Recommended Reading: Summer Vacation

With summer in full swing, I thought it would be fun to share some themed book recommendations! If you are packing a stack of books with you in your suitcase or just want to escape to an idyllic setting through an armchair adventure before summer is over, I hope you find something on this list to add to your TBR!

at the beach

Is It Any Wonder by Courtney Walsh Goodreads | Review

A coastguard hero, Nantucket Island setting, a real lighthouse, and a second-chance romance make this the perfect beach read.

A Glitter of Gold by Liz Johnson Goodreads | Review

The nautical history of Savannah, Georgia, a pirate story, and a search for treasure combine in this romance.

in the mountains

Brunch at Bittersweet Café by Carla Laureano Goodreads | Review

This whole “Supper Club” series showcases Denver and its nearby mountainous region, but this second book in the series showcases it from the air, too (pilot hero!). Perfect for lovers of romance with depth and lots of food.

Count Me In by Mikal Dawn Goodreads | Review

Did someone say coffee? Or paragliding in the Cascades? 😉 This romcom is for the adventurous at heart!

in the city

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay Goodreads | Review

This forever-favorite epistolary novel has nods to classic literature aplenty yet explores its own Chicago setting through the life of Samantha, the heroine.

Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility Goodreads | Review

This loose retelling of Austen’s Sense & Sensibility has sisters moving across the country to experience the culture of Austin, Texas through fresh eyes.

in a small town

Keep Holding On by Melissa Tagg Goodreads | Review

Melissa Tagg’s “Walker Family” romcom series is perfect for fans of small town life as most of it is set in the fictional community of Maple Valley, Iowa. This one combines an orchard, baby goats, and a tiny bit of a prodigal’s return with a romance.

The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson Goodreads | Review

Neighborhood life and a rivalry anchor this hilarious rom-com set in Abingdon, Virginia.

traveling abroad

Love in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan Goodreads | Review

This favorite novella takes readers to caffeinated corners of Vienna, Austria (with a brief trip to Prague!) on a journey that explores the romance of history and culture — and love, of course.

Then There Was You by Kara Isaac Goodreads | Review

See Sydney, Australia through the eyes of a Paige — an American transplant to the country whom the hero, Josh, never hesitates to initiate into the Aussie culture through pranks and humor. A heart-deep story of healing and romance can be found between these pages, too.

Star Rising by Janet Ferguson Goodreads

This books takes the characters on a tour of Ireland through some hilarious (and relatable) travel mishaps and an unexpected romance.

What is your preferred destination for summer travel? Would you rather read at the beach or beside a mountain lake? What’s your favorite “armchair adventure” destination?

Cover Reveal: “In Search of a Prince” by Toni Shiloh

I’m so happy to be sharing a cover reveal for Toni Shiloh’s upcoming novel, In Search of a Prince! I’m very excited for this story and impressed with the stunning cover. Read on for more about Toni and the novel.

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and multi-published Christian contemporary romance author. She writes to bring God glory and to learn more about His goodness. Her novels, Grace Restored, was a 2019 Holt Medallion finalist, Risking Love a 2020 Selah Award finalist, and The Truth About Fame a 2021 Holt Medallion finalist.

A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and of the Virginia Chapter, Toni seeks to encourage authors in the writing industry. She loves connecting with readers and authors alike via social media. You can learn more about her writing at http://tonishiloh.com.

Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads | BookBub

Author Newsletter: http://tonishiloh.com/subscribe Blog: www.inspyromance.com  Blog: http://diversitybetweenthepages.wordpress.com

About the Book

Brielle Adebayo is fully content teaching at a New York City public school and taking annual summer vacations with her mother to Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her mom drops the mother of all bombshells—Brielle is a princess in the kingdom of Oloro Ilé, Africa, and she must immediately assume her royal position, since the health of her grandfather, King Tiwa Jimoh Adebayo, is failing.

Distraught by her mother’s betrayal, Brielle is further left spinning when the Oloro Ilé Royal Council brings up an old edict that states she must marry before assuming the throne or the crown will be passed to another. Uncertain who to choose from the council’s list of bachelors, she struggles with the decision along with the weight of her new role in a new country. With her world totally shaken, she must take a chance on love and brave the perils a wrong decision may bring.

THE COVER!

Cover Reveal: “Shiloh” by Lori Benton

Congratulations to author Lori Benton on the reveal of her new cover!

Today’s the day to reveal Shiloh, the second installment in her “Kindred” duology. If you haven’t yet read Mountain Laurel (Kindred #1) be sure to grab a copy before Shiloh releases this autumn (10/5/21). Shiloh also revisits several key characters from Lori’s debut novel, Burning Sky. If you’ve yet to make their acquaintance, good news! There’s plenty of time to meet the frontier denizens of Shiloh, New York in the pages of Burning Sky before Shiloh’s October release — that’s my TBR plan!

About the Book

Award-winning author Lori Benton delivers a rich historical novel of faith, hope, and second chances.

DECEMBER 1795

A year has passed since Ian Cameron reluctantly sent his uncle’s former slave, Seona, and their son, Gabriel, north to his kin in Boston. Determined to fully release them, Ian strives to make a life at Mountain Laurel, his inherited plantation, along with Judith, the wife he’s vowed to love and cherish. But when tragedy leaves him alone with his daughter, Mandy, and his three remaining slaves, he decides to return north. An act of kindness on the journey provides Ian the chance to obtain land near the frontier settlement of Shiloh, New York. Perhaps even the hope for a new life with those he still holds dear.

In Boston, Seona has taken her first tentative steps as a freewoman, while trying to banish Ian from her heart. The Cameron family thinks she and Gabriel should remain under their protection. Seona’s mother, Lily, thinks it’s time they strike out on their own. Then Ian arrives, offering a second chance Seona hadn’t dared imagine. But the wide-open frontier of Shiloh feels as boundless and terrifying as her newfound freedom—a place of new friends and new enemies, where deep bonds are renewed but old hurts stand ready to rear their heads. It will take every ounce of faith and courage Ian and Seona can muster to fight for their family and their future . . . together.

…the COVER!

Shiloh Cover

Isn’t it just gorgeous!? I think if fits well with the “botanical” feel of the first book, Mountain Laurel.

4 Historical Romances with Beauty and the Beast Vibes

I will use any excuse to talk about great romance novels. Since it’s Valentine’s week, I’ve compiled a list of 4 must-read historical romances with Beauty and the Beast vibes. I confess to falling in love with the 1991 version of the film in my childhood, likely due to the A-MA-ZING library and singing dishes as much as the intrigue of the romance. Let’s admit it. The Beast can be a bit too prickly sometimes. That’s where stories like these come in…

Each of these 4 novels offers a romantic story and unique setting, with smart heroines and scarred heroes – all shaped by past circumstances or trials.

The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews | Review

The Lost Letter is a second chance romance reuniting a lady-turned-governess and a veteran of siege in India. The Victorian setting, library, and initially bristly hero make the B&B parallels evident. Matthews’ stories are always super romantic and I appreciate the way she takes great care to be historical accurate.

Beauty Among Ruins by J’nell Ciesielski | Review

Beauty Among Ruins is an exquisite romance set against the perils of war and loss. A WWI estate-turned-convalescent-home in the Scottish Lowlands is the setting for this couple. Alec’s initial brooding and distance disguise a poetic heart that answers Lily’s in a beautiful way, while a slight mystery complicates their relationship and keeps the reader hooked.

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof | Review

In subtle and surprising ways, The Lady and the Lionheart highlights the contrast between light and dark, good and evil, and the redemptive power of sacrificial love. The Victorian-era Virginia setting of a traveling circus is the backdrop of the pairing of charming-yet-secretive Charlie with sweet Ella, a nurse he befriends.

Not By Sight by Kate Breslin | Review

World War I intrigue and secrets interweave with the unlikely pairing of two socialites — the hero a conscientious objector secretly working for the crown, the heroine a suffragette trying to prove her cause. Themes of sacrifice and trust underscore this retelling.

Best Books of 2020

Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration!

I set a Goodreads reading goal at 100 books! I got close to making it happen at 86 books — and I’m happy with the high number I achieved. With all the bad news and unexpectedness of 2020, I have found books and the online bookish community to be a bright, positive spot in many ways. I hope you have, too.

I’ve included 20 books, 2-3 per genre, in my BEST list this year! If you’d like to see all of the books I read and read more extensive reviews, check out my 2020 Goodreads year in books or browse my blog archives.

THE (self-imposed) RULES: because sometimes I need to keep things brief, I’m choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my blog review (if applicable). At the end, I’ll be sharing popular posts on the blog this year.

All titles are inspirational fiction unless noted with *.

Best Books of 2020

Novellas

Fair as a Star by Mimi Matthews* | Review

Sweet romance. Compassion. Hope.

A Pressing Engagement by Anna Lee Huber*

Long-awaited event. Earl Gray the cat. Charismatic criminals.

Christmas in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan | Review

Belonging. Vulnerability. Vienna & the Tyrolean countryside.

Split Time

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes | Review

LIGHT. Longing. Hope.

Echoes Among the Stones by Jaime Jo Wright | Review

Puzzling mystery. Devotion. Collin O’Shaughnessy.

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes | Review

Sacrifice. Beauty in the commonplace and extraordinary. Poignant.

Contemporary

The Solid Grounds Coffee Co. by Carla Laureano | Review

Honesty. Complexity. Friendship.

Now and Then and Always by Melissa Tagg | Review

Winsome. Humorous. Faith.

The Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Hauck | Review

Redemption. Relationships. Enchanting concept.

Romantic Comedy

The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson | Review

Frenemies-to-romance. Farm animals. Rivalry.

Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner | Review

Wit. FOOD. Healing.

Close to You by Kara Isaac

Adventure. Unexpected love. Hobbits.

Thriller & Suspense

The Wind Will Howl by Sibella Giorello

Immersive setting. Classic-feel mystery. Smart.

Soul Raging by Ronie Kendig | Review

Twists. Revelations. Banter.

Chasing the White Lion by James R. Hannibal | Review

High-tech action. Suspense. Purpose.

Historical

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan | Review

Reconciliation. Friendship. Selflessness.

An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz

Lyrical prose. Strength on the frontier. Riveting romance.

Gentleman Jim by Mimi Matthews*

Daring adventure. Truth. Swoony romance.

Nonfiction

Special mention to a couple of nonfiction titles I enjoyed: Dream, Plan, and Go by Rachel McMillan, an inspirational travel memoir and guide; Everything Beautiful In Its Time by Jenna Bush Hager, a family-centric memoir of love and grief.

Popular #OnTheBlog in 2020

Most popular posts:

Most popular new book reviews:

That’s it for 2020! Happy new year to you all. As always, thank you for being a blog reader and part of this bookish community.

What are your favorite books you read this year? Do we share any favorites? Did you post a list of favorites on your blog or social media? I’d love for you to share in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Celestial Titles

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

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is a FREEBIE! I’ve decided to focus on specific titles, most of which I have read.

One definition of celestial is “pertaining to the sky or visible heaven, or to the universe beyond the earth’s atmosphere, as in celestial body”. I’ve chosen 10 titles that refer to things in the sky and beyond. Ones that just might encourage you to look up.

10 Celestial Titles

A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz | review

How a Star Falls by Amber Stokes | review

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin | review

Fair as a Star by Mimi Matthews | review

Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter | review

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes | review coming soon!

This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof | review

Under Scottish Stars by Carla Laureano | highly anticipated, on my TBR!

Moonlight Masquerade by Ruth Axtell | review

Where the Stars Meet the Sea by Heidi Kimball | on my TBR!

Did you participate in the week’s TTT? What topic did you choose? Share your links & thoughts in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Landscape #CoverLove

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

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Officially, Top Ten Tuesday Turns 10! Congratulations to the beginning ladies at The Broke and the Bookish for starting this Tuesday tradition and to Jana of That Artsy Reader Girl for continuing it!

The assignment this week is to pick a past topic and redo it or to pick one you haven’t done and participate! I have decided to do a twist on book cover design, particularly my favorite landscape-style covers. Some of these are favorite stories, some are still on my TBR. I recommend checking out these authors’ other books, too, for more great landscape covers.

Top Ten Tuesday: Landscape #CoverLove

The Mountain Midwife by Laurie Alice Eakes

Honeysuckle Dreams by Denise Hunter | review

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton | review

The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes

The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Water from My Heart by Charles Martin

Promise Me Tomorrow by Lori Wick

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright | review

Together at the Table by Hillary Manton Lodge | review

Top Ten Tuesday: 11 Titles That Would Make Good Band Names

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

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Official topic: Titles That Would Make Good Band Names

This week’s topic combines two of my favorite things: books and music! With all kinds of band names out there in many genres of music, ranging from quirky to straightforward and clever, it’s reasonable to think that some book titles would also make great band names.

My list includes descriptors and names I think could make it in the music world and be memorable. I’d like to think a group called The Thorn Healers would be folksy, Lizzy and Jane would be a sister duo, and Bear No Malice would be an indie rock band! 😉

11 Titles That Would Make Good Band Names

Two Blue Doors (series) by Hillary Manton Lodge

The Thorn Healer(s) by Pepper Basham

Mortal Arts by Anna Lee Huber

Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden

Bear No Malice by Clarissa Harwood

Hometown Girl by Courtney Walsh

Rose in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan

Emerald Illusion by J. Rodes

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

Your turn! Did you participate in Top Ten Tuesday this week? Have you read any of these books?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Signs You’re a Book Lover

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

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Official topic: 10 Signs You’re a Book Lover

This week’s topic was SO FUN to play with! I’m guilty of most of these on my list…

10 signs you're a book lover

10 Signs You’re a Book Lover

  1. A peek inside your purse (or bag) reveals a book (or two!) in progress… I’ve been known to carry around a paperback or an ebook device all the time, especially on road trips or vacations.
  2. Your TBR (to be read) pile has turned into a bookshelf all its own… or maybe it’s haphazardly scattered through the house. Or tracked on Goodreads. But at least YOU know which books you haven’t read and which ones you must-read-next!
  3. Your Amazon order history is 90% book related… Books. Notebooks in which to write about books. Ebooks. Books to gift all of your family and loved ones. Shelves and bags to house books.
  4. Random conversations or historical tidbits make you think about fictional characters... Someone mentions WWI spies? You think of Kate Breslin’s stories. Or a mention of the name Callum instantly causes all the feels and a need to visit TX (Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge).
  5. You have a pet named after a fictional character… OK, so I don’t have one named Darcy or Thornton or Oliver YET, but those names are on the future pet list!
  6. You have a dangerously high stack of books on your nightstand… and, like me, your mom has warned you about the stack falling on you while you sleep.
  7. You keep a spreadsheet on your computer with a list of books you’ve read, and a separate list sorted by historical eras… or maybe that’s just me. 😉
  8. Your friends and family gift you bookish things… like bookmarks, cookbooks, gift cards to your favorite bookstores, or that one novel you’ve been dying to get your hands on!
  9. Your favorite movies or series are adaptations of your favorite stories… like North & South, Emma, or maybe The Count of Monte Cristo and Jason Bourne are more your thing.
  10. You spend time making lists like this… ABOUT books!

Your turn! Did you participate in Top Ten Tuesday this week? Do you share any of these book-loving-signs with me? Drop a link in the comments!

Recommended Reading: Series to Binge

In light of all the craziness happening in the world right now, you might find yourself with extra time to read that book or series you’ve had on your shelf for forever. If you’ve read all the books in your house (Go you! I commend you!), and you’re looking to discover more great stories, I have compiled a list of 11 series you can binge-read NOW!

In my reading opinion, nothing is better than getting to breeze through a series back to back with NO WAITING until the next book is released!

I’ve listed these in order of historical era and genre, with Goodreads links to the series and some links to my reviews. And, confession time, all of these have some element of romance 😉

Parish Orphans of Devon series by Mimi Matthews | Victorian Era England + abroad

Delightful and deep Victorian romances, each of these couples have unique appeal (brooding, bookish, assertive, sweet, and redeemed rogue in the mix). I will reread these forever. The audio versions are wonderful, too!

The Matrimonial Advertisement | A Modest Independence | A Convenient Fiction | The Winter Companion

Timber Ridge Reflections series by Tamera Alexander | Post-Civil War American West

I remember loving each of these historical romances for different reasons, the first one being the subject of photography in book From a Distance.

Price of Privilege series by Jessica Dotta | Mystery and Intrigue in Victorian England

My favorite EVER historical series — and I don’t say this lightly! All three books encompass one of the most transformative arcs of the heroine. The allegorical symbolism of redemption deeply embedded in this series blows me away every time I think about it.

Born of Persuasion | Series feature: Price of Privilege

The Everstone Chronicles series by Dawn Crandall | Gilded Age New England

Four novels + 1 novella all with unique 1st person point-of-view heroines. Plus the Adirondack and coastal settings are detailed and idyllic!

The Hesitant Heiress | The Bound Heart | The Captive Imposter | The Cautious Maiden

Herringford & Watts Mysteries by Rachel McMillan | Pre-WWI Toronto

Trouser-wearing lady detectives solve crime in Toronto on the cusp of world war with a colorful cast of secondary characters, and two (or three!) valiant love interests. Three full length novels, two novellas, and a short story offer pages of fun with these friends!

The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder | A Lesson in Love and Murder | The White Feather Murders

Penned in Time series by Pepper Basham | WWI England & America

From the front lines to English hospitals and the US treatment of German residents, this romance series explores many facets of the era. Most outstanding, though, it its stories of love and redemption. Book 2 is my favorite!

The Thorn Bearer | The Thorn Keeper | The Thorn Healer

Sunrise at Normandy series by Sarah Sundin | WWII & Battle of Normandy

This series shows how the Allied forces approached and carried out the Battle of Normandy, each by the sea, air, and land. Three estranged brothers find reconciliation and romance while serving in each branch during this pivotal battle. Oh, and each one references and reflects a Biblical story!

The Sea Before Us

Tox Files series by Ronie Kendig | Paramilitary Thrillers

This series needs a seatbelt warning! The prequel novella and three novels follow a covert team around the globe as they work to eliminate a threat and save the day. Besides the kick-butt heroines, the team camaraderie is fun! Oh, and the slight supernatural elements are super cool!

Conspiracy of Silence | Crown of Souls | Thirst of Steel

Two Blue Doors series by Hillary Manton Lodge | Family, Food, & Romance in the PNW

Basically love letters to food and romance, this series courts identity and family as well as a perfect romance between imperfect people. The included recipes will make your mouth water, as will the heritage threads and few “trips” abroad.

A Table by the Window | Reservations for Two | Together at the Table

Chesapeake Valor series by Dani Pettrey | Romantic Suspense

Investigator and law enforcement friends find love amidst the chaos of solving crimes and puzzles in the Chesapeake Bay area and beyond. Fast-paced and memorable, a thread of a story ties all four books together to culminate in a final gripping tale.

Cold Shot | Still Life | Blind Spot | Dead Drift

A Bradford Sisters Romance series by Becky Wade | Contemporary Romance

This series has it all: romance, sisters, family, romance, books, mystery, romance, humor, chocolate, and a hint of suspense. Reading it will make you fall in love with the characters! The epistolary prequel novella and the midpoint Christmas novella are fully-developed and sweet, too!

Falling for You | True to You | Falling for You | Sweet On You

Do you have any recommendations for series I should read ASAP?

Seriously, ya’ll. Stay safe and wash your hands.