The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R. Shrum book review

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Synopsis (as taken from GoodReads)

Seventeen-year-old Carter Lane has wanted to be a chef since she was old enough to ignore her mom’s warnings to stay away from the hot stove. And now she has the chance of a lifetime: a prestigious scholarship competition in Savannah, where students compete all summer in Chopped style challenges for a full-ride to one of the best culinary schools in the country. The only impossible challenge ingredient in her basket: Reid Yamada.

After Reid, her cute but unbearably cocky opponent, goes out of his way to screw her over on day one, Carter vows revenge, and soon they’re involved in a full-fledged culinary war. Just as the tension between them reaches its boiling point, Carter and Reid are forced to work together if they want to win, and Carter begins to wonder if Reid’s constant presence in her brain is about more than rivalry. And if maybe her desire to smack his mouth doesn’t necessarily cancel out her desire to kiss it.

Review

This cute, sweet, summer read is perfect! I picked this up because of the cover originally but when I read the description I was even more intrigued. This is my first book by Brianna so I wasn’t sure what to expect since I haven’t heard of her before. Boy, am I glad I read this book!

This book is lighthearted and follows two people as they compete for a scholarship to one of the most prestigious culinary schools there is. This book was filled with lots of laughs and such yummy descriptions of food as Reid and Carter compete in chopped style challenges.

The characters were written and both diverse in character. I don’t feel that they grew much in the novel but it worked for their characters. This was a good mix of character driven/ plot driven story line. I’m not sure sure if i love or hated Lane. Maybe a mix of both but in a good way. Tensions rise as each tries to outcook the other, sabotages go crazy and throw in love and you got the perfect YA.

4/5 stars from me

*I received an e-ARC from Edelweiss  in exchange for an honest review*

Shelved: Contemporary, YA
Paperback, 256 pages
Expected publication: June 5th 2018 by Sky Pony Press
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The King’s Witch (Frances Gorges Trilogy #1) by Tracy Borman

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Synopsis (as taken from GoodReads)

In March of 1603, as she helps to nurse the dying Queen Elizabeth of England, Frances Gorges dreams of her parents’ country estate, where she has learned to use flowers and herbs to become a much-loved healer. She is happy to stay at home when King James of Scotland succeeds to the throne. His court may be shockingly decadent, but his intolerant Puritanism sees witchcraft in many of the old customs—punishable by death.

But when her ambitious uncle forcibly brings Frances to the royal palace, she is a ready target for the twisted scheming of the Privy Seal, Lord Cecil. As a dark campaign to destroy both King and Parliament gathers pace, culminating in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, Frances is surrounded by danger, finding happiness only with the King’s precocious young daughter, and with Tom Wintour, the one courtier she feels she can trust. But is he all that he seems?

Review

This was the perfect blend of history in a fictional novel! I am still blown away at the accuracy of the setting and time period.I can tell that the author truly did her research. You get to see one lesser know person in history make his way into this novel, Tom Wintour. I was pleased to see characters in this book that not many people know in history as it may not have been taught in school.
This book had one of the most intriguing story-lines. It surrounds events in 1603, when witchcraft persecution was at an all time high. Robert Cecil and King James have both drafted/declared a war against witches and the use of witchcraft. In this era of time practicing herbalism was considered to be witchcraft. This point of time there was a major push and pull with the power of the church and how it should be first.
Some of the other major points of history in this book covers the Gunpowder plot. Which if you don’t know is when a group of men were tired of King James I, and his rule, set up large amounts of wood and gunpowder underneath a room in which a meeting was intended to be held, wanting to set fire to it and kill him. Then they wanted use his young daughter (who would be queen at that point) as their puppet, so their views and beliefs could be set into motion.
This thrilling novel keeps you hooked from page one all the way to the last word. While this is my first novel by Tracy Borman it won’t be my last!
***I received and e-arc of this book from NetGalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review***
Shelved: Historical Fiction, European Literature, British
Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Expected publication: July 3rd 2018 by Atlantic Monthly Press

 

To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin book review

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Synopsis (as taken from GoodReads)

Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her sister goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.

Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future, Savvy has enough to worry about. And then she meets George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own. As Savvy and George grow closer, they help each other discover how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now before it disappears.

Review

What an empowering read! I truly loved this book! This book follows Savannah, a very strong female. In this book Savannah battle many people inner demons but still sticks fierce in her own beliefs. Savannah is okay with her size and even with her helicoptering mother pushing diets on her she stays who she is, firm in her own beliefs.

I loved the romance side to this as it was so cute and awkward. Like any teenage romance love is awkward. Its not cut and dry its full of ups and downs as people figure themselves out and what they want.

This YA was perfect for how it dealt with all the issues that come with being a teenager. It was sweet, funny, and a bit sad at times (but in a good way). The overall plot kept me intrigued and hanging on to every word. The writing style was smart and charismatic. I suggest this as the summer book you never knew you needed.

5/5 stars.

***I received and e-arc of this book from NetGalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review***
Shelved: Contemporary, YA, Fiction
Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: August 21st 2018 by Swoon Reads

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West book review

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Synopsis (as taken from GoodReads)

In the aftermath of her husband’s act of adultery and abandonment, Savannah must finally face the ghosts that haunt her and discover for herself whether authentic faith, grace, and ultimate healing really do exist.

When her husband of twenty-one years leaves her, Savannah Barrington believes she’s lost almost everything she’s ever loved. With her daughter in college and her son in boarding school, Savannah retreats to her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, where hope and healing come in the form of an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, a touch of magic, and a handsome man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove she’s still worth loving.

But when her husband asks to reconcile, Savannah is faced with the hardest challenge of all: Forgiving the unforgivable. Somehow she must find freedom from the chains of their past and move forward, or face an unknown future without him.

Review

What starts out as an utterly heartbreaking read shows us there is hope at the end. This book focuses on some dark things: Mental illness, Divorce etc. it’s shown that in the darkest of times we can find light if we don;t give up. We can find it in the most unexpected of places.

This story is very much character driven. We see these people grow not only as Christians but as a person as well. The writing in this book blew me away. Such dark themes were handled well and not glamorized nor made to be something its not.

This book is absolutely beautiful and had me shedding tears throughout it. Don’t get me wrong its a great book but i ugly cried reading it. Catherine has been added to my authors to watch for list as this book is quickly climbing its way to my favorites of 2018.

Overall I say this book would be great in a book club. I think the themes in this book can be good lesson points and topics to discuss as they are not discussed enough. Much less as Christians how we handle them. Great study material and thought provoking read!

5/5 Stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Shelved: Contemporary, Christian, Fiction
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 22nd 2018 by Thomas Nelson

The Marriage Challenge: A Finance Guide for Married Couples by Art Rainer book review

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Synopsis (as taken from GoodReads)

God has a plan for your marriage and your money. It starts with a challenge. Will you accept?

For many couples, the collision of marriage and money is the beginning of relational havoc. But does it have to be this way?

What if the collision of marriage and money no longer tore couples apart but brought them together? What if money was no longer a topic to argue about but a topic around which couples rallied? What if the collision of marriage and money actually helped couples find contentment and purpose?

In The Marriage Challenge: A Finance Guide for Married Couples, financial expert and author of The Money Challenge Art Rainer takes you on a journey to a financially healthy marriage. Get started on the right foot, or get back on the right track, by accepting the challenge and realizing God’s design for money and marriage.

Review

What an intuitive book! I really wish I had gotten my hand son this earlier in my marriage! I really feel like it could have helped quicker. I enjoy how this book was broken down into smaller lessons and shows us how to take things step by step.

In marriage most arguments stem form money. Whether the argument itself is about money or because we are stressed over money, it is the root most of the time. This book breaks down how to become better financial and manage things as partners. As it should be. in marriage when you say I Do you become one, not separate.

One key factor i noticed is that this book still encourages us to give to God not just him but in life as well. We become selfish as humans and forget that at the end of the day, God asks us to give to him and others. What I think I’ve noticed is that in life we may say we are struggling but we don;t take into account of how there are others that do and always will have it worse than what we do.

The end of chapter challenges were great. it was refreshing to get new ideas and ways you and your partner can work together to change your finances. it’s not asking each person to do it solo but rather this book is for couples. The books entirety was well laid out.

This was a wonderful, thought provoking read that challenges not just ourselves but humans as a couple as well. Definitely would think this could benefit for bible studies and churches for groups. Would love to see this book around more!

5/5 Stars

***I received an e-copy of this book from NetGalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review***

Shelved: Finance, Christian, Marriage
Paperback, 192 pages
Expected publication: June 1st 2018 by B Books

Honeysuckle Dreams (Blue Ridge Romance #2) by Denise Hunter book review

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Synopsis

After Brady Collins’ ex-wife dies, he receives devastating news—his nine-month-old son Sam isn’t his son at all. And Sam’s wealthy maternal grandparents want custody of the child. Brady knows he’s in for the fight of his life. But regardless of what any blood test says, Sam is his son, and Brady will go to any lengths to keep him.

Brady’s attorney tips him off that one major life change would virtually assure him of winning guardianship of baby Sam at the final hearing: an impending marriage. And his friend Hope is willing to step in as the loving and devoted fiance.

Local radio celebrity Hope Daniels has been driven by a solitary goal her entire life, and after a happy accident she’s finally offered her dream job. But if the truth comes out about her arrangement with Brady, she may miss the chance of a lifetime and stand in the way of a dear friend’s dreams.

As Brady and Hope make sacrifices to help each other in their times of need, they risk uncovering a truth neither of them expects to find.

Review

So, i found a new favorite author! I’ve not read anything by Denise before, but I vastly enjoyed her writing. While this is book two in a series, it can be read as a standalone. From what I understand these are characters mentioned in book one but book two is their story.

Overall, Denise weaves a beautiful tale with vivid writing. This story shows us how people can stand up for whats right even when its not easy. That sometimes we need to give it to the Lord and pray for our answers. When things in life are handed to us but comes at a price what do we choose?

The characters in this novel really drove the story along! You see how both Brady and Hope really have a deep friendship and want to help one another. however you see Hope question if its what is best to do in order to get what she wants. This book gives us a lot of food for thought and comes with great lessons.

5/5 stars.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Shelved: Christian, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Thomas Nelson

All We Ever Wanted by: Emily Griffin book review

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Synopsis (as taken from GoodReads)

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenage girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

Review

First off, I love Emily Griffin since I read her Something Borrowed series. (yes, that movie but please remember the book is always better) Emily Griffin lives up to her reputation of being an amazing writer with this new novel.

In All We Wanted, Emily brings us a new novel that focuses on family and how outward appearances are different than what we see behind closed doors. We get a look at how family is the center of all things and how it can drive each person differently. We get a good inward look at the fact that sometimes teenagers really don’t want to disappoint their families and how they can keep secrets to themselves and keep it all bottled up so to speak.

We see marriage and how it can change us through the years, i.e. financial struggles vs not and how when bad things happen in a family such as a crisis it effects each person differently.

This story shows us how in the real world things do shape and change us. That sometimes even though we don’t want to admit it, race, class, and privilege does tend to play a part in peoples lives. It is ugly and wrong but true.

This book gets told in alternating points of view. it really helps us see inside the heads of each person and their differences and what drives them. The writing was fantastic and had me hooked from page one! Now, i’m just an even bigger fan of Emily Griffin!!

5/5 stars

***I received an e-arc of this book from NetGalley via the publisher in exchange for my honest review***
Shelved: W omens Fiction, Romance, Family
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Expected publication: June 26th 2018 by Ballantine Books

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