The Bodyguard

What I read: The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Why I picked it up: It’s the new release by one of my favorite authors. I preordered it months ago, and I started reading as soon as I got the mail yesterday. Not often something I do, I’ve got three other new releases on my table That have sat for months without me cracking them open.

How I read it: On hardcover in less than a day. I stayed up way too late reading last night.

What it’s about: Hannah gets dumped the day after her mother’s funeral by just a terrible man. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to her. Then she’s assigned to be primary protection on one of the country’s biggest movie stars, and she’s got to pass as his girlfriend. Fake dating never leads to just being friends in a romance novel, so you can guess the outcome.

What I liked: I loved how playful Jack is with her. Just a guy who at the core is silly and kind and friendly. Sounds like someone I’d like to be friends with.

What I disliked: Robby is the worst kind of worst guy. He thinks he’s all that but he’s the worst.

Genre: Faking dating, closed door, romance.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes!! Run!!

Lesson in Chemistry

What I read: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Why I picked it up: It was in Anne Bogel’s Summer Reading Guide. She read and loved it, and then she described it well.

How I read it: On audio over a few days at 1.75x.

What it’s about: Elizabeth Zott has been underestimated, gaslighted, and told she wasn’t capable because she was a woman her entire life. This is her story as a chemist, mother, and finding her place in the world.

What I liked: Everything. This is my favorite book of the year so far!!

What I disliked: The discrimination against women in this book feels over the top, and yet, I think it’s true to history. And that drives me mad!!

Genre: Fiction, finding oneself.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes!! I might even buy it so I can reread it on the regular (would be a great gift for me!!)!

Part of Your World

What I read: Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez

Why I picked it up: This is fourth in a loosely connected series and a delight. A friend read it and loved it so I knew I needed to pick it up.

How I read it: On Kindle in less than 24 hours. I devoured it!

What it’s about: Alexis’ entire life has been planned for her. She’s a Montgomery and that means she will be the face of the hospital her whole family has been for the past 125 years. Until a raccoon runs her into a ditch and Daniel stops to rescue her. Their relationship isn’t supposed to be love, but it ends up that way. Now she has to decide if this decade younger man from a small town can ever become part of her world.

What I liked: I laughed out loud over and over. This was a delight. The small town sounds like a place I could really thrive in.

What I disliked: The emotional abuse depicted. It’s real and true to life, but I still hated that she had to go through it.

Genre: Closed door romance.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes. It’s the fourth in this series but I don’t think you need the other two to like this one.

Husband Auditions

Goodreads

What I read: Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong

Why I picked it up: An author I love and follow on Goodreads read it and loved it. And I trust her, so I picked it up!

How I read it: On audio a few days ago, I realized I didn’t actually finish it this morning though, so today became that day.

What it’s about: As the final single lady who’s attended the final wedding of her friend group, Meri has been given “the list.” It’s been a good luck token for everyone who has gotten married, never meant to be taken seriously, but to have fun, she and her brother’s roommate create a YouTube show called “Meri Me” where she tries to do all of the items on the list. Does it get her a husband? Sort of.

What I liked: Meri and Kai are a delightful duo. I really enjoyed their video making sessions.

What I disliked: The list is going to be given credit for their relationship, but it had nothing to do with it. It was just her spending time with him that did it – she already knew the guy!

Genre: Christian, chaste romance.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes – it’s a delight.

Beach House for Rent

What I read: Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe

Why I picked it up: It was on the “beachy reads” shelf at the library last time I was there and looked good. It’s the 4th in a series but I read it anyway before reading the other three, which I don’t think I’ll do.

How I read it: On paper in a couple of days.

What it’s about: It’s a story of anxiety, grief, finding oneself, falling in love, and letting go. It follows Cara and Heather, an unlikely pair. This is Heather’s first time away from home, and she’s not happy about it until she meets Bo. Cara’s story takes a turn when her husband goes out for a run and everything changes.

What I liked: I liked how the stories intertwined and the women became friends. They needed each other in order to grow.

What I disliked: The timeline was off in some points. It felt like a lot of time had passed but only a day had or no time had passed but three weeks had.

Genre: Women’s fiction, closed door romance, friendship, grief.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and definitely.

Recording My Life

I started a new journal today, and as I squeezed the previous one onto this shelf I couldn’t help but think about the many words contained in these pages. These are only since I moved to Charlotte. Advent and Lent devotionals on the top shelf and daily journals on the bottom shelf.

There were times I wrote every day then not again for more than a year, but in the past 3 or 4 years I’ve been writing two pages a day. The first a catalogue of the day including things my grateful for, scripture I’m reading, books I’m reading, physical fitness, and what I’ll do today. The second comes at the end of the day where I write about mundane things like “went to Lowes and bought more flowers today” or heartaches like “I’m feeling quite lonely this week.”

A few years ago a friend told me that she got her grandmother’s journals and she was slowly reading them to get to know her. I couldn’t help but think “Will someone want to read these in the future? Do I want them to? Is it anything worth reading?”

I go back sometimes and just read about what was going on. Thousands of pages contain similar themes: read a good book, loved hanging out with my godsons, feeling lonely as a single person, frustrated with work. Sometimes journaling is a form of prayer, sometimes it’s getting on paper what I’m trying to express with all the tears, sometimes it’s a list of the feelings I felt today. Hopes, dreams, regrets. It’s all there in those pages.

Written for me, primarily. I’m not writing my memoirs. I’m not sure it’s interesting enough to publish. It’ll be good for my cause for canonization – will throw it right out the window. It’s the story of a woman striving for holiness, failing, and getting back up again even though sometimes things feel hopeless.

Rivals

What I read: Rivals by Katharine McGee

Why I picked it up: I started this series a few years ago and am always ready for what comes next.

How I read it: On Kindle.

What it’s about: The series is set in an alternative America where we have a monarchy instead of a democracy. The third book is where Beatrice is Queen and has her first instance of ruling. Also Nina and Daphne team up to take a mutual enemy down, but nothing turns out like they planned.

What I liked: There’s a delightful twist at the end to prepare for the fourth book, which is sweet.

What I disliked: I don’t love Daphne’s final move to keep Jefferson. It’s going to be terrible for everyone.

Genre: Alternative reality, fiction.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes, but you really need to read the first two to understand.

Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

What I read: Can’t Make This Stuff Up! by Susannah B. Lewis

Why I picked it up: I read her fiction work and liked it so when this title came up suggested to me I downloaded it.

How I read it: On audio today while mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, and watering.

What it’s about: It’s a series of life lessons based on Scripture and her life. I imagine if you follow her online you’ll love this book. It’s a series of mini reflections and stories from the funny and mundane to the serious and profound. The Lord is in the midst of all of them.

What I liked: I love listening to people share about how the Lord was there for the ordinary times in their lives.

What I disliked: I thought this would be laugh out loud funny, but it wasn’t for me.

Genre: Spiritual memoir, nonfiction.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and only if you already know Susannah, I don’t think you’d like it otherwise. It’s like what I said to a friend about another book just yesterday “it’s fine, I don’t think you’ll regret reading it, but I think you’d like the other one better.”

Bless Her Heart, Rae Sutton

What I read: Bless Your Heart, Rae Sutton by Susannah B. Lewis

Why I picked it up: It was suggested to me by Hoopla that I’d like it, so I downloaded it.

How I read it: On audio over the course of a few days.

What it’s about: Rae moves home with her daughter into her mother’s house after her mother’s passing. She’s working through the grief of her divorce as well. The book is about her journey toward healing, and her mother’s ministry ladies are the biggest factor in her healing.

What I liked: It’s a book about a woman healing and finding herself without it being a romance story. She does date someone throughout the book, but that’s not how she heals! Love that storyline.

What I disliked: The story was good, but the narrator wasn’t that great.

Genre: Christian fiction, healing.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes, but I don’t think the audio was really that good. I’d say read it on paper.

Sisters by Choice

What I read: Sisters by Choice by Susan Mallery

Why I picked it up: I’ve been working my way through this short series, and this was the 4th (and maybe final).

How I read it: On hardback staying up way too late two nights in a row. Why do I think the final 50 pages will take me 10 minutes? They won’t!

What it’s about: Three cousins – Sophie, Kristine, and Amber – grew up together on BlackBerry Island. They each have radically different lives. Sophie started a multi-million dollar cat toy company. Kristine married her high school sweetheart and was a stay-at-home mom for her three boys. Amber got pregnant at 18 and decided her life was over. Heather, her daughter, plays a major role in the book as she works to break free from Amber’s toxicity. The book follows that story as well as Sophie moving her business back to the island after a fire at her place in CA and Kristine as she wants to open her dream bakery.

What I liked: I think Dugan, the love interest for Sophie, and Rose, Kristine’s mother-in-law, are the only redeeming characters in the book. Heather is also a great character who begins to see she can have a life away from Blackberry Island.

What I disliked: Sophie seems like she’s the one who’s got things together, but she’s quite unlikeable and immature most of the book, especially with Dugan. Amber is the second “woman who got pregnant super young who’s awful and made nothing of her life, takes zero responsibility, and is just the worst” character in this series. That we could portray a young single mother as successful on Blackberry Island is kind of annoying. This unlike-ability of these characters is knocking down stars for me. This was not the satisfying end to this series I was looking for. None of the other characters from the three books even make an appearance.

Genre: Women’s fiction, closed door romance.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️ and no.