Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Angsty Romances

I’m linking to Top 5 Wednesday (#T5W) on Goodreads to share five of my favorite angsty romances. So that we’re all on the same page here, let’s define the term:

adj.: describes a situation or literary piece which contains dark, depressing, angry, and/or brooding emotions from the participating characters.

Angsty Romances

  1. My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade I’m really trying to figure out how to fit a re-read of this book into my schedule. As a grieving widow, Matt Jarreau is the depressed, broody hero who needs the determined Kate Donovan to draw him out.
  2. The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan by Erin McCole Cupp Have you noticed how often I mention this series? It’s because it’s that good. My intention is to wear you down until you just buy it already. And I’m pretty sure you can’t find a more brooding hero than Mr. Thorne. (This is, after all, based on Jane Eyre.)
  3. This Dread Road by Olivia Folmar Ard The mood of this book isn’t dark, but it doesn’t sugarcoat the anger, grief, and bitterness that have a way or weaving themselves into life and relationships, even marriage.
  4. Blue Columbine by Jennifer Rodewald The author did a masterful job with an alcoholic hero, Andrew Harris. The result is an intense, moving – angsty – romance that ultimately is filled with hope.
  5. Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter Riley Callahan is returning home from active duty in Afghanistan as an amputee. He endures the assistance of Paige, his best friend, who has relegated him to the friend zone. A recipe for some angsty, heart-tugging romance.

What are your favorite angsty romances?


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An Open Book

An Open Book CatholicMom

Welcome to the March 2017 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND CatholicMom.com!

I know all the months roll by quickly, but really, February’s short. Add to that the fact that this bizarro “winter” has delivered only about four inches of sticking snow to our Pennsylvania home (here and gone), and I’m really not sure what month it is. The trusty calendar, however, says March 1, so it’s time to break open our books and see where we’re at!

The Complete Beer CourseIt’s been a few months since my husband has read a beer book, right? I can post another, can’t I? He’s currently working his way through The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes by Joshua M. Bernstein. This book has sent him scurrying to bottle shops in three counties seeking the beers needed for the course. Completion of the course will, I assume, elevate him to heretofore unknown levels of beer snobbery knowledge. Because there is a list of beers to procure, one thing that my husband said would be a helpful companion to the book is a checklist of some sort available in an app or a .pdf file. Lugging an oversize hardcover book to the bar would certainly be cumbersome. (If I were the author, this is an extra I’d offer as an incentive for signing up for my newsletter.) This would make an excellent gift for the beer lover in your life.

Still Life

I zipped through the second book in the Chesapeake Valor Series, Still Life by Dani Pettrey. There’s A LOT going on in this book – multiple crimes, several romances, and series-long arcs. The author handles it well, in my opinion, making this book stronger and better than the first book in the series, Cold Shot. I also enjoy that this series takes place relatively close to my home. While the first book included scenes from one of my favorite haunts, Gettysburg National Military Park, this one centers in and around Baltimore. I’m looking forward to more in the series.

An Unexpected RoleAn Unexpected Role by Leslea Wahl is a much simpler story than Still Life, but like her first novel, The Perfect Blindside, an ideal book for teens. It only took me several pages to adapt to the first person, present tense point of view, which works well for the main character, Josie. Sixteen-year-old Josie makes a summer escape to the beach, fleeing the petty meanness of the high school scene. Hoping to rediscover herself and enjoy a summer romance in the process, she’s disappointed to find Ryan, a boy from her school, on the same South Carolina island. Not everything or everyone is as they seem, however, and with a little mystery culminating in peril for both Ryan and Josie, she realizes what’s important, who she really is, and the value of authentic relationships. Recommended especially for musical theater buffs.

Game OnMy eighth grader just finished up last month’s read (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) and is ready to pick out something new. In the meantime, he’s been reading Game On!: All the Best Games: Awesome Facts and Coolest Secrets. (What’s with the two colon titles this month?) Not exactly a literary classic, but he enjoys these types of books. He appreciates the gaming tips and the ease of picking the book up when he has a few minutes to read here and there.

Key to the TreasureMy daughter checked out Key to the Treasure by Peggy Parish from her school library. Apparently, the school’s collection is from another era, with cringe-worthy covers that even my nine-year-old is embarrassed to be seen with. (I may have ruined her – or given her a discerning eye –  by sharing some truly awful book covers with her.) Thankfully, the content between the covers is good. I hadn’t realized that the Amelia Bedelia author wrote chapter books as well.

We let our kids pick out one book each at the Scholastic Book Fair during Catholic Schools Week. There is, however, a price limit on their purchases, so I helped my little girl find The Great Shelby HolmesThe Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg, which seemed to suit both her interests and our price cap. The title character is a play on Sherlock Holmes. She started it right away, declared it good, then promptly misplaced it for weeks. Sort of. She re-discovered it right where she left it, so, I don’t know. Kids.

No David Both books I’ve been reading to my little kids are short on words and big on illustrations. When I had my first child, I’ll admit that I didn’t really get these types of books. It’s not that I didn’t see the appeal of the illustrations. It’s just that books, in my mind, required words. Lots of words. Rhyming words are especially nice in kids’ books. It took a while for me to warm up to the idea of playing with the inflections in the few words I was given as a narrator and lingering over illustrations, studying them, finding interesting aspects, and asking questions. (I also discovered these are great books to “read” when you can barely hold your head up or your eyes open, for whatever reason. It’s a lot easier to get through one of these at two o’clock in the morning with a child who is sick or cannot sleep than a chapter book. Trust me on this one.) George ShrinksWe are currently savoring No, David! by David Shannon, a Caldecott Honor book. I’d heard of this book many times, so when my son snatched it from the take-home table after story time at the library, I was pleased. The other book we’ve been re-reading is George Shrinks by William Joyce, first published in 1985. (Apparently it became a Canadian/Chinese animated series in the early 2000s. Missed that.) To my mind, 1985 isn’t long ago, yet I enjoy noticing the out-of-date details in the illustrations, such as corded phones and two-prong electrical outlets. Ah, the good old days.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Books to Get You Out of A Slump

In this season between Christmas and the arrival of Spring, it’s easy to fall into slumps of all sorts. I’m linking to Top 5 Wednesday (#T5W) on Goodreads to share five books to get you out of a slump. My intention was to do a short video, but it’s been a long day. It’s late. And I’m just not up for the demands of video. So, a blog post it is. All of these books are highly recommended whether you’re slumping or not.

Out of Slump Collage Continue reading

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An Open Book

An Open Book CatholicMom

Welcome to the February 2017 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND CatholicMom.com!

Somehow it’s February already, and we haven’t had much winter weather in south-central Pennsylvania. My kids are getting antsy for a good snowfall, yet it’s been warm enough to fool our peonies into peeking above the ground. Snow or not, it’s a good season to sit down and savor a good book!

Over 40I recently woke to the audiobook version of Over 40 and You’re Hired by Robin Ryan. My husband checked it out of the library and streamed it from his phone while he was getting ready for work. He’s previously read some or all of the paperback version (when he was a little closer to forty). After a few minutes, I thought that being that I’m on the other side of forty as well, once I returned from dropping the kids at preschool, I should promptly dig my own grave with my withered hands and crawl in. Apparently many of us old folks lack savvy and enthusiasm (read: we don’t give a rat’s patooty anymore), and it keeps us from getting hired. Kidding aside, there are some solid tips here. My husband isn’t job searching, but sales is an uncertain industry, and he likes to keep his resume and skills relevant. So, kudos to him for still caring, what with one foot in the grave and all. If you’re over the hill forty and in the job market, you may want to give this one a look or listen.

the rose and the swordI have a bunch of books competing for my attention atop the to-be-read pile. In addition to some review copies, I’m trying to work through the books on my NetGalley shelf as well as complete requirements for my public library’s winter reading program. First up is The Rose and the Sword by Gina Marinello-Sweeney. Here are a couple of lines from an Amazon review: “The Rose And The Sword exemplifies the Catholic life journey of Rebecca Veritas, written in a uniquely touching, humorous and compelling style. The protagonist’s strong character is portrayed in her ability to persevere, when emotionally and physically challenged, through her belief in prayer and devotion to her Catholic faith.” sweetest rainNext, in an effort to whittle down the NetGalley books, I’ll be reading The Sweetest Rain by Myra Johnson, the third of three Franciscan Media romances I’ll have read this year. I’ve read several positive reviews of The Sweetest Rain by trusted reviewer friends, so I’m confident I’ll enjoy this story set in 1930s Arkansas.

Sherlock HolmesMy son has been busy with Boy Scouts, midterms, and his National History Day project, so I’ve not seen him reading much lately. He’s read more than twenty of the thirty books he’s required to read this school year, but at this point he’s choosing books from categories he’s less than enthusiastic about, such as poetry. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is his mystery selection.  (True confession: I’ve never read Sherlock Holmes.)

HeidiMy daughter turned nine several days ago, and she received four books as gifts. I snagged a discounted copy of one of my childhood favorites, Heidi by Joanna Spyri, at the local Scholastic Books warehouse before Christmas. (The cover pictured is from the version I bought, but the link is to the public domain (FREE!) Kindle version.) I remember re-reading a well-worn paperback of this book, and I’m anxious to read aloud the lovely illustrated version that we got her. Mystery at MidnightShe also received the next three books in the Chime Travelers series by Lisa Hendey: The Whisper in the Ruins, The Mystery at Midnight, and The Strangers at the Manger. She loved the first two books in the series, which is a sort of Magic Tree House meets Lives of the Saints, and I’m sure she’ll zip through these as well.

Night-Light for BunnyOne of our favorite bedtime stories was lost but has been found! Languishing in a box of books, I rediscovered A Night-Light for Bunny by Geoffrey Hayes. My husband picked up the discounted hardcover somewhere in his travels when our oldest was very little. It’s become a family favorite with its warm, cozy illustrations of the bunnies, their home, and their neighborhood. In searching Amazon, I discovered that there was a glow-in-the-dark version of the book, which makes sense based on the warm glow of various lights (street lights, moonlight, lightning bugs, etc.) pictured. I can’t find our particular edition (pictured here) available on Amazon. Saint ValentineIn an effort to explain a little bit of the history of Valentine’s Day to the little kids, I checked out Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda from our library. I’ve read this to the older kids. It’s not particularly Catholic, but apparently there is a dearth of children’s books about Saint Valentine. (Attention, Catholic children’s authors!)

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Relevant Fiction Reviews: Best YA Books of 2016

Relevant Fiction Reviews

As 2016 comes to a close, I’ve collected reviews of the best Young Adult (YA) fiction I’ve read over the past year. Some of these titles are Christian fiction, some secular, but all are “clean” and appropriate for teens. (And for the enjoyment of old fogeys like me too.)

I did not include The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer here only because that series isn’t in need of more visibility. It’s an excellent series that fans of Star Wars or classic fairy tales will particularly enjoy. Fast-paced and tightly-written, there’s enough adventure, humor, scifi, and romance to please almost any reader.

At the end of this post, you’ll find some other YA favorites of 2016, including other books written by the authors featured below. (I stuck with one book featured per author.)

If you’re looking for more great books for teens, sign up for the B4CT (Books for Catholic Teens) newsletter! Continue reading

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An Open Book

 

An Open Book CatholicMom

Welcome to the December 2016 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND CatholicMom.com!


Now that December has arrived, the days are shorter and, at least it seems, busier! Despite the Christmas preparations, I love spending some extra minutes reading this time of year. Not much better than a good book, a warm blanket, and a hot cup of herbal tea. I’ll spare you my envy of a roaring fireplace and simply be grateful for a warm house on a cold night.

Love-Powered ParentingMy husband’s between books, so I had to consult his to-be-read pile, and find out what he’d be reading next. Not sure if he’s trying to score brownie points, but he said he wants to read my book, Ornamental Graces, next. ‘Tis the season for Christmas romance and all. He’s also eager to read a book he bought from the rack in the narthex of our church: Love-Powered Parenting by Tom and Chaundel Holladay. It centers around six parenting principles: priorities, love, words, discipline and compassion, serving, and unselfishness. I don’t know precisely why my husband picked this up, but what family couldn’t use more love and unselfishness? Especially with us old, tired parents at the helm.

12 Days of SnowmenSandwiched between books three and four of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (Cress and Winter), I snuck in two short Christmas reads. The first is 12 Days of Snowman by Sarah Monzon. I’ve yet to read her novels, which are in my to-be-read pile, but this short was enough to solidify their place there. Like one of those puffy, red- and white-striped Christmas peppermints, this story is short and sweet. It’ll dissolve quickly because at this length there’s not a whole lot of substance, but sometimes that’s what this busy Advent season requires. One Enchanted EveI followed that with Melissa Tagg’s One Enchanted Eve, which is the second in a series of Christmas romance novellas. I enjoyed One Enchanted Christmas last year, and this year’s installment didn’t disappoint. Hero Colin Renwycke is a simply a fun character, and I enjoyed revisiting his family’s Iowa farm and following his story as he grows into the man he wants to be, falling in love with uptight culinary instructor/recipe stickler Rylan. I’m already looking forward to the third book in this series, which I expect will be available this time next year.

A Christmas CarolMy eighth grader’s class is reading Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol together. How sad is it that I’ve never read that? Even though my husband bought me a lovely hardbound collection of Charles Dickens’ Stories for Christmas to read aloud to the children years ago. Maybe I need to pull that book off of the shelf. My son’s also reading a DK biography of Thomas Edison by Jan Adkins.I also just picked up  Michael Vey 6: Fall of Hades by Richard Paul Evans from our local library, and I’m sure he’s going to tear through that in no time.Thomas Edison bio

Little House in the Big WoodsI’m so happy to be digging out our Laura Ingalls Wilder books from the attic. My eight-year-old started reading Little House in the Big Woods after Thanksgiving. Best conversation starter in that book: how pig bladders apparently make good balloon-like toys! My daughter seems fixated on the fact that baby Carrie doesn’t have a larger part in the story and would Ma just do something with that little girl. At least her preoccupation doesn’t seem to be diminishing her enjoyment.

Skippyjon Jones Snow WhatI’m having a hard time pulling the littlest ones away from the Skippyjon Jones books. After we met the author, Judy Schachner, at our library last month, we’ve been reading Snow What nonstop. I don’t mind. It’s a fun read aloud, and the author event was quite nice. With the advent of Advent, I was able to persuade them to read The Elf on the ShelfThe Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda A. Bell a few nights to help them remember the “rules” to our elf game. (By the way, the Q&A on this product is hilarious.)

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Top 10 Tuesday: Reasons You Should Read Intermission NOW

Serena Chase’s contemporary Young Adult inspirational romance novel Intermission releases today on Kindle. This book quickly became one of my favorite novels of the year!

Sixteen-year-old Faith Prescott eagerly awaits the day she will exchange her small Iowa hometown for the bright lights of Broadway, but her success-driven parents want her to pursue a more practical career, labeling “artsy” people—including their daughter—as foolish dreamers worthy of little more than disdain.
When Faith meets nineteen-year-old Noah Spencer she discovers someone who understands her musical theatre dreams . . . because he shares them.

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