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?

Book & Film Pairings, edition 4

Welcome to another post where I pair books and films with similar themes or content! Today’s post is all about romantic comedies that happen to share a church-centric setting of some kind.

All three are self aware of their churchy humor (if you know, you know). And, they all balance humor, romance, and a serious side. Having spent time myself on a worship team, various committees, children’s choir leadership, etc., I definitely related to the humor and situations in these stories! Maybe you will, too. 😉

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated by Kaley and Rhonda Rea

This lighthearted romcom has the planning of a children’s community theater play as a backdrop to much of the characters’ interactions. The cat-owning beta hero and the grouchy barista are my favorite characters. In addition to some hilarious dragon-building and dress shopping situations, it intentionally spoofs Hallmark movies and tropes throughout.

Then There Was You by Kara Isaac

The comedy in this story is all about clumsiness, fish-out-of-water situations (American girl in Australia!), and the trickiness of working in a megachurch (that’s sarcasm). The emotional journey of healing its romantic leads traverse, though, is most impactful and impressive. It’s a fav!

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone (2016)

It has been a while since I watched this movie, but I love the cast and remember thinking the story was fun and enlightening. I’m pairing it with the books for its comedy and play-planning story content, as well as the unexpected romance and deeper lessons its characters learn. While its hero “pretends” to fit in to the church culture while fulfilling a community service sentence, he learns what true service and faith looks like in action. AND he falls for the pastor’s daughter along the way.

Book & Film Pairings, edition 1

Welcome to a new series on the blog pairing favorite stories in book and film format! I will be sharing a recommendation for a book and a movie (or series!), along with notes comparing the two and reasons you should read or watch each one.  We’re starting off with one of my favorite genres, historical dramas and the subject of WWII.

WWII Dramas: Dunkirk (2017) and The Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

dunkirk movie poster
source: imdb.com

Dunkirk is the Christopher Nolan-directed war epic, released in theaters in 2017. It tells the true-life story of the evacuation at Dunkirk beach in France during the onslaught of the Germans’ advance in 1940. The three perspectives of the story (land, sea, and air) are twisted together and quite cleverly layered. It’s the kind of movie you really have to pay attention to – especially for the timeline of everything! The presentation of each perspective has a rawness and urgency, paired with a heart-pounding score and knowledge that it’s based on real life events to make the viewer anxious and intrigued at once.

The Maggie Bright is a novel that I enjoyed IMMENSELY. Tracy Groot has a storytelling ability that is impressive. This story, set before and during the events of Dunkirk, is like the film in some ways with its multiple perspectives and winding story that intertwines with the events of Dunkirk in a most surprising way. A book, of course, offers more emotional depth and immersive feelings, and that is the case with the events the reader is caught up in with Maggie Bright.

Read my full review of The Maggie Bright here!

If you have read or watched either of these, I would love to hear your thoughts! Do you have other novels or movies to recommend that feature WWII drama or the rescue at Dunkirk?

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.

Reading for Janeites | Austen in August

Continuing the fun theme of “Austen in August”, I am sharing a list of books I would recommend to any fans of Jane Austen! For more Austen fun, check out the list of Austen-themed posts at The Book Rat.

Historical

A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack

Regency-era goodness! It’s an expertly crafted story of love and worth, drawing from the societal constraints to set up a unique situation for the heroine whose journey is even more life-changing than that of the Dashwood sisters at the start of Sense & Sensibility.

The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews

The Work of Art is a Regency masterpiece, pun intended! I can highly recommend it to fans of clean historical fiction, mystery, or stories in the vein of the classics (think Austen with a few more kissing scenes, of course).

Contemporary

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

Really, any Katherine Reay novel is a wonderful read for an Austen fan. She has books that give nods to Austen characters, too! (Lizzy & Jane, Dear Mr. Knightley, The Austen Escape) The Printed Letter Bookshop, though, is a story for true book lovers and looks at little ways reading influences our lives.

Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensiblity by Hillary Manton Lodge

A contemporary retelling of S&S, Jane of Austin paints a trio of sisters in Texas with a dogs, tea, and a swoony Callum (Colonel Brandon) character. It also shows fresh perspective and “what-ifs” with the “Marianne” character as the heroine.

Second Impressions and Jane By the Book by Pepper Basham

These two novellas take readers to Bath, England with endearing characters. These stories take on literary themes within themselves and tell sweet stories of romance!

The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

Bookish characters, an idyllic setting (Cornwall!), a little mystery, and romance all combine admirably in this story of friendship and a bookstore.

More Austen fun!

Favorite Quotes from Persuasion by Jane Austen