth, hard work, and relaxation as we nurture and care for the new things that were planted in our spiritual spring and allow them to ripen or mature.
Click here to get your copy!
My Review

This collection of 65 devotions, with five devotions on each topic. It covers a range of ideas fitting for the summer season. I enjoyed working my way through each devotion and found myself looking forward to the next day’s topic. All of the devotions are uplifting, though not all deal with “happy” subjects.

This is a great companion for the summer and there is a focus on citizenship that would make this particularly aimed at an American audience. The devotional is aimed at women, but I think there are truths that men could benefit from as well. I am looking forward to the fall devotional.

My rating: 4 stars

Thank you Celebrate Lit for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the  Authors

Shirley Crowder was born in a mission guest house under the shade of a mango tree in Nigeria, West Africa, where her parents served as missionaries. She and co-author Harriet E. Michael grew up together on the mission field and have been life-long friends. Shirley is passionate about disciple-making, which is manifested in and through a myriad of ministry opportunities: biblical counseling, teaching Bible studies, writing, and music.
She is a biblical counselor and is commissioned by and serves on the national Advisory Team for The Addiction Connection. She is an award-winning writer who has had several of her articles appear in “Paper Pulpit” in the Faith section of The Gadsden Times, and in a David C. Cook publication. She also writes articles for Life Bible Study, Woman’s Missionary Union, The Addiction Connection and Inspired Prompt. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to eight books.
Shirley has spiritual children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren serving the Lord in various ministry and secular positions throughout the world.

Harriet E. Michael was born in Joinkrama, Nigeria, deep in the African jungle in the Niger River delta, where her father served as the only missionary doctor at that station. A few years later, the mission moved the family to a larger hospital in Ogbomoso. Co-author Shirley Crowder and her family lived right across the dirt road. The two children became constant playmates. Today they continue to enjoy their lifelong friendship.
Harriet is a multi-published, award-winning writer and speaker. She has authored or co-authored seven books (six nonfiction and one novel) with several more under contract for future release. She is also a prolific freelance writer, having penned over 200 articles, devotions, and stories. Her work has appeared in publications by Focus on the Family, David C. Cook, Lifeway, Standard Publishing, Chicken Soup for the SoulThe Upper Room, Judson Press, Bethany House, and more. When not writing, she loves speaking to women’s groups and teaching workshops on freelance writing.
She and her husband of more than 40 years have four children and two grandchildren. When not writing, she enjoys substituting at a Christian school near her home, gardening, cooking, and traveling.

More from Shirley

In the same way that nature’s seasons serve a purpose on earth, so do the seasons in our spiritual lives. God provides, cares for, and sustains the earth, and in His faithfulness, He does the same for us. Our responsibility is to be obedient to God’s commands in the Bible and to cling to the truth that God is in control.Our “Glimpses of God” series consist of:

  • Glimpses of God: a winter devotional for women
  • Glimpses of God: a summer devotional for women
  • Glimpses of God: a spring devotional for women (due out in early 2021)
  • Glimpses of God: an autumn devotional for women (due out in late summer 2021)

We pray that as readers meditate upon the Bible passages and truths in each devotional, they will catch glimpses of God in and through everything around them.
How has He provided for you? How is He protecting you? How is He teaching you?

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 11

Spoken from the Heart, August 11

Inklings and notions, August 12

Get Cozy Book Nook, August 12

Artistic Nobody, August 13 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Older & Smarter?, August 14

Musings of Sassy Bookish Mama, August 14

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 15

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 16

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 17

deb’s Book Review, August 17

Texas Book-aholic, August 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 19

Mary Hake, August 19

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 20

Lighthouse Academy, August 21

CarpeDiem, August 21

For Him and My Family, August 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 23

Splashes of Joy, August 24

Fiction Full of Faith, August 24

Giveaway

To celebrate their tour, Shirley and Harriet are giving away the grand prize package of a print copy of Glimpses of God: A Summer Devotional for Women and a $25 Amazon gift card!!Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
https://promosimple.com/ps/fee5/glimpses-of-god-a-summer-devotional-for-women-celebration-tour-giveaway
I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

Featured

The Reading Race: Are Reading Goals Really Worth It?

If you spend any time in the reading blog or bookstagram worlds, you’ll find that everyone seems to have a reading goal. I’m not alone in having monthly, quarterly, and annual goals for how many books I want to read. Some people exceed lofty goals, while many of us struggle with modest targets. During August, for instance, I set a goal of reading NINE books. (Am I crazy? Spoiler- probably not going to make it)

But, how important are these goals? Is reading really a race to see how many books you can cram into a certain period of time? I admire the people who are able to read and enjoy 100 books a year, but I don’t think that will ever be me. But there’s a certain caché that people earn when they read enormous amounts of books in a set period of time. And if you’re in the book world, it seems like everyone is reading at lightening pace. So where does that leave the average reader?

My name is Amy, and I’m a slow reader with a huge TBR pile (plus all my e-books waiting). I want to be able to read tons of books a month, and I even set aside reading time, but I read slowly. Probably a realistic goal for me would be more like four or five, not the nine I was convinced I could smoosh into this month. It’s already the last week of the month and I’m on books three and four of the month, and one I finished was an audiobook and not even on my original list. (Note: I consider audiobooks real reading, not cheating, because you invest a lot of time into an audiobook.)

There are a lot of bragging rights if you’re one of the people who can zoom through books. I’m married to one of those people and it irritates me to no end. He’s always rereading books because I just can’t keep him in new books that interest him because he reads so fast. Any of us slow readers would change places with his reading pace. Imagine actually getting through your TBR in record time. That would be pretty awesome…I guess.

So where does quality fit into the equation? Should you read a lot of short books to bump up your totals, or do only Harry Potter-length books count? In the end, unless you’re in school, there’s no one keeping track of what or how many books you read each year.

In the rat race that is competitive reading, us slowbies can say we definitely get our money’s worth out of our books. Some books go at a faster pace, but I can definitely take a week (or even two) to get through some books. The end of books seems to go at a fever pace, one where I’ll rearrange anything I can to finish a book that’s grabbed me. So I get my money’s worth, but I always feel behind. Add to that some deadlines for reviewing books, and I feel pressured to find extra time to read. Occasionally that takes a little bit of fun out of reading. Deadlines mean pressure for some, motivation for others.

I am nothing if not organized about my reading life. I schedule reading time each day (mostly so I can get other stuff done and read guilt free), and I have a Trello board (It’s a free list making app; see here) with all the books I’ve read/want to read and when. If I have a book set for one month and don’t get to it, I shift it to the following month. For September, I’ve got 12 listed and that doesn’t even include the new ones I have for review. (Definitely some shifting going to happen).

My reading goals are sort of like New Year’s resolutions. I start the month will grand dreams and a lot of gusto, then get bogged down in a long book and a busy schedule. Maybe that’s part of the reason I love cozy mysteries–they move quickly.

Reading is having a renaissance during the COVID-19 pandemic. More people have more time to read and book sales are skyrocketing. So whether you read quickly or slowly, you have lots of company. The ultimate purposes of reading are to learn something and to enjoy a good story. Racking up big numbers on your total board can be fun and rewarding, but I think not at the expense of enjoyment. Able to do both? You are Wonder Woman and my idol.

When you read a book just to check it off your list, where’s the fun in that? Now, I’m a completist. I like reading every book of a series, in order, until I’m caught up with the author and anticipating the next installment. But I have so many series going that I don’t know if I’ll ever complete the task. But then again, who wants to be “done” reading? It would leave life pretty hollow. Thank goodness people keep writing more books.

How do you approach reading? Are you a zoomer or a slowbie or somewhere in between? Do you set reading goals? How does it feel when you don’t reach those goals? Comment below with your thoughts.

Featured

August Reading Challenge – The Halfway Mark

It’s almost halfway through August and I realized yesterday that I hadn’t posted my August Reading Challenge. I have an ambitious list this month that includes a lot of my favorite genre, cozy mysteries. Most of these are NetGalley books I’m set to review (I’ve got some serious catching up to do, but it’s so hard not to just click request on one more book, then another…). So, starting at the top:

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

Just finished this book a few days ago about a Parisienne woman who becomes an American citizen after WWII along with her daughter. She’s got secrets and has to reconcile them to move on with life.

Can’t wait to share about it next month!

Courtesy of NetGalley and St. Martin’s Griffin

Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

I just downloaded this ebook from the library yesterday after watching a book tour talk with the author about her latest Jane Austen inspired book Recipe For Persuasion. I’m a completist, so I’m starting with the first book in the series.

Peachy Scream by Anna Gerard

The first of several cozy mysteries this month, this one set in Georgia, where an actor at the local Shakespeare Festival is murdered. Should be a juicy one (see what I did there? Huh? Ok, never mind. Mom joke.)

Courtesy of NetGalley

One Perfect Summer by Brenda Novak

This is the perfect summer read, but I just keep getting distracted by shiny new ebooks. But it sits on my nightstand as my “daytime read” about three women who discover they’re sisters and meet at a Lake Tahoe vacation home to discover their history and their next steps.

The Waffle House on the Pier by Tilly Tennant

This summer read centers around Sadie, who moves home to Sea Salt Bay to help run her grandparents’ waffle house after her grandfather dies. Will she find love with newcomer, Luke?

Courtesy of NetGalley

A Fatal Fiction by Kaitlynn Dunnett

This cozy mystery centers around Mikki, who is seen arguing with a deceptive developer shortly before he’s found murdered at the demolition site of Catskill Resort Hotel. Mikki is a book editor who must uncover the truth before she ends up locked up.

Courtesy of NetGalley

Tea and Treachery by Vicki Delany

This first book in the Tea By the Sea Mystery series centers around the owner of a traditional English tea room whose grandmother is accused of murdering a developer who had been trying to rezone nearby land for a golf course that would have driven them out of business. Lily must get to the bottom of things before it gets too sticky.

Courtesy of NetGalley

From Beer To Eternity by Sherry Harris

The final cozy mystery for this month is the first in the Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mysteries series. Chloe moves to Emerald Cove, Florida after she promises to help her late friend’s grandmother run the Sea Glass Saloon. Soon, grandma Vivi is in hot water after a cranky regular is found dead. Chloe must find out the truth before Vivi is served up in court.

Courtesy of NetGalley

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

I’m reading this book (and Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors) as part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club’s Austen in August selections. I love all things Jane Austen, and this book is set just after WWII in the English village of Clawton, where Austen’s final home is. A group that forms The Jane Austen Society must come together to save Austen’s crumbling home and her legacy while dealing with loss and trauma of their own as a result of the war. Austen’s writings affect each character and, in this quiet story, redemption is possible.

So, there ya have it. Nine books in one month, with only half the month left to read. I’ve got some down time through the weekend, so I’m going to try to get through three or four by Sunday. That’ll only leave four or five for the two weeks after this. The cozy books are usually pretty quick reads, so hopefully that will speed things along. Hoping I can get through my entire list this month. That would be a feat for me. And, I would catch up (mostly) on my NetGalley reads.

July Challenge Results

I originally set out to read Rodham, Hello, Summer, One Perfect Summer, Summer by the Tides, Nacho Average Murder, and Peachy Scream. I set aside Rodham for the murder mystery The Guest List. I finished that, along with Hello, Summer, Summer by the Tides, and Nacho Average Murder. One Perfect Summer is in progress Peachy Scream is on this month’s list. Four out of six isn’t too bad.

What are you reading this month? Still working on those summer reads or are you moving on to something else? Let me know in the comments.

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Blog Tour: Paris Never Leaves You

Author Bio
ELLEN FELDMAN, a 2009 Guggenheim fellow, is the author of Terrible Virtue, The Unwitting, Next to Love, Scottsboro (shortlisted for the Orange Prize), The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank (translated into nine languages), and Lucy. Her novel Terrible Virtue was optioned by Black Bicycle for a feature film.

PARIS NEVER LEAVES YOU Book Summary
“Masterful. Magnificent. A passionate story of survival and a real page turner. This story will stay with me for a long time.” —Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey
Living through World War II working in a Paris bookstore with her young daughter, Vivi, and fighting for her life, Charlotte is no victim, she is a survivor. But can she survive the next chapter of her life? Alternating between wartime Paris and 1950s New York publishing, Ellen Feldman’s Paris Never Leaves You is an extraordinary story of resilience, love, and impossible choices, exploring how survival never comes without a cost.
The war is over, but the past is never past.

MY REVIEW

I love this book! I’m not usually a big fan of World War II books, but this one really grabbed me from the very first line. The characters of Charlotte, Horace, And Julian have strong depth. I felt like I was right there for every raid, every kiss. The tension was palpable and the choices Charlotte has to make are wrenching. Charlotte’s daughter Vivi was a bright light and I liked the journey of her character. Very compelling! Not an easy read, but it pulls you in and won’t let you go. I highly recommend it! Rating: A+

Thank you to St. Martin’s Griffin Press and NetGalley for the review copy of this book.

Buy Links
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Paris-Never-Leaves-You-Novel/dp/1250622778

BN: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/paris-never-leaves-you-ellen-feldman/1132911684
IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250622778
BAM: https://www.booksamillion.com/product/9781250622778
Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/paris-never-leaves-you/id1484360326
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/paris-never-leaves-you
Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Ellen_Feldman_Paris_Never_Leaves_You?id=y8m3DwAAQBAJ

Featured

Recent Reading Roundup 8.5.20

It was a busy summer reading season between mid-June and July. This month’s selections included a variety of genres and books that were great summertime reads. Check out the books below:

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

Lisa Wingate paints a vivid picture of beach community Hatteras Island, located in the Carolinas and draws you into the story of Tandee Jo, who is charged with cleaning out the home of her recently deceased landlord. During the cleaning process, the single mom comes across shoe boxes filled with prayers that takes her on a journey of self-discovery that changes the lives of herself and her two children. Love blooms, and a life of responsibility and spiritual devotion blossoms as she learns the history of the woman who lived in the home and she and her friends work to preserve the landmark.

This was not always a comfortable read. Tandee Jo doesn’t start off as the most responsible mother, which is difficult to get through. But her journey is inspiring and the ending is satisfying. The book is filled with colorful characters, secrets, and redemption in more ways than one. I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series. Rating: A-

Deadly Sweet Tooth by Kaye George

I really liked the premise of this book. The sweet shop setting in Texas opens up a lot of possibilities. However, I had a hard time investing in the characters. The main character always seemed stressed and that made me stressed. Some of the plot elements seemed to come together too easily or not at all. The mystery was compelling and even though I figured out the mystery about 2/3rds of the way through, I was wrong about some of the circumstances. A fine book, just not for me. Rating: B-

Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an electronic review copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

The Chiffon Trenches by André Leon Talley

Andre Leon Talley is a pillar in the last 40 years of the fashion industry. An insider, first at Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, then at Women’s Wear Daily and W, and finally at Vogue, Talley has all the scoop on those in the know of the fashion industry. This dishy book names names and gives an inside look at Talley’s 40 year friendship with Chanel’s late Karl Lagerfeld and a unique look at his on-and-off friendship with Vogue editor Anna Wintour. He name checks throughout the book, with talk of YSL, Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, even a bit about Alexander McQueen. The book also focuses on his experiences as a black, gay man in fashion and his continuing battle with his weight. He serves up the scoop with manners in line with his Southern heritage. It’s a great ride for anyone with an interest in fashion, but could feel a little dense for those who don’t know all the names (especially the early ones). This is definitely aimed at fashion fans, not fashion beginners. Rating: A

Hello, Summer by Mary Kay Andrews

Loved this book! It follows reporter Conley Hawkins as she returns to her small town and is set up by her Grandmother to work at the family’s small weekly temporarily with her sister (with whom she doesn’t really get along) who is editor in chief. Right away Conley starts ruffling feathers with the story of a local Congressman eho dies in a mysterious car crash. She also reconnects with her childhood crush who broke her heat and live two doors down from where she grew up. 

Family drama ensues and Conley and her sister fight blowback on the stories and find new ways to save to paper. Political shenanigans I. The Congressman’s family also tear up as truths come out. 

Lots of good twists and turns. I love a good mystery/romance/political drama. Conley is a strong character with being overly abrasive. Other stories are well interwoven. A joy of a book and a great summer read! Rating: A

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an electronic review copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

Summer By the Tides by Denise Hunter

This Christian family drama-romance is the epitome of a summer read. Three sisters, Maddy, Nora, and Emma are called to their grandmother’s beachside North Carolina cottage when she is reported missing by neighbor Connor. Turns out the whole this was a set up by grandma to get the sisters to settle their differences. Nora and Emma have been feuding for 20 years since Nora stole and married Emma’s fiancé. But each of the sisters is bringing secrets and baggage to the cottage and as Gram returns and a storm brews, the sisters begin to untangle the web of anger and betrayal that has affected them all. During the whole process Maddy and Connor strike up a growing attraction. The fallout from the stormy weekend will change all of their lives.

The conflicts in this book were a little uncomfortable, but they were well drawn and each of the characters was sincere in their beliefs and crafty with their secret keeping. The ending is far from pat and shows the journey each of the women and Connor went on throughout the story. Highly recommend to fans of Christian fiction. Rating: A-

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

What a fun book set in a great location (Santa Barbara)) for a summer read. Robbie is on vacation For her ten year high school reunion and comes across information that her mother, who died of a brain aneurysm, might have been murdered instead. Before she knows it, she’s trying to sort out a feud with a high school nemesis, a toxic chemical, and an old friend trying to get her life together. This has a few twist and turns with no shortage of clues. I liked the ending but kept expecting one more twist that left me feeling a little unsettled. Would definitely recommend. Rating: A

Nacho Average Murder by Maddie Day

What a fun book set in a great location (Santa Barbara)) for a summer read. Robbie is on vacation For her ten year high school reunion and comes across information that her mother, who died of a brain aneurysm, might have been murdered instead. Before she knows it, she’s trying to sort out a feud with a high school nemesis, a toxic chemical, and an old friend trying to get her life together. This has a few twist and turns with no shortage of clues. I liked the ending but kept expecting one more twist that left me feeling a little unsettled. Would definitely recommend. Rating: A-

Thank you to NetGalley providing me with an electronic eview copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

July Reading Challenge Review

As with many plans, my reading challenge choices changed as the month went on. I originally planned on reading Rodham, Hello, Summer, One Perfect Summer, Summer by the Tides, Nacho Average Murder, and Peachy Scream. Rodham is a very long book, and I only had a short hold on it, so I set it aside for The Guest List. I finished Hello, Summer, Summer by the Tides, and Nacho Average Murder. One Perfect Summer is in progress and Peachy Scream will be early on my August reading challenge. (All other books on this list were read in late June.)

Count: Books in Challenge completed: 3; Extra Books completed: 1; Books in progress: 1, Books held over: 1; for a total score of 4/6 for books read in July. August’s challenge (posting tomorrow) includes a higher number of shorter books, but is a bit ambitious. We’ll see how it goes.

How has your summer reading been going? Have you been able to read at a pace that is enjoyable? Any books still on your list that you want to get read before summer officially ends in September? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

July Release Spotlight: Alex Trebek Tells All

I’m a huge Jeopardy fan (“I was born to be on Jeopardy!” — Thanks White Men Can’t Jump for one of my favorite movie lines). So I had to pick Alex Trebek’s new book for our final July Release Spotlight. The Answer is… will be next on my TBR.

The Answer Is…Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek

The writing of this memoir from America’s favorite game show host was motivated by the outpouring of support he received after being diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer last year.

Trebek recently retired as host of Jeopardy! after being at the helm of the show since 1984. The book includes anecdotes, along with his thoughts on marriage, parenthood, and a range of other topics.

This book has really piqued my curiosity about someone I’ve always admired. He rarely speaks publicly about his life, so this book is decades in coming.

Is this a book you’re looking forward to? (Pick up a copy at Bookshop.org and support your favorite indie bookstore.)

See other July Spotlight books here and here. Happy reading!

–Amy

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. I only link to products I believe in.

Featured

Weekend Reading 7.17.2020

How has your week been? I’ve been busy getting my house in order as we have company coming this weekend. And I’ve been doing a TON of reading. I’m working my way through our July Reading Challenge (two down, four to go) and continuously adding more to my TBR. Latest addition is Miracle Creek, which came out awhile back but never made it on my list.

WEEKEND ROUNDUP 7.17.20

A sad loss for the children’s book world. Joanna Cole, the author of the Magic School Bus series has died. Read here about her legacy.

Miss traveling? Here’s a list of great travel memoirs to take you around the world from the comfort of your own couch.

Try these literary board games to keep you busy during quarantine.

Penguin/Random House has a great interview with Elizabeth Gilbert.

Check out this preview of former Jeopardy host Alex Trebek’s memoir. Comes out July 21st.

Just discovered RedBubble for bookish gifts. They even have bookish shower curtains here and a great selection of canvas prints here.

Oprah’s list of black authors to read this year.

Book lover boxes delivered to your door? Yes, please! . Here’s a round up of some of the most popular.

Summertime is a fun time to wear anklets. Check out these cool choices on Etsy, including a cute cookbook anklet.

I have an eye on this hammock for my backyard reading.

We’re having a beautiful summer here in the mountains. I’m sneaking in reading time as I work on my mystery novel, try to add yoga to my daily routine, and work on training our new dog, Zoe. Hope you’re able to have some (safe, healthy) fun despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

July Release Spotlight Two: Utopia Avenue

The summer reading season is in full swing, and my TBR seems to keep getting longer and longer. I’m not a fast reader naturally, but if something grabs my attention, I’m squirreling myself away to get any spare moment of reading time I can find. Our dog likes to sunbathe, but it’s actually been in the 90s here in the mountains, so I haven’t been able to do a lot of outdoor reading except in the evenings. Even after doing a Summer Reading Preview series, I still keep adding books to my list. I’m going to need a good hiding place.

This week’s spotlight is on a book I previewed last month:

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

Publication Date: July 14th

Mitchell’s novel follows the meteoric rise and fall of fictional psychedelic 60s British band Utopia Avenue. The book has drawn some comparisons to Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones and the Six and has been named one of the most anticipated books of the year by a host of media outlets. It’s definitely on my TBR for the month (I’m squeezing it in after I gave up on Rodham…for now).

Looking for more books? Check out my shop at Bookshop.org and support indie book stores.

Is this the next hit on your TBR? What other books are you reading this summer? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Happy reading!

–Amy

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. I only link to products I believe in.

Featured

July Release Spotlight One: Tea and Treachery

I wanted to come up with something special on Monday’s to start your week off on a good note. What’s more fun than looking forward to a book that comes out this week? So each Monday, I’m going to spotlight a book that’s coming out in the current month.

Preorders are big for authors, so knowing what’s coming out helps you to know what you want to add to your cart (or get a jump on your library waitlist). I’m starting out with my favorite genre, the cozy mystery, but I’m going to try to vary the genres of the books I feature and to promote diversity in your reading life.

July’s first featured book:

Tea and Treachery by Vicki Delany (Release Date 7/28/20)

This is the first in what will be the Tea By the Sea Mysteries series. The series will focus on the owner of the Tea By the Sea tea shop, New York-expat and pastry chef Lily Roberts. When a real estate developer who had been trying to drive Lily and her grandmother Rose (who owns a Victorian B&B) out of business is found dead near Rose’s property, Lily must try to solve the mystery to help Rose get out of trouble.

There are several new cozy mystery series’ starting, so this particular book is a great way to get in on the ground floor. Vicki Delany is a prolific writer, so you can expect regular doses of Lily Roberts and her tea shop.

I have loved tea shop mysteries since I read (most of; still working on) the books in the Laura Childs tea shop series.

Pour your own cup of tea and see if this book fits your taste.

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

July Reading Challenge: Six Books of Summer

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

It doesn’t get really hot in the mountains of Colorado, where I live, but the sun does start to beat down during July. It’s the time of year that I divide between the necessary (work, cleaning, writing) and reading (the focus of my life whenever I can steal a moment). My husband is refurbishing our deck in August, so I’m going to try to spend as much time out there as possible in July (accompanied by some kind of fruity drink-ok, I’m not great with mixology, so it’s probably just lemonade or iced tea). Our new dog loves to sunbathe, so that should be an hour or so of quiet, sunshiny reading time most afternoons.

Starting July 1st, I’m holding my first reading challenge on the blog ever. It’s summer reading time, so I’m focusing on books with summer themes or that came out this summer. So the challenge is to read six summer books in July.

My Choices:

  1. Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld – Not a summer themed book, but came out at the beginning of summer and my library hold just came through so it’s a must read. The fictionalized story of what Hillary Clinton’s life would have been like if she had never married Bill. Released May 19th.
  2. Hello, Summer by Mary Kay Andrews (got this on NetGalley) – A reporter returns to her hometown in Florida and must look after her grandmother, help save the family newspaper, and unravel a political mystery (and maybe find love? who knows). Released May 5th.
  3. One Perfect Summer by Brenda Novak — One of my favorite romance authors. The story of a woman who discovers through a commercial DNA test that she has two sisters. The sisters meet at the woman’s family lake house in Lake Tahoe and discover things in common and may even find love on the way. Released April 7th.
  4. Summer by the Tides by Denise Hunter (my church book club pick) — A Christian novel that is a story of family secrets, forgiveness, and romance. Released May 21st.
  5. Nacho Average Murder by Maddie Day (got from NetGalley)– Robbie Jordan returns to California for her high school reunion and has to unravel her late mother’s death, that was apparently not from natural causes. The seventh book in the Country Store mystery series. Release date is today (June 30th).
  6. Peachy Scream by Anna Gerard (got from NetGalley) — A Georgia B&B owner turns to amateur theater to find the killer of a Shakespearean actor. Release date August 11th.

Six books may be a lot to read in July, but many summer books are short, light reads that will keep you engrossed in a summer paradise while you’re social distancing and probably getting mask tan lines.

Looking for more books? Check out my shop at Bookshop.org and support indie bookstores with your purchase.

So what’s your Summer Six? Are you planning to read them all in July or spreading them out for the rest of summer? Let me know what your Summer Six is in the comments. Happy reading!

–Amy

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. I only link to products I believe in.

Featured

Weekend Reading About Fighting Racial Injustice 6.26.20

Protests and social unrest have brought the issue of racial injustice and police violence toward people of color to the forefront after the death of George Floyd while he was being detained by Minneapolis Police and the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville after a no-knock raid on her apartment. It brought the idea home to me that it is no longer enough to not be racist; we must actively be anti-racist. As a white woman, I want to become more educated about the cultural conditions that people of color live with. So I am sharing some links to books I’ve seen recommended about racial justice and anti-racism, some books by people of color, several resources, as well as an incomplete list of black-owned businesses to support.

Books to educate yourself about racial justice and anti-racism.

Here are some great choices for contemporary literature by black authors (left off the list are one of my favorite authors, Jasmine Guillory, the book Get a Life, Chloe Brown, and my current read, the non-fiction The Pretty One by Keah Brown).

Mysteries by black authors (love, love, love Walter Mosely).

A (non-exhaustive list) of black-owned bookstores to support.

Options for donating to organizations that support racial justice.

A survey of black-owned restaurants across the country.

Meaningful ways to support social justice organizations.

Standing up and being heard is a key to a functioning democracy and a strong society. Silence is no longer an option, on the issue of racial justice, police violence, and many other issues. Exercise your Constitutional right to peaceable assembly and to freedom of speech to make a change now on issues you care about.

–Amy

Featured

Reading Roundup 6.16.20

I’ve been trying to diversify my reading list, both racially and genre-wise and I think this set of reads is a good start. This was a pretty good month for books, and each one was a hit in its own way.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

This was a fascinating tale of the love story between Joy Davidson and C.S. Lewis. Told from the point of view of Joy, it follows the disintegration of her first marriage and her friendship that grows into love, with “Jack” (C.S. Lewis). Davidson was a writer and began writing Lewis in the later stages of her marriage, curious about Christianity.

The book was clearly well researched and is a good assumption of what Joy’s point of view would have been during those times. There is an accompanying podcast that includes an interview with one of her sons, who curates her collection of papers at Wheaton College.

This was at times hard to read, and Joy isn’t always the most lovable character, but it tells of a great love between two outstanding writers. Rating: A

The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

This romp follows the assistants to America’s favorite (fictional) home renovation couple Melissa and Rusty Tripp as they set off on a book tour that is leading up to the premiere of their new HGTV show. The Tripps are pushing their new book on marriage, but the public doesn’t know that they can’t stand each other. Melissa is a control freak and Rusty plays the goofy sidekick to her supposedly sensible approach. As the tension mounts, sparks start to fly between assistants Carey and James.

This book was stressful to read, but at the same time engrossing. It’s like watching a train wreck and not being able to look away. The story is compelling and it’s easy to get invested in all the characters. The ending was a complete surprise, but fit well with the rest of the book. Rating: A- (only because it was a bit stressful to read).

Cozy Case Files, A Cozy Mystery Sampler, Volume 9

What a fun compilation, I enjoyed all the previews and will be picking some of them up. I especially enjoyed Nothing Bundt Trouble, The Secretof the Bones, The Art of Deception, and A Royal Affair. I will also definitely choose the next volume of this series. It’s a great way to find some good reads,

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free review copy.

Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire by Jen Hatmaker

Jen Hatmaker takes a stand in this book for standing in your truth. A former speaker in the Evangelical Christian sphere, Hatmaker shares her journey to what she calls the freedom to be who she is. Hatmaker recently called for the complete inclusion of the LGBTQ community in the Christian community and was ostracized for her stance, losing much of her career. This book is the result of what she learned from the struggle to find her truth and what others need to know to honor their own truth. This is not a memoir or a self-help book, but more the result of self-discovery and research into social psychology. Rating: B+

The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love With Me by Keah Brown

I listened to this book on audio and I’m glad I did. I think it added to the experience of the memoir to hear the author’s own voice. Brown shares the intimate details of her experience with being disabled and coming to an acceptance of herself. She takes the reader (listener) on a journey with her through the ups and downs of being a black, disabled woman journalist. Her writing style is earnest and enjoyable, though your heart breaks during some of the really tough parts. Rating: A

This Wandering Heart by Janine Rosche

This work of Christian fiction tells the story of how geography teacher Keira Knudsen finds a home. After turning down a proposal from her longtime boyfriend and principal of the school, Keira dons her alternative identity of travel blogger Kat Wanderfull and takes a trip. She is offered the travel opportunity of a lifetime. Meanwhile, her first love Robbie faces a challenge when the mother of his daughter reappears and wants custody. Keira and Robbie form a partnership to get them each what they want. But secrets threaten to tear their growing relationship apart.

I loved the unique angle of this story. Kat isn’t just a damsel in need of a man and Robbie’s not just the ruggedly handsome man she left behind. They each have depth that carries the story forward. The ending is satisfying and not totally predictable. Each faces realistic obstacles that can be truly heart wrenching. The plot kept me reading and interested until the very end. Definitely one I’d recommend.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit and NetGalley for the review copy.

I’ve got several books I’m reading this month: The Prayer Box, Hello, Summer, One Perfect Summer, Deadly Sweet Tooth, Nacho Average Murder, The Chiffon Trenches

Happy Reading!

–Amy

Featured

Book Review With Giveaway and Freebie: This Wandering Heart by Janine Rosche

About the Book

Book: This Wandering Heart
Author: Janine Rosche
Genre: Contemporary Inspirational Romance
Release Date: May 5, 2020

In the first entry in the Madison River Romance series, Keira Knudsen gets the traveling opportunity of a lifetime, but when she reunites with her first love, Robbie, she learns that even a wandering heart needs a home….

No one in the quaint town of West Yellowstone, Montana, knows that unassuming geography teacher Keira Knudsen moonlights as sensational travel blogger Kat Wanderfull. No one, that is, except for her first love, Robbie Matthews, who has just discovered the woman he is falling for online is the same one that broke his heart five years ago.

But Robbie has another problem: the mother of his daughter, Anabelle, has resurfaced after a three-year absence determined to rip Anabelle away from him. Robbie needs a steady paycheck for a chance at custody, and now, on the eve of a grand adventure that could give Keira a chance to flee her old, troubled life once and for all, she is in need of assistance.

With so much broken trust between them, Keira and Robbie must keep an arms-length away to make this partnership work. But the more time they spend together, exploring majestic places and sharing new experiences, the closer they get–until their secrets and dreams threaten to cost them everything.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This work of Christian fiction tells the story of how geography teacher Keira Knudsen finds a home. After turning down a proposal from her longtime boyfriend and principal of the school, Keira dons her alternative identity of travel blogger Kat Wanderfull and takes a trip. She is offered the travel opportunity of a lifetime. Meanwhile, her first love Robbie faces a challenge when the mother of his daughter reappears and wants custody. Keira and Robbie form a partnership to get them each what they want. But secrets threaten to tear their growing relationship apart.

I loved the unique angle of this story. Kat isn’t just a damsel in need of a man and Robbie’s not just the ruggedly handsome man she left behind. They each have depth that carries the story forward. The ending is satisfying and not totally predictable. Each faces realistic obstacles that can be truly heart wrenching. The plot kept me reading and interested until the very end. Definitely one I’d recommend.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit and NetGalley for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Prone to wander, Janine Rosche finds as much comfort on the open road as she does at home. This longing to chase adventure, behold splendor, and experience redemption is woven into her Madison River Romance series. When she isn’t writing or traveling, she teaches family life education courses to college students, takes too many pictures of her sleeping dogs, and embarrasses her four children and husband with boy band serenades.

More from Janine

Do you remember that weird kid who would sit at their desk in elementary school and stare into space for minutes at a time? If you don’t, then chances are, you were that weird kid. Welcome to the club—you know, the club for people who believe that what could be is worth imagining.

“If you imagine it, then it will never happen,” my junior high friends said.

“You’re setting yourself up for disappointment,” my high school mentor advised.

“Close your mouth, or you’ll catch a fly,” my second grade teacher warned.

While that last one scared me into buttoning my lips while staring blankly at the chalkboard, those early naysayers didn’t keep me from daydreaming. I couldn’t help it. I loved imagining a world far more exciting, awe-inspiring, and romantic than my own. Even when I’d finish books or movies, I would happily dream myself into the story where courage abounds and heroes are truly larger-than-life.

Of course, through the years, disappointment did come, and so did reality. In love, my heart was broken. In my career aspirations, my confidence was shattered. My daydreams almost stopped entirely.

People often ask me if it was a lifelong dream of mine to publish a book. The answer to that is yes…and no. It had been once, but holding on too tightly to that while also believing it was too far out of reach for someone like me created such an overwhelming ache in my heart. And so, I buried it. However, that dream, along with the storylines and characters in my mind weren’t content to stay buried. For eight years they awakened me at night and distracted me by day, until finally, I chose to spit out the words in a blank spiral notebook. I’d hoped that by writing down the story that had festered, I’d finally have peace, but then the next story came, and the next.

“I’ve learned that courage isn’t something we’re born with. It’s a choice.” That line of dialogue comes from a key moment in my debut novel, This Wandering Heart. In the story, my heroine, Keira, rises above an awful childhood to live a life of adventure. The line was quite autobiographical. I could have chosen to keep believing the naysayers. That would have been easy. It took no courage–no risk at all—to believe the lies, the criticism, and the discouragingly low probability statistics of publication.

Pursuing your dream, though, requires a lot of courage. Courage to be laughed at, to fail, to be rejected. Courage to be terrible at this new thing you’re trying. Certainly more courage than I carried in my spirit. So I prayed. I climbed onto that metaphorical rope dangling from the hand of God, and swung.

It was a choice. To be completely honest, it still is a choice to believe these daydreams of mine. Each day, it takes faith to chase this dream of writing novels and to imagine what could be. I guess you could say that I’ve found my way into the story after all. And it truly is exciting, awe-inspiring, and—dare I say?—romantic.

I’m honored to have you all join me on this incredible journey! But it’s not all about me. What daydream are you tempted to believe in your life?

Everyone is eligible to receive a free subscription to the Love Wander Read Journal, a quarterly digital magazine from Janine Rosche that aims to provide inspiration for a life well-lived. Link: http://janinerosche.com/the-love-wander-read-journal/
Blog Stops

Inklings and notions, June 8
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 8
Texas Book-aholic, June 9
Read Review Rejoice, June 9
My Devotional Thoughts, June 10
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, June 11
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 12
Get Cozy Book Nook, June 12
Batya’s Bits, June 13
deb’s Book Review, June 13
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, June 14
The Becca Files, June 14
Older & Smarter ?, June 15
Through the Fire Blogs, June 15
For Him and My Family, June 16
Vicky Sluiter, June 17
Pause for Tales, June 18
All-of-a-kind Mom, June 18
Locks, Hooks and Books, June 19
Britt Reads Fiction, June 19
Life of Literature, June 20
Hallie Reads, June 21
Livin’ Lit, June 21
Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Janine is giving away the grand prize package of a set of GelConnie leather bracelets, a 2020 National Geographic Road Atlas, and a $50 Visa gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
https://promosimple.com/ps/fc1c/this-wandering-heart-celebration-tour-giveaway

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. Be sure that you visit each of the blog stops for more reviews and information.

Happy reading

–Amy

Featured

Summer Reading Preview Bonus Post: Backlist and New Read Goals

**Various issues led to this not being posted when intended. Here it is now.**

I love all the new books that come out in the summer, but I also love going back to books I have on my TBR shelf (or electronic device). I have a Trello page that outlines my reading goals for each month. I’m constantly tweaking it to include a mix of new books I’ve already got, backlist and series favs, and upcoming titles. Today I want to share some of my book goals involving backlist books and new books that came out earlier this year.

Backlist

Joanne Fluke Hannah Swensen Series

Cookie Shop owner Hannah Swensen seems to keep finding dead bodies in her small Minnesota town.  Drawn to both a sexy detective and a safe but alluring family friend, romantic tension is somewhat tame but definitely there.  I’ve read through about the fifth book, then read the three most recent. I need to get caught up. Start at the beginning with the Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder.

Leslie Meier Lucy Stone Books

Wife, mother, and part-time reporter Lucy Stone runs into adventure and murder in a small Maine town. Another where I’ve read both ends of the series and need to connect the middle. All of the books are holiday or special milestone related, so start at the beginning with Mistletoe Murder, or choose the book with the nearest holiday. Some of the details will be out of order, but the mysteries are the same.

Murder Likes It Hot (Downward Dog Mystery) by Tracy Weber

I received a review copy of this sixth book in the series. I need to go back and read the first five. It follows a married yoga instructor  who deals with infertility, running a business, and murder.

Picnic In Provence by Elizabeth Bard

This one has been on my TBR for a long time. It’s a memoir with recipes. I think it would be a perfect summer read. I love anything set in Provence.

Fly Away (Firefly Lane #2) by Kristin Hannah

This is the sequel to Firefly Lane, which I loved.  I would love to follow what happens next with the characters.

Bossy Pants by Tina Fey

Got this in a Christmas Book Secret Santa. It’d be interesting to see how the comedian got her start. I like to have at least one memoir going at all times.

New (Potential) Favs

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

  Edward is sole survivor of a plane crash.

Get a Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Chloe is trying to get her life back on track after nearly dying. Will she find love along the way?

Startup by Doree Shafrir

Follows the lives of people surrounding a startup tech company. Complications and humor ensue. I got introduced to this book after listening to the author’s podcast with Kate Spencer, Forever 35.

Things In Jars by Jess Kidd

A mystery with a supernatural twist.

Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez 

This follows a woman getting her life on track after losing her fiancé.

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

Conflicts and racial tensions ensue between black family who are long time residents of a neighborhood and their white neighbors who are part of the gentrification of the area. A budding relationship between the families’ teen children complicates matters.

I got this book as a review copy from the publisher.

Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette

This is the first in a new cozy series set around an ice cream shop owner who discovers a murder while trying to get the struggling business back to it’s former glory. You know how I love a good cozy.

What’s lurking on your TBR that you’d like to move to the top of the pile? I’m a huge book collector, and am always buying, or borrowing from the library, different books I’ve heard about, even though I’ve got plenty already that could take me through at least two years of intense reading. Still, the siren song of the new, the call of series’ I’ve started but never finished, and all those Book of the Month Club selections that keep piling up, give me a little zing every time I think about another reading option. Time to adjust the Trello reading schedule!

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Summer Reading Preview–Christian Fiction

**Due to various issues, this did not post when originally intended. Sorry for any inconvenience**

Welcome to the Get Cozy Book Nook Summer Reading Preview! Throughout the week, you’ll find a look at some of the books coming out this summer that I’m interested in reading. **I have not read these books, unless otherwise indicated.** These are simply upcoming books that I’m drawn to and think you might like. Publication dates are accurate as of this writing.

Monday focused on mysteries and thrillers, while Tuesday covered Beach Reads. Wednesday was all about Contemporary Fiction and today focuses on Christian Fiction.

Here are some Christian Fiction books I’m looking forward to this summer:

Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay

Pub Date: Available Now

Alyssa Harrison is broke and under FBI investigation when she returns to her hometown to regroup. Jeremy Mitchell owns a failing coffee shop and asks for Alyssa’s help. Will romance bloom? Full of quirky characters. Love the premise and will put this high on my TBR.

 If I Were You by Lynn Austin

Pub Date: June 8

A British widowed war bride finds herself moving to America to be with her in-laws only to find that another woman has be impersonating her for the past four years. Secrets and complicated history are sorted out. Great for historical fiction fans.

The Summer House

Pub Date: June 2

An unlikely friendship forms when a woman takes a hairstylist position at a retirement community.  Lily and Rose’s husbands have both left them and they find strength together. This looks like a great story of redemption, and I love those.

Honeysuckle Dreams by Denise Hunter

Pub Date: July 7th

Part of the Blue Ridge Romance Series, Brady is fighting with his son’s grandparents for custody, and finds a solution in an impending marriage with friend Hope. But when Hope is offered a job out of town, she has a tough choice to make.

Piecing It All Together by Leslie Gould

Pub Date: August 4th

No Christian fiction roundup is complete without an Amish themed book.  A woman jilted by her fiancé returns to her Amish grandmother’s farm in Indiana and finds herself caught up in the search for a missing Amish girl.  Stakes are raised when her childhood friend becomes a suspect. The first in a series and high on my TBR.

Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman

Pub Date: August 4th

This thriller pits and FBI agent and an ICE agent against a terror cell in the United States. Add in the tension that one believes the other is responsible for her former partner’s death. The second in a series, a must read for me (after I go back and read the first book, of course). I love a good mystery/thriller (my favorite genre) so this book should be a slam dunk.

What Christian Fiction are you looking forward to? Do any of these books appeal? What books should have been included on the list that didn’t make it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Summer Reading Preview: Literary Reads

Welcome to the Get Cozy Book Nook Summer Reading Preview! Throughout the week, you’ll find a look at some of the books coming out this summer that I’m interested in reading. **I have not read these books, unless otherwise indicated.** These are simply upcoming books that I’m drawn to and think you might like. Publication dates are accurate as of this writing.

Monday’s focus was on mysteries and thrillers. Yesterday covered beach reads. Today we tackle literary fiction. I have a pretty loose definition of literary fiction, so you may not agree that all of these fit in that category. Still, they’re all highly anticipated books, by many critics and by me!

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Pub Date: May 26th

A group in the English village of Chawton gets together to fight a developer wanting to raze Jane Austen’s final home shortly after the 2nd World War. I’m a Janeite, so this book grabbed my attention. It has also appeared on many other summer reading lists.

Recipe for Persuasion: A Novel by Sonali Dev

Pub date: May 26th

Another Jane Austen offshoot (yay!), this one is a twist on Persuasion featuring a struggling chef and the man who once ghosted her who is now a soccer star. They are paired together on a reality cooking show and the audience becomes obsessed with their chemistry.   The push-pull of their story is sure to engage Austen fans (like this one!)

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennet

Pub Date: June 2

The story of the divergent lives of twin sisters over from the 1950s to the 1990s. This one deals with family relationships and racial issues. It has been well-recommended on many lists.

The Daughters Of Erietown by Connie Schultz

Pub Date: June 9

This story focuses on  a couple in 1957 that finds themselves pregnant, changing all their plans for college and a different life.   A knock at the door threatens their new forming family.  The book shows the evolution of women’s lives over the second half of the 20th century. I predict it will be the sleeper hit of the summer.

Last Train To Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Pub date: June 16

It’s 1935 and three women’s lives are forever changed by an approaching hurricane.  Separate from other Cleeton novels, this still has a storyline the focuses on Cuban-American issues. I listened to the first on audio, read the second. Looking forward to this stand alone.

The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs

Pub Date: July 7

A woman inherits a bookshop from her mother after she’s suffered a personal tragedy and must take over care of her cantankerous, medically failing father.  Her grandfather owns the building and won’t sell, so she’s forced into a journey that will take her from sorrow to unexpected discoveries and truths.

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

Pub Date: July 14th

The story of a fictional British 60s psychedelic era band reminiscent of Daisy Jones and the Six, but completely different. Expect all the hedonism of the 60s rock-and-roll scene. Should be fun.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

Pub Date: July 21st

A great tale for book lovers follows a three generations of a family: one that lived in the New York Public Library in 1913, daughter Laura’s rebellion against women’s roles, and granddaughter Sadie Donavan in 1993 who gets a position as a curator for the NYPL.  Add in the theft of rare manuscripts, and the story ramps to new levels. High on my TBR. 

This Tender Land by William Kent Kruger

Pub date: Sept 3rd 

Four kids escape a school in 1932 and embark on a Huckleberry Finn-esque adventure down the Mississippi River. I studied Huck Finn in depth in grad school, so I’m interested to see if there are any parallels. Another one that’s making all the summer reading lists.

This group of book provides an interesting mix to choose from. I’m not sure where I’ll start. Tomorrow is the last day of our preview, which focuses on upcoming Christian fiction. We’ll finish off the week Friday with a bonus post on some of the backlist books on my TBR, along with my First Picks from the summer preview.

So what did I leave off today’s list? Are you looking forward to any of these picks? Let me know in the comments.

Happy reading!

–Amy

Featured

Summer Reading Preview: Beach Reads

Welcome to the Get Cozy Book Nook Summer Reading Preview! Over the next five days, you’ll find a look at some of the books coming out this summer that I’m interested in reading. **I have not read these books, unless otherwise indicated.** These are simply upcoming books that I’m drawn to and think you might like. Publication dates are accurate as of this writing.

Yesterday’s focus was mysteries and thrillers. Today’s books are all Beach Reads– mostly aimed at women and sporting frothy covers– that I think would be a fun escape from our current troubles. Some of them are steamy, some not (I try to let you know when I have enough information). I’ll be sitting in a comfy chair on my deck, cocktail by my side, pretending that my mountain home is really in Nantucket.

Shop for any of these books at my Bookshop store and support independent bookstores with your purchase using this link: https://bookshop.org/shop/getcozybooknook

(I am an affiliate, so if you use this link to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!)

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Pub date: Out now

When a romance writer who no longer believes in romance crosses paths in a beach town with a literary writer stuck in a rut, they decide to each take on a summer project in each other’s genres. Steamy scenes ensue. I picked this one up early from Book of the Month and its high on my list.

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Pub. Date: Out now

Jennifer Weiner is back again with a tale of plus-sized influencer Daphne who gets invited to be a part of her frenemy’s Drue’s society wedding. It’s a story about friendship, resilience, and learning to be who you really are. I’ve already got my copy, how about you?

One Perfect Summer by Brenda Novak

Pub date: Out now

A woman discovers through a 23andMe DNA test that she has two half sisters. The women meet in Lake Tahoe and spend the summer unpacking the emotional baggage they each brought with them. I attended the online launch party for this book and ordered an autographed copy from the author, so this one’s bound to be a fav of mine.

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

Pub date: June 16

From the queen of summer beach reads, Hilderbrand brings us a story of 28 summers spent between a woman and the man who became husband to the 2020 frontrunner for the first female President of the United States. Based on the movie Same Time Next Year.

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

Pub date: June 23

A chance meeting leads to a whirlwind romance between a woman and a hotshot junior senator. When the go public, the scrutiny threatens their budding romance. This is Jasmine Guillory, so count on some open door scenes. Tried to get an early copy, but couldn’t manage it, so the wait until June 23rd will be a long one.

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

Pub date: June 30

The newest from the author of the Crazy Rich Asians series, this is definitely and open door book. A young woman finds herself falling in love with a man she thinks she can’t stand and that her WASP family thinks is wrong for her. And she already has a fiancé. It starts in Capri and winds up in the Hamptons; perfect for a glittering summertime read.