Thursday, February 28, 2019

Recent Faves: January & February

I can't believe it is March 1st tomorrow. The last two months have flown by for me. However that means spring should be arriving soon, right? As we get ready to welcome a new month I am sharing with you my top 9 reads so far this year.



What have been some of your favourite reads recently?
Do you have any recommendations for me?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Book Spotlight: The Secrets of Paper & Ink by Lindsay Harrel

Released Today!
About the Book:

Brought together by a charming bookstore in England, three women fight to defy expectations, dream new dreams, and welcome love into their lives.

As a counselor, Sophia Barrett is trained to help people cope with their burdens. But when she meets a new patient whose troubles mirror her own, she realizes she hasn’t dealt with the pain of her recent past. After making a snap decision to get away for the summer, Sophia moves overseas to an apartment above a charming bookstore in Cornwall, England. She is hopeful she will find peace there surrounded by her favorite thing: great literature.

Bookstore owner Ginny Rose is desperate to save her business without asking for help from a husband who’s decided to take a break from their marriage. Ginny never imagined she’d be solely responsible for keeping afloat her husband’s dream, but the unexpected friendship with her new renter has her feeling more optimistic. Between the two of them—and Ginny’s brother-in-law, William—the bookstore might stand a chance.

Then Sophia finds a notebook in the bookstore that contains journal entries from Emily Fairfax, a governess who lived in Cornwall more than 150 years ago. Sophia learns that Emily harbored a secret passion for becoming an authoress—as well as a deep love for her childhood friend, Edward, whose station she dared not dream to touch.
Eager to know more of Emily’s story, Sophia goes on a quest—dragging Ginny and William with her—to discover the heart of the woman behind the beautiful entries. Soon Ginny’s need to save the bookstore becomes more than a way to save her marriage, and Sophia finds new purpose of her own. Together they find that sometimes both heartache and hope can reach across the centuries.

About the Author:
Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.

When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way.
Connect with Lindsay via:

Monday, February 25, 2019

Monday's RSU: February 25th

Welcome to Monday's RSU. Every Monday I share an update of my reading status - what book (or books) I finished since last Monday, what book I am currently reading and what I am planning on reading next. 

Just Finished:

Currently Reading: 


Reading Next:

What are you books are you currently reading or have recently enjoyed?

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Jane Reviews: Silenced by Dani Pettrey

Series: Alaskan Courage # 4
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: May 6, 2014
336 pages
About the Book:
Jake Knew Something Was Wrong. But He Never Guessed How Wrong.

A relaxing day of rock climbing takes a disturbing turn when Kayden McKenna's route brings her face-to-face with a dead climber. Is it a terrible accident or something darker? When the case is handed to overburdened sheriff Landon Grainger, he turns to Jake Westin for help. With Jake's past now revealed, he's ready to use his talent for investigation again--but he could never prepare for where the mystery will take him.

Kayden's climbing expertise soon leads her and Jake to the realization that the death was no accident. And worse, it seems the killer is onto them. When strange things begin happening in Yancey, Jake is terrified that once again his world may put someone he loves in danger. But the truth is far worse than he could ever imagine. 

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 🌟 🌟    (3 stars)

This book felt like it was telling three separate stories; two did tie together in that Jake and Kayden were working together. But Reef’s parts did not feel like they really fit in and at times took me out of the flow of the original story.

When Kayden discovers a dead body Jake leads the search for answers. Once they realize that the man was murdered, the investigation deepens and weird things start happening. Are the strange things connected to the investigation or is something else going on? It wasn’t until the kidnapping (almost three quarters of the way through) that I really became invested in the book and did not to put it down.

I struggled with the relationship between Kayden and Jake. I felt like I was missing a lot of information between them, like what attracted them to each other? Since the beginning of the series Kayden has been in opposition to Jake and was pretty mean to him at times, but once she finds out what he has been hiding she now loves him? How did she go from one of the other? I think I would have been more connected to them getting together if I had experienced more of the shift in their feelings.

What I enjoyed the most about this book was spending more time with the other McKenna family members and their significant others that I have grown to know through the previous books. Just because I was disappointed in this book, I look forward to reading book 5 and spending more time with the McKenna family.

(I purchased my copy of this book;  opinions expressed in this review
are my honest opinion and completely my own.)


Friday, February 22, 2019

First Line Friday: Sabotaged

Happy Friday!

Welcome to First Line Friday's hosted by Hoarding Books.

Today's book is:  Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey

About the Book:
Finally Returned Home, Reef McKeena Finds His Beloved Alaska Facing Its Greatest Threat

Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now, working together as search-and-rescue for Alaska's arduous Iditarod race, a growing attraction seems to be forcing aside old arguments. Then Reef catches Kirra sneaking from camp in the middle of the night.

Kirra's uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank's daughter has been kidnapped. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl's life--but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.


This is book 5 of the Alaskan Courage series. I have slowly been making my way through the series. Things have been crazy busy and a bit stressful in my day to day life that it has taken me longer than usual to read a book. (My goodreads challenge is telling me I am 4 books behind - that's never happened before!) But its all okay, at least I am still able to do some reading, it could be worse. My BFF has been encouraging for over 3 years to read this series and soon I will be able to say I have. I must say I have grown to love the McKenna's and will miss them. 

Now it's your turn!
Let me know your first line in the comments and then head over
to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating! 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

#Throwback Thursday: True to You

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today we are resharing our reviews of True to You. This is book one of the Bradford Sisters Series and introduced us to sisters Nora, Willow and Britt. Book 3, Sweet on You, releases in a couple of month (April 30th).

About the Book:
After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.
Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he's diagnosed with an inherited condition, he's forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.
The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John's already dating someone and Nora's not sure she's ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they're seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.
Goodreads / Amazon / Christianbook
Becky Wade's Website
Review by JaneReads: (originally posted May 2/17)

So enjoyable! Some hard subjects were addressed, but there were also fun entertaining moments. Nora meets John while volunteering at a hostage training exercise. Once he finds out she is a genealogist, he hires her to help him find his birth mother so he can find out his medical history. Over the course of the search to the two become friends, but the journey has some surprises in store for them. How will they deal with what’s to come? They learn about trusting God, the importance of communication, how to forgive and finding their identity.
I found it easy to relate to Nora. First off what avid reader can’t relate to a character who says “Who had time to watch football when there were so many fantastic books in the work yet unread?” (I loved this line and couldn’t resist including it in the review.) Nora is the middle sister and feels she doesn’t compare to her sisters. She was heart-broken when her engagement was called off and feels like she has now become content with her life, however when John comes along she begins to realize that she may have be protecting herself rather than letting God take control of her life.
Some of my favourite moments were when the sisters were together. You could tell they were close, really cared about one another and tried to help Nora see things inside of her that she was unable to see in herself. The grandmother was entertaining. She can find negativity in everything, which could be very annoying for those dealing with it directly, but as a reader I was entertained at the comments she came up with.
Sneak peeks of Willow and Britt’s relationships are given and I look forward to seeing what happens for them. I can’t wait for book 2 to come and spend more time with this family.

Review by C: (originally posted April 26/18)

I really enjoyed the prequel novella to this series, and so I was really looking forward to beginning this series. This book did not disappoint. I enjoyed the storyline of Nora and John trying to find John’s birth mother. Throughout the book there was lighthearted humor but also dealing with bigger issues were not shyed away from. I enjoyed seeing how Nora and John were opposites in many ways, but how together they brought out the best in each other.
The relationship between Nora and her sisters was enjoyable and I look forward to learning more about the sisters as this series unfolds.

Original posts can be found here:

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Jane Reviews: Stranded by Dani Pettrey

Series: Alaskan Courage # 3
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Sept. 13, 2013
353 pages
About the Book:
When Her Friend Goes Missing, Every Minute Counts

Darcy St. James returns to Alaska to join a journalist friend undercover on the trail of a big story. But when Darcy arrives, she finds her friend has disappeared. Troubled by the cruise ship's vague explanation, Darcy uses her cover as a travel reporter to investigate further.

The last person Gage McKenna expects to see during his summer aboard a cruise ship leading adventure excursions is Darcy. And in typical Darcy fashion, she's digging up more trouble.

He'd love to just forget her--but something won't let him. And he can't help but worry about her as they are heading into more remote regions of Alaska and eventually into foreign waters. Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they push, the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟    (4 stars)

Book 2 ended with me thinking Gage and Darcy were on the road to beginning a relationship, but this one begins 5 months later and they haven’t interacted at all since. I was a bit disappointed to discover this.

Darcy and Abby used to work together as investigative journalists before Darcy decided pursue sports journalism instead. Abby is working on a cruise ship and calls Darcy out of the blue requesting her to join her. Upon Darcy’s arrival she can’t find her friend, she is told that Abby decided to go home. Darcy does not buy that story and begins trying to figure out what Abby was investigating under the guise of being a travel reporter promoting this cruise. Unbeknownst to Darcy the McKenna family has been hired to lead the adventure tours for the cruisers, which puts in her contact again with Gage. Darcy’s investigation leads her into some scary stuff and while Gage wants to keep her at arm’s length he can’t help but try to protect her.

The suspense kept me invested. I liked Darcy’s persistence; she is determined to find her friend no matter the cost. This determination put her in some precarious situations and if it wasn’t for Gage and his family things could have ended really badly for her. The crime itself was pretty disturbing to think about and while I was pretty sure I knew who some of the guilty parties were I was shocked at how many people were involved in the end.
While I liked that Gage was there to protect Darcy I did get frustrated with him and his mistrust of Darcy. He judged her because of his experience with a previous ex and it took him way too long to give her the benefit of the doubt and see her for the person she was. Eventually though he realized his error and things ended well. I hope to catch up more with these two in the next couple books.

(I purchased my copy of this book;  opinions expressed in this review
are my honest opinion and completely my own.)


Monday, February 18, 2019

Monday's RSU: February 18th

Welcome to Monday's RSU. Every Monday I share an update of my reading status - what book (or books) I finished since last Monday, what book I am currently reading and what I am planning on reading next. 

Just Finished:

Currently Reading: 


Reading Next:

What are you books are you currently reading or have recently enjoyed?

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Jane Reviews: Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano (includes giveaway)

Series: Supper Club #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: Feb. 5, 2019
396 pages

About the Book:

Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.

Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country—an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.

Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟    (4 stars)

With the main character being a baker it comes as no surprise that quite a bit of time is spent in the kitchen. All the mouth-watering goodies will have readers drooling. Melody has dreams of opening her own bakery and being able to choose what she makes but cannot see a way to achieve that goal. But then she receives an unexpected inheritance and her dreams seem to be within reach. However she has just met Justin, who already has plans in place that will entail him moving across the country. Justin is intrigued by Melody and wants to spend time with her but the timing is off. How dangerous is it for their hearts to spend more time together even though their lives are heading in different directions?

After meeting Melody in book 1 of the series I was looking forward to getting to know her more. I was drawn to Justin, he has a caring heart and will do anything for his family. I appreciated that he was honest and upfront about his feelings and situation. These two don’t seem like an obvious match but I liked them together. There was a point in the story where I found myself really frustrated with Rachel, her attitude and treatment of Melody felt very selfish. I was pleased that Melody stood up for herself and that they were able to work through the issues and the one incident didn’t ruin their relationship. I felt their friendship was stronger in the end.

As I became more invested in the story my attachment to Justin and Melody grew. I tried to figure out things would turn out for them, but I couldn’t see a scenario where they would both be able to achieve their dreams. Would one of them have to give up their goals and if so would they regret it? I was intrigued to see what was going to happen. The story took me on an emotional journey, but it was one I enjoyed.

(I received a complimentary copy of this book from CelebrateLit; opinions expressed in this review 
are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Guest Post from Carla:

“Confessions of An Erstwhile Baker”

Like most females, baking is encoded somewhere deep down in my DNA. Call it nature or call it nurture, but at the earliest age, I figured out that the cute boy in my English class would talk to me if it involved chocolate chip cookies. Got my heart broken or had a friend betray me? I grabbed the mixing bowl and went for the brownies (even better if they’re served à la mode.) My friend was having a birthday? I made a cake drowned in pounds of buttercream.

I quickly graduated from the boxed mixes to the real thing when I got married and had a kitchen large enough to roll out dough. I would comb magazines for the best recipes and spend my weekends trying them out. I quickly became known for bringing beautifully iced Christmas cookies and delicious homemade cakes to work.

Then my husband and I moved our young family from Los Angeles to Denver, a relocation that was about 1000 miles northeast and 5000 feet up. Suddenly, every recipe I’d perfected in the previous eight years failed. Cookies burned to crisps, cakes fell, and don’t get me started on candy making. Gradually, I adapted my recipes (my beloved never-fail Toll House recipe took eight tries to get right) and even became an avid artisan bread-baker.

Then disaster. Or at least, what a baker would consider a disaster. After developing chronic health problems, I discovered that among other things, I was sensitive to gluten. The horror! In order to heal, I turned to the paleo diet, which eliminates all grains (there goes most gluten free recipes) and all processed sugars (there goes everything else). I’ve tried baking paleo-style, and while I can now make cakes that even my gluten-fiend family enjoy, it’s just not the same.

So what’s a once-obsessive baker do when she can’t eat her creations? She bakes for other people and goes on faith that they actually taste good… considering she can’t taste them herself.

It struck me that there was a spiritual lesson in that, and an obvious tie to Brunch at Bittersweet Café, which deals in large part with Melody’s faith journey. There are times when we have no idea if things are working out the way they’re supposed to, in which case we just have to trust the “recipe” and the input of friends and family who love us. Sometimes our instincts tell us when we’re off track, and sometimes we need that outside nudge from our “taste-testers” to put us back on course.

In any case, what Melody and I have in common is that we both bake to show our love for the people around us. And the process of baking my favorites, even knowing that I can’t enjoy them myself, can still be a selfless way to show people they’re important to me.

Fortunately, macarons, which happen to be made with almond flour, are still on the menu.

Blog Stops:


To celebrate her tour, Carla is giving away a grand prize package of a macaron baking mat, a macaron book, and a paperback copy of Brunch at Bittersweet Café!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.