Review: On Magnolia Lane (Blue Ridge Romance #3) by Denise Hunter

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From the bestselling author of The Convenient Groom (now a beloved Hallmark Original movie) comes the final book in Hunter’s Blue Ridge Romance series.

Pastor Jack McReady has secretly carried a torch for Daisy for two long years. She’s a member of his congregation, after all, and she’ll never see him as more than a trusted counselor. Jack’s best friend Noah has taken every opportunity to encourage his lovesick friend, but when Noah catches wind that Daisy has joined an online dating site, he takes matters into his own hands and orchestrates a meet-cute of the most unconventional kind.

Owner of the local flower shop, Daisy Pendleton is content with her small-town life, but she’d sure like someone to share it with. After several disastrous first dates, she’s about to give up—and then she finds a seemingly wonderful man online. Daisy gets to know TJ through a series of messages but finds herself spending more time with Pastor Jack outside of the church at the same time. What she doesn’t know is that her online prospect and Jack are one and the same.

Just as Daisy’s love life starts to look promising, a mysterious woman appears in town. Daisy is faced with a revelation about her family that turns her world upside down, and she looks to both TJ and Jack for help.

Jack must find a way to reveal himself as her online suitor without breaking her heart and losing her trust. As Daisy faces Jack’s betrayal, she’ll have to learn to extend grace to herself, her family, and the man she’s grown to love.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

On Magnolia Lane will be available November 6, 2018.

I’ve enjoyed the other books in the Blue Ridge Romance series and On Magnolia Lane just might be my favorite of the series.

I found both the lead characters, Daisy and Jack, to be likable. Sometimes I struggle with the likability factor of this author’s female leads, but I really liked Daisy here. She was kind and I felt like all of her reactions to some of the bad things she found out about were reasonable. I really liked Jack, too, though the whole dating site deceit storyline did keep me from really loving him.

Speaking of the dating site, that part of the plot really reminded me of another one of Hunter’s books. In the interest of full disclosure, I only read a couple of chapters of that book before I decided it wasn’t for me. I have to admit that while it didn’t ruin the book for me or anything, I really didn’t like it any better here. In a different book, I probably would’ve been ok with the male lead being a little dishonest about being the online suitor. I got that he wanted her to get to know him without the Pastor title she associated with him. BUT, I feel like as a Pastor he should’ve handled it better. I have a really hard time excusing his deceit in light of his occupation.

Which brings us to the message of forgiveness. Even though we have a tendency to place certain people on pedestals, everyone is just human and fallible. It’s only by grace that we are forgiven. This is a really easy truth to accept until you’re faced with being betrayed by someone you care about. In addition to Jack’s deceit, Daisy finds out things about her parents that was hard to get past. I found myself in a similar situation over the past year so I found this very relatable and it’s probably the biggest reason this is my favorite book of the series. It made me realize I still have a little ways to go when it comes to forgiveness, too.

Overall, I enjoyed On Magnolia Lane. It was a quick, easy read that I flew right through. I liked the characters and the message of forgiveness and grace. I believe this is the last book in the Blue Ridge Romance series and I thought it ended well. I recommend it to fans of Contemporary Christian Fiction.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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October 2018 Recap + Life Updates + It’s My Birthday!

I spent the first couple weeks of October on a blogging hiatus. It was a nice break, but I didn’t get nearly as much reading done as I thought I would. I’ve been in a weird book funk lately where nothing sounds interesting. I really hate when I get like that.

siminiblocker: Uppercase planner September... - Coccinelle Voyage

New Job

I got a new job! I’m the Executive Administrative Assistant for my local county library district. I just started this week so everything is still a little overwhelming, but I’m excited about this opportunity. I worked for my previous agency for 9 years (5 years, a gap of a couple years where I worked a couple different places, and then back for 4 years) and it was hard to say goodbye to the people there. They threw me a party my last week there. One of my co-workers is super talented and made a cake that looked like a book. I was really sad when we had to cut into it.


NaNoWriMo 2018

I think we've all had a moment like this...

I’ve done NaNoWriMo a few different years, but have only won once. After taking last year off, I’m planning on giving it a try again this year. Wish me luck! Who else is participating this year? Add me as a writing buddy: Stephanie1.

It’s my Birthday!

35th Birthday Card, 35th Birthday, Funny Birthday Cards, Scrabble Birthday Cardâ?¦

I am 35 today. Halfway to 70…

October Recap:

Books Read: 8

Adult: 6
YA: 2

Favorite Book I Read This Month:

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My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

  Books Reviewed: 1

The Darkest Star (Origin #1) by Jennifer L Armentrout – 4/5 Stars

Books Read in 2018 Overall: 127

Funny Fridays:

October 26

Other Posts:

September 2018 Recap

Top Ten Tuesday: Bingeworthy TV Shows

Reviewing the Unreviewed: October 2018

Reviewing the Unreviewed: October 2018

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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Bad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher. Read September 28-30 (yes, this was September, but I finished it late in the month and it didn’t make the last post). 3.5 Stars. 

I started out really liking this and just how crazy all the characters are. I was completely addicted. But then about half way through I started to get a little bored. I thought things drug out a little long. And I was expecting Jolene to really be more crazy than the other two and have some master plan or something, but I found her incredibly boring. I kept waiting for something completely shocking to happen at the end and was left really underwhelmed. ****Maybe a spoiler-alert??? So is this story supposed to be something that actually happened in real life to the author? Is that what the ending means? If it is, it kind of annoys me that the story had to rely on something outside of itself and couldn’t stand alone. If that’s not what it was supposed to mean….then what was the point?? Can someone please fill me in!!

**Note: I did get some comments when I posted this review on Goodreads that this story is in fact based on something that happened to the author. While it’s crazy, I still wish it would’ve been addressed in an Author Note or something instead of having the twist at the end be “this is based on true events.”

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Without Merit by Colleen Hoover. Read October 5-6. 4 Stars. 

First, I want to say a big thanks to Brandie for giving this to me for my birthday last year! I also want to say I’m sorry it took me so long to read it! Though there were a few things I didn’t like (I thought dressing up the statue of Jesus was a little offensive), overall I thought it was a great story about family and communication and forgiveness. I can definitely relate to secret-keeping and lack of communication in family. I loved the characters, even when they sometimes frustrated me, and their whole quirky living situation was kind of fascinating. I am not the CoHo fangirl so many are, but this has been the second book of hers I’ve had a hard time putting down. I liked that the angsty romance wasn’t the main focus of this book, too. I really enjoyed this and definitely recommend it!

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Reluctantly Married (Married #2) by Victorine E. Lieske. Read October 14-15. 4 Stars. 

This was a super cute fake relationship story. I liked both the main characters and was definitely rooting for them. While it could have been maybe a little better plotted, I just enjoyed reading it so much that I’m bumping my rating up to 4 stars. I also thought this was a good example of how a Romance can still bring all the feelings without any of the graphic content, which is always a plus in my book.

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Acting Married (Married #5) by Victorine E. Lieske. Read October 16-17. 3.5 Stars.

Another cute, sweet fake-relationship story. This was a super quick read with likable characters. There was one major thing that bothered me, though. Tara sometimes acted like she had no say whatsoever in what happened. Like in the beginning when the topic of getting married to save Rick’s image comes up and was dismissed she says something like, “Thank goodness he didn’t insist.” Like because she was one of the maids in his employment she wouldn’t be able to say no if he really insisted? There were a few things like that that bugged me. But overall, it was cute and I shipped the romance.

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Blissfully Married (Married #4) by Victorine E. Liekse. Read October 18-19. 2.5 Stars. 

I did not like this book nearly as much as the other books in the series I’ve read. I had a really hard time liking Sidney. Blake was a little better, but I honestly didn’t care much for him either. I just couldn’t understand any of the choices Sidney made and found her really annoying. I also didn’t really get why Blake pursued her so hard. While I definitely recommend this series to Fake Relationship fans, I think it’s ok if you skip this one.

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Breaking the Ice (Juniper Falls #2) by Julie Cross. Read October 23-25. 3 Stars. 

There were parts of this book I really liked and enjoyed, but there were also very large portions where I was just rolling my eyes a lot. I don’t remember a whole lot of the first book in this series, but I definitely didn’t like Haley in that book (though she did kind of redeem herself by the end). I honestly didn’t really like her any better here. She really annoyed me about 90% of the time. I did like Fletcher, though. I thought the severity of his allergies were a little inconsistent throughout the book, but I did find everything he had to go through because of them interesting.

*****Back on the TBR*****

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Betrayed (Rosato & DiNunzio #2) by Lisa Scottoline. Some day I will actually get this book from the library and read more than a chapter. It just wasn’t this month.

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. After loving the Beartown series I decided to give this book a try. I only got a couple chapters in and just wasn’t into it. I’ll try it again someday, though.

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Say You Will (Summerhill #1) by Kate Perry. This book has been on my radar for years, but it’s never been at the library. Recently it was a free Kindle book and I snatched it up. Unfortunately, I just had such a hard time getting into it. I really disliked almost all the characters and pretty much everything they did. I’ll give it a try another time, though.

*****Book with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – 4 Stars

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – 3 Stars

The Smiling Man (Aidan Waits Thriller #2) by Joseph Knox – 4 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Bingeworthy TV Shows

I missed this Top Ten Tuesday topic recently and since tv is my second love, I still wanted to participate in it. So here is my list of Top Ten Bingeworthy TV Shows.

30 Rock

1. 30 Rock. This was always one of my go-to’s. It’s so funny. I can’t begin to tell you how sad I am that it’s not on Netflix anymore. I only have the first two seasons on dvd and I need to remedy that.

10 Types Of People In A Friend Group As Told By "Parks And Recreation"

2. Parks & Rec. Another go-to. I actually watched this entire series so many times that I had to take a little break from it. Ben & Leslie are one of my all-time OTPs.

Brooklyn Nine Nine! LOVE this show! Can't wait for the new season to begin!!

3. Brooklyn 99. This is probably my favorite show that is currently on tv. I love the cast and the humor. And Jake and Amy! I’m so happy that NBC picked this up after Fox cancelled it.

new girl is seriously my favorite show next to friends and big bang theory!

4. New Girl. I binge this show probably once a year or so. It’s great when you’re in the mood for something quirky.

The Office<<< that awkward moment when Angela is the tallest XD and I love how Phillis has her hand on the doorknob like " get me out of this hell hole."

5. The Office. While this show definitely lasted a few years longer than it should’ve, I still love it. I’ve been watching this one a lot more recently than I had in awhile and it’s not getting old yet. Jim and Pam are my OTP (we’ll just pretend the last season never existed).

Community- possibly one of the most brillant and well written comedies

6. Community. This is one of my favorite shows ever. It pains me to admit the last couple seasons were not very good, though. Still, we got our 6 seasons and I’m still waiting for the movie! #SixSeasonsAndAMovie

Bellarke through out the season finales. I wonder if it was Jason Rothenburg's idea to end the world long before season 5. It almost happened in season 4. #bellarke

7. The 100. I never really cared about this show until recently. While watching the most recent season I decided to binge it from the beginning as there was a lot that I missed. It’s definitely better to watch in binge-format. And I’m all about #Bellarke.

life unexpected: WHY DID THIS SHOW ONLY HAVE 2 SEASONS :'(

8. Life Unexpected. I didn’t watch this show when it was on tv, but I’ve binged it a couple of times now on Netflix. It’s only two seasons so it doesn’t take long and it’s enjoyable.

Gilmore Girls

9. Gilmore Girls. How many times have I watched this series? Far too many to count. This was probably one of my first binge-watching experiences. My college roommates and I used to watch this for hours at a time.

younger tv land - Google Search

10. Younger. This is a great show to binge watch! I didn’t watch it until right before season 4 started and I binged the first 3 seasons right before.

What are some of your favorite binge-worthy tv shows?

Review: The Darkest Star (Origin #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Synopsis from GoodReads:

When seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher is caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen…but he is in fact something much more powerful. Her growing attraction for Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she’d only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head…

#1 New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout returns to the universe of the Lux in this brand new series, featuring beloved characters both new and old.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Darkest Star will be available October 30, 2018. 

Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series is one of my favorite YA series and I was so excited to learn there was going to be a spin-off. Luc was such an interesting character in the Lux world and I always hoped we would get more of his story someday. While The Darkest Star didn’t give me all that I was anticipating, it was definitely a good start to this new series.

I think Armentrout definitely wrote this book so it’s possible to read without having read the original series it spun-off from. This is great for new readers, but it did provide me with some frustration. Lux fans already know what Luc is and we know his connection to Evie (maybe we aren’t supposed to connect the dots so quickly, but yeah). However, it takes to about the 45% mark before the word “Origin” is used. I felt like there was way too much build up for something I already knew. I also felt like the plot was pretty thin. The whole book is basically Evie finding out about Luc and her connection to him and how she deals with that. There’s a bit of a murder and mystery thrown in, but mostly there’s just a lot of up set up for future books.

Speaking of things I already knew, I thought that this book was extremely similar to Obsidian, the first book of the Lux series. There were scenes between Luc and Evie that seemed almost carbon copies from scenes of Daemon and Katy. I’m really hoping that symmetry was intentional. I was also expecting Daemon and Katy to play larger roles here, but Daemon is only in a few scenes and Katy is mentioned a couple of times, but never appears. I’m really hoping they pop up in future books because I will always need more Daemon Black in my life. I also liked the Archer cameo and would like more from him, as well.

So, despite some obvious issues, I did really enjoy this book. I have so much love for the first series and just being back in their world was so nostalgic for me. I’ve always liked Luc and I liked him just as much here. I also thought Evie was a pretty likable character. I really thought we were going to get Luc’s POV and was a little disappointed that we didn’t, but Evie was a good narrator so I didn’t mind it as much as I thought I would. I enjoyed the signature JLA banter between them and look forward to seeing their relationship progress.

Overall, I enjoyed The Darkest Star. I’m increasing my rating by at least half a star just because reading it gave me so much nostalgia for Lux. I’m already planning on going back and re-reading it. I honestly don’t know if I can be impartial enough to rate or recommend this book without letting myself be influenced by the first series. I do think that fans of JLA will enjoy this, especially if they read the Lux series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars