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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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