3 1/2 Stars, Five Stars, Four Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Violence

New to Me

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Weekly Reading Round-Up

There is so much newness surrounding this pandemic that so often I’ve reverted to familiarity when it comes to what I read. Seeking comfort in the known. Embracing our new normal I stepped out of the familiar this week and we tried a whole bunch of new to us authors, and we’re quite happy we did.

A Fall from Grace by Jennie Goutet 41STVAFy50L

I adored this book. With mulit-faceted characters and a unique plot. I honestly wouldn’t have picked up this book based on the book blurb alone, it sounds like an everyday regency romance. I however kept hearing praise about the book and author and taking advise of others I jumped right in. I was so pleasantly surprised. The details of each character and the turns in the story made for a wonderfully engaging story. I may have found a new favorite author.

***** Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Low Religion

 

The Lilac Plague by Kristin J. Dawson51TjyOAoFhL

This is the first book in a young adult, high adventure fantasy series. I felt like the language and world took a bit of getting used to, but the author builds her world well pulling you in to the fantasy and magic. The adventure and mystery were a little vague in parts, but the flashbacks given in journal form were a really good addition that keeps you guessing and engaged. If you liked Melanie Cellier’s Spoken Mage series (which we do 🙂 ), this would be right up your alley!

**** Low Language, Low Romance, Moderate Violence, Low Religion

 

A Temporary Marriage by Summer Dowell51Qg1v+XoxL

If you need a light fun read, this is a Cute chick-flick with a sweet romance.

***1/2 Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Low Religion

 

3 1/2 Stars, Five Stars, Four Stars, High Violence, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Nichole Van

Empathy

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Weekly Reading Round Up

Romancing the Rake (Brotherhood of the Black Tartan book 2) by Nichole Van512MgKu-MUL

Confession, I (Nikki) get book hangover from Nichole Van’s books. Every. Single. Time. After finishing one of her books I can’t start another for a couple days, (which is kind of a big deal in my life). Even if I try to start another one I can’t get into it until I flush the fabulousness of Nichole Van’s writing out of my system. Not that whatever I pick isn’t also fabulous, but… book hangover. Her characters are not only layered, but uniquely engaging with specific quirks that you love. Rafe and Sophie were fascinating studies in human nature. Nichole Van is an expert at hooks. She keeps you reading well past your “one more chapter” and gives you so many leads (in a good way) that you’re never really sure of the outcome until you’re reading it. My most favorite thing about this book was how it showcased the author’s ability to get you to feel empathy, not just compassion or sympathy, but true empathy for the characters. I feel like’s it’s an understatement to say it gave me all the feels.

***** Low Language, Low Violence (though physical violence is low, just a heads up the book deals kind of heavily with emotional abuse, but it’s handled very well) Low Romance, Low Religion

 

Lost Shadow (Neverwood Chronicles Book 3) by Chanda Hahn 51ijCvA+nrL

I (Aimee) loved the pace of this book. It was exciting and the author kept the suspense up.  There were a few times when I was so mad at the character for being stupid, I had to put the book down and walk away. Sometimes I can’t decide if that’s a good thing because I’m super invested in the characters or a bad thing because it pulled me out of the story. I wasn’t sure if she wasn’t going to be able to close up all the loops because there was so much happening that something I had a hard time following it all, but she wrapped it all up at the end and even had a “whoa, I did not see that coming” kind of ending.

*** (and a 1/2) Low Language, High Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

 

I (Melanie) had a thing for quarterbacks and Maggie Dallen this week apparently. I read:

The Quarterback and the Ballerina (The Ballerina Academy book 1) by Maggie Dallen 51MDGPg1UGLand Anne-Marie Meyer

and

Dating the Quarterback (The Bet Duet Book 2) by Maggie Dallen517nAIhDdGL

 

Both books were quick fun reads with characters that had depth and well written growth. Both were super cute.

****Low Language, Low Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

 

3 1/2 Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Moderate Religion, Moderate Violence

Faith and Suspense

Working in a quiet cubicle at the Library all through college meant I would often grab an audio book on my way up to work. It was every book lovers dream to work with books while listening to books. My senior year I grabbed an audiobook on the new release display entitled, The Negotiator by Dee Henderson. I fell in love with the series.

This past week my sister was telling me about a book she had recently read and I was transported back 15 years. Mistaken Reality by Traci Hunter Abramson has all the government agency, suspense, romance, and faith of the O’Malley Series.

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“Hadley Baker can’t believe her boyfriend finally invited her on a fancy hotel dinner date only to break up with her in public. Even more unbelievable is the moment FBI Agent JD Byers finds her crying in the women’s restroom and demands she evacuate. Seconds after JD ushers Hadley outside, an explosion shatters the building. 

JD didn’t anticipate seeing Hadley, the beautiful schoolteacher, again after he saved her from the hotel attack. But soon after her ex-boyfriend became a lead suspect of the hotel bombing, the man turned up dead—and now it seems that Hadley herself is a target. Determined to keep her safe, JD shelters Hadley as they join forces to put together the pieces of the perplexing case. When they discover the horrifying truth behind her ex-boyfriend’s nefarious work, Hadley realizes her life is far from the only one being threatened. Countless others are in danger, and she and JD may hold the key to saving them.”

– – Unlike the O’Malley Series which though faith filled, didn’t specify any one denomination, many of the main characters from “Mistaken Reality” are specifically part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their faith doesn’t play a major role, it is a more subtle part of the book, and not always prevalent. There were two moments were I felt religion broke up the flow of the book and pulled me out of the story, but overall I liked how it gave the characters strength.

The plot was a little predictable in places, but those were smaller details, the overall story arch caught me by surprise, I love being surprised. The story does deal with human trafficking, and is a little intense so be aware of that going in.

The multiple person point of view took awhile to keep the characters straight. I think if I had read Safe House and Deep Cover first it might have been easier to follow the head hopping. That just means I have more books to add to my TBR pile. –A.B.

 

3 1/2 Stars, Heidi Kimball, Jen Geigle Johnson, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence

It’s my Party

My husband and I are throwing a party this weekend. A game night (we’re kind of board game geeks) that we’re super excited about. Parties always involve a lot of house cleaning and shopping and food prep…not to mention finding a babysitter.  All of which is totally worth it, just busy.

Every time I read a book about a house party, I can’t imagine how they entertain that many people for that amount of time! The scheduling and food and cleaning that would have to go into a party of that magnitude blows my mind.

The authors of Regency House Party  gave us a little bit more of a glimpse into the behind the scenes of a regency house party in their newest series: “Havencrest”.

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All five books were fun quick reads, the hosts’ were particularly clever. A reluctant hostess adds all sorts of drama and amusement. 

Their previous house party series was released as a serial on their website. The chapters were posted weekly and flowed chronologically. I loved being able to see the same scene or sequence through five different perspectives. The character’s and stories flowed together to create a really fun over arching picture.

I liked each story in this series, individually. However, I had a harder time watching the overall story flow together. These were released monthly and you got the whole story all at once. For me too much time had passed until the next release that I had to remind myself what had happened and who was who.

As far as individual regency romances I enjoyed reading them and would definitely recommend them. I however, didn’t get the overall house party intrigue and character connection with this set as I did with the original. I think maybe if I read them all in a closer time frame instead of as they came out, it might have been different.

Here is my favorite thing about each of them:

Miss Marleigh’s Pirate Lord by Mindy Burbridge Strunk had my most favorite characters. Both Alex and Abi were well written, fun to read characters, with entertaining interactions.

 The Vexatious Widow by Michelle Pennington had really good tension between the two main characters.

Charmed by His Lordship by Jen Geigle Johnson had the most juxtaposition between characters. Jen created such differing characters in Felicity and Abraham it was fun to see her bring them together.

The Captain’s Lady by Sara Cardon had my favorite female heroine. Sara did a fantastic job creating Lucy Brooks and all the judgments and insecurities that would go along with her character.

The Marriage Bargain by Heidi Kimball was by far my favorite storyline. I was instantly pulled in, hook line and sinker. The story continued to give me all the feels up until the very end.

PS- they’re all available on KindleUnlimited!!

 

3 1/2 Stars, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Language, Moderate Religion

Perspective

Confession for you all, I have always been more on the sensitive side I cry during movies, watching TV, and while reading books. Heavens, I’ve even cried watching facebook videos! Since having my first baby however, my hormones (lets just blame it on the hormones) have been out of control.

So Healed by Miranda Lotz may not have been the best choice, it is 100% a heart wrencher. I cried through more than half of it.

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“Stephanie knows God answers her prayers. Giving birth to her daughter after five miscarriages is proof of that. 

But when baby Abby is diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy and treatments begin to spiral out of control, Stephanie is left to question why a God of miracles doesn’t guide her to heal Abby.

Stephanie’s husband, Jared, wants to try Mary’s Miracle–an organic CBD oil made from hemp–to treat Abby’s seizures, but Stephanie wants to know what God has planned for them.

As treatments dwindle and options run low, Stephanie must learn how to trust her instincts and follow her heart, finding a path forward for her daughter, and a path back to God for herself.”

The author did a beautiful job of reflecting all the pain hurt and struggle a family can go through when they find out hard news about their little angels. Miranda Lotz’s writing not only pulls on your heart strings, but gives you perspective. She did a very good job of making you feel and understand all the emotions.

I did struggle a little with the points of view it was written in, the chapters were labeled with the person’s name, but every now and then it seemed to switch to third person or even a completely different view.

Be aware of the sensitive nature of this book before you decide if it’s for you. Also a few other points: The book is very heavily religious as this family struggles in understanding why God would allow this, but it’s not preachy. There is heavier language than most books we read, so keep that in mind. Lastly, although there is no violence in the book its first chapter is pretty graphic in the telling of her delivery.

That all being said, this is a good book to turn to for perspective, for faith, and for a really good cry. –A.B.

3 1/2 Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Melanie Jacobson, Moderate Religion

Fairy Tale Life

Fairy Tale re-tellings seem to be a really popular trope right now. I’m not complaining, I’m just stating a fact. A fact I completely embrace. I love watching how each author uses the different elements of the story to create their own fairy tale. I especially love it when it’s not obvious how they’re going to eventually pull the whole story together.

Finding Jack by Melanie Jacobson is a contemporary reverse re-telling (seems like a tongue twister) of Rapunzel.

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When smart, practical Emily finds herself in the crosshairs of an Internet prankster, her orderly world goes topsy-turvy. Instead of getting mad at the handsome stranger behind the joke, she finds herself drawn to him. But Jack Dobson, though hilarious and thoughtful, has a lot of secrets. Despite her growing feelings for her new and unexpected long-distance friend, his biggest secret of all might be the one that breaks the spell they’ve been weaving around each other.

I’ve never read a reverse re-telling of rapunzel. It just doesn’t seem feasible that a man would be trapped in a tower. Melanie Jacobson did an cute flip, and it was so fun to try and figure out how he was “trapped.” I love that she used it as personal prison not a physical one imposed by anyone else.

Melanie Jacobson’s female characters can seem almost too similar. They’re all California determined and focused girls, but I love where she went with Emily and the changes she made.

Melanie Jacobson also has a thing for online relationships. I’ve read that’s how she met her husband, which is sweet, but I keep hoping for something different. The online connection in this one was unique enough to not pull me out of the story.

The banter between Emily and Jack was highly entertaining and I liked how their connection grew and how their characters eventually encouraged each other outside of themselves.

3 1/2 Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Moderate Violence

Boys will be Boys

While reading I love to come across a scene where the characters do something that surprises you, but not because it’s unusual. I love when the thing that surprises me, is real life. Sometimes novels give us the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but not much of the everyday. Like two friends duking it out in a stable. I loved this particular scene in Mindy Strunk’s novel “An American in Duke’s Clothing”. It was delightfully unexpected, and yet exactly on mark.

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“When unexpected deaths leave Tad Wentworth as the heir to an English title, he leaves his American homeland to fulfill his duty. Upon arriving in the country, he discovers an arranged marriage is part of the plan. But when his affections guide him toward a different lady, he must decide if he will follow his heart or his head. 

Violet Allen’s questionable past has left her with few friends. When she meets a dashing stranger who shows interest in her, she allows herself to dream of a future with him. Until she discovers the stranger is not only a Duke but is also engaged to her sister. As her feelings for him grow, she must decide if she will be loyal to her sister or her heart.”

Mindy Strunk’s characters were fun to read and I enjoyed the story line. There is an art to sharing just enough information to satisfy but withholding enough to keep you interested. I felt that balance was a little off at times, but not enough to truly distract from the overall story line.

The character depth and development is what really pulled me into the story. Not just Violet and Tad, but Dawson and the family relations as well. Mindy Strunk created some great secondary characters that I hope we’ll get to see more of.

3 1/2 Stars, Giveaway, Low Language, Low Violence, Moderate Religion, Moderate Romance

Best of Intentions

I feel like December should be dubbed the month of best of intentions. I always have all these plans and usually only get through half of them. That’s what happened yesterday, I got so much done! But there’s also so much I didn’t get done. However, I did listen to a delightful book while I did laundry…

“Abigail Spencer loved her job. She was a marine biologist who maintained some of Miami’s most spectacular ponds and aquariums. She had the opportunity to travel around the city, meeting new people and working in beautiful locations. So, even though it was just another day at the office when she suddenly met the man of her dreams, she wasn’t in an office at all.

Every girl imagines meeting her prince charming. It’s doubtful, however, that any of these fantasies include it happening when they’re soaked with sweat and knee-deep in pond scum.

Fate can be funny that way.”

This was a really sweet story. Brooke St. James gave it just the right amount of chemistry and drama. The Christian elements were subtle and well done. A quick cozy by the fire read.

 

 

Author Brooke St. James

Brooke St. James is a bestselling author of contemporary romance novels with Christian and inspirational themes and happy endings. She was born and raised in south Louisiana but has had the opportunity to travel and live throughout the U.S. An avid reader, writer, audio book addict, and fan of all things artistic, Brooke constantly has her hands in some creative activity. She’s currently back home in Louisiana enjoying life with her husband, children, and two lazy dogs.

 

 


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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub, Instagram, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader & Clean Wholesome Romance and is sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

 

3 1/2 Stars, Low Language, Moderate Religion, Moderate Romance, Moderate Violence, Uncategorized

Grandmother what big eyes you have

Out of all of the fairy tales out there, Little Red Ridding Hood has never been a favorite of mine. I mean, who doesn’t recognize their own Grandma? Not only the eyes, ears, and teeth, but let’s talk about the fury face, I mean come on. I started this book not even realizing it was a modern day telling of, Red Riding Hood; it didn’t take me long thanks to the names. I was enjoying the writing by Lauren Winder Farnsworth in her book, Chasing Red, so I stuck it out. I’m glad I did.

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“Ryder Redmond can’t wait to begin her new life in New York City, with her first real job after college. But the big city gets a little more complicated once she meets the charming and mysterious Damian Wolfe. On the surface he seems perfect, but her friend Hunter is suspicious of his all-too-straight smile and his motives towards Ryder. With her heart on the line, Ryder will have to decide just how much she trusts the handsome city slicker.”

I loved how Lauren stayed true to Red Riding hoods innocence, and naivety. Even though that is what drives me nuts about Red, I am glad she stayed true to that. I often wanted to shake the main character for it, but it was fitting for following the fairy tale.

There was only one part about the book that I really didn’t like. The childhood best friend who actually seems to like Damien is the one who helps end the relationship in the end, but only by confessing something she saw months earlier. It seemed odd that she sat on that information because she assumed the relationship wouldn’t last, the whole thing seemed a little out of character.

I enjoyed watching her relationships with the other characters develop and grow. Especially between her and her mother. I love finding new authors and will definitely read another one from this author. –M.V.

3 1/2 Stars, Jennifer Moore, Low Language, Low Religion, Moderate Romance, Moderate Violence

Secret to Success

My husband is afraid of spiders, scream like a little girl afraid. I’m the designated spider killer in our house, and that’s completely okay with me, because the things that my husband does for me far outweigh my ability to kill spiders for him. There is a scene in Jennifer Moore‘s The Shipbuilder’s Wife where Lydia and Jacob have a conversation I swear I’ve had a million times with my husband and it seriously made me so happy. Lydia concludes the conversation with, “If you hold me when I have a frightening dream, I will smash spiders for you.” And I thought, that right there is the secret to success in a marriage.

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“The day of her parents’ garden party dawns bright as Lydia Prescott eagerly anticipates a marriage proposal from a handsome and wealthy plantation owner. The lovely debutante plans to steal a moment away with her beau, but her plans go terribly awry. Instead of her intended, she is joined by a stranger the largest man she’s ever laid eyes on. And it is clear Jacob Steele is there for reasons far more sober than the party. With British raids erupting all around them, it is his job to reassure plantation owners of their safety. In reality, however, Jacob is an espionage agent, and the truth is dire: America is on the verge of invasion by the British.

Blissfully unaware of the danger surrounding her, Lydia basks in the glow of her recent engagement. But her joy is short-lived—a surprise British attack results in a devastating wound, and her plans for the future are shattered. Lost in her devastation, Lydia could never dream that Jacob, that giant of a man she met so briefly, would prove to be her saving grace. And with a war raging around them, she may be called upon to save him too.”

Jennifer Moore always creates compelling characters with relatable struggles to overcome. Giving good insight into her characters through relevant character introspection so we feel like we’re right there along with them.

Her books are always well researched, but she often makes plot jumps that are hard for me to follow. Jacob marrying Lydia was one of those. It seemed an out of the blue and illogical step. But I love how she used that later in the story for him to have that introspection she’s so good at about why he really married her in the first place.

I also had a hard time following the timeline at times, but found myself really invested in the characters, so much so that I really hope all of her hints about Alden’s mysterious experiences mean we’ll get to have a book about him down the road.

See our Review of Lydia’s brother Emmett’s book in “My Dearest Enemy” here.