February 3, 2016

Review: A Season to Love by Nicole Deese

Oh people, this story. It's SO GOOD. Seriously! Ms. Deese swept me away into Willa's life and there I happily stayed until the final page. I loved this story so, so much! I know I say that about a lot of books, but trust me, this one is truly special. It's not even so much the adorable romance between Willa and Patrick, although don't get me wrong, when those two get in close proximity to one another....wowzers! There ain't no denyin' they got chemistry, mmkay? ;)

Yet as much as I love them together, this story is really Willa's and I fell in love with her immediately. It's her fears I could so relate to and her doubts and questions that I understood. It didn't take long at all for me to feel extra protective of her! Even as I understood the reasons why her family and friends were worried for her (as was I!), I still spent every moment feeling her frustration as she struggled through her daily life all while dealing with people who always had the best of intentions but not the best of ways to fulfill said intentions (her brother in particular. I wanted to wring his neck a few times!). Maybe because I could see how hard she was struggling to get a grip on her life. She needed a major push, no doubt about it, but every time her hackles would rise, so would mine. And I was with her every single hard step out of her comfort zone and into a new courageous life.

A certain someone's help in learning to tame her fears certainly helped matters along quite nicely too. ;) Which is to say that I loved the quiet romance that slowly developed! While there's plenty of chemistry between the two, I particularly enjoyed how Patrick knew to give Willa her space. And that she needed a friend and a mentor of sorts on her road to fearlessness. His gentle pushing using an old mentor's travel journal was just the thing Willa needed.

Willa's journey moved me! I was swept into her life for a few hundred pages and loved every minute of watching her grow braver and stronger. She's a character that is still rattling around in my head days later and has become a part of my heart now. I highly recommend getting to know her! I really don't think you'll be disappointed. :)

**I received a complimentary copy from Waterfall Press via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

"Sometimes it takes seeing the world through someone else's eyes to realize where you fit inside it, you know?"

Still I chose not to speak. Words are often the last thing a hurting person needs.

February 2, 2016

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Erynn Mangum Edition

Erynn Mangum has long been a favorite author of mine. Her books never fail to make me laugh! She's self-published several novellas that I'd been meaning to read for a few years now and finally over the Christmas holidays I did. Yay! So I thought I'd just group them together and shower you with Erynn Mangum fabulousness! Great idea, right? :) Let's get to it!

My Revised Christmas List
Love stories where the two people have an awesome friendship first have always been a favorite of mine. So watching Chloe and Landon's friendship turn into something more is just adorable! I loved how, with just a few short pages to tell their story, Ms. Mangum convinced me of their long-standing friendship and just how much these two understood each other. The reader can tell they're made for each other, but it takes the two of them a bit longer to realize it. Which makes for a short and sweet story with much cuteness and fun! :)

Return to Chocolate
I loved this story! I loved Jane the best. Mostly because I could relate to her. Moving back home after being away for several years is not easy. At all! But sometimes the hard things are the necessary things. Of course, my move may have been a lot easier if I'd had a chocolate shop to come home to like she does. Mmmmm. The descriptions of the chocolate in this story just made me crave it! :) And Sam. Oh how I loved Sam! His immediate sweetness to Jane, his understanding of her and how she feels about her family, his care once he knows who her family is, just his overall niceness. Their chemistry is wonderful! This is a sweet bit of cute that I will be rereading again and again.

Merry and Bright
Ms. Mangum really does excel at the friendship-turned-romance stories! Like a lot of her other protagonists, Joe and Kelly have an awesome rapport. They just get each other! Even Kelly's family can see it. Poor Kelly, on the other hand, requires a bit of time with Joe, with no distractions, before she can see what's right in front of her face. But that's the beauty of this story, we get to watch as proximity, due to a snow storm, causes feelings to erupt in all the sweetest of ways. I loved Kelly and Joe together, and with Kelly's family as their not so subtle matchmakers, their love story is meant to be! Definitely recommend!

Identical Differences
Just as sweet as her others! I admit it takes a bit to understand Alexia and her reasons for hating Justin. Especially when he's so nice to her when we meet him. But once I knew her story, I could see where things from our childhood can shape our opinions as adults, even if said opinions are wrong. And Alexia does come to realize how wrong she is thankfully. Because Justin is adorable! Watching these two together made me wish this story was full length because we only get a small glimpse of their beginning and I'd love to read more of their journey. :) My one small complaint is Rachel, Alexia's twin. She was a bit of a bridezilla at times and even though she and Alexia are great sisters, she still frustrated me a bit. I suppose I wished for a little more of an acknowledgement from her about too much focus on herself. But that's a very minor thing and overall I really enjoyed this book.

February 1, 2016

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Seventeen

Well! Here I am again, cleaning out my to-be-reviewed list. I am sooo behind on my reviews! As always, I know, it seems I'm constantly saying that, doesn't it? I'm sorry. Every time I think I'll get caught up, life happens and I get way behind again. *heavy sigh* Perhaps that should be one of my 2016 goals! To keep on top of my book reviews. Yes! Now let's just hope I can, right? :)

Geek Girl by Holly Smale
This was so much fun! I absolutely loved Harriet. From her clumsy introduction to modeling and her own unexplainable fascination with it, to the cute (and frustrating) guy she has to work with, to the way she grows and learns who she is and what she wants, it all combines to make for a hilarious story! All great stories have awesome characters and Harriet is definitely one of those. Watching as she stumbles her way through figuring out what she wants to do with her life makes for such a fun ride. I laughed and cried with her and finished the final page with a grin on my face. "Popcorn entertainment" that I couldn't put down. What more could you ask for from a book? :)

Straight to You by Liwen Y. Ho
A great mix of sweet romance and real life. By which I mean, Ashlynn and Jeremy are all kinds of adorbs! But their romance isn't just about the falling in love part, it's also about the choosing to love part. Neither of them are perfect people and they have things in their pasts they each have to work through, separately and together. Their journey together takes compromise and choosing each other time and time again. It feels real! And it's not easy either, but watching them come together and become even better as a couple is so wonderful to see. So glad I read this one!

True to You by Liwen Y. Ho
This is another great romance from Ms. Ho! After meeting Ben and Melanie in Straight to You, I was happy to find out how they ended up together. :) Their story is full of chemistry and fun, but it's got the real life element as well. Because while there's an immediate connection, neither one of them was looking for it. In fact, Melanie is engaged to a very nice man already. I confess that love stories that begin with one of the protagonists engaged to someone else make me a little leery, but Ms. Ho handles this very well. I appreciated that Melvin was a genuinely nice guy and that their breakup wasn't full of dramatics (except maybe from Melanie's mother :). Because once Melanie meets Ben...well. You'll have to read it and find out for yourself! :D

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
I haven't ever read a story with a main character who has schizophrenia before. But Ms. Zappia does a fabulous job of getting her readers to sympathize with and like Alex. She is an amazing character! And her story completely blew me away. I was sucked in and turning pages as fast as I could! Living with a daily question of whether anything or anyone she sees is real or imaginary would be tough. But Alex is one determined young lady and desires to live life on her own terms. Her journey is real and heart-wrenching, but filled with little bits of happy that help get her through. This is a very thought-provoking read with a twist I did not see coming at all! You should read it. I highly recommend!

Pairing Off by Elizabeth Harmon
I've loved watching figure skating for years, so when I saw this book had a romance between two skaters, I knew I'd want to try it. Am I ever glad I did! Carrie and Anton's lives aren't easy and when they come together it's explosive. In a good way! :) Their chemistry is sizzling. I loved all their interactions, especially on the ice. Ms. Harmon described the skating scenes so well it was as if I were out there skating with them. I loved that! There were a couple plot points that I was not expecting, but there were some predictable things as well. Overall, I absolutely loved this story and will look forward to more from Ms. Harmon. :)

January 30, 2016

Review: A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love

This was my first time reading a book by Dorothy Love. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the synopsis intrigued me. I mean, a protagonist who's a popular actress in the 1870s? Not your usual type of heroine! Especially in Christian Fiction. So I opened to page one and started in, only to get sucked into a murder mystery unlike any I'd read before.

Miss India Hartley is quite the lady. Accused of a crime she didn't commit, she struggles with the desire to defend herself, yet is limited by the laws of the time. Someone generously pays for a lawyer for her defense and voila, Philip and India meet and proceed to have quite the adventure trying to suss out the true criminal! I liked Philip and enjoyed watching he and India open up to one another. Their slow-building romance was very sweet.

The mystery was well written and as each clue was uncovered, I kept wondering where the next one would take us. Kudos to Ms. Love for keeping me turning pages! Overall, this is an intriguing story. While I didn't absolutely love it, I still enjoyed the chemistry between the characters and watching all the clues come together. I closed the book happy to have read it! :)

**I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Her heart hammered. Her worst fear was realized. The play, or at least the first act, was ruined. And Mr. Philbrick would accuse her of deliberately sabotaging it.
"Pray tell, has a cat stolen your tongue?" Mr. Sterling abandoned the script and was improvising his lines now, stalling for time.
No, but someone had stolen her prop. Quivering with humiliation and anger, India bent down to peer more closely at the table. And found the gun at last.
Just as she lifted it there was a deafening explosion and a quick flash of fire. An anguished scream.
Mr. Sterling crumpled onto the stage.


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