Posted in Book Reviews

Summer Reading: Recommendations and Wish List

Hello, fellow Christian Fiction fans!! I’m bringing you 12 books today for your summer reading list.

My Summer Wish List: Here are 6 books that are releasing THIS summer. I’m hoping to read and review each of them.

Fly Away by Lynn Austin Does this title sound familiar? It should. It was one of her first books and she’s re-releasing it this summer!! It’s been cleaned up and revised. I haven’t read it already so I’m looking forward to digging in.

Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson I was greatly impressed with Johnson’s release last summer and have been looking forward to another visit to the historic Key West.

Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Grooms  I enjoy a good mail-order bride story, and I love the concept behind this novella set. Sounds like an enjoyable summer read to me!

A Name Unknown by Roseanna White  Who couldn’t use an intriguing story this summer? The cover alone begs you to pick it up!

On Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson I’ve enjoyed Johnson’s Prince Edward Island series and have been anticipating my next “trip” to the island this summer!

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin  If you’ve followed my reading habits for very long, you likely picked up on the fact that I enjoy a good war fiction novel. The cover alone screams “Pick me up!!” and the description promises a great adventure.

My Recommendation List: Here are 6 books that have released earlier this year. You’ll find reviews for all of them here on the blog, but suffice it to say that I loved them. If you haven’t picked them up yet then it’s time! Past time, in fact. 😉

Life After by Katie Ganshert  This gripping contemporary novel has become a highlight of my reading year. There’s such a depth to the characters that it’s mesmerizing. It may sound a little deep for a summer read, but I have a feeling you won’t regret making time for this one.

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson My favorite take on war fiction is from the homefront. There was something cozy and delightful about this entire novel. It’ll make a great summer read!

The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection  If you like romance, adventure, short stories, and a water setting, you’re in for a treat here!

My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho by Susanne Dietze  If you’re looking for a comedy, then look no further. I laughed all the way through this one and read it in two days.

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen  It’s the start of a new Regency series and it’s bound to keep you entertained this summer.

When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin  This is another war fiction novel. Sundin concluded the Waves of Freedom series earlier this year. I recommend you start at the beginning of this series and enjoy all the romance, struggle, and mysteries it has to offer.

Now it’s your turn!! What do you have in your summer bag? Do we have any books in common this summer? Or any that I’ve talked you into adding to your TBR list? 

 

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Awards 2016

It’s that time of the year again!! Time to award some of my favorite reads from 2016. All of the links provided will take you to Goodreads.

106Most Beautiful Cover: A Heart Most Certain   This was a hard one, but I managed to narrow down my favorites to this beauty.

Best Setting: The Colonel’s Lady and The Measure of Katie Calloway   I thoroughly enjoyed the way these historic settings came to life and helped tell the stories in both of these novels. The Colonel’s Lady was set in Kentucky during the Revolutionary War. The Measure of Katie Calloway was set in a Michigan lumber camp in the 1860s.

Kept Me Guessing: The Painter’s Daughter   Wow. Just wow. Klassen kept my head spinning down to the last pages with her 2015 release.

Favorite Heroine: At Every Turn  I found a kindred spirit in Mateer’s heroine. While she may drive a tad bit faster than I do, I couldn’t help but cheer on her evangelistic heart and love her all the more for it.

The Most Highlighted Book and Greatest Spiritual Impact: Return to Me   Austin’s Biblical story remains a highlight of my 2016 reading and I can’t recommend it enough.

Favorite Hero: Dear Mr. Knightley   Maybe because he was an author…or extremely charming…or because his charm was so effortless and natural. Whatever it is, the hero of Dear Mr. Knightley remained high on my list all year long. This novel also goes down in history as one that made me cry multiple times. But don’t let that scare you, it was a great read full of heart, laughter, and, yep, a few tears. 🙂

Gospel Message: Journey to Love and A Love to Come Home To   Tero and Ruggieri KNOW how to present the Gospel throughout their work in a beautiful way. It’s not heavy handed, but it’s always well handled.

Message on Repentance and Grace: A Reluctant Melody, Until Then, and Newton and Polly   There’s nothing like redeeming the one who went astray. Each of these books stood out as great examples of God’s grace.

Best Supporting Cast: Flirtation Walk   Siri crafted a wide variety of memorable characters in this one.

Heartbreakingly Good: Land of Silence and Though Waters Roar  Sometimes you just have to slow down and take in a book so heavy and so beautiful that it leaves you speechless. I’ve had two such stand-out novels in that department this year.

Biblical Retelling: For Such a Time   I was so impressed with this retelling of Esther. For me, it brought the realities of Esther’s difficult circumstances to light in  a setting that I’m more familiar with. The harsh realities became more apparent with the WWII backdrop.

Favorite Coloring Book: For I Know the Plans   I’ve had my hands on  several great coloring books this year. You can catch up on my reviews here. But my favorite remains For I Know the Plans. I simply love the graphics and collection of verses used in this book. It’s the same book that inspired the blog post, How Coloring Changed My Life.

Best Mystery: Ghost Writer  Rene outdone herself with this one. Ghost Writer remains one of my top books of the year and I highly recommend it.

Favorite Child Character: On Distant Shores   There’s nothing like a sweet little Italian girl. 🙂 I’m just saying.

Best War Fiction: In Perfect Time  Sundin’s novel covered a little of everything and I couldn’t get enough of it. Very impressive work and another top fave of mine for the year.

Novella Collection:  A Match Made in Texas  It’s rare to get a novella collection where I would rate every story with 5 stars but A March Made in Texas made it easy.

Family Theme: A Portrait of Emily Price   Katherine stole my heart with her Italian family drama.

Best Comedy: Greetings from the Flipside   There’s a reason why Rene Gutteridge became one of my favorite authors of the year and Greetings from the Flipside had something to do with it. This was a hilarious novel from start to finish and remains a top read of the year.

Contemporary Best All Around: When Love Arrives   Some books are just good for every reason imaginable. When Love Arrives is one of them. Note: This is the second book of the series so if you’re picking it up for the first time, read them in order.

Historical Best All Around: Waves of Mercy  In the historical genre, Waves of Mercy had everything going for it.

Best Food: Buying Love   Love and food come together in this novel. It’ll keep you hungry and entertained.

Most Read Author: ??? I was blown away by how much I had read by one single author when I wasn’t even trying. I’ll be posting about this special author in a separate post this month and sharing quotes.

Favorite Couple: Like a Flower in Bloom   I loved the chemistry between these two. From the first scene to the last, they were a favorite of mine.

Couple with the stickiest problem: Honor Redeemed   Few stories bring together two believers under a struggle like this one. Honor Redeemed was memorable for the way Christine made her moral characters struggle.

Best New Release: A Heart Most Certain   Jeagers had me from the moment she compared her hero to Scrooge and she kept me till the very end. I loved everything about this one and highly recommend it.

Oldest Novel: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen published in 1817

Favorite Fallback: Margret Brownley and the Pinkerton Ladies series   There were a few times that I found myself in a reading rut and it was Brownley to the rescue!

25Best Dressed: The Colonel’s Lady   I looked over all the books that I’ve read and chose my favorite dress on the cover.

Most Creative Retelling: Befriending the Beast   Tero dusts off a classic and tells it in her own way, with the beast being Belle’s father!! What a thought!

Favorite Ending: Nightingale   There is so much to praise here in Nightingale. Particularly the ending. I won’t give anything away. But I was on the edge of my seat, almost in tears, delighted, and spiritually blessed and all within a few pages. Warren has crafted a memorable ending here with Nightingale.

Couple with the most Friction: One Enchanted Eve and  Red Door Inn   Tension in real life is a hassle. Tension in a novel is gold! These two novels nailed it!

Favorite Christmas Novel: Baby, It’s Cold Outside   I love a good snowed-in story and Warren did a lovely job with this one.

Most Awkward Meeting: Stealing the Preacher   You’ll have to pick this one up to find out why I labeled it the most awkward first meeting for a couple. 😉

Now it’s your turn! Feel free to borrow my list and hand out awards to your own books. Or share some of your top favorites for the year with me.

Did you pick up any new books for your TBR list based on my awards?
If you could recommend only ONE book to me that you read in 2016, what would it be? 

Posted in Book Reviews

The Top New-to-me Authors of 2016

I had desired to share with you ONE new-to-me author that I had read in 2016 that stood out above all the rest, but I ended up with a list of amazing authors and couldn’t decide between them. So I’m going to spotlight each of these authors. And here they are in no particular order:

23Liz Johnson:
Liz stole my heart with her Prince Edward Island setting and simply smooth writing. She was one of those that I would label as just plain good. It was hard to pinpoint what I loved about her writing other than the fact that I just did. I was able to read both of her new releases this year and am greatly anticipating her third of the series.

1Johnnie Alexander:
Another one of those simply good authors. I had the pleasure of reading, When Love Arrives, which is book 2 of the series. I was so smitten with the complexity of the characters I had met in When Love Arrives that I decided to backtrack and read book 1. For those that haven’t read either, I would advise you to go in order since there were spoilers in book 2. But the fact that I’m eager to sink my teeth into book 1, knowing that the secrets have already been revealed should say something about how great Alexander’s writing is.

Rene Gutteridge:
I had the pleasure of picking up two very different novels by Gutteridge this year. I was blown away by them both and the amazing part is that the two novels couldn’t be any more different from one another.
The Ghost Writer kept me on my toes with this powerful, life-changing suspenseful story. Truly, I can’t recommend this one enough. And then there’s Greetings from the Flipside which I highly recommend to the romantic comedy lover.
I insist that you plan to pick up one if not both of these in 2017.

97Christine Johnson:
Okay, you might say that I love a simply good author. The one that is so good, you don’t even know why they’re good. The writing is just so…comfortable and perfect in every way. Johnson was one of those for me. AND she’s another author that I read her series out of order and still desired to go back and read what I had missed the first time. Besides just enjoying her writing, I think one of the things that I liked the most about Honor Redeemed was that both characters were Christians and they walked it. Most Christian fiction revolves around characters who are either lost or who have lost their way. But this wasn’t the case in Honor Redeemed. The characters were Christians and yet they still struggled. You might say that it was because of their devotion to Christ that they struggled so much.

I personally look forward to reading more from each of these authors. But what about you? Have you enjoyed any of these authors yet? Will you be adding any to your TBR list? And who was your favorite new-to-you author of 2016?

Posted in About the Author, Book Reviews, Fiction Friday

2016 Summer Book Olympics

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve been enjoying every minute of cheering Team USA on in the Olympic games. I love the Olympics and eagerly anticipate it every two years. 
In the spirit of this historic event, I thought it would be fun to compile our own Book Olympics. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite books with you and look forward to hearing yours! And if you’re one of my readers that isn’t cheering on Team USA give a shout out to your favorite team! 🙂 

Summer Read
My top three favorite reads from THIS summer.
Gold: Greetings from the Flipside by Gutteridge and McKay
Silver: Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell
Bronze: Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer

Authors of the Nations
Three of my favorite authors from THREE different nations.
Gold: Jane Austen representing Great Britain
Silver: Lynn Austin representing USA
Bronze: Lucy Maud Montgomery representing Canada

2016 Release
My top three favorites so far from 2016
Gold: Flirtation Walk by Siri Mitchell
Silver: The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
Bronze: Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson

*All links lead to Goodreads.

Posted in About the Author

S.U.M.M.E.R. R.E.A.D.I.N.G. List

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If you’re looking for something great to read this summer, check out my list of recommendations. And this list just happens to spell Summer Reading, so you know it’s good. 😉
I’ve only pulled out the best for you. I have rated each of these books with 5 stars.

SSilent Governess by Julie Klassen

UUntil We Reach Home by Lynn Austin

M – (The) Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

MMy Heart Remembers by Kim Vogel Sawyer

E Every Bride Needs a Groom by Janice Thompson

RReluctant Melody by Sandra Ardoin

 

R(The) Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson

EEmma by Jane Austen

AAll Our Empty Places by Alicia Ruggieri

DDear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

IIn Too Deep by Mary Connealy

NNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen

GGoodbye, Magnolia by Krista Noorman

Unfamiliar with some of my recommendations? Here’s a mini review. Some books are  linked back to full reviews. 

Silent Governess is a must read for Regency fans. Klassen takes us on a journey that will keep your attention until the very end.

Until We Reach Home is one of those historical golds. Lynn opens up the world of an immigrant and allows us to walk in their shoes as they seek out their happily-ever-after in America.

The Mistress of Tall Acre takes you back to the year following the Revolutionary War. Frantz will keep you on the edge of your seat with rich detail and a subtle mystery.

My Heart Remembers follows the story of three siblings that were separated during their ride on the infamous Orphan Train. Sawyer will pull at your heartstrings with this warm tale.

If contemporary comedy is your thing, you’ll enjoy Every Bride Needs a Groom. Janice introduces us to a bride, her gown, and her search for the perfect groom.

Reluctant Melody throws two former lovers together. Sandra brings to life the story of redemption in this historical fiction.
*If you’re in the mood for something a little Christmasy this summer, look for Sandra’s novella, The Yuletide Angel. The Yuletide Angel is the forerunner for Reluctant Melody and is best read first.

Venture to Prince Edward Island, Canda in The Red Door Inn. Johnson brings a contemporary story of acceptance to this exceptional setting.
*Book 2 of this series is due to release this fall.

Emma remains a beloved classic for all the right reasons. Austen weaves together romance, charm, and humor in this delightful novel.

All Our Empty Places breathes grace into every page of the story in such a natural way. Revisit the Great Depression with Alicia in this beautifully told story.
*All Our Empty Places is the first of 3 books.

Dear Mr. Knightley is a story like none other. This contemporary story is told solely through letters and weaves hardships, romance, and quotes from your favorite classics together.

In Too Deep is the second book of a delightful historical fiction series. You’ll want to pick up Connealy’s entire series to get to know these three brothers and the women who come to love them.

Northanger Abbey is one of Austen’s lesser celebrated novels, but it’s a must read for her fans. Austen introduces us to a naive girl bound for adventure during her first season in Bath.

Goodbye, Magnolia is another look at the wedding season and perfect for a summer read. In this contemporary novel, Krista brings together a spurned heroine and her nemesis as they compete in the wedding photography business.
*Get to know another character from the story in Krista’s latest release, Until Then.

Did my Summer Reading list inspire you to add to your TBR pile this summer? Have you already enjoyed any of the books on my list? Do you have you a list to share with me? I’d love to hear your recommendations if you do!

 

Posted in About the Author

Reading Goals for 2016

74A new year means a new reading list!! So let’s talk reading goals, shall we?

Do you track your reading? If so, how? Are you a member of Goodreads, or do you use a journal, notebook or computer file?

As for myself, I keep up with the bulk of my reading on Goodreads, but I also keep a Reading Log on my computer that helps me sort through the various challenges that I’m working on.

And speaking on challenges, do you enjoy adding a little fun to your reading experience by participating in reading challenges? There are as many ways to participate as there are books to read. I have some personal challenges but my favorites come from one of my Goodreads groups.

This year, I’m hoping to put some sort of dent into my To Be Read pile, specifically the books I currently own on my kindle or bookshelf. I know I won’t come close to scraping bottom, but in an effort to make my mark this year, I’ve decided to challenge myself not to simply read ANY author but off of a preselected list of authors. I have two such lists. One is called the Must Read Author List and I’m challenging myself to read two books from some new favorite authors that I had found in 2015. Along with this list is a list of authors that everyone keeps talking about but I haven’t tried yet. I’m challenging myself to read at least one book from each of these.  Wanna see my lists? Maybe you can even recommend a title if you find one of your favorite authors on there. 🙂

Must Read Authors:
Melissa Tagg
Susan May Warren
Elizabeth Camden
Jody Hedlund
Laura Frantz
Siri Mitchell
Roseanna White

New Author List:
Sarah Ladd
Kristy Cambron
Becky Wade
Cara Putman
Carrie Daws
Joanie Bruce
Michael Phillips
Ann Tanlock

I’ve also challenged myself to read:

3 Classics
5 Civil War Journals
3 Rereads
10 Books from my personal collection
10 Novellas
Finish all 4 open series
Complete a 12 book challenge on Goodreads

There’s a lot here to work with and I’m looking forward to it. You can keep up with what I’m currently reading on Goodreads.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have any authors you’re hoping to try out this year? Are you planning to pick up any classics or non-fiction reading? Do you have any series you’d like to finish this year? Any fun challenges you want to share?

Posted in About the Author, Book Reviews

The Best of 2015

Here are my reading stats for the year:

Total Books Read: 62
Kindle vs Paperback: 46 on Kindle and 16 Paperback

Goodreads Challenges:
Spell My Name in Book Titles: All 15 letters
Book Cover Challenge: All 6 books
Alphabet Title Challenge: 19 Letters
Reading 20 Books off of my Kindle Storage: 18
Reading 24 Library Books: 22
Reading 20 New (to me) Authors: 24

My List of 5-Star Books for the Year (All links lead to Goodreads):
Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley
A Wedding Date in Hot Springs, Arkansas by Annalisa Daughety
One Enchanted Christmas by Melissa Tagg
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A Pioneer Christmas Collection by Lauraine Snelling +8
The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson
Hope for the Holidays Historical Collection by Mary Connealy +3
Every Bride Needs a Groom by Janice Thompson
On This Foundation by Lynn Austin
The Perfect Arrangement by Katie Ganshert
Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund
The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
All Our Empty Places by Alicia G. Ruggieri
The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White
The Mistress of Tall Acres by Laura Frantz
Drop Dead Diva by Christine Lynwiler
The Outlaw Takes a Bride by Susan Page Davis
Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer
A Voice in the Wilderness by Grace Livingston Hill
Honor by Lyn Cote
A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings
Letters from the Enemy by Susan May Warren
A Bride Opens a Shop in El Dorado, California
Emma by Jane Austen
Yankee in Atlanta by Jocelyn Green
Wings of a Dream by Anne Mateer
With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin
Over the Edge by Mary Connealy
The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall
In Too Deep by Mary Connealy
Where Wildflowers Bloom by Ann Shorey
Goodbye, Magnolia by Krista Noorman
Out of Control by Mary Connealy
A Heart Deceived by Michelle Griep 
Widow of Gettysburg by Jocelyn Green
Rebellious Hearts by Jody Hedlund
Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell
This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof
Death on a Deadline by Christine Lynwiler

 

Most Beautiful Cover: The Outlaw Takes a Bride. It’s hard to say exactly what takes my breath away more: the smooth, haunting colors, the creative use of letters in the background (a personal favorite), or the wishful way the lady appears on the cover. This cover stole my heart from the moment I saw it.

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Most Read Author: Mary Connealy with her Kincaid Brides series and Christmas novella.

Best War Fiction: It’s nearly impossible to choose, but in the spirit of picking a winner, I’m going to choose Widow of Gettysburg. The entire series by Green is amazing, but this one had that extra something.

Favorite Heroine: Ellis Eaton, from Love Comes Calling, is warm, funny, loving, and determined…and she just happens to have a short attention span making her unique, memorable, and all around remarkable.

Favorite New (to me) Author: Laura Frantz with The Mistress of Tall Acre. I was blown away by Laura’s ability to capture me with her every word. She’s like a word wizard or something. I can’t explain it.

Favorite Couple: Cote went for the difficult when she paired a Quacker and a deaf man together with a marriage of convenience in Honor. I really enjoyed watching these two connect with each other as well as the obstacles Samuel faced with his disability.

Marriage with the most Unusual Circumstance: I LOVE a book that brings two lovers together under the strangest circumstances. It was completely impossible to choose so I left it as a tie.
When 4 brothers draw straws to determine who would marry the beautiful stranger that wandered onto their property, you have the start of something both hilarious and spectacular in Short-Straw Bride.
There seems to be nothing convenient about accidentally marrying a stranger in A Most Inconvenient Marriage.

Best Dressed: I studied the covers to find the model that I thought was best dressed. I have another tie here, but oddly  enough the novels are written by the same author.
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Couple with the Most Friction: Another favorite plot of mine is the bickering couple. I walked away with two books that did it so well.
Elenora moves to El Dorado with the intentions of co-owning Miles’s general store, but when he refuses to partner with a woman, she becomes his competition in A Bride Opens a Store in El Dorado, California.
Maggie struggles to keep her business afloat when her arch enemy, Simon, moves back to town, but she’ll struggle even more when he sets out to woo her in Goodbye, Magnolia.

Best Gospel Message: Beautiful are the feet that carry the good news of Jesus Christ and beautiful is the novel that weaves the gospel into the fabric of its story in both a solid and knockout presentation. Letters From the Enemy sits as one of my top ten for the year for its treatment of the gospel…and the beautiful love story.

Favorite Theme: Any Christian book worth its grain of salt carries a theme. A purpose. Some are more subtle than others. My favorite theme for the year is GRACE and I particularly love the way Alicia handles it in All Our Empty Places. She managed to bring the theme of grace out so naturally in the characters’ personalities, actions, and the plot itself. This is a very beautiful story.

Most Spiritual Impact: Lynn Austin had me pulling my highlighter out and meditating on the truths she brought to life in her version of Nehemiah’s story in On This Foundation. While the book read like a fiction novel, it carried some wonderful themes: lessons on glorifying God, restoring a right relationship with the Lord, letting go of fear and anger, staying committed to a God-given task in the face of opposition, and extending forgiveness.

Best New Release: The Perfect Arrangement captured my heart like few other stories have this year. It was light, funny, warm, real, and just flat out amazing. This novella is one of my top ten favorites for the year with its retelling of one of my favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail.

Favorite Christmas Story: A Pony Express Christmas from A Pioneer Christmas Collection remains my favorite Christmas story of the year. I’ve read some good ones this year, but this one had that extra something that made it unforgetable.

First Kiss: Out of Control has one of the most unique first kisses that I’ve ever read. I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll just have to read it for yourself.

Best I Love You Scene: There’s a reason why I’ve read Wings of a Dream twice in 12 months, and the ending is just one of the many reasons that this book is one of my favorites.

Favorite Hero: Brady James from Every Bride Needs a Groom has little to no competition in this department. It’s hard to say exactly what it is about him that works so well. This fictional character makes being charming seem so natural and effortless.

Oldest Novel: I’ve had my hands on a few classics this year but my oldest was Emma.

Most Shocking Novel: 😉 Just to verify, I mean shocking in a good way. The twists, turns, and surprises had me gasping on every page and sometimes every paragraph as The Silent Governess wrapped up.

Novel that Most Resembles My Life: I was so surprised to meet myself on the pages of A Wedding Date in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Reagan is a busy mother of four and the day to day life that Annalisa brought to life hit a little too close to home. Lol

Most Surprising Novella: I have another tie here. I wasn’t so sure what I’d find when I picked up these novellas but was pleasantly surprised by the rich story that awaited me.
One Enchanted Christmas swept me off my feet and has me eager to read more from Melissa Tagg.
This Quiet Sky was both charming and heart breaking. I didn’t expect to fall so in love with these characters.

Best Mystery: Gunpowder Tea brought together a host of suspects that kept me guessing until the very end.

Favorite Classic: I only read three classics this year and all of them deserve this award, but I’m handing it over to Jane Eyre for two reasons: I had already read the other two and knew that I loved them. And I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed this one.

Best Setting: A good setting can really take a story to new levels and Into the Whirlwind remains one of my top 10 favorites for the year for its rich and detailed take on the Chicago fires. As an author, I was forced to sit back in awe and question how she managed to bring so many details to life. Did she set an entire town on fire just so she could experience what it was like? Lol Doubtful. Which is what makes her work even more remarkable.

Now it’s your turn! I’d love to here some of your reading stats for the year. Which books would you give an award to (please, feel free to steal my list of awards)? Do you have a top 10 list? How many books did you read? Did you complete any Goodreads Challenges? Did I list any of your favorite novels? Have I talked you into picking up something?

Posted in About the Author, Book Reviews

My Bookshelf: Christmas Reads

63Who is looking for a great Christmas book to read this season? I’m offering up a list of personal favorites for you to try. All links lead to Amazon.
Let me know if you spot your favorite on the list or have a recommendation for me. Did you find one that you’re eager to try?


The Yuletide Angel by Sandra Ardoin  remains one of my favorite Christmas novellas. This warm story brings to life the spirit of giving and a bit of romance.
The Fruitcake Challenge by Carrie Fancett Pagels is a fun, light-hearted novella. It seems love is in the air in this lumber camp when various Fruitcake recipes inspire men to marry the bakers responsible. Too bad things don’t go as planned. 😉
Love Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire by Lauralee Bliss ranks high on my list for Christmas reads. I have fond memories of snuggling up with this book after my tonsillectomy and escaping with the sugar-sweet, vulnerable heroine, Sara, as she struggles in a world so different from the poverty she left behind.
Christmas Mail-Order Brides by Susan Page Davis, Vickie McDonough, Therese Stenzel, and Carrie Turansky is a fun collection of novellas featuring mail-order brides and their rocky start to love. You’ll want to add this one to your Christmas reading list.
The Christmas Shoppe by Melody Carlson is a fun Christmas read with its rare shop and unique small-town cast. The townspeople hardly know how to react when a used goods store opens up in the middle of their elite shopping section, but the items up for sale just might be worth much more than they appear.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is even better than its 100+ movies and cartoons. I’ve always been fond of this story, so reading it in Dickens’ own words was a real treat. This version is free for your kindle.
A Lancaster County Christmas by Suzanne Woods Fisher is both heart-warming and thought provoking. Jaime lives a fast-paced life and is quickly heading for a divorce. But when she finds herself stranded on an Amish farm on Christmas Eve, this will be one Christmas she’ll never forget. And one you won’t forget either if you add this amazing book to your reading list. 😉
Christmas at Harringtons by Melody Carlson is my favorite Carlson Christmas story so far. It’s a fun retelling of Miracle on 34th Street and one you’ll want to make time for.
The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson. Carlson has a way with creating quirky characters, cozy settings, and warm stories full of the Christmas spirit. The Christmas Bus is about an innkeeper and the collection of characters she entertains during the Christmas week.

If you’re looking for something a little different to read this December, check out my lists of favorite Christian Fiction Series and War Fiction.

Posted in About the Author, Book Reviews

My Bookshelf: Must Read Series

90As the weather cools down, I can think of nothing better than curling up with a book…or three. There’s something special about collecting an entire series and enjoying them back to back. I’m bringing to you a list of some of my favorite Christian Fiction Series. All of these listed below are complete and can be collected today for your enjoyment. The links will take you to their Amazon page. 


Hickory Ridge Romance by Dorothy Love is a delightful series set in the mountains of TN after the Civil War, and it follows three different couples in their struggles to find love and security after the war.
Wings of the Nightingale by Sarah Sundin is a WWII series that follows three women and their flight nurse careers that take them overseas and into danger…and possibly into the arms of love. I must confess, this is a series that I still need to finish. I have high hopes of curling up with the rest of the series later this winter.
*Book 1 of this series is currently free for your kindle.
Prairie Promises by Kelly Eileen Hake is one of the funniest series I’ve ever read. Each book centers on a new woman and the rocky relationship with the man in her life. Trust me, you’ll want to add this one to your reading list.
Kincaid Brides by Mary Connealy is another fun series full of charming heroes and tons of laughs. The Kincaid Brides is centered around three brothers, a tragic cave accident, and the three beautiful women that find themselves married to this bunch.
Texas Grooms Series by Winnie Griggs is another light-hearted, split-your-sides-funny series. But don’t take my word for it. Grab this 6 books series and settle in for a great time. You can thank me later! 😉
Heroines Behind the Lines by Jocelyn Green is a Civil War page turner! Jocelyn has a way with historic details that will take your breath away.
Timber Ridge Reflection by Tamera Alexander follows three couples in the Colorado Territory. The women struggle to find respect and security in a man’s world while the men struggle to find themselves after the Civil War.
Mercy Falls Collection by Colleen Coble follows three couples in their own tale of mystery and suspense set around a California lighthouse.
Refiner’s Fire by Lynn Austin has long since been my favorite Civil War Series. It’s unique in the way it covers the war from three different women whose lives intersect in ways even they wouldn’t have imagined. Each book focuses on a different view point: North, South, and Slave.
*Book 1 is currently free for your kindle
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis is a beloved classic for a reason. Every Christian ought to take the time to read this wonderful series. C.S. Lewis has a way of bringing a variety of Christian aspects into his world of fantasy. While written for children, it’s a delightful read for the adult since you have more of a mind to pick up the lessons the author intended to pass along.
Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke is another beloved classic and with every reason to be. It’s another must read for the Christian fiction fan. This eight book series follows one family that began with an unhappy marriage of convenience.
Postcards from Pullman by Judith Miller follows one spunky woman while she works for the Pullman company. What looks like a dream job is anything but when Olivia finds herself surrounded by lies, secrets, a union strike, and two persistent suitors.
A Secret Refuge by Lauraine Snelling follows two sisters as they go in separate directions seeking peace and security in the midst of the Civil War.
*Book 1 is currently free for your kindle
Little Hickman Creek by Sharlene MacLaren follows four different women in the ever-challenging quest for love. Set in Kentucky, this historical fiction series will capture her heart and keep you properly entertained.
The Broadmoor Legacy by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller follow three cousins and the men that love them. This family proves that great wealth creates problems instead of solving them.
*Book 1 is currently free for your kindle
Patchwork Circle Series by Judith Pella are two books packed with romance, love triangles, quilting bees, and old feuds.

For more reading fun, check out my list of favorite war fiction novels

Now it’s your turn! Did you find your favorite series listed here today? Find a new series that you’d like to try out? Or have a recommendation for me?

Posted in About the Author, Book Reviews

My Bookshelf: War Fiction

2015_0413Appomattox0985I want to share some of my favorite books with you, and I’m hoping you’ll share some of your favorites with me! I looked over my Goodreads shelf and divided up my favorites. Today, I’ll share my favorite war fiction books with you. I’ve reserved the other categories to share at another time.

The first thing you should know about me is that I love historical fiction. I almost only read historical fiction. And of that fiction, war fiction tops the list. Is there any wonder that my debut novel is a Civil War novel? 😉

You’ll only find Christian Fiction on this list. Each link will take you to the Amazon page. I highly recommend anything on this list, but I have to warn you, I’ve only skimmed the barrel of war fiction. There are a TON of other great reads out there that I haven’t gotten my hands on yet.

Civil War Fiction:
Love Finds You In Liberty, Indiana – This book actually takes place before the Civil War, but it shows the Underground Railroad so vividly that it easily makes my list as great Civil War Fiction. This was a wonderful read and, even though I had read it several years ago, it helped shape one of my story lines in “In the Shadow of Thy Wings.”
Heroines Behind Lines Series – is historical fiction on steroids. Lol This series is cram packed with vivid details that help bring this era and its hardships to life. Civil War fiction fans can not go without this series. There are 4 books in this series, and while you can read them out of order, it might make more sense to you to read them in order. *Note: The hardships aren’t veiled as much as we might expect and more sensitive readers should beware. Feel free to ask me privately for more details if you’re on the fence with this series.
A Secret Refuge Series – This three-book series is best read in order. It differs from many war fiction in that we do not follow a young man into battle, but rather two sisters as they struggle through the war. One sister works as a nurse and the other dresses as a man and tries to flee with their family’s remaining thoroughbreds before either army can steal them away. *This series should be read in order. *First book is currently free on Amazon.
Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa – Is a charming read and one that I really enjoyed. The Amana colonies were a sort of communist colonies here in America, so right away the setting was very different. We follow three characters as they struggle to find their place in this big world during an unsettling time in our country.
CamelliaCamellia is one of my favorites and one that I intend to read again very soon. This story contains a love triangle, spies, and the civil war. Need I say more? Lol *Camellia is the last book of the series The Song of the River. The first book of the series is currently free on Amazon. I was able to read and enjoy Camellia without reading Lily first, although it does spoil the ending of Lily for me.
Refiner’s Fire SeriesRefiner’s Fire by Lynn Austin remains my all time favorite Civil War fiction series. I can’t say enough about this series. Not only was I being refined as I read through the pages, I was also being entertained and educated. Austin has a special way of bringing history to life. This series in particular takes a fun approach to the war. Each book focuses on a different personality of the war: Confederate, Union, and Slave. Each book walks with these characters as they share their own experiences during the war while also overlapping each other. The plotting in this series is brilliant! *This series should be read in order. *The first book of the series is free on Amazon.
An Unlikely UnionAn Unlikely Union contains three of my favorite themes: Civil War, a bickering couple, and the life of a war nurse.

A list of favorite Civil War fiction can not be complete without Post Civil War Fiction. The following are the best that I’ve had my hands on…so far. 🙂

All Things New – Another hit by Lynn Austin! All Things New show the hardships of the south as they pick up the pieces after the war. It also shows an up close view of the racial conflict and hatred for the Union. I highly recommend this book, and it’s currently on my reread list.
To Whisper Her Name – Tamera Alexander does a wonderful job showing the animosity between the North and South after the war in this novel set in Nashville on a notable horse farm. I was taken with the Belle Meade Plantation when I visited a few years ago and I was equally taken with her novel. *I found this book at the low price of $2.99 last week on Amazon. This is one of the cheaper books listed by a main stream author.
A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee – Another favorite currently sitting on my reread list is A Bride’s Dilemma. This book showcases the struggles of the families left behind after the war, but where it really shines is the unusual circumstance the characters find themselves in. *I found this book for $1.99 last week on Amazon. You may want to snatch it up while it’s on sale – IF it’s still on sale!
A Lasting Impression – Tamera Alexander picks another well known mansion in Nashville to base this Post Civil War tale on: Belmont. She shows off the tensions that are running high after the war as well an original story of art, lies, and love.

WWI Fiction:
Wings of a DreamWings of a Dream was a quick favorite for me. It’s hard to say exactly why this one drew me as much as it did, but I’ve read it twice in a year. 🙂 The reason why war fiction is such a hit for me, is that drama of war is real and unavoidable for the characters. Anything goes and you never know what will happen next. Wings of a Dream stays on the home front, but shows the hardships of the families face, not to mention 3 likely suitors to keep the reader off balanced. 🙂
Letters from the Enemy – Ahhh a good classic love triangle with the back drop of war. I shouldn’t have to say anything else. Lol Letters from the Enemy also shines in showing the depression many of the soldiers struggled with after they returned home. Susan May Warren also does a marvelous job incorporating the gospel into her story line. I was very impressed! You don’t get such pointed messages very often in Christian Fiction. This was, easily, one of my favorite reads so far this year. *I found this book for .99 cents last week. You may want to snatch it up while you can get it at a super low price.
Playing by Heart – Another hit from Anne Mateer. Playing by Heart shows the struggles from home during WWI. It also brings to life other aspects of history such as women teachers and lady basketball.

WWII Fiction:
With Every LetterWith Every Letter is the first book of the Wings of the Nightingale Series. This story had my heart from page one. Not only are we being educated on various aspects of WWII, particularly the life of a flight nurse, but we’re also being entertained with this couple that falls in love through letters. If you haven’t noticed this about me yet, I LOVE letters. 🙂 This was a You’ve Got Mail sort of story in that the couple exchanged letters anonymously. *This series is best read in order. *This book is currently free on Amazon.
While We’re Far Apart – Ahh another Lynn Austin favorite! While We’re Far Apart hits my favorites list for several reasons. The history on the home front comes to life as we follow the lives of a young woman who takes charge of two children while their father is away, a young girl, and a bitter Jewish man. Austin is gifted at story telling and historic detail. In this particular story, she takes her time to show the animosity toward Jews in America as well as women in the work force.
A Woman’s Place – You shouldn’t be surprised at this point to read the name Lynn Austin, but this is a must read. A Woman’s Place follows the lives of four very different women as they purpose to make a difference here at home while the men are away at war. Having left the Civil War era behind, I hadn’t expected to find so much racial tension and yet that’s exactly what she showcased. While the war was being fought in Europe, a separate war was being fought here at home as people struggled for equal rights for both women and black people.

Sitting on my “To Read” list are the following:

Books 2 and 3 of the Wings of Nightingale
Book 4 of Heroine Behind Lines Series
A Beauty So Rare, Book 2 of the Belmont Mansion Series
As well as a few rereads: A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee, All Things New, and Camellia

Do you have a favorite war fiction novel that you think I should read? I’d love to hear about it!