Monday, June 24, 2024

Midsummer Mingle: A Day with Authors

 


I'm still on cloud 9 from the Midsummer Mingle author event I had the tremendous blessing to attend earlier this month. Anytime readers and authors get together memories and laughter are created. While most people love spending their vacations hiking, on the beach or exotic destinations, I love going to book conferences, hanging out with authors and readers. Meeting authors is the equivalent of meeting a celebrity. I think most bookworms would agree with me.

When I saw this incredible all-star line-up of authors, I jumped at the opportunity to go. (Sidenote: All of the authors were genuine, warm, gracious and just as excited to meet the readers as we were to meet them. The love that all the authors had for the readers was so evident).

Some of the Authors at the Event Included: 

  • Dani Pettrey pens contemporary, page-turning thrillers with happily-ever-afters. She is so gracious and poised. 
  • Gabrielle Meyer writes both contemporary and historical novels. I absolutely LOVE her Timeless series. You need to add it to your TBR pile. Gabrielle had this wonderful quiet appreciation and truly cherished her readers. 
  • Bethany Turner is known for her hilarious, rom-com romances with her sharp pop culture references.  She has the uncanny ability to make her readers feel like her best friends and she is absolutely delightful. 
  • Pepper Basham is a new-to-me author who writes both contemporary and historical. She is so effervescent and has a quick-witted sense of humor. 
  • Kimberley Woodhouse is a multi-talented author who writes both contemporary and historical. Kim has such a jubilant and witty presence you can't help but be drawn to her radiance. 
  • Amanda Dykes pens dual time stories that tug at the heartstrings. She is an absolute sweetheart who radiates grace and a humble demeanor with a fantastic fashion sense. I want to dress like Amanda Dykes when I grow up. 
  • Karen Witemeyer writes historical Westerns that have feisty heroine, swoon worthy cowboys, faith and humor. She puts readers at ease with her warm smile, humor and the genuine care she has for her readers shines through. 

Not only did readers get to spend the day with authors, but we also got to have lunch with them. You can imagine how was over-the-moon excited to be having lunch with Karen Witemeyer!  I got to pepper her with writing questions to my heart's content. Dreams do come true! (Thank you, Karen!)

This conference is an incredible blend of indulging in a book-buying binge and spending the day with remarkable authors, soaking up their knowledge, absorbing their wonderful testimonies and life verses, and enjoying loads of laughter.

It made me realize in my own aspiring author journey how excited and thankful I am to be a part of the Christian fiction community. All of these ladies were joyful and an inspiring reminder to me to use my author voice as a ministry to honor God. 

I also want to thank the amazing Chris Jager and the whole staff at Baker Book House for all the hard work and seamless, behind-the-scenes-work that made Midsummer Mingle with the authors such a fun and memorable event. 

If I had to sum up this weekend in one word...it would be JOY. 

 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Summer by the Tides is an Engaging Read

 


Denise Hunter is the queen of small-town, summertime romances. As I pulled Summer by the Tides off my bookshelf and began to dive in, I found myself immersed in yet another captivating story.

Restaurant manager, Maddy Monroe is reeling from the betrayal of her ex-boyfriend when she receives a call about her beloved grandmother missing from her Sea Haven, North Carolina cottage. She's come back to the place where her family was pulled apart by betrayal and secrets. Despite 20 years between the events, bitterness still remains between her older sisters Nora and Emma and Maddy finds trying to be the peacemaker again unpleasant and difficult.

Connor Sullivan might be one of my favorite heroes by this author. He's kind, hard-working, loves his family and his community. Despite the trials and hardships, he's experienced in his life he remains a constant in people's life. 

The one minor issue I had with Maddy was how quick she was to jump to conclusions. It made her somewhat of an annoying heroine always projecting what she thought someone was like or thinking she had the whole picture when in actuality she didn't know anything. Assumptions are why many relationships in our lives are ruined and it never pays to allow this way of thinking to thrive. You do not know what someone is thinking without asking them, period. I actually wish that the story would have made this more of a lesson instead of just a way to move the plot. 

Denise Hunter is known for writing swoon worthy romances that you want to happen in real life and Summer by the Tides is no exception, but I found myself a little more invested in the three sisters' relationship, the secrets, and how they were going to heal this massive rift? 

I did appreciate that this book has a little more of a faith element with the conversations that Connor and Maddy have, and that Connor was the one to initiation them. 

If you love small-town women's fiction with an edge you need to add author Denise Hunter's books to your TBR list. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Top 5 Books for Spring 2024!

Last spring, I created a top 5 list, and I thought it would be fun to continue this tradition on my blog. Here are my top 5 favorites for the spring of 2024! Did any of these make your list? Have you read any of them? These books earned their place on my list for their powerful and emotional storytelling that lingers long after you've finished reading. Happy reading!

5.) 

You can read my review here.

4.)  


You can read my review here.

3.) 
You can read my review here.
2) 
You can read my review here.
1.) 

You can read my review here.

Monday, May 6, 2024

For a Lifetime is Constraining and Compelling


Author Gabrielle Meyer's Timeless series is SO good! I loved When the Day Comes and, In this Moment, and was none-too-patiently waiting for book three, For a Lifetime. Let me tell you reader, it was so worth the wait. To gain a fuller picture and greater appreciation, I recommend reading the Timeless series in order. PSA announcement...you might need some Kleenex handy when reading For a Lifetime. I cried a couple of times while reading this story. 

Grace and Hope are identical twin sisters with the extraordinary ability to time-travel together between 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, and 1912 New York City. As their twenty-fifth birthday nears, they face a pivotal decision: to choose one life to keep and one to abandon forever, regardless of the consequences.

Although Grace and Hope are twins, their personalities differ significantly. Grace, the older twin by 15 minutes, is more reserved and mature, always striving to show kindness and do what is right. In contrast, Hope is vibrant and carefree, unconcerned with others' opinions. Grace often feels overshadowed by Hope in both time periods. I appreciated that each chapter set in a different era provides insight into both Grace and Hope as well as a snapshot of life during that time.

I love how the author portrays the deep devotion and love that Grace and Hope had for one another. It made me reflect on my relationship with my own siblings and how grateful I am for the close-knit bond we share.

In 1692, the twins work in a tavern for their father amid the turmoil of the Salem witch trials. Honestly, I think I'd be terrified to live during this time because of how unjustly women were treated.  In 1912, Grace is a journalist for the New York Globe and Hope dreams of becoming the first female aviator.

For a Lifetime had several "I didn't see that coming plot twists" which made the story a page-turning tale you'll be thinking about long after you've closed the book.

I had a realization while reading For a Lifetime. All the themes in the books tie in and flow so beautifully. In When the Day Comes Libby learns to honor God no matter the path/time of life. Maggie realizes In this Moment, how God plans and orchestrates our lives and in For a Lifetime, Grace and Hope learned God created each of us for a purpose, for the time we were born in. All of these messages in this series are so needed and timely in today's society. 

For a Lifetime is a story with a unique twist and an ending you won't see coming and I highly recommend making a must-read on your TBR pile for 2024. 

Because this series is wildly popular, author Gabrielle Meyer announced her Timeless series will have 3 more books! Book 4 comes out in November of 2024. Isn't the cover stunning?







Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Love, Unscripted is Charming Spring Read



Best-selling, contemporary romance author Denise Hunter is my go-to author when I need an escapism read. After enjoyed her last stand-alone book last summer, A Novel Proposal I had high expectations for, Love, Unscripted

Chloe Anderson pours her heartbreak out into penning the perfect boyfriend and writes a debut best-selling romance that gets turned into a movie. The film's producers cast Hollywood 'bad boy' Liam Hamilton who needs some positive PR.  

Liam's team thinks a "fake" relationship with the author will be good for his image and free publicity for the film and Chloe's book. 

As Chloe gets to know Liam, she's realizing how different the media portrays him and who he actually is and this is when things start to get interesting! 

Chloe was one of those relatable, likeable heroines you feel like you know, but also want to be friends with and can relate to her fears, struggles, insecurities and are rooting for her. Which is what made this story such an enjoyable read. 

This might be a seemingly insignificant thing to like, but I appreciate that the chapters were shorter, and the pacing of the story never lagged. It made you want to fly through the book. When I had less then 40 pages left, I was wonder how the author was going to end it...I shouldn't have doubted...

No one does small town romance with Hallmark-inspired nuances better than Ms. Hunter. Her books take it a step further and always have an edge that keeps you interested and engaged whether it's with a main character or a story plot. 

I've probably read about half of Denise Hunter's books and know there's not a strong faith element, but because I know that going in, I'm not disappointed because it's not something I'm anticipating. There were a few moments where Chloe prays. But other than that, I didn't see much of a faith thread and I was totally fine with that because it wasn't the focus of the story. 

If you're looking for a charming romantic read you need to add Love, Unscripted is the perfect Spring read to add to your TBR pile. 



 

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Word of Honor is a Page-Turner


Ms. Bridgeman is a new-to-me author. I heard her speak last year at a virtual ACFW Virginia Chapter conference and was immediately drawn to her passion and knowledge for writing but also her steadfast commitment to upholding strong Christian values in her stories. These qualities instantly put her on 'my authors I want to read' pile. 

 Word of Honor, the second installment in her Love and Honor series, served as the perfect story antidote I needed this month to get me out of my reading stupor. I found her intense and fast-paced storytelling engaging and couldn't put this book down. Every spare second, I had outside of life responsibilities, my nose was happily buried in this story. Hallee creates characters you both relate to, but also want to be like.

FBI Special Agent Lynda Culter witnesses' members of an eco-terrorist group kill her partner. Being paired up with her former college sweetheart Special Forces A-team Sergent Bill Sanders in Istanbul posing as husband and wife isn't what either of them had in mind. Can they set their past wounds and differences aside to focus on their mission?

I loved how this story illistrated real growth and change for both Bill and Lynda. It is really hard to show charactor growth that fits naturally into the story, but Hallee Bridgeman did it beautifully.  

One of my favorite parts of the story was the individual "call signs" they have for one another. They were fun and creative, and it made the story more entertaining when a character's call sign was used in place of their name. This added some much-needed humor to some intense scenes. By the end of the book, it made me want my own call sign. 

I'm not sure if it's because my name has a unique spelling, but I notice when authors give characters with perhaps a common name an unusual spelling. The heroine Lynda for example. Normally, Linda is spelled with an 'I', but Hallee choose a 'Y'. 

If you're a reader who enjoys great story elements such as intriguing plot, complex characters, and a strong faith thread then you need to read Word of Honor

I will absolutely be reading more books by this talented author. 




Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Sandcastle Inn Landed on my DNF Pile


Sandcastle Inn is the 10th Hope Harbor Novel for three-time RITA author Irene Hannon. I'm more familiar with Ms. Hannon's suspense romances then I am her small-town coastal stories. 

Vienna Price sees Hope Harbor as a temporary stop. She's here to visit her mom and figure out her next step in her fledgling career. 

Matt Quinn thought he'd find some R&R visiting his sister in Hope Harbor....instead he finds himself heading up an endeavor to restore a crumbling B&B. 

I had two major criticisms of Sandcastle Inn, if I'm being fully honest with you, dear readers and fellow bookworms... The first being it took a good 100 pages for me to want to get into the story and the second being the instant attraction the hero and heroine had upon meeting. It just 1) didn't seem realistic and 2) it does bug me a little the way Hannon has her characters focus on the physical features in this immediate chemistry. It always comes across icky and shallow. Like what if the female didn't have long hair and beautiful eyes? Would the guy even take a second glance? No, the answer is no. At this point in my life, I want so much more, and I think younger girls should have a more realistic perspective of attraction, especially from a Christian author. 

That being said, I did like the town of Hope Harbor that Hanon created, and if you like slow moving, seaside romances then Sandcastle Inn might be for you.  

What usually puts a book on the DNF pile for you? I would love to know!


Sandcastle Inn was provided to me by the publisher in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book.  I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~