Monday, January 29, 2018

Book Review: Close to You by Kara Isaac

Purchase HERE

Title: Close to You

Author: Kara Isaac

Series: Standalone

Genre: Contemporary

Audience: Adult


A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.

Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.

Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.

When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

**3.5 stars**

Close to You by Kara Isaac wasn't exactly what I expected. (I was thinking it was YA, when it is, in fact, about two adults.) But I still enjoyed! It was fun, quirky, and filled with details about J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle-Earth. Also included, were faith matters and some deep struggles.

A novel about a used-to-be Tolkien fan who's now a guide in a Tolkien tour, with a client who doesn't know the least bit about this author and his famous fantasy books, is a novel that cries out for me to open it! Allison Shire and Jackson Gregory don't have much in common, unless you count their betrayed hearts and shattered futures. When they are thrown together in a Tolkien-esque part of New Zealand for a few weeks, things are about to get exciting ... and complicated.

It was an interesting and fun journey. From the first page, you're pulled into this contemporary, yet intriguing, setting. And there's plenty of action and humorous moments.
I did have a couple complaints. One, I would liked to have seen Allie's faith grow more. Two, there were a couple incidents that bordered on inappropriate. Nothing obscene, but I just felt some characters weren't exactly living out their Christian walk with all purity.

But, overall, it was quite real. There was character growth. Things developed slowly. Even the romance, (though when you count the actual days they were together was rather fast,) felt like it took time to happen. There was no immediate kissing and declarations of love. The characters held themselves back from certain actions - knowing deep down the time wasn't right. I really appreciated that. Past immorality was confronted. Wrong choices weren't excused. So even though some of the themes felt a little edgy compared to what I usually read, everything was dealt with. Right choices were made. Characters decided to wait on God. There was a lovely bit of faith that echoed through Close to You.

One of my favorite aspects of Close to You was the Tolkien theme. Hobbits, elves, dwarves, and orcs! I learned new tidbits about J.R.R. Tolkien and The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books/movies. And even The Silmarillion! It was all so fun and delightful and interesting. I felt like watching all the movies over while reading this book! And though old books intimidate me, I think I must give at least The Hobbit a try. So that was really cool. Great job, Kara Isaac!

Now I'm so excited about picking up a copy of Can't Help Falling! I'm ready for a Chronicles of Narnia-esque contemporary novel from Kara Isaac! *grins*

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Book Review: A Love So True by Melissa Jagears

Purchase HERE

Title: A Love So True

Author: Melissa Jagears

Series: Teaville Moral Society #2

Genre: Historical

Audience: Adult


Jagears Delivers a Wonderfully Romantic Read with a Hero and Heroine to Cheer For
Evelyn Wisely has a heart for the orphans of Teaville and works at a local mansion that rescues children out of the town's red-light district and gives them a place to live. But her desire to help isn't limited to orphans. The owner of the mansion, Nicholas Lowe, is willing to help her try to get the women working in prostitution out of the district as well - if she can gain the cooperation and support of local businessmen to go against the rest of the community.

David Kingsman has recently arrived in Teaville from Kansas City to help with one of his father's companies in town. While he plans on staying only long enough to prove his business merit to his father, he's shown interest in Evelyn's work and is intrigued enough by her to lend his support to her cause.

They begin with the best of intentions, but soon the complications pile up and Evelyn and David's dreams look more unattainable every day. When the revelation of a long-held secret creates a seemingly insurmountable rift between them, can they trust God still has a good plan for them despite all that is stacked against them?

**5 stars**

Beautiful, delightful, tender, and sweet, I loved it! There was something real and heart-touching about A Love So True by Melissa Jagears, second book in the TEAVILLE MORAL SOCIETY series. I adored it even more than Book One, and can hardly wait to continue to read about the people of Teaville!

Orphans. Secrets. Prostitutes. Safe homes. Regretful pasts. Charming newcomer. ... And a whole new chapter waiting to be opened up to Evelyn Wisely.

Oh, David. He is a charmer, yes, but beyond that is his compassionate nature and truly loyal and steadfast heart. I felt he was a such a unique and wonderful character, who persistently and sweetly pursued Evelyn despite the cool front she put on.
Evelyn was a dear. Her tireless work and real compassion for the needy and hurting of her community was admirable and humbling. As well as her faithful heart. She's tall, sturdy, and determined, but a sweet soul underneath it all. I loved going on this poignant and so very beautiful journey with her!

I was so happy to see characters from A Heart Most Certain! What fun! They are doing well and ever their lovely selves! ^_^ Meeting new people, and learning still more about this town of Teaville was a delight. Yes, their are some harsh realities and sober things mentioned/shown ... but I can't help but fall in love with the brave and gentle heroes and heroines of Teaville.

Read this book in one day, my friends, it was that good! Perhaps different from the average Christian historical romance, perhaps not. But A Love So True had little things about it that just made it a gem to me. The faith theme was so beautiful, for one! These characters were real in their relationships with God.

I simply can't wait to read book three, A Chance at Forever! Melissa Jagears is an author I will continually look out for for new books!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Doings + Currently Reading

Hi, faithful readers! (If there are any of you left, that is.) How is life?

I do have a somewhat legitimate excuse for not posting very much ... I am currently out of town! On a lovely vacation. Spending time with my one older brother and my seventeen-year-old sister and cousins and new friends. Talking and thinking and hanging out. Planning fun stuff. *grins* And reading. Erm, somewhat.

I started two novels since I've been out here, and haven't finished either of them.

Friends and Enemies {Promise for Tomorrow #1} by Terri Wangard, I am 52% through.

Love's Unfading Light {Eagle Harbor #1} by Naomi Rawlings, I am 24% through.

And I have no idea if I will actually read either of them to the end. I don't have a huge interest in doing that particular thing. I guess I liked them somewhat, but perhaps lost interest?

Maybe because I read a fabulous Christian Living book, Savoring Single by Shelley Black, that bloomed in my soul a desire to read life stuff and live life, as well, haha. ^_^ Truly, this book was a invigorating read. And I will have a review up for it + some thoughts on waiting on Lady Grace, February 28th. (I believe it's getting re-published/updated or something?)

I want to enjoy this vacation to the fullest. Meet people. Spend quality time with people. Encourage and be encouraged. Go on adventures. Laugh. Talk about deep stuff. Connect. Love on people. Eat good food. Maybe buy some books. *grins*

So. Currently, I'm reading another Christian Living book called Real-Life Romance: Inspiring Stories to Help You Believe in True Love by Rhonda Stoppe. I am 59% through and it is the gem that is keeping me from being in a reading slump, I suppose! Really, it has been a good book so far, with some very beautiful stories. I look forward to sharing my review on this blog!

On YouVersion, I'm doing three devotionals: Good Morning Girls - Intentionally Focused // Interconnected // Shattering Toxic Beliefs And Discovering the Real You

All three have been quite good. I started reading through 1 Corinthians, though I haven't been reading a chapter every day. And I'm making use of my pretty prayer journal!

There's a bit of what's going on in my life.

What are you up to? Are you reading any good books - novels or Christian Living?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Books I Want to Read in 2018

Hi, reader friends! Just dropping by to tell you about a few books I'm hoping to read this year! Some were/are being published in 2018 ... others are older releases.

Anyway, hope you enjoy! And let me know what you think of my list, and what books you're planning to read this new year of 2018!

* Christian Living *

Published: September 12th, 2017

Published: November 13th, 2017

Expected Publication: February 6th, 2018

Expected Publication: May 1st, 2018

* Fantasy/Fairy Tale *

Wonderland {The Realms #1} by Emory R. Frie

Published: July 30th, 2016

Heirs of Tirragyl {The Poison Tree Path Chronicles #2} by Joan Campbell

Published: October 10th, 2017

King's War {The Kinsman Chronicles #3} by Jill Williamson

Expected Publication: June 19th, 2018

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Expected Publication: July 10th, 2018

* Historical *

When Tides Turn {Waves of Freedom #3} by Sarah Sundin

Published: March 14th, 2017

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

Published: January 2nd, 2018

The Mayflower Bride {Daughters of the Mayflower #1} by Kimberley Woodhouse

Expected Publication: February 1st, 2018

Keturah {The Sugar Baron's Daughters #1} by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Expected Publication: February 6th, 2018

A Light on the Hill {Cities of Refuge #1} by Connilyn Cossette

Expected Publication: February 6th, 2018

The Sea Before Us {Sunrise at Normandy #1} by Sarah Sundin

Expected Publication: February 6th, 2018

Sons of Blackbird Mountain {Blackbird Mountain #1} by Joanne Bischof

Expected Publication: July 3rd, 2018

* Contemporary *

Sandy Toes {Christy & Todd: The Baby Years #1} by Robin Jones Gunn

Published: November 25th, 2016

Salty Kisses {Christy & Todd: The Baby Years #2} by Robin Jones Gunn

Published: April 28th, 2017

Sunset Lullaby {Christy & Todd: The Baby Years #3} by Robin Jones Gunn

Published: November 10th, 2017

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Quick Review of 2017 in Books + Happy 2018!

Hello, reader friends! I hope the new year is off to a blessed start for you! ^_^

From Christmas festivities, to family visiting, to coming down with a cold/flu, I haven't found much time to clear my head and do blog posts. So ... sorry about that!
I'm still struggling with a cold, but I decided to do a quick post today that I've been wanting to do!

So, a short review of the year 2017 in books! (My favorite 2017 memories - besides books - are having Christmas in January with my parents and siblings, trip to Florida, moving into the new house, reunion, visiting a new church & meeting new people there, and the times when family came down to visit!)

Anyway, onto my favorite books of the year past! *smiles*

* Top Christian Living *

Sex and the Single Girl by Juli Slattery

Honorable Mentions (Christian Living):

* Top Fantasy *

Chains of Gwyndorr {The Poison Tree Path Chronicles #1} by Joan Campbell

Deliver {The Blades of Acktar #4} by Tricia Mingerink

The Firethorn Crown {Firethorn Chronicles #1} by Lea Doue

King's Blood {The Kinsman Chronicles #2} by Jill Williamson

Honorable Mentions (Fantasy):

Exiles {The Ilyon Chronicles #4} by Jaye L. Knight

Fallen Star {Tales of Goldstone Wood Short Story} by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

* Top Historical *

To Wager Her Heart {Belle Meade Plantation #3} by Tamera Alexander

The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep

Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar

Shadow of the Storm {Out From Egypt #2} by Connilyn Cossette

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

The Captivating Lady Charlotte {Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace #2} by Carolyn Miller

Liar's Winter {An Appalachian Novel} by Cindy K. Sproles

A Love so True {Teaville Moral Society #2} by Melissa Jagears

Honorable Mentions (Historical):

You're the Cream in My Coffee {A Roaring Twenties Novel} by Jennifer Lamont Leo

A Name Unknown {Shadows over England #1} by Roseanna M. White

These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart

* Top Contemporary *

The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis


So what did you think? Are any of these your favorite reads? ^_^ Go to my Goodreads site to see my full year 2017 in books!

Hopefully my next post will be my Most Anticipated Reads for 2018! Stay tuned! *grins*