Tag: what I’ve been reading lately

What I Read in June (2020)

Books Read in June: 28

Books Read for the Year: 160/200

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Without Rival by Lisa Revere (spiritual). Apparently I’d already read this…but it was really good, again.

Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen (classic re-read). this wasn’t as good as P & P (of course), but I enjoyed the re-read.

The Paradise War, by Stephen R. Lawhead (TBR). I really enjoyed this time-travel/ancient Celtic adventure and I intend to read more.

The Edge of Over There, by Shawn Smucker (TBR). This probably would have made more sense if I’d read the previous book, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Miriam, by Mesu Andrews (TBR). Loved this! the tale of the Biblical plagues of England from the POV of Moses’ sister.

For Review:

the library of legends

The Library of Legends, by Janie Chang. I enjoyed this so much! Historical fiction with some fantasy sprinkled in, making this a perfect read for me when the real world was crumbling.


No One Saw, by Beverley Long (review forthcoming). I enjoyed this thriller in the A.L. McKittridge series, about two detectives trying to solve the disappearance of a toddler that might be linked to a similar disappearance over a decade earlier.

a sweet mess

A Sweet Mess, by Jayci Lee (review forthcoming). This was a funny romantic read that will probably make you hungry.

the black swan of paris

The Black Swan of Paris, by Karen Robards (review forthcoming). Loved this! Set during the Nazi occupation of Paris, it’s about Genevieve Dumont, famed for her singing, who is involved with the resistance and secrets of her own.


Mayhem, by Estelle Laure (review forthcoming). This had so much potential, but ended up feeling like such a copy of The Lost Boys that it was really unsettling.

the woman before wallis

The Woman Before Wallis, by Bryn Turnbull (review forthcoming). Another wonderful historical read! I’m not sure if I forgot the events around Prince Edward’s abdication of the throne—or if I just didn’t know—but this is the tale of American divorcée Thelma Morgan, who captured the prince’s heart before he met Wallis.

guarded by the soldier

Guarded by the Soldier, by Laura Scott (review forthcoming). This is a solid romance about a pregnant single mother who becomes the target of a private security/black ops group and is rescued by an ex-soldier.

in the neighborhood of true

In the Neighborhood of True, by Susan Kaplan Carlton (review forthcoming). This explores racism in the South in the ’50s and is an excellent read.

the kids are gonna ask

The Kids Are Gonna Ask, by Anthony Gretchen (review forthcoming). I wasn’t a fan of the twins, who came across as selfish and self-absorbed, with a grandmother who was lenient/willfully blind.

the bright lands

The Bright Lands, by John Fram (review forthcoming). This was…an intriguing read. I had to stop mid-read and make sure this wasn’t written by Stephen King’s son. Very creepy and a bit horrifying, it was an excellent read.

the lost city

The Lost City, by Amanda Hocking (review forthcoming). This is the first of Hocking’s books I’ve ever managed to finish (and, to be fair, I think I’ve only attempted one or two others). Interesting, but I probably won’t read more of the series.

one to watch

One to Watch, by Kate Stayman-London (review forthcoming). I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and the body positivity was great!

girl, serpent, thorn

Girl, Serpent, Thorn, by Melissa Bashardoust (review forthcoming). A princess who has never had human contact because her skin is poisonous makes a terrible mistake, endangering her family and her kingdom and putting them at the mercy of evil…but a sort of charming evil. This was a unique and interesting read.

entangled secrets

Entangled Secrets, by Pat Esden (review forthcoming). This was just a “meh” parnormal romance for me.

what you wish for

What You Wish For, by Katherine Center (review forthcoming). This book made me think something I never thought possible:  I want to be a teacher. Yeah. If you only knew how many times I’d been asked “So you want to be a teacher?” when people found out I was getting an English degree…but I never wanted to be a teacher. The school in this book was pretty awesome though, so I was tempted (briefly), and I loved the Galveston setting. This was just a feel-good book that made me happy.

cut to the bone

Cut to the Bone, by Ellison Cooper (review forthcoming). I got sucked right into this book and these characters. A missing bus full of high schoolers, a clever serial killer with a penchant for Egyptology,  a dastardly boss, and a terrifyingly well-connected psychopath all combine to challenge a stubborn and intuitive FBI agent who finds out things are definitely not what they seem.

the safe place

The Safe Place, by Anna Downes (review forthcoming). I did not like any of these characters, and Emily was the sort of clueless/stupid person I just can’t deal with. This wasn’t a good fit for me.

a walk along the beach

A Walk Along the Beach, by Debbie Macomber (review forthcoming). This made me cry, but it was so good! I love everything Macomber writes.

the vacation

The Vacation, by T.M. Logan (review forthcoming). See…if I don’t care for the characters, it’s a struggle to keep reading. This was the case here. I knew there was more going on that what seemed obvious, but I didn’t really care, because I disliked all the main characters.

how lulu lost her mind

How Lulu Lost her Mind, by Rachel Gibson (review forthcoming).  Oh, man. I enjoyed this a lot, but as someone with a family history of Alzheimer’s, it was also difficult to read. Love the Louisiana setting and culture, though.

tell me your names

Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify: Essays, by Carolyn Holbrook (review forthcoming). This was an interesting read and a look through the eyes of someone with a wildly different life than mine (although I grew up poor, too). I’m a big believer in personal responsibility, and that wasn’t present in all of this, though, so that bothered me.

life on mission @ work

Life on Mission @ Work, by Tyler Edwards (review forthcoming). This excellent read spoke to something that’s been on my mind lately.

this is my america

This is My America, by Kim Johnson (review forthcoming). This was an interesting and powerful read—and sad.

Stopped Reading: 

Her Perfect Life, by Rebecca Taylor. Excellent, descriptive writing, but I realized at 30% that I just didn’t care about any of the characters (as well as actively disliking some). Just not a good fit.

Those Who Hunger:  An Amish Vampire Thriller, by Owen Banner. The premise of this held a lot of potential. I mean, how unique are Amish vampires? I read a bit of it, probably around 15-20%, but I just wasn’t buying in.

Hurry Home, by Roz Nay. There was nothing wrong with this book. Seriously. Solid writing, intriguing concept…I just didn’t like any of the characters. Just a case of “it’s me, not the book.”

The Best Books I Read in April (2020)

I read 35 books in April, bringing my total for the year to 99. (Apparently eliminating my 2-minute commute by working from home increased my reading speed.) Some of these were just so-so, some were excellent, some were solid reads. But if I had to narrow it down to my three favorites…


Perennials, by Julie Cantrell. I love Southern fiction, and this was a drowsy, sweet, and enthralling read—perfectly Southern—from the very first page. Highly recommended!

of silver and shadow

Of Silver and Shadow, by Jennifer Gruenke. My review will be up on the 27th, but isn’t this a gorgeous cover? Ren was such a prickly character, but I enjoyed her antics, the world, and the other characters very much. Can’t wait to read more from this debut author!

Breath Like Water

Breath Like Water, by Anna Jarzab. This hasn’t hit stores yet, and I don’t know anything about elite swimming or bipolar disorder, but I loved Susannah and Harry and their struggles and unexpected triumphs.

What I Read in April (2020)

Well, April was an excellent reading month for me. I finished reading all the books I’m reviewing in May…and their reviews.

Books Read in April:  35

Books Read for the Year: 99/200

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Finding Your Way Back to God, by Dave Ferguson (spiritual). This wasn’t quite what I was looking for, but I enjoyed the real-life stories.

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë (classic). It’s been a long time since I read this…and I loved it all over again!

Perennials, by Julie Cantrell (TBR). Okay, I’ll just say it:  I loved this book! Well-done Southern fiction is my jam. And this was well-done. I sympathized so much with Lovey. This book made me laugh, cry, and remember everything I love about the South.

A Shadow Bright and Burning, by Jessica Cluess (TBR). I ended up enjoying this one quite a bit, and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Salt to the  Sea, by Ruta Sepetys (TBR). This was just kind of “meh” for me. Too many POVs, for one thing. And the time with each character was so short, I never really felt comfortable in their heads.

For Review: 

the secrets they left behind

The Secrets They Left Behind, by Lissa Marie Redmond. A thriller about a cop who goes undercover as a college student to catch whoever is behind the disappearance of three female college students. I enjoyed this a lot!

how to have a better relationship with anybody

How to Have a Better Relationship with Anyone, by James Hilt (review forthcoming). This is a solid read, with a very relatable voice.

miss austen

Miss Austen, by Gill Hornby. This is the story of Jane Austen’s sister, what it was like living with her famous sister, and her struggle to keep the family reputation intact. A good read, but not really a cheerful one.

copycat killer

Copycat Killer, by Laura Scott. I love faith-based books and romantic suspense novels, so combining the two should have been a win for me. However, I found this to be insta-love with the faith aspect barely mentioned…and the main murder mystery barely mentioned as well.

the stolen letter

The Stolen Letter, by Paige Shelton. A woman who thinks she was a queen in a past life. A plot to close a bookstore secretly for nefarious purposes. A murder investigation. This was a fun read, even if I hadn’t read the first four books in the series!

truths I never told you

Truths I Never Told You, by Kelly Rimmer. Long-hidden family secrets come to life in this quiet family drama.

the engineer's wife

The Engineer’s Wife, by Tracey Enerson Wood.  PT Barnum was my favorite character in this historical fiction novel and I enjoyed the look at the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement, but the main characters weren’t entirely sympathetic for me.

braised pork

Braised Pork, by An Yu. Okay, I’m not going to lie:  the only reason I finished reading this was because it was so short. Thee was some magical realism in this, but the whole thing seemed kind of pointless. Creative name, though not really related to anything.

the stone of sorrow

The Stone of Sorrow, by Brooke Carter. I enjoyed this Icelandic (sort of) fantasy, with Norse myths and legends come to life. A little more character development would have been nice, but it was a decent beginning to a new series.

the queen of paris

The Queen of Paris, by Pamela Binnings Ewen. This is the story of Coco Chanel during the great war, and I have to say, she was pretty self-absorbed and oblivious of everything but her own concerns.

the golden flea

The Golden Flea, by Michael Rips. This is so far outside my wheelhouse—but I totally enjoyed it! It’s about the Chelsea Flea Market and the people and treasures found there, and ended up being absolutely fascinating.

my name is Tani

My Name is Tani…and I Believe in Miracles, by Tani Adewumi. The inspirational story of a family who fled Nigeria for asylum in America, and their youngest son, who became a chess champion after less than a year of playing.

feels like falling

Feels Like Falling, by Kristy Woodson Harvey. I actually liked the secondary characters more than the main characters, and their interactions made the book a fun read. Gray was pretty spoiled/oblivious to reality, so I wasn’t a big fan of hers, but this is an easy read.

seven endless forests

Seven Endless Forests, by April Geneviebe Tucholke. This is set in the same world as The Boneless Mercies, which was a fantastic read! I enjoyed this a lot, but the ending felt really rushed.

the summer villa

The Summer Villa, by Melissa Hill. I enjoyed reading about vacationing in Italy…but two out of three of the main characters were pretty self-absorbed and unlikable. This also seemed a little too good to be true, frankly. I mean, who really falls in love with a gorgeous Italian man while on vacation…and it’s mutual? That’s possibly every woman’s fantasy, but it isn’t reality.

sugar and vice

Sugar and Vice, by Eve Calder. This was a fun cozy mystery, and I intend to go back and read the first of the series since I enjoyed this one so much.

finding balance

Finding Balance, by Kati Gardner (review forthcoming). Loved this #ownvoices YA read!

the secrets of love story bridge
Image belongs to Harlequin/Park Row.

The Secrets of Love Story Bridge, by Phaedra Patrick. This was a solid read, but I wasn’t in love with it.

her hidden hope

Her Hidden Hope, by Jill Lynn (review forthcoming). This was an excellent inspirational romance! Sometimes they can feel a bit preachy, but this one does not fall into that category.


The Paris Hours, by Alex George (review forthcoming). to be honest, I didn’t care much for this. Or, I should say, I’m neutral. I didn’t feel a connection with any of the characters, so it was hard to care what was happening to them. And it felt really sloooow.

this is how i lied

This is How I Lied, by Heather Gudenkauf (review forthcoming). The idea that 1995 was 25 years ago kept tripping me up here, as half the story was set in 1995, the rest in the present-day. I didn’t really like any of the characters, so I wasn’t a huge fan of this. And the sister is crazy!

Breath Like Water

Breath Like Water, by Anna Jarzab (review forthcoming). I LOVED this! I don’t know a thing about competitive swimming, and only slightly more than nothing about bipolar disorder, but I was entranced by this novel from the first page.

carolina breeze

Carolina Breeze, by Denise Hunter (review forthcoming). I love this series of wonderful inspirational romances!

her amish suitor's secret

Her Amish Suitor’s Secret, by Carrie Lighte (review forthcoming). This was a sweet, enjoyable romance, although there were a couple of things that made me question the portrayal of Amish life. However…that could be my own ignorance talking, and I liked this.

on ocean boulevard

On Ocean Boulevard, by Mary Alice Monroe (review forthcoming). I loved the sea turtle and conservation aspects of this, but I didn’t have much connection with the characters, except Cara. I do love Southern fiction though!

sister dear

Sister Dear, by Hannah Mary McKinnon. (review forthcoming). So…this didn’t end like I expected, which is good. But I disliked all the characters, so there’s that. These people are not right.

of silver and shadow

Of Silver and Shadow, by Jennifer Gruenke (review forthcoming). This was an excellent fantasy read!

the summer set

The Summer Set, by Aimee Agresti (review forthcoming). I enjoyed all the Shakespeare, but…these characters read more like young teenagers that 40-somethings. Selfish, willful, no consideration for anyone besides themselves…and everyone was sleeping with everyone else. (Not that I’m saying teenagers do all that, but these people were completely immature and vapid.)

madquerade at middlecrest abbey

Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey, by Abigail Wilson (review forthcoming). I enjoyed this murder mystery mixed with lots of family drama.

Stopped Reading

Valentine, by Elizabeth Wetmore. I read 25% of this, but…it was a little too dark and gritty and depressing for me right now, especially considering current dark events. Definitely my issue, not the novel’s.

Queen of the Owls, by Barbara Linn Probst. I think I made it about 10-15% of the way through this, but the voice was too depressing for me to slog through. Just not a good fit.

Bubblegum, by Adam Levin. Just no. That is all.

The Best Books I Read in March (2020)

I read 22 books in March, bringing my total to 64 so far for the year. There were some less-than-stellar ones, but three books really stood out for me.

smoke bitten

Smoke Bitten, by Patricia Briggs. The Mercy Thompson series is phenomenal, and this was an excellent addition to it. Like, I read the entire thing straight through in about four hours on a Friday night, as my reward for making it through my first week working from home.

night of the dragon

Night of the Dragon, by Julie Kagawa.  I’m sad this series is over, but I was enthralled while it lasted. Loved the mythology and characters, the melding of magic and custom. Definitely read these books!

ruthless gods

Ruthless Gods, by Emily A. Duncan. The second book in the Something Dark and Holy series, and it was exceptional. Dark, cold, bloody…and absolutely mesmerizing.

What I Read in March (2020)

Books Read in March:  22

Books Read for the Year: 64/200

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Don’t Give Up by Kyle Idleman (Spiritual/TBR). It turned out to be excellent timing for this read, considering the current state of the world.

Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier (classic). It’s been so long since I read this…apparently I was mentally mixing it up with Jane Eyre. Thoroughly enjoyed this re-read.

As Old as Time, by Liz Braswell (TBR). Loved this re-telling of Beauty and the Beast.

The Here and Now, by Ann (TBR) Brashares. This was an odd read. I enjoyed The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants much more.

Odd & True, by Cat Winters (TBR). This was a fairy tale, but not, about two strong sisters trying to determine truth from fiction.

For Review:

what the other 3 don't know

What the Other Three Don’t Know, by Spencer Hyde. I’m kind of on the fence on this one. I enjoyed it—and loved—the banter between the characters, but their almost-instant bonding felt like a stretch for me.


The Deep, by Alma Katsu. I love stories about The Titanic, so this was a natural pick for me. However, the narrative felt quite disjointed to me, making it a less-than-engrossing read.

the immortal conquistador

The Immortal Conquistador, by Carrie Vaughn. It’s been years since I read any of the Kitty books, but I enjoyed this tale of a vampire conquistador/Wild West citizen and some of his adventures.

the rome of fall

The Rome of Fall, by Chad Alan Gibbs. High school football in small-town Alabama—and the power wielded by those involved in it. I don’t even like football, and I enjoyed this. The whole times I was reading this, I kept thinking of Joshilyn Jackson’s gods in Alabama. “There are gods in Alabama…” (One of my favorite books ever.)

queen of the unwanted

Queen of the Unwanted, by Jenna Glass (review forthcoming). Okay, so I probably should have read the first book in The Women’s War series before reading this…but at the same time, I had no problems figuring out what was going on. I enjoyed this, although the culture was quite depressing.

the amish teacher's dilemma

The Amish Teacher’s Dilemma, by Patricia Davids. A sweet, uplifting romance, perfect for these trying times.


Sparrow, by Mary Cecilia Jackson. Parts of this were very hard to read, but in the end it was inspiring as well as entertaining. I’m all for women learning how to be strong. And ballet.

tigers not daughters

Tigers, Not Daughters, by Samantha Mabry. This…was not an easy read. There are several POV characters, which can be confusing, although the sisters area all so distinct it was easy to keep them straight in my mind. One of them is pretty unlikable. And one of them is dead, so there’s that. I also didn’t get a good sense of the culture the book is touted for, either. It seemed like a secondary detail at best, and pretty generic in truth to me. (One of my closest friends is Latin-American, and this family and cultural surroundings just seem bland in comparison.)

the sea glass cottage

The Sea Glass Cottage, by RaeAnne Thayne. RaeAnne Thayne is one of the very few romance authors I’ll read without questions. This is another solid read from her.

the last human

The Last Human, by Zack Jordan. This was an okay read, but I didn’t love it. The author made me feel sympathy for a gigantic spider-alien, which really says something, considering my fear of spiders, but some of this just didn’t quite add up to me.

the darkness we hid

The Darkness We Hide, by Debra Webb. I enjoyed this, which seems to wrap up The Undertaker’s Daughter story. Lots of dark family secrets are unearthed here, and as always, I enjoyed every page.

jack kerouac

Jack Kerouac is Dead to me, by Gae Polisner. This book broke my heart. In a good way. It’s not bright and cheery, but is a strong coming-of-age story and I highly recommend it.

night of the dragon

Night of the Dragon, by Julie Kagawa (review forthcoming). I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series and I hate to see it end, but this was an excellent conclusion…even if it didn’t quite end how I hoped.

ruthless gods

Ruthless Gods, by Emily A. Duncan (review forthcoming).  The second dark and mesmerizing book in the Something Dark and Holy series. This may be dark and bloody and cold…but the writing is phenomenal and I am totally invested in these characters.

the lucky ones

The Lucky Ones, by Liz Lawson (review forthcoming). May’s twin brother was killed in a school shooting a year ago. She’s trying to get her life back together—and then she meets the boy whose mother is representing the killer in court. This is about survivors of a school shooting and what they go through. It doesn’t deal with the shooting itself much, just focuses on the devastating aftermath.

we didn't ask for this

We Didn’t Ask for This, by Aldi Alsaid (review forthcoming). I guess my main issue with this book—the one that niggled at the back of my mind the entire time I was reading—was how unbelievable it was to me that an entire high school of kids was basically being held hostage and the cops weren’t trying to get them out. That one thing was enough to make the book itself farfetched and unbelievable.

Just Because:

Smoke Bitten, by Patricia Briggs. Because the Mercy Thompson series is, hands-down, one of my favorite series ever. I read this straight through in one sitting, as my reward for Working From Home Week One.

 Left Unfinished:

The Earl Not Taken, by A.S. Fenichel. I wanted to enjoy this, but Poppy and Rhys seemed like caricatures to me, and some of the details and action felt completely unbelievable to me, aespecially in that setting/society.

The Red Lotus, by Chris Bohjalian. I think I read about 30% of this…but, honestly, if you don’t care about the characters, what’s the point of reading?

Privateers, by Charlie Newton. I barely started this one. The first scene felt like a bad action movie, and I just wasn’t in the right mindset for that.

The Rogue, by Lee W. Brainard (Planets Shaken). Lots of scientific jargon in this one and it felt like the characters were lecturing—“As you know, Bob…”—making it impossible for me to like them.


The Best Books I Read in February (2020)

I read 22 books in February, bringing my total for the year to 42.

The three best of these were:

the robe

The Robe, by Lloyd C. Douglas. I first read this so long ago that I remembered nothing about it, but it’s the story of Marcellus, a Roman soldier who wins Christ’s robe at Golgotha, and then sets out to find out the truth about the Nazarene carpenter. I enjoyed so much seeing Biblical figures come to life!

isaiah's legacy

Isaiah’s Legacy, by Mesu Andrews. The story of Manasseh, a biblical king who did great evil, and how he comes to know Yahweh. I love Mesu Andrews’ way of bringing biblical tales to life, and this was a wonderful read.

the grace kelly dress

The Grace Kelly Dress, by Brenda Janowitz. Three women. Three weddings. One dress. The story of three generations of women and the dress they all wore at their wedding. I loved this!

What I Read in February (2020)

Books Read in February:  22

Books Read for the Year: 42/200

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck (classic). I read this years ago, in high school. I remember it being much better that first time. This time…not so much.

The Robe, by Lloyd C. Douglas(TBR). Also a re-read, and wow! I loved this!

Love Without Limits, by Nick Vujicic (spiritual). This is an inspiring read.

In 27 Days, by Alison Gervais (TBR). I ended up loving this! I see there’s a sequel out there somewhere, too.

Everywhere You Want to Be, by Christina June (TBR). Simple and sweet, and fun to follow these characters farther.

For Review:


Whiteout, by Adriana Anders. This was an enjoyable romantic suspense. The setting was just unbelievable to me—I’m not a fan of cold/snow/ice—and the author definitely brought that to life. This is the first book in a new series.

light changes everything

Light Changes Everything, by Nancy E. Turner. I enjoyed this historical fiction read, set in 1907 in the Arizona Territory. Mary Pearl could stay home and marry her wealthy suitor, but she chases her dreams and goes to art school instead. But trauma plagues Mary Pearl and changes her life and her family forever.

the janes

The Janes, by Louisa Luna. I hadn’t read the first book in the Alice Vega series, but had no problems jumping in with this one. Vega is an interesting character, and seeing how her mind works as she investigates the murders of two unidentified girls was intriguing.

what kind of girl

What Kind of Girl, by Alyssa Heinmel. There was a lot going on in this book about teen dating violence, eating disorders, anxiety…a lot going on. But, it was woven together well and managed to tell all the stories with aplomb and sympathy.

foul is fair

Fair is Foul, by Hannah Capin. I finished this, but I didn’t like the characters. Lots of violence, blood, revenge, and, frankly, straight up evil.

a good neighborhood

A Good Neighborhood, by Therese Anne Fowler. This was a challenging read. Racism in the South is a real thing, and this book captured it realistically enough to make me angry on the characters’ behalves. I did find the portrayal of churches and church-going people to be completely one-sided, judgmental, and unrealistic, however.

the borgia confessions

The Borgia Confessions, by Alyssa Palombo. Another book with zero likable characters, but the writing and setting were superbly done.

southern double cross

Southern Double Cross, by Caroline Fardig. This appears to be the third and final installment in the Southern B & B Mystery series, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first two (and the Java Jive Mystery series, also by this author).

isaiah's legacy

Isaiah’s Legacy, by Mesu Andrews. This is a continuation of the Prophets and Kings series. It’s the story of King Manasseh and how his childhood friend–and eventual wife–turns him away from Yahweh and to evil. It’s also the story of how he and his wife, Shulle, realize the truth and turn Israel back to God. Mesu Andrews’ books were my introduction to biblical fiction, and I love how she brings biblical characters and events to Technicolor life! This was another wonderful read!

ten days gone

Ten Days Gone, by Beverly Long. I enjoyed this suspense/ thriller.

master of sorrows

Master of Sorrows, by Justin Call. I enjoyed this fantasy read, and look forward to reading more in this series (I do assume there will be more.)

a highlander in a pickup

A Highlander in a Pickup, by Laura Trentham. An enjoyable entry into the Highland, Georgia series. Gotta love those men in kilts!


Tucker (Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas #2), by Emily March. From men in kilts to Texas men. Neither is a bad thing…another solid romance read.

children of the stars

Children of the Stars, by Mario Escobar. I feel like this one lost something in translation. Set amidst the persecution of the Jews, it skirts the atrocities ever-present then, but the two brothers that are the main characters never felt like they were truly in danger, so it didn’t seem realistic to me.

the girl with the louding voice

The Girl with the Louding Voice, by Abi Daré. A 14-year-old Nigerian girl who has spent her entire life in servitude must fight to make herself heard as she chases her dream. This is a powerful, powerful book.

the grace kelly dress

The Grace Kelly Dress, by Brenda Janowitz (forthcoming). I enjoyed every page of the three different timelines!

lost at sea

Lost at Sea, by Erica Boyce (forthcoming). This was an interesting read. I do recommend it.

The Best Books I Read in January (2020)

I read 20 books in January. There were five or six more that I started and DNF because I just couldn’t get into them, but three books I read were excellent.

the little bookshop

The Little Bookshop on the Seine, by Rebecca Raisin. This was an enchanting read—and I now have the author’s other books ready and waiting on my Kindle. I loved both the bookshops in the novel, and thoroughly enjoyed every page.

everywhere holy

Everywhere Holy, by Kara Lawler. This isn’t a book about fancy, sweeping things, but about savoring the simple things, the small things. I don’t have kids or live in the country, but loved reading about the author’s experiences.

i've seen the end of you

I’ve Seen the End of You, by W. Lee Warren, MD. This was probably the most unexpected thing I read in January. It’s written by a neurosurgeon who wrestles with his faith:  how does he give his patients hope when he, a man of science, has seen what’s in store for them with an incurable disease (neuroblastoma)? Nonfiction is hit or miss for me, but the voice and the stories in this one made it un-put-down-able.

What I Read In January (2020)

Books Read in January: 20

Books Read for the Year: 20/200

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

I changed it up a bit this year. Instead of reading one book in each of my five categories (spiritual, classic, nonfiction, cultural, TBR), I’m still reading five books…but one classical, one spiritual, and three from my TBR, which has gotten completely out of control.

Keep It Shut, by Karen Ehman (spiritual). This was a good read, full of solid suggestions.

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame (classic). Eh. Toad was annoying enough to kind of ruin the whole thing for me.

Nine Perfect Strangers, by Liane Moriarity (TBR). I really wasn’t impressed with this at all. I had high hopes, but it was very slow.

A Conspiracy in Belgravia, by Sherry Thomas (TBR). I thoroughly enjoyed this! Charlotte and her multiple chins…

All That’s Bright and Strange, by James Market (TBR). This was quite odd.

For Review:

jan anonymous

Jane Anonymous, by Laurie Faria Stolarz. This was a…I don’t know, sad, hard, inspiring, difficult, take your pick of adjectives…read. Jane has a normal teenage life until she is kidnapped by a stranger and held captive for seven months before she manages to escape. She makes friends with a fellow prisoner, and his support is what helps her make it through.  But going back to her old life is not so simple.

the night country

The Night Country, by Melissa Albert. Dark fairy tales are back in this excellent follow-up to The Hazel Wood. I think I liked it better than the first one!

the little bookshop

The Little Bookshop on the Seine, by Rebecca Raisin. I loved this book! I loved both bookshops, and, although Paris isn’t really on my list of places, I really enjoyed Sarah’s adventures there. Even better that this is not really a romance, but a story of a woman coming into her own.

westering women

Westering Women, by Sandra Dallas. I loved the idea of an all-women wagon train headed west, but the actual execution didn’t live up to my expectation. The writing felt rushed and abrupt in places.

a beginning at the end

A Beginning at the End, by Mike Chen. This was not your typical dystopian novel. It pretty much avoided telling about what exactly happened to kill off most of the world’s population, and instead focused on a detailed look at a handful of characters a few years later, as they struggled with their own problems in a world turned on its head.

i've seen the end of you

I’ve Seen the End of You, by W. Lee Warren, MD. This was an incredible read! Nonfiction, written by a brain surgeon who thinks he knows how each of his patients will fare, which causes him to struggle with his own faith—until he experiences an unfathomable personal tragedy.

everywhere holy

Everywhere Holy, by Kara Lawler. I enjoyed this so much!


The Vanished Birds, by Simon Jiminez. I’m…a little mad I finished this, because I feel like it was a waste of my time. The writing is great, but the story just wasn’t for me.

big lies in a small town

Big Lies in a Small Town, by Diane Chamberlain. This started off a little slow, but eventually the dual timelines both had me intrigued.

don't read the comments

Don’t Read the Comments, by Eric Smith. Although about a serious subject—cyber-bullying and sexual harassment—the tone was light and made the entire book quick to read.

the prized girl

The Prized Girl, by Amy K. Green. I realized when I finished this that I really didn’t like any of the characters.

echoes between us

Echoes Between Us, by Katie McGarry. I thoroughly enjoyed this! Flawed characters, and the MC’s quirks made me want to hang out with her—and her friends.

Off Script, by Kate Watson (review forthcoming). I’m still a little undecided about this. It was a fun read, but the self-absorbed characters almost did me in.

Highfire, by Eoin Colfer (review forthcoming). This was such a unique take on dragons and their mythology! I really enjoyed it and the tone/voice of the entire book

Everyday Hero, by Laura Trentham (review forthcoming). Redemption and renewal are the focus of this book. I loved snarky Greer, and Emmett was an amazing character!

Left Unfinished:

Lean on Me, by Pat Simmons. I loved the cover! But…the characters felt so cliched —like caricatures—I just could not make myself care.

The Companion, by Kim Taylor Blakemore. Dark, depressing, and all the characters were unlikable.

Zed, by Joanna Kaavenna. I couldn’t get all the cutesy tech/app/AI names straight, and the POV was too distant for me.

Dark Mother Earth, by Kristian Novak. This might have been a really good book—I loved the premise—but the MC started out as someone who just sat around and felt sorry for himself, and I just wasn’t in the right mindset for that.

Followers, by Megan Angelo. Definitely a case of the book just not being a good fit for me. I’m not a fan of social media in general, so a book focused on that just succeeded in annoying me. My issue, not the book.

Best Books I Read in December (2019)

I only read 15 books in December, and most were just okay—good.

Here are the three I enjoyed the most:

Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. Come on, you knew this was going to make the list! It’s my all-time favorite book. I get immersed in the culture—even the parts I don’t like—and the characters are so vivid. Scarlett, although almost entirely unlikable, is larger-than-life, and so is Rhett. Melanie is wonderful. Ashley is…meh. But the book itself is a wonderful, compelling read. (And, in case you’re wondering, it’s absolutely where the name of this blog came from.)

Take the Day Off, by Robert Morris. Yes, Pastor Robert is my pastor. But he writes such important spiritual truths, and my life, health, and well-being have all improved so much since I started implementing a Sabbath day of rest every week.

Higher Power Has a name, by Cavanaugh James. This was an interesting read. I haven’t read too many (if any) faith-based books talking about the problems in our current culture…written by someone who was born in this current culture (he’s a Millennial), so that was an interesting perspective on the present problems.