Book Tour with Celebrate Lit: The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham

About the Book

Book: The Heart of the Mountains

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Christian Fiction / Romance

Release date: July 1, 2022

Can their hearts overcome the darkness of the mountains?

To escape a forced marriage, Cora Taylor travels from England to the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of her brother, who is working as a teacher in a mission school. She hopes to find a place where her nursing skills and independent ideas will be accepted and appreciated, but nothing prepares her for the wild mixture of isolation, community, brokenness, and hope within these mountains…or in the person of Jeb McAdams.

Returning from the devastation of World War 1 emotionally damaged, Jeb McAdams struggles against the rampant mountain alcoholism to soothe his nightmares. It’s easy to hide within the mountains, or it was, before Cora Taylor arrived. Now, she seems to show up at every turn, bringing her modern ideas, curiosity, and beautiful eyes with her.

Bound by their shared war history, the pair develop an unlikely friendship, which unexpectedly hints to something more. But when Cora’s desire to help the women of the mountains crosses an unspoken line, will Jeb be able to protect this feisty flatlander from the wrath of the mountain men or will he end up losing much more than his heart?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

If you are a fiction of historical fiction and historical romance, then Pepper Basham is the author for you, and her latest, The Heart of the Mountains, will have you hooked from the beginning.

I connected with the two main characters early on and felt like I needed their lives to turn out okay after all they had been through before the book even started and then went through during the book.

There was non-stop action and a variety of interesting characters which transformed what could have been a simple run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter inspirational romance book into a novel with depth, complexity, and heartfelt tenderness.

There were quite a few side characters in this two-person point of view book. Crisis after crisis popped up involving each of the side characters, which could have been a bit confusing at times but wasn’t because it kept the booking moving along at a speed just fast enough to hold my interest but not too fast to make my head spin in confusion. Basham kept the characters straight for the readers like a true professional, balancing subplots like a well-trained literary juggler.

About the Author

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

You can learn more about Pepper at her website http://www.pepperdbasham.com or connect with her on FB, IG, or Twitter.

More from Pepper

It’s so interesting how one idea can influence an entire series, or…how one person’s story can.

The idea for The Heart of the Mountains started in Laurel’s Dream with a hint of a family history story about a girl named Kizzie. (Someday, I hope to bring Kizzie’s story to the pages of a book). From there, the idea began to grow out of a love for my Appalachian culture into a series of books which highlighted (and fictionalized) stories from my family history.

The main story in The Heart of the Mountains is about Jeb and Cora, two different people with similar servant hearts, but the secondary story that touched me so much was the one based on my great grandfather’s life. I write about it in the Author’s Note at the end of the novel, so I won’t go into detail about it. However, what I loved getting to do is bring the truth of God’s redemption in my great grandfather’s life…to life again.

I never knew “Papa Rat”. I only knew the stories handed down to me by my granny and my mama, but in writing this story, I feel as though I had a tiny opportunity to “meet” him in these pages. He was a gruff mountain man with a broken past which led him to make a whole lot of broken choices, but his story is incredibly encouraging, because it points to the God of broken people. My great grandpa wasn’t left in his brokenness, but, after years of running away from God, he would later recount that God pursued him. The beauty of Sam McAdams’ journey in The Heart of the Mountains is only a little glimpse into what I imagine my great grandpa’s redemption story looked like.

Because my great grandpa was forever changed when Jesus saved him (as any of us should be).

I think that’s what my granny and her siblings (and even “Papa Rat” himself) would want most -that his story would point to Jesus. I hope that’s what you see when you read about Sam McAdams in The Heart of the Mountains.

Have you ever read a book based on family history? One of my favorites is Catherine Marshall’s Christy.

Blog Stops

Bizwings Blog, July 28

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 28

Bigreadersite, July 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 29

Texas Book-aholic, July 29

Inklings and notions, July 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 30

Boondock Ramblings, July 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 31

Reading With Emily, July 31

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, July 31 (Author Interview)

lakesidelivingsite, August 1

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, August 1

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 1

Daysong Reflections, August 2

deb’s Book Review, August 2

Live. Love. Read., August 2

Betti Mace, August 3

Book Looks by Lisa, August 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 3

Remembrancy, August 4

For Him and My Family, August 4

Blossoms and Blessings, August 4

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, August 5

By the Book, August 5

Wishful Endings, August 5

For the Love of Literature, August 6

Books, Books and More Books, August 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 6

Connie’s History Classroom, August 7

SodbusterLiving, August 7

Splashes of Joy, August 7

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 8

Back Porch Reads, August 9

Through the Fire Blogs, August 9

Pause for Tales, August 9

Labor Not in Vain, August 10

Miriam Jacob, August 10

To Everything There Is A Season, August 10

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e- gift card and a paperback copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/20389/the-heart-of-the-mountains-celebration-tour-giveaway

Sunday Bookends: Anything Goes, hot days, and books that are in the wrong genre

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’ve been reading, doing, watching, writing and listening to.


What I/we’ve Been Reading

So I finished The Do Over by Bethany Turner this week and I’m going to offer a little review here instead of breaking it out in a separate post.

I like Bethany as a person. She’s fun to watch and listen to and as someone who writes Christian Fiction and actually mentions God and is still told my books aren’t Christian enough, I do feel bad writing that this book isn’t Christian fiction, but, well . . . it isn’t.

It’s a clean book. It’s a funny book and I did enjoy it for the most part. It’s full of pop culture references – so many you can barely get a few pages, sometimes a few paragraphs, before another movie or celebrity is referenced, but there is not one reference to God in the book. Not even anyone going to church.

It’s a simple, clean romantic comedy written by someone who once wrote Christian fiction and that is not a bad thing. I am, however, a little bewildered why the book is listed under Christian fiction. It definitely didn’t hold my attention as well as some of her other books and the reveal of the person who committed a crime in the book wasn’t a surprise at all.

The book was also yet another romantic comedy love letter to New York City, which is getting a little tiresome actually. It’s like yet another love letter to Jane Austen books or London. All the name drops of locations in New York City did very little for someone who isn’t as excited by the city as Turner is, unfortunately. But if you love NYC and squealing about specific locations like they are a big deal, you’ll love this book. (We’ll all just pretend crime isn’t a daily occurrence and instead believe that the characters aren’t praying they don’t get mugged while walking by the homeless on the streets.)

The saving grace of this book was Henry Blumenthal, even though he could have been a little more well-rounded in my opinion. He seemed very stoic and awkward, but he was supposed to be so I guess that worked. What I do love is how Turner writes a kiss scene. It’s not overdone or over explained, but you feel the emotion and I like that.

I think after reading The Do Over, though, I might have to finally admit something. I don’t like a lot of traditional romance books. I don’t like when the entire book is built around swoons and misunderstandings, break-ups and then resumed swoons (shhh…I know mine are similar but I try to throw in a little bit more plot to even it out and hopefully I’ll get better at it.) Oh, and then epilogues with weddings or future scenes of happy marriages with children now born. (Yep. Totally did this in my second book. Never did it again.)

Almost every single romance or romantic comedy I’ve read in CF has ended this way and Turner’s books are no exception, but I wish they were.

So what’s next for me?

I don’t know yet. I can’t decide what I am in the mood for, but The Husband has suggested a couple of books for me, including What’s the Worst That Can Happen by Donald Westlake and The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.

I’m also considering reading the second book in the Pop Larkin series because those books are fairly quick reads.

I hope to finish Anne of the Island this week as I have enjoyed reading it leisurely at a couple chapters a day for the last couple of months.

The Husband is reading Don’t Know Tough by Eli Cantour (which he is almost done with).

The Boy is reading War of the Worlds by H.G. Welles.

Little Miss and I are re-reading Romona and Beezus by Beverly Cleary but she also let me read from Anne of Green Gables last night.


What’s Been Occurring

My husband had a small part in the local theater group’s production of Anything Goes and this week was showtime. He had dress rehearsals the first part of the week and then the show Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. He was on stage for the speaking part for about five minutes but then he was in the background as a sailor.

Little Miss, The Boy, and I went for the dress rehearsal Monday but it got late and we slipped out after the first act. Little Miss wanted to go back to watch the whole show but we didn’t make it for various reasons (partially because I wasn’t sure she’d stay seated for a three-hour show) so I looked up a production of it we could watch at home and found one performed in the West End Theater in London earlier this year and showcased on PBS. Someone had put it up illegally on YouTube (yeah for pirating! 😉). I thought Little Miss would like to see the second half of it but it turns out she only wanted to see the version our local performers did. Boy did I feel like a jerk that I didn’t get her over there after that. I enjoyed it at least and will include a link to it under the What I’m Watching header.

I took some photographs of the dress rehearsal along with The Husband for the paper since The Husband was in the first act and couldn’t take photos of himself. He took photos of the second act and a collection of both our photos were used for a photo page in the paper, which is a weekly paper.

The Husband doesn’t want me to post any photos of him, but I thought I’d share a few others I took that night.



This one is my favorite and it is close to the one on the front page of the newspaper he works at:

We took a break on Tuesday and then Wednesday we went to my parents to swim but were dive bombed by some wasps and had to head out earlier than we wanted to. We hope to be able to spray them before we go in the next time. It’s been very hot here for the last two weeks. You know it’s been hot when you see it’s going to be 81 later in the week and you’re excited about the cooler temperatures. I know that 90 to 92 is not as hot as down South or in Arizona, but it’s hot for Pennsylvania and it’s hot for me since I’ve never done well in the heat.

Friday it was grocery shopping day again. Blah. I hate grocery shopping.

Yesterday it was time to relax for me and today The Husband finally gets to relax after several 14 or more hour days in a row (between work and rehearsals).

What We watched/are Watching

I continued watching Paul Newman movies this past week with Sweet Bird of Youth. I’d never heard of this movie and was blown away by the acting and the viscousness of the characters. This was another movie based on a Tennessee Williams play.

This one startled me a little to be honest. It was put out in 1962 and dealt with some more steamy topics than I expected. Newman was a gigolo and at one point he was rolling blunts for his current client, a washed-up actress who he’d taken with him back to Talahasee to see the girl he wanted to marry as soon as he hit it big as an actor. His character seriously drove me nuts – he was so fixated on becoming famous and hitting it big so he could provide for the girl he loved that he literally would do anything to get to the top. And I mean just about anything.

The plus side of this movie, besides the fact the acting really was very good, was that Paul had his shirt off more than he had it on. This, of course, annoyed The Boy who told me at one point, “Just go back and watch your movie with shirtless Paul Newman.” He then rolled his eyes. I, of course, obliged. *wink* (Please know that I am just joking around. I am a married woman and Paul is, well, dead.)

As I mentioned above, I then watched Anything Goes, essentially by myself since my children abandoned me. This version was with Sutton Fuller who won a Tony for her performance.

I also watched The Bachelor and The Bobby Soxer with Cary Grant, Myrna Lloyd, and Shirley Temple, which I have watched before and really enjoyed. It’s very funny.

The plot is that Temple falls for Cary Grant, who is probably 25 years older than her, when he speaks at her school, and tries to chase after him. Her older sister, Loy, is a judge who has had Grant before her in court for another matter. Long story short, Temple goes to Grant’s apartment and is caught there and Grant is framed for tying to get involved with a minor. In an effort to try to deter Temple, Loy’s uncle, the city District Attorney, suggests that Grant carry on the charade (no pun to the other movie Grant was in) and try to frighten Temple off. This completely backfires and hilarity ensues.


What I’m Writing

I’m also working on Mercy’s Shore, of course.



Now it’s your turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Book Review/Recommendation: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

One recent Saturday I spent almost the entire day under a warm blanket with chocolate chip cookies dipped in Nutella and read Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz. It was very enjoyable, not only because it was the most relaxed I had been in a long time and I had chocolate, but because the book was such a good one.

My husband recommended the book so I was a bit leery at first. We don’t always like the same books, but lately, he’s been suggesting ones I have enjoyed, including the Walt Longmire Series by Craig Johnson. I’m also reading my first Donald Westlake book, Call Me A Cab, at his suggestion.

First, a little bit about Moriarty. For those familiar with Sherlock Holmes books and movies, you will recognize that name. The book opens, though, with Professor James Moriarty having died at Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, which leaves the reader wondering about the title of the book.

The main characters of the book are Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase and Inspector Athelney Jones.

The description of the book: Sherlock Holmes is dead.

Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind. Ably assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones, a devoted student of Holmes’s methods of investigation and deduction, Chase must hunt down this shadowy figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace.

The game is afoot . . .

My view: The book is written like an old-fashioned Sherlock Holmes book so don’t expect there to be modern overdone descriptions of characters of scenes. For the most part the book is a fast paced, dialogue heavy and straight forward presentation. The focus is on the story, not the characters necessarily.

Horowitz takes the reader down into a dark world of crime, twisting around and around until there is a point you’re not sure who is who. Even though I tried to guess the ending and was right on one theory, the way Horowitz brought the story to its finality was still satisfying and fascinating. I honestly couldn’t put the book down once I got myself snuggled in that Saturday afternoon under the covers, and placed other books I was reading aside so I could finish it. I also stopped feeding my children and taking a shower, but that’s an entirely different issue. I’m kidding, of course. I took a shower. I’m not a monster.

Reading the book has encouraged me to move on to Horowitz’s other Sherlock Holmes book The House of Silk which was actually his first Sherlock Holmes-related book.

The House of Silk was the first book authorized as a new Sherlock Holmes novel by the Arthur Conan Doyle in 125-years.

Confession time: I have not actually read any original Sherlock Holmes books. My husband is a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, however, and we have watched many shows based on the books together.

How about you? Are you a big Sherlock Holmes fan? Have you read all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s books?

Book Review His Road to Redemption by Lisa Jordan

Book title: His Road to Redemption

Author: Lisa Jordan

Genre: Inspirational Romance

Published by: Love Inspired

 

Description:

A veteran in need of a fresh start
will get more than he bargained for…

Veteran Micah Holland’s scars go deeper than anyone knows. An inheritance from his mentor could be a new beginning—if he shares the inherited goat farm with fiercely independent Paige Watson. Now the only way they can keep the farm is to work together. But first Micah must prove he’s a changed man to keep his dream and the woman he’s falling for.

My review: When you read a lot of romance books, they can sometimes become stale and predictable (though Love Inspired books are not usually this way) so when I picked up His Road to Redemption, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised at the way this story was laid out and the unique characters Lisa created. I absolutely loved Micah and his complexity. I loved his tenderness, hidden sometimes under a tough veneer, and I loved how he worked through the challenges of his life without being overly dramatic about it all.

 

When a character with a physical challenge is written about in some books, too much attention is focused on that challenge. In this book, Micah’s physical challenge was mentioned once or twice but didn’t need to be reiterated several times. This made his injury seem normal and part of his every day, which it was. Yes, he was injured at war, but he moved forward through his life and didn’t let it stop him from reaching his goals. Very often, an author tries too hard to push the idea of inclusivity instead of simply making the challenge part of who the person is.

 

After reading this book I will definitely be looking for more Love Inspired books, but especially more by Lisa Jordan. As someone who has met Lisa (but who was not asked to read or give a review of this book), I can tell you that her kind, caring and faith-filled personality comes across in this book. When I put it down, I not only felt good inside but satisfied and for a reader, a satisfying read is everything.

Book Review: Journey to ChiYah by Kimberly Russell. A deeply allegorical journey of our walk with Christ.

Book Title: Journey to ChiYah

Author: Kimberly Russell

Genre: Christian fiction/Christian fantasy

Goodreads Description: JADE PEPPERDINE HAS A PROBLEM

Her life is crumbling beneath the weight of the past, events of the present, and fears for her future. Things need to change, but she doesn’t know where to start.Answers come in the form of an unexpected opportunity when Jade finds herself stuck in a mythical land. She meets Mayor Dudley, who insinuates she is emotionally broken and in need of repair … a fact she’d just as soon ignore. He offers to help her get home if she is willing to face her issues through a process of restoration. Frightened and skeptical yet out of options, Jade grudgingly agrees. And soon figures out that change is a journey, not a destination.Come along on the adventure of a lifetime, and maybe you’ll find someone you never knew you lost: Yourself. 

Excerpt from the author (Thank you, Kim!):

Abaddon’s eyes darkened black like coal. “My idea is simple. You’ve got a gal coming in soon that I think will be perfect for this experiment.” He clucked his tongue. “Thirtyish, a bit, chubby, works in a library. Same tired scenario as the others. Past issues affecting her present. Fear and insecurities. Blah, blah, blah.”

Watch it. She’s one of mine.”

Abaddon’s mouth tightened. “Aren’t they all? Just send her off to gather her journey relics like always, but if I can get them away from her, she stays with me, and I get the Avnet, too.”

Mayor grunted in distaste. No wonder his nemesis’ name meant destruction in Hebrew. He opened his mouth to put the rogue in his place then hesitated. Maybe he could use Abaddon’s plan against him and teach him a lesson he wouldn’t soon forget. A deterrent against future complications.

But at what price? Did he really want to potentially position one of his own in harm’s way? No, but assigning his top emissaries to the case would keep her safe. The unsuspecting woman would be fine, and Abaddon would get what he so richly deserved. And it wouldn’t be the Avnet.

Mayor pushed to his feet. “Fine. Do what you have to.” He whirled and threw a scowl over his shoulder, “But you cannot hurt her. I’m warning you.”

“Oh, I won’t.” Abaddon shot him an evil leer. “Not much, anyway.”

My Review: 5 starts out of 5



Some who read the title of the book will be perplexed and think, “I don’t think this is the book for me,” but they would be wrong. This is a book for everyone.

The book is “fantasy”, I suppose you might say, but it is also deeply allegorical to our journey through life and especially our journey with God and Christ.

This book will transport you to a world of restoration, healing, redemption, and personal revision. It will remind you that we do not merely war against flesh and blood, but “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

The book takes the reader on a fantastical journey with Jade Pepperdine, a 30-something woman who has faced her fair share of heartache, rejection, and flattened self-worth.

Hook yourself in, readers. This is a work of fiction but for many it will be a hard dose of reality wrapped up in a gentle embrace.

After an accident tosses Jade, quite literally, upside down, she finds herself in a mystical land, which she at first believes is part of a dream. She soon learns that ChiYah is very real indeed. A group of five eccentric helpers come alongside her to help her battle her way through the various dangers of ChiYah to reach her personal healing.

But reaching restoration won’t come easy for Jade. She’s agreed to the quest Mayor Dudley has offered to her, albeit grudgingly, so she can go back to her reality in “the real world” working at a library and fending off her overly critical mother. Now she has to sidestep the traps along the way, including unassuming attacks from a mysterious stranger who hopes to cause her to stumble and come work for him instead.

Journey to ChiYah is a book that will have you looking inside yourself, maybe not liking what you see, and then considering taking your own quest to make peace with every part of you  — the happy parts, the grumpy parts, the sometimes unreasonable parts, the parts that have been hurt, the parts that have been rejected, the parts that still have hope left in them.

Russell is a talented writer who uses well-written, engaging fiction laced with humor, well thought out dialogue, and entertaining characters to drive her point home. She uses fiction and prose to touch on so many issues we frail humans deal with, including anxiety, anger, unforgiveness, self-deprecating behavior, distrust, insecurity, a critical spirit.

Most of all, though, she uses her talent to point us to the only one who can heal us of the issues that threaten our joy — a Heavenly Father who wants to take us on a journey that might seem difficult but in the end will lead us into a meadow of peace, even with the chaos of life swirls around us.

Book Review: In Sheeps Clothing by Pegg Thomas

Book and author: In Sheeps Clothing by Pegg Thomas

Publisher: Spinner of Yarns Publishing

Genre: Christian Fiction

Description:

Yarrow Fenn, the talented spinster sister, was passed over when her intended walked out on her years before. She’s content with her life – for the most part – until Peter Maltby arrives in town. A journeyman fuller, Peter comes to Milford, Connecticut, not to woo the young women, but to rise to the rank of master fuller and return to Boston for some unfinished business. When their lives intersect over an orphan lamb, sparks are kindled. But their budding romance will have to survive revealed secrets when someone else shows up in Milford.

My Review:

This read was a delightful, short, and sweet journey into the past. I am not someone who usually reads historical fiction but the cover and title caught my eye and I gave it a chance. The story flowed easily and the writing was very good. The book is very short and I could have done with a little more about both characters, but that’s only because I really enjoyed learning about them both. I will definitely be looking up more books by Pegg.

Book Review: Avoiding Marriage by Karin Beery

Avoiding Marriage by Karin Beery

Publisher:  EABooks Publishing 

Description:

Two years ago, Jessica Miller made a mess of her already confusing life. Now, she’s back in Boyne Heights, and she’s determined to fix her reputation. She can’t seem to avoid the past that haunts her, but that’s the joy of small-town life—word spreads and people remember. Intent on her mission, however, she faces her past head-on, taking a job with her ex-boyfriend while avoiding her grandmother’s attempts to find her a new one.

My Review:

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book, which I appreciated because I might not have picked it up on my own. It was the first time I’d read anything by this author so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I don’t usually read a ton of light romances or novellas but apparently, I am missing out because I really enjoyed this one. In fact, I enjoyed the characters so much that my only complaint is that the book wasn’t long enough. I know there are other books with these characters, however, so I am looking forward to reading more about them in the future.

Part of me felt, at first, that the premise was a little unrealistic – the idea of a young woman going to work for her ex-boyfriend who is now married, but then I thought about all the people around me who are doing similar things. I mean I even know of an actor whose ex-wife produces movies with him. What this book reminded me was that people move on, heal, and grow in many different ways so even if I wouldn’t be comfortable with that, there are plenty of people who are and have been.

The main character’s (Jessica’s) life was very relatable to me. To some, it may have seemed she had more on her than “real” people would, in regards to her family’s situation, but in my world, families are messy. There are divorces and hurt feelings and addictions and recovering addicts, etc. I like that Karin isn’t afraid to face those issues head-on. In the midst of all of Jessica’s struggles is the chance for love and that brings lighter and sweeter moments to the story.

This is a quick read for an avid reader, which is nice because then you can move on to Ashley’s story (which occurs before this one) in Practically Married or other books by Karin.

I received a copy of Practically Married from the author. This in no way affects my review. All opinions are my own.

Favorite Books Read in 2020

I thought about sharing a list of the books I read this year, but I share an Amazon and Goodreads account with my mom (it makes it easier for me to add books to her Kindle for her) and she read a lot more books than me so sifting through what she read and what I read was a little overwhelming. My Kindle list also includes books from my husband’s account and he’s also read a lot more books than I have this year (as he always does.)

I’ve been lesson planning for when school starts for the kids next week so I didn’t have time to sit and figure out what I read, what she read, and what he read. I do know she read around 200 this year (some of them short, some of them awful Kindle books, poor lady) on her Kindle and he read 80 on his Kindle. They both also read a few hard copies of books.

Since I didn’t want to try to make a list of all the books I read, which would have been short (maybe 20), I thought I’d list some of my favorites of what I read this year instead.

My favorite reads this year were:

A Long Time Comin’ by Robin W. Pearson

Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells

Falling Home by Karen White

About Your Father And Other Celebrities I Have Known by Peggy Rowe (the only non-fiction book I read all the way through.)

A Longmire Mystery: The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner.

The Dead Don’t Dance by Charles Martin


Honorable Mentions:

Borders of the Heart Chris Fabry

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

Silas Marner by George Elliot

The Knife Slipped by Earl Stanley Gardner

A Cord of Three Strands by Christy Distler

I know a lot of readers announce a reading goal for the new year, but I find goals like that distract me from simply enjoying reading. I guess I could set my goal at 20 and see what happens, but . . . that just sounds so organized, so I don’t think I’ll really set that as my goal. Pretend I did, though, so I fit in with all the book bloggers of the world.

So how about you? What were some of your favorite reads of 2020? Let me know in the comments.

Book Review: Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner

Some books ooze the personality of the author and I think Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish is one of those books — if Bethany Turner’s social media accounts are any indication of what a fun, hilarious person she is in real life — and I think they are.

First the Goodreads description for the book:

Celebrity chef Maxwell Cavanaugh is known for many things: his multiple Michelin stars, his top-rated Culinary Channel show To the Max, and most of all his horrible temper. Hadley Beckett, host of the Culinary Channel’s other top-rated show, At Home with Hadley, is beloved for her Southern charm and for making her viewers feel like family.

When Max experiences a very public temper tantrum, he’s sent packing to get his life in order. When he returns, career in shambles, his only chance to get back on TV and in the public’s good graces is to work alongside Hadley.

As these polar-opposite celeb chefs begin to peel away the layers of public persona and reputation, they will not only discover the key ingredients for getting along, but also learn the secret recipe for unexpected forgiveness . . . and maybe even love. In the meantime, hide the knives.

Fan-favorite Bethany Turner serves up a heaping helping of humor and romance with this thoroughly modern story centered on cooking, enemies, and second chances.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed the lighthearted moments woven among some tender, difficult memories and realities for the main characters — Hadley Becket and Max Cavanaugh, both high-profile chefs. Hadley was definitely the one with more of a sense of humor, while Max was more of the “grump”. As you read you realize that some of Hadley’s humor is to cover insecurities and hurts and that Max’s grouchy tendancies are for the same reasons. Attempts to cover flaws with their moods aren’t the only similarities the pair have, of course, something readers learn as the book continues.

I’m always impressed with Bethany’s way with words. She is a master of using humor, cultural references, and yet, still keeps her fiction free of swearing, sex, or violence.

She’s also a master at descriptions. One of my favorite descriptions in this book was how Hadley described the way Max’s shirt fit him: “The T-shirt sleeves strained just slightly to their resting point mid-way down his bicep, and with his arms crossed over his chest, as they were now, you could almost hear an audible sigh from the front of the shirt, as it was allowed a moment to relax from the tightness that Max’s well-toned chest and shoulders usually created.”

These days we need something light and romantic to distract us and Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish is the perfect way to do that. Find out more about Bethany on her Instagram and Facebook accounts or her website: http://seebethanywrite.com/