Monday, May 22, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - My Summer Reads List (Or rather..."Books I HOPE I Can Read This Summer")

Summer is JUST around the riverbend...I mean *ahem* corner. (No! I do NOT randomly burst into Disney songs on a regular basis...) And so, the wonderful people at The Broke and the Bookish have given us a summer reads freebie this week. And so I wanted to share 10 books that I really hope I can get to this summer. I review a lot of new releases and that is SO MUCH FUN! However, I still have a stack (ok STACKS) of books that I have never read that are starting to feel rejected and alone and forgotten on my shelf. So maybe if I tell y'all I need to read these books...I will actually get to them this summer! And now...In no particular order...I give you my (HOPEFUL) Summer TBR...

What books have you had on your TBR for far too long?

A Twist of Faith
by Pepper Basham

(Yes, yes, I know...this is the greatest abomination in the Bookish World. Yes, I work for Pepper Basham...Yes, there is a book of hers that I have not read yet. BUT this WILL be remedied SOON!!!) 

Dr. Adelina Roseland has worked ten years in research as an accent reduction specialist to attain her dream job. But a secret wager to transform Appalachian cattle farmer Reese Mitchell into corporate material challenges Adelina in ways she never expected, threatening her new position. 

For one, Adelina didn't plan for the faith and friction of Reese, or the unexpected influence of his chaotic family. Now, drawn into a culture she'd tried to forget, Adelina finds the warmth of family, the hope of faith, and the joy of love melting away the deep wounds of her past. 

But when Reese discovers that he's a pawn in her climb up the academic ladder, will he forgive Adelina's deceit or will their miscommunication end in two broken lives?

You're the Cream in my Coffee
by Jennifer Lamont Leo

In 1928, Chicago rocks to the rhythm of the Jazz Age, and Prohibition is in full swing. Small-town girl Marjorie Corrigan, visiting the city for the first time, has sworn that coffee's the strongest drink that will pass her lips. But her quiet, orderly life turns topsy-turvy when she spots her high school sweetheart--presumed killed in the Great War--alive and well in a train station. Suddenly everything is up for grabs.

Although the stranger insists he's not who she thinks he is, Marjorie becomes obsessed with finding out the truth. To the dismay of her fiancé and family, she moves to the city and takes a job at a department store so she can spy on him. Meanwhile, the glittering world of her roommate, Dot, begins to look awfully enticing--especially when the object of her obsession seems to be part of that world. Is it really so terrible to bob her hair and shorten her skirt? To visit a speakeasy? Just for a cup of coffee, of course.

But what about her scruples? What about the successful young doctor to whom she's engaged, who keeps begging her to come back home where she belongs? And what, exactly, is going on at the store's loading dock so late at night?

Amid a whirlwind of trials and temptations, Marjorie must make a choice. Will the mystery man prove to be the cream in her coffee--the missing ingredient to the life she yearns for? Or will he leave only bitterness in her heart?

The Butterfly and the Violin
by Kristy Cambron

A Mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz--and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl--a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover--the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul--who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

A Hope Undaunted
by Julie Lessman

The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman--smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face-to-face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?

A Portrait of Emily Price
by Katherine Reay

Art restorer Emily Price has never encountered anything she can’t fix—until she meets Ben, an Italian chef, who seems just right. But when Emily follows Ben home to Italy, she learns that his family is another matter . . .

Emily Price—fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist—dreams of having a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love.

But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccollo. Soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well—inviting her into his world and into his heart.

Emily astonishes everyone when she accepts Ben’s proposal and follows him home. But instead of allowing the land, culture, and people of Monterello to transform her, Emily interferes with everyone and everything around her, alienating Ben’s tightly knit family. Only Ben’s father, Lucio, gives Emily the understanding she needs to lay down her guard. Soon, Emily’s life and art begin to blossom, and Italy’s beauty and rhythm take hold of her spirit.

Yet when she unearths long-buried family secrets, Emily wonders if she really fits into Ben’s world. Will the joys of Italy become just a memory, or will Emily share in the freedom and grace that her life with Ben has shown her are possible?

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book
by Jennifer Donnelly

(This one is going to be my REWARD book after I finish reading the books for The INSPY Awards.)

Smart, bookish Belle, a captive in the Beast’s castle, has become accustomed to her new home and has befriended its inhabitants. When she comes upon Nevermore, an enchanted book unlike anything else she has seen in the castle, Belle finds herself pulled into its pages and transported to a world of glamour and intrigue. The adventures Belle has always imagined, the dreams she was forced to give up when she became a prisoner, seem within reach again.

The charming and mysterious characters Belle meets within the pages of Nevermore offer her glamorous conversation, a life of dazzling Parisian luxury, and even a reunion she never thought possible. Here Belle can have everything she has ever wished for. But what about her friends in the Beast’s castle? Can Belle trust her new companions inside the pages of Nevermore? Is Nevermore’s world even real? Belle must uncover the truth about the book, before she loses herself in it forever.

A Secret Courage
by Tricia Goyer

Dive into WWII history in this well-researched story of international intrigue, heartwarming romance, and profound courage.

American Emma Hanson is one of a dozen women sent to work in London as a cryptographer—decoding German secrets at the height of World War II. Her job as a member of the Women's Army Corps gives her a way to fight back against those who killed her brother. The only distraction she needs is a good book for the long nights of bombing that threaten her fragile peace.

Englishman William Brandt's mind is full of the secrets he knows and the spies he must keep tabs on to ensure the safety of the people and nation he loves. But there might just be room in his heart for a pretty WAC worker with a sweet spirit—and a curiosity that could threaten all his plans.

Emma's and William's paths cross in the aisle of a London bookstore as they reach for the same Agatha Christie novel. But such an innocent beginning could have deadly consequences...

Always Watching
by Lynette Eason

The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have more than just skill and prowess in common--they're also all women. When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians in order to protect his son.

But when Wade's bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap. Olivia's skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade's stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him. Olivia has the feeling that she's next on the list. And to complicate things even further, she realizes that her heart may be in as much danger as her client.

The Mark of the King
Jocelyn Greene

After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne's brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?

With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king's mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.

Belle's Tale
by Mallory Reaves

(These books are graphic novels. Yes, I am EXCITED...I may be a TAD bit addicted!) In Disney's live-action film Beauty and the Beast, Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle's enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast's hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince inside. This manga explores Belle's innermost thoughts as she learns that true beauty comes from within. 

The Beast's Tale
by Mallory Reaves

A tale as old as time ... told in timeless manga style 

Disney's much-anticipated live-action adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast" hits theaters in March 2017, and it stars Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. This original two-part manga series is based upon the upcoming movie... but you've never seen this classic love story told quite this way before. 
The "Beauty" manga delves into Belle's deepest thoughts as she's taken prisoner by the Beast in his majestic castle. Where the "Beast" manga explores Beast's deepest thoughts as he captures Belle in his castle and finds himself falling in love with her feisty attitude and adventurous spirit.

Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Book - Guest Post by Wendy Taylor

Wendy....MY Wendy (Or more accurately Hermione Granger...Or me...) Basically, we are the same person in 2 different bodies...we even each other out...round out each other's sharp corners...and have about 95% of the same interests in EVERYTHING. (Although chocolate may have come between us more than once...)* 

I met Wendy a little over 2 years ago. We were getting settled back in our hometown after being gone for a year, when one of my really good friends Samantha, invited Zach and I to start attending their small group. Long story short, Wendy and I have been inseparable ever since. We have survived 16 hours in the car together (in one day)...Multiple laughing fits (which usually resulted in snort-laughing)...chick flick nights (OK, ZACH is the one who "survived" those)...and many more adventures. 

I am SO excited to have her visiting Bookworm Mama today! Not only do I have the honor of introducing her to YOU, but she is talking about our favorite topic around here....BOOKS!!!

*Now you have to guess who likes it and who doesn't

I come from a bookish family.  My brother is an award-winning illustrator,my sister is a freelance editor, my father is published in several periodicals, and I guess I’ve been published too if you count blogs and university magazines.

Some of my earliest memories are of lying in bed watching my mom read to us from the hallway.  I traveled worlds in the stories she read: Narnia, Middle Earth, and dozens more.  To this day, I am addicted to the written word.  I cannot remember a day of my life that didn’t involve books.  Even on our long backpacking trips into the mountains, evenings were spent around the fire listening to my father snicker through Patrick McManus books.  Some books in your life are special. Books that inspire or speak to you, ones in which you see yourself- or at least who you would like to be.  Books teach us about ourselves and our potential both as individuals and as a people.  Some books are like old friends, you return to them and read them again and again until they fall apart and the characters and stories become a part of you.  They say that you are highly influenced by the five people you associate with the most – let us hold books to the same truth and imagine that the five books we read most filter into our personalities.  Here are my five – the stories I return to most because of what I learn and see in them:

Persuasion is the story of a wise yet soft-spoken woman, Anne.  She is loyal to her family and friends to a fault.  Her father, sisters, and friends all rely heavily on her to settle disputes, advise the foolish, and control the frivolous.  She does so tirelessly, rarely thinking of her own happiness, even to the point of rejecting the man she loves to keep the peace among her small circle.  But, beneath her meek exterior flows a strength that her family and friends do not see.  In the end, her steadfast spirit has once again drawn the attention of the man she loves and they thwart the schemes of those around them.  Anne defies them all and seizes her own happiness to the great joy of her true friends.  While I rarely get approached for advice or feel walked upon by my family or friends, her quiet strength shows me that there are many different ways to be strong.

Anne of Green Gables and I have a very special relationship.  I did not discover this literary gem until college. I’m fairly certain, my non-bookish roommate first started to doubt my sanity when she came back to our room to find me sobbing over a book.  Anne’s indefatigable spirit and high flying imagination speak very deeply to my soul.  I frequently spend hours holed up in coffee shops completely oblivious to the world around me as I spin stories in my head and attempt to get them down on paper.  The predicaments she finds herself in are all too familiar to me as well.  Often my best laid plans turn to complete disaster.  Anne’s ability to laugh, roll with life’s punches, and start afresh the next day have helped me learn to do the same.

Harry Potter may seem a clichĂ© choice these days with its sky-high popularity, but the thing that draws me to the story is the approach JK Rowling takes on evil.  Over the course of the books, you see the parallels between Harry and Voldemort and the choices they both have to face.  Harry’s choices are what set him apart.  He is given the opportunity to become evil is small ways, a selfish act here, a fight there, yet he chooses to love and sacrifice for those around him.  As Dumbledore reminds him, “We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”  Harry teaches us that no one becomes evil overnight – it is a slow and gradual descent made with a thousand small decisions.  So don’t treat any decision as small, they all come together to form who you are and where your path will take you.

The Chronicles of Narnia teach me something new and profound each time I read them.  Though they are written essentially for children, CS Lewis had such a deep understanding of the relationship people enjoy with God, his truths hold for any age.  Most often when I read his books, I identify with Lucy, the trusting girl who sees Aslan most often out of all the children.  I am frequently reminded of her conversations with Aslan, their gentle and loving relationship, his rebukes when she needs them and her attitude toward those rebukes.  Granted, I am not always acting like Lucy; sometimes I’m selfish Edmond, doubting Susan, or egotistical Peter.  I love when Aslan reminds Lucy that he grows as she does and he becomes more profound as her understanding deepens.  It reminds me that my relationship with God is just the same.  He lovingly rebukes me when I need it, walks beside me when I feel alone, and He really is The Lion of The Tribe of Judah.  As Mr. Beaver said “Who said anything about safe?  ‘Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.  He’s the King, I tell you.”

The Lord of the Rings is another beautifully woven story with complex and intricate characters.  I always find myself skipping ahead to Eowyn’s story.  She has a fierce spirit, and when the warrior Aragorn asks her what she fears, her reply is simple: “A cage.  To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.”  She aches to use the strength she has been given to battle the evil she sees in the world.  She is held back by those who love her and told to stay within the safety of her uncle’s stronghold.  But she refuses to be contained.  She rides out into battle and ends up saving everyone.  She vanquishes an evil that only her strength can kill and earns the loyalty, respect, and love of a man who is worthy of her.

Every story holds some piece of the human spirit, speaking to us of who we are or who we could be.  I like to see myself in each of these books (and many, many more) and hope that by reading them, I can imbibe even more of those characters into my own: Anne’s quiet strength, the other Anne’s indefatigable spirit, Harry’s choices to stand against evil, Lucy’s constant seeking to know God better, and Eowyn’s fierce determination to use her strength for what she knows is right.  Our favorite books accompany us on this crazy journey we call life and become just as important to us as old friends.  Never underestimate the power of a good book.

About Wendy
Wendy is a lifelong bibliophile, an experimental chef, swimming pool know-it-all, classical vocalist, and volunteer Middle School Youth Leader. She holds a degree in English Literature from Washington State University (Go Cougs!) and loves her small town life in rural Washington. If you'd like to see more of her writing, you can check out her blog, Christian Spinster.

Friday, May 19, 2017

First Line Fridays - 5/19/17 - A Surprise Classic

Every once in awhile my nerd girl heart bursts through and I have to share a line from a book that makes me giggle like a schoolgirl. This week I am sharing with you a VERY special book to me (although I have yet to read it.) A couple weeks ago my Granny sent me a few (like 8) boxes FULL of books...OLD books! Randomly I will share different books that are now in my possession. Today's book was published in 1904 (as best I can figure, since there is no date in the book itself). Here is the cover..........

I hope you can tell who that is...(see I was sneaky and didn't put the title of the book in the post title muahahaha)

If not...You shall be forgiven...Here is the spine...

In case you can't read it...It says...

Conan Doyle's Best Books 
VOL. 1

Stories of Sherlock Holmes

Oh yes...My first line comes from A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle...

In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army.

Amazon (yes you can purchase this edition for a reasonable price)

If you would like to host First Line Fridays on your blog, contact Carrie on Reading is my SuperPower.

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow (GIVEAWAY) - Mary Weber

Welcome to the: Thomas Nelson's Young Adult Summer of 2017 Feature with


About the Book

Title:  The Evaporation of Sofi Snow
Series: The Evaporation of Sofi Snow, Book 1
Author:  Mary Weber
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date:  June 6, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Sci-Fi

For fans of Ender’s Game and Blade Runner comes a story of video gaming, blood, and power.

Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi’s dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth’s corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi’s the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she’s convinced he’s been taken to the ice-planet.

Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.

For Miguel—Earth’s charming young playboy—the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight’s bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he’s a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.

From the award-winning author of the Storm Siren Trilogy, step into a diverse cast of characters spanning from the electric metropolises of earth to the chilling alien planet above, in a story of re-finding yourself in the midst of losing the one thing you love. Before it all evaporates.

My Thoughts
Talk about a book hangover! I have spent the last few days trying to sort through all the emotions and feelings this book evoked in me. 

Sofi Snow is a young woman with a lot of confusion about her self worth. She has had her fair share of rejection in life. Miguel had been satisfied with his life...that is until he met Sofi. As their lives get thrown into a web of lies, deceit, blackmail, and hidden agendas. Will Sofi and Miguel be able to push their past aside and work together for the future of Earth and all of its inhabitants? 

There is SO MUCH that happens in this book. It started off fast paced and ended with a major cliff hanger in the middle of a VERY INTENSE scene. (We do get a little breather from all the action in the middle of the book.) Between Sofi's struggle to find herself, Miguel's determination to be a "new man", and the whole mess with Shiloh...My brain was on overload. There were a few aspects to the story that still sit uneasy with me regarding Sofi and Miguel's past. I do think the situation calls for the background our characters have and I am curious to see how Mary Weber addresses this and where she takes them in the next book. 

One of the main themes in this story is Human Trafficking. I commend Mary for addressing the very real and very serious issue that has been swept under the rug for too long. To hear her heart, you will want to read this book! I look forward to reading more from Mary and finding out how Sofi's story ends.

I received a complimentary copy of The Evaporation of Sofi Snow from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
The copy of the book I read is an ARC. All quotes taken from this edition, not the final copy.
Thank you to Just Commonly for hosting this fabulous Blog Tour!

About the Author

Mary Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. In her spare time, she feeds unicorns, sings 80’s hairband songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California, which is perfect for stalking L.A. bands, Joss Whedon, and the ocean.

Tour Schedule

5/15 - Reading is My SuperPower (review)
5/16 - Thorn & Vine (review) & A Baker's Perspective (review)
5/18 - Bibliophile Reviews (Review),  Singing Librarian Books (Spotlight) & Thinking Thoughts (Spotlight)
5/19 - Bookworm Mama (review) & YA Book Divas (Spotlight & Excerpt)
5/20 - Just Commonly (review)


(3) Winners will each win a finished hard copy of The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber, courtesy of Thomas Nelson Publishers. Giveaway ends on May 26, 2017, 11:59 PM EST.