Hey Book Dragons! Can you believe that December is already over? It’s been an interesting month. My brother came home to visit, we spent Christmas at Disney World, and now I’m getting over being sick. Hope everyone has a had a wonderful Christmas this year! And of course, a brand new year is soon approaching us. Are you ready?
With that being said, it’s time to reveal the December book haul!
Before we get started, I must disclose that as a book reviewer, many of these were given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review from publishers and authors. Any thoughts and opinions mentioned in this post are mine alone and can be found in bold italics.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano
Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back … even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion.
Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t expect his interest in the beautiful chef to turn personal.
Alex agrees to help rebuild Rachel’s tarnished image by offering his connections and his home to host an exclusive pop-up dinner party targeted to Denver’s most influential citizens: the Saturday Night Supper Club. As they work together to make the project a success, Rachel begins to realize Alex is not the unfeeling opportunist she once thought he was, and that perhaps there’s life–and love–outside the pressure-cooker of her chosen career. But can she give up her lifelong goals without losing her identity as well?
I cannot wait to read this one quite soon! I keep hearing how amazing Carla Laureano’s novels are and I am so excited to be apart of her launch team. I received a free e-book arc via Netgalley! Thank you to both the author and Tyndale.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl’s journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
I think this cover is gorgeous and I’ve been wanting to read this Beauty and the Beast re-telling for some time now. I purchased this at a local bookstore called The Book Shack in Dade City, Florida. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend you check it out. They have tons of books in almost every genre. They also have the paperback exchange program so you can trade in the books you don’t want anymore and receive store credit for more books! That’s how I purchased this one.
Austenland by Shannon Hale
Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.
Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen; or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?
I’ve watched the movie for this a while ago. I love Jane Austen and the whole idea of an English resort for Austen-crazed women. I also picked this one up from The Book Shack and I cannot wait to dig in!
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an epic novel of love and war, spanning from the 1940s to the present day, and the secret lives of those who live in a small French town.
In love, we find out who we want to be.
In war, we find out who we are.
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.
With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah takes her talented pen to the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.
Here is another read that has been on my TBR for quite some time. So, of course, I had to buy this hardcover copy at The Book Shack. I’m always in the mood for a great World War II novel and I’ve heard amazing things about this one.
Hidden Love by Cara Putman
Get caught up in romance and suspense with this novella from award-winning author Cara Putman.
Things were business as usual for family law attorney Ciara Turner, until she walked into her mentor’s office to find the judge had been murdered. To make things worse, the emotional moments were witnessed by Ciara’s nemesis, opposing counsel Daniel Evans—the man she once thought she’d spend the rest of her life with.
Daniel can’t walk away from the murder investigation. Judge Palmer was the only one who believed in him enough to give the boy from the wrong side of the tracks a fighting chance. But his amateur sleuthing keeps him crossing paths with Ciara and he can’t help but admire her passion for her clients, even if they are often at odds across the judgment table.
As Daniel and Ciara get closer to discovering who killed Judge Palmer, their old feelings reignite. But the investigation takes an unexpected turn, can they trust each other enough to push for the truth? And will their rekindled relationship survive the aftermath?
I’m not sure if Cara Putman is still currently offering this, but I snagged this free e-book novella by signing up for her newsletter. You can sign up here.
A Sweethaven Christmas by Courtney Walsh
The women of Sweethaven are reunited for a small-town Christmas!
It’s holiday time in Sweethaven, but things don’t go quite as planned for these scrapbookers. Lila is thrown for a loop when a woman claiming to be her sister arrives in town. As she begins digging into the woman’s claims, Lila uncovers things about her family she may never be able to accept or forgive.
After the girls find an old scrapbook on Adele’s bookshelf, she is reminded of her first love, a Sweethaven boy whose heart she broke so many years ago. With help from modern technology, Adele arranges a reunion with this man. And when Campbell sees Luke with a ring, she isn’t sure whether to be happy or terrified. Are wedding bells in her future? For Jane and Meghan, Sweethaven is filled with the promise of something new — as well as good friends, a new scrapbook, and a little holiday magic!
I’m a huge fan of Courtney Walsh’s so when this was available for free on Amazon, I snagged a copy. I love Sweethaven and that cover is super pretty. Even though Christmas is over, I’ll probably read this quite soon.
Cycle Three: The Probing by Bill Myers, Angela Hunt, Frank Peretti, and Altan Gansky
Cycle Three of the Harbingers series offers more suspense, more chills, and a deeper look into the battle for light in a growing darkness.
In Myers’s “Leviathan,” the team heads to Hollywood for a taping of the new TV pilot, Live or Die, the Ultimate Reality. Little do they realize the depths of darkness they are about to enter–a darkness that, unless they stop it, will soon spread across the globe.
Frank Peretti’s “The Mind Pirates” offers a rousing story featuring bizarre visions and memories of a murder, a kidnapping by 17th-century pirates, and an earring with mysterious powers. The team must overcome the ruthless scheming of an evil, hidden nemesis.
In “Hybrids” from Angela Hunt, the sight of two children chills the team to their bones. Seeking rest and relaxation, the four friends must instead find answers to the arrival and mission of two mysterious black-eyed children.
In “The Village” from Alton Gansky, a visit to a guarded and secretive small town in North Carolina becomes the most challenging mystery they’ve ever faced–as they race to solve a problem they barely understand before time runs out.
I’m a huge fan of Frank Peretti and Angela Hunt so when I saw they co-authored a supernatural kind of novel, I had to jump on it. I didn’t realize that it was the third book in the series so hopefully, it won’t be too confusing to read. Thank you to Bethany House for my physical review copy.
Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter
Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe–a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?
Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now—five years later.
As life-changing decisions and a history with Cruz hang over Zoe’s head, tensions rise between her and Kyle. Even as she comes to terms with the shifting relationships in her life, Zoe still isn’t sure if she can remain in Copper Creek with her new responsibilities . . . and her first love.
This cover is beautiful and I really need to get on the ball and read Denise Hunter’s books. This looks like a great fall read and I have heard some great things about it. Thank you to The Fiction Guild for my physical review copy!
The Crooked Path by Irma Joubert
From the bestselling author of The Girl From the Train, comes another compelling coming of age story of delayed love, loss, and reconciliation in WWII-era South Africa.
Lettie has always felt different from and overshadowed by the women around her– this friend is richer, that friend is more beautiful, those friends are closer. Still, she doesn’t let this hold her back. She works hard to apply her mind, trying to compensate for her perceived lack of beauty with diligent academic work and a successful career as a doctor. She learns to treasure her friendships, but she still wonders if any man will ever return her interest.
Marco’s experience in the second world war have robbed him of love and health. When winters in his native Italy prove dangerous to his health even after the war has ended, he moves to South Africa to be with his brother, husband to one of Lettie’s best friends. Marco is Lettie’s first patient, and their relationship grows as she aids him on the road back to restored health.
In the company of beloved characters from The Child of the River, Marco and Lettie find a happiness that neither of them thought possible. With that joy comes pain and loss, but Lettie learns that life—while perhaps a crooked path—is always a journey worth taking.
I enjoyed Irma Joubert’s The Girl From the Train so I’m excited to check out this newest installment of World War II history in South Africa. Thank you to the Fiction Guild for my physical review copy!
Perennials by Julie Cantrell
When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.
Eva—known to all as Lovey—grew up in Oxford, MS, surrounded by literary history and her mother’s stunning perennial gardens. But a garden shed fire and the burns suffered by one of her best friends seemed to change everything. Her older sister Bitsy blamed her for the fire—and no one spoke up on her behalf. Bitsy the cheerleader, Bitsy the homecoming queen, Bitsy married to a wealthy investor. And all the while, Lovey blamed for everything that goes wrong.
At eighteen, Lovey turns down a marriage proposal, flees from Oxford and the expectations of attending Ole Miss, and instead goes to Arizona—the farthest thing from the South she can imagine. She becomes a successful advertising executive, a weekend yoga instructor, and seems to have it all together. But she’s alone. And on her 45th birthday, she can’t help but wonder what’s wrong.
When she gets a call from her father—still known to everyone as Chief from his Ole Miss football days—insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration, she’s at wits end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, the one that will secure her financial goals and set her up for retirement. But his words, “Family First,” hit too close to home. Is there hope for her estranged relationship with Bitsy after all this time?
Eva’s journey home, to the memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother, becomes one of discovering roots, and truth, and love, and what living perennially in spite of disappointments and tragedy really means. Eva thought she wanted to leave her family and the South far behind . . . but she’s realizing she hasn’t truly been herself the whole time she’s been gone.
Perennials is another book that has been on my TBR and I cannot wait to read this. Isn’t the cover beautiful? Thank you to The Fiction Guild for my physical review copy!
The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay
After years of following her best friend’s lead, Mary Davies finds a whimsical trip back to Austen’s Regency England paves the way towards a new future.
Mary Davies lives and works in Austin, Texas, as an industrial engineer. She has an orderly and productive life, a job and colleagues that she enjoys—particularly a certain adorable, intelligent, and hilarious consultant. But something is missing for Mary. When her estranged and emotionally fragile childhood friend Isabel Dwyer offers Mary a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in Bath, Mary reluctantly agrees to come along, in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways. But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes that she lives in Regency England. Mary becomes dependent on a household of strangers to take care of Isabel until she wakes up.
With Mary in charge and surrounded by new friends, Isabel rests and enjoys the leisure of a Regency lady. But life gets even more complicated when Mary makes the discovery that her life and Isabel’s have intersected in more ways that she knew, and she finds herself caught between who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who stands between them. Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this triangle works out their lives and hearts among a company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.
I actually read an arc copy of this a while ago. I recommend this to all Jane Austen fans who would love to go to an Austen themed resort kind of thing. The idea kind of reminds me of Austenland, but different, so I think you’d all enjoy this. Check out my full review here. Thank you to The Fiction Guild for providing a finished physical review copy.
A Place At Our Table by Amy Clipston
Kayla Dienner has suffered her fair share of heartache, which is why she vows to protect her heart at all costs . . . until she meets Jamie Riehl.
Along with his volunteer work at the local fire department, running his Amish farm keeps Jamie Riehl busy. He barely has time to eat at the family table, never mind find someone to date. But when he meets Kayla Dienner, he is smitten.
Kayla tries hard to deny her attraction to Jamie. After all, she’s spent the last year discouraging her younger brother, Nathan, from becoming a firefighter. The death of their older brother in a fire a year ago is fresh in her mind—she can’t bear the idea of putting her heart on the line every time the sirens blare.
Then tragedy strikes, and Jamie wants to extinguish any flame between him and Kayla. Can Kayla set aside her own fears to save the love she was determined to deny?
The first book in the Amish Homestead series, A Place at Our Table invites us to a quiet community in Lancaster County where love burns brightly no matter the cost.
I’m not usually the biggest fan of Amish fiction, but since it is one of the most popular genres in Christian Fiction, I’ve decided that it’s time that I branch out more and give them a try as one of my goals for the new year. Thank you to The Fiction Guild for my physical review copy. Looking forward to checking this one out soon.
The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz
When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American Revolution, Lady Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson is abandoned by her fiance and suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?
Historical romance favorite Laura Frantz is back with a suspenseful story of love, betrayal, and new beginnings. With her meticulous eye for detail and her knack for creating living, breathing characters, Frantz continues to enchant historical fiction readers who long to feel they are a part of the story.
I’m always on the lookout for a good Revoluntionary War story so I’m excited to see what Laura Frantz has in store for us here. I’ve been hearing lots of excellent things and that cover is gorgeous. Why can’t dresses like this be in style again? I mean, isn’t that gorgeous? Thank you to Revell for my physical review copy.
Until We Find Home by Cathy Gohlke
For American Claire Stewart, joining the French Resistance sounded as romantic as the storylines she hopes will one day grace the novels she wants to write. But when she finds herself stranded on English shores, with five French Jewish children she smuggled across the channel before Nazis stormed Paris, reality feels more akin to fear.
With nowhere to go, Claire throws herself on the mercy of an estranged aunt, begging Lady Miranda Langford to take the children into her magnificent estate. Heavily weighted with grief of her own, Miranda reluctantly agrees . . . if Claire will stay to help. Though desperate to return to France and the man she loves, Claire has few options. But her tumultuous upbringing–spent in the refuge of novels with fictional friends–has ill-prepared her for the daily dramas of raising children, or for the way David Campbell, a fellow American boarder, challenges her notions of love. Nor could she foresee how the tentacles of war will invade their quiet haven, threatening all who have come to call Bluebell Wood home and risking the only family she’s ever known.
Set in England’s lush and storied Lake District in the early days of World War II, and featuring cameos from beloved literary icons Beatrix Potter and C. S. Lewis, Until We Find Home is an unforgettable portrait of life on the British home front, challenging us to remember that bravery and family come in many forms.
I loved every book that I’ve read by Cathy Gohlke so far. So when I found out she had a new World War II story coming out, I had to snag it. Plus, I’m anxious to see all of the Beatrix Potter and C.S. Lewis cameos that the author included. Thank you to the author and to Tyndale’s Blogger Network for my physical review copy.
The One Year Experiencing God’s Love Devotional by Sandra Byrd
When was the last time you took a break to experience God’s love?
To experience something is to live it, to encounter it, to understand it, to explore with our hearts, minds, and souls as well as with the five physical senses and our God-given spiritual ones. Every action we do with and for God, every good day and bad day, we walk hand-in-hand with God, experiencing Him.
Experiencing God’s love takes time. Love unfurls its blossoms in our lives when we concentrate all of our senses on the small gifts we pass by every day. Time slows, and we finally get to hear God’s beautiful background hum to our lives.
The One Year Experiencing God’s Love Devotional helps you intentionally carve out those moments in your day to savor God and his love for you.
Megan from Faery Tales Are Real recommended this devotional from Sandra Byrd. I was super excited when I found it as an option to pick from on Tyndale’s My Reader’s Rewards Club. If you’re not already a member of the program, you can sign up here. It’s completely free, including shipping! They have tons of books to choose from. Earning points is easy, you can fill out surveys, join newsletters, join the birthday club, review a Tyndale product, etc. You’ll earn your first 25 points if you sign up through my link! Cannot wait to check out this devotional this year.
No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert
Challenging perceptions of discrimination and prejudice, this emotionally resonant drama for readers of Lisa Wingate and Jodi Picoult explores three different women navigating challenges in a changing school district–and in their lives.
When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray–the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser–faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones–the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?
Guys, I’m super excited that Katie Ganshert has a new release coming out in 2018! This one touches on the tough topics of discrimination so I’m curious to see what the author has in store for us. Thank you to Katie and Waterbrook Multnomah for my physical arc review copy! Can’t wait to dig in!
Be the Hands and Feet: Living Out God’s Love for All His Children by Nick Vujicic
Nothing in life is as exciting and satisfying as introducing Jesus to people who have never met him.
New York Times bestselling author and world-renowned motivational speaker Nick Vujicic is known worldwide as the man without arms and legs who personifies a “can do” spirit. Now in greater detail, he explains how the example of Jesus Christ motivates him to travel and speak broadly because the “good news” of the Gospel is just too good to keep quiet! Although the world has so many problems, no challenge is too great for the God who promises to move mountains. Using compelling stories from his own experience, Nick shares the heart of his message, the motivation behind all he does, and something that he believes the world needs now more than ever before: A faith in Jesus Christ that moves people to act and make the world a better place.
Nick Vujicic is an international and New York Times bestselling author, evangelist, motivational speaker, and the director of Life Without Limbs, an organization that helps share the message of the hope in Christ to the entire globe. Nick is an inspiration worldwide to crowds and the media for his positive attitude toward overcoming obstacles and achieving dreams. A longtime resident of Australia, he now lives in Southern California with his wife, Kanae, and two sons.
Nick Vujicic is an inspiration as a man with no legs and arms. So when I heard he had a new book coming out, I had to snag a copy and check it out. Thank you to the author and Waterbrook Multnomah for my physical arc review copy!