Review: Life After by Katie Ganshert

When I first read the back cover summary of Life After, I was intrigued. It sounded different than what I typically read, but so compelling.

The premise of this novel centers on a Chicago tragedy -a train explosion- where the victims’ lives are lost, all but one. It follows the life of Autumn Manning, whose life was spared, and the aftermath of experiencing such a life-altering horror. How do you move forward? How do you reconcile the fact that you alone lived, and why? Why did you survive and no one else?

Life After by Katie Ganshert
Waterbrook, 2017

The prologue had me immediately engaged, and from there it never let up. Autumn’s life has been changed dramatically, and no one around her can relate to what she has been through.

This book grapples with the weight of survival and the pressure to make your survival mean something

This story takes an honest look at how life can be turned upside down in one unimaginable moment. It is a story about grief, and how we grapple with it, try to understand it, and ultimately how we attempt to move forward.

Can Autumn learn to heal without forgetting?

This is a standout novel. My favorite read of the year so far.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts expressed are my own.*

Review: The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

What really happened on Horace Stapleton’s stage? Was it a performance gone wrong? Or was something malicious going on behind the scenes on that fateful New Year’s Eve morning?

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron
Thomas Nelson, 2017

From the start, the vivid descriptions brought the setting to life and injected this novel with a mysterious atmosphere. I felt like I had stepped into another day and age and was immersed in this 1920’s vaudeville world.

Early in the story, Wren and Elliot attend an upscale party to investigate the death that resulted from Horace Stapleton’s performance. This is where the story took off for me. Between the tension in this scene and all the witty quipping between the main characters, I was hooked.

Wren’s life is a carefully crafted illusion, and letting other people in is rare and considered a liability. That’s why I loved Elliot: he didn’t want to change her; he just wanted to be her safe place.

Hiding may be her normal, but that doesn’t mean it ever gets easy.

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So while all you see at first glance is this mysterious illusionist who lives in a secretive world, you find out that there is so much more to Wren than meets the eye. Her character development was phenomenal. She is confident and independent, but also has this soft, vulnerable side.

Kristy’s books have an ethereal quality about them. They are the ones that quietly take up residence in your heart. I slowly found myself more and more attached to this story, and I can’t wait to see what she has coming next.

*I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I am on this author’s launch team. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Monthly Favorites: February

mll blog

Welcome to my monthly wrap up! This is where I share my favorite things from around the web, including author news and favorite blog posts from my friends. This may vary between a few items some months and several things that deserve highlighting other months, depending on what’s caught my eye. Enjoy!

Tons of cover reveals are happening lately. Jen Turano, Kristi Ann Hunter, and Katherine Reayto name a few.

Kristy Cambron is writing non-fiction and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Sarah Sundin’s next series has book titles and I am so ready for these books!

Goodreads now has a reread feature.

March Most Anticipated:

Share your monthly highlights below! How did February treat you?

5 Ways to Stay in the Know with Your Favorite Authors

5waysauthors

Sometimes it can be hard to stay connected with authors or remember when their next book is coming out. Or maybe you just wish you could get to know an author whose work you enjoy. Today I am sharing five ways you can stay in the know with your favorite authors (because lists are my favorite).

1. Check out the Website

I look for two distinct things in an author website that will make me want to stick around a while and get to know who they are and more about what they write. The first is ease of getting around. Does their website make sense? Is it easy to find what I’m looking for? Usually this means an author bio, links to connect with them, and a page listing all their books and where I can buy them.

The second is aesthetic. Is the website pretty/pleasing to look at? Does it fit with who they are as an author? Does it express their personality/brand?

SPOTLIGHT: The colors of Katherine Reay’s site match her books and the touch of whimsy makes me want to stay awhile.

2. Follow the blog

If an author writes a blog, usually you can find it as a part of their website, so this ties in with the first point of this post. I am a huge fan of author blogs. It is a place where you can really discover more about the author and get to know more about them on a personal level.

Some authors will write a blog independently, but I’ve also seen a few group blogs, which can be really fun to follow. With a group of authors, you get diverse content and can keep up with several authors all in one place.

I would recommend subscribing to your favorite ones. That way, each new post will show up in your inbox. If you don’t like your inbox to fill up, consider bookmarking the blog so you can easily visit whenever you want to catch up with your favorites.

SPOTLIGHT: Melissa Tagg always writes down to earth posts and I almost feel like I know her. She let’s her readers in to see the joys and the struggles, and I find that she is someone I can relate to.

3.  Subscribe to the newsletter

I love this one! I only subscribe to my very favorite authors [because too many emails!]. This is the easiest option. You sign up once, and the author communicates with you whenever something exciting happens. You get the direct communication when: a new book is coming out, new cover art is revealed, release dates are announced, ebook deals and all the fun things!

I especially like newsletters when the author makes it unique to them, and adds personal flair. Boring newsletters are a no-go in my inbox, so if one catches my interest, it’s a keeper!

SPOTLIGHT: Becky Wade has the best newsletters. Her mom and sisters each get to share their tips for readers, whether it be a book recommendation or a fashion tip, which I obviously love because no one else does this. And she always share some fun tidbit about something behind the scenes of her books and has a newsletter-subscriber only giveaway.

SPOTLIGHT: And because I couldn’t narrow it down to one, I also love Hillary Manton Lodge’s newsletter. She always adds a recipe (yum!) and pictures of her adorable dogs.

4. Social Media

The most obvious is to follow your favorites on social media. There are so many options, and it’s a great way to connect with authors. Most authors have Facebook and Twitter. I personally like Facebook for giveaways and Twitter for ‘talking’ directly to authors about their work. Then you have Instagram, Goodreads, and Pinterest, all of which have varying levels of author use. These don’t tend to be as universal as far as author use, but some of them really like these platforms.

SPOTLIGHT: Courtney Walsh is my favorite on Instagram. She posts pretty pictures and writes beautiful words about her day or her struggles, and I find that so inspiring and down to earth.

SPOTLIGHT: Laura Frantz is a huge Pinterest user. She posts all kinds of book inspiration and is very active on the social media site.

5. Follow the Publisher

The final way you can stay connected to your favorite authors? Follow their publishing company. This is a great resource for finding out about new books and when they will be in stores. It may even introduce you to new authors to love.

How do you like to stay connected to your favorite authors?

Monthly Favorites: January

mll blog

Welcome to my monthly wrap up! This is where I share my favorite things from around the web, including author news and favorite blog posts from my friends. This may vary between a few items some months and several things that deserve highlighting other months, depending on what’s caught my eye. Enjoy!

Joanne Bischof is writing a new 2-book historical series with Thomas Nelson. The first will come out in 2018. The blurb Joanne shared has me interested already!

The cover model of Dani Pettrey’s Still Life was a contestant on Survivor.

Kristi Ann Hunter is working on her next series.

Hidden Figures. I don’t know that I can put into words what an impact this movie had on my mind and my heart. It is a beautiful story of strength, tenacity, and perseverance. It evoked so many emotions from me, but ultimately made me reflective on life and how everyone should be treated with kindness and respect.

February Most Anticipated Books


What were your January highlights? What books are you excited about in February?

Review: An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter

An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter
Hawthorne House, Book 3
Bethany House, 2017

Trent’s musings over breakfast was a charming way to start An Uncommon Courtship. He declares it “one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity” and I couldn’t have been more delighted with his enjoyment of the start of the day.

Quickly thereafter, readers find out Trent has just married Adelaide, and we follow their journey together. Will they learn to love one another, or will they become strangers who merely live in the same house?

“I take my frivolity very seriously.”

Trent’s household is run a little differently than the average household, which is quite the shocker for Adelaide. The unconventional dynamics of his household are amusing and humorous. I really enjoyed how the staff was involved in the life of the home, immediately treating Adelaide with familiarity.

Trent and Adelaide struggle to find sure footing in their marriage, but I really enjoyed watching them learn more about one another and develop feelings. One thing I loved was how something was always askew with Adelaide’s dress and she never knew how it happened. And Trent’s amusement in discovering these mishaps and his pleasure in being the only one to notice them. It made my heart happy.

This is my favorite novel from Kristi Ann Hunter to date. I only wonder now if Griffith will get his own love story….

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts expressed are my own.*

TBR List: 2017 Edition

Per tradition, with the new year comes my new TBR list of 2017 releases. Another favorite post to put together, if you will.

There are so many good books coming out in 2017! Like last year, the books I’ve shared below are only releases for January – June, the first half of the year. There are 15 books below! So many, and these are only my most anticipated. More books are on my “reader-radar” than what I have here.

I’ve linked each title to their Goodreads page so you can read the synopsis and add it to your TBR, too!

tbr17-1
An Uncommon Courtship
by Kristi Ann Hunter (Hawthorne House #3)
January 3, 2017

A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz
January 3, 2017

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander (Belmont Mansion #3)
January 31, 2017

To The Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden
February 28, 2017

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron
March 7, 2017

When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin (Waves of Freedom #3)
March 14, 2017

A Secret Courage by Tricia Goyer (The London Chronicles #1)
April 1. 2017

Behind The Scenes by Jen Turano (Apart From The Crowd #1)
April 4, 2017

tbr17-2

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson
April 4, 2017

Life After by Katie Ganshert
April 18, 2017

True To You by Becky Wade (Bradford Sisters #1)
May 2, 2017

Catching The Wind by Melanie Dobson
May 9, 2017

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge
June 6, 2017

With You Always by Jody Hedlund (Orphan Train #1)
June 6, 2017

High As The Heavens by Kate Breslin
June 6, 2017

Phew! That’s a lot of books to look forward to! And in June, look for my TBR for the second half of the year. Because there will most-definitely be more to come!

What are your most anticipated books of the year? Share below, and if you wrote a blog post, share the link with me!

Best Books of 2016

It’s time for my favorite post of the year! I always love rounding up my personal “Best Books of the Year” list.

Narrowing my favorite books down to this list was a struggle this year. I read 52 books, and there were three or four that almost made the list, but in the end, I had to pick the ones I enjoyed the most.

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Each title is linked to my review (or the Goodreads page):

Interested in my ‘best of’ lists from years past? Take a look: 2013 | 2014 | 2015

What were your favorite books of 2016? Share below or link me to your post!

Monthly Favorites: December

mll blog

Welcome to my monthly wrap up! This is where I share my favorite things from around the web, including author news and favorite blog posts from my friends. This may vary between a few items some months and several things that deserve highlighting other months, depending on what’s caught my eye. Enjoy!

*It’s almost time to post my favorite books of 2016, so this post is going up a bit early! Short and sweet!*

# books read: 5
# books acquired: 4
# books added to TBR: 6

Hannah from So Obsessed With celebrated her 5 year anniversary with all kinds of content on her favorites throughout the years. Our reading tastes don’t overlap much, but I just love her content.

Lori Benton’s next book is coming out in September of 2017. SEPTEMBER?!?! And while it feels so very far away, she recently revealed her book’s title.

Annie F Downs is a non-fiction writer and I love her. She writes blog post that are so real and down to earth. Everything she writes seems to resonate with me, and I really loved this post about calling and Moana.

That’s it! What are your December favorites?

P. S. Today marks my 4-year blogging anniversary. Thank you to all the authors, publishers, bloggers, and friends who have made being part of this community such a joy.

Review: Unblemished by Sara Ella

Unblemished by Sara Ella
Unblemished, Book 1
Thomas Nelson, 2016

I have been really interested in this debut young adult novel since I found out about it months ago. It’s written by Sara Ella, who is a YouTuber. And as someone who is involved in the book-reviewing blogger/vlogger world, it is exciting to see the success of one of my peers.

My hesitation with this book is that it falls under the fantasy/young adult genre, both of which I do not typically read. So my feelings on this book are complex, much like the story that unfolds within its pages.

This book definitely caught my attention as Eliyana grieves the loss of her mother at the opening and is thereafter swept up into a world she never knew existed. What does it all mean for her? I found myself thinking about this book and eager to find time to sit and read the next few chapters.

Here’s the thing: world building in fantasy novels is an enigma to me. It is interesting and creative and so many details have to come together to make sense of this new reality. But it’s also this incredibly difficult thing for me to wrap my mind around. Even now, I’m pretty sure I’m still confused on how the world works in this ‘Reflection’. But I’m trying to figure it out, guys, because I really want to understand how and why things happened the way they did within the context of this world.

We have to talk about the romance. I was fascinated by the love triangle and the dynamics within those relationships. Specifically, I was intrigued by how the world building plays into the triangle and what the consequences of certain actions were. It created an extra complexity to the world and how relationships are bound by actions. I’m really interested in seeing how this will develop in the next book.

Overall, I found the descriptions in this book many times bordered on too flowery. And the one word sentences to describe noises were odd. For example: Click. Bang. Boom. It threw me out of the story. Other than that, the first three acts were interesting. Elyiana learns fragmented pieces of her new reality, which allows the reader to be confused and try to make sense of everything alongside the main character.

Then Act IV arrived, and everything starts to make sense, and it becomes a more cohesive story. So many things were coming together and I was eager to find out how the resolution would come about, how it could possibly end well. I was completely sucked into the story by Act IV, the build up from the previous three acts finally coming to fruition.

I’ve already shelved book two on my Goodreads TBR. I’ve even subscribed to Sara Ella’s newsletter and YouTube channel. So, I guess you could say I’m invested. I’m really looking forward to Sara Ella’s next book and watching her grow as an author.

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.*