Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren | Book Review

Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren Book Review

Susan May Warren is one of my all-time favorite authors. I think I’ve read all but two or three of her books (and she’s written a lot!), and I always preorder her new releases so I’ll have them as soon as they come out. As you can imagine, I was so excited when I had the chance to read her newest book, Troubled Waters, before it came out on January 2nd!

Troubled Waters is the fourth book in the Montana Rescue series, and it follows the members of the PEAK Rescue team in Montana, near Glacier National Park. The main characters in this book are Ian Shaw, the billionaire who founded PEAK to search for his niece when she went missing, and Sierra Rose, Ian’s former assistant and current assistant to the team. We’ve been getting parts of their story all through the series, and we finally get some resolution in this book!

Susan May Warren’s books keep getting better the more she writes, and this one is no exception! She is a master at creating characters who seem authentic from the first page, and who really come to life, with real challenges, struggles, uncertainties, joys, and successes. Every detail serves to add to the story rather than distract, and there’s enough action to keep things interesting, but none of it seems unrealistic. Most of all, I just love the stories she weaves… they make me want to move to Montana and meet the team! The best part is, we will have two more chances to catch up with the team with the last two books in the series. The next one, Storm Front, releases on May 1, 2018. I can’t wait! 🙂

The publisher provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. I was not required to give a positive review; I just truly love Susan May Warren 🙂

Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris | Book Review

Title: Vanishing Point

Series: Nikki Boyd Files

Author: Lisa Harris

Genre: Christian romantic suspense

My rating: 5/5

This was one of the best suspense books I’ve read in a long time! It’s technically part of the Nikki Boyd series, which I’ve never read, but this book can definitely be read as a stand-alone novel. It’s written as part of Nikki’s backstory, but she isn’t a main character, which I thought was a really cool way to tell the story from a different perspective.

The story starts out in 2003 with the murder of a teenage girl whose death is believed to be linked to a serial killer, and it follows the main characters through the years as more girls go missing. The way it jumped from case to case kept things interesting, but still easy to follow. It’s a really unique plot, and definitely keeps you guessing all the way through! The mystery was believable and suspenseful, the characters were relatable, and the writing really drew me in. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next!

This was the first book I’ve read by Lisa Harris, but it won’t be the last! The other three books in the Nikki Boyd series are now on my Amazon wishlist 🙂 If you are a fan of the mystery/suspense genre, I definitely recommend this book!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for review. All opinions are my own; I was not required to give a positive review.

Fiercehearted by Holley Gerth | Book Review

Fiercehearted by Holley Gerth | Book Review by Grace to Grow Blog

Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely by Holley Gerth is one of the best books I’ve read this year. When I first saw it, I couldn’t wait to read it, and I knew I would love it from the first page. The chapters are short, only a few pages, and feel like conversations with a friend or a big sister as she tells you about her struggles, her joys, and the things she’s learned. There so much to take in from this book, I know I’ll be reading it again to soak it in more!

Something that really resonated with me about the message of being fiercehearted is that you don’t have to do something huge or extraordinary. It’s all about loving the people around you, even when it hurts, and God giving you strength, even in your weaknesses. It’s about the small choices we can make every day to become the women we were meant to be, women who are more like Jesus.

I really enjoyed the whole book, but I’d have to say that chapter 15 is one of my favorite chapters. These lines kind of summed up the book for me: “A full life and life to the full are two very different things. One is about grasping, the other is about receiving, One is about cramming in, the other is about room to breathe. One is about striving, the other is about trust. One is about control, the other is about letting go — sometimes for a moment and sometimes for always.”

With Christmas coming up, this book would be a great present for yourself 😉 or for any of the women in your life! Moms, sisters, aunts, friends – I think we could all use a little encouragement to be fiercehearted.

“Let’s be unexpected warriors, love ninjas, secret agents of grace in the kitchens and the boardrooms and by the swings on the playground. They’ll never see us coming.”  — Fiercehearted by Holley Gerth

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own; I was not required to give a positive review.

The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson | Book Review

When she receives the news in late 1944 that her baby’s father was shot down in the South Pacific, Amelia Richards loses hope. Jobless and broke, she has nowhere to turn for help but her infant’s paternal grandparents. The only problem is, they don’t know that she–or their grandson–exists. When Amelia discovers that the family is wealthy and influential, dare she disclose the truth of her relationship with their son? Or could the celebration of the arrival of another unexpected baby nearly two thousand years ago be the answer to her dilemma?

Beloved author Melody Carlson pens a story of love, hardship, and reconciliation that will leave readers filled with Christmas joy.

I have been loving WWII books lately, so I was excited to read The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson! At the beginning of the story, Amelia has to make the hard choice to leave her home to try to make a better life for her baby, but her determination is tested and she is faced with an even harder choice. Ultimately, she has to decide to do whatever it takes to provide for her baby, even when it’s the hardest thing she’s ever done…but the story doesn’t end there! You’ll have to read the book to see how it all works out 😉 But you can rest assured that it has a happy Christmas ending!

The book is pretty short and is probably considered a novella; usually I’m not crazy about novellas, since it doesn’t give as much time for the characters and plot to develop, but I think Melody Carlson really struck a good balance with this one. Christmas is the perfect time to read about faith, family, second chances, and happy endings, and this book doesn’t disappoint! If you’re looking for a good story to read curled up by the fire this Christmastime, this one is a great choice!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for review. All opinions are my own, and I was not required to give a positive review.

Justice Buried by Patricia Bradley | Book Review

Justice Buried Book Review | Grace to Grow Blog

The genre of Christian suspense/thriller has been one of my favorites to read for a long time, so I was excited to read Justice Buried by Patricia Bradley. It’s the second book in her Memphis Cold Case series, but it can definitely be read as a stand-alone novel. In fact, I didn’t even know it was the second until after I read it!

This is a good, clean mystery with plenty of suspense and action. The plot isn’t farfetched like suspense can be sometimes; it’s something I could imagine actually happening, but at the same time it’s very unique, which makes it keep your attention! It isn’t an overly intense or complex plot, so it’s easy to follow the characters and keep track of what’s happening. The main characters, Kelsey and Brad, are real and relatable, with a good solid friendship. Although the book is technically romantic suspense, it’s definitely more suspense than romance. The faith aspect is also pretty subtle, although it fit well with the story and doesn’t feel preachy when it shows up. Overall, this is a really good book! I would recommend this book to fans of Irene Hannon or Terri Blackstock.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own; I was not required to give a positive review.

What I Read in April

Now that it’s already the end of May, I’m finally getting around to writing about the books I read in April 😉 I was really excited about one of the new books I got in April! One of my favorite authors since I was in high school has been Robin Jones Gunn, and I’m so glad she’s still writing books about Todd and Christy. I read several other books that I really enjoyed, too!

What I Read in April | Grace to Grow Blog

  1. If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock \\ Casey Cox is still on the run, but getting closer to proving who killed her father and is now framing her for her friend’s murder. She is encouraged by her unlikely friendship with the man tasked to find her, and the faith he’s helping her find. But while she’s hiding and runnnig for her life, she can’t help but intervene when she sees injustice, even when it puts her in more danger. I love the unique plot of this book and the whole series; it’s hard to put down! The only part I don’t love is that I have to wait a year for the third book in the series to come out 🙂
  2. Eve by William Paul Young \\ I know William Paul Young is a controversial author, starting with his book The Shack. I haven’t read that one, but I found Eve on clearance at the bookstore and thought I’d give it a try. I was a little surprised by how much it drew me in. It tells the story of Creation through the eyes of Lilly, a girl who suffered great tragedy and now finds herself in another dimension between worlds, destined to be a Witness. The book may be a little too science fiction-y to some, and there’s probably some questionable theology, but it’s definitely a unique way to bring the Creation story to life. If you’re comfortable with it, I’d encourage you to read it for yourself and try to think critically about what you’re reading and how it jives with what you know to be true from the Bible.
  3. Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey \\ I loved Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series, so I was excited to find that she has a new series out! So far there are two books out in this Chesapeake Valor series (Cold Shot is the first) and the third is coming out this fall. The series follows a group of friends, all involved in law enforcement in different ways. This first book starts off with Griffin, a park ranger, finding a body in his national park. It takes the whole group and their unique skills to solve the crime, and along the way, they learn to work together as a team. There’s plenty of action, compelling characters, and a unique plot that keeps you guessing.
  4. Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) \\  Mike Lee has been one of my favorite senators since he was first elected in 2010. (Who even has favorite senators, especially ones from states across the country? I do, I have to admit! 😉 ) I had been wanting to read this book, so when I saw it on clearance at the bookstore, I had to buy it! Each chapter describes a certain provision of the Constitution and the story of how it came to be part of the document. Then, Sen. Lee describes a problem we face today that can be traced back to ignoring or misinterpreting the corresponding part of the Constitution. It’s really interesting to learn more about how the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, and seeing the consequences of “forgetting” those important parts shows how vital they are! This would be a great book for homeschoolers, high school or college students, or pretty much anyone who votes in the United States.
  5. Right Where We Belong by Deborah Raney, Melissa Tagg, and Courtney Walsh \\ I’ve read books by two of the contributors to this novella collection, so I was excited to see this on Kindle Unlimited! This is a collection of three short stories that all take place in small towns. The main character in Melissa Tagg’s part of the book was a secondary character in the other book I’ve read by her, so it was fun to get to read about her story! These stories didn’t feel rushed, like novellas can sometimes, and I really enjoyed the whole book.
  6. A Sweethaven Summer and
  7. A Sweethaven Homecoming by Courtney Walsh \\ I’ve read a couple other books by Courtney Walsh and liked them, so I was excited to see that her Sweethaven series is on Kindle Unlimited! These are the first two out of three books in the series.They follow the stories of four friends who spent their teenage summers together in Sweethaven, but grew apart later in life. Now, one of the friends has passed away, and her daughter decides to go to Sweethaven to find out more about her mother’s past, and to try to find out the identity of her father. Along the way, she meets her mother’s old friends, who are all facing their own problems and learning important lessons about God and themselves. Following each of the five main characters keeps the plot interesting, but not hard to follow, since they’re all so intertwined. The main characters span three generations (three of the original friends, now in their 40s; one of their mothers; and one of their daughters), so there’s someone everyone can relate to. I really enjoyed these books, and I will definitely be reading more books by Courtney Walsh!
  8. Salty Kisses by Robin Jones Gunn \\ The Christy Miller series is one of my favorites of all time, and has been since I was in high school. I’m so glad Robin Jones Gunn is still writing about Christy and Todd! This book picks up after Christy had her baby (spoiler alert!), and her friend Katie is finally able to come visit from her new home in Africa…not for a happy reason at first, but some happy news she gets while there extends her stay for a while. Another fun part of the book is Christy and Todd’s visit to Glennbrooke, Oregon, the setting for another one of Mrs. Gunn’s series. I really loved this book, and I wish I could be friends with Christy and babysit her daughter! 😉

What have you been reading lately?

What I Read in March

Here are my book reviews for March! As of the end of March, I’ve read 35 books this year, so I’m well ahead of schedule to read 100 books in 2017. I actually read 10 books last month, but I’m just going to highlight my five favorites. If I wrote about every book I read, I’d have to write a book myself 😉

What I Read in March | Grace to Grow Blog

  1. When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin | I’ve talked before (herehere and here) about how much I love all of Sarah Sundin’s books, and I was so excited to read her newest book that released in March! When Tides Turn is the conclusion to the Waves of Freedom series. It’s the story of Quintessa, a bubbly, fun-loving girl who wants to be known for more than her pretty face, and Dan, who puts his career above all else, especially romantic relationships and having fun. They end up working together, both officially at the Boston Navy Yard, and unofficially on the case of a French spy in their midst, when Tess joins WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) during World War II. I loved how the story highlighted an aspect of the Navy I hadn’t heard much about, and how Dan and Tess were able to help each other grow in their careers and in their faith and personal lives. Sarah Sundin does a great job of writing historically accurate stories with relatable characters. I can’t wait for her new series to start next year!
  2. The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson | This is another WWII story, with a twist, because it takes place entirely in the United States. It tells the story of Alice-Ann, who is in love with her brother’s friend Mack, although he’s several years older than her. She admits her feelings to him right before he heads overseas, and he agrees to write to her. Several years pass, but before he makes it home, his letters stop and she fears the worst. Meanwhile, her brother’s other friend, Carlton, does make it home, but with wounds on both the inside and the outside. I don’t want to give too much away, but close to the end of the book, Alice-Ann is faced with a choice and has to consider what true love really is. I was kind of surprised by how much I loved this book! Not that I was expecting to dislike it, but even as I was reading it I thought, this is a book I’m definitely going to read again. It was a really sweet, wholesome story that dealt with some tough issues and included characters I wish I could be friends with.
  3. The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert | This was a book I got on sale on Kindle, and I ended up really enjoying it. It covers some tough issues: infertility, relating to aging relatives, growing up with an alcoholic parent, and marriage struggles. It goes back and forth between the points of view of two half-sisters, Carmen and Gracie, who are both facing major struggles in their lives and are learning to trust God instead of trying so hard to maintain control. I think that’s something we can all relate to, no matter what we’re facing! This is a really well-written story that everyone can learn something from.
  4. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee ShetterlyI wanted to read this book after I went to see the movie based on it, and it’s a true story so that made me feel a little better about my goal of reading more nonfiction 🙂 The movie follows the story of three African-American women who worked at NASA in the 1960s. The book talks about the same women, but with a lot more detail and a lot more background. It turns out that a lot of African-American women started working at what was then called NACA, or National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, as mathematicians or “computers” during WWII. Back then, they were developing new technology for airplanes, but after the war their focus eventually switched to space travel. It’s a fascinating story about how much these women accomplished that we never hear about. They enabled the United States to put a man into orbit and then on the moon, not to mention their contributions to our WWII victory. If you like history, you would love this book!
  5. If I Run by Terri Blackstock | I actually read this for the second time, because the second one in the series came out this month and I wanted to refresh my memory. It’s not your typical suspense plot, that’s for sure! It starts out with the main character, Casey Cox, on the run after she found her best friend murdered. It turns out she has good reason to, when we find out that her friend was killed after looking into her father’s supposed suicide many years earlier. Another interesting twist comes in when the victim’s childhood friend, a veteran suffering from PTSD, is hired to help find Casey. Luckily, he realizes that there’s more to the story and that there’s a bigger conspiracy involved. I don’t want to give too much away, but you will definitely want to read the next book! After reading the second book, I found out there’s a third one coming out next year…I can’t wait to finally find out what happens!

What have you been reading lately?

What I Read in February

At the beginning of February, I was really excited for the books I had on my to-read list! Two of my favorite authors released new books on January 31st, so those two are the first ones I listed below. I didn’t read as much as I did in January, but so far I’m still on track to finish 100 books this year!

  1. Happily Ever Ashten by Erynn Mangum (book 3 in the Carrington Springs series) — I’ve loved all of Erynn Mangum’s books that I’ve read, and this one was no exception! They’re all funny, sweet, and clean, and the way she writes about the heroine growing in her relationship with God always feels authentic, not preachy. This book was the third one in a series about three friends, so it was fun to catch up with the girls from the last two books and to finally see what happened with their third friend, Ashten. She’s in the middle of a busy summer working at her family’s restaurant and helping her two friends plan their weddings, wondering about her purpose in the middle of it all, and learning to trust God when her life isn’t turning out the way she imagined and when love doesn’t look like she thought it would. I think this was my favorite book in the series!
  2. Rescue Me by Susan May Warren (book 2 in the Montana Rescue series) — This is the second book in the newest series by one of my all-time favorite authors. Deputy Sam Brooks’ life is orderly and structured; his girlfriend’s sister, Willow’s, life has been anything but. Her adventurous spirit and love for the kids in her youth group led to her take the group on a hike, and Sam went along to help chaperone. Neither of them imagined that the situation would take a dangerous turn, forcing them to learn to rely on God and each other to make it through. Through it all, they learned that no matter how many mistakes we make and how many times we fail, God has proven that He will stop at nothing to rescue us, and He will always be there for us when we need Him the most.
  3. The Inn at Ocean’s Edge and Twilight at Blueberry Barrens by Colleen Coble (books 2 and 3 in the Sunset Cove series) — I found these books on sale, one in paperback and the other on Kindle, and since they take place in my home state of Maine of course I had to read them! 😉 These are books 2 and 3 in the series; I didn’t notice anything that made me wish I had read the first book first, but you should definitely read the second before the third. They’re classified as suspense, and they both have very unique plots and twists you would never see coming! I thought the characters were very well-developed, and both books included important spiritual lessons about our identity in Christ and finding our worth in Him. It can be kind of funny sometimes to read books about Maine written by someone “from away,” but Colleen Coble did a great job representing our state!
  4. From the Start by Melissa Tagg (book 1 in the Walker Family series) — This was a fun read I found on Kindle Unlimited! Kate and Colton are both struggling in their careers, with Kate wanting to do something more meaningful than writing TV movie scripts, and with Colton recently injured and no longer able to play in the NFL. They both find themselves in Kate’s small hometown when a tornado brings her back and her brother, Colton’s friend, talks him in to visiting while he figures out what to do next. It just so happens that Kate and her family need someone to help rebuild her dad’s museum, and Colton needs someone to write his book…but their relationship ended up meaning more to both of them than just business, and taught them about God’s purpose for them in the struggles they’d faced. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I’m going to look for more books by this author!
  5. Buried Secrets by Irene Hannon (book 1 in the Men of Valor series) — I’ve always enjoyed Irene Hannon’s suspense books, and this was as good as I expected! In this story, a small-town police chief and county detective work together to solve the mystery of remains found buried out in the country. It was written in a unique way; you as the reader know who the killer is the whole time, but it’s still really interesting to watch the main characters figure it out. It’s a fast-paced mystery without being gory or graphic, with likeable characters who are facing challenges in their personal lives as well. This is a great book if you like Christian suspense!
  6. Courage to Soar by Simone Biles — I loved watching Simone Biles compete in gymnastics at the Rio Olympics last summer, so I was excited to read her book! It was fun to read her story and find out what led her to gymnastics and ultimately the Olympics. She had a rough couple of years at the beginning of her childhood, until her grandparents adopted her when she was a toddler. Becoming an elite gymnast takes an enormous amount of hard work and dedication, and having a supportive family was so important to her success, encouraging her in her setbacks and celebrating with her in her victories. Being able to read about the “behind the scenes” of her life helps you to see that even though she was born with a lot of God-given talent, it took a lot of work to become one of the greatest gymnasts of all time. She faced a lot of struggles and setbacks, even a few short years before her historic Olympic performance, but her faith and her family got her through and brought her to where she is today. This book is geared more towards younger readers, but anyone can read it and be inspired!

I have some fun new fiction books I’m looking forward to reading in March, including a new release from one of my favorite authors (When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin), but I’m also working on reading more non-fiction. A couple of the books I’ve started on are Fervent by Priscilla Shirer and To Live is Christ to Die is Gain by Matt Chandler. Hopefully I’ll finish those this month and can tell you about them in next month’s post! 🙂

What have you been reading lately?

What I Read in January

I’ve really been on a roll reading this year! It helps to have a Kindle Unlimited subscription 😉 (thanks, Dad and Mom!). At least half of the books I read in January were Kindle Unlimited books. I also read a few other books I’ve been wanting to read for a while! So let’s jump right in and see what I read last month.

What I Read in January | Grace to Grow Blog

  • I didn’t keep track of which ones I read in December or January, but since Christmas I’ve read at least 15 books by Jenn Faulk through Kindle Unlimited. I’ve talked before about how much I love her books, so I’m not going to take the time to describe them all, but I really enjoyed them! Her books alone are a good reason to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, but I’m excited to see what else I find this year 🙂

  • A Memory Between Us and Blue Skies Tomorrow (Books 2 and 3 of the Wings of Glory series by Sarah Sundin) | I’ve said before how much I love Sarah Sundin’s books, and these two were no exception! These were the conclusion of her first WWII historical romance series, about three pilots who were brothers. Blue Skies Tomorrow was my favorite book of hers so far! I really loved the main characters and felt like I was rooting for them the whole time, as they each faced struggles that drew them together, then forced them apart, then drew them back together again as they grew in their faith. The last quarter or so of the book really kept me on the edge of my seat! 😉 I know that sounds kind of vague, but it was a really good story that makes you think and sticks with you for a while.

  • A Perfect Ambition (Book 1 of the Worthington Destiny series by Dr. Kevin Leman and Jeff Nesbit) | This was another book I found on Kindle Unlimited. It’s the first in a series about the 3 Worthington children, who are descendants of one of the richest families in America, going back multiple generations. One is an assistant attorney general, one is the head of the family’s stock holdings, and one is a entrepreneur who is passionate about the environment. In this book, a crisis happens that brings all three siblings together and changes the direction of their lives. It was pretty interesting, but it didn’t really have the typical plot structure of conflict, climax and resolution, so I didn’t think it was really a satisfying story. I guess I’ll need to read all three books to really get the point, and I might someday, but I’m not rushing out to buy them. If they were on Kindle Unlimited too, that would be another story 🙂

  • Nothing but Trouble, Double Trouble, and Licensed for Trouble (Books 1-3 of the PJ Sugar series by Susan May Warren) | Susan May Warren is one of my favorite authors, and I love that her different series cover so many different genres! These three books had a little mystery, a little comedy, and a little romance. They aren’t your typical Christian romance novels though; you have to read all three books to really get all of PJ’s story. She was known as the town troublemaker growing up, and these books tell her story of coming back to her hometown after 10 years as a nomad with many different jobs. She really struggled to find her place and her purpose in life, and to learn how to see herself the way God sees her rather than how she thinks everyone else sees her. Her new career as a private investigator makes for fun reading, too! She gets herself into quite the scrapes sometimes 🙂

I’m guessing I probably read about 8 of those 15 Jenn Faulk books in January, so that puts me at 14 books total so far this year. A little more than 10% of my goal of 100 books this year, so I think that’s a good start! I’ve never really kept track of the books I’ve read before, so this year I’m keeping a list in my new bullet journal. It’s really fun to watch the list of completed books grow! I also got new books from two of my favorite authors on January 31st, so look for reviews of those as part of my “What I Read in February” post.

What have you been reading? Found any good books lately? 🙂

What I Read in November

What I Read in November | Grace to Grow Blog

Despite having a new job and Thanksgiving preparations take up more of my time in November, I was still able to read 11 books. I found some good ones that month! Plus, one of my favorite authors, Robin Jones Gunn, released a new book: the first book in her Christy and Todd: The Baby Years series. I loved the Christy Miller series growing up, and I’m so glad she’s still writing Christy and Todd’s story!

But I’m getting ahead of myself! Here are all the books I read in November:

Through Waters Deep and Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin (Books 1 and 2 in the Waves of Freedom series) // This is the second World War 2 series I’ve read by Sarah Sundin, and her most recent one. In the first book, Through Waters Deep, Mary Stirling works at the Boston Navy Yard. It’s there that she meets Ensign Jim Avery, and they are soon drawn into an investigation of a saboteur on Jim’s destroyer, the USS Atwood. In Anchor in the Storm, Jim’s sister and Mary’s roommate, Lillian Avery, is struggling to find her place as a female pharmacist. When Jim’s best friend, Ensign Archer Vandenberg, notices his men struggling with nerves and drowsiness, he enlists Lillian’s help to uncover a connection to the large sedative prescriptions she’s been filling. This series has the same rich WW2 details and sweet romance as her previous series, with the added bonus of mystery and intrigue. It’s the perfect blend of crime-solving, romance and history. I can’t wait for the third book to come out in March!

Where Treetops Glisten by Cara Putman, Sarah Sundin, and Tricia Goyer // I decided to buy this book because I’ve been reading everything I can find by Sarah Sundin. This is a collection of three Christmas novellas, following three siblings through WW2. I love that the stories all tie in to a Christmas song from the time period (White Christmas, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas). Three wonderful stories, perfect to read during the Christmas season!

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple // This isn’t the kind of book I normally gravitate to, but I’ve heard good things about it from several people and found it on sale at Books a Million. The story format is a little hard to get used to at first; it’s written as a collection of e-mails, notes, and correspondence that we later find out was pieced together by Bernadette’s daughter. It turned out to be a story that held my attention, and was pretty funny and eccentric. A story about a somewhat dysfunctional family, a mom who has lost part of her identity and is struggling with anxiety and fitting in with the social hierarchy of her daughter’s school, and a daughter who loves her mom no matter what–it’s somehow relatable, even though parts of the story can seem far-fetched. Overall, I enjoyed it.

Resolutions, The Plan, and Taking Chances by Jenn Faulk // I always enjoy Jenn Faulk’s books! Whenever I’m in between books, I like to find one of hers I haven’t read yet and download it to my Kindle for a fun read. These three were no exception; I loved reading about new characters and seeing how they tied into the storylines of her other books I’ve read. I can always count on Jenn Faulk for a fun, lighthearted romance with characters I wish I could be friends with and a spiritual message that never seems forced or fake.

A December Bride by Denise Hunter (A Year of Weddings Novella Book 1) // I decided to re-read this book after watching the Hallmark movie based on it, to see how they compared. Even though they had some differences, I really enjoyed both the movie and the book! It’s a story of a broken engagement, then a fake engagement that (spoiler alert!) turns real. It’s a novella, so it’s a quick read, but it’s a really touching story.

Stone and Spark & Stone and Snow by Sibella Giorello (Books 1 and 2 in the Raleigh Harmon Mysteries series) // I’ve talked before about how much I love the Raleigh Harmon series. When I finished the 6 books in that series, I found out that Sibella Giorello had written a three-book series about the fifteen-year-old Raleigh. I read the first two books in November and loved them! This series is an inside look at the events that first interested Raleigh in geology and solving crimes, and the people in her life that made her who she is. Her character and her skills were really refined by fire, between helping her best friend deal with tragedy and struggling to relate to her mentally ill mother and her father as he tries to help her mother, along with the usual high school drama. It’s really interesting to get a look at her life while her father was alive and before she became an accomplished FBI agent and professional geologist.

Sandy Toes by Robin Jones Gunn (Book One in the Christy and Todd: The Baby Years series) // The Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn was one of my favorites when I was a teenager, and I’m so glad that her story has continued through The College Years series, The Married Years series, and now the first in a three-book The Baby Years series. I love reading about Christy and Todd as they grow up, get married, and start a family. They’re such relatable characters, and I wish we could be friends in real life and that I could babysit their kids 😉 even though they only have one as of this book. It’s fun to follow along and see them learn and grow through each stage of life, and this book showed what I imagine to be a very accurate portrayal of the struggles a young couple faces as Todd tries to find his place in a career and as they prepare for a baby. I can’t wait for the next two books in the series!

Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading lately?