Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett — Review

Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

words and their meanings

I liked SO many things about this book. I highlighted more than I EVER have in a book before—amazing quotes! Kate Bassett has an incredible gift. Words and Their Meanings is so well written—I can’t even get over it. This book has the potential to be a runaway bestseller in the YA Fiction market, and I’m sure it will have movie buzz in the future. Anna is a main character in every sense—she’s the star player and other lives revolve around her, but not in typical fashion. Anna is dark, emotional, unstable, honest, immature, and scared. She’s traumatized by the death of Joe (her best friend/bruncle) and believes she is to blame. As a result, she makes herself into a teenage Patti Smith and rebels against all things ‘normal.’ Anna is surrounded by an amazing best friend, a nervous younger sister, a grandpa, and her mom. All the supporting players in Anna’s story are constantly worried about her. The story takes us through Anna’s discovery of secrets—some from Joe, and some from other important characters in her story. Bassett has crafted a beautiful, heart-wrenching, honest tale of grief, love, and finding oneself. I highly recommend Words and Their Meanings to fans of YA Fiction, General Fiction, and stories of working through grief and self-blame. Bassett is an author to keep your eye on. I can’t wait to see what she writes next!

Two of my favorite lines:

Art is an accurate statement of the time in which it is made.


In the long run, you need to understand that people—even the best people—are always more and less than we imagine.

Book Synopsis from Amazon:

Anna O’Mally is a born writer—gifted, perceptive, headed for the stars. Or she was, until the tragic death of her uncle Joe. He was barely older than Anna herself, and she worshipped the ground he walked on. Best of all, Anna got to live in the glow of knowing that she was the most important person in his world, too.

Anna has promised everyone—her shrink, her parents, her best friend—that Joe’s one-year “deadaversary” will be the end of her period of mourning. But when a strange note suggests that her saintly uncle had deep secrets, Anna stumbles into a chain of events that changes everything she thought she knew about the past, the possibilities of love . . . and origami.


“With a compelling voice and evocative prose, Kate Bassett establishes herself as an author to watch.”—Sara Zarr, author of The Lucy Variations and National Book Award winning Story of a Girl

“Bassett’s debut novel scores a hat-trick of literary merit in a strongly crafted and complex plot, deeply drawn characters with palpable grief, and beautifully woven and rich prose.”

“A heartbreaking and fantastic debut.”—VOYA 

Book Synopsis from Goodreads:

Anna O’Mally doesn’t believe in the five stages of grief. Her way of dealing with death equates to daily bouts of coffin yoga and fake-tattooing Patti Smith quotes onto her arms. Once a talented writer, Anna no longer believes words matter, until shocking discoveries– in the form of origami cranes– force her to redefine family and love.

As Anna goes in search of the truth, she discovers that while every story, every human being, has a last line, it might still be possible to find the words for a new beginning.

Author’s Info:





Words and Their Meanings is set to release 9/8/2014. Consider getting it for the YA Fiction fan in your life!

*I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Quilts of Love | A GRAND DESIGN – Kindle HDX Giveaway & “Fall into Fall” Facebook Party!

Don’t miss this month’s Quilts of Love book, A Grand Design by Amber Stockton. Who hasn’t struggled to let painful memories go and move into God’s healing? You’ll be sure to love this heartfelt and encouraging tale set on historic Mackinac Island.

Celebrate August’s release by entering to win a Kindle from Quilts of Love and RSVPing for the “Fall into Fall” Facebook author chat party.
Quilts of Love Kindle HDX Giveaway, Amber Stockton, A Grand Design

One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle HDX

  • A Grand Design by Amber Stockton

  • Hidden in the Stars by Robin Caroll

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 16th. Winner will be announced on the Quilts of Love blog. Plus make sure you RSVP to the October 7th author chat party with Amber Stockton and Robin Caroll for an evening of book chat, quilting tips and tricks, prizes, and more!

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on October 7th!

$200 B&B Weekend Getaway Giveaway & 9/9 Facebook Party with Deborah Raney!

The first book in Deborah Raney‘s new Chicory Inn series, Home to Chicory Lane, introduces us to Audrey Whitman, a mother who has launched all her children into life and now looks forward to fulfilling some of her own dreams during her empty-nest years. However, not all of her children are ready to stay out of the nest quite yet. [See my review here.]

Deborah is celebrating the release of her new series with a $200 B&B Weekend Getaway and a Facebook author chat party.


One winner will receive:

  • A B&B Weekend Getaway (via a $200 Visa cash card)
  • Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 9th. Winner will be announced at the Home to Chicory Lane Author Chat Party on 9/9. Deborah will be hosting a heartfelt book chat, giving away prizes, and answering questions from readers. She will also share an exclusive sneak peek at the next book in the Chicory Inn series!

So grab your copy of Home to Chicory Lane and join Deborah on the evening of September 9th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 9th!

Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney – Review

Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney

chicory lane

Home to Chicory Lane is the 1st book in Raney’s Chicory Inn Novels series. The series focuses on the Whitman family, and this title features Landyn (Whitman) Spencer and husband Chase. I absolutely love that the family house turned Chicory Inn is shown on the cover of this book. Upon seeing the cover, I was immediately transported to this Missouri bed and breakfast, and my stay couldn’t have been better! While I was so pleased with the picture of the inn, I was left wondering about some of the characters. I especially had a hard time picturing Audrey, the mother of the Whitman family. While we know her youngest child is 23 years old, I don’t think we’re ever told anything about her own age. I wasn’t sure if she’d have gray hair or brown, if she was in her 50’s or 60’s. That being said, I very much loved the characters. Landyn is annoying at times, and I think that’s so we’re able to see her growth throughout the story. It’s really neat seeing two very different places in one novel (Missouri and New York) both from the vantage point of someone who lives there, not through a tourist’s eyes. I found that unique and satisfying. Raney’s story illustrates God’s plan and perfect timing. Though we cannot see the endgame from the beginning, God knows what He’s doing. I was a little miffed at the typos toward the end of the book, but there’s not much else to complain about. Bonus: there’s a sample of the next book in the series at the end of this one! I highly recommend Home to Chicory Lane to fans of Christian Family Fiction, Christian Romance, and books featuring an inn or B&B.

UPDATE: I just found pictures of the author’s inspiration for the main characters here. Now I can picture all of them as she intended!

Favorite line:

We’re just–imperfect people trying to follow a perfect God.

Publisher Info:

Home to Chicory Lane || Book 1, A Chicory Inn Novel

Landyn longs for home, but her mother may have other plans.

Audrey Whitman’s dreams are coming true. Now that their five kids are grown, she and her husband, Grant, are turning their beloved family home into a cozy bed and breakfast just a mile outside of Langhorne, Missouri.

Opening weekend makes Audrey anxious, with family and friends coming from all over to help celebrate the occasion. But when Audrey’s daughter, Landyn, arrives, the U-Haul she’s pulling makes it clear she’s not just here for a few days. Audrey immediately has questions. What happened in New York that sent Landyn running home? Where was Landyn’s husband, Chase? And what else was her daughter not telling her? One thing was for sure, the Chicory Inn was off to a rocky start. Can Audrey still realize her dream and at the same time provide the comfort of home her daughter so desperately needs?
Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/ApPTf
About the author: Deborah Raney‘s books have won numerous awards, including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas—the setting of many of Deborah’s novels—for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita, where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies, and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away.
Find Deborah online: website, Twitter, Facebook

Deborah Raney also wrote one of my all-time favorite books, Playing by HeartShe wrote an updated and expanded version of the book and it released earlier this year as A January Bride, part of the multi-authored series A Year of Weddings. I hope you’ll check out her work!!

*I received this book free from LitFuse in exchange for an honest review.

A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson [Review]

A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson

bouquet of love

My Review:

A Bouquet of Love is the fourth book in Thompson’s Weddings by Design series. The main character is Cassia Pappas, the oldest daughter in a populous Greek family. Cassia is stuck–she feels tethered to her father by his apron strings and thinks she’ll never break away from the family business, Super Gyros. Loneliness plagues Cassia even though she is constantly surrounded by family. The family’s relocation from California to Galveston, Texas, was not something she saw coming, but it could turn out to be the best thing to ever happen to the Pappas family.

I first fell in love with Janice Thompson’s work when I happened upon a book called White as Snow. I enjoyed it immensely, and I’ve been keeping an eye on her work ever since. I haven’t read any of the other Weddings by Design titles, but I plan to in the near future. It usually takes me awhile to get into a book, but this one was different! I felt like I knew who Cassia Pappas was from the first sentence. I realized I was reading faster than usual, and that was because I just knew Cassia was a fast talker with a big personality. I rooted for Cassia from the beginning, and I loved the supporting characters as well. As a Texan, I thought a few things were overexaggerated, but that’s to be expected. Babbas and Laz are characters in every sense of the word, and Thompson wrote them so well! Cassia has a fondness for Judy Garland, so each chapter title is a Judy Garland song. The beginning of each chapter also has a ‘You know you’re Greek if…’ line, which I found highly entertaining and believable! Thompson’s series are a bit interconnected–this book is all about the Pappas and the Rossis. Characters from her ‘Weddings by Bella’ and ‘Backstage Pass’ series are also abundant in A Bouquet of Love. I really enjoyed this story. I recommend it for fans of christian fiction, christian romance, and family stories.

*The first book in the Weddings by Design series, Picture Perfect, is currently free on Kindle! Go here to get it.

Publisher’s Info:

She didn’t expect to fall in love–but roses aren’t the only thing blooming on Galveston Island

Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her boisterous Greek family–especially her father–has other ideas. They’ve all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant located on the Strand–directly across the street from iconic pizza place Parma John’s–and they want Cassia’s full participation.

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston’s premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family’s faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into this former Rossi’s good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop .

Janice Thompson

Janice Thompson

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at the wedding business, drawing on her own experiences as a wedding planner. She is the author of the hugely popular Weddings by Bella series and the Backstage Pass series, as well as Picture Perfect, The Icing on the Cake, and The Dream Dress. She lives in Texas. Learn more at http://www.janiceathompson.com.

*I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads in exchange for an honest review.

When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren – Review, Contest, & Giveaway!

When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren


When I Fall in Love is the 3rd book in Warren’s Christiansen Family series. While it’s the first title in the series that I’ve read, I have first 2 books in my to-read pile! When I Fall in Love is the story of Grace Christiansen, a homebody who fails to see her own potential, and Maxwell Sharpe, a professional hockey player with a heartbreaking secret. Warren also sets the scene for future books in the Christiansen family series by directing interest to Owen & Casper Christiansen and town newcomer Raina.

When I Fall in Love is such a good story. It’s optimistic & hopeful, honest, heartbreaking, and all too realistic. Warren’s characters are easy to fall for, and I know I’ll be coming back for more from the Christiansen family. This title revolves around three things: family, food, and trust in God. Warning: this book will make you hungry and leave you salivating. I only took breaks in reading to watch episodes of Top Chef on my DVR. When I Fall in Love is for fans of family series, Christian romance, and fiction that revolves around food. I highly recommend it!!

Favorite lines:

“He could nearly hear the walls crumbling, a gritty, brutal crash that left him weak as she floated off the elevator, turning his world to Technicolor. He hadn’t realized he’d been living in black and white and muted grays until that moment.”

Publisher Info:

A Christiansen Family Novel |When I Fall in Love

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled—or maybe yanked—away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.

Max Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.

Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace’s faith will face its toughest test yet.

Susan May Warren


Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award–winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God’s amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more. For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at http://www.susanmaywarren.com

Find out more about Susan May athttp://www.susanmaywarren.com/.

Win a KitchenAid Mixer in Susan May Warren’s Hawaiian Chef Showdown!

Susan May Warren When I Fall in Love

One grand prize winner will receive:

A KitchenAid Mixer

The first three books in the Christiansen Family Collection.

Melissa Ringstaff’s Kitchen Planner

Jackie Brown’s Freezer Inventory sheet

Grab your aprons and wire whisks and buzz on over to the When I Fall in Love website to learn more and enter the Hawaiian Chef Showdown! Susan is challenging you to make a Hawaiian-inspired dish using coconut, mango, or one of the other ingredients mentioned in the book. You’ll get extra points for creating your own recipe—plus she might share it on the When I Fall in Love site! Or if you’re not up for an adventure in the kitchen just click one of the icons below for easy entry.

Hurry, the giveaway ends on August 10th. All winners will be announced August 13th at Susan’s blog.

The Story Behind When I Fall in Love

Tell us a bit about the story behind your latest novel. Where did you find inspiration?

For better or worse. Richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. I’ll be celebrating 25 years with my amazing husband this summer, and as I look back it feels like time is but a blink. Just yesterday, I was walking down the aisle to his smile, wondering how I got so lucky. And life has been generous to me–four amazing children, a rich landscape of faith-building experiences.

It’s not been without challenges, however. Many a day, as I lived in Siberia, I thought . . . what did I get myself in to? And, we’ve changed, become different people. Life and romance didn’t always measure up. Thankfully, we’ve had a long-term view of the game. But what if I was only promised five years, or less. Or, what if he had a terrible disease that required me to care for him all our days? Would I have said yes to this adventure? It’s one thing to pledge yourself to love, and then endure through the unexpected challenges . . . completely another to look at life knowing the darkness is ahead.

I came upon the idea for this book a few ways—first, I had a friend who married her sweetheart, knowing he had incurable brain cancer. He died three years later, and she said it was the best three years of her life.

Then, I had another friend who married young, and just a few years into her marriage, her husband came down with early onset Alzheimer’s. She nursed him until she couldn’t care for him any longer, then fell in love with someone else and, although it was painful, divorced her first husband and married the other man. It haunted her.

It wonder if it was the perspective of knowing what lay ahead that helped the first rejoice, while the second felt robbed. Knowing her days might be few . . . my first friend feasted on every moment and ended well nourished, the taste of hope in her heart.

So often, in this Christian life, when things don’t turn out as we hope or expect, we feel robbed. As if, with our promise to follow God, like our promise at the altar, it guarantees happiness. Frankly, God promises us challenges, so we shouldn’t be surprised when they happen. But how, then, do we cope?

Psalm 84: 5-7 offers answers:

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

Pilgrimage. The journey . . . through life, towards heaven. God offers us refreshment in the desert, and places of strength along the way. What if our happiness isn’t only in what is ahead of us . . . but in embracing the now? In enjoying the moments God has given us, even in the midst of suffering? What if we lived with a mindset of rejoicing in the strength, the springs of today . . . in order to bear the desert of tomorrow? Perhaps the annoying vices of our loved ones might not be so frustrating. Perhaps our faith wouldn’t seem so starved.

I wanted a write a cooking story because we love food around the Warren house. My husband is a fantastic cook—he loves to follow recipes and create gourmet food on the weekends. I’m more of an “open the fridge and see what I can create” kind of gal. We could drive each other crazy. Max and Grace’s story shows me that perhaps we are, instead, a winning team, if we’re willing to embrace the moment, the current ingredients before us, and enjoy mess we make together.

Enjoy–no, feast–on the journey, one meal, one day at time.

What was the hardest part about writing your novel: Getting started? Keeping it going? Finding the perfect ending?

This story was the hardest because of the issues that Max faces–how could I write a happy ending for Grace? As a parent, would I want Grace to marry Max? Probably not. So I had to make Max worth it. And I had to create a situation that would make Ingrid and John supportive of Grace. And, I had to grapple with the situation in the book fairly and honestly, not diminishing the impact of the future, but not veering away from the truth of hope and the result of faith added to the equation. Probably one of my most difficult themes/stories to write because the ending isn’t easy. But life isn’t easy, so maybe that’s okay.

What trait do you love most about your main character?

I love Max because he is a passionate guy—although wounded, and he has so much going for him. If only he didn’t have this cloud hanging over him. But Max lives for now, and I wanted to set him free to enjoy the now, the escape to Hawaii—and then see how it might set him free to face his future, also.

When readers get to the last page, what do you hope they take away from the story?

There is joy even in the darkness, even when we feel as if God is not on our side. And that love is worth the cost.

What are you working on next?

I just finished the next book in the series, Always on My Mind, a story that picks up the subplot from When I Fall in Love, and carries it into the main storyline with the question: What if you see someone you love headed for trouble—but they’ve told you to stay out of their life. Do you interfere?


Set on the north shore of Minnesota, the series features the Christiansens, a family readers can identify with as they try to figure out how faith meets real life.

In Take a Chance on Me . . . (the 2014 Christy Award winner for Contemporary Series)

Darek Christiansen, heir to the historic Evergreen Lake Resort is angry since the loss of his wife. After a charity auction connects him with assistant county attorney, Ivy Madison, Darek begins to believe there might be love again in his future, but he’ll have to overcome his painful past – and Ivy’s secret connection to his wife’s death.

In It had to Be You . . .

Eden Christiansen’s job as handler for her NHL rookie brother, Owen, leaves her little time to focus on her own career. If only team enforcer, Jace, would mentor the young man. When Owen’s carelessness leads to an injury, Eden and Jace are thrown together and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

In When I Fall in Love . . .

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in the Aloha State, she is pulled away from her predictable life and thrown headfirst into the path of hockey player, Max Sharpe, and the romantic adventure of a lifetime.

Coming in February: Always On My Mind

I urge you to check out the Christiansen family series!!

*I received this book free from LitFuse in exchange for an honest review.