Reading Challenges: Yea or Nay?

pexels-photo-64775.jpegEvery January, I set a reading goal for the coming year. There are lots of ways to challenge yourself to read more, and just as many ways to track your progress. I like to use the Goodreads Reading Challenge – it keeps records of when I read a book, my reviews and ratings, how many books I’ve read thus far that year. The only thing I don’t like about the GRC is that it’s a tad difficult to include re-reads of books.

With so many possible parameters for setting a yearly reading goal, everyone seems to do it a little differently. What about you? Do you set a reading goal for yourself?

Do you simply say, like me, “I want to read x number of books this year”? Do you count re-reads in your progress or only new-to-you reads? How about categories? Some bookworms follow a list like this one from Bethany House. They pick books with a certain setting, or a particular kind of narrator, or that belong to a specific genre….

The possibilities are endless, so why not participate in a reading challenge this year? Go on, get reading! 🙂

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Mini-Review: Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter

34460561I have to admit, I don’t feel like gushing with admiration over Blue Ridge Sunrise. The family orchard was interesting, and the family reunion bit was charming (though overused these days). But I saw the ex-boyfriend angle coming a mile away, and I just couldn’t get invested in the characters or the storyline. It felt like I’d read this story before, and like I’d already read Hunter’s version of this story before, too. (Falling Like Snowflakes, anyone?) Maybe the next Denise Hunter book will measure up to Seaside Letters, but not this one.

My rating: 3/5 stars

Recommended for: fans of Denise Hunter, Kathryn Cushman, Irene Hannon’s inspy fiction, and other similar authors

Note: I received a copy of this novel via NetGalley.

Recommended Read: Out of the Ordinary

34020175Happy holidays, everyone! It’s been a busy season here, and I’ve got some books piled up to review and some holiday reading recommendations for you. First up is Jen Turano’s Out of the Ordinary.

When shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair’s mother catches Gertrude Cadwalader, paid companion to the light-fingered Mrs. Davenport, returning a pilfered item, she comes to the wrong conclusion. However, Harrison is eager to mend fences once he realizes the error. After a real thief starts preying on society, can Gertrude and Harrison catch the culprit? 

This story is a delight! As always, Turano’s writing is full of humor and historical detail, and the romance between these two unusual members of society is both funny and swoon-worthy. I loved when Harrison matter-of-factly begins calling Gertrude “Gertie.” Her compassion toward quirky Mrs. Davenport and her willingness to be turned orange or wear a birdcage-bustle (read the book) is captivating. I laughed out loud when Harrison picks up Gertrude and runs from his annoyed little sister. Out of the Ordinary is full of endearing moments, mystery, and unconventionality, and it’s utterly charming.

I highly recommend this one if you need a light-hearted read during the stress of the holidays!

My rating: 5/5 stars

Recommended for: fans of Jen Turano; historical fiction readers; anyone in need of a humorous read to de-stress; those who enjoy inspirational fiction

Note: I received a copy of this novel via the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Mini-Review: In This Moment by Karen Kingsbury

Announcing a new blog feature! From time to time, I’ll be posting mini-reviews. A mini-review indicates a title that I didn’t love. Maybe I loathed it, maybe I liked it; but I didn’t enjoy it enough to spend as much time as I usually do writing a review.

Now, on to a mini-review:

Karen Kingsbury’s In This Moment

34467023I love checking back in with the Baxters, y’all. In every story, they’re the same devoted Midwestern family facing challenges hand-in-hand. This time, the challenge is Luke’s religious freedom court case supporting an equally devoted high school principal. Seeing how Luke has grown and matured into his own man since his original story just reinforces why he’s always been one of my favorite Baxters.

However, this isn’t one of my favorite Baxter books. I really enjoyed the original novels about the siblings, but these last couple Baxter Family titles haven’t been as addictive of reads as the first few Baxter series were.

Thus, my rating for In This Moment is based on the quality of the writing, my opinion of the book, and probably some nostalgia.

My rating: 3.9/5 stars

Recommended for: fans of Karen Kingsbury, Denise Hunter, and similar authors

Note: I received a copy of this novel via NetGalley.

Happy Thanksgiving!

44755-snoopy-and-charlie-brown-thanksgiving

Well, it’s that time of year again, y’all. Time for turkey, gravy, pumpkin pie, and family. As the holidays begin, whatever your plans, I hope you take a little time to just breathe and enjoy the season. Watch a Charlie Brown special. Wander through a tree farm to pick out the perfect Douglas fir. Nap through a football game. And read a book or two, of course!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Review: Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon

34020275When Trish Bailey’s mother suddenly dies and their charitable foundation’s accountant, Matt, starts acting like a different person, she doesn’t know what to do. When the St. Louis PD rules her mother’s death suspicious, Trish finds herself in the center of an investigation led by Detective Colin Flynn. And when danger comes knocking, she finds an ally – and romance – with the dedicated detective.

Well! First, Colin. He’s Continue reading