Friday, December 27, 2019

New Year, New Read-Along: Let's Read and Discuss Heidi Together!

Just a few more days until the start of 2020! Happy (almost) New Year, everyone!

If you're looking for a classic to read/re-read to kick off the new year, or if you simply want to discuss an old favorite with friends, I'd love to have you join the Heidi read-along. :)

Here are the details...
  • The read-along will start Wednesday, January 1, and end Friday, January 31.
  • We'll read 1 chapter per weekday for a total of 23 chapters. (You can use the weekends to catch up or get ahead if you'd like!)  
  • Discussions will take place here on Fridays (January 10, 17, 24, 31) for a total of 4 discussions.
  • I'll provide ideas and questions, and you can take part through commenting on the discussion posts here or creating your own blog posts!
Here are some examples of past read-alongs I've hosted: Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Emma, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Sense & Sensibility, The Silver Chair, Emily of New Moon, Christy.

I want to say this will be my first time reading Heidi by Johanna Spyri...and I'm looking forward to finally enjoying the beautiful copy featured in the read-along button above. It was a Christmas gift given to me in 1998 by a very sweet lady from my grandparents' church, and she wrote a kind note inside letting me know that the book was once a prize from a spelling contest in 1955, and she hoped I would enjoy the story like she did. ♥

Do you have a long-cherished copy of the book or special memories from reading it as a child? Please do share in the comments section—and let me know if you'll be participating in the read-along too! (Feel free to use the image in this post and share it on your blog or social media if you'd like to announce your participation!)

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Gift of Books: Ordered, In the Stocking, and Under the Tree

Hello again, friends! It is probably no surprise that I get excited about books. ;) So, like an eager little child, I just wanted to share about these ones I got for Christmas this year!

My aunt and uncle kindly sent Josh and me a gift card, and we really enjoyed picking out books to buy—one for him, one for me, and a children's book to add to our collection for our little girl on the way. :) Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes was my pick! I've posted about one of her novellas before. She's a great author, and I've heard wonderful things about this book. Between the author and the reviews and the Maine setting and the gorgeous cover, this one seemed like the right choice!

Josh and I have fun stuffing stockings for each other, picking out little gifts and treats—and you can see my sweet stash from Josh in the picture! I confess I "helped" him pick out the book. ;) And after seeing Rissi's review, I was especially excited to receive My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff. Should be fun! (And I also can't wait to enjoy those candies!)

The Language of Souls by Lena Goldfinch was a gift from my parents, one that I had on my list. Not that I haven't read it was actually the book that introduced me to Lena's delightful work! But I had first read it as an ebook, and now that Lena has updated the cover (so beautiful, right??) and added an epilogue (so sweet!), I loved the thought of finally adding it to my shelf. Yay!

Another gift from my parents! Entertaining with Disney by Amy Croushorn caught my eye online, and I had so much fun looking through it yesterday. While I'm not sure when or if I'd be able to actually host a party like the kind this book presents, I'd love to try some of the recipes (cupcakes, cookies, gumbo...lots of neat options)—and the pages are really beautiful for viewing and dreaming!

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What about you? I'd love to hear about any new books you got for Christmas or ones you're excited to borrow/buy/read in 2020! 

Literary Christmas: More Festive Reads

A Literary Christmas: Reading Challenge //

Hope you all had a wonderful and merry Christmas yesterday! Today I wanted to catch up on posting for the Literary Christmas challenge (hosted by In the Bookcase). This month I re-read a couple books, which were both on my list for the challenge, and I also read a book that—while not specifically Christmas-y—takes place mostly in December and the holiday season. :)

A Cliché Christmas by Nicole Deese

Learn more about the book on Amazon.

I believe the first time I read this was in Kindle ebook format, so it was neat to be able to read and enjoy the print copy from my shelf this time around! This is a great romance with plenty of bantering, misunderstanding, engaging scenes, and a sweet amount of depth. It's a case of the heroine falling in love once again with an old flame and her old hometown, but with new hopes and an expanded heart. I'm glad to have this on my shelf and think I'd like to revisit it again some future holiday season. 

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The Case of the Crafty Christmas Crooks by Cindy Vincent

Learn more about the book on the author's website.

It was great fun to revisit this story simply as a reader (whereas the first time around I was viewing it as an editor)! The characters are so cute, and the book is full of Christmas heart and cheer. One of the cats learns all about Christmas for the first time, and it's so sweet to see the season afresh through his eyes. I finished re-reading this the night of Christmas Eve, which was a great way to end the day, as the book's conclusion is full of love and generosity. :)

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Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate

Learn more about the book on the author's website.

This book has been on my shelf for a bit, and this month I picked it up to give it a try. It's definitely fitting to read in December, as most of the book takes place in the weeks leading up to Christmas (although it continues on into spring). It's not a fast or terribly exciting read, but I'm heading into a similar season of life as the one the heroine experiences (with her first child), and I found the characters' dilemmas and life lessons and interactions compelling. The Christmas elements add a sweet touch, from community events to the family's preparations and celebration. I don't necessarily feel a huge urge to read the rest of the series, but overall I enjoyed this one, and perhaps I'll want to read it again sometime.

(You can see the series order HERE. Tending Roses is book 1.)

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Return to the White Island: Firetrap Cover Reveal!

It's two weeks till Christmas, and here's an early gift for fans of young-adult fantasy and the awesome Phantom Island series by Krissi Dallas: a cover reveal for the much-anticipated fifth installment!!

Every now and then you might see me gush about these books on this blog, but you can find my full reviews on The Borrowed Book blog:
After years of suspense, it's thrilling to share the title, cover, and description for book 5...

My Thoughts

Okay, the cover designer (Kristen McGregor of Astrea Creative) did a fantastic job of continuing the look of this series in an epic way! This cover definitely shouts, "The Phantom Island series is back and bigger than ever! Boom!" The rich colors and active symbolism hold lots of promise, and I love how the text and main illustration go from silver to gold (which suggests that this book won't be broken up into two, I believe, as the first two elements were? But I'm not 100% certain about that. Either way, it's very clever and looks great!). I just love the design of this whole series. ♥

About the Book

A year has passed, but the Island hasn't forgotten...

As Whitnee Terradora stands on the cusp of her eighteenth birthday, all she can think about is getting through graduation without tripping, boarding that cruise ship, and finally, for crying out loud, snagging her first real kiss with Caleb. Forget that she still hasn't decided where to go to college and that the future intimidates her more than she will admit.

It's the eve of the Guardianship Festival, and all Gabriel can focus on is getting through the next five days of tribal blessing rituals across the Island, making an historically powerful speech at the opening ceremony, and successfully avoiding any more assassination threats. His determination remains intact even when he is unexpectedly separated from Eden, his personal advisor and confidante. Surely he can handle leadership of the festivities without her.

But the Island has a different plan. And neither Whitnee nor Gabriel is prepared for—or happy about—the moment their two worlds collide again. Prophecies unravel, friendships are challenged, and attraction ignites as the dark underbelly of the Island reveals itself in this long-awaited fifth installment of the Phantom Island series. For more updates, visit

About the Author

Krissi Dallas loves pop music, mismatched socks, and fried chicken. She lives in Texas with her husband, two strong-willed boys, and two grumpy old Yorkies. She enjoys hanging out with her family and friends, educating her junior high prep school students, and serving in her church and community. The rest of her time is given to daydreams and writing.

Connect with Krissi: 

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Note from the Author

The Phantom Island series includes Windchaser, Windfall, Watercrossing, and Watermark—all of which are available and would make fun Christmas gifts! [Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Author's Shoppe] The fifth book, Firetrap, releases in 2020. Stay tuned at for updates.

You can read the first chapter of Firetrap HERE

WARNING: The first chapter contains spoilers for the first four books in the series!

Monday, December 9, 2019

A Fast Read Full of Warmth and Charm | Dear Author (Nonfiction) Blog Tour


About the Book

Think your words might not matter? Think again. Words have the power to change lives, especially when they are used to create meaningful stories. In this collection of letters, bookish fangirl Laura A. Grace addresses topics related to every writer’s journey. From “character conversations,” to embracing one’s unique writing style, to celebrating a release day—there is a letter for every author no matter where they may be in sharing their story with others. 

Dear Author includes six illustrations by Hannah S.J. Williams.


My Review

Specifically encouraging to fantasy fiction authors but surely able to bring a smile to all authors and readers alike, Dear Author is a sweet little read that celebrates the writing and publication journey. I love the format of this book, the quick letters that are full of enthusiasm and gratitude. Authors can read them all together for a big morale boost or go straight to the letter that speaks to their current joy or struggle—like a book birthday or a delayed publication date or the bittersweet conclusion to their series. And fellow avid readers/fangirls will find a kindred spirit in Laura and plenty to relate to in these thoughts!

Basically, this book is full of warmth and charm, written with a voice that speaks to its author's unique personality and interests while still capturing general reader feelings. And the handful of illustrations are so adorable, with a little unicorn "Easter egg" in each one. Dear Author is a fast, happy read and a delightful "ode" to the work of novelists.

*With thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

About the Author

Laura A. Grace had a lifelong dream of getting to know authors behind the covers of her favorite reads. Little did she know that one day she would become an author too! Now an avid book blogger at Unicorn Quester and writer of clean, Christian manga, Laura creatively balances her passions of supporting indie authors and feeding her readers new stories. In between, she wields plastic lightsabers with her children and binge-watches anime with her husband. Join her quest to find wandering unicorns for your favorite authors at!


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 2nd
Tuesday, December 3rd
Wednesday, December 4th
Thursday, December 5th
Friday, December 6th
Saturday, December 7th
Monday, December 9th
Tuesday, December 10th
Wednesday, December 11th
  • Video Book Review: Janeen Ippolito
  • Book Review & Guest Post “Embrace Your Inner Fangirl: Three Easy Ways to Support Authors (That Don’t Require Reviewing or Purchasing Books)”: Wounded but Hopeful
Thursday, December 12th
Friday, December 13th
Saturday, December 14th

Monday, December 2, 2019

Literary Christmas: Clara's Soldier and One Enchanted Eve (Christmas Novellas)

A Literary Christmas: Reading Challenge //

Yay for the start of December! Last night I finished reading Clara's Soldier, and even though this novella and One Enchanted Eve weren't on my original list for the Literary Christmas challenge (hosted by In the Bookcase), I thought I'd still share some quick thoughts. :) 

I picked up these Kindle ebooks while they were free on Amazon recently, and I enjoyed both! It was fun to try out some additional Christmas reading material, and these are well-written stories.

Clara's Soldier by Brittany Fichter
(currently $2.99 for Kindle)

Learn more about the book on the author's website. 

My knowledge of The Nutcracker is rather limited, but even the little elements I'm familiar with made this a neat retelling. Clara's Soldier is a bittersweet post-war story, a historical that takes an interesting turn late at night on Christmas Eve. When I started the story, I found the writing style engaging and the main characters endearing. But then when the story took that interesting turn, I found the plot rather strange and confusing, making me wonder if I wanted to "soldier on." I did, and I'm glad. :) While those mid-story scenes can be somewhat hard to follow, the novella as a whole is thoughtful and sweet, focused on commitment and compassion and hope. A clever, different, and romantic little read for the holiday season.

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One Enchanted Eve by Melissa Tagg
(currently $1.99 for Kindle)

Learn more about the book on the author's website.

It's been a while since I read the first novella in this collection, but this second installment is a lot of fun while featuring the author's trademark small-town atmosphere as the main setting. Being a big fan of Food Network and what I've seen of The Great British Baking Show (earlier seasons), I enjoyed the baking angle to this story! While I wasn't completely wowed by what Rylan produces in the kitchen, I was charmed by her growth and how she opens up. There's some seriousness in the midst of the bantering between her and Colin, some big decisions and revelations for both of them to make. The turn-arounds and progress seem to happen in a rather short amount of time, but such is the satisfying nature of a novella. :) I especially liked how the story celebrates family, and I found this to be a happy-but-not-without-difficulties Christmas-season read!