Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Year end wrap up...All That It Takes by Nicole Deese


Book Summary (Amazon): When the ever-cautious Val Locklier moves cross-country with her son for a secure job, everything she'd planned unravels within the first week. After Val reluctantly agrees to rent an apartment from her best friend's brother, an unexpected chance at an elite filmmakers' mentorship ignites fresh hope for a dream career. But as Val's community begins to expand, so do her insecurities, especially those heightened by her growing attraction to a certain friendly landlord. 

Pastor Miles McKenzie returns home from a short-term mission trip to discover that not only does he have an intriguing new tenant living upstairs, he's also been reassigned to a local ministry on life support. Disillusioned and restless, he distracts himself by throwing his energy into a host of new projects--not the least of which is pursuing Val--without stopping to consider the future. 

As Val struggles to stop hiding behind the camera and Miles wrestles with shattered expectations, they'll find that authentic love and sacrifice must go hand in hand.

 My thoughts..

The first book in this series, All That Really Matters, was a total home run for me. It was the first book I had ever read by Nicole Deese and I loved it. I couldn't wait for this book, the second in the series, to come out. Here are some things I really liked about this book:

The development of the main characters, Val and Miles, was great. They both started out as wounded people in several aspects, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. As the story went on, they found strength and growth through their relationship with each other, friends old and new, and their faith. This didn't come quickly or easily, but as a reader, I could relate to their struggles and appreciated how they worked through them. Their growth also encouraged me in different aspects of my own life.

I also liked the level of romantic tension in the book. As they share two floors of the same house, crossing paths, hearing each other walking around, help each other out, it builds up the connection between the characters as well as opportunities to experience conflict. 

The only thing that I struggled with in this book was the bitterness Miles expresses about his ministry life, particularly in the beginning of the book. Maybe it's because it hit a little close to home (a story for another day), and I guess when you want to escape real life through fiction, you don't want to be faced with all of the hurt feelings and emotions that can sometimes come with ministry life. The author portrayed it well, it just kind of left a sour note with me and I struggled to shake it off as I was reading. By the end, there was a redemptive element to that part of the story, which I appreciated, but it was a bit hard won.

Overall, I did enjoy the book, but I would definitely say the first in the series is still a favorite. 

**I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to give honest review, which I did.**

Year end book wrap up...beginning with Authentically, Izzy by Pepper Basham


Book Summary (Goodreads): Izzy Edgewood is a wannabe bookstore owner, quote queen, and Lord of the Rings nerd who has been waiting for Prince Charming to sweep her off her sneakered feet. But it’s hard to meet people when you spend more time with fictional humans than real ones. Which is why her pragmatist cousin Josephine decides to take Izzy’s future into her own meddling hands and create an online dating profile for the hopeful romantic.

To Izzy’s shock (and suspicion), Josie’s plan works. Soon, she’s dialoguing with a Hobbit-loving man named Brodie who lives in a small town an ocean away from her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But is their shared love of books, family, and correspondence enough to overcome Izzy’s fear of flying and the literal distance between them? And is a long-distance relationship even worth considering when a local author has been frequenting the library where she works and is proving to be a perfectly fine gentleman?

 My thoughts...Have you ever been in one of those seasons in life when you just need a fun, little pick-me-up...let's say in the form of a heart-warming, romantic, endearing book? That's where I was not long ago when I decided to take a chance on Authentically, Izzy by Pepper Basham. I wasn't sure that an epistolary novel was going to be able to accomplish what I was searching for, but all my skepticism was laid to rest once I got started. I was instantly taken in.

 Several aspects of this book really worked for me. First of all, I loved the characters. They were authentic, funny, and relatable. Movie quotes were sprinkled throughout the dialogue, and I got (most of) them. The epistolary style didn't take away from any of the chemistry between Izzy and Brodie, but I loved that the author stepped away from it during some important moments. It drew attention to those parts of the book in all the right ways.

Another aspect I loved is the way Pepper created a sweet, wholesome story, but still gave us romance lovers that tension and (clean) contact that we want. Thank you! 

I can't wait to read the second book in this series!


*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to share my honest opinion, which I did**