April 30, 2016

read with us: a book we've been meaning to read

Time for our April reading challenge check in! And for the first time, we all quite enjoyed our books!

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson
Susan says: Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, by Melanie Dobson, was the book I chose to read this month. Becky gave it to me right after she read it last year, but I just hadn't picked it up yet. The story line moves through four generations of a family, jumping from one era to another and back again. It was not difficult to follow, and I loved how the author unveiled the plot slowly through the the words and actions of characters that I really cared about.

The book begins as a young woman accepts the proposal of marriage from a man who has long loved her but whom she has earlier rejected. She is pregnant with another man's child at the time of their marriage, but hides that fact from her new husband until the truth is discovered. Their marriage, based on a lie, is the shaky foundation for the generations to follow.

The book powerfully shows how lies and deceit impact their family. Some of the same behaviors repeat, and a tragedy occurs. But I LOVE how God is shown to redeem even the awful events to bring beauty from ashes!

I wholeheartedly recommend this book and will look forward to reading more of Melanie Dobson's writing. 4.5 stars.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Becky says: I read The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. Prior to this, the only Montgomery books I had read were the Anne of Green Gables series. When I learned about The Blue Castle last year, I immediately bought it (it was only 99 cents on Kindle), and every time I saw it on my Kindle I thought, "I should read it," but I never got around to it.

The Blue Castle is the story of Valancy Stirling, a woman who lives with her mother and a cousin. She has a very large extended family, and led by her uncle Benjamin, and the Stirlings are prone to grudges and snobbery--their Anne counterparts would be the Pringles. Actually, Valancy reminds me of Pauline Harris from Anne of Avonlea (the movie), who was based upon Pauline Gibson from Anne of Windy Poplars. Like Pauline, Valancy was a lesser member of a judgmental family, she was single to the point of being an old maid, and she cared for a very demanding mother.

Anne connections aside, The Blue Castle is a very intriguing novel. Valancy's story really begins after she visits a doctor on her 29th birthday (unbeknownst to anyone in her family) due to some disturbing health problems. The doctor is called away on an emergency immediately following her examination, but he writes her a letter telling her she has a fatal heart problem and will die within the year. At this point, Valancy decides she's had enough of being "Doss" (her family's condescending nickname for her) and wants to truly live. She takes a job caring for an ill school friend and gets to know Barney Snaith, the local recluse and subject of many rumors. As time goes on, romance blossoms ... sort of.

This really is an unusual romance, as it's more about Valancy finding herself than about her finding true love, and the interactions between Valancy and Barney are seldom romantic. I definitely wasn't dying for Valancy and Barney to declare their love, but I was very interested in where the story would take them. While there are a couple twists that I saw coming a mile away, one took me completely by surprise--and made me laugh out loud!

While I wouldn't say The Blue Castle is on the level of the Anne books, I am glad that I read it--and I would really enjoy seeing it made into a film. 4 stars.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Val says: For this month’s category, I read the book Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I kept hearing/seeing on social media that a lot of people read this book in mid-to-late 2015, and I’d been meaning to read since then.

The book centers on the disappearance of Lydia Lee, a half-white, half-Chinese teenager in small-town Ohio in 1977.  The reader knows from page 1 that Lydia is dead. It’s literally in the first sentence of the book.  What the reader doesn’t know is what happened to her – was she murdered? Did she commit suicide? And what led to the circumstances surrounding her disappearance? But in order to get those answers, Ng uses flashbacks to take the reader through a fascinating history of the Lee family. It’s a heartbreaking look at why each member of the family felt so acutely “other” – in both the community at large, in which Asian Americans were still a rarity, and within the immediate family circle.

Ng does a wonderful job of developing each of her characters so well that I found my heart aching for each of them while simultaneously disagreeing with the choices that they made.

For me, the most beneficial aspect of this book (aside from being a completely compelling read) was that it allowed me to glimpse what life was like as a person in the racial minority. As a white, middle-class woman, it’s so valuable and necessary for me to read books that help me see what minorities deal with in terms of prejudice, injustice, and the daily challenges faced.

I would strongly recommend this book to certain readers. There is some objectionable content (some sexual), and some mature themes that I wouldn’t want a young teen tackling. But overall, I would give it 4.5 (out of 5) stars.

Everyday Grace by Jessica Thompson
Steph says: Everyday Grace by Jessica Thompson is a book that I purchased a few months ago and had been meaning to read. I officially found my new favorite way to read nonfiction books: over my lunch hour while eating Chik-fil-a. Why, you ask? I have three solid reasons for you: 1) they have booths and I love to sit in a booth 2) their chicken sandwiches are delicious and 3) they have fresh flowers on the table ALWAYS. I like reading by pretty things….or with coffee…but my lunch break is when I could find time to read this month.

Everyday Grace is about infusing all of your relationships with the love of Jesus. The main point of the book is that the more you understand the Love and Grace of God, the more you can extend love and grace to those around you.  Jessica Thompson is very clear that there is no one-size-fits-all for relationships because every person has their own issues, struggles, and history. What works in one relationship won’t necessarily carry over to another.  But what is universal for all relationships is that everyone is broken and everyone will fail. We have to reset our expectations because no one is perfect. The only person who will never let you down is Jesus. When we remember our own brokenness and the grace that God shows us despite our failings, we can show grace to others when they fail and grace to ourselves when we fail. The more you understand love the more you can show love. This book echoed something that I have been working through on my own—if you learn to love well, other things will fall in place. But learning to love well means understanding how you are loved by your Abba Father.  I was so excited to see Jessica quote my favorite sections of verses for this season in my life.
Ephesians 3:14-21 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Thompson makes the comment after this verse that “Paul doesn’t pray that the Ephesians would get their act together; he prays that they would somehow be able to comprehend the incomprehensible love of God in Christ.”  While there are so many other nuggets of truth in this book, this one resounded the most with me because it has been occupying my thoughts for some time now. The more I have understood the height, depth, length, and width of my Abba’s love the more grace and love I can extend.

I really enjoyed this book and have been talking about it with a few of the kids that I work with at youth group. I would recommend it for any woman that wants to look at what they can do on their end to improve relationships. Guys could read it to, but it’s written to women in particular so not everything will translate. 4 stars.

If you've read any of these books, we'd love to know your thoughts! Be sure to join us again next month when we'll be talking about books we've previously abandoned. 

April 29, 2016

friday favorites #23: week of april 29, 2016

These last two weeks have been unusual. For whatever reason, I didn't have many pressing things at work (aside from the normal craziness that seems to spring up at this time of the year), so I spent most of my time fully immersed in yearbook--which is a good thing, seeing that speech brain (January through March) and Hashimoto's brain (a constant struggle) don't mix well! I'm not kidding you--I've found so many things on pages that I supposedly signed off on, that I gave my students good grades on, that are all kinds of wrong. Sigh. Suffice it to say, I'm glad it's the weekend. Here are a few things that I've been enjoying recently.

1. Planning a road trip
It's been three years since my sisters and I went away together. Sure, we've been together since then, but always with other people. Well, we're going to remedy that this year: We're spending a weekend in Nashville! We're not going until July, but this is a favorite because I just bought our tickets! We're going to Annie F. Downs' Looking for Lovely weekend. I'm super excited--and I love that it's going to be in Nashville, a city I've long wanted to visit! If you have any tips about places we should go or things we should see, let me know!
In Winona Lake on our last girls' weekend, which I sort of, kind of, not really wrote about here.
2. The Grinder
Rob Lowe. William Devane. Fred Savage. Boise, Idaho. Somehow, these four things combine to create the most consistently funny comedy I've seen in a long time. The premise is that Mitch Sanderson (Lowe), following the end of his successful law drama The Grinder, moves home to Boise and decides that playing a lawyer on TV has made him qualified to be a lawyer in real life, much to the chagrin of his lawyer brother Stewart (Savage).

Lowe may be the "big name," but Savage is the highlight of the show. He's really the stand-in for the audience--all this ridiculousness is going on around him, and he's the voice of reason ... who sometimes gets swept up into the chaos.

The Grinder still hasn't been picked up for a second season, and if it gets canceled, it will be a tragedy. If you have Hulu Plus, you can watch the whole season. And you should because it's hilarious.
I tried to introduce my mom to The Grinder in December. As far as I know, she hasn't watched another episode. Don't be my mom! Watch The Grinder.

3. Being an INSPY judge ... again!
Last year, I was able to judge the Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense category of the INSPY Awards (awards for inspirational fiction selected by a group of bloggers). I recently found out that I've been chosen as a judge again! I had such a great experience judging last year, and I'm thrilled to be doing it again! You can read about all of the judges here.

4. Hanging out with the speech team
The end of the school year gets really crazy. So many things are hapening: music concerts (that sometimes get rescheduled multiple times due to weather), track meets, awards nights, and on and on. In the midst of that, we always try to have an end-of-year speech party. So last night, we went bowling. Only four of the team members could make it, thanks to the aforementioned crazy schedules, but those of us who were there had a blast! And, to top it off, I got what could be my best non-wii bowling score of all time. I really should go bowling more often. (My score is the middle one: 122. Yes, I still placed last among the other adults I was playing with, but I beat all of the speech kids!)

5. The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter
We're going clear back to late March for this recommendation. Denise Hunter is one of my favorite romance writers, and her latest, The Goodbye Bride, did not disappoint ... and it earned a place on my keeper shelf, which is becoming harder and harder to do now that I'm only keeping the books that "spark joy." The Goodbye Bride is about an amnesiac who can't remember the past six months, so she assumes she still belongs with the fiance she abandoned. Anyway, here's a snippet from my review:
Lucy is such an incredibly likable character that I couldn't help but pull for her happily ever after. Hunter did a magnificent job of portraying Lucy's confusion, fear, and determination, and, due to Hunter's choice to let the audience in on Lucy's past only when Lucy learns about it herself, there's a sense of mystery and suspense that runs throughout the novel, adding another layer to the story.
 If you're a fan of clean romance, you'll definitely want to check this one out!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and feel free to let me know your own favorites! I'm linking up with the usuals: ErikaChristina, and Karli.

April 13, 2016

stranded: medicine cabinet edition

I'm joining a new linkup today, and it's so fun! Every month, we'll be sharing three things we'd want if we were stranded on a deserted island. Today's topic is Three Medicine Cabinet Items. Check out mine, and then click through and check out everyone else's necessities in the linkup!

1. Lavender Essential Oil

I'm not particularly "oily," though I do have several in my collection. I buy from Edens Garden because they have low prices and free shipping--and at least from what I can tell, the quality is good! Anyway, lavender eo is amazing on burns. And being on a deserted island, the chances of getting burned are very high!

2. Toothpaste

(Why yes, I am stockpiling this toothpaste! By far, the cheapest place I've found it is Thrive Market, but I don't plan to renew my subscription when my year membership ends, so I buy a tube or two each time I order!)

I'm sure many people would say toothbrush here, but toothpaste is more important to me than a toothbrush. (And I could probably fashion some sort of toothbrush from sticks or something.) I have sensitive teeth, so too long without my toothpaste, and I'd be hurting.

3. Deodorant

Because who wants to be stinky? (Doesn't this deodorant look like it came straight out of the 80's? I've been experimenting with more natural options recently, and this was recommended by someone in the For the Love launch team group. It works better than anything else I've tried! I get it from Vitacost--which is my go-to store for healthy/obscure food items and products.)

What three medicine cabinet items would you want on a deserted island?

April 11, 2016

movie mondays: "hearts of spring"

I have a love-hate relationship with Hallmark movies. In theory, I love them, and I eagerly anticipate every single one. But as I'm watching them, half the time I'm thinking about plot holes, lack of chemistry, or just general stupidity. (I could name names, but I won't ... because I do really love the Hallmark Channel, and movies that I find insipid others love, and vice versa.)

This spring, Hallmark is having "Spring Fling" with a new movie every Saturday. The first film was one that I didn't particularly enjoy (and yet I still watched all of), but I was optimistic about the second film, Hearts of Spring, for one reason:


Michael Shanks is much beloved in my family. We kids grew up watching Stargate: SG-1, and Shanks played Dr. Daniel Jackson. (Side note: my cats are all named after Stargate characters.)

I've seen Shanks in a few TV movies since Stargate ended--some good, others not so much. But I go into each Shanks movie in the same way I go into each Hallmark movie: with cautious optimism.

Michael Shanks & Lisa Whelchel in Hearts of Spring
I'm happy to report that Hearts of Spring is quite delightful! Shanks is Andy, a pediatrician and single father. Lisa Whelchel is his love interest Carly, a florist and mommy blogger. It's kind of You've Got Mail in reverse--the two meet and get along well in real life, not realizing they're online nemeses.

Shanks and Welchel have real chemistry, and the story, while not original, is quite enjoyable. (Hallmark had a very similar plot in All Things Valentine, which premiered in February, but I think Hearts of Spring did it better.)

One of my favorite aspects of the film is just how awkward it is when Andy and Carly are first getting to know each other--it lends a realistic, not so fairytale-like vibe. (I appreciate awkward. My sister Blendy does not, and she would have been hiding behind the throw pillows!)

Though the ending is a bit cheesy and, well, Hallmark-like, I can forgive that, as the rest of the movie is just so fun! Also, I did find it hilarious that this giant state-wide blogger convention that was mentioned throughout the film ended up having about 100 people in attendance--like, could they only find 95 extras that day? I mean, I've never attended a blogging convention myself (though I'd love to someday), but I'd imagined it would be a much bigger event!

Hearts of Spring is definitely one of the more enjoyable Hallmark movies I've seen recently. If you've seen it, I'd love to know what you thought. And if you haven't, be sure to catch it in one of its repeat airings!

Photo Credits: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States, LLC

April 5, 2016

how i find lovely

Recently, I was chosen to help launch Annie F. Downs' new book, Looking for Lovely. This book is beautiful and challenging and feels like it was written just for me. (You can see a full review on my book review blog.)

Annie shares about some struggles she's gone through and how she came to look for lovely--and honestly, though we are obviously very different people, much of her journey mirrors my own ("ugly" high school years, a love for Les Miserables, being single into the mid-30's, a PCOS diagnosis), helping me to even more fully relate to her writing.

The idea that impacted me the most was the concept of looking for lovely in our everyday lives. It's no secret that the last few years have been rough, thanks to health struggles. While I'm feeling much better now, I still have rough days. And on those days, it's pretty easy to focus on the pain and not on the good. But I think it's even more important to look for lovely on those rough days! Since I began reading this book, I've been consciously looking for lovely ... and I've been taking pictures of what I find so I can remember.

One of the biggest things I've done is make an event out of a meal. Most of the time, I eat supper on the couch while watching TV. There's nothing wrong with that, but I feel so much happier and more fulfilled when I use pretty dishes and actually sit at my (now cleaned off) table. I have so many fun dishes, so why not use them?

Obviously, I'm a big fan of roasted green beans. You would be too if you tried them. And yes, sometimes I watch Friends as I eat. (Bonus points if you can identify the episode!)

Sunday was one of my rougher days recently. I just physically didn't feel well. But because I was consciously looking for lovely, I found several bright spots.
The coolest "lovely" moment on Sunday couldn't be captured by a camera, though. At the end of one of the chapters, Annie recommends downloading a new-to-you worship album. Because I've heard so much about Bethel Music lately, I went to Amazon Prime music and randomly picked one of their albums: You Make Me Brave (Live). I was almost finished with the book, and Annie was talking about the song "We Dance": how the Holy Spirit laid it on her heart one morning, and it was another reminder of God's love. She quoted some of the lyrics, and as I read the words, I realized I was hearing them, too. "We Dance" was playing on my tablet. It was such a lovely coincidence-but-not-really moment!

I'm going to continue to look for lovely, and I encourage you to look, as well! And because I loved this book so much, I'm giving one away! Enter through the easy Rafflecopter form below. (Rules: Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. Contest is open in the US only. Winner will be selected at random using Rafflecopter.com and will have 48 hours to respond to email notification, or another winner will be chosen.)a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure of material connection: As a member of Annie F. Downs' launch team, I received a free advance copy of this book. All opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

April 1, 2016

read with us: a book published in 2016

Is it just me, or did March fly by? I can't believe it's time for our March reading challenge check-in, but here we are again! In March, we read books that were published in 2016.
Our books for March were Spark Joy, I Said Yes, Cold Shot, and Like Never Before. Read below for our thoughts, wordy though they may be!

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
Steph says: Guys! I actually finished this one! spark joy by Marie Kondo is a practical companion to the life-changing magic of tidying up. Practical being the key word here.

I read Kondo’s book on tidying over Christmas break, and while I found some of it very insightful, I was generally annoyed at how many anecdotes filled its pages. This follow up book is exactly what I had wished for—a how-to guide complete with diagrams.

The overall thing I like about Kondo’s approach (besides the revolutionary way to fold clothes) is her idea of facing things head on. This especially resonates with me as I am living on my own now. Figuring things out on my own is always slightly terrifying and usually a little daunting. But I have never regretted sitting down and figuring out what I needed to do (hello, retirement fund and life insurance, I took care of you like a boss). The timing of this book and Kondo’s general sentiment of "face your life, take care of your business" is impeccable. I am about to move at the end of the month.  This girl is going to be going through EVERYTHING in the next couple of weeks because it will make moving that much easier.  And the fact that I’m excited about that is shocking. Just ask my sisters. I have never wanted to go through things before, but I am looking forward to it. (I know, who am I?) Becky butts in: This is SOO true. Last Christmas, when Val and I "Kondo'd" my books and movies, Steph thought we were nuts.

While Kondo generally personifies her objects more than I would personally agree with, I think she is spot on when she tells you to treat the things you use with respect. I haven’t done that in the past, but I will now. Only use what you love and need, and treat your items well. Pretty simple for an outlook on life, but true nonetheless. As I read, I constantly thought, “Be faithful with the little things.” While my home may not be grand, it is mine, and I should use it well.  Part of using it well would be to make it functional, welcoming, and a useful tool for the life I want to live.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars (because we rate these…right?) The only reason it’s not a 5 is because Kondo started reminiscing at the end.  It was good, but I wanted a practical book, ya know?

I Said Yes by Emily Maynard Johnson
Val says: I Said Yes, by Emily Maynard Johnson, is an interesting mixture of Reality TV experiences and spiritual memoir.

As a long-time avid Bachelor franchise fan, I was excited to hear that one of my favorite “contestants” had written a book. I watched Emily’s run on Brad Womack’s second-chance season of the Bachelor and liked her immensely. She came off as a sweet southern mama with a tragic back-story (her fiancĂ© was killed in a plane crash; days later she learned she was pregnant). America loved her – so much, in fact, that once her engagement with Brad ended, the producers did everything they could to get her to sign on as the Bachelorette. (Initially she said no, but she eventually relented.)

I was one of many rooting for Emily to “find love” on her second go-round.  Her season of The Bachelorette brought us such reality-TV greats as all-American Christian Sean Lowe, throw-her-against-a-wall-and-kiss-her Arie, and curiously hipster Utahan Jef (yes, that’s how it’s spelled). Having LOVED watching her season, I was excited to read the nitty-gritty details, hoping her book would read much like Sean Lowe’s recent memoir, with its behind-the-scenes insights and backstage views of memorable events.

But that’s not so much how this book is. Emily gives the reader more of a general overview of her time on both shows.  She touches down to highlight a few key events, but for the most part, it’s kind of an unemotional summary of her experiences.  The reality tv fan in me was hoping to really feel with her the emotions she was experiencing at each moment. To get a glimpse of what she was thinking when Arie gave her what may be the best reality TV kiss of all time. (Do yourself a favor and go ahead and youtube this one – it’s there for you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnPtO1fHc6M)

She does give some details and insights that the reader wouldn’t know just from watching the shows – like what was going on behind-the-scenes with her and Brad, how quickly that went downhill, etc.  But again, those “insider looks” are short and feel abridged – later on in the book, it’s unclear what even really went wrong with Jef.

I was surprised when I noticed that I was nearing the end of the book and she hadn’t gotten to the story of how she and Tyler (her husband) got together. She didn’t spend much time there, either – it was basically the summary of how they ended up on their first date, and then skipped a year ahead to his proposal (spoiler: she says yes).  Part of me was a little dissatisfied, but I also understand that sometimes there isn’t a grand story involved – you meet the right person, you start dating them, and you know.

I can also understand that it would be hard to write a book that is in large part about past relationships while being respectful to your husband and protective of your marriage.  So I have to cut her some slack there.

One interesting (and unexpected) aspect was how much time she spent on her spiritual life.  It was clear from the beginning that she was going to be interweaving her journey to faith and a relationship with God throughout the book.  By the end, I was convinced that she is a true believer with a sincere faith in Christ.  It was really interesting to see how she addressed some choices she’d made earlier in her life and how she did things differently after the Bachelorette.

I think the real reason I was somewhat disappointed in the book is that it wasn’t what I was expecting, but maybe it wasn’t supposed to be.  The tagline of the book is “My story of heartbreak, redemption, and true love” not “All the juicy details from my time as The Bachelorette” (but I really did want more of those juicy details!).  Ultimately, the book was about Emily’s personal and spiritual growth more than it was about Emily’s relationships.  And that’s great – it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

If you are a fan of the franchise, and especially if you watched Emily on either season, I would definitely recommend this book.  If you are just an ordinary citizen who chooses to forego the trashy reality TV, I would say you could probably skip this one.

Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey
Susan says: This month I read Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey. The book is a satisfying mix of romance, suspense, and murder, featuring an investigation that brings together four college friends to solve a mysterious death.

After leaving a career as a SWAT team sniper, Griffith McCray is a park ranger at Gettysburg. When skeletal remains are discovered that are not from the Civil War years, forensic anthropologist Finley Scott finds evidence that a murder had been committed by an expert sniper. Finley and Griffith both have had some difficult experiences in the past, and as they work on solving this mystery, they learn to trust each other and a fledgling romance begins. Griffith's college friends also become involved in the danger and intrigue as the story unfolds.

I really liked the story as it described the efforts they made to figure out what had happened, and although I expected parts of what was coming, there were some unexpected twists. However, the romance wasn't as appealing as I'd have liked. This was the first book in a series, so presumably there will be time to develop that more. I would also like to read more about Griffith's friends, who will presumably play a part in following books.

Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg
Becky says: All the books I read in March were published in 2016, so I just had to decide which one to use for this challenge! Originally, I was going to write about I Said Yes, but then Val decided to use it (you can see my thoughts here.) I also read Cold Shot this month and loved it a bit more than Susan did. As I glanced through the rest of my March book reviews, I didn't see anything I wanted to spotlight here. And then I remembered a book I've read but haven't reviewed yet: Melissa Tagg's Like Never Before, which officially releases next Tuesday, April 5.

Like Never Before is the story of speechwriter Logan Walker and newspaper editor Amelia Bentley. The novel begins with an oh-so-cute email exchange, where Amelia is trying to get former reporter Logan to return to Maple Valley, Iowa, and write for "her" newspaper. Turns out, Logan actually owns the newspaper--the former publisher left it to Logan in his will. So Logan has to return to Maple Valley to figure out what to do with the paper ... and sparks fly. (Especially in what has to be one of my all-time favorite kissing scenes. I may never look at a janitor's closet the same way!)

Like Never Before isn't just all cute boy-meets-girl, though. Both Logan and Amelia are dealing with past hurts--his wife passed away, leaving him to raise their daughter alone while his career is taking off; she's recovering from a divorce she never wanted and the disappointment of a failed adoption--and are struggling to reclaim their faith.

One thing I loved about the book is that it didn't end up like I thought it would. I mean, yes, Logan and Amelia get together. (I don't think I need to say spoiler alert because--hello!--this is a romance novel.) But where they end up in their lives is so different from what I imagined, and I have to say that I like Tagg's version better than my own!

I highly recommend Like Never Before to anyone who enjoys romance. Also, though this is book two (sort of three--there's also a prequel novella) in Tagg's Walker Family series, you can read this without having first read book one. And if you're a fan of old movies, you'll really enjoy the references in this book!

Join us again next month when we'll be talking about our April books--books we've been meaning to read. (I'm pretty sure Val and Susan have already started on theirs, while I haven't even picked mine out yet!)

Flashback: See what we read in January and February.

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