A Proxy Wedding by Toni Shiloh // Mini Review

A Proxy Wedding by Toni Shiloh // Mini Review

Saying I Do was more than they bargained for.

Carly James values loyalty and friendship above all. So when her best friend calls asking her to be a proxy bride, she says, ‘yes.’ How hard can it be to say ‘I do’ so that her best friend can be with the one she loves? Only, Carly never counted on the feelings that began to swirl around with the proxy groom.

Damien Nichols likes life lined up from A to Z, but when his best friend calls in a favor, disorder begins to reign. Instead of taking a quick flight to the proxy wedding, he has to take a road trip with the proxy bride. Carly’s free-spirit attitude bumps heads with his meticulous approach to life. As Damien discovers the woman underneath the carefree façade, his emotions become involved. (from Goodreads)

My Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Not gonna lie, the concept of a modern proxy wedding (??!) drew me in immediately, and I knew my favorite author could pull off something fabulous. It ended up being so cute and sweet with a surprising amount of character development, arc, and relationship testing in such a short novella. I really enjoyed it. 😉 Definitely like a Hallmark movie, in all the best ways.

CW: Mentions of relational trauma from a family of origin and an ex-spouse. The main characters have strong chemistry that is often in their thoughts but it is handled well and never crosses a line.

Should We Tell Her? by Lillian Keith // Review

Should We Tell Her? by Lillian Keith // Review

“Mommy’s in Africa,” You kept saying, and you smiled for the first time since Mom hadn’t come home.

And suddenly, I didn’t want that smile to disappear. I didn’t want to hear your pleading voice asking over and over when Mom would come home. And I didn’t want to see the disappointment in your eyes anymore.

When summer turns to tragedy, twelve year old Aspen and her younger sister Wren struggle to cope. But how can they when their youngest sister can’t understand what is happening? Will they be able to pull together to help each other or will they fall apart?” (from Goodreads)

My Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐

From the cover onwards, this book was adorable and heartfelt. I was especially delighted by how many illustrations there were (#illustrationsarecool), and they set the tone for the book perfectly.

I really liked the second person point-of-view of the story, and the main concept was properly well-meaning, sweet, and double-edged. Some of my favorite moments were when Aspen realized how important the postcards were to her and why. 😭😭 And any scene in the art shed was great.

I also loved how cute everyone’s names were. 🥺

I spent a lot of the story very frustrated with the adults, but I ended up really liking how that turned out. 😉

CW: Discussions of a traumatic accident (not detailed) and possible death. A few scenes of emotional distress, PTSD, and hospital setting. The story concept is based around a well-meaning lie that is flawed but ultimately justified.

Altogether, I really enjoyed this sweet read, and I think anyone who loves close-knit family stories will too. 💙💜

I need a fairy garden now.

Crook Q by Rachel Newhouse // Review

Crook Q by Rachel Newhouse // Review

I don’t want to kill anyone.

Believing the chaos of her adventure on Mars is behind her, 17-year-old Philadelphia faces a restricted but uneventful future as an unskilled drone in the United’s workforce. But before she can receive her assignment, government officials show up in the dead of night and violently whisk her and Cea away to solitary confinement. The girls soon realize they’re being held hostage to bribe Dr. Nic, Cea’s wickedly genius brother, into resuming work on the infamous superweapon “Red Rain.” Their only option is to escape.

Thrust into the streets with a gun she’s afraid to shoot, Philadelphia realizes her battle with Red Rain is not over—and this time, turning it over to the authorities is not an option.

Crook Q is the second novella in the Red Rain saga, a fast-paced Christian sci-fi series for teens and adults. (from Goodreads)

My Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Red Rain was a staple of my teenage hood and the catalyst for my love of indie novels, so I was over the moon when the author relaunched the series and announced numerous sequels. It’s been a long minute since the first book released, so I wasn’t expecting the *exact* same tone, but this did take a little while to adjust to.

Philadelphia is still such an interesting main character to follow, and in this installment, it was evident she’s still coming of age and torn between her dad’s principles and her brother’s ideals. The little bit of added backstory gave me so much sympathy for Dr. Smyrna and understanding of his passivity. I also loved how even though she isn’t super skilled at anything yet, it’s really her heart and courage that matter. I look forward to seeing her grow.

Some of the back-and-forth action and her more fragile emotional state (#trauma) did wear on me to begin with, but in retrospect, it fit the story and the last third or so picked up and made up for it. 😉

Ephesus and Cea were boss as usual, and I’m becoming more intrigued by Dr. Nic. It was also amazing to see a few side characters reappear and how they worked into the story. And can I just say that Philli’s relation to her Bible in this is such a cool contrast to the first book? I may be reading too much into it, but that felt like an amazing demonstration of faith. There’s much less faith content in this book than the first one which was thick with references to Revelation, but it was still present.

CW: strong negative emotions, kidnapping, danger, death off-page, injuries described but not graphic, description of cleaning up blood. A man beats up a teenage girl.

Altogether, I’m very happy to have read this, and I’m excited to continue the series.

The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie // Review

The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie // Review

There’s a serial killer on the loose, working his way through the alphabet and the whole country is in a state of panic.

A is for Mrs. Ascher in Andover, B is for Betty Barnard in Bexhill, C is for Sir Carmichael Clarke in Churston. With each murder, the killer is getting more confident — but leaving a trail of deliberate clues to taunt the proud Hercule Poirot might just prove to be the first, and fatal, mistake. (from Goodreads)

My Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is only my second Agatha Christie read, and it’s made me a forever fan. I can’t believe I went so long without reading her work.

First, a couple things that make her stand out in the genre. I highly appreciate the respect for life in a genre centered around death. The way side characters interact around it, we have a chance to care about the victims personally, and Poirot himself is filled with dread for the inevitable next murder… these were all especially evident in this book. I also enjoy the collaboration with other detectives/officers, and I appreciate the author’s (if somewhat flawed) attempts to speak differently regarding race, prejudice, and stereotypes of all kinds than many works of the time period.

This book was an absolute delight. I tried and failed a few times to solve the mystery myself, but was rewarded with something much more twisty and satisfying than I could have guessed. (I even fell for the accomplice storyline…) Poirot shone, and his team of amateurs was equally interesting.

I finished reading this in the middle of a stormy night which was the most deliciously spooky and cozy thing. 🧡 I’m ready for autumn and more Agatha Christie books now.

Gift from the Storm by Rebekah A. Morris // A Review

Gift from the Storm by Rebekah A. Morris // A Review

(admit it, you knew I had to talk about this book)

One cold, dark evening a young stranger appears outside the Morgan home with two small children. Injured and on the verge of complete exhaustion, she will only say that her name is “Amy.”
Where did she come from? Who is she? And what has she been through? Dr. Justin Morgan and his family look for answers as they struggle to minister life and health to the needy ones in their midst.
(from Goodreads)

My Review

I fell in love first with the author’s writing style, then with the vibey cover, and then with the story. (I even read it aloud to a sister right after finishing it, it was that good. 😉 ) Since then, it’s become one of my top favorite indie books, and I talk about it often on my blog and to anyone who will listen.

The cozy, sometimes Christmassy (yes, I’ve chosen to obsess over that part 😉 ) mountain cabin setting was so accurate and beautifully descriptive, it made this country girl right at home. I loved all the characters (Justin the most of course), and Danny was hilarious.

Amy was a very interesting main character. I hadn’t read many books with the amnesia trope (still haven’t) at this point, so I was completely drawn in by her struggles and the slowly unfolding mystery. I loved seeing the Morgan family support her so well and how their ordinary faithfulness and family culture was used by God to bless her so mightily.

My favorite scene was when Amy is holding a glass of water. *chills*

CW: danger, amnesia, grief, off-screen death, speculation about if a character is an unmarried mother.

This intriguing, cozy, and wonderful Christian mystery is forever a favorite. 😉

Add on Goodreads // Buy on Amazon

(Don’t forget to enter the ebook giveaway!)

The Firmament Series by J. Grace Pennington // Mini Reviews

The Firmament Series by J. Grace Pennington // Mini Reviews

I absolutely adore sci-fi, and the more character-centric and deep themey it is… SIGN ME UP.

The Firmament series by J. Grace Pennington was one of my first (and few) experiences of indie Christian sci-fi, and I grow more and more in love with it with each new book. 😉

(FYI, books one and two are currently free on Amazon so run and get your copies. 😍)

Please enjoy the gorgeous covers and here are my mini reviews…

1.

This story jumps right into the action while setting up the main cast of characters who are going to become very beloved. 😍

2.

My favorite, or one of my favorites, or the first time in this series I had a favorite… Anyway, it’s basically the book that made me a fan. 😉 I really enjoyed this take on aliens, and the mystery was quite satisfying.

3.

Absolutely incredible villain and soooo twisty. Like *mind blown*

4.

Oh look, another favorite! Absolutely brilliant twist on such well-established characters. 👏👏 It made me want to know them even more.

5.

Earth is technically part of space, right? 😜 Really cool character development and sibling team-up. ❤

6.

EDGE OF MY SEAT book. Everyone just gets more and more depth and the stories are tying together so well. 😍 Another favorite, oops.

7.

I have yet to read this one (I just checked it out on Kindle Vella) but the synopsis has a callback to book 2???! So yes, I have my homework. 😉


Go enter the giveaway!!

Elite by Kristen Young // Review

Elite by Kristen Young // Review

Where do you find safety when your world is falling apart?
 
Apprentice Flick thought the Elite Academy was the answer to all her problems. But the revelation of her past turned everything upside down. Now, she is caught between two worlds set on a collision course.

 
Will she embrace the chaotic memories that flood her every waking moment? Or will she run to the security of her Elite training?
 
Discovering her parents’ identities takes her to a secret underground bunker where she finds new friends, opportunities, and maybe even love. But Flick must decide where her allegiances lie soon, or the Triumph of Love festival might bring about her demise. (from Goodreads)

My Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐

After holding out for an admirably long time (more than two weeks 😱), I caved and bought the second book.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t this. 🤯🤯 I really loved the unexpected plot direction that strengthened the themes even more.

I knew I was right to choose Hodge as a favorite character, and it was fun seeing some side characters take a turn in center stage. Flick continued to be very interesting, and I loved seeing her process each new obstacle and revelation.

Again, the tech was really fascinating and immersive. 👏👏 I especially enjoyed the Watcher scenes, though the gravity wasn’t lost.

The new elements in this book were fabulous. I enjoyed the gorgeous yet relevant portrayal of Christianity. I also deeply appreciated the theme of non-violence.

My criticisms of the first book were unfortunately even more present in this one. There was a whole new set of side characters (to the author’s credit I could *eventually* keep them straight) plus code names for some I already knew and a complicated, sometimes clumsy new set of terms.

CW: Flashbacks to implied execution, kidnapping, fear. Mentions of observing stabbing, murder, domestic violence, and planned domestic terrorism through surveillance work. Lying/manipulation. Intrusive thoughts of guilt. Allusion to an official being a p*do. Slight implication of rock music being evil.

Best quote: Just because you don’t hear a voice, doesn’t mean he’s not there. He’s with you. That’s what he wanted me to tell you.

Altogether, I’m very much intrigued by where this series is going and have high hopes it nails the ending. ❤️

The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd // Review

The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd // Review

Everyone in Emma’s family is special. Her ancestors include Revolutionary War spies, brilliant scientists, and famous musicians–every single one of which learned of their extraordinary destiny through a dream.

For Emma, her own dream can’t come soon enough. Right before her mother died, Emma promised that she’d do whatever it took to fulfill her destiny, and she doesn’t want to let her mother down.

But when Emma’s dream finally arrives, it points her toward an impossible task–finding a legendary treasure hidden in her town’s cemetery. If Emma fails, she’ll let down generations of extraordinary ancestors . . . including her own mother. But how can she find something that’s been missing for centuries and might be protected by a mysterious singing ghost? (from Goodreads)

My Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This beautiful, beautiful book left tears in my eyes and a feeling of home in my heart. I soaked in every gorgeous word, every “spooky” encounter, every message of treasure and destiny and love. ❤️

I kept reading over some passages because they were so beautifully written, and part of me wants to journal some of the best quotes. The characters were very sweet and quirky, and I would like a Grandma that cool and tough, please. Also, I’m going to need my own “kitchen ghost”. 😂😂

Speaking of ghosts… They play a big role in this story but it’s not dark or terrifying in the least. Instead it’s more like a metaphor for the ancient, enduring memory of small towns and the comforting feeling of having your history near. I loved it.

One of the best portrayals of grief and coming of age I’ve ever read.

CW: death, graveyards, ghosts. Mentions of the Civil War and slavery. A boy has a near-death experience.

Absolutely recommended. ❤️

Apprentice by Kristen Young // Review

Apprentice by Kristen Young // Review

The Love Collective is everywhere. It sees everything. Be not afraid.

Apprentice Flick remembers everything, except the first five years of her life. And for as long as she can remember, Flick has wanted to enter the Elite Academy – home to the best, brightest, and most loyal members of the Love Collective government.

Flick’s uncanny memory might get her there, too … even if it is the very thing that marks her as a freak. But frightening hallucinations start intruding into her days and threaten to bring down all she has worked so hard to accomplish. Why is she being hijacked by a stranger’s nightmare over and over again?

Moving to the Elite Academy could give Flick the future she’s always wanted. But her search for truth may lead to a danger she cannot escape. (from Goodreads)

My Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’m still a little bit in shock that I finished this book. For a couple days afterward, it lived so rent free in my mind, that I kept wanting to continue reading and being disappointed all over again that it was over. 😅 Fortunately it is a series, so next time I feel like I can swing that much for an ebook, I am absolutely diving back in. 😎

This book drew me in immediately (from the Amazon sample because #cautious), and kept me all the way through. I was really fascinated with Flick’s memory and how it affected her life for good and bad. I can relate to that just a little bit, and it was really interesting to see her backstory slowly revealed, both in memories she’d filed away perfectly and ones she didn’t recognize. I especially found her emotional responses extremely accurate and compelling.

Side characters were one of the biggest pros and cons for me about this book. On the one hand, there were so many names that were so similar, I had trouble keeping them straight until I mentally pared them down to who was most important. Hodge, Chu, and Cam are my favorites, and I’m very invested in Sif’s storyline. (I refuse to believe it’s over.) Dorm Leader Akela is goals.

The tech just absolutely blew my mind. I know it wasn’t anything exceedingly original, but it was so seamless, fascinating, and easy to immerse myself in. My favorite scene was when they were running the Engine Room. 🤩

The unique terminology was a little much at first, but I got used to everything except “Haterman”. That just seemed to pull me out of the story whenever it was used. 🥲 A very small complaint though in an otherwise highly enjoyable story.

CW: Descriptions of child abuse, medical procedures, and violent gladiatorial games. Implied off-screen executions. Claustrophobia. Themes of medical kidnapping and education as indoctrination.

Best quote: “Why are you doing this?” I say to my body. “Why can’t you just behave like a normal person?”

Altogether, I highly enjoyed this book and will definitely be reading the rest of the series. 👏👏

Perfect for fans of Anomaly by Krista McGee.

Kate’s Case Files by Sarah Holman // Mini Reviews

Kate’s Case Files by Sarah Holman // Mini Reviews

(prepare yourself for infite fangirl mode) (are you ready?) (I love this series)

This series fits the perfect balance of clean fiction, hard topics, intense action, Christian themes, and entirely lovable-to-the-max characters. I read the first few in a row, and then have been reading the others as they come out. My siblings helped me complete the series in paperback, just in time for the new release. 😉

Here are my mini reviews…

1.

Started off with a literal BANG and catapulted me into a world I never want to leave. I loved the characters from the beginning, and their quirks made them memorable and lovable. Also, SPY STUFF.

2.

All the political details were insanely interesting and the ship (you have to ship them, sorry, I don’t make the rules) gets even cuter. Pretty insane climax too…

3.

A big one for character arcs and a more subtle but interesting case. 👏 I also love how each book brings a city I don’t know much about to life.

4.

(Can we appreciate the gorgeous colors of this cover??!) This one is set in my home state, which was absolutely fabulous and made me connect to the high stakes of this one a lot more. Some tougher life topics are handled in this one, but with so much grace.

5.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, yessssss. Also some scenes that made me declare this probably a favorite of the series, though I probably say that about each one at some point in time, so my fangirlness cannot be trusted. 😛

6.

Another gorgeous cover, and they look absolutely adorable, arrrghhh. (Sorry, the shipping just gets worse.) This one was a gamechanger, for better or worse, depending on what you think of some bold story choices. It was so tragic but so healing, and I’m happy to have read it.

7.

Better come soon!!! *does fangirl grabby hands*

Have you read this series? Which book is your favorite?


Enter the giveaway, booknerds! It ends soon.