Top Ten Tuesday: 2021 Releases *Still* on my TBR

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

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s official topic is 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To. I could have placed quite a few books on this list, but I have chosen my top 10 want-to-read-soon books, all of which are on my shelves (physical or virtual!). Which of these books should I read first?!

2021 Releases *Still* on my TBR

Every Word Unsaid by Kimberly Duffy | Goodreads

The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham | Goodreads

Heart in the Highlands by Heidi Kimball | Goodreads

The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof | Goodreads

Yours is the Night by Amanda Dykes | Goodreads

Pudge and Prejudice by Allison Pittman | Goodreads

The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams | Goodreads

Provenance by Carla Laureano | Goodreads

Autumn by the Sea by Melissa Tagg | Goodreads

Glory Falls by Janine Rosche | Goodreads

Did you share a TTT post this week? What is still on your TBR from last year? Have you read any of these books?

Mini Book Reviews: Something for Everyone…

Welcome to my blog! I’m sharing some mini reviews of books I have read and enjoyed recently across a few different genres. Hopefully one of these authors, genres, or settings sparks your interest and will add another story to your never-ending TBR! Please visit the Goodreads links to learn more about each book!

Snowbound novella by Carla Laureano – Contemporary Romance | Goodreads

This novella is contemporary romance PERFECTION! Somehow Carla Laureano manages to combine elements of second chance romance with the leads stranded by a blizzard AND competing rivals over architecture design in one enchanting story! Her romances always focus on real-world relationship dynamics balanced with the heady sentimentality of the genre and a great sense of setting (even in a short page count like this!). This is one escape to Colorado that’s happily short enough to read in one sitting 🙂

Who You Are by Jennifer Rodewald – Contemporary Romance | Goodreads

I’ve enjoyed every single one of the Murphy Brothers’ stories, and this one is exemplary of Rodewald’s ability to balance depth, likable personalities, a little humor, and characters with sincere walks of faith. In short, her books are nontypical in the best ways and combine multiple genres/tropes. This one also has a FANTASTIC enemies-to-friends-to-romance type relationship with a unique setup. While the main couple goes through a period likened to a trial courtship, they each sharpen the others’ hearts to see their full personal potential and a joy that’s rooted in friendship and a shared faith.

The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow by Kim Vogel Sawyer – Historical Fiction, 1930s Kentucky | Goodreads

This is a good historical fiction piece about how the Great Depression impacted young people, especially those from the KY mining regions. Overcoming prejudice, choosing kindness, and listening to God’s direction for your life are prominent themes. I wasn’t a big fan of the added POV of Bettina, but I came to like her more by the end. Her POV didn’t work for me because the added dialect is meant to emphasize the region and her lack of education, but I just find it annoying and feel like it diminished her character. I liked the strong love of story shown throughout this novel and the appreciation of books both Addie and Emmet hold as powerful tools for change.

Vying for the Viscount by Kristi Ann Hunter – Regency Romance, 1817 England | Goodreads

I loved the Regency setting and the lesser-explored world of horse training and racing. (At least, I’ve not ready any featuring this facet of history!) I really liked how Hudson was a fish-out-of-water in many ways with his upbringing in India (another element I appreciate: contrasts between Colonial India and England, like the food and weather from his perspective!). The humor of this novel is fantastic, making it a historical romcom in many ways, especially with the meet-cute. I liked Bianca and her spunk! The plot was a bit slow in the middle, but the last fourth or so of the book picked up the pace and my interest and threw out a few surprises. I am intrigued by the side character of Aaron Whitworth and happy to know the next book in the series features him as the hero.

Brentwood’s Ward by Michelle Griep – Regency Romance, 1807 London | Goodreads

I enjoyed the wit and the action of this! The guardian situation was a great setup for the romance and a fair bit of mystery/suspense. I liked the hero very much, but I found the heroine, Emily, to be a little immature at times — her decisions were often impulsive. Having read the rest of the series already, I wanted to go back and catch this one and see the other heroes (who connect the series) from an earlier perspective

I listened to the audiobook! I want to make a statement separate from my opinion of the story concerning the narrator: her straight narration was good and clear, easy to understand, but I disliked some of her voices. Particularly that of Emily and of Ford, Nicholas’s boss. They were delivered with over-dramatic emphasis and a haughty tone at times when a simpler demeanor would have been more fitting. 

Burning Sky by Lori Benton – Historical Fiction/Romance, 1780s New York Frontier | Goodreads

What an epic story of longing, healing, and identity! Lori Benton remains a favorite author of lush historical fiction set on America’s tumultuous frontier. The threads of romance in this one had me enamored with the gentleness of the hero and his recognition of the strength and personality of the heroine. Strong themes of forgiveness, choice, loyalty, and healing thread this novel that blends the two worlds of the heroine, Willa — post-Revolutionary New York and her past time spent with the Mohawk. I am so glad I went back and (finally) picked up this debut novel!

Thank you to the publisher for the copy of Who You Are, Vying for the Viscount, and The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow. These are my honest reviews. The other books were purchases I made and I am under no obligation to provide a positive review.

Top Ten Tuesday: A Tour of the British Isles in Fiction

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

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s topic is “Favorite Book Settings”. I could go SO MANY directions with this topic, because setting is a very important part of story to me. A well written, immersive setting is like an armchair adventure to a place (or time) the reader has never been. I’ve decided to keep my choices to the UK and Ireland, or the British Isles as those islands are collectively known.

A Tour of the British Isles in Fiction

Scotland

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano | Contemporary adventure and love story (with a chef!), and an exploration of the Isle of Skye. My Review

Beauty Among Ruins by J’nell Ciesielski | An estate in the idyllic Scottish Lowlands is the setting for this WWI mystery and romance. My Review

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz | This heart-deep story begins on the Isle of Kerrera, an island in the Scottish Hebrides, during the 18th century. My Review

England

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan | Historical romance that explores the architecture of the city — and of a relationship — in post-WWII London. My Review

The Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews | Historical romance set on the coast and rambling moors of Devonshire, complete with a Dartmoor pony. My Review

Just the Way You Are by Pepper Basham | A witty romance unfolds between an Appalachian single mom and an English actor, with a healthy dose of humor and a family mystery, too. My Review

The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay | A contemporary story of self-discovery sees the heroine, Lucy, travel to England and the Brontë’s ancestral town of Haworth — with plentiful literary references! My Review

Wales

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White | A little suspense and beautiful music combine in this WWI-era romance set mostly in Wales. My Review

Ireland

Star Rising by Janet Ferguson | This contemporary romance finds the characters in an unlikely pairing while on a tour of Ireland. Beautiful sights and comical mishaps combine with depth in this adventurous story.

As Death Draws Near by Anna Lee Huber | This enthralling historical tale finds newlywed investigators trekking from England to Dublin to solve a mystery. My Review

Did you share a TTT post this week? What is your favorite setting? Have you read any of these books?

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?

Top Ten Tuesday: 11 Colorful Book Covers ~ A Rainbow from my TBR

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

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s topic is “colorful book covers”. I’ve decided to showcase a stack from my TBR that has a rainbow of colors on the spines.

I know which of these I want to read soon. Are any of these on your shelf? Which one(s) should I move to the top of my to-be-read stack? (titles linked to Goodreads)

11 Colorful Book Covers ~ A Rainbow from my TBR

stack of 11 books with a rainbow of spines

A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano | historical romance

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert | contemporary foodie fiction +romance

Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson | historical Regency romance with hints of North & South

The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant | contemporary romance with a bakery

Love and Other Mistakes by Jessica Kate | contemporary romcom

Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton | historical fiction

Chateau of Echoes by Siri L. Mitchell | dual-timeline romance, maybe some intrigue, and family secrets

Panning for Love by Meg Cross Wenig | romcom with a wild west reenactment

The Theory of Happily Ever After by Kristin Billerbeck | inspirational romcom & women’s fiction

London Tides and Under Scottish Stars by Carla Laureano | contemporary romance in the UK

What did you share for TTT? Have you read any of these books?

Book Gush: “The Solid Grounds Coffee Co.” by Carla Laureano

Combine books + coffee + Carla Laureano and we have the recipe for a perfect story. The Solid Grounds Coffee Co. happens to be set in my second favorite state, AND ticks off all the boxes: a thread of redemption, amazing chemistry between the romantic leads, and food. I’m skipping the “review” byline and going straight to “book gush” today.

About the Book

Analyn Sanchez can handle the long hours and arrogant clients that come with her job as a crisis management associate at Denver’s largest publicity firm. The high-powered job, expensive condo, and designer wardrobe are all part of her plan to prove to her family that her life choices haven’t been in vain. But when she’s asked to cover up a client’s misdeeds with serious moral and legal ramifications, she can no longer sacrifice her conscience for her career . . . and the cost is no less than her job.

Ever since a devastating climbing accident in South America eight months ago, and a bad decision that dried up his sponsorships, professional rock climber Bryan Shaw has found himself at similar loose ends. When the opportunity to buy a coffee farm in Colombia arises, he jumps on it–only to discover his wandering ways have left him utterly unprepared to run a business.

When Bryan returns home and offers Ana a role in his company as a solution to both their problems, she’s desperate enough to consider working with the far-too-flippant and far-too-handsome climber, even though he’s the polar opposite of her type A nature. As they delve deeper into the business, however, she begins to suspect there’s much more to Bryan than she’s given him credit for . . . and that sometimes the best plans are the ones you never see coming.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

The Solid Grounds Coffee Co. uses many favorite tropes from contemporary romance and simultaneously presents an original story of romance, redemption, friendship, coffee, and honesty. From a friends-to-lovers trope, a foodie workplace romance, to a redeemed bad-boy hero (and a few more I won’t mention because I’ll save the story surprises for other readers), these seemingly familiar concepts translate to the page through Carla Laureano’s pen with fresh and robust (forgive the coffee pun) insights and relatable emotions.

This character-driven romance impresses with both its structure and maturity. Ana and Bryan approach their friendship sensibly even with undercurrents of attraction every time they are together. While many aspects of this story shine, the conversations between Ana and Bryan are some of the most sparkling elements, whether they are discussing marketing, food, their love for Colorado, or their secrets and personal mistakes. Their banter feels wonderfully realistic and comfortable, even when emotions are on the line.

I love how Ana and Bryan’s strengths and weaknesses compliment each other, and how they are so alike. Bryan brings out a lighter side of Ana that readers haven’t seen in the first two books. And in return, she encourages him and believes him capable of more than even he realizes. I also loved how Bryan readily recognizes Ana’s intelligence and fortitude, demonstrating in multiple situations his respect for her and her independence. Ana’s journey of seeing beyond her own expectations in many was is a beautiful thing to witness.

Which brings me to… Bryan. My new book boyfriend (I don’t bestow that title lightly.) He is constant, even when underestimating himself. He makes life-direction altering choices near the beginning and sticks with them. I love *heart eyes* that he is 100% himself all the time. And his sense of humor is spot on. There is a yoga sequence that’s… well, it’s hilarious and impressive. It had me googling yoga poses for reasons other than exercise 😉

What I appreciate the most about this novel is how the crux of the story isn’t a single silly or misconstrued problem, but as layered and complex as real life. Past hurts, expectations, facades, purpose, friendship, and risk are all factors for Ana and Bryan as they face their biggest challenges. Carla Laureano handles some sensitive subjects with both grace and a rawness that conveys just how serious life can be – and how happiness can be found in unexpected places and second chances.

Though this story can be read alone, it is much more appreciated as the last in the series. This friend group and their relationships are well developed over the course of all three novels. I smiled my way through the epilogue, even though I’m a little sad to see this culinary-centric series end. Good thing I can start again with book 1 and binge read them all now 😉

Thank you to the publisher, Tyndale, for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Extras!: Check out Carla Laureano’s website and blog for behind the scenes and some fantastic coffee recipes. Carla’s also a guest on the latest Story Nerds podcast, talking with Jessica Kate and Hannah Davis about workplace romances and more coffee fun!

See my thoughts on the previous books in the “Supper Club” series: The Saturday Night Supper Club | Brunch at Bittersweet Café

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!

Best of 2019: Contemporary Fiction

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 have exceeded my reading goals for 2019 according to my Goodreads reading challenge! If you’d like to see all of my 5-star reads and extensive reviews, just check out my completed Goodreads challenge or browse my blog archives. Each day leading up to New Year’s Day you’ll get a new post about my 2019 favorites:

  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
  6. Best of 2019: Happy New Year #OnTheBlog

The 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 review.

Today is all about contemporary fiction! On my list you’ll find light hearted contemporary romance, women’s fiction, a thriller, and a bit of a mystery, and some more serious drama.

Best of 2019: Contemporary Fiction

A Match for Emma by Pepper Basham | Review

Friendship. Trust. Appalachian humor.

After the Rain by Brandy Bruce | Review

Growing. Emotional complexity. Unconditional love.

Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig | Review

Adrenaline. Brotherhood. Globe-trotting spy stuff.

Brunch at Bittersweet Café by Carla Laureano | Review

Heart-friendship. Foodie environment. Hope.

The Waves by Amy Matayo | Review

Romantic chemistry. Sarcasm. Contrast of hope and loss.

How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim | Review

Surrender. Emotional twists. Compelling retelling of Ruth.

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay | Review

Story for booknerds. Faith. Magnetic romance.

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany Turner | Review

Resonating candor. Authentic faith. Classic movies.

Sweet On You by Becky Wade | Review

Sweet – the chocolate & romance. Mystery to solve. Wonderful family dynamics.

Just One Kiss by Courtney Walsh | Review

Rekindled love. Small town charm. The “whys”.

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Book Titles with Numbers

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

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s official topic:  Book Titles with Numbers In Them

In looking through my stacks of books and Goodreads shelves, I found several books with numbers in the titles, up to five! And, a couple fun number and count ones. I’ve read most of these books. Have you read any of them?

10 Book Titles with Numbers

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White

You’re the One that I Want by Susan May Warren

Just One Kiss by Courtney Walsh

Count Me In by Mikal Dawn

Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge

Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson

Love in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan

Three Little Words by Melissa Tagg

Four Dreams of You by Sondra Kraak

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano

What kind of “number” books did you come up with for this week? Have I mentioned any of your favorites? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 (More) Favorite Book Quotes About Books

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

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s official topic: Inspirational/Thought Provoking Book Quotes

A while back, I used a freebie TTT topic to share 10 favorite book quotes about books. With so many bookish characters out there, I wanted to share more of my favorites. I have discovered most of these since making that initial list. 😉 (book titles linked to my reviews!)

10 (More) Favorite Book Quotes About Books

“A plate of apples, an open fire, and ‘a jolly goode booke’ are a fair substitute for heaven.” –The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

“Something about the books, the stories – they spoke to her, whether they were nearly two centuries old or brand new. Each one had something to say, and she longed to absorb the wisdom held in the secret places of each page. The ink soaked from the pages into her soul.” –The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

“It was one of the virtues of having lived in a book for so long: his imagination painted its perimeters everywhere.” –Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan

“…I like reading books that relate to my own struggles and how people overcome them with their faith.” -Titus in Jane By the Book by Pepper Basham

“P.S. I’ve been sitting in my living room organizing my books. It’s so quiet and dark, but I don’t feel lonely. I feel safe. How could I not? All my friends are here. You should see them lined up.” – Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

“Forget diamonds. Books are this girl’s best friend.” – Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano

“This was not a book that called into question whether or not our lovebirds would end up together. Of course they would. From the opening line, through all of the ups and downs, there could never be any doubt that there would be a happily ever after. But what sort of people would they become before they reached the finish line? Some scars would be healed, sure, but some new injuries were just as certain. It was all about the journey, not the inevitable outcome.” –The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner

“Millie read the last four pages of the hardback in her hands one more time. …she needed this. Just a moment with her book.” –A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson

“…there’s nothin’ quite like fallin’ into the world of a good book.” –My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream by Pepper Basham

“Fiction is a way to express mankind’s deepest heart. His fears. His hopes. His failings. His successes. Fiction is truth… in a pretty wrapping.” –A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

Your turn!!! What kind of book quotes did you share for TTT? Do you have any favorites to add to my list?