Posted in Book Reviews

2017 Book Awards

Before I hand out awards, I want to list all the 5-star books I’ve read this year. Each link takes you to the book’s Goodreads page where you can add it to your own TBR list and check out my review alongside what others had to say about the book.

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander
Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander
What Hope Remembers by Johnnie Alexander
Fly Away by Lynn Austin
Where We Belong by Lynn Austin
The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett
Mistaken by Karen Barnett
Murder for the Time Being
by Joanie Bruce
The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron
A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden
Mail-order Revenge by Angela K. Couch
My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho by Susanne Dietze
The Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta
Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta
Tin Can Serenade by Amanda Dykes
The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson
Life After by Katie Ganshert
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green
12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep
With You Always by Jody Hedlund
Love and a Side of Chips by Traci Valentyne Hilton
A December Bride by Denise Hunter
A Love So True by Melissa Jagears
Love by the Letter by Melissa Jagears
On Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson
The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen
Two Ways Home by Sondra Kraak
A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah Ladd
Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge
The Bracelet by Dorothy Love
Christy by Catherine Marshall
Hold the Light by April McGowen
18 Hours To Us by Krista Noorman
Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano
The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay
Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin
Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin
When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin
One Enchanted Noel by Melissa Tagg
The Secret Slipper by Amanda Tero
Mail-order Surprise by Lucy Thompson
Finding Margo by Jen Turano
The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner
Within the Veil by Brandy Vallance
The Bounty Hunter’s Baby by Erica Vetsch
My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas by Erica Vetsch
Bride of Pretense by Amanda Tru and Cami Wesley
Then Came You by Becky Wade
True to You by Becky Wade
Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful by Susan May Warren
A Name Unknown by Roseanna White
The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright
With This Ring
The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection

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Favorite Cover AND Best Dressed: True to You   Am I the only one completely smitten by this dress and this cover? Oh, and those shoes!!

Favorite Proposal: Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful    As a fiction reader, I’ve read more than my share of proposals. I remember gushing over this one which is pretty rare for me.

Favorite Courtship: A Beauty so Rare   There was so something so sweet about their budding relationship that really stood out to me.

Best Love Triangle: The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill   I LOVE a good love triangle, but Klassen took it to a whole new level when every woman had more than one fella asking for her hand. If you enjoy being surprised, you’ll appreciate the way Klassen keeps you guessing.

Best Suspense: The House on Foster Hill   From the cover to the story, this one was fantastic. If you enjoy suspense and haven’t read this one yet then shame on you!! 😉 Pick up your copy asap.

Best Mail-order Bride: Mail-Order Surprise, Bride of Pretense   If mail-order novellas are your thing, these two stood out to me this year. They were humorous and enjoyable all the way around.

Best Date Request: Love and a Side of Chips    Again, I’ve read MANY date requests so it’s something ultra special when they tug at my heartstrings. It was just perfectly sweet and well done.

Favorite Pet: Rip from The Bounty Hunter’s Baby and Dash from Jane of Austin   I’m not a dog person by Rip and Dash stole my heart and almost changed my mind about wanting a dog. Almost. 😉

Best Comedy: My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho   I laughed the whole way through this one. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Great Friction: Two Ways Home and 18 Hours to Us   There is something so engaging about a pair who rub each other the wrong way. If you like that sort of thing in your novels, give these two a try!

WWII Fiction: Waves of Freedom series and One True Love of Alice-Ann   I love war fiction, especially from the home front. It wasn’t possible to pick only one in this category. I consider myself the winner for getting my hands on more than one fantastic WWII read for the year.

Favorite Retelling: Jane of Austin and Secret Slipper   Jane of Austin retold Sense and Sensibility while Secret Slipper retold Cinderella. I was in awe at the authors’ creative take on beloved classics.

Best Novella Set: With this Ring and Message in a Bottle   If you’re looking for a great novella set to sink your teeth in, you won’t be disappointed with either of these. 5 stars all the way!

Gospel Message: Fly Away   Austin not only weaved the gospel into her story but also tackled the various conflicts someone might face when attempting to share the gospel. I was very impressed with her treatment of the gospel in Fly Away. Truly a beautiful story!

Heart Breakingly Great: Life After and Hold the Light   The award says it all. You might cry when reading these novels, but I promise you’ll feel blessed by the time you’re finished.

Oldest Novel: North and South 1854

Best Supporting Cast: Christy   This novel is chocked full of memorable characters.

Best Historical All Around: Road to Paradise   This was just plain good in all ways.

Best Hero: A Name Unknown   There’s something special about a flawed hero and White made his stutter appealing.

Best Contemporary All Around: On Love’s Gentle Shores 

Original Plot: The Austen Escape   Reay was thinking outside of the box on this one and it paid off really well.

Oddest Collection of Characters:  12 Days at Bleakly Manor  Lol There’s not much I can say but if you’ve read it, I’m sure you’d agree with me.

Best Food: My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah by Angie Dicken   I tried Greek food for the first time after reading this book and I’ve enjoyed it several times since then.

The Shortest and the Sweetest: Serenade by Amanda Dykes   This was such a special story in the tiniest of packages. Give it a try if you haven’t already.

Most Exotic Setting: Where We Belong    Austin takes you from Chicago to the far ends of the earth in her latest novel.

Best Mystery: Lady Jayne Disappears and The Bracelet    Neither of these mysteries were overly suspenseful, but the mystery was intricately crafted. I highly recommend both to the mystery fan.

Best Use of Duck: Finding Margo   LOL Nothing more needs to be said here. Finding Margo was a great mystery, but I’ll never forget that duck.

Breathtaking Message: The Mark of the King    I’ll be honest with you. Parts of this novel were just plain hard to read, but in the end, you’re left with one of the most remarkable messages of grace that I’ve read.

Kept the Pages Turning: Within the Veil    Wow!! The story kept evolving until the very end.

Stickiest Problem: Mistaken   It seemed that either way the characters turned, they were up against impossible odds. Until reading Mistaken, I hadn’t realized how rare this has become. Plus the history and the setting where remarkable.

Favorite Couple: A Dangerous Legacy    Everyone will have their favorite couple, but I enjoyed their banter and sweetly unfolding romance. Their unique form of communicating made them memorable.

Most Read Author: Jessica Dotta: 1,335 pages   I could have also given Dotta a number of other awards for Most Surprising, New Favorite Author, Great Supporting Cast, Best Villian, Page Turner, Sticky Plot, etc. But I was trying to give the other greats room to shine. Needless to say, Dotta’s series has made it to my top ten for the year.

Most Listened to Author: Franklin W. Dixon: I listened to 10 Hardy Boy books for a total of 1,816 pages. I’m attempting to listen to some of the classics in audio and the Hardy Boys were the first I picked up. Sure they were slightly cheesy but they were also fun.

Now it’s your turn!! Were you able to narrow down your 2017 reads to a Top Ten list? Did you have a favorite cover? How about a favorite couple? Which author did you read the most in 2017? 

 

 

 

 

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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? 

 

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?