Books reviewed prior on this site prior to March 2019 were provided to me, at no charge, by the publisher, or by the author, in exchange for an honest review. I have received no further compensation for these reviews. Reviews beginning March 2019 come from a variety of sources: advanced copies, library loans, and my own purchases. All reviews are my honest opinions.

May 2, 2019

Summer by the Tides {Denise Hunter}

summer by the tides denise hunter
Following a painful betrayal, Maddy Monroe's love life is a wreck, and her restaurant career is in shambles. When her grandmother goes missing, she and her estranged sisters converge at the family beach house in Sea Haven, North Carolina. Being with uptight Nora and free-spirited Emma at the place where their family broke apart is a struggle, and undercurrents of jealousy and resentment threaten to pull the sisters under. In the midst of the storm, sparks begin to fly between Maddy and Gram's maddening neighbor, Connor Murphy.

As the sisters pack up the family belongings, memories of idyllic, slow-paced summers are resurrected. But long-buried secrets also come to light as Maddy discovers that all was not as it appeared that last summer in Sea Haven--nor today in the seemingly perfect lives of her sisters.

As family tensions rise and Connor causes tumult in Maddy's heart, the sisters must find a way to accept each other for the women they've become before the bitterness of the past destroys their hope for a future.

My Thoughts:
I can't think of a Denise Hunter book I have ever read that I did not enjoy. Her way with words and where she takes her characters are so enjoyable and refreshing.

In this book, we head to the beach where three estranged sisters have been summoned after their grandmother has gone missing. Was she really missing, or did she run away in hopes all the sisters would land in her home together? That's just one little element about Grams that made me love her so much.

The sisters quickly meet Connor, the hunky next door neighbor, and he becomes an important part of the story that will play out over the summer for this family.

During flashbacks, we go back twenty years to learn the reason these sisters seem to dislike each other so much. That summer twenty years ago is gut-wrenching and brings to light so much heartache.

But as with every sweet story, we have the opportunity to see God at work in the life of every person in this book. We get to see revelations of people we thought we knew, we get to see guards come down around hard hearts, and we get to see people fall in love exactly the way God had planned.

I loved this book for so many reasons and know you will want it on your reading list.

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April 22, 2019

Becoming Us {Robin Jones Gunn}

becoming us robin jone sgunn
Five young moms, including beloved Gunn character Christy Miller, gather to share meals and soon become unlikely best friends. The regular gatherings provide opportunities for the women to reveal their stories, and those life stories endear them to each other. They experience their lives naturally meshing as they raise their children together in the community. In Becoming Us the group finds ways to challenge, encourage, and help each other become the nurturing mothers they wished they'd had when they were growing up. They unite to be remembered for what they do as moms and not for what was done to them.

My Thoughts:
I admit this is a very difficult review to write because my feelings are all over the place about this book. I truly loved these characters and the small piece of their life I was able to be a part of.

I immediately felt a connection to Emily and Trevor as soon as we met them. This book is written in the first person and told by Emily as she navigates a new life she and her husband have created for themselves and their daughter. The couple has moved across the country, far away from all their friends and family, to being a new life together. I admit that while I love all our family dearly, I have contemplated how fun it would be for my small family to pack ourselves up and head out on an adventure of our own. But watching Emily and Trevor struggle with their finances, their marriage, and their friends just proved to me how fortunate we are to have our family near and dear.

I especially loved their daughter, Audra. Audra is around the same age as my daughter and seemed to have much the same personality and interest as we experience at our house. I felt connected to Audra as a mother and appreciated the insight I gained into the life of a tween through her character.

I enjoyed watching Emily and Trevor struggle together, remain as a team, spend time on their marriage, and ultimately turn to God for each decision that had to be made in their lives. I thought they served as a great example of how a couple must detach from their former lives and their families to become a family on their own.

The ultimate focus of this book was the friendship Emily formed with the other four moms in her community. However, I honestly felt this was such a minimal part of this book and the story told of Emily and her new life in California.

With all that said, I struggle with this review because while I did enjoy the book, the characters, and the story that was told, I also found myself wishing this book moved so much faster. I kept waiting for a major conflict or struggle - something these characters would have to fight hard to overcome - yet I never felt that moment ever arrived. I felt the book ended without a real ending. It was literally as if we began watching this family one day and then simply stepped away a few months later.

I felt the book was beautifully written, an exemplary example of a couple working together to keep their marriage strong, and a sweet bond between a group of women. But I never felt the connection strong enough to push me to finish quickly. It was a very slow read for me, and one I felt I had to force myself to keep coming back to.

I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley

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April 11, 2019

Thursdays with Ting: Fish in a Tree {Lynda Mullaly Hunt}

fish in a tree lynda mullaly hunt
Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.
Ting's Thoughts:
I think Fish in a Tree is a great book. I love all the characters, especially Mr. Daniels. He was super cool and nice to Ally. I liked reading about Ally making mistakes and then correcting them.

I also like how in the end she made new friends who were loyal and kind. Thank you, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, for writing this wonderful book to read.

I checked this book out from my local library

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April 8, 2019

Sunset Beach {Mary Kay Andrews}

sunset beach mary kay andrews
Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth-grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.

It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.

With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing person case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.

My Thoughts:
I spent this entire book trying to decide if liked Drue or not! Sometimes I was a huge fan and found myself cheering her on. And other times I just wanted her to chill out and play by the rules. Ha!

This book has several plots running at the same time, and it does a great job of keeping those stories separate but also intertwined as we follow Drue on a crazy adventure of moving home, working for her dad, and trying to find her footing after her world has been turned upside down. At times I really felt she made decisions that seemed too young for her age, but I am thankful that I cannot put myself in her shoes and the circumstances she was living with.

One of my favorite stories in this book was that of a 40-year old missing person case. I live in a town with a very similar case: girl vanishes without a trace, and decades later no one has any clue what happened to her. I thought Drue and her work to finally solve the case was in depth and exciting.

There were parts of this book I really enjoyed, and parts I only felt so-so about. But overall, this is a great read and I am glad I got to meet these characters and this moment in their lives.

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley

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April 4, 2019

Thursdays with Ting

I'm a little excited to write this post today and share with you the news I always hoped would come to this blog: my daughter is joining me on the book blogging journey!

My daughter, Ting (her internet name), is nine years old and currently in the 4th-ish grade (it's a long story). She has been a book lover since she was tiny and I would read to her on the couch. As soon as she learned to read on her own, she took off at a pace that even I'm envious of.

With books always an important part of her life, I was hopeful she would one day have the skills to write her own reviews about the books she was reading. I am so excited that day is finally here.

From here forward, Thursdays will be dedicated to Ting (and I'm going to move my reviews to Mondays). She will share with you the books she borrows from the local library, books we purchase, and advanced reads she will obtain from NetGalley, and hopefully directly from publishers.

I hope you will encourage her in her book blogging journey. Her reviews will be shared on my social media accounts, and I will be sure to share your comments with her. Come back next week for her first review!

April 2, 2019

Stillhouse Lake {Rachel Caine}

stillhouse lake rachel caine
Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

My Thoughts:This book kicks off the prologue with Gina/Gwen discovering her husband is a serial killer. And the story only gets more exciting from there. As Gwen does what she believes is necessary to protect herself and her children, she lands in a Tennessee town and finally starts feeling safe and comfortable. She even begins to open up about the truth behind her identify.

Then it all falls apart.

This story had me up until the wee hours of the night wanting to read faster and faster to get to the end. At one point I had a theory on how the book would end, but I was quickly thrown off that trail as events began to develop.

Characters were shown to not be who we thought, circumstances were twisted in all kinds of ways, and the ones we liked the most disappointed us so much.

And I loved every second of it. I got to the book and was shocked to see that it really left us hanging. But a quick search on Amazon and I found the second book. I cannot wait to dive in.

I received a free copy of this book through the Amazon Prime reading program.

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March 29, 2019

The Last Time I Lied {Riley Sager}

Although I wasn't officially writing reviews during 2018, it doesn't mean I wasn't reading all the books. During my year "off" I joined Book of the Month and was introduced to author Riley Sager and his summer release of The Last Time I Lied. It was, by far, one of the best books I read all year. It was one of those books I would love to see featured as a series on any of the streaming services running through my house.

As soon as I met Emma, the lone survivor from her cabin at Camp Nightingale so many years ago, I knew she was the kind of character I was going to become attached to. When she received an invitation to return to camp as an adult, I found myself torn between begging her not to go and urging her to get there as fast as she could. But what happened once she arrived at camp made for a story that had me up into the wee hours of the night. I had to finish this book.

This was my first book from Riley Sager, and I am excited to see a new release from him on the lists for this summer.


I am very, very excited to tell you that The Last Time I Lied is being released on Tuesday, April 2 in a paperback edition. That means it will be on shelves in a town near you, just waiting on you to throw it in your cart! And if you are more of the "stay at home and let them deliver" type of shopper, you can also order it from any of your favorite online retailer.

If you are already a fan of Sager, I know you are excited about this release. If you are a newbie, this is a great place to meet.

March 26, 2019

The Mother-in-Law {Sally Hepworth}

the mother in law sally hepworth
From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm's length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying Oliver, that they'll never have the closeness she'd been hoping for.

But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.

That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something...

My Thoughts:
Sally Hepworth is a new author to me, but she has made me an instant fan with this book. I loved these characters. I loved this story. And my jaw hit the floor when I got to the end.

This story deals with a number of storylines, but the main one centers on Diane and her daughter-in-law, Lucy. Lucy's mother passed away years ago, so Lucy married into her new family with high hopes for her relationship with her mother-in-law. The relationship did not meet her expectations. At all.

The way Diane treated Lucy was, at times, what I considered cruel. But as this book progressed, I began to see Diane's point in many of the issues they clashed over, and I began to see Diane as more of the "good guy" in the relationship. But Lucy was also a good one and supported her husband and family in an unconditional way that every wife should strive to do.

I loved Lucy's relationship with her husband also and they ease at which they worked as a team to raise their children, provide for their family, and take a stand against Ollie's parents.

But as this book continues, there is a shift in Lucy and Diane's relationship, and it is just beautiful to see the two ladies begin to understand each other in a way only women can. These two ladies create a bond that can only be broken in death - a death that happens and shocks the entire family.

This book is ultimately a thriller and watching this family work through the death of their mother, the investigation into what was assumed to be a suicide, and the consequences that came from all of it kept me on the edge of my seat. As puzzle pieces began coming together I thought I had this story all figured out. But then the end arrived and I was so completely wrong. Yet, the way this book ended was so much better than what I had conjured up in my head!

This is one of those books that I could read over and over again simply for the beauty in the bond that forms between Lucy and Diane. It deserved a place on every reading list.

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley

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March 19, 2019

The Memory House {Rachel Hauck}

the memory house rachel hauck
In the spring of 1953, Everleigh Applegate is happily married and newly pregnant. But a tornado sweeps through Waco, Texas, taking her hopes of a bright future with it. Seven years later, widowed and childless, she is living with her mother and older than her years. It is not until she runs into an old high school friend, Don Callahan, that a small spark of hope for what life could be is rekindled. However, a secret Everleigh has kept threatens their happiness and future.

Beck Holiday is a tough, angry, New York City cop. Her father’s death on 9/11 took not just her father’s life but many of her memories as well. She learns that she’s inherited a house from an Everleigh Callahan—whom Beck apparently knows but cannot remember—in north Florida, and her suspension from work because of her anger issues leaves her with time to make the trip to figure out why. Upon her arrival, she meets Bruno Endicott, who clearly remembers her. Beck must work to regain her memory, face her anger, and open her heart to love.

Connected through a beautiful house in ways they will both come to understand, both women must find the courage to face the truth about themselves and their past in order to truly love and be loved in return.

My Thoughts:
Rachel Hauck is one of those authors I will always purchase without even reading the book synopsis. Her books are always filled with history, love, forgiveness, and a story that comes together so perfectly. This book meets those expectations perfectly.

I fell in love with these characters as soon as I met them. I loved that much of the story took place in Texas, a state so very close to me, and the history that happened during the Waco tornado. I also thought Florida was the perfect setting for this couple to land and make their life together.

The characters in this book did not necessarily follow the "standard" picture of the Christian fiction book, and I think that made me like them even more. They had their flaws, they found themselves living with the consequences of their mistakes, and they pushed through to make a life for themselves regardless.

The love that happened between Everleigh and Don reminds me so much of my grandparents' generation and the way they deeply love with all their heart, through everything life throws at them. They work hard to create their life, their livelihood, and a legacy for their children and grandchildren.

Beck and Bruno seemed to be the perfect example of today's generation and their tendency to find themselves floundering around, looking for a career, and always striving to better themselves from their current situation.

But both couples found exactly what they needed in life - God. God's love came through for them in big ways and small, and He took care of all of them through everything in their life. I rejoiced in watching these characters find God and find the true loves of their lives.

And the connection we find at the end - priceless! The ways Rachel Hauck always brings the old together with the new completely surprises me every time and reminds me why I always love a perfect Hauck book.

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March 12, 2019

The Water Tower Club {B.K. Mayo}

The Water Tower ClubThe Water Tower Club by B.K. Mayo
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I tried hard to enjoy this one. It had all the elements I typically love in a good book, but I just could not get into it. The characters seemed boring to me, and the story seemed to drag on and on and on. Four days in, and I had only made it halfway through the book. Had to put it down. Sorry. *I received a NetGalley copy of this book*

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March 5, 2019

The Island House {Nancy Thayer}

the island house nancy thayer
Courtney Hendricks will never forget the magical summers she spent on Nantucket with her college roommate, Robin Vickerey, and Robin's charismatic, turbulent, larger-than-life family, in their gorgeous island house. Now a college English professor in Kansas City, Courtney is determined to experience one more summer in this sun-swept paradise. Her reason for going is personal: Courtney needs to know whether Robin's brother James shares the feelings she's secretly had for him.

Time with the Vickerey family always involves love and laughter, and this season is no different. Vivacious matriarch Susanna Vickerey is celebrating her sixtieth birthday, but beneath the merriment, trouble is brewing. The family patriarch, Dr. Alastair Vickerey, is quiet and detached, while unspoken tension looms over oldest son Henry, a respected young surgeon. Warm and witty Robin, the most grounded of the siblings, is keeping a secret from her parents. Iris, the colorful baby of the brood, remains rudderless and in need of guidance. And the sexy, stunningly handsome, untouchable James--to Courtney's dismay--may be in love with a beautiful and vibrant local artist. As the summer unfolds, a crisis escalates, surprising truths are revealed, and Courtney will, at last, find out where her heart and her future lie.

Weaving the trials and uncertainty of real life into a tapestry of passion, hope, and courage, The Island House is a beautifully told story about the ties that bind us--and how the blessings of love and family heal us in ways we never dream possible.

My Thoughts:
I always enjoy reading Nancy Thayer and find myself wishing for a summer vacation to Nantucket Island every time I pick up one of her books. This was just another example of why I love her so much.

These characters are just so real to me, and watching them all navigate their way through life and summer together brought me so much joy. I thought their emotions, their struggles, and their journey to find themselves was so real and so relatable regardless of who you are.

While I know Robin and Courtney, James and the other summer kids were supposed to be the main focus of this book, I found myself drawn to the father, Dr. V. I found it so much fun to watch him live his life secluded and in complete bliss of his family and the life happening around him. Yet when tragedy struck, he came to life and was able to offer love, wisdom, and support for those who needed him the most at the moment. I thought it was such a real reflection on how so many men can be in life.

This would make a great beach read - or a middle of the winter read. Worth a spot on your reading list.

March 2, 2019

February Reading Round-up

I had big plans to do more reviews in this space in the new year, but as you see, it hasn't happened yet. But it will – I promise!

I've been reading a ton of books this year, and have expanded by preferences, but haven't been writing about them here. So in this new year (which apparently begins in March), I will still bring advanced reviews of newly published books, but I will also tell you about the library and purchase books I've been reading as well. It should be fun.

So let's get started with a roundup of what I read in February? I read some winners and didn't finish a few that I could not make myself love. So without further ado…..

Falling for You, Becky Wade
I started this series years ago when the prequel novella came out and I immediately fell in love with those Bradford sisters. And then I moved on and kind of forgot about this. So I was so excited to find this on my reading list again and I fell back in love with this family. This book focuses on Willow and her on-again, off-again with football hunk, Corbin Stewart. These two put their relationship to the test and do everything in their power not to fall in love, but you know how romance goes. I loved the ending of this one, loved the suspense of trying to figure out if they would ever get together and loved the extra characters we met on the way. Thumbs up!

Something in the Water, Catherine Steadman
I knew nothing about this book other than that seal on the front declaring it a Reese Witherspoon recommendation, but I quickly realized it was highly recommended for a reason. This book is about a couple who finally get married and head off to a dream honeymoon, only to find themselves wrapped up in one crazy of a thrill ride mystery when they pick up a random bag floating in the ocean. I was on the edge of my seat through this entire book and can honestly say I was shocked at the ending. I had no idea! Thumbs up!!

Just the Way You Are, Pepper Basham
Truth – I read a Pepper Basham book a couple years ago and loved it. It was the first in a series, so when I picked up this book I thought I was continuing that series. I was not. But it did not matter. This book had all the things I love: British castles, romance, mystery, family, and love. We meet Eisley who heads off to England to do family research for her uncle. She immediately meets British star Wes Harrison who turns out to be completely different than she expected. A handful of twists and turns later, and I'll let you figure out what happens between the two of them. This book is also the first in a series, and I have made notes to make sure I continue this series. Thumbs up!

China Rich Girlfriend, Kevin Kwan
Listen, I read Crazy Rich Boyfriend a while back and felt kind of "eh" about it. But I finally watched the movie and discovered this is one of those cases where the movie is better than the book. But it also made me want to read the rest of the series, so here I am. I also felt kind of "meh" about this book, but I will read the third book just because that is what comes next. Thumbs up, thumbs down – I really don’t have a feeling about this one.

Two Can Keep a Secret, Karen McManus
I had never heard of this book but saw it recommended on my library's Overdrive page so I grabbed it. I have a love/hate relationship with Young Adult books so I didn't really expect too much out of it. But the moment twins Ellery and Ezra arrive in Echo Ridge, I realize I am HOOKED. This book has so many twists, turns, bumps, and crazies; and I loved every minute of it. When I headed over to Goodreads to leave my review, I realized I had stumbled on one of this most talked about YA books of the year. Who knew? Million Thumbs UP!

Did Not Finish:
  • The Kiss Quotient (Helen Hoang) – I read about half of this one, but I just could not make myself read more. I was bored out of my mind.
  • The Proposal (Jasmine Guillory) – Another one I made it about halfway through but could not get motivated to read more. I didn't like anything about it.
  • His Favorites (Kate Walbert) – I gave up on this one in the first chapter. I just couldn't.

January 8, 2019

Emptied {Wynter & Jonathan Pitts}

emptied wynter and jonathan pitts
Maybe you entered marriage with some pretty high expectations—most couples do. Jonathan and Wynter Pitts did. Until the reality of married life spilled into their expectations.

Jonathan and Wynter invite you on a journey to explore a different approach to your happily-ever-after marriage. Join them for an honest look at the lessons learned as they navigated the ups and downs of early marriage while raising four daughters.

Here you will...

  • be encouraged to remove the pressure of a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses marriage
  • learn to let go of assumptions and embrace your role as servant-leader to your spouse
  • experience how God can pour His purpose, passion, and fullness into your relationship

Emptied is a way of life. It’s not about trying harder, it’s about thinking differently. Only when you are emptied of your own self-focused motivations can God pour new life into you for the abundant marriage and satisfying relationship you long for. Are you ready to approach your marriage poured out, ready to be filled up?

My Thoughts:
I thought this one one of the best marriage books I have read - ever. I deeply appreciated Wynter and Jonathan's willingness to take us deep into their marriage and the ups and downs that come with life together. I laughed at their antics and cried with their heartbreak. But through it all, I rejoiced in their discovery of the best thing on earth - marriage.

This book is filled with Biblical content to back the stories and examples the Pitts' put on the pages for us. While many marriage books also contain scripture, this one takes it deeper than I have ever experienced. Having this depth of Biblical content shows how well this couple knows their scripture and how to use it to apply to daily life.

I know this was one of the last projects Wynter worked on before she passed away. I think it is amazing that this content and words of wisdom are what she left for the rest of us to learn from. I think she and Jonathan had a strong marriage based on Christ and love, and they can be proud of the legacy left to their daughters.

I highly recommend this book to newlyweds, those married for a while, and those getting ready to begin this wonderful journey of marriage.

Find this Book: Goodreads | Christianbook | Amazon