Category Archives: Book Reviews

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildConfession: I love Harry Potter.
(This isn’t something I advertise much. I know many of my friends and acquaintances would object because the books are about witches and wizards, but I definitely don’t feel that way.)

I’ve read the entire series at least four times–probably more. J.K. Rowling sure knows how to tell a story. She created a wonderful world full of unexpected plots and dynamic, deep characters. So when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out, I couldn’t wait to read it. I went to a local book store and paid $30 for a new copy. (I like buying books at independent book stores when I can, even if it costs a bit more.)

It took a few days to finish, and I’m just so torn up about the whole thing. I loved that I got to read another Harry Potter story. And I loved how wonderfully complex the plot was. But I was so bummed that they chose to sell it as a script that Rowling didn’t write, even if she was involved in creating the story. It felt like fan fiction. Really well done fan fiction. Like it was Rowling’s work, but they didn’t get it quite right. Some of the dialogue didn’t sound like the original characters, and some of it just didn’t sound like Rowling wrote it.

I really, really loved Harry Potter and the Cursed Child because, well, Harry Potter, but I wish Rowling had written it as another book. It just wasn’t what it could have been.

Have you read it? What did you think?

A Tapestry of Secrets by Sarah Loudin Thomas

tapestry of secrets thomasFrom the back cover:

For decades, Perla Phillips has hidden the truth of a decision that still fills her with guilt. But now, seeing her granddaughter, Ella, struggle in a similar way, she’s prepared to finally open the past to her family, no matter the consequences. But when the opportunity is snatched from her in a most unexpected manner, will she have waited too long?

Spanning generations, this moving family drama weaves together the interlocking stories of two women as they navigate relationships, family, faith, and the choices that will shape their lives. Heartwarming and nostalgic, the story explores the courage to share the wounds of the past and celebrates the legacy a family passes from one generation to the next.

Sarah Loudin Thomas’ latest book, A Tapestry of Secrets, lives up to the standard she set with her first book, Miracle in a Dry Season. Thomas twisted several storylines together in a way that made me feel like I was part of the small town where the story takes place. I loved the way the romance plot unfolded and kept me guessing, and the slow revealing of Perla’s history as she shared it with her daughter and granddaughter added depth to her character and wrapped up loose ends going back to the first book in the series in a satisfying way.

I just really love Sarah Loudin Thomas’ stories. This one, the third in her Appalachain Blessings series, was almost as good as the first book she wrote. According to the author notes, she wrote this one first. The series starts as historical and ends up contemporary as it follows one family through decades of life. The whole series is worth reading, and it has more depth than a lot of the historical romance fluff I typically read.

4 stars
I liked it and will suggest it to those who might be interested.
(Learn more about my star system here.)

Buy it here.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden

fromthismomentcamdenDespite the fact that it took me FOREVER to finish this book, I really, really loved it. (I can be a super lazy reader, which is basically because it’s a lot easier to binge watch Royal Pains on Netflix than it is to hold a book . . . ). It was my third Elizabeth Camden novel (you can read my review of one of the others here), and it’s my favorite one.

Camden has a special talent for creating living, breathing characters that are just so human. I felt so conflicted while I read because the main characters both had significant character flaws that just rubbed me the wrong way, but I loved them anyway. It made for a complex emotional experience that left me cheering at the end of the book. (How cheesy does that sound? It’s pretty much how it went down, though. Sorry.)

Camden also knows how to weave a plot that keeps you guessing and makes you forget you’re reading Christian historical fiction (at least most of the time).

Looking for a good read? Start here. Excuse me while I go track down all of the other Elizabeth Camden books I didn’t realize existed . . .

5 stars—I loved it and will recommend it to everyone.
(Learn more about my star system here.)

Buy it here. 

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

All Summer Long by Melody Carlson

all summer longThe weather is gorgeous, the calendar is full, and time to relax is much appreciated. For me, this summer means surviving lots of extrovert activities—grad parties, family get-togethers, camping trips with friends—and that means my
“introvert days” are extra important. If I don’t have a chance to be quiet, to recharge by myself, to feed my mind without the noise, I get super grouchy. Just ask my husband. I am not a pleasant person to be around.

I’m battling the grouchiness with some extra reading time. I decided to give up Netflix unless I’m at the gym or with my husband in favor of more time to read my Bible, journal, and get sucked into some good books.

I’ve read some fun ones so far, but All Summer Long by Melody Carlson has been my favorite. It’s a chick-flick in book form. The main character is as lovable and ambitious and hopeful as your favorite rom-com heroine, and her love interest is every bit as dreamy as Tom Hanks. (Okay, maybe not quite Tom-Hanks level, but you get the picture.)

I’m a long-time fan of Melody Carlson. When I was a teenager, I discovered her Diary of a Teenage Girl series, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it probably changed my life. Carlson’s characters became my role models, my example of what a Christian teenager and healthy relationships should (and should not) look like.

I loved this love story. And if you like happy, fluffy romance with a leading lady who follows her dreams thrown in, you’ll love it too.

5 stars—I loved it and will recommend it to everyone.
(Learn more about my star system here.)

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

Murder Comes by Mail by A.H. Gabhart

murdercomesbymailMurder Comes by Mail by A.H. Gabhart was a great change of pace. I typically read historical (sometimes contemporary) romance, and this had that plus a murder mystery. It kept me on my toes, and I loved the plot.

The main character, Michael Keane, is a small-town deputy searching for a serial killer with the help of the local newspaper editor.

With the focus on the murders, the secondary character development suffered a bit, but I can easily get over that because the story was so enjoyable (is it weird to say you enjoyed a murder mystery?).

I’d recommend this book for anyone who loves small towns, mysteries, and great fiction. It’s a great summer read.

Excuse me while I go find the first book in the series . . .

4 stars—I liked it and will suggest it to those who might be interested.
(Learn more about my star system here.)

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

Her One and Only by Becky Wade

heroneandonlyThis was my third or fourth Becky Wade book, and honestly, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the others.

From my time as a fiction intern, I know that generally, publishers put less time and effort into a successful author’s subsequent efforts. The name alone is enough to sell the book, so the quality of the writing isn’t as important. (At least not on the business side of things. I’m willing to bet the editors feel differently about the books they work on.) I think that’s what happened with this one.

Wade writes great Christian fluffy romance that I love to read, but this one just wasn’t at the same level as previous books. It felt like it could have used another draft.

The characters weren’t as deep and developed. And because Her One and Only is the fourth book in a series, Wade threw in a minor storyline about a few characters we learned about in a previous book, but it wasn’t fleshed out enough to fit with the rest of the plot.

All that said, if you’ve read the other books about the Porter family, you’ll still want to read this one to round out their story.

3 stars—It was okay and I might recommend it to those who might be interested.
(Read more about my rating system here.)

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

While on Vacation

This spring, I spent a good chunk of time line editing, copy editing, and proofing While on Vacation, a devotional for people who are, well, on vacation. The author, Joe Graves, develops a “theology of play” and explores what the Bible has to say about rest, celebrations, and how God fits into our “breaks.” It even includes a few Sudoku puzzles! It’s up there on my list of favorite projects. If you’re taking a vacation this summer (or even taking some time off to stay home), it would be a great companion. Check it out!

Available June 15 | colorcanvasmedia.com

I’m not receiving compensation for this post. I’m sharing it because it was a fun project that I believe will add value to your life if you take the time to read it :)

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

FIVE STARS

I got out of my Christian book bubble for this one. I’ve been laughing at Jenny Lawson’s stuff on theblogess.com for about a year, so when I found out she wrote a memoir focused around her mental illness, I knew I had to get it. I didn’t exactly read it—I used my free Audible trial to get the audiobook, and I’ve been listening to it in the car over the last week or so. I highly recommend experiencing Furiously Happy this way—Jenny is the narrator, which makes it even better because no one “gets” how a book is supposed to be read quite like the author, plus the audio version comes with a bonus chapter.

Jenny did talk about her struggles with depression, anxiety, and a few other things, but mostly the book was just super entertaining, at least for me. Her writing style is fast and may give you whiplash, but I promise it’s worth it. I can’t wait to get ahold of her first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened because I’m sure it’s as good as this one.

I highly recommend Furiously Happy, unless you find language and references to the author’s “lady garden” offensive.

I chose to review this book just because I loved it. I’m not getting compensated and my opinions were not influenced by the publisher or author.

The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

thepaintersdaughter

FIVE STARS

Nothing like kicking off 2016 with a fantastic read! I stayed up a little too late last night because I had already been reading for . . .  um . . . five hours, and I just had to finish it. I didn’t bother to look at the clock when I finished because I didn’t want to know, but I’m pretty sure it was at least two hours past my bedtime.

I always have a hard time writing reviews for the really good books, and this is one of those. There’s nothing to pick at, no suggestions to make. Just lots of exclamations about the great plot twists, complex characters, and compulsion to keep turning the pages. So pretty much you should stop reading this reveiw and just go find a copy of the book instead.

If that’s not enough to convince you to pick up a copy of The Painter’s Daughter, what about . . . ?

  • This is Klassen’s ninth book, and they’re ALL amazing (well, there is one I haven’t read yet, but I just got it for Christmas and I can’t wait to dig in).
  • The characters aren’t squeaky clean—they’re real and relatable.
  • BUT don’t worry, Jesus is in there, too.
  • Yes, it’s historical romance, but there’s a good bit of mystery mixed in.
  • Not into romance? What if I told you one of the main characters is a military captain and there’s a good war scene?

I have nothing bad to say about The Painter’s Daughter. Just read it so you can love it as much as I did.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

My Favorite Reads in 2015

Want to kick off the new year with a good book? Here are my favorite reads from 2015:

  1. Brentwood’s Ward by Michelle Griep
    Nicholas Brentwood’s sister’s health is failing and he’s desperate for funds to move her out of the city. His opportunity arrives when he’s asked to serve as guardian for Emily Payne, a fiery, independent woman who doesn’t like to follow instructions.
  2. Vendetta by Lisa Harris
    When a teenage girl goes missing, the case becomes personal for detective Nikki Boyd, whose own sister disappeared ten years ago. Nikki jumps into action, asking all the right questions and following all the leads, and just when she thinks she’s solved the case, everything goes wrong.
  3. Worry Less So You Can Live More by Jane Rubietta
    A book that needs to be read by any woman who worries about anything, whether it’s panic-attack-inducing worry or the kind that hides in your check book and jumps out when it’s time to pay the bills.
  4. Taming the To-Do List by Glynnis Whitwer
    This book goes beyond quick tips for checking more items off your list. It’s actually a book about procrastination—what it is, why we do it, and how to stop.