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

Recent Reads: You’re Staying In, So You Might As Well Read.

Since we’re all staying home more because of COVID-19, it’s a good time to catch up on your TBR list. There are a lot of great new books coming out, but don’t forget those backlist picks. It’s also a great time to buy e-books or download them from the library (try Overdrive or Libby). Audiobooks are great choices for listening to while you’re working from home (support independent bookstores through Libro.fm).

Here are some of my recent reads (just a few this time):

This is a dark, but interesting story. The lead FBI agent Elsa Myers is on the case of the disappearance of Ruby. The case blows up into the hunt for a serial kidnapper and killer. The team Myers is working with sorts through the clues and information to try to find the man who has kidnapped and killed girls in sets of three. During this race against time, Elsa is triggered by her own past as she tries to care for and reconcile with her father, who is dying. As the case ramps up, the third kidnapping makes it personal.

This can be a hard book to read at times, because of the dark subject matter. Elsa is a well-developed, complex character who is hardly predictable. The supporting cast on the team as well as her sister and niece play pivotal roles that lead Elsa down a twisted road to solve the case and resolve her feelings about her past.

I can’t say this book was enjoyable, because of the focus on child kidnapping and abuse. But it was interesting and a good read. I would recommend the author’s future books. Just follow it up with something light.

**Thank you to NetGalley for the e-book review copy in exchange for an honest review.**


This is the third book in the St. Caroline series. I haven’t read the others, but this can be read as a stand alone. Cassidy Trevor is off limits to Matt Wolfe, but when the two are thrown together the chair a holiday event. Their experience becomes a secret friendship that blossoms into love. 

In this somewhat spicy book, the author creates clearly drawn characters that are interesting and fun. The reason they’re “off limits” to each other seems a bit contrived, but the storyline is generally believable. You find yourself rooting for Matt and Cassidy as the story comes to a satisfying end. 

I’m guessing I would have understood all the relationships in the book a lot more easily in I’d read the first two books. 

This is a good, fun, enjoyable escape with some spice for those who like that.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC of the e-book in exchange for an honest review.

I love a great cozy mystery, and this one didn’t disappoint. Sammy runs a community crafting store and must involve her cousin Heidi and sister Ellie (who together make up the S.H.E.s) when a woman dies while posing as a live mannequin in Sammy’s window display during the Fire and Ice festival in Hartford, WI.

This book kept me guessing. I’m usually pretty good at guessing the killer by about halfway through, but this one took a little longer. There are some good suspenseful scenes that turn the plot on its head and were great ways to speed along the story through the middle. (No saggy middle here!)

The ending left me with a few questions, but overall it was satisfying. This is the third book in the series, and while it wasn’t hard to read as a standalone, I think some of the characterization would have been easier to understand if you have read the first two books.

A delightful author. I’d love to read more by her.

Thank you to NetGalley for the review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.