October Happenings

I cannot believe it is the end of October. Where did the month go?!

textgram_1509239773.png

 

on the bookshelf

New books on the shelf this month include a paperback of Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig, a paperback of The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay (eeek!), Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey, With No Reservations by Laurie Tomlinson, Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano, The Recipe by Candace Calvert, The Redeeming by Tamara Leigh, and The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon.

on the blog

Most popular posts:

  1. First Line Fridays #2: Christmas at Gate 18
  2. Top Ten Tuesday: Meal Planning 101 (AKA Yummy Foods in Books)
  3. First Line Fridays #3: Charming the Troublemaker20171009_124022.jpg

Most popular book reviews:

  1. I’ll Be Yours by Jenny B. Jones
  2. All This Time by Melissa Tagg (with Author Interview!)
  3. Christmas at Gate 18 by Amy Matayo

on the screen

PoldarkOctober ushered in Season 3 of ITV’s Poldark here in the US on Masterpiece PBS. I confess I’m a big fan, continually impressed with the character development and atmospheric setting of every episode. (I want to go to Cornwall!) While I’m still very upset with Ross for some season 2 shenanigans, I do hope he will still prove me wrong because everyone is redeemable. Demelza, Verity, and Caroline are still my favorites. One thing I’m enjoying in this season is how George tries SO HARD to advance his political career/social standing and works at it by manipulating and bringing others down, while Ross doesn’t even want to try to gain that sort of ground yet does so out of some natural good decisions (i.e. friendship and loyalty), especially in ep 5.

around the web

Carrie over at Reading is my Superpower had a wonderful guest post this month from author Sondra Kraak about Reading Fiction in Him. It’s such a cool way to approach story!

I stumbled across Book Riot’s article about how “Chrome’s Library Extension Will Change Your Life”. Choose your local library system and you can see whether or not they have a copy of books you’re browsing on Goodreads and Amazon. It’s awesome.

With November nearly upon us, Hallmark has begun the most wonderful yearly tradition of Christmas movies 24/7 on its networks AKA WATCH HALLMARK ALLLLL THE TIME season. Here’s a great preview of new movies to come for the first part of the season over on Silver Petticoat.

 

YOUR TURN! Are you loving the change of season October brought? What books did you add to your TBR this month?

Advertisements

You’re invited…. Join us for “The Austen Escape” Read-Along starting Nov. 7!

The Austen Escape Read Along

the-austen-escapeIt’s that time of year again….. time to read author Katherine Reay’s new literature-infused novel from Thomas Nelson publishers!

YOU’RE INVITED!

WHAT?

A read-along of The Austen Escape with fellow bloggers and #bookbesties.

Find The Austen Escape on

Goodreads | Amazon

WHERE?

Discussions via Twitter with the hashtag #TAERAL!

WHEN?

Starting on book release day, November 7th, we’ll be gushing/chatting as we go.

And, as we read, I’ll be collecting any questions you have for author Katherine Reay! She has graciously agreed to choose some to answer when we are all done. (My current plan is for a wrap-up blog post.) Just tag me/DM them to me or specify “Q for Katherine” in some way.

 

If you still need a copy of the book, check out the amazing preorder goodies deal happening now!

Review: “Christmas at Gate 18” Novella by Amy Matayo

You might be saying to yourself “What? Courtney is already talking about Christmas and Christmas novellas???”. Yes. Yes, I am, because Christmas fun starts early and any time is a good time for an Amy Matayo story. This novella happens to be a non-typical Christmas story —- sure, it’s set during Christmas and has the requisite gift exchange, mistletoe, and talk of Christmas traditions, but conventional stops there. As a matter of fact, the gift exchange doesn’t even involve pretty wrappings. 😉

About the Book

Supermodel Rory Gray just wants to go home. After wrapping up a three-day high-fashion photo shoot overseas, she’s exhausted and ready for the holiday. A holiday that involves Hollywood parties, air-kissing the industry elite, and a whole lot of fakeness…but whatever. Once she gets through that torture, she’ll head to her beloved Seattle and the life of anonymity she misses so much. In less than twenty-four hours, she’ll be there. 

Christmas at Gate 18Colt Ross has spent the past six months detaching himself from the Hollywood world he grew up in, and home is the last place he wants to be. But he’s been called back by his overbearing father for reasons he can only imagine. Likely reasons that involve taking over the family corporation or fund raising among Hollywood elite—something Colt has no interest in being part of. Not that he has a choice; when you’re the son of an industry executive, rubbing elbows comes with the territory. In less than twenty-four hours he’ll be home. After all this time away, home no longer appeals to him. Especially not at Christmas. Leave it to his father to ruin a holiday. 

But when a late-season hurricane grounds both of their flights in the Dominican Republic, Rory and Colt find themselves stuck at the airport far longer than anticipated. As weather conditions worsen, they both begin to realize that this Christmas will be spent with strangers packed inside a single airport terminal—specifically at gate 18. 

Rory and Colt are faced with a choice: band together in their misery or make this Christmas one they will never forget. For two people who aren’t real fond of the holiday, this Christmas might turn out to be the best they’ve ever had. 

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

If you’re looking for Christmas carols and hot apple cider, keep going. This story is not your typical gather-round-the-nativity with family and friends occasion, but it IS about relationships and wanting to know people for who they are and celebrating in unconventional ways. This is not your typical Christmas time story in the BEST way.

FB_IMG_1508799477051.jpgChristmas at Gate 18 has all the elements I’ve come to expect (and appreciate) from an Amy Matayo story: riveting character development, sarcastic and snarky humor, breath-stealing kisses (when they finally happen), and unexpected situations or people. The humor, in particular, is an added bonus. I love how Amy includes hilariously normal things like “Duck, Duck, Goose” or soft drink “suicides” and the need for a toothbrush to set a lighter tone while dealing with serious underlying issues. This story challenges boundaries of all kinds, with the storyline, flirtatious content, and raw hearts of the characters (especially when it comes to preconceptions vs. seeing and appreciating the heart.)

It would be appropriate to say Amy Matayo flirts with traditional boundaries when it comes to mild innuendos and actual boy-girl flirting. While the interaction between Colt and Rory never breaches the boundaries of propriety (except for that one short stay in a questionable motel HA! Trust me, it’s hilarious and sweet at the same time.), it still might challenge the comfort levels of the reader (or, at least it did for me and my normal inspirational-fiction comfort zone).

But, I think this is Amy’s intent in more than one way. To challenge boundaries. To delve deeper into the hearts of the characters with all of their insecurities, bagggage, and derailed dreams. To see beyond the surface (as a rich guy and professional model metaphorically represent all things superficial) and into the heart of who a person is and choosing to care about them, to accept their flaws, making them a better person in turn. This nearly-secular niche between messed up and redeemed characters is Amy’s sweet spot. Christmas at Gate 18 is a must-read if you’re looking for a story that challenges convention and makes you appreciate your own treasured family traditions during the Christmas season.

Thank you to the author and Relz Author Support Services for the opportunity to review a copy of this book. This is my honest review.

Review: “Blind Spot” by Dani Pettrey (Chesapeake Valor #3)

Review: “Blind Spot” by Dani Pettrey (Chesapeake Valor #3)

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey is the latest installment in the “Chesapeake Valor” series following a law enforcement friend-group as they solve crimes, deepen friendships, and find romance along the way. This is romantic suspense at its best, with mysteries, ACTION, and plenty of surprising twists!

About the Book

Blind SpotFBI agent Declan Grey is in the chase of his life–but isn’t sure exactly what he’s chasing after. Threatened by a terrorist that “the wrath is coming,” Grey fears something horrible is about to be unleashed on American soil. When his investigation leads him to a closed immigrant community, he turns to Tanner Shaw to help him. She’s sought justice for refugees and the hurting around the world, and if there’s anyone who can help him, it’s Tanner.

Tanner Shaw has joined the FBI as a crisis counselor . . . meaning she now has more opportunity to butt heads with Declan. But that tension also includes a spark she can’t deny, and she’s pretty sure Declan feels the same. But before anything can develop between them, they discover evidence of a terror cell–and soon are in a race against the clock to stop the coming “wrath” that could cost thousands their lives.

Review

IMG_20171014_225827_845.jpg

The series thus far…

Blind Spot continues the mystery of the Chesapeake Valor series, heightening the suspense and deepening the layers of secrets along the way. I think this series is best read in order because it carries forward an ongoing mystery that has to do with a friend and missing person, AND because it continues a terrorism/human trafficking story line that started in book 2.

I am continually impressed with Dani Pettrey’s ability to present a tangled puzzle of clues and hints and solve it a little at a time through the eyes of the characters. With edge-of-your-seat action, this is one book I didn’t want to put down for long! This book has two main threads of riveting mysteries, having Declan and Tanner focus on the terrorism storyline and familiar characters from the previous books (Griffin, Finley, Parker, and Avery) investigating an embezzling scheme that takes a few surprising twists.

While the intertwining investigations are fascinating, I was just as riveted with the puzzle that is Declan and Tanner’s relationship. Having previously “met” these two in the series, finally seeing their perspectives and growing mutual attraction firsthand was a treat. Amidst the action of this story, a wonderful relationship dynamic unfolds between these two as they learn from each other and reveal the secrets of their past (in particular, something I did NOT see coming from Tanner!). This romance, much like the personal faith thread of these characters, is naturally portrayed and serves as an anchor point in all of the drama and motion of the story.

One more thing I’ve really loved about this series as a whole is the differing roles/perspectives each main character has played in “investigating”: in Cold Shot, a park-ranger-turned-detective and a forensic anthropoligist; in Still Life, a crime scene analyst and a photographer; and now, book 3, an FBI agent and FBI crisis counselor.  I CANNOT WAIT for book 4, Dead Drift….like I need it now. I have a feeling it will be quite the interesting “Jason Bourne-esque” 🙂 thrill ride!

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for the complimentary review copy. This is my honest review.

 

 

“Passport to Pinterest” Tag

Social media has been blessed with a fun platform for images, bookmarks, and inspiration for planning everything from your cat’s sweaters to a dream log cabin. I’m talking about Pinterest! I’ve been tagged to share random images from my favorite Pinterest boards in the “Passport to Pinterest” tag by Rayleigh Gray over at Accelerate the Jesus Movement blog. The tag originally appears on the Livy Lynn blog. (Thanks for the tag, Rayleigh!)

passporttopinterest

The Rules:

  1. Open your Boards.
  2. Open http://www.random.org (Or any random number generator website or app of your choosing.)
  3. Enter the number of pins on your first board.
  4. Click “Generate.”
  5. Find that number pin on your board.
  6. Share the image of that Pin in your new Blog Post, and a little blurb about why it’s important to you!
  7. Continue the process with ALL or as many of your boards as you like!
  8. Tag another blogger (or two, or three…or ten! The more, the merrier!) and link back to thank the blogger who tagged you.

 

Without further ado, here are some random favorites from my Pinterest boards!

The board: The Green Mockingbird [my blog]

The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection

The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection

The board: Books, books, and more books!

Curl up with a good book

Curl up with a good book….

The board: “Price of Privilege” Series by Jessica Dotta | Dream Cast + Aesthetic

keys - price of privilege aesthetic

How fitting a ring of keys is the photo for this board….oh, the significance of a certain set of keys in this book series!

The board: Is it tea time yet?

tea

Tea is always a good idea. I wholeheartedly agree.

The board: Classics

leap year

LEAP YEAR. This movie is adorable.

The borad: All Things Austen and English

far from

“Romantic moment of the week” from the Silver Petticoat featuring “Far From the Madding Crowd”….. I ❤ the cinematography of this movie and the hero. The heroine, not so much.

The board: North & South – Elizabeth Gaskell & BBC

north and south ending

North and South ending scene ❤

The board: poetic

nevertheless

Nevertheless, she persisted. Encouragement for you today. 🙂

The board: Random Amusing & Funny Things

random funny

Have a laugh!

The board: Music

needtobreathe

More Heart, Less Attack by NEEDTOBREATHE

The board: Cabins, Mountains, Camping, & Woods

woods

Isn’t this peaceful?!

 

YOUR TURN! If you’d like to join in this fun photo-sharing idea, consider yourself tagged! Or, if you waste time on Pinterest like me, share your Pinterest profile link in the comments!

First Line Fridays #3: Charming the Troublemaker

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

Today it’s all about an upcoming release (Nov. 1) from author Pepper Basham: Charming the TroublemakerI’ve had the fortune of reading this story already, and ya’ll, it’s the perfect blend of humor, sass, romance!, and a little bit of family drama/suspense. But I’ll save the exclamations for my upcoming review.

 

Charming the Troublemaker

The first line:

Loser ex-husbands and freezing January afternoons left a nasty chill.

 

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!

Review + Giveaway & Blog Tour: Returning Home by Toni Shiloh

returning-home-tour_1_orig

returning-home_1Series: Freedom Lake
Genre:  Adult, Christian, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Indie
Publication date: September 26, 2017

Jo Ellen Baker is shocked to find out that the boy who teased her mercilessly throughout high school, has returned to their hometown of Freedom Lake, and he’s missing a leg. When his mother asks her to renovate their carriage house to give him a place to gain his independence back, she wants to say no. But one look at him brings a rush of forgotten feelings.

Evan Carter can’t believe he has to return home and live with his parents. Every hope and dream he ever had dissipated in a car crash that cost him his leg. Stuck in a wheelchair, he’s forced to reexamine his relationship with God and the local carpenter, Jo Ellen Baker.

Will renovating his home open the door for a mended relationship, or are some wounds too deep to heal from?  ​

3_108
toni-shiloh-2_orig

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and president of the Virginia Chapter.

You can find her on her website at http://tonishiloh.wordpress.com.

​​GOODREADS | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | INSTAGRAM
BOOKBUB | AMAZON | WEBSITE

Blog Contributor:
Putting on the New | Heartwings  Blog | Diversity Between the Pages | ACFW Virginia

6_67

Returning Home is a poignant story of healing, faith, and friendship. More than just a sweet and naturally-progressing romance relationship, the intertwining relationships of the characters, including Jo, Evan, and their close friend group, are a testament to the ways you can choose to react to life changes and challenges.

There is a prominent thread of faith I loved in this story. It’s fleshed out in both Evan and Jo as they deal with forgiveness and relying on God’s never-changing strength in completely different ways. And, this faith shines from Evan and Jo as they each grow and have opportunity to come alongside each other in support and understanding (this also wonderfully spills over in their friend group in an encouraging way). My favorite was Nana’s knowing advice and kind prodding — I would just love to have a real-life conversation with her!

With both complexity and camaraderie, this story of Jo and Evan is deeper than a romance or a story of second chances. It’s all about how prayer can change your heart, how love can mean hard lessons of forgiveness, and how faith can be the means of strength and peace no matter your circumstances.

Thank you to SLB Tours and the author for the complimentary ebook copy. This review is my honest opinion.

7_74
giveaway_8
Enter the giveaway HERE.
TOUR SCHEDULE
SLB Tours Reviewer Blogger Button