Best of 2017

This annual blog post has become a favorite because I’m sharing MY favorite reads from the year!!!!! 2017 has been a wonderful reading year. I’ve added several new all-time favorite books to my “shelves”, met some amazing new authors both through their books and on social media, and been blown away by story multiple times. At latest count, I’ve read 58 books! Whew! Comparing genres, I’ve read quite a few more contemporary stories versus historical, and my list here is representative of that slant. Most of these books were published in 2017, but a few were new discoveries I can’t believe I waited this long to read!

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But first, some ground rules: in an effort to NOT be long-winded and wordy, I’m choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my review. (Click each title to visit Goodreads).

Historical

The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green | Review

Poignant. Fleur-de-lys. Scars.

A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz | Review

Immersive. Frontier. Growth.

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton | Review

Epic. Grace. History.

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White | Review

Loyalty. Books. Romance.

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin | Review

Spies. Secrets. Tenacity.

With Love, Wherever You Are by Dandi Daley Mackall | Review

Letters. Love. Sacrifice.

The White Feather Murders by Rachel McMillan | Review

Friends. Mysteries. Toronto.

Contemporary

Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility by Hillary Manton Lodge | Review

Tea. Sisters. Colonel Brandon.

True to You by Becky Wade | Review

Bookish. Romance. Forgiveness.

Just the Way You Are by Pepper Basham | Review

Redemption. Fairytale. Chocolate.

Reclaimed by Jennifer Rodewald | Review

Grace. Country. Pickle.

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner | Review

Honesty. The Sound of Music. Humor.

All This Time by Melissa Tagg | Review

Belonging. Security. Family.

Hometown Girl by Courtney Walsh | Review

Farmhouses. Siblings. Introverts.

Charming the Troublemaker by Pepper Basham | Review

Laughter. Trustworthiness. Closets.

Life After by Katie Ganshert | Review

Bittersweet. Peace. Letting go.

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay | Review

Bubble gum. Connection. Growth.

The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon | Review

Desert. Obedience. Strength.

Contemporary Action/Adventure (with romance, of course!)

Unblemished and Unraveling by Sara Ella | Book 1 Review | Book 2 Review

Disney. Twists. Enchanting.

Conspiracy of Silence and Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig | Book 1 Review | Book 2 Review

Adventure. Dynamic. Heroes.

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey | Review

Suspense. Puzzles. Action.

Rescue Me by Susan May Warren | Review

Tension. Reconciliation. Encouragement.

Novellas

The Message in a Bottle Collection Romance Collection by Heather Day Gilbert, Amanda Dykes, Maureen Lang, Jocelyn Green, and Joanne Bischof | Review

Hope. Strength. Nautical.

I’ll Be There by Susan May Warren | Review

Faith. Spark. Peace.

Right Where We Belong Collection by Deborah Raney, Melissa Tagg, and Courtney Walsh | Review

Quaint. Lighthearted. Happiness.

Then Came You by Becky Wade | Review

Epistolary. Patience. Family.

Christmas Stories

Ordinary Snowflakes by Jennifer Rodewald | Review

Hot cocoa. Friends. Familiarity.

 A Cliché Christmas by Nicole Deese | Review

Dimension. Unconditional. Gloves.

WHEW! That’s it! These favorites are ones I can highly recommend and gush about for days. Have you read any of these? What are your favorite books of 2017? If you have a favorites blog post, share your link in the comments!

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Review: “A Moonbow Night” by Laura Frantz ~ Revell Reads Blog Tour

a-moonbow-nightAuthor Laura Frantz returns to her Kentucky roots with her new novel A Moonbow Night. Laura Frantz is on my #mustread author list because her stories always paint epic pictures of individuals in American history in a prose-like, lyrical, immersive style.
If I may apply the topographical wording of “north northwest” to the genre, this novel is “historical historical romance”, with slightly more emphasis on the drama and history, though the romance that unfolds slowly is heartfelt and central to the story.

About the Book

After fleeing Virginia, Temperance Tucker and her family established an inn along the Shawnee River. It’s a welcome way station for settlers and frontiersmen traveling through the wild Cumberland region of Kentucke–men like Sion Morgan, a Virginia surveyor who arrives at the inn with his crew looking for an experienced guide. When his guide appears, Sion balks. He certainly didn’t expect a woman. But it is not long before he must admit that Tempe’s skill in the wilderness rivals his own. Still, the tenuous tie they are forming is put to the test as they encounter danger after danger and must rely on each other.
With her signature sweeping style and ability to bring the distant past to vivid life, Laura Frantz beckons readers to join her in a land of Indian ambushes, conflicting loyalties, and a tentative love that meanders like a cool mountain stream.

Review

A Moonbow Night is as prolific and flowing as expected, with a new level of grittiness exploring the raw reality of frontier life, conditions, and conflict. Instead of typical plot and story, Moonbow offers what feels like an inside look at true frontier living. The monotony, the labor, the wild beauty, the challenge. The toughness of character required. The trust in the Almighty and fellow man. And, the sweetness of love and family which surpasses all eras.

screenshot_2017-01-06-15-25-44-1.pngSion is a hero of few words and many actions. His steadfast presence is an anchor to the story, dependable for Tempe whose life seems ever-changing. Tempe, a strong character herself, is good at the heart and willing to do anything necessary for the people she cares for, whether it be family or a rough group of surveyors with a formidable 🙂 leader.

This story delves deep into the heart, revealing slowly an intricate picture influenced by grief and love. While the reader doesn’t know the backstory of Sion or Tempe for a little while, one can still sense the pain in each character’s voice and wonder at what happened. Patience is rewarded as Frantz reveals the acts behind each character’s carried heartache and brings to light surprising secrets connecting this ragtag group of characters in unexpected ways.

While they traverse many trials and crazy-dangerous situations in the wilds of “Kentucke”, some making me anxious and wondering how any good could come from the current predicament, the magnetic draw between Tempe and Sion was unmistakable. This is, perhaps, my favorite part of this story: the bittersweet romance between them. Slow to manifest itself, I was constantly rooting for them to see beyond their own pain and realize the blessing and life found in each other. Their eventual path to this realization surprised me in several ways, but it offered a thread of hope, of purpose, tying the story together and pointing to God’s ultimate plan and provision.

Thank you to Revell Publishers for the complimentary review copy of this novel. This review reflects my honest opinion.

You can visit my previous reviews here:

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

Love’s Awakening by Laura Frantz

Love’s Fortune by Laura Frantz

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books Set Outside the U.S.

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s topic sounded like a fun thing to talk about, especially for this native southerner. While I have traveled a bit within the US, I’ve never been out of the country. What better way to learn about another culture or experience another location (without actually going) than books? For today, let’s “pack” our suitcases and talk about books set outside the U.S. For fun, I’m splitting this list up into 2 types: books I’ve read and books on my TBR.

TTT 10 Books Set Outside the US

10 Books Set Outside the U.S.

Books I’ve Read

The Thorn Keeper by Pepper D. Basham

Derbyshire, England during WWII

The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson

Prince Edward Island, Canada

The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea

Holland and England during the Protestant Reformation

Valley of Decision by Lynne Gentry

Carthage, Tunisia during the 3rd century

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

England and France during WWII

Soon-ish TBR

London Tides by Carla Laureano

London, England and probably a little Scotland because the hero is Scottish ❤

A Lesson in Love and Murder by Rachel McMillan

1910s Toronto, Canada (and Chicago). What could be next for these daring girls?

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

England (Bath and the countryside) during the Regency Era

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay (!!!!)

Italy (and Atlanta). It’s by Katherine, so I KNOW it will be good.

Can’t Help Falling by Kara Isaac

Oxford, England. This was first added to my TBR solely because of the cover. Since then, reviews of Kara’s work have completely convinced me I need to read it!

 

What places do YOU like to visit through the pages of a book? What are some of your favorite books set outside the US? 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Reasons I Love Period Dramas

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Reasons I Love Period Dramas

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

This week’s topic is open-ended: 10 reasons you love _______. So, I’m taking the opportunity to ramble in delight over period dramas, whether they be film, television, or series productions.

Top 10 Reasons I Love Period Dramas

The Young Victoria. So many amazing costumes! AND it is a true story!

The Young Victoria. So many amazing costumes!

1. History

As a fan of both history and historical fiction, what better way to combine story and facts than a period drama?

2. Costumes

Cravats.

Cravats.

Style HAS certainly changed over time, and it’s fascinating. I’m thankful to live in a modern era where comfy pants are acceptable. But I love seeing the elegance and class of past eras. And cravats. Need I say more?

3. Musical Scores

Essential to enhancing a story, if you ask me! I spent a previous topic talking about some of my favorites.

William & Georgiana (James Norton & Eleanor Tomlinson) in Death Comes to Pemberley miniseries

William & Georgiana in Death Comes to Pemberley miniseries

4. Various Story Formats

Series, movie, miniseries. All great for different reasons.

5. Often adapted from books

Books + visual representation of setting + amazing casting = perfect recipe for a perfect period drama.

The Bennett sisters.... I love the way they are portrayed in P&P 2005!

The Bennett sisters…. I love the way they are portrayed in P&P 2005!

6. Portrayal of Relationships

For some reason, period dramas tend to have a better grip on relationships — or at least they emphasize them. And I’m not talking about romantic relationships, but friendship, sibling, or parent-child ones. Think Anne and Diana in Anne of Green Gables, or the Bennet sisters in Pride & Prejudice, or the closeness of Jo March and Marmee in Little Women. Maybe it’s because our life is more complex now due to technology and travel, but fewer modern stories can emphasize and portray relationships with such gravity.

Heath Ledger & Mel Gibson in "The Patriot". A favorite film set during the American Revolution.

Heath Ledger & Mel Gibson in “The Patriot”. A favorite film set during the American Revolution.

 

 

 

7. Love Stories

Call them chick flicks if you want, but I am a huge fan of love stories. And classifying a production as a period drama almost guarantees some part of the story will involve characters finding love and, hopefully, happiness. Which brings me to….

 

Little Women

Little Women

8. Happily-Ever-Afters!

Yes, I’m aware that not every period drama ends with a happily ever after scene. And that’s ok, I still like some of those! But I’m a sucker for a good ending. Or at least one that offers hope and maybe leaves you wondering about the rest.

 

 

 

9. Variety of Sub-Genres

Mystery, suspense, war, drama, romance, comedy, true stories.

North and South 2004. Drama, love, & social commentary in my favorite miniseries.

North and South 2004. Drama, love, & social commentary in my favorite miniseries.

10. Vocabulary

A little item, yes, but SO important. Language and vocabulary are two more things that have changed so much with time. It’s so interesting to be reminded how people spoke.

Henry Tilney & Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey adaptation.

Henry Tilney & Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey adaptation.

And, sometimes learning new words is a fun bonus! Examples: Plimsolls, quixotic, taciturn.

 

 

 

 

It’s your turn! Why do YOU like period dramas? Or do you prefer another genre of film/TV? Please share your thoughts below!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 9 Books or series I wish someone would make into a movie/series

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

This week is a freebie topic! I’m choosing to go with books I wish someone would make into miniseries, TV series, or movies. So, make yourself some popcorn and read on for my ideas!

Top 9 Books or Series I wish someone would make into a movie/series

Miniseries

TTT Adaptation 1

#1 The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

No question about it, this book is my number one pick for being adapted into some form of film. I have always said it should be a miniseries, that way there would be enough time for all the little details to be included. Plus the budget would be higher for filming on location in rural TN. And we need authentic costumes. I can dream, right? Basically, I’d volunteer to work on the crew just to see it done. (History Channel, AMC, or Hallmark, are you listening?)

#2 The Price of Privilege series by Jessica Dotta (Born of Persuasion, Mark of Distinction, Price of Privilege)

It should be no surprise to see this on my list. Favorite. Series. Ever. And a miniseries would be awesome, yes?

TV series

TTT Adaptations 2

#3 The “Redemption” series (and subsequent related Baxter Family books) by Karen Kingsbury (some with Gary Smalley)

We have 23 books in 5 series that could be adapted, so I think it could be a very long-running series. (Ahem, Hallmark, since you’ve already adapted Karen’s The Bridge and book-based Cedar Cove, this could be your next hit series.)

(2/4 update: we have a contract! Karen & Roma Downey will be working together to bring the Baxter Family series to television!! http://deadline.com/2016/02/roma-downey-the-baxter-family-faith-based-novel-tv-series-1201694238/)

#4 “Christiansen Family” series by Susan May Warren

This is another that fits the TV series format! Though the 6 books could be a series of movies, too, what with each sibling having their own book.

Movie

TTT Adaptations 3.jpg

#5 The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

In the vein of The Book Thief or Woman in Gold, this would be an excellent historical drama on screen with 2 intertwining stories — present day and WWII.

#6 Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano

Besides this being a great story, it made me want to go to Scotland. If it were made into a movie, I might not actually have to go there to see all the wonderful locations referenced in the story. Plus I’d like to see a cast with the great chemistry of James and Andrea (with Henry Cavill, of course).

#7 The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

With a large cast, this would be a fabulous family drama with flashbacks to the early story of a couple certain characters. It would be a perfect June Hallmark movie!

#8 The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah E. Ladd

Who doesn’t love a good Regency period drama with mystery and romance? With the right casting, it could be a new favorite!

#9 Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

Because the world needs more good rom-coms! Why not one with realistic characters, a serious story of forgiveness, and small-town charm.

 

Well, that’s my list for now. How about you? Do you have any favorite books you’d like to see adapted to film of some kind? Share in the comments!

My Favorite Reads of 2015

Happy (almost) New Year! I want to wish all of you a blessed year. I’m so thankful to be celebrating a new year and being partway through my fourth year of blogging. It’s a pleasure to “meet” with my readers and chat about books and the grace of Jesus.

I can’t believe it’s time for another year-end recap! Though much has transpired in 2015, this post will focus on books. It seems like just a couple months ago I was considering my books from 2014 and looking forward to new releases in 2015. In this post I want to share my favorites I read this year. Hopefully you’ll find some titles to add to your TBR — and share your thoughts in the comments!

I came really close to my goal of 50 books — I made it all the way to 46 books. (46 and a half if you count my current read). And, I checked off all but 3 books from my personal 2015 reading challenge.

These are in no particular order, but they are kinda grouped by genre: classics, historical, contemporary. (I’ve linked each title to its review/related post here on the blog or to its Goodreads page)

Classics

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

This one is a classic for good reason. Plus there’s the BBC miniseries adaptation that is wonderful. The best part about the novel, in my opinion, is seeing both Margaret’s and Mr. Thornton’s side of the story.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

I really enjoyed this one! Participating in the read-along made this one even better with all the analyzing that went on.

 

Favorites of 2015 on The Green Mockingbird

Historical

The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall

A great finish to this series! I was caught up in the intrigue and romance from the very start.

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton

Lori is just awesome. She writes beautiful characters and prose with great depth. I’m super excited for the sequel in 2016!

“Price of Privilege” series by Jessica Dotta (Born of Persuasion, Mark of Distinction, Price of Privilege)

Ah, Jessica Dotta is amazing. This is possibly my favorite series of all-time! (And I don’t say that lightly). I have more plans to discuss these on the blog in 2016. Look out, world.

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

Laura always delivers with a fantastic story. This one might be the best to date! (And my mom really liked it, too)

Favorites of 2015Contemporary

The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren

I was so glad to read Amelia’s story! The Christiansens feel like my own secondary family at this point.

The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay

A story for book lovers. Enough said.

Told You So by Kristen Heitzmann

SOOOO good. And unexpected. And comical. And deep.

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano

This one made me want to go to Scotland!!!! Fun, emotional, and characters with great chemistry.

Isle of Hope by Julie Lessman

An epic romantic story focused on the importance of family, redemption and the choice to forgive. Move over, Nicholas Sparks!

While You’re Awake by Amber Stokes (novellete)

This one was a delightful twist on a fairy-tale that had me hooked! And craving coffee.

One Enchanted Christmas by Melissa Tagg (novella)

I literally laughed out loud at this one. But it’s more than a comedy — it’s a sweet story of family and learning to trust God.

 

Whew! That was fun to put together. If you’re interested in what other books I read in 2015, check out my Goodreads challenge page.

What made it onto your list of favorites in 2015? Did you read any of these? What is on your TBR for next year?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top {11} Most Anticipated Releases of 2016

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

This week’s topic is actually top 10 most anticipated releases for the first half of 2016…but since that was a bit challenging for me to do, I’m changing it up slightly. So we’re going with the whole year (because some of these don’t have release dates) and 11 titles.

Top {11} Most Anticipated Releases of 2016

Top [11] Most Anticipated Reads of 2016

In no particular order…..

1. Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

After the cover alone inspired this novella,have to read this one.

2. The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

The prequel novella won me over! This one will be read soon.

3. The Goodbye Bride and 4. Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter

I’m anxiously awaiting these stories about the other 2 brothers after Falling Like Snowflakes.

5. The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall

You probably know my love of Dawn’s Everstone Chronicles series already. This one is likely book 4!

6. Together at the Table by Hillary Manton Lodge

I need to know how Jules’ story will go. Like, yesterday. (Reviews for book 1 & book 2)

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

I’ll be sad to end the series, but I’m anxious for Owen’s story of redemption. (most recent in series, book 5, review here)

8. A Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton

Part of her Pathfinders series, whatever transpires, this will be epic.

9. Where Trains Collide by Amber Stokes

Hopefully releasing in 2016!!!??? Whenever it does, you can count on me to read it pronto. (related novella review here)

10. Told You Twice by Kristen Heitzmann

Not sure of a release date here, but after a fabulous series debut, I’m excited.

11. Under Scottish Stars by Carla Laureano

I know, I still need to read book 2 first, but this one sounds promising. (book 1 review here)

What about YOU? What 2016 releases are you anticipating?