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?

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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.*

Review: A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck

A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck
Royal Wedding, Book 4 (Novella)
Zondervan, 2016

From the moment Avery and Colin met in Once Upon A Prince, I wanted more of their story. A couple of years later, and I was delighted to learn we would finally be getting it. Add in the Christmas season, and you get a delightful novella filled with Brighton tradition and renewed love.

Avery and Colin broke up five years ago. They were too young and lived too far apart to make things work. But five years later, neither of them has truly moved on, and who’s to say they were supposed to? This is a love story of second chances and risking your heart… again.

The story revolves around the Harvest Celebration tradition in Brighton, where a man rings the chapel bell at midnight, thereby declaring his love for the woman he intends to marry- on Christmas Day. And let’s just say, I LIKED IT. There is more to the tradition, but suffice it to say, it’s swoon-worthy.

A favorite scene in the novella was when Avery threw a cupcake at Colin (for charity, of course). Inevitably, a crowd formed, and everyone got in line for the chance to throw a cupcake at him. And that’s how you end up with a frosting-covered prince.

Anyone who loved the series will enjoy revisiting Brighton and these characters in this new addition to The Royal Wedding Series from Rachel Hauck. I felt like I had stepped back into a familiar setting, which perfectly blends down-to-earth goodness with a twist of the magical.

Who doesn’t like a story that ends in happily ever after?

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

Interested in the series? Check out my reviews for all three books:

Once Upon a Prince | Princess Ever After | How to Catch a Prince

Monthly Favorites: November

mll blog

Welcome to my monthly wrap up! I used to do a wrap up of things happening on the blog, but this time I want to 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!

# books read: 3
# books acquired: 6
# books added to TBR: 2

From My Blogger Friends:

Rissi’s review of The Portrait of Emily Price & Courtney’s review, too!

Author News makes me happy:

Katherine Reay’s next book has a title!

Courtney Walsh has a new book coming next summer! And not only did she give a cover reveal, but here is the synopsis. (I loved Change of Heart, so I am so ready for another Courtney Walsh book!)

All my other favorites:

This Is Us. This show is the best thing on TV right now. I know episodes have been showing for a while now, but I just adore it more and more with every new episode. I hope this lasts for several seasons. I love the emotional depth of the show and how real and honest it feels. I highly recommend it!

Leslie Odom Jr. I’m sure everyone knows who he is by now, but I just can’t get over his voice.

Has everyone seen the Beauty and the Beast movie trailer? Because I am really excited to watch this when it comes to theaters!

Share your November highlights below!

 

Review: A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

“Ben raised my fists and kissed the back of one hand, then the other, keeping his eyes trained on mine. ‘I will always come for you.’”

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
Thomas Nelson, 2016

Life and beauty burst off the pages of A Portrait of Emily Price. I felt like I stepped into another world while I read. The characters, the places they visited, and the struggles they face all held authenticity and breathed life. Katherine Reay is a master storyteller.

Some sentences would be so beautiful or thought-provoking that I would read them again a second or third time just to soak it all in. This is one of those books I wanted to read fast because I loved it and needed to know what happened, but at the same time, I wanted to read it slowly so I could savor all the things I loved about it.

I am growing to love stories told in the first-person point of view. It gives you a deeper insight into the main character’s mind and makes the impact of their character growth that much stronger. I was thrilled this book was told from Emily’s POV exclusively. And the short chapters made it so easy for me to read a ‘little bit more’ before my lunch break ended or I went to bed each night. The Italian dialogue sprinkled throughout the novel added an extra layer to the story, both making it more beautiful and realistic, while also spotlighting Emily’s struggle to belong in her new family.

Let’s talk about plot for a moment so you get a snapshot of what this book is about. Emily Price is an art restorer on a short work trip to make repairs to the art that was ruined in a house fire. While in Atlanta, she meets an Italian chef who is visiting from Italy. They have a whirlwind romance, and she follows him home, only to realize that life is complicated and not everything can be so easily fixed; some things must be endured before the beauty can be found.

I was pulled into this novel almost immediately with the Italian family restaurant and the cute tables, and everyone speaking in Italian. From the moment you meet Ben, you will love him. He is adorable and charming. As Emily would say, “This guy had no clue how handsome he was. You could tell by his eyes. Eyes never hide and never lie. His danced with laughter and no awareness at all that I was melting right before him.” And with that, I knew I was going to love his character and this story; and this is only page three.  Ben is all heart, and his love for his family is clearly seen through his actions, which are a natural outpouring of who he is.

apoep-gma
My Italian grandma with APOEP.

Italy. I absolutely love that this novel took us to Italy. The place, the atmosphere, the food, and the family all felt uniquely Italian. Emily arrives and is hit with the reality of her new home where everything is foreign and different. As she tries to find her place in Ben’s family, life becomes increasingly complicated and difficult. She tries to fit in, but she always seems to bump into someone. Her struggle with belonging is an aspect of this novel I was really interested in, watching her face all this newness and trying to learn and change with her new reality.

“It was everywhere and it was everything I had imagined and I hadn’t even touched down yet.” – Emily when they were arriving by plane to Italy

Ben’s family is the Italian family experience I’ve always wanted to read about. You meet the loving one, the opinionated one, the untraditional one, the favorite, and the black sheep. Add on an abundance of extended family and friends, and welcome to Ben’s world. They are loud and overwhelming. The family dynamics are vibrant and hectic, sometimes confusing, especially as Emily navigates their world. Tension is always present, but you don’t understand why, but at the core of the family is a love that runs deep and binds them together.

It was, in a word, delightful.

For fear of this review becoming too long, let me briefly mention a few things I wish I could talk about: Joseph, art, more of Italy, and the sunflowers.

I leave you with one last, somewhat obscure quote. And while you can’t understand the weight of this sentence and all it means for this novel, or the impact it had on me in my personal reading experience, I couldn’t leave it out. For this, I will always love how Katherine wrote the character this quote is speaking of.

“He left yesterday, to go for you.”

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

Before you leave!! I got to read A Portrait of Emily Price with some blogger friends on Twitter. I’ve added a few of my favorites below, but you can search #PofEPral to see our conversation.

Monthly Favorites: October

mll blog

Welcome to my monthly wrap up! I used to do a wrap up of things happening on the blog, but this time I want to 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!

# books read this month: 3
favorite book of the month: A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
# books acquired: 3
# books added to TBR: 9

My blogger friends had some great posts this month:

Courtney of The Green Mockingbird wrote a beautiful review of The Lady and the Lionheart.

Jamie of Books and Beverages wrote about the important subject of diversity in Christian fiction.

On Silver Petticoat Review, Rissi wrote about 10 memorable meet-cutes in film. I especially agree with The Age of Adaline and Something Borrowed. I adore those meet-cutes!

I love cover reveals, and Rel always puts together the best posts about new and upcoming fiction. Here’s the Bethany House cover reveals for mid-2017.

Author news is always exciting to hear:

Hillary Manton Lodge’s next book, Jane of Austin, is officially on Goodreads with a summary! And according to Hillary, the hero is going to be super swoon-worthy!

The cover for Becky Wade’s next book, True to You, has been 
revealed! So very excited for this one. I’ve only shared the peek at the cover, so click through to see the full cover and admire this new beauty.

Becky Wade and Katie Ganshert are starting up the next round of Pinterest War. They always do the cutest crafts and have a very lively competition. It’s all about who gets to wear that tiara in the end!

In other news around the web:

In Gilmore Girls news, Netflix released the first official picture of Jess. I’m so ready to watch this!

And the trailer for Gilmore Girls has arrived!! I may have watched this too many times and it is delightful. I CAN NOT WAIT FOR NOVEMBER 25!!

13 Going on 30 (or as I like to call it, a modern classic) is being adapted for the stage. I would be so excited to see this movie as a musical!!

Some non-internet favorites:

I splurged on the new Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics palette and it is the best eyeshadow palette I’ve ever had.

Have you heard of bullet journaling? I never was very interested in it before, but I think it finally clicked for me this month. I don’t follow the guidelines exactly, but it’s really about making the system work for you, so I like it!

Looking Ahead: November Releases

These books are what I’m most excited about this coming month! I’m currently finishing Katherine Reay’s novel, and it will definitely be on the best of 2016 list.

How was you October? What did you read?