Musings on the review routine…

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A conversation with a friend sparked this rambling thought process on the “book review routine”.

After mentioning that I review books, this friend asked me if I still enjoy stories as much (because I’m thinking about critiquing, etc.). I heartily responded YES! As conversation continued, it was one of those moments I realized I had not thought of this concept this way before, and talking about it helped my realization.

 

Yes. I do still enjoy story as much, but most likely MORE SO because reviewing makes me say more than “I like it” (ok, most of the time, unless it’s a flailing gush-of-a-review and I just say I loooooove it.). I consider plot, themes, characterization, setting, symbolism, etc., way more than when I read all books at my leisure. I think about all of these things while reading. And, these considerations make those little moments when I recognize a story is going to be ingrained in my heart for its amazingness all the more special.

Oh, and those friends that kindly ask about your hobbies and passions? Hold them dear.

 

I would love to know your thoughts!!! Fellow book bloggers, how has this “process” changed the way you perceive story?

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First Line Fridays # 14: “Dear Mr. Knightley” + Read-along Fun

It’s time for a new edition of First Line Fridays hosted by the Hoarding Books blog!

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This post to twofold: it’s First Line Friday, becoming a First-Letter-Friday with this book! AND, it’s an announcement of an informal read-along.

Starting April 2, myself and some awesome bookish friends will be re-reading Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay and discussing it via Twitter using #DMKral! You’re invited! It’s been WAY too long since I’ve read this story. Since it was Katherine’s debut AND my first introduction to epistolary fiction, it’s time to revisit. (Plus our Twitter read-alongs are a highlight of life!)

Dear Mr. Knightley

First Letter:

Your turn! Find the book closest to you and share your first line in the comments! Then, head over to Hoarding Books for the linky and visit other FLF posts!

Series Review: “Grace Revealed” by Jennifer Rodewald

Isn’t it the greatest when you can binge-read a book series? When it’s a series by a favorite author like Jennifer Rodewald, though, it *could* mean a week+ of emotional rollercoaster experiences full of emotions and joys. My recent encounter with her “Grace Revealed” series was just that. With the recent opportunity to read the just-released book 3, Finding Evergreen, I am SO glad I had the time to read the previous 2 just before, Blue Columbine and Red Rose Bouquet.

These three stories are distinct and able to be read as stand-alones, though a few characters are connected, especially in the last two books.

About the Books

Blue ColumbineBlue Columbine

Best friends—maybe more—until addiction shatters everything.

Reeling from professional failure, Andrew Harris needs a fresh start. When he moves back to Colorado to join a Denver law firm, he runs into Jamie, his childhood sweetheart. She is still the kind and faithful girl he remembers—not to mention beautiful and still single. With her by his side, Andrew is confident he can overcome the demons that he tries to keep hidden.

Jamie Carson is thrown off balance when Andy resurfaces in her life. Though her faith in God has remained solid, even through her mother’s long illness and after her death, Jamie battles loneliness. Andy fills her days, whispering significance to her heart. But his rejection of the faith she thought they’d once shared, and his alarming drinking habit keep her heart from plunging into deep, murky waters. Or do they?

Andy pursues an intimacy Jamie knows she must guard against. But as the line between loyalty and love blurs, things get complicated—until a devastating blow breaks their relationship. For Jamie, one thing becomes clear: Andy needs a miracle, and she isn’t it.

Will Andrew allow the hand of grace to redeem his legacy of addiction, or will he and Jamie both remain casualties of heartbreak?

This Christian Fiction Book dives into first love and second chances, romance and redemption.

Goodreads | Amazon

Red Rose BouquetRed Rose Bouquet

The dark places in life have taught her this much—some things simply cannot be forgiven.

Cheryl Thompson learned over a decade ago to guard her shattered heart with a veil of cold indifference. Life since that day has been an endless cycle of detachment and loneliness, followed by superficial relationships. Break up, rinse, and repeat. Until something in her snaps. This life…she can’t do it anymore. She returns to her childhood home in the Colorado Rockies to help her nana, only to discover a man capable of thawing her iced-over emotions—a man she knows she doesn’t deserve, so she pushes him away. But he keeps coming back.

Brock Kelly lived high as King of the Slopes in the world of snowboard cross racing. Medals. Money. Fame. But after a visit to an orphanage in Mexico, he gave up his adrenaline-packed lifestyle to follow a calling from God he didn’t know he had—helping kids who’d been damaged emotionally. When his best friend’s baby sister returns to town, he recognizes the hollow look in her eyes and sees the pain beneath her icy armor. It seems God has issued new call on his life. One he is not prepared for.

Falling in love with a woman who keeps secrets is dangerous all on its own. But when Cheryl finally tells Brock what she’s never told anyone else…no wonder she is the way she is. It would take a miracle to heal that wound, and a love bigger than Brock had ever imagined to walk with her through the process.

Goodreads | Amazon

Finding EvergreenFinding Evergreen

He thought he’d found the thrill of his life; she, the romance she’d hadn’t dared to hope for. Falling in love had been easy. Being married? Totally different story.

Married within a year of meeting, Ethan and Brandi add a foster daughter to their newly established family. Their story is enchanting—inspiring. Except when the fairytale fails. The stresses of unmet expectations and wounds from their pasts knife into their marriage, severing what they believed would be forever.

Hope for a broken marriage. Healing for their wounded spirits. It would take both to find evergreen. Are they brave enough to try?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

This series doesn’t hold anything back: the messiness of life, the dark depths of pain, the imperfections of each character, or even the true joys and peace found in a merciful Savior. I have found this to be true of Jennifer Rodewald’s writing whether she’s penning a light rom-com, a layered YA dystopian series, or emotionally gripping character-driven fiction such as this “Grace Revealed” series.

Blue Columbine contains raw emotions, relatable characters, and an arc of transformation and redemption like none I’ve ever read. From the portrayal of close friendships to the fallout of addiction, heartbreaking choices, and healing, this story is eye-opening in its message of grace.

Red Rose Bouquet chronicles a journey of healing, forgiveness, and unconditional love found in an unlikely way. Cheryl’s character especially portrays the depths of hurt and self-doubt that can be redeemed through the relentless pursuit of a Savior. And, this wonderfully plays out through the tangible pursuit of Brock, his growing compassion and answer to a call to love being the story catalyst.

Finding Evergreen is a story of fierce love and holding on to hope. The journey through mistakes and brokenness Ethan and Brandi experience points to God as the true source of grace and love in any relationship. The extremes of emotion, vulnerabilities and baggage of Ethan, and well-intentioned penchant for perfectionism Brandi exhibits all make this story relatable even outside of a marital relationship. (But oh what chemistry they have on the page!) And Sonja, their foster daughter, adds another spunky dimension to the story that binds the three of them together in unexpected ways.

Through all three of these books, a CLEAR theme emerges, one that is a result of the redemptive, grace-filled moments (and romances) in each story: that of Christ’s love for His church. A selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love that manifests in the moments of friendship, forgiveness, pursuit, and intimacy between each of the main characters. I highly recommend this series for fans of contemporary women’s fiction/romance and authors such as Katie Ganshert, Julie Lessman, and Courtney Walsh– just remember to read near a box of Kleenex!

Thank you to the author for the complimentary copy of Finding Evergreen. This is my honest review of that book and the series.

First Line Fridays # 13: “Finding Evergreen”

It’s time for a new edition of First Line Fridays hosted by the Hoarding Books blog!20171006_010334.jpg

This week I’m excited about a new release from author Jennifer Rodewald!!!!! The book is Finding Evergreen, the third book in the heart-moving “Grace Revealed” contemporary series. I’m currently reading it and hope to share a series review next week!

Katie over at Fiction Aficionado is sharing the first lines from the prologue. I’m sharing the first lines from chapter 1!

Finding Evergreen

First Lines:

Chapter 1

October

Ethan lifted the final three logs from the sled and stacked them on the pile. Enough to last through the end of next week, if they kept it to two or three bonfires.

Your turn! Find the book closest to you and share your first line in the comments! The, head over to Hoarding Books for the linky and visit other FLF posts!

Cover Fun: “Timeless Love” Novella Collection

Timeless Love Novella Collection

Today I get to talk about an upcoming novella collection I’m very excited about! It features 7 different novellas spanning from the Regency Era to a contemporary setting — not to mention 2 of my favorite authors: Pepper Basham and Dawn Crandall.

Timeless Love is available for preorder today (for $.99!) and releases June 19th. It will be available for a limited time in the collection, then each novella will be released on its own. Because of this setup, there are SEVEN gorgeous covers for each of the novellas!

Learn more about Pepper Basham’s novella on her blog.

Learn more about Dawn Crandall’s novella & enter a giveaway on her site.

Amazon Preorder | Goodreads

Regency Era
Give Me Thine Heart
by Andrea Boeshaar
1812: England

Early Victorian Era
The Freedom Journey
by Misty Beller
1833: Colorado

Civil War Era
The Heart of Home
by Stephenia H. McGee
A companion novel to In His Eyes
1865: Mississippi

The Gilded Age
Enchanting Nicholette
by Dawn Crandall
An Everstone Chronicles Novella
1893: Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts

Western
Teach Me to Love
by Kari Trumbo
A Brothers of Belle Fourche Novella
1899: Belle Fourche, South Dakota

WWII Era
Facade
by Pepper Basham
1942: England

Contemporary
Bookishly Ever After
by Sarah Monzon
Current Day: Seattle, Washington

First Line Fridays # 12🍀: “The Distant Tide” (Special St. Patrick’s Day Edition)

It’s time for a new edition of First Line Fridays hosted by the Hoarding Books blog!20171006_010334.jpg

Welcome to the special St. Patrick’s Day edition of First Line Friday! In honor of all things Irish, we’re sharing lines from stories related to that culture and heritage. I’ve chosen the first line from The Distant Tide by Heather Day Gilbert, the first novella in The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection. The collection begins in medieval Ireland and traverses water and land to end in Industrial era California. I ❤ it!

Collection book cover

First Line:

Ciar’s Kingdom, Ireland

1170 AD

The skies were as unsettled as her own future. Swirling mountain breezes billowed through Britta’s narrow castle window, carrying with them the unmistakable tang of a storm.

Your turn! Find the book closest to you and share your first line in the comments! The, head over to Hoarding Books for the linky and visit other FLF posts!

Mini Review: “As Easy As Riding a Bike” Novella by Bell Renshaw

Sometimes you just need to read a feel-good, charming book….. the latest novella from author Bell Renshaw is just that!!! As Easy As Riding A Bike is the first installment in the “Justin Harbor” novella series, and it introduces a quaint setting and a sweet cast of characters that promise more cute stories to come.

About the Book

Emma Holland is almost finished with the renovation of The Brown Bear Lodge nestled just off the Pacific Coast 101 Highway in picturesque Justin Harbor, Oregon. Being a business owner in a small town isn’t easy, but Emma’s got more than enough determination—not to mention an excellent eye for interior design. There’s only one problem. One of her first guests of the season is someone she hoped she’d never see again.AEARAB Book Cover

As a famous landscape photographer, Connor Pearson has traveled far and wide following his dreams at the cost of losing his first love. Now, back in Justin Harbor, Connor is looking for more than just a place to stay. He’s looking for himself.

As Emma and Connor rediscover their lost friendship and seek to find common ground in the present, Connor feels the tug of his small town roots. Is it possible that a man who’s traveled the world could find his home where his dreams began? Can Emma come to terms with the fact that self-reliance isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? Will their bonds from the past weather the storms of the present?

As Easy As Riding A Bike will introduce you to the salty air and calming waters of Justin Harbor, the first novella in a series featuring small town women business owners.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

As Easy As Riding A Bike is a sweet little romance filled with hope! Emma and Connor are equally endearing and likable. Their story is one of navigating surprises as old dreams resurface and manifest in ways each of them never expected to find again. My favorite aspect of the story has to do with Emma’s family — her mother in particular — and a few little ways her memory was honored by story’s end. This is a short, clean, and delightful read not to be missed!

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