Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay (Review)

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 1, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718077911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718077914

    Art restorer Emily Price has never encountered anything she can’t fix—until she meets Ben, an Italian chef, who seems just right. But when Emily follows Ben home to Italy, she learns that his family is another matter . . .

  • Emily Price—fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist—dreams of having a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love.
    But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccollo. Soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well—inviting her into his world and into his heart.

    Emily astonishes everyone when she accepts Ben’s proposal and follows him home. But instead of allowing the land, culture, and people of Monterello to transform her, Emily interferes with everyone and everything around her, alienating Ben’s tightly knit family. Only Ben’s father, Lucio, gives Emily the understanding she needs to lay down her guard. Soon, Emily’s life and art begin to blossom, and Italy’s beauty and rhythm take hold of her spirit.

    Yet when she unearths long-buried family secrets, Emily wonders if she really fits into Ben’s world. Will the joys of Italy become just a memory, or will Emily share in the freedom and grace that her life with Ben has shown her are possible?

    My Review:

    This was a good Christian fiction romance book. Emily and Ben connect from the first time they meet. It is hard to believe that they would marry after only knowing each other two weeks though. Emily then goes back to Italy with him. I love the author's descriptive writing. I felt like I was in the book. The first half is set in Atlanta and the second mostly in Italy. There were some supporting characters also. I liked Ben's sister and his father. I never warmed up to his mother. The first part was like a fairy tale and the second half reality. Emily  runs into issues being in a country she doesn't speak the language and with people she does not know. Some of Ben's family is welcoming and some not so much. It is not a fast paced book which was fine with me as I enjoyed the descriptions. The conclusion is satisfying. Recommended to fans of Christian romance fiction.

    Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries—who provide constant inspiration both for writing and for life. She is the author of three previous novels, and her debut, Dear Mr. Knightley, was a 2014 Christy Award Finalist, winner of the 2014 INSPY Award for Best Debut, and winner of two Carol Awards for Best Debut and Best Contemporary. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University and is a wife, mother, runner, and tae kwon do black belt. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family recently moved back to Chicago. Visit her on line at Facebook: katherinereaybooks Twitter: @Katherine_Reay

    Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Sunday, February 19, 2017

    Rescue Me by Susan May Warren (Review)

  • Series: Montana Rescue (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Revell (January 31, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800727444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800727444

  • When Deputy Sam Brooks commits to something, nothing can sway him--not just on the job as liaison between the Mercy Falls sheriff's department and PEAK Rescue, but in his private life. He's the one who stuck around to take care of his mother after his father's accidental death. And he's the one--perhaps the only one--who believes Sierra Rose is the perfect girl for him. Safe, practical, and organized, she's nothing like her hippie, impulsive, bleeding heart sister, Willow.

    Willow, however, has been in love with Sam Brooks for as long as she can remember. But she wants her sister to have a happy ending. Besides, Willow has other things to focus on--namely, nabbing the job as youth pastor for her small-town church. Best thing for her to do is to purge Sam from her heart.

    Neither can predict the events that will bring them together in a fight for their lives in the forbidding wilderness of Glacier National Park. Stranded, injured, and with the winter weather closing in, Sam and Willow will have to work together to save a crew of terrified teenagers. As they fight to survive, they might just discover a new hope for love.

    My Review:

    This book was great. I really enjoyed reading it. It is book two in the Montana Rescue series. I think they should be read in order as the characters repeat. The main focus in this story is Sam and Willow. The sparks fly between them after Willow kisses him in a moment of weakness. But there are multiple hurdles. Sam is the boyfriend of Willow's sister Sierra. And he thinks he does not like what makes her Willow. She is the opposite of her sister which he thinks is perfect for him. Willow has loved him for years but puts her sister first. There are multiple subplots featuring the other members of Peak rescue. Some run throughout the series. It did not distract from the book for me. The action really heats up when Sam, Willow, the youth pastor, and a group of teenagers go hiking. On the way home they are in a bad van accident. A winter weather storm furthers complicates it. Sam and Willow have to work together to get everyone out safely. The plot and characters were well developed and held my attention from the beginning to end. Recommended.

    Susan May Warren is the ECPA and CBA bestselling author of over fifty novels, including Wild Montana Skies, with more than one million books sold. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT and numerous Readers' Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. She can be found online at, on Facebook at SusanMayWarrenFiction, and
    on Twitter @susanmaywarren.

    Review copy provided by Revell in exchange for an honest review.

    Sunday, January 8, 2017

    Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (Review)

    First Published in 1952.

    Excellent Women is one of Barbara Pym’s richest and most amusing high comedies. Mildred Lathbury is a clergyman’s daughter and a mild-mannered spinster in 1950s England. She is one of those “excellent women,” the smart, supportive, repressed women who men take for granted. As Mildred gets embroiled in the lives of her new neighbors—anthropologist Helena Napier and her handsome, dashing husband, Rocky, and Julian Malory, the vicar next door—the novel presents a series of snapshots of human life as actually, and pluckily, lived in a vanishing world of manners and repressed desires.

    My Review:

    This is my first novel by Barbara Pym. I did enjoy reading it. I love British literature. This book is set in 1950s England. The basic plot is set around the concept of excellent women. They are the women who are not married but are smart, supportive, repressed. The main character, Mildred Lathbury, is one of them. She is an only child of a clergyman. Her parents have been deceased and she is all alone except for friends. She is good friends with her vicar, Julian, and his sister Winifred. Winifred is another one of those excellent women. One day she gets new neighbors in her building, Helena and Rocky Napier. They are an unusual couple. Helena is an anthropologist. Rocky is in the military. They are opposites and fight often. Mildred gets drawn into their lives. They also help open her world. I loved the descriptions of people and surroundings in the book. The humor in it is understated. The situations Mildred finds herself in are interesting. I do not want to give away the whole plot but the ending fits the book.


    Saturday, January 7, 2017

    The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen (Review)

  • Series: Tales From Ivy Hill (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers; Reprint edition (December 6, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764218131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764218132

  • First Series from Bestselling Author Julie Klassen!
    The lifeblood of the Wiltshire village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. But when the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant owner. Jane has no notion of how to run a business. However, with the town's livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must find a way to bring new life to the inn.

    Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to find her place in the world. As she and Jane work together, they form a measure of trust, and Thora's wounded heart begins to heal. When she encounters two men from her past, she sees them--and her future--in a different light.

    With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane employs innovative methods to turn the inn around, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place. Will her efforts be enough to save The Bell? And will Thora embrace the possibility of a second chance at love?

    My Review:

    The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill was an okay start to a new series by Julie Klassen. It was too long and tried to cover too many things. I think it was to set the background up for the series though. I did not like the two main female characters, Jane and Thora, in the beginning. By the end of the book I was able to tolerate them. Patrick Bell, Thora's other son, also comes back to help with the inn. I didn't trust him from the beginning and there were undertones of his being not completely upfront and having ulterior motives. Although Thora and Jane both have two men in their lives who could be love interests, there was not a lot of romance in the book. There was a little mystery/suspense around the fate of the inn and the death of Jane's husband. The ending of the book left us hanging on several things. Part of it I understand why but I would have loved some more closure. There is a second book in the series coming out in December that will focus on some of the minor characters from this one. Overall I liked being in Ivy Hill and look forward to reading the next book in the series.

    Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. She worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her novels have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. Her book, The Silent Governess, was also a finalist in the Minnesota Book Awards, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards, and Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards. Julie is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota. Visit for more information.

    Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Saturday, December 31, 2016

    First Book of the Year 2017

    Sheila at Book Journey hosts the first book of the year reading challenge. This is the fourth year for it.

    So what is First Book of the year?

    The First Book is a book that maybe you have been wanting to read for a while but have not had time for, a coveted book, an old favorite re-read – whatever you want.  The point is that this is the book that will kick off the year for you.  What will it be?

    I will be kicking off the new year continuing to read The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen.

    I will also possibly be starting my first classic of the year. It is Excellent Women by Barbara Pym.

    2017 Reading Goals

    In 2017 I want to focus more on quality than quantity. My goal number will be 100. I want to read at least one book with more than 500 pages. I want to read more non fiction that will grow or inspire me to be better in some way. And I want to read more classics. I joined two classics reading challenges to help with that goal.

    2017 Reading Goals:

    1. Read more non fiction.

    2. Read more classics.

    3. Read one really long book.

    4. Write more reviews.

    2016 Wrap Up

    I read a total of 157 books in 2016. I read 203 in 2015. 2016 was a rough year for me in many areas and it showed in my reading. I read 9 non fiction books. I re read 36 books. Most of the re reads were older series/books I had on my shelves. Some were favorites and I wanted to see if they still were or if I could Konmari them. I did not end up reading a really long book or many classics. My favorite book for the year was the very first one I read actually. Spark Joy by Marie Kondo.

    Top Books for 2016:

    1. Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
    2. The Inn at the Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble
    3. Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey
    4. On Lone Star Trail by Amanda Cabot
    5. Stone and Spark by Sibella Giorello
    6. Stone and Snow by Sibella Giorello
    7. Stone and Sand by Sibella Giorello
    8. Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson
    9. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgen
    10. Wild Montana Skies by Susan May Warren