Category Archives: Katherine Reay

Lizzy & Jane, by Katherine Reay

**If you’re a skimmer, please be sure to read to the end… this will probably be long. 

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay struck my heart very uniquely. This book is about two sisters who live on opposite sides of the country. Lizzy in New York, and Jane in Seattle. Lizzy living the epitome of city life, busy with her restaurant and panicking that she’s about to lose it because she’s lost the spark in her heart for it; Jane determined not to let chemo get the best of her, yet at a loss for how to keep it from derailing her family. Both sisters unwilling to admit how closed off they have become and how guilty they both feel for being absent when loved ones needed them.

These characters became friends of mine.. they had depth, quirks, and flaws. 

To be completely honest, I started out very angry with Lizzy. She was full of herself and thought she had the answers to everything. I didn’t like her, and I certainly didn’t appreciate her attitude. After being reluctant to even call Jane, Lizzy decides she’s going to go cook for Jane, as a way of getting inspired to go back to her restaurant… She assures Jane that she won’t be able to turn down her food, and when Jane can’t eat what she makes (or, more accurately, when she gets sick on it and can’t eat any more), Lizzy takes offense. Oh my goodness.. get over yourself, Lizzy, and think about someone other than yourself. 

Jane has adjustments to make too though. She’s shut out her husband and her kids as a way of dealing with her cancer. Their life has become routine and monotonous, and I think she thinks she doesn’t really deserve any different. She has lost her joy but would never tell you that. 

After much trial and error, Lizzy finally begins to realize that she needs to ask Jane about her life, her cancer, her treatments, what tastes good vs what doesn’t… and not only ask, but actually listen and get to know her sisterIf there’s one thing Jane needs as much as food she can eat, it’s a good listener. A true friend in her sister. Loving her where she is. It was a process, but I began to like the character I was seeing in Lizzy. I loved the morphing I saw in both of them. 

This was quite a difficult read for me. I don’t know if you picture what you’re reading or not, but I do. And I saw Jane’s Infusion Center as my own, the waiting area at her oncologist’s office as mine. The parking lot? Same. One of our chemo drugs was the same, and not just in my mind. Maybe one of the steroid & anti-sick drug combinations too… (I remember mine but not hers.) 

When I was partway through this book, I mentioned some initial thoughts on it to the friend who had asked if I’d read it. I told her that the writer of this book had either been there herself or had really done some thorough research and listened to people close to her who had been there. Because wow. She captured so much, so accurately. Three years ago the day before yesterday was my second chemo. I may forget many things now, but certain dates and experiences are forever etched into my memory. This book brought emotions and physical things to the forefront of my mind that felt like they were yesterday. 

A thread of romance runs through this beautiful story too. It just sort of happens. It’s sweet and doesn’t try to take the spotlight. 

Lizzy & Jane gripped my heart in a way that rarely happens. Most of the books on my all-time favorites list aren’t stories I’ve connected with like this one. That doesn’t mean I love this one more, but it means I love it unlike most others. I so needed this book. I’m not sure I knew I did for quite a while, but I did.  

This book is a hotdog for me, no question. While I’m generally not big on hotdogs and am very picky about them, they were one of the few foods that I could eat consistently throughout chemo. That being said, I’m glad I read it now rather than during chemo when I originally picked it up and discovered I couldn’t read a book. 

I’d never read anything by Katherine Reay prior to this, but I will be reading more. (For those wondering, yes, there are connections to Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, but aside from the pride and preconceived notions involved in this story that I’ve already mentioned, I’m not going to expand on the connections.)


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Summer Reading Love ~ Guest Post by Jordan

Everything is made better with a good friend, right? I decided to do something different… I invited a friend to guest post on here! She always has such fun ideas and insights, and I know that my bookish browsing is brightened by her joy and love of books. Ever thankful for this sweet girl, I’d like to introduce you to Jordan! 

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​Hello my fellow book lovers! I am so excited and honored that Tara invited me to post – my friendship with her is thanks to our mutual appreciation of Christian fiction and I am grateful that God led our virtual paths cross and gave me such an encouraging, Jesus-loving, book-reading friend. She is a true kindred spirit!   There are few things I love more than reading and writing, so writing about reading = my happy place. As a college student, another thing I L.O.V.E. is summer vacation. No tests, no papers, no problem! Even better, more daylight and more downtime means more reading! So, to celebrate the end of homework and the beginning of my vacation into Fiction Land, here are the first five books on my summer reading list: 

#1: Twilight at Blueberry Barrens by Colleen Coble 

“Kate Mason has devoted herself to caring for her family’s blueberry barrens. But after her fields stop producing fruit, she’s forced to come up with alternative ways to make a living.

Renting out the small cottage on her property seems an obvious choice, but it won’t be enough. When entrepreneur Drake Newham shows up looking not only for a place to rent but also for a nanny for his two nieces, it’s almost too good to be true. And maybe it is—because Drake brings with him dangerous questions about who might be out to kill his family.

The more time Kate spends with Drake and the girls, the more difficult it becomes to hide her attraction to him. But a family crisis isn’t exactly the ideal time to pursue a romance.

Meanwhile, Kate learns that her uncle—in prison for murder—has escaped. Add to that a local stalker who won’t leave her alone, and Kate is looking over her shoulder at every turn. With threats swirling from multiple directions, she wonders if her blueberry fields will ever flourish again . . . or if this twilight is her last.”


I have been a fan of her writing for years and throughout the last semester, I have been on a Colleen Coble “kick”. When I wasn’t reading a textbook, I was devouring every one of her books that I have been collecting on my shelf. With incredible settings and exquisite imagery, they never fail to whisk me to another place – mostly recently to the breathtaking coast of Maine. I have been making my way through the Sunset Cove series and I am halfway through Mermaid Moon right now, so the most logical first book of summer vacation will be the conclusion, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens. It will follow the story of one of the characters introduced in the first book, so be sure to read them all! In keeping with the food theme of my friend’s charming blog, I suspect that this book is aptly named and will be like a warm piece of blueberry pie with a tangy-sweet center, crispy edges and those little sugar crystals on top. I am both dreading the thought of this series ending and itching to dive in! 

#2: Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh 

“Abigail Pressman would never have guessed that love notes penned on paper hearts by an anonymous couple could restore her belief in love. As a business owner in a quaint town at the base of the Rockies, she’s poured everything into dreams of expansion . . . and resisting the matchmaking efforts of the Valentine Volunteers, who gather in her store to continue Loves Park’s tradition of stamping mail with the city’s romantic postmark.

When Abigail is unwillingly drafted into the Volunteers, she encounters the paper hearts, a distraction that couldn’t come at a worse time. A hard-to-read doctor has become Abigail’s new landlord, and he’s threatening to end her lease to expand his practice.

As she fights a growing attraction to this handsome man crushing her dreams, Abigail is inspired to string the hearts in her store, sparking a citywide infatuation with the artsy trend. But when a new batch of hearts reaches the Volunteers, it appears something tragic has happened to the couple. Will uncovering their story confirm Abigail’s doubts about love, or could it rescue her dreams . . . and her heart?”
Just as Tara and I became friends through our mutual love of Christian fiction, books have and continue to connect me with people. I didn’t meet her this way, but I first bonded with my best friend over our mutual love of a particular author. To this day, some of our favorite things to do is swap books, hold miniature “book clubs” and just spend time together reading. #BestFriendsGoals, right? Anyway…a while back, I gifted her with Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh. It was a book that I owned and tried to read, but I couldn’t get into it. It may have just been the wrong time or the wrong mood, you know how it is. My best friend read it, loved it and handed it right back, saying it was “so me” and that I had to give it another shot! I’m excited to try it again and, based on the cover (which first tempted me into buying it), I think it’ll be like one of those grocery store bakery cookies with an inch of frosting that are crazy-sweet but totally worth it. 

#3: Wishing on Willows by Katie Ganshert 

“A three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa,  she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides.

So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight.

As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve, especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates with his own.

With polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender their plans to the God of Second Chances.” 
You know when you read something that hits you so hard, you have to go out and buy every other book that the author has released? (Tell me I’m not alone!). For me, that was Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert. That book, y’all. It reached the deepest, darkest crevices of my heart and showed me things that I didn’t necessarily enjoy seeing in myself, but that desperately needed to be brought to light. I walked away feeling comforted and convicted and hungry for more. With the help of a perfectly timed gift card, I literally went on Amazon the moment I closed the book and bought three more. That was at least two years ago and I have yet to read the next one. Crazy, I know. Life, school and other books have grabbed my attention, but I feel like now is THE time. I’m ready for more soul-tilling truth wrapped up in a satisfying story with real, relatable characters. If it’s anything like the first, it will feel like a firm hug straight from Jesus. Or a cup of strong coffee with the perfect amount of cream. 

#4: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay 

“Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.
Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.

But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.

Reminding us all that our own true character is not meant to be hidden, Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.”


Sometimes when your soul has been tilled by a book, you need to follow it up with something soft and soothing. Something that makes you smile. I imagine that’s what Dear Mr. Knightley will do. Just reading the description makes my heart feel happy and light. Warm fuzzies all around. A book about loving books, how could you go wrong? It’s been on my list to read for quite a while and I’m grateful to have won it in a recent giveaway. (Free just adds to a book’s sweetness, don’t you think? 🙂 ). I’m looking forward to seeing if this book is the flaky pastry with a raspberry filling that I expect it will be. 

#5 Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter 

“Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job and settled at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?”


Denise Hunter is the only author whose books I will preorder. I have been absolutely addicted to her writing for years now and the idea of waiting even a day to find it in the store is unthinkable! One of my very favorite things in life is getting my hands on her newest release and devouring it in a single sitting. Every other book (or chore or homework assignment) is put on hold until I reach The End. I have had Sweetbriar Cottage preordered since the beginning of March and I cannot wait for it to land in my mailbox on June 13th! I realized as I wrote this that I didn’t even know what it was about – with Denise’s books it doesn’t matter, I know I will love it! – so I had to read the synopsis. It gives me a very Sweet Home Alabama vibe, which just happens to be one of my favorite rom-coms. It also makes me think of one of my favorite treats – a tall, cold glass of chocolate milk. A sweet comfort that I consume too quickly and that leaves me wanting more! 

There ya go! I would write a better conclusion, but I hear a few books calling my name. Happy reading! 

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Thank you tons to Jordan for sharing!! 🙂 


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