Top Ten Tuesday: 11 Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Official topic: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf

This seemed like an easy topic, but the more I think about it, the more complicated it becomes! I could talk all about my #TBR mountain and how it grows weekly, but instead I’ll share a list of the most recent books I have acquired copies of (both purchased and through review services). Some of these I will be reading VERY soon!

(titles linked to Goodreads)

11 Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf

Contemporary Books… I love the bright colors on these covers!

The Last Shot by Amy Matayo

If For Any Reason by Courtney Walsh

The Solid Grounds Coffee Company by Carla Laureano

A Girl’s Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

Historical Books… I LOVE these 5 covers!

The Thief of Lanwyn Manor by Sarah E. Ladd

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White

Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Follow the Dawn by Rachelle Rea Cobb

Bonus 11th BOOK: The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan

cover The London Restoration

I recently read a really early ARC of The London Restoration, so it’s technically on my “shelf”! This is one I will be rereading in paperback form! (It also made it on to my Goodreads favorites shelf — only a few titles a year make the cut.)

It’s a wonderfully-told historical romance set in post-WWII London.

See my Goodreads review here!

Your turn! What books have you added to your shelves recently? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Review: "When I Come Home Again" by Jennifer Rodewald

I’m happy to be sharing a review today for Jennifer Rodewald’s new novel, When I Come Home Again, the first book in her new “Big Prairie” series!

About the Book

When a family crisis calls him back to Big Prairie, will Craig Erikson be able to work through past mistakes and the tragedy that had sent him searching for a new place to call home?

Brenna Blaum had been sure of three things in her life—her brother, her running, and her dad’s star receiver. But in a matter of a year’s time, everything she’d counted on fell apart, leaving her devastated. Seven years later, she’s stable again. She has a supportive boyfriend, fulfilling career, and close friends. She keeps her past heartache where it belongs—in her rearview mirror. Until the man who broke her heart finds his way back to Big Prairie.

Craig Erikson had it all—popularity, success, and the love of his high school coach’s daughter. But after a year of mistakes that ended in a tragic accident, he’d left Big Prairie—the place he’d thought to always call home—hoping that without his antagonizing presence, Brenna would be able to heal. Now his mother desperately needs him, as do two young boys in her care. Craig has little choice but to return for good.

Unsure that she can forgive him, Brenna does her best to avoid him. Irritated that she ignores him as if they’d never meant anything to each other, Craig becomes determined not to allow it.

Life in a small town forces their interaction, making them confront their unresolved issues and igniting emotions that have smoldered for seven years. As Craig and Brenna are pushed together, can they endure the hard places still littering their lives? If so, is it possible to find their way back to love and home again?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Insightful wisdom about grief: “You move forward, but you do not move on. You do not get over it. You do not just forget the people  you have loved because things have changed.”

-When I Come Home Again by Jennifer Rodewald

When I Come Home Again has all the charm of a small midwest town, much like its setting of “Big Prairie”, Nebraska. With a beloved cast of characters and homecoming theme, it also explores a VERY emotionally impactful romance balanced with slight humor. One thing I always enjoy about Jennifer Rodewald’s novels is that her stories have this resonance and complexity — and they aren’t afraid to deal with the “whys” and hard things in life, too.

This story has a unique POV voice that tells from 3rd person (as most novels) but functions sometimes as a 1st person narrative with direct thoughts and feelings of the hero and heroine. This allows for a more intimate view of their emotions and personalities, which works really well for the reader to understand the characters. It makes Brenna likable from the very beginning, and Craig someone to root for.

I didn’t expect the history of Brenna and Craig’s relationship to be so heartbreakingly bittersweet, but it is appropriately so and allows for some deep issues to be brought to light — thought provoking things for the reader, to. The emotional progression of both Brenna and Craig felt very real and authentic: a slow transition from pain to hope, the processing of grief and anger, and the way regrets can lead to bitterness or to repentance.

At the same time, this story is filled with the HOPE of second chances, the joy of friendships, and the opportunity for God to use seemingly insurmountable things for good and His glory. This masterful story is one I will revisit and see more layers and depth to, I’m sure. I’m looking forward to more Big Prairie stories from Jennifer!

Thank you to the author for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Audiobook review: "The Curse of Misty Wayfair" by Jaime Jo Wright

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother–who is battling dementia–compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns–and with it, Heidi’s fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

Goodreads | Amazon

The Curse of Misty Wayfair is an absolutely ENTHRALLING suspense novel! Jaime has done it again with a split-time premise whose historic and contemporary storylines are equally as riveting and exquisitely intertwined. With creepy and gothic tones, a small town comes to life and hides a legend both Heidi and Thea must uncover to learn their purpose and history. With a considerate approach, Jaime also handles anxiety and both mental and physical disabilities in this story in a unique way, drawing attention to worth and strength all the while. All of the elements of this novel work together to present a strong story of identity, belonging, and purpose — but the true brilliance of this story is in the telling. I was surprised more than once, and relieved to learn the goings-on behind some things, too!

And I must mention the way the two heroes of the story interact with and compliment the heroines — it’s fantastic!

Bonus fun things: the rescued animals, bow hunting analogies (they were cool!), old time photography, and the Hulk.

I listened to the audio presentation of this novel! The narrator did a great job with inflection and delivery, even lending different accents and pronunciations to the different eras. (and I am picky about narration.) I would recommend it for fans of audiobooks!

Review: "Above the Fold" by Rachel Scott McDaniel

Above the Fold happens to be the first book I finished reading in 2020 & it’s set in the “roaring” 1920s! 🙂

About the Book

After losing the love of her life to a big city journalism job, Elissa Tillman pours herself into the suffragette movement and her secretarial work helping keep her father’s Pittsburgh newspaper afloat.

Cole Parker returns to the steel city with the phantom failures of his past nipping his heels. All he asks of the future is a second chance with the woman he once spurned.

The murder of a millionaire offers the perfect chance for Elissa to prove to her father and the world that she’s a serious journalist. But there’s a catch—she has to compete for the story. Against none other than Cole Parker, the very man who shattered her heart.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Above the Fold is a fun and romantic debut from author Rachel Scott McDaniel! It has everything one would want in a 1920s tale: snappy dialogue, a thrilling mystery to investigate, a competition between rival formerly-romantically-entangled reporters, swoony romance, and deeply expressed themes of forgiveness, unconditional love, and a heavenly Father who never forsakes.

Reading a historical novel like this with simultaneous fun and light banter backed by some serious themes is a rare treat! Elissa and Cole come to life on the page as they spar (a la His Girl Friday) while some serious sparks fly! I appreciated the ways the reality of women’s changing independence and roles in the workforce in this era were depicted and kindly handled by most of the male figures in the story (we have to have a few villains, you know). Cole, especially, understands Elissa in the sweetest way and just wants her to realize it.

I was impressed with many aspects of this story, but one in particular I loved was the way it depicted 1920s Pittsburgh with its busy streets, industry, battles with Prohibition and speakeasies, and the exciting and daring life of those in the news business. Vivid depiction of setting is something that seems to come naturally to Rachel’s pen.

Thank you to Just Read Tours for the review copy of this novel. This is my honest review.

Twelfth Night, edition 2: Christmas Story Mini Reviews

Happy Twelfth Night! Last year on January 5th, I shared the first edition of Christmas Story Mini Reviews. This year I’m finally getting around to sharing my thoughts on some of the Christmas stories I read in 2019!

Title links will take you to Goodreads for full book info.

Christmas at Whitefriars by Elizabeth Camden (novella)

A delightful Christmas novella all about fellowship and romance! I enjoyed the setting and charming history that went with it, and the awkwardly shy hero paired with the pleasant heroine who had to overcome a few things herself (loved how that was portrayed!).

The Royally Yours novella collection

It’s perfectly sweet collection of 4 Royal romances set in a quirky Christmas town! I want to visit Tinsel, too, and sample scones, stay in an inn, and visit the library. 🙂

One Royal Christmas by Melissa Tagg ~ It was royally adorable with a bookish king & a more-adventurous-than-she-realizes heroine. I especially liked the book note aspect 😉

The Reluctant Princess by Betsy St. Amant ~ Princess + celebrity charm, nostalgic traditions, sarcasm & things that define a person.

A Royal Wonderland by Liz Johnson ~ A Christmas decor competition, a reluctant prince, and a small town girl learning to overcome her regrets all make up this sweet story of the season with a SWOONY romance, apples and scones, and one well used ladder!

A Tinsel Holiday by Ashley Clark ~ The cutest “what if” a situation like the classic Roman Holiday were only the beginning? Her story plays on characters who have an established friendship and makes for a fantastic romance.

Christmas at the Circus by Joanne Bischof (short story)

A darling little short story that “catches up” with beloved characters and shows sweet Christmas moments in their lives. I especially liked the glimpses of Holland and the surprise for Ella!

Mistletoe Menagerie by Janine Rosche (novella)

This is a darling story with a surprising amount of depth and emotion. I laughed along with the characters, related to the pain and grief in their hearts, and rejoiced in their moments of friendship and the beginnings of romance. I might have a favorite new zoo animal, too: GIRAFFES!

I am looking forward to more from Janine Rosche’s pen in 2020!

Welcome to Wishing Bridge by Ruth Logan Herne

Though not 100% intended as a Christmas novel, it does take place over the Christmas season. I’m totally counting it!

I really enjoyed the audiobook of this story! I feel like I want to visit Wishing Bridge now. The cast of characters was vibrant (a broad cast, but it never felt too big), the narration was spot-on (I really like Erin!), and the endearing characters have real-life problems, emotions, and triumphs over the course of the story. I especially liked the themes of overcoming, sacrificial love, and hope. I am excited to revisit Wishing Bridge in the next book in the series!

Thank you to the publishers of Royally Yours and Christmas at the Circus for the review copies. These are my honest reviews.

Did you read any Christmas stories this year? Do you read them into January?

Best of 2019: Happy New Year #OntheBlog

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020!!! Thank you for celebrating with me this week #OntheBlog! If you want to see my favorites lists, check out the links below.

  1. Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks
  2. Best of 2019: Contemporary Fiction
  3. Best of 2019: (General) Historical Fiction
  4. Best of 2019: (Inspirational) Historical Fiction
  5. Best of 2019: Film & TV + Top Ten Tuesday
  6. Best of 2019: Happy New Year #OnTheBlog
favorites book stack

With a New Year comes new goals for most people. For me and my corner of the blogging world, I want to set a couple goals. I want to read 100 books this year. That’s maybe crazy because it’s more than I ever have, but I want to try it!

I also am participating in the the new 2020 Reading Challenge on Modern Mrs. Darcy. I met THE Mrs. Darcy 🙂 , Anne Bogel, earlier this year in Nashville, and since then I’ve really enjoyed her content on social media and her website with all things bookish and fun. If you check out her reading challenge, she also has printable content and a free printable reading journal that’s super cool. I’ll be using it this year — I’m sure it will show up on my Instagram at some point!

Way back when (in 2015), I created my own reading challenge checklist, if you’re looking for inspiration of your own!

It’s always interesting to reflect on a year and see what posts are most popular! Here are my most-read posts and most popular book reviews here on The Green Mockingbird.

most popular posts

most popular reviews

As always, I appreciate my blog readers very much and I look forward to more interesting conversations in 2020! If you have any suggestions for post topics or content, I would love to hear them! Drop them in the comments or use my “Connect with me” page to send them through email.

Best of 2019: Film & TV + Top Ten Tuesday

Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration! Like last year, I’m separating the categories of my yearly best-of lists over a few days. It’s going to take me a few days to talk about all the stories I loved in 2019!

I’m also linking up with Top Ten Tuesday today, the topic being Favorites of 2019 ~~ my twist being fav movies & shows!

  1. Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks
  2. Best of 2019: Contemporary Fiction
  3. Best of 2019: (General) Historical Fiction
  4. Best of 2019: (Inspirational) Historical Fiction
  5. Best of 2019: Film & TV + Top Ten Tuesday!
  6. Best of 2019: Happy New Year #OnTheBlog

So far, I have talked all about the books I loved. Today I shift focus slightly and talk about story in a different form: TV & movies! From this list it’s obvious how my taste is eclectic 😉

Best of 2019: Film & TV

FILM FAVORITES

Avengers: Endgame (Disney) | Yes, I admit it. I’m a big fan of the MCU, moreso in recent years, as I’ve seen Disney take these characters on unforgettable story arcs all wonderfully (if not always perfectly) intertwined. I’m excited to see what 2020 brings with new additions to the next “phase” of films!

The Boys are Back (Miramax) | I discovered this 2009 film re-airing on television. It is a humorous and poignant look at family and grief, and one father’s journey to learning how to do “life” in a different way.

Harriet (Focus Features) | This real-life story of a BRAVE woman was both encouraging and tragic. I wonder if the real Harriet ever considered how her story could still be impacting the world 150 years later?

Overcomer (Affirm Films) | A film for anyone in the family to enjoy, this story touched my heart with its surprises and depth.

Ad Astra (Fox) | Stunning visuals combine in this “to the stars” movie, but it’s not all about exploration and the cosmos. Its message about life, family, and people needing PEOPLE is subtle and beautifully expressed.

Midway (Lionsgate) | If it’s a WWII story, count me in! This well-told story incorporates a cast based on real-life heroes.

Little Women (Sony) | In theaters now, this re-imagining of Alcott’s classic shows the March sisters in a fresh way. I really liked the way the non-linear timeline of the film was presented! Saoirse plays Jo SO WELL.

Downton Abbey (Focus Features) | Avid fans of the series rejoiced when the movie-length story released! It is a continuation with beloved characters! Though I didn’t love *every* aspect of this presentation, I did love the way they hint at a happily-ever-after for Tom. And I loved ALL the scenes and one-liners of Lady Violet’s.

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (Disney) | Yes, I’m a fan. Every scene was fascinating! I did not expect THAT ENDING. I love it when a story surprises me.

TV FAVORITES

I have loved my PBS channel this year! The final season of Poldark left me happy because it ended hopefully. Also, George Warleggan was a surprise this round!

New seasons of Victoria and Grantchester were great, too! I’m still working my way through the PBS Country Music documentary series.

My recommended Hallmark channel Christmas movie list this year includes A Godwink Christmas: Meant For Love, Picture a Perfect Christmas, and A Christmas Love Story, the latter being my favorite! Also, I enjoyed Christmas On My Mind, adapted from a Denise Hunter novel (woohoo)!

What did you watch this year? Do you have favorite movies to recommend? Did you participate in Top Ten Tuesday with a favorites list?