The North Face of the Heart by Dolores Redondo

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Person peeking through hole titled "Thriller"
The North Face of the Heart book cover with dark clouds and statues
"Mystery" Genre card with dark woods and light in the distance

This was a thrilling story that takes the reader to New Orleans in the midst of a hurricane. I thought the author did a wonderful job of bringing the rage of the storm into the atmosphere of this story. It felt heavy and full of suspense, and I really enjoyed it!

Amaia is a detective from Spain, traveling to New Orleans to partner with the FBI to find a serial killer. I liked the mix between Amaia’s Spanish background and the American setting. I thought it was an interesting culture mix!

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The Essence of Nathan Biddle by J. William Lewis

Book Genre Block - "General Fiction" Person holding book
The Essence of Nathan Biddle book cover with large bird
Book Genre Block - "Young Adult" with 4 young adults

The Essence of Nathan Biddle is a timeless coming-of-age tale that, as novelist David Armstrong observed, “is like discovering The Catcher in the Rye all over again.” Protagonist Kit Biddle is a rising prep school senior who finds himself tangled in a web of spiritual quandaries and intellectual absurdities. Kit’s angst is compounded by a unique psychological burden he is forced to carry: his intelligent but unstable Uncle Nat has committed an unspeakable act on what, according to the Uncle’s deranged account, were direct orders from God.

The tragedy haunting his family follows Kit like a dark and foreboding cloud, exacerbating his already compulsive struggle with existential questions about the meaning of his life. When the brilliant, perhaps phantasmic, Anna dismisses him, Kit quickly spirals into despair and self-destruction. But when his irrational decision to steal a maintenance truck and speed aimlessly down the highway ends in a horrific accident and months of both physical and emotional convalescence, Kit is forced to examine his perceptions of his life and his version of reality.

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It Is What You Make of It by Justin McRoberts

Rating: 4 out of 5.
"Non Fiction" words carved into wood
It Is What You Make of It book cover with inflatable cactus
Book Genre "Memoir" with person writing with pen

Are you a glass half-full or a glass half-empty kind of person? This book will help you find a way to always make it a glass half-full kind of day!

Justin McRoberts shares his life’s stories with such a wonderful note of humor and honesty that it’s an absolute joy to read this book. I loved the way that McRoberts talks about not accepting a mindset of “It is what it is” but instead finding how we can make it what we want.

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Into the Deep by Robert D. Ballard and Christopher Drew

Rating: 4 out of 5.
"Non Fiction" words carved into wood
Into the Deep book cover with words in big wave
Book Genre "Memoir" with person writing with pen

I have always been interested in the Titanic’s wreck site, and when I had the chance to read this book, I was all about it! Bob Ballard’s memoir, Into the Deep covers not only his discovery and exploration of the Titanic’s site, but also so many other wonderful underwater finds!

This was a great read that really brought me along on some fantastic journeys! I loved that there were photographs included to bring these discoveries to life as I read. I feel like there was so much to learn, and so much I never knew about the Titanic, but also about all the other wonderful things Ballard has done for underwater exploration.

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Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table by Louie Giglio

Rating: 4 out of 5.
"Non Fiction" words carved into wood
Book Cover: Don't Give the Enemy a seat at your table - Words on solid yellow background
Book Genre Block "Inspiring" with letter tiles spelling "Do Not Give Up"

Wow, I flew through this book! This was something that I really needed in my life, making it incredibly impactful for me!

Louie Giglio’s self-help book, Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table, is a heavily Christian book. He prays at the beginning and end of the book, and the overall theme is not to let the devil have a seat at your table. Of course, the devil is not just the literal devil. He’s talking about how to stop letting anxiety, worries, fear take hold of your life.

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Only the Pretty Lies by Rebekah Crane

Book Genre Block - "Young Adult" with 4 young adults
Only the Pretty Lies book cover with boy and girl
Book Genre Tag "Romance": A couple kissing

This YA romance is a great way to start discussions around the topics of race, gender, and stereotypes! The story weaves these into the plot in a great way, and I really enjoyed it!

We meet Amoris, a senior in high school, as she reignites a childhood friendship with Jamison. Jamison just moved back to town, and as they become friends, and their relationship evolves, Amoris has the chance to see racism in ways she never noticed before.

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Stormland by John Shirley

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Copy of Science Fiction with pink background and oversized moon with reflection in water
Book Cover "Stormland" with two
Person in dark woods titled "Suspense"

I love a good post-apocalyptic story, and I completely got one in Stormland! I loved that the story made me feel the danger from the weather, from the travel, and from the people. It created a heart racing, edge-of-your-seat roller-coaster ride that I didn’t want to get off of.

I really enjoyed the characters. They fill the story out. The storm is always there, it might get quiet for a bit, but it always comes back, and I felt like I could rely on that throughout the story. The characters though, there was so much surprise, change, and growth, it complimented the steadiness of the roaring weather really well.

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When Stars Rain Down by Angela Jackson-Brown

Rating: 5 out of 5.
"Historical Fiction" genre card with glasses and book photo
Book Genre Block - "General Fiction" Person holding book

This book made me cry so hard! It was a beautiful, but heartbreaking historical fiction set in the 1930s. With a southern setting and a town filled with racism, hatred, and fear, this book spoke to me about our historical situations, but also noted today’s similarities.

I loved the emotional story surrounding the community and the people. Opal narrates this story, and ugh, I just felt her story. Her happiness and her heartbreak were mine to share. It was beautiful writing that created a character I was fully connected to.

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The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen

Rating: 5 out of 5.
"Historical Fiction" genre card with glasses and book photo
Book Genre Tag "Romance": A couple kissing

This was a lovely trip to Italy spanning two timelines. The beautiful descriptions of Venice truly transport the reader, making a vivid, picturesque story to read!

Caroline has just had her husband leave her when she receives a letter that 90-year-old great aunt is dying. She makes it to her aunt in time for her to give Caroline her dying wish. Great Aunt Lettie gives Caroline a box, three keys, and a sketchbook, and mutters “Venice”. So off to Venice she goes to unravel a great mystery.

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Everybody Fights: So Why Not Get Better at It? by Kim Holderness and Penn Holderness

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Book Genre "Memoir" with person writing with pen
Book Cover of "Everybody Fights" with
Book Genre Block "Inspiring" with letter tiles spelling "Do Not Give Up"

This book has changed my marriage. For Real! I will literally be re-reading this book for a long time. Each chapter speaks to a different part of your relationship, and it was just amazing!

If you are not in a relationship, I STILL think you should read this book. There’s a chapter on intimate connection, but other than that, I really think this book teaches us how to listen to and interact with humans in general. Not just the one you’re married to. I’m using things I’ve learned in this book to better communicate with my kids too!

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No Pain, No Gaines: The Good Stuff Doesn’t Come Easy by Chip Gaines

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Book Genre "Memoir" with person writing with pen
Book cover with author Chip Gaines
Book Genre Block "Inspiring" with letter tiles spelling "Do Not Give Up"

Wow. Just Wow. I really, really loved this memoir! Chip Gaines wrote this book to inspire and motivate me. I know, I know…that’s not really true, but sometimes when you read a book, it feels like the author was thinking of how to motivate you, and that’s how this one felt to me.

I haven’t ever watched Fixer Upper, which is the TV show that Chip and his wife are known for, so I wasn’t drawn to this book because of the fame, I was drawn to it because of the blurb about hard work. It sounded interesting. But it’s not just interesting, it’s filled with commentary that really made me pause and think about my life and the way I am living it.

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The Light Through the Leaves by Glendy Vanderah

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Book Genre Block - "General Fiction" Person holding book
Book Genre Block - "Emotional" Person standing between bright earth and desolate earth

What an absolutely beautiful story! This is my first book by Glendy Vanderah, and now I need to go read Where The Forest Meets the Stars by her!

This is a story that you just get lost in. Vanderah has a wonderful way with her words! The amazing descriptions of nature place you right into the scenes with the characters. It made me want to go reconnect with the earth, go for a hike, and feel the healing powers!

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