Mini Reviews: Heart With Joy, What We Keep is Not Always What Will Stay, & Insight

Summary/Cover Image from Author's Website:
In Heart With Joy, fifteen year old Julian Hale’s life is turned upside down when his mother suddenly moves from North Carolina to Florida under the pretense of running her parents’ motel and finishing the novel she has been working on for years. While Julian has always been closer to his mother and wants to go with her, she tells him he has to stay with his father until the end of the school year.

Six weeks after his mother leaves, Julian’s father decides to run a marathon. This surprises Julian because he has never seen his father exercise, but once he agrees to help him train the two develop the sort of close relationship they’ve never had before. Also, with the help of an elderly neighbor, Julian learns that the most important thing in life is to follow your heart. And Julian’s heart leads him to a passion for cooking and a young cashier at the local grocery store even as his parents drift apart. By the end of the novel, Julian is forced to choose between staying with his father and going to live with his mother.

Heart With Joy is an uplifting coming of age novel about cooking and bird watching, about writing and pottery, and about falling in love and the sacrifices we all make. But ultimately, it’s about following your heart and trusting that it will take you where you need to go.

Heart with Joy by Steve Cushman is the perfect example of why you should never judge a book by its cover. Prior to reading this one, it had been sitting in my TBR pile for a couple of months, because while it looked interesting enough, I wasn't sure if I would totally adore. However, just at it would happen, Heart with Joy ended up rocking my world. Not only was it a sweet and honest coming of age but it also contained some pretty amazing characters! Julian is a character any teen will be able to relate and any adult will be able to see parts of themselves in when they were Julian's age. What I loved most about Julian's character, though, was seeing the different relationships he began throughout this one. From the sweet and heartwarming friendship he shared with his old neighbor to the one with his dad that ended up surprising him the most to the one with Tia, a girl who ended up inspiring Julian in ways he could have never imagine...every one was nearly perfect. The writing in this one was also great, and while a certain part of the ending almost killed me, I loved this book to pieces. My advice to you? Pick up this book ASAP. It's a heartwarming and unique read!

Grade: A-

Heart with Joy (Goodreads/Amazon/Barnes and Noble) is now out!

Source: Author- thanks Steve!

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:
Angie never used to think much about God—until things started getting strange. Like the statue of St. Felix, her secret confidant, suddenly coming off his pedestal and talking to her. And Jesse Francis, sent home from Afghanistan at age nineteen with his leg blown off. Now he's expected to finish high school and fit right back in. Is God even paying attention to this?

Against the advice of St. Felix (who knows a thing or two about war), Angie falls for Jesse—who's a lot deeper than most high school guys. But Jesse is battling some major demons. As his behavior starts to become unpredictable, and even dangerous, Angie finds herself losing control of the situation. And she's starting to wonder . . . can one person ever make things right for someone else?

What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay is another unique and heartwarming as well as heartbreaking contemporary read. Amanda Cockrell constantly presented an interesting twist in this one through St. Felix. I was never really sure whether or not he was something science fiction like or maybe just a small miracle. Either way, I just loved his character, because not only was he sweet and serene, but he helped Angie grow in some major ways. Angie's overall story in this one was quite interesting as well. I found her friendship with Jesse to be something refreshingly new, and even though it didn't turn out how I expected it, it was still an high point to the novel. Cockrell's writing was also great, and given the exciting and one of kind twists and turns she puts in her books, I'm excited to see what's up next for her!

Grade: B+

What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay (Goodreads/Amazon/Barnes and Noble) is now out!

Source: Publicist at Flux

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:
Some secrets won’t let you go.

Elvira Witsil lives about as far away from civilization as you can get, in a remote corner of Wisconsin where nothing much ever happens. In a house crowded with her mother, her cantankerous grandmother, and her little sister, Jessie, Elvira feels forgotten and alone.

Their house also contains numerous secrets, and Elvira’s family holds their secrets closely. Secrets about the father that Jessie never knew, and that Elvira can’t forget. Secrets about that day five years ago. And the one secret that Elvira can’t quite understand: that Jessie sees things no one else can see.

These secrets will lead Elvira and her family on a journey far away from home—on a journey toward redemption and healing—if she can just bring herself to believe.

When I was first offered the chance to read and review Insight, I jumped at the chance. It looked like suspenseful and secret filed, and I just couldn't get over how enchanting the cover was. As it turns out, Insightful was well worth a read! First of all, the characters and plot events in this one were quiet interesting. They constantly kept me on my toes, dying to know what would happen next. I especially enjoyed the mystical aspect to this. And the ending was perfect... bittersweet as well as hopeful. I look forward to reading more by Diana Greenwood!

Grade: B+

Insight (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads) is now out!

Source: Publicist at DJC Communications- thanks Candace!

Book Trailer: 


  1. Great mini reviews! I haven't heard of HEART WITH JOY, but I'll definitely check it out. And wow, love the cover for INSIGHT! Thanks for the awesome reviews! :-)

  2. Wow, those all sound great, but especially Heart With Joy, that one sounds a little different, guy protags are def a rarity. Thanks Lauren, fun post!


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