Tag Archives: women's fiction

Top 10 Tuesday — Reading Goals

3 Oct

Happy Tuesday! I used to be hard core about reading goals. I had an overall target to reach every year, as well as several (many) reading challenges I joined. But I am a bit compulsive and the goals/challenges became more important than actual reading. That’s when I adjusted downward the number of books I planned to read per year and began to limit the reviews/launches I agreed to participate in. I want to read what I want to read! That being said I still overestimate the time I have available for reading.

I used this week’s topic to look back at the past year’s TBR plans. I am currently on track to meet my Goodreads goal of 75 books. In fact I have read 69 books so far this year; they just aren’t all recorded on Goodreads yet.

My TBR goals are all over the place though:

90% read for Winter 22/23,

100% for Spring 23,

0% for Summer 23 (although in my defense, that list was more for highlighting the books that were being released during the summer, rather than a personal reading goal)

20% for Fall 23 (which is pretty good, since I published that list just 2 weeks ago)

My NetGalley shelf is out of control with unread books. I am not going to embarrass myself by publishing that big fail. I will say that I read 8 books over the summer that had been on the shelf far too long.

So basically, I am doing what I proposed to do — reading what I want to read when I want to read it! 😉 And I am unapologetic, because at my age I certainly don’t need to squander any reading time.

Because I hate not mentioning specific books, here are more I have added to my Fall 23 list. Read 2, added 4 — sounds about right. I might post an update on my progress.

Top 10 Tuesday — Mothers And Daughters

12 Sep

Happy Tuesday! Today bloggers are tasked with coming up with favorite relationships. I have focused on sisters and on brothers before, but I don’t think I ever created a list of books that explore mother/daughter dynamics. Whether featuring the good, the bad, or the ugly, it’s almost always plenty complicated! There are positives as well, especially in terms of forgiveness and redemption. I hope you like my list.

For more relationship favorites, visit That Artsy Reader Girl

Top Books Featuring Mothers and Daughters

The Bookshop at Water’s End by Patti Callahan Henry

Haven Point by Virginia Hume

Her Daughter’s Dream by Francine Rivers

Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers

Out of The Water by Ann Marie Stewart

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

A Silver Willow by The Shore by Kelli Stuart

The Weight of Air by Kimberly Duffy

When The Day Comes by Gabrielle Meyer

First Line Friday — My Mother’s Chamomile

8 Sep

I had a wonderful weekend exploring historic sites, making new friends, and fan-girling over some of my very favorite authors as I joined Jocelyn Green on her Windy City Saga Tour. Chicago was beautiful! If you ever have the opportunity to be a literary tourist, I highly recommend it. It is a book nerd’s dream. 😉

Susie Finkbeiner and I have been book friends for ages, but had never met in person . . . until last weekend. Susie was a featured author at the Novel-Tea held at the historic Palmer House. I was thrilled to finally get to talk to her in person. Yes, I probably gushed. I also bought books. Big surprise! One was one of the few books I have not read by Susie — My Mother’s Chamomile. I can’t wait to dig in!

Here’s the first line:

Curly, carrot red hair bobbed up and down among the green and purple, yellow and pink of the garden.

Desperate for the rains of mercy…

Middle Main, Michigan has one stop light, one bakery, one hair salon…and one funeral home. The Eliot Family has assisted the grieving people in their town for over fifty years. After all those years of comforting others, they are the ones in need of mercy.

Olga, the matriarch who fixes everything, is unable to cure what ails her precious daughter. She is forced to face her worst fears. How can she possibly trust God with Gretchen’s life?

A third generation mortician, Evelyn is tired of the isolation that comes with the territory of her unconventional occupation. Just when it seems she’s met a man who understands her, she must deal with her mother’s heartbreaking news. Always able to calm others and say just the right thing, she is now overwhelmed with helplessness as she watches Gretchen slip away.

They are tasting only the drought of tragedy…where is the deluge of comfort God promises?

If You Liked . . . The Best Summer of Our Lives

31 Aug

My book club had mixed feelings on The Best Summer of Our Lives by Rachel Hauck. While I was glad I read it, it is not my favorite of her books. If you did like it, I have some more reading recommendations for you.

Strong Characters/A Music Element

Everything Is Just Beginning by Erin Bartels

Michael Sullivan is a talented lyricist and a decent guitarist, but since he was kicked out of his band (and his apartment), he’s not sure he’ll ever get a record deal. Living with his loser uncle in a beat-up trailer and working a dead-end job, Michael has little reason to hope for a better future. Until the invitation for a swanky New Year’s Eve party shows up in the mailbox. It’s for his uncle, with whom he shares his name, but his uncle is going out of town . . . 

On the effervescent night of December 31, 1989–as the Berlin Wall is coming down, the Soviet Union is inching toward democracy, and anything seems possible–Michael will cross paths with the accomplished and enigmatic young heir to a fading musical dynasty, forever altering both of their futures. 

Award-winning novelist Erin Bartels enchants with this story of two lonely souls who have exactly what the other one needs–if they could simply turn their focus from what is ending to what is just beginning.

Coming of Age

The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Peyton Cabot’s fifteenth year will be a painful and transformative one. His father, the heroic but reluctant head of a moneyed Savannah family, has come home from WWII a troubled vet, drowning his demons in bourbon and distancing himself from his son. A tragic accident shows Peyton the depths of his parents’ devotion to each other but interrupts his own budding romance with the girl of his dreams, Lisa Wallace.

Struggling to cope with a young life upended, Peyton makes a daring decision: He will retrace a journey his father took at fifteen, riding his bicycle all the way to Key West, Florida. Part declaration of independence, part search for self, Peyton’s journey will bring him more than he ever could have imagined — namely, the key to his unknowable father, a reunion with Lisa, and a calling that will shape the rest of his life.

Through poignant prose and characters so real you’ll be sure you know them, Valerie Fraser Luesse transports you to the storied Atlantic coast for a unique coming-of-age story you won’t soon forget.

Restoring Relationships

Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt

If these three sisters don’t change direction, they’ll end up where they’re going.

Darlene Caldwell has spent a lifetime tending Sycamores, an estate located five miles south of a small town called Peculiar. She raised a family in the spacious home that was her grandfather’s legacy, and she enjoys being a pillar of the community. Sycamores is the kingdom where she reigns as queen . . . until her limelight-stealing twin sister unexpectedly returns.

Carlene Caldwell, veteran of the Broadway stage, is devastated when she realizes that an unsuccessful throat surgery has spelled the end of her musical career. Searching for a new purpose in life, she retreats to Sycamores, her childhood home. She may not be able to sing, but she hopes to use her knowledge and experience to fashion a new life in Peculiar, the little town she left behind.

Haunted by a tragic romance, Magnolia Caldwell is the youngest of the Caldwell girls. Nolie has never wanted to live anywhere but Sycamores. She spends her days caring for her dogs and the magnificent gardens she’s created on the estate, but when she meets a man haunted by his own tragedy, she must find the courage to either deny her heart or cut the apron strings that tie her to a dear and familiar place.

Can these sisters discover who they are meant to be when life takes an unforeseen detour? In a season of destiny, three unique women reunite and take unexpected journeys of the heart.

Book Review — The Best Summer of Our Lives

31 Aug

My book club chose The Best Summer of Our Life by Rachel Hauck as its August selection. We had a lot to talk about, though not all positive. We generally liked the book, but there were some things that we wanted more of . . . and less of. 😉 My thoughts are below.

Twenty years ago, the summer of ’77 was supposed to be the best summer of Summer Wilde’s life. She and her best friends, Spring, Autumn, and Snow–the Four Seasons–had big plans.

But those plans never had a chance. After a teenage prank gone awry, the Seasons found themselves on a bus to Tumbleweed, “Nowhere,” Oklahoma, to spend eight weeks as camp counselors. All four of them arrived with hidden secrets and buried fears, and the events that unfolded in those two months forever altered their friendships, their lives, and their futures.

Now, thirtysomething, Summer is at a crossroads. When her latest girl band leaves her in a motel outside Tulsa, she is forced to face the shadows of her past. Returning to the place where everything changed, she soon learns Tumbleweed is more than a town she never wanted to see again. It’s a place for healing, for reconciling the past with the present, and for finally listening to love’s voice.

Rachel Hauck is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author.

She is a Christy Award Winner and a double RITA finalist. Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Club. She is the recipient of RT’s Career Achievement Award.

Her book, Once Upon A Prince, was filmed for an original Hallmark movie.

Hauck has been acclaimed for her split time novels and royal romances.

A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, and a former sorority girl, Rachel and her husband live in central Florida. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

In other news, she’s recently learned how to hard boil an egg. She’s quite proud.

Visit her at http://www.rachelhauck.com or http://www.facebook.com/rachelhauck.

My Impressions:

I feel that The Best Summer of Our Lives is a bit of a departure from what you would expect from a novel by Rachel Hauck. The book centers around four long-time best friends who are embarking into adulthood. Having graduated from high school and caught pulling an over the top prank, they are sentenced to work as camp counselors in Tumbleweed, Oklahoma. The Four Seasons as they are known to family, friends, and classmates grow up a lot during the 8 weeks they spend in the isolated camp, but that is only the beginning of this coming-of-age story.

I have to admit that I did not like the names of the 4 girls — Spring, Summer, Autumn (aka Fall), and Margaret “Snow” Snowden. You see why they are dubbed the 4 Seasons. But, for me, the names really got in the way of getting to know the characters. I kept getting confused on who was who. It took me about half the book to become comfortable with who they were. The book really is Summer’s story, with side plots of her best friends. My book club wished there had been more Summer and less the other characters. We really liked the Prodigal aspect of the book, and Summer’s encounters with The Preacher presented some powerful scenes. But there were other times when the book seemed like a soap opera (I won’t share specifics because that would reveal spoilers) involving the other members of the Seasons. I also really liked that most of the men in the book were generally good guys. Reconciliation, grace, and forgiveness are strong themes.

The Best Summer of Our Lives has gotten really great reviews, so I urge you to look at those. Reviewing is subjective and a lot of things can influence how someone feels about a book. While I am glad I read it, it is not a favorite of mine from Hauck.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Water

29 Aug

Happy Tuesday! Today’s TTT is Water. Bloggers could choose titles or covers depicting water. I could have gone with places you find water — lakes, creeks, rivers, oceans, bays, waves, rain . . . even tears, but I chose to stick to plain old water(s) in the title. I was amazed at how quickly I compiled 10 titles. All but one of the novels has water on its cover too! Win-win! The books chosen represent a variety of genres, so there should be one you like.

For more water-y titles, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Bookshop at Water’s End by Patti Callahan Henry

By The Waters of Babylon by Mesu Andrews

Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow

Farewell, Four Waters by Kate McCord

Muddy Waters by Candace J. Carter

Out of The Water by Ann Marie Stewart

Still Waters by Lindsey P. Brackett

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin

Water from My Heart by Charles Martin

The Water Keeper by Charles Martin

Happy Release Day — He Should Have Told The Bees

29 Aug

Happy release day to Amanda Cox! Her newest novel, He Should Have Told The Bees, is now available! I have been waiting on another book from this Christy Award winner forever. Okay, maybe just a year, but it is so hard to go that long between books from a must-read author. Amanda is a panelist at the book festival in my hometown in January 2024. Another can’t wait moment!

Read all about the book and Amanda below.

Uncovering long-held family secrets may sting at first–but the result can be sweeter than honey

Beekeeper Beckett Walsh is living her dream, working alongside her father in their apiary, until his untimely death sends her world into a tailspin. She suddenly finds she must deal with a new part owner of the family business–one who is looking to sell the property. Beck cannot fathom why her father would put her into the position to lose everything they built together.

When Callie Peterson is named in the trust of a man she’s never heard of, she’s not sure what to do. Her fledgling business has just taken wing and her mother has reentered her life asking for help getting into rehab for her lifelong substance abuse issues, making Callie’s financial situation rather . . . precarious. She’s sure she has no right to someone else’s farm, but the money from the sale could solve her problems and give her the stability she’s always craved.

As these two women navigate their present conundrum, they will discover a complex and entangled past full of secrets–and the potential for a brighter future for both of them.

Before becoming a stay-at-home parent, Amanda Cox spent her time counseling children, families, and individuals through life’s challenging moments. Now she uses those same skills to develop layered characters and stories, bringing them on a journey of hope and healing. A journey she hopes her readers experience in their own lives as they read.

A few of her favorite things are the sanctuary of the great outdoors, the feeling of pen on paper, the sound of her children’s laughter, and exploring new places with her husband of 18 years. (Oh, let’s not forget good fiction and good coffee. She’s addicted to both.)

You can stay connected with her latest writing updates at http://www.amandacoxwrites.com. You can find her on social media by searching Amanda Cox Writes.

First Line Friday — The Thing About Home

18 Aug

Happy Friday! A group of friends and I have embarked on an exciting and admittedly scary journey to bring a book festival focusing on Christian fiction/nonfiction and “clean reads” to the middle Georgia area in Janruay 2024. We have over 30 authors committed to be part of all the fun. Many of the writers I have featured on the blog will be attendance. If you live anywhere near (or far) from us you need to attend. We can be found in a number of places, but all the latest news is found on our FB page — Perry Page Turners.

We are so pleased that Rhonda McKnight, author of The Thing About Home, will be joining us for a panel discussion. Find out all about Rhonda and her book below.

Now for the first line:

I stepped into my limousine and pressed the bottom of my wedding dress flat.

Home is not a place—it’s a feeling.

 Casey Black needs an escape. When her picture-perfect vow renewal ceremony ends in her being left at the altar, the former model turned social media influencer has new fame—the kind she never wanted. An embarrassing viral video has cost her millions of followers, and her seven-year marriage is over. With her personal and business lives in shambles, Casey runs from New York City to South Carolina’s Lowcountry hoping to find long-lost family. Family who can give her more answers about her past than her controlling mom-slash-manager has ever been willing to share.

What Casey doesn’t expect is a postcard-worthy property on a three-hundred-acre farm, history, culture, and a love of sweet tea. She spends her days caring for the land and her nights cooking much needed Southern comfort foods. She also meets Nigel, the handsome farm manager whose friendship has become everything she’s never had. And then there are the secrets her mother can no longer hide.

Through the pages of her great-grandmother’s journals, Casey discovers her roots run deeper than the Lowcountry soil. She learns that she has people. A home. A legacy to uphold. And a great new love story—if only she is brave enough to leave her old life behind. 

“. . . a beautifully written story about family, self-discovery, secrets, and forgiveness.” —Kimberla Lawson Roby, New York Times bestselling author

Rhonda McKnight is the author of twenty-five traditional and indie-published award-winning bestsellers, including An Inconvenient Friend, What Kind of Fool, and Unbreak My Heart. She is a two-time winner of the Emma award in the categories of Inspirational Romance of the Year (2015) and Debut Author (2010). She has been nominated thrice for the African American Literary Award. She writes inspirational book club fiction and Christian romance about complex characters in crisis. Her goal is to touch the heart of women through her stories using the themes of faith, forgiveness, and hope. Originally from a small coastal town in New Jersey, she writes from the comfort of her South Carolina home.

She can be reached at her website at http://www.RhondaMcKnight.com and on social media at http://www.facebook.com/booksbyrhonda, http://www.instagram.com/AuthorRhondaMcKnight, http://www.twitter.com/rhondamcknight and http://www.SistersofFaithBooks.com where she has joined with sixteen other authors to introduce her stories to the world.

August Book Club Selection — The Best Summer of Our Lives

2 Aug

Is it really August all ready?! My teacher friends are back in school and the summer is winding down for the rest of us. What better book to choose for this month’s book club than The Best Summer of Our Lives by Rachel Hauck. This book is set in 1970s and 1990s (dare I call it historical 😉 ) — and the characters are the same age as I was then. I anticipate a great read! See all the details below.

Have you read The Best Summer of Our Lives? Let us know what you thoughts.

Twenty years ago, the summer of ’77 was supposed to be the best summer of Summer Wilde’s life. She and her best friends, Spring, Autumn, and Snow–the Four Seasons–had big plans.

But those plans never had a chance. After a teenage prank gone awry, the Seasons found themselves on a bus to Tumbleweed, “Nowhere,” Oklahoma, to spend eight weeks as camp counselors. All four of them arrived with hidden secrets and buried fears, and the events that unfolded in those two months forever altered their friendships, their lives, and their futures.

Now, thirtysomething, Summer is at a crossroads. When her latest girl band leaves her in a motel outside Tulsa, she is forced to face the shadows of her past. Returning to the place where everything changed, she soon learns Tumbleweed is more than a town she never wanted to see again. It’s a place for healing, for reconciling the past with the present, and for finally listening to love’s voice.

Rachel Hauck is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author.She is a Christy Award Winner and a double RITA finalist. Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Club. She is the recipient of RT’s Career Achievement Award. Her book, Once Upon A Prince, was filmed for an original Hallmark movie. Hauck has been acclaimed for her split time novels and royal romances. A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, and a former sorority girl, Rachel and her husband live in central Florida. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

Visit her at http://www.rachelhauck.com or http://www.facebook.com/rachelhauck.

If You Liked . . . The One You’re With

31 Jul

My book club liked The One You’re With by Lauren K. Denton. This women’s fiction focused on truth-telling — but not all the characters had the same views on what that entailed. 😉 It certainly created a lively discussion! If you liked it too, here are some more recommendations. All the books on my list explore secrets kept, secrets revealed, and the consequences.

The Rhythm of Secrets by Patti Lacy

Sheila Franklin has lived three separate lives. Now a conservative pastor’s wife in Chicago, she is skilled at hiding secrets–a talent birthed during childhood romps through the music-filled streets of New Orleans. But when the son she bore at the age of eighteen comes back looking for answers and desperate for help, her greatest secret–and greatest regret–is revealed. Eager to right past wrongs, Sheila’s heart floods with memories of lyrical jazz music and a worn-out Bible. But when her husband learns of her shady history, Sheila is suddenly faced with an impossible decision: embrace the dream–and son–she abandoned against her will or give in to the demands of her safe but stifled life. As she struggles to reclaim both her son and her identity, Sheila soon realizes that God’s grace spans both seas and secrets and that He is all she really needs. 

With dynamic writing that makes the reader feel the heartache of a teenage mother, struggle with the disillusionment of an abandoned boy, and revel in the idea of grace despite flaws, rising star Patti Lacy takes her fans on a journey they won’t want to end–and won’t soon forget.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Christa Allan

One moment, Olivia Kavanaugh is preparing to walk down the aisle and embrace her own happily ever after. The next, she learns that her fiancé, Wyatt Hammond, has been in a fatal car accident. Then comes a startling discovery: Wyatt’s car wasn’t heading toward the church. He was fifty miles away—with a baby gift in the backseat.Her faith shaken, Olivia pores over the clues left behind, desperate to know where Wyatt was going that day and why. As she begins uncovering secrets, she also navigates a tense relationship with her judgmental mother and tries to ignore the attentions of a former boyfriend who’s moved back home. But when she starts receiving letters written by Wyatt before his death, she must confront a disturbing question: Can we ever know anyone fully, even someone we love?

When an unexpected path forward—though nothing like the life she once envisioned—offers the promise of a new beginning, will she be strong enough to let go of the past and move toward it?

Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish

Liesl McNamara’s life can be described in one word: bread.  From her earliest memory, her mother and grandmother passed down the mystery of baking and the importance of this deceptively simple food. And now, as the owner of Wild Rise bake house, Liesl spends every day up to her elbows in dough, nourishing and perfecting her craft.But the simple life she has cultivated is becoming quite complicated. Her head baker brings his troubled grandson into the bakeshop as an apprentice. Her waitress submits her recipes to a popular cable cooking show. And the man who delivers her flour – a single father with strange culinary habits – seems determined to win Liesl’s affection.

When Wild Rise is featured on television, her quiet existence appears a thing of the past. And then a phone call from a woman claiming to be her half-sister forces Liesl to confront long-hidden secrets in her family’s past. With her precious heritage crumbling around her, the baker must make a choice: allow herself to be buried in detachment and remorse, or take a leap of faith into a new life.

Test of Faith by Christa Allan

Elle Butler has managed to hold on to her politically-driven husband and her secrets until the unexpected happens. When one phone call rips her world apart, Elle will have to decide if the truth is worth the consequences. Especially when it threatens to destroy the world she’s so carefully built around her life and her marriage.