August 2023 Reading Wrap-Up

Welcome, story lovers!

I hope you had a great summer reading season.

If you’d prefer to listen to this review, you can check out the full episode on The Bookmarks ‘n Blankets Podcast on your favorite podcast platform or listen below. 

I’d love to know what you’ve been reading or your thoughts on any of these books if you’ve read them. I invite you to hop over to my Instagram account where I have an August wrap-up post, and you can comment there. I’m also on X (aka Twitter).

Overall, I had an amazing summer of reading. I explored three areas of fiction that were very new for me – mystery & thriller, contemporary romance, and historical fiction. If I had to put them in order from my most favorite to least, it would be mystery & thriller, historical fiction, and contemporary romance. I’m very happy with all my selections these past few months. I read some wonderful books.

My Thoughts about Historical Fiction Books

I had the BEST month of the summer so far in terms of ratings. I had five 5-star reads. This was so exciting for me because if you’ve listened to any previous episodes, I haven’t had a 5-star read since March. I was getting pretty desperate for one (and a little grumpy if I’m being honest), so I was astonished that not only did I find one 5-star book, I found five 5-star books. I can’t believe I found so many…and in one month! I think that’s a testament to this genre.

After reading these titles this month, I love historical fiction books. I will absolutely be reading a ton more in the future. This genre is in my top three favorites. Honestly, I’m not too surprised because as I mentioned in the TBR episode earlier this month, I love historical fiction movies, so I knew that I’d really enjoy myself in this genre. However, what I didn’t expect is to fall head over heels in love with two subgenres: historical Western romances and Regency romances. These are my two new favorite types of romance books. The rest of the book world can have those mediocre modern romance books… give me all the historical romance books! They were so cute, so sweet, so charming, clean, and very swoon-worthy. My heart was so giddy and happy when reading them!

NetGalley ARCs

I also have a fun little announcement – I became a member of NetGalley. If you don’t know what this website is, they offer unpublished books (aka ARCs – Advanced Reader Copy) to book reviewers. So we get free digital copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. This helps authors and publishers with book sales when the title is released because there will already be reviews and hype around the book. 

I’ll admit that once they approved my application, I got a little click-happy and requested a lot of books that sounded really good. I didn’t know how long the approval process took, so I just requested a whole bunch. But then I got approved for almost all of them, so now I have a decent stack of ARCs to read and review, and they all have expiration dates. So now my book pile is competing with NetGalley’s book pile, and I’m trying to balance the two. But I was able to read three ARCs this month. 

I was also able to read three graphic novels. I know in my TBR episode I said that I didn’t have any graphic novels that would fit this month’s reading theme, but I went rogue and read one fantasy, and then I did find two others that were historical fiction. 

So I’ll talk about the three NetGalley books and the three graphic novels that I read in August in a separate episode, so you can check that out after you listen to this episode. I didn’t want this episode to be super long with everything…because there is A LOT!!

August Reading Wrap-Up

So in August, I read seven standard physical books, three NetGalley ARCs, and three graphic novels for a total of thirteen books – my biggest reading month so far!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Historical Drama/Romance
My GR Rating: 3
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jump start her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

My Brief Review: I didn’t hate this book and I wasn’t disappointed, but I did have problems with it and that’s why I rated it the way that I did. I don’t think this story is for everyone, so I’m still a bit confused by all the hype around it. However, I do understand why people like this book and give it rave reviews. It pushes the boundaries on certain taboo subjects and could be seen as controversial. I know Netflix is adapting this book into a movie. We don’t subscribe to that platform so I won’t be able to watch it, but even if we did, I don’t know if I would watch it. 

I was not a fan of the big, overall subject matter, nor do I agree with that lifestyle, but I do feel everyone should love who they love and live their best lives in whatever way makes them the happiest. I may not personally agree or like their choices, but I can accept and respect them. (And I’m being very vague here because I don’t want to spoil any big reveals for those who haven’t read the book yet.)

Overall, it was an okay story for me. It was well-written and pulled me in. In fact, it only took me two days to read it. It was compelling and a page-turner where I wanted to know what was going to happen next. There were a lot of layers to peel back, and TJR did a great job of weaving this tapestry of a story together about this big Hollywood movie legend, who was a pretty complex character. But if you’ve watched any of these types of movies, like I have, it’s your typical rise and fall of a star, and it’s not a happy story. In fact, I would call this a tragedy, but it did have its unique twists. The big reveal at the end was a little shocking, but it made sense and brought the story together and answered questions that were brought up at the very beginning. 

As for the characters, I didn’t think any of them were likable. They were all pretty terrible people. They all possessed traits that would be a turnoff to most people, and they constantly made stupid, bad choices. I didn’t even feel bad for them because their reasonings behind their choices and actions were selfish, greedy, and immoral. There was no redemption for any of them. And that was hard to get my head around. It was easy to not like any of these characters and maybe that’s what TJR wanted us to feel. If so, bravo, mam, you did your job well. I felt the same way when I read Daisy Jones and all the characters were unlikable and made bad choices. Maybe she just likes to write these types of books. But I did have a hard time caring about anyone. It wasn’t until the end, when I was at about the 95% mark, that I felt a slight tinge of compassion and empathy for a couple of the characters. 

This story was also an interesting commentary about the machine that is Hollywood. It really shows us how it lures people in with glitz and glamor with the promise or hope of fame and fortune. But then you see the vile, evil, disgusting side of this industry. We see how the machine chews people up and spits them out, moving on to its next victim. It changes people and usually not for the better. It was like we were in OZ and we pulled back the curtain of Hollywood. Everyone and everything is fake, contrived, orchestrated, and shallow. It’s all an illusion but fans just continue to eat it up. If there was one aspect that I actually did like about this story, it would be this – seeing the exposure of Hollywood and getting this interpretation of a behind-the-scenes look into this rather dark world that looks so shiny from the outside. Why anyone would want to live that life is beyond me. I get the desire for fame and fortune, but honestly, most stars today sell their souls to become famous but yet still feel empty and hollow inside. 

It was really hard at times to be objective with this review because my personal thoughts, views, and biases were getting in the way with many of the controversial subjects. I wanted to rate it lower. I wanted to write a book rant and criticize the hell out of this book. But, I tried very hard to keep an open mind and be objective with this story and see it for what it is – a story that was well-crafted and very immersive, whether I liked the subject matter or not, or whether I liked the characters or not. 

Do I recommend this book? I’m not sure. Like I said, I don’t think it’s for everyone but maybe to some, yes, I would. Will I read anything else by TJR? The jury is still out on that. I’ve read her two most popular titles and wasn’t impressed by either one, and still don’t really understand the hype around these books. Right now, I have no desire to read more by her, even though she is a good writer, but who knows. Maybe down the road, I’ll be open to trying another one of her books.

The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham

Genre: Historical Western Romance | Christian Historical Fiction
My GR Rating: 4
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.

Debut author Rachel Fordham invites historical romance readers to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where the people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.

My Brief Review: This is such a touching and moving story about loss, grief, beauty, and love. The romance is a slow burn, which I enjoyed. There is also a tiny bit of a love triangle, which was a nice touch. I loved the overall message about beauty and love – beauty is defined by each person, not by others or society. When you open your heart to someone, you see their individual beauty and it doesn’t matter what others think. What matters is how they make you feel when you are with them. This book had a lot of great quotes (I’d love to reread it and annotate it.). It was also a wholesome, clean romance story without any foul language or spicy scenes, which I enjoyed and appreciated. 

I really, really enjoyed getting to know Em and Caleb. They both are haunted by their pasts and continue to deal with the death of loved ones, trauma they faced, and inner limiting beliefs that they have about themselves. This is a friends to lovers romance trope, and I loved seeing them get to know each other and connect on a very real and raw level. They begin to open up around each other and bring out the best in one another. Em feels like Caleb has saved her. And Caleb feels like Em has helped him to heal. They both impact the other in ways they didn’t expect, which gives more depth to their blooming relationship. It was beautiful to watch. I also appreciated how mature and emotionally intelligent they were. They had enough courage to speak their minds and communicate with each other. In many modern romance novels that I’ve recently read, the characters just have no clue how to talk to each other. They don’t know how to express their feelings and emotions. But in this story, we see both of these main characters doing just that, which was really refreshing to read. 

I also loved this western town of Azure Springs. It felt inviting and cozy. I really loved the side characters and getting to know them. The family that takes Em in is so sweet and kind. They treat her like a daughter. Then, when Em finds work at a boarding house, the owner is this sassy, outspoken, lovable lady that brings some humor and touching moments to the story. 

I enjoyed the 19th century western historical setting, but I wished we had more atmosphere and descriptions to let us know that this story was taking place in the 1880s. You can definitely tell this story takes place in the past, but I wanted to be immersed a bit more than we were. Also, the pacing was pretty good for the most part. There were a few slow sequences in the middle that dragged on a little, but then the plot picked back up. However, I wish there was a bit more action or more conflict. We got a little but I wanted a tad more.  

This is considered a Christian historical romance book, but there was very, very little talk of faith in it. I would not even have guessed this was supposed to be a Christian book if I didn’t know it was labeled that way. I actually was hoping for more faith elements in it. It was a little lacking for me. But overall, I really enjoyed this story. I will definitely be reading more from this author and highly recommend reading this one.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Genre: Historical Drama/Romance
My GR Rating: 5
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, was forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

My Brief Review: I think what made this such a special book is that it’s a work of fiction but based on real lives. Just knowing that real people lived through such a horrifying, tragic historical event is both mind-boggling and inspirational. I was awe-struck by the courage, bravery, and determination these people had during their confinement in one of the most horrific, brutal concentration camps during WWII. 

Lale and Gita were both very likable characters. Both were heroic in their own ways. They overcame so much during their time in Auschwitz. There aren’t any graphic scenes in the book, but there are descriptions of the atrocities that happened in the camp between the SS guards and the prisoners. It made me sick to my stomach that human beings could be so vile and evil to each other.

This is a very emotional book, and I did tear up at times. The subject matter was very serious and difficult to get through. I really had to be in the mindset to sit down and read this book. I didn’t feel like it was a story to just pick up at time to read. But, the story itself was incredible. It was also very easy to read and extremely immersive. The things these people had to endure over a period of three years was heartbreaking and gut-wrenching. However, amidst all of the horror, pain, grief, and sadness, there was hope, a will to live, and even love. 

This is a story about finding genuine, true love during the bleakest of times. It was like finding the light in the darkest tunnel. It was an absolutely beautiful love story, and to watch it unfold was breathtaking. I admire Lale and Gita (along with all the other Holocaust survivors) for their faith that they would live long enough to see the end of the war and their freedom. It made me appreciate my own freedom and everything I have a lot more. I appreciated their gallantry for sharing their stories and giving us this amazing book with so many life lessons that we can learn from them. 

If you want to feel an appreciation for your life and life in general, you need to read this book. It’s so impactful. This is definitely a story where “not all heroes wear capes.” It’s heartbreaking as well as heartwarming, gripping, and compelling. I highly, highly recommend this powerful book. This is one that will stay with me for a very, very long time.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Genre: Historical Gothic/Mystery/Fantasy
My GR Rating: 4
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

My Brief Review: This was my first book written by this author, and my first gothic novel. Honestly, I did not know what to expect, but I knew it would be haunting, spooky, and generally, unsettling, which it definitely was. 

At first, I didn’t know what was going on. I kept waiting for the story to pick up in pacing, but this is a very, very slow burn. I was a tad bored at the start of the story and anxiously kept waiting for something to happen or for more of the story to reveal itself. However, the tone is extremely atmospheric, which I loved. It’s eerie, creepy, and a bit disturbing at times. We get incredibly immersive descriptions of the old mansion, the grounds it surrounds, and even the nearby town. 

The family in this story is very odd. There is something sinister and strange going on. You definitely feel like something isn’t quite right from the very beginning. As the story unfolds, we’re becoming more engaged with these characters, this strange, dark home, and the secrets that are kept very well hidden. 

Noemí is a likable main character. She’s sassy, witty, intelligent, funny, and a bit snobbish since she’s from high society. But we see that she wants the best for her cousin and wants to help her get better. Unfortunately, Noemí begins to fall under the spell of the family and mansion, and before she knows it, she’s swept up in the family’s secrets. 

I didn’t feel scared reading this book, but it was pretty creepy and disturbing. I started reading this story before bed, and then found myself having some strange or bad dreams, so I quit reading at night and switched to earlier in the evening. It is a bit grotesque in some of the dream sequences and descriptions, but nothing that I was too grossed out by. These dream sequences helped add that layer of uneasiness and eeriness to the story. 

I’ve seen my fair share of gothic movies to know that usually the reveal is not a ghost or haunting, but something strange and unusual, usually in the fantasy realm. I kept trying to guess the plot twist, but never did. The mansion they all stay in is very old and has a lot of mold and mildew, so I thought people were getting sick from the mold. But I couldn’t have been more wrong! To me, the big reveal was so unpredictable and bizarre that I had to read it twice to make sure I understood it. 

The first half of the book was a little hard to get through, but once we hit the 75% mark and get the plot twist, things really pick up, and this is where it starts to get good. I flew through the last quarter of the book because I was so engrossed with it. Honestly, my heart was racing a bit in those last few chapters. 

I could easily see this book being adapted to a TV series. I’m not sure a movie would be a great format but definitely a 10-episode series on one of the streaming platforms. 
For most of the book, I was feeling a solid 3 to 3.5 stars, but that final quarter and the ending made me push my rating to 4 stars. I really enjoyed it at the end and let it sit with me when I was done reading it and the more I thought about it, the more I really liked it. It was very well crafted. Definitely recommend this book! I will be reading more from this author!

Miss Newbury’s List by Megan Walker

Genre: Regency Romance
My GR Rating: 5
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: England, 1820 – Rosalind Newbury is counting down the days until her wedding to the Duke of Marlow, a man she has only met twice, and she knows exactly how she wants to spend her time. As a child, Ros created a list of ten things to do before her wedding day. So far, she has done none of them.

She is determined to tackle each item, though she’ll have to accomplish them all in secret. After all, a soon-to-be-duchess is not usually allowed to bury treasure in the pasture, eat sweets all day, or learn how to swim. She enlists the help of her best friend, Liza, who brings along her cousin, Charlie, a prodigal son-turned-boxer who has come to the countryside to mend his reputation and learn how to be his father’s heir.

Together, the three of them work to complete the list, and as each item is crossed off, an unlikely friendship blossoms between Ros and Charlie. The more time they spend together, the more Ros falls in love with this imperfect man and his good heart.

With the wedding looming, Ros must decide to either admit her romantic feelings for Charlie and risk her family’s future, or keep her promise to marry the duke and start a new life as a noblewoman.

My Brief Review: I absolutely loved this sweet, charming, wholesome (and clean!) Regency Romance book. The plot is creative and interesting. I loved how Ros wanted to achieve certain things before she got married. Though I wish her wishlist was posted at the beginning or end of the book so the reader could flip to it at any time to remember everything she was trying to accomplish. But this was a lot of fun! I never got bored, the pacing was great, and there were even some action scenes and suspense, which were pleasant surprises. 

All of the characters are very likable. Even though she tries to be prim and proper, Ros is a free-spirit at heart. She is also strong-willed, clever, resourceful, and a romantic. I love how determined she is to complete her list and how much it means to her. She’s a risk-taker and works on overcoming her fears, which is admirable. 

The trio of Ros with her best friend, Liza, and then Liza’s cousin, Charlie, are quite the friend pack. They are fun, adventurous, and pretty funny. I wanted to join their little click and go on the adventures with them as they helped Ros check off each item on her list. The prose wasn’t too lush or lyrical, but it was still descriptive and very immersive. I felt like I was in the English countryside with the trio, and visiting all these huge manor houses and estates. I loved the settings and felt transported to this Regency era. 

I also loved how accomplishing this list helped to change Ros and Charlie in the end. We learned more about them as characters, their motives behind things, their pasts, their desires, and it made them more human and relatable. We also see character growth and development, which I always enjoy in stories. The end was predictable, but there were a few scenes thrown in that I didn’t expect. I would love to see this turned into a movie or TV series. I think it could be a lot of fun to watch such a charming, cute story play out in a live-action adaptation. 

This is a clean Regency romance book – no language or spicy scenes, which I really appreciated. I love when authors like this one can prove that you don’t need those things to tell a very good, compelling love story. I will definitely read more by this author, and I absolutely recommend reading this book! This would be a great spring or summer read if you’re a seasonal reader.

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin

Genre: Regency Romance
My GR Rating: 5
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Follows the adventures of an entirely unconventional heroine who throws herself into the London Season to find a wealthy husband. But the last thing she expects is to find love…

Kitty Talbot needs a fortune. Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. Left with her father’s massive debts, she has only twelve weeks to save her family from ruin.

Kitty has never been one to back down from a challenge, so she leaves home and heads toward the most dangerous battleground in all of England: the London season.

Kitty may be neither accomplished nor especially genteel—but she is utterly single-minded; imbued with cunning and ingenuity, she knows that risk is just part of the game.

The only thing she doesn’t anticipate is Lord Radcliffe. The worldly Radcliffe sees Kitty for the mercenary fortune-hunter that she really is and is determined to scotch her plans at all costs, until their parrying takes a completely different turn…

This is a frothy pleasure, full of brilliant repartee and enticing wit—one that readers will find an irresistible delight.

My Brief Review: For my first Regency romance book, I’m just swooning right now. I loved this book so much!! I loved the story, the setting, the characters, the historical atmosphere, and the overall writing style. I really felt like I had been transported to London in the early 1800s. This book is so charming, funny, and wholesome. There is no foul language or spicy scenes, which I really appreciated. Sophie Irwin has proven that authors can write amusing, wildly entertaining romance stories without all the crassness. 

Many people have compared it to Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. I’ve never read any Jane Austin books, though I want to, so I can’t comment on the writing style compared to those classic books, but I have seen some Jane Austin movies and TV series, and I can agree that it felt very much like Pride and Prejudice. There are a lot of nods to it in this book, and some other reviewers said there are quite a few Easter eggs in the story, which of course, I didn’t pick up on, but if you’re a Jane Austin reader, then you’d probably enjoy those. 

The story is simple, but our characters and their motives and emotions are complex. There were some slow parts here and there, but for the most part, I really enjoyed reading about Kitty and James. I also appreciated how we don’t just get Kitty’s perspective but also James’ throughout the story. I know a lot of people would call this enemies to lovers but I would say it’s more frenemies to lovers. The banter was so satisfying and fun. Kitty is sassy, witty, and beguiling. James is snarky, skeptical, and cynical, but he’s also very charming and sincere. Both characters want only the best for their younger siblings and ultimately, their families. 

This was my first time introduced to the London Season, which was a lot of fun, full of parties and balls, fancy gowns, and dances. I really enjoyed getting to know this time period and culture. However, I’ll admit that even though the writing is superb, it was also a bit exhausting to read at times and I had to take a break.

This is a stand alone book, but I wish it was the start of a series. I didn’t want it to end! I wanted to keep reading about what would happen next for Kitty and James as well as the rest of the Talbot sisters. I will absolutely read another book by this author and continue reading Regency romance books. This was such a refreshing treat that I absolutely adored!!! I can’t recommend this enough. It would be perfect to read during the spring if you’re a seasonal reader because it takes place around the beginning of spring through the beginning of summer.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Genre: Historical Romance | Christian Historical Fiction
My GR Rating: 5
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.

Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.

Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything, Michael Hosea obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation until, despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.

But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she can no longer deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael Hosea does…the One who will never let her go.

My Brief Review: This was my first Christian fiction novel and my first historical romance book, and it completely has my heart, like I knew it would. I have seen the movie, so I knew that I would love this book. This was my favorite book of the month, and for good reason – there are SO many thought-provoking messages weaved throughout this harrowing and powerful love story. 

There are no graphic or explicitly described scenes, but it is a heavy read and touches on difficult subjects like prostitution, child trafficking, abuse, incest, sexual assault, and abortion. So you may want to read trigger warnings if you’re a sensitive reader. 

But this was such a captivating, powerful story about hope, redemption, and unconditional love. The writing style is not lush, flowery prose, but it is descriptive and pulls you into the story. You can feel Angel’s pain and internal conflict the whole time. It’s a dual POV so you also can feel Michael’s pain and anguish as he’s trying to heal Angel. 

I absolutely adored both of the main characters, Angel and Michael. Angel is just a lost soul that has been abused for most of her life. This has made her cynical, pessimistic, and stubborn. She has low self-esteem and self-worth, which is understandable. She feels too broken and unworthy of Michael’s love. It’s so heartbreaking to read, but then we see her begin to open up and become vulnerable with him. She begins to trust him, and then eventually starts to accept God into her life. We watch such a beautiful internal journey of Angel as her character develops and heals from the severe trauma she has experienced in her life. I was crying on multiple occasions. It was so touching and heartfelt. 

Then, we have Michael who was such an amazing man. He was loyal, kind, understanding, forgiving, hopeful, and optimistic. And he showed all these qualities to Angel through his actions and behaviors. He was determined to prove to her that he wasn’t like all the other men in her life or in her past. He was different, and she knew that, eventually. Michael is the type of man that I think all men aspire to be. He was very admirable. He was like that white knight but he also had his faults. He had to control his temper and rage. He had his own internal demons that he was wrestling with, and he continually struggled. But his convictions pulled him through and made him this honorable, faithful, and patient man. 

This book truly touched my heart and soul. I felt like some of the messages were speaking straight to me, like God was talking to me through this book. It was so powerful and inspirational. I can’t speak highly enough about this book. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read in my entire life. This is definitely on my bookshelf of all-time favorites. Highly, highly recommend it and the movie. I will absolutely be reading more books from Francine Rivers.

Monthly Wrap-Up

So if you listened to my TBR episode at the beginning of the month, I chose eleven books to be in my Pile of Possibilities (not including the graphic novels). I read seven of those books. The ones that I didn’t get to were: 

So those will go into my Leftovers List, and I have decided to start choosing from this list starting next month in September. I found a random picker generator online and “spun the wheel” so to speak, so I’ll be adding those selections to my Pile of Possibilities each month.

Until next time, my book friends, happy reading!

*Please note that I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program and a member of other affiliate programs. I may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made through links in this article.

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To listen to this podcast episode, head over to The Bookmarks ‘n Blankets Podcast on your favorite podcast platform. You’ll also find full book reviews, reading topics, self-care tips, and a whole lot more.

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Come soak up all the warm, fuzzy feelings! My name is Kelly, and I’m excited to share my thoughts and opinions with you about books, movies, and TV series. I’m also obsessed with all things comfy cozy, self-care, and personal development.

Join me as I snuggle up with my favorite blankets and yummy beverages, and talk about my favorite forms of art.


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