Monday, June 29, 2015

London Tides by Carla Laureano




About the Book:

Irish photojournalist Grace Brennan travels the world’s war zones documenting the helpless and forgotten. After the death of her friend and colleague, Grace is shaken.

She returns to London hoping to rekindle the spark with the only man she ever loved—Scottish businessman Ian MacDonald. But he gave up his championship rowing career and dreams of Olympic gold years ago for Grace ... only for her to choose career over him.

Will life’s tides bring them back together ... or tear them apart for good this time?

My Thoughts:

Carla Laureano is a multi-talented author, and I adore everything she writes!  I've read the first book in this series as well as her first novel in the fantasy fiction genre....and she is just so good at telling a story that captivates and moves the reader.

Grace is so broken, your heart will ache for her.  Ian is so wounded and confused you can't help but pray for him....and HE'S NOT REAL!  "London Tides" is the kind of book you don't want to begin after 8 o'clock, unless you like playing the "Just One More Chapter" game.

The characters are well developed and nestle into your heart's imagination, intent on staying with you a good long while.  The setting is gorgeous described, and it adds to the story instead of bogging it down.

Carla knows the delicate balance between description and action, and she balances both beautifully.  An added bonus: Andrea and James are back from "Five Days in Skye", and play a pivotal role in the story of Grace and Ian's story.

Something else Carla does very well: she puts you in the character's shoes, allowing you to learn more about those who bring us stories from the front lines and the cost on their souls to do a job well done.  I see foreign correspondents differently now, and view them with more compassion.

"London Tides" also tackles the idea of sacrificing your dreams for another person, examining the benefits and the cost of letting go.  Ian needed divine wisdom in his decision making in order to benefit himself as well as Grace.

My thanks to David C. Cook for my advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  "London Tides" is highly recommended.  In case you were wondering, "London Tides" can be read as a stand alone novel, but why not invest in "Five Days In Skye" and get even more enjoyment out of your reading?

I invested in both stories, and I'm all the richer for my reading!!


Happy Reading!

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Reservations For Two by Hillary Manton Lodge





About the Book:

A culinary concoction of taking chances and finding love in the most delectable places 
 
Food writer-turned-restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa has more than enough on her plate. While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother’s past, it’s also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can’t give up.

Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home presents a different set of challenges. Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle – how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into to her life?

As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can’t help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother’s letters from the 1940’s provide wisdom to guide her present? Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries?

My Thoughts:

May I just say, I adore this author and her work!  Hillary is among my favorite "must read" storycrafters, and her newest series is simply delicious reading.  "Reservations For Two" is a second serving of delightful reading and intriguing recipes.

Both literary fans and foodies will adore this book.  Juliette is on a mission to uncover the truth about her family legacy.  Armed with only a photo and a hunch, she travels overseas to visit her roots and to find the truth.

Neil is her enthusiastic travel companion, and he wants to be in her life permanently.  He's passionate, engaging and loyal, and he loves Juliette with his entire heart.

Kind of.

What can you do when your life is on one coast and hers is thousands of miles away?  Can a long-distance relationship sustain love?  And will Juliette's new dream of co-owning a restaurant with her family come to fruition?

Hillary is a master storyteller and an iron chef.  Her recipes will have your mouth watering, and her prose will have your eyes tearing.  She writes with passion, emotion, and intrigue at her fingertips, and infuses her stories with life and love and faith.

I'm so thrilled with both "A Table By The Window" and the follow up novel "Reservations For Two".  This new book deepens the mystery surrounding Juliette's family history, tightens the bonds of her family tree, and explores how one can be in love....yet still be searching for that one undeniable feeling that trumps all others.

Don't miss this new and fresh series by Hillary Manton Lodge.  Highly recommended!

Happy Reading!

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren




About the Book:

Mortified after her semester abroad is cut short, Amelia Christiansen returns to Deep Haven, certain she isn’t brave enough for the adventures she’s dreamed of. The last thing she expects is for the man who broke her heart to cross the Atlantic and beg forgiveness.

Heir to a European hotel dynasty, Roark St. John has trekked from one exotic locale to another, haunted by tragedy and the expectations that accompany his last name. Amelia is the first woman to give him a reason to stop running. He’ll do anything for a second chance—even contend with Amelia’s old flame, who is intent on sending Roark packing.

While one surprise after another leaves Amelia reeling, Roark’s continued presence only highlights the questions pursuing her. Like him, is she running from the life God has called her to? Could finding her new place mean leaving home behind?


My Thoughts:

I must disclose something to you, my reading friends:  I have yet to read a novel by Susan May Warren that didn't end up an outstanding reading experience.  But I must also admit, I absolutely adore the Christianson Family Series far more than any other series she has crafted.

Do not make the mistake of labeling this series as romantic fiction.  To do so would not even come close to describing the message of the books.  Yes, romantic elements are a part of the stories.  But only a part.  To capture the essence of Susan's novels, one must go deeper in describing them.

It's best to call these books real life fiction, which on the surface seems like an oxymoron, or a paradox.  But trust me.  Susan breathes such power into her characters and her words that these novels read like biographies of living people.

So, when Amelia feels as if she has failed in her grand adventure of life, expect to feel defeated as you read along.  When Roark comes half way across the world to prove himself to Amelia and her family, expect to feel challenged and a bit treasured.

And when Seth throws out his chest and tries to stake his claim on Amelia's heart, prepare to feel defensive, conflicted, and torn.  Whatever emotion Susan has written into the story, you can be assured you will feel it to the very marrow of who you are.

Something else Susan does that makes this series so powerful is her continuity. We met Darek and Ivy in the first novel, and we spend time with them in every story, and they remain real and alive as if we'd just visited over dinner last week with them.

The same goes for the other Christianson siblings: Eden, Caspar, Owen, Grace, Darek and Amelia are all present and accounted for in each new novel.  "The Wonder of You" has Amelia in the spotlight, but be prepared to learn a lot more about Grace and Max, our spotlight couple from another previous book.

I don't even have to think about it when Susan has a new book releasing.  Before the ink dries on the page, I've pre-ordered my copy and eagerly await a captivating and engaging story.  In fact, I'm kind of sad that Owen's story will close the chapter on this amazing and perfectly flawed clan.

Do yourself a favor, and put all of The Christianson Family novels on your "to be read" shelf, and prepare for an incredible reading journey.  You won't want to move away from Deep Haven once you're done.

I may have to look into buying a home in that little town.  "The Wonder of You" (and previous books) is highly, highly recommended.

Happy Reading!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Gifting by K.E. Ganshert





About the Book:

"If science is right, then I am crazy. And crazy is dangerous."

Tess Eckhart has always felt things nobody else can feel. Then the Ouija board incident happens at a high school party. Her complete freak out sends her family across the country-next to a nationally-renowned facility for the mentally ill. Worried Tess suffers from the same illness that tormented her grandmother, her parents insist she see a psychiatrist.

But Tess is more concerned about fitting in at her new school, and hiding the fact that she's seeing a therapist at the Edward Brooks Facility. She's used to whispers and stares, but when it comes to Luka Williams, a reluctantly popular boy in her class, she's unused to a stare that intense.

Then the headaches start, and the seemingly prophetic dreams that haunt her at night. As Tess tries to hide them, she becomes increasingly convinced that Luka knows something-that he might somehow be responsible.

But what if she's wrong? What if Luka Williams is the only thing separating her from a madness too terrifying to fathom?

My Thoughts:

Oh.  My.  Word.

I am SO EXCITED for the YA genre in the inspirational fiction market!  We've got some stellar authors crafting the most amazing fiction, and K.E. Ganshert is on my Top Ten Must Read list with her debut offering, "The Gifting".

"The Gifting" begins a trilogy of YA novels that take the reader to the edge of imagination, where true speculative fiction lives.  Tess has an unusual ability that makes her life absolutely miserable.  We've often dreamed of the possibility of knowing the future; take it from "The Gifting" that a gift like that is NOT a blessing...

....it feels more like a curse.

Starting over as a new student in high school is tough, but when it's in the middle of the year and your brother can't seem to forgive you for the part you played in the move....yeah, it's brutal.  Throw in being an oddball, and you've got a recipe for bullying and shunning.

Enter Luka Williams.  He's handsome, mysterious, and a loner.  So when he attaches himself to Tess, rumors begin to fly and everything they do is observed and investigated for possible damaging gossip fodder.

Mix in the ability to see beyond our own reality, and you've got one of the hottest new YA books in today's marketplace.  I've loved Katie Ganshert's contemporary fiction, but this....this is pure gold!  I can hardly wait for the next book in this amazing new series.

I purchased a copy for my Kindle Fire, and devoured it quickly.  You can find a copy of "The Gifting" at booksellers everywhere, and you can find it online.  Whatever you do, do not miss out on "The Gifting"!

Highly, highly recommended.

Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Remedy by Serena Chase



About the Book:

PURPOSED by birth. DESTINED by prophecy. REVEALED by Truth.

Now, her time has come.

Having come to terms with her long-hidden identity, Princess Rynnaia E'veri is ready to take her rightful place. But before she can join her father at Castle Rynwyk, she must endeavor to fulfill a 200-year-old prophecy and defeat the Kingdom's ancient enemy, the Cobelds.

Joined by her faithful knight, Sir Julien de Gladiel, and a gifted group of friends, Rynnaia must trek a dangerous path through canyons, forests, and into the very depths of a mountain where, if the prophetic scrolls prove correct, she will face an unknown foe, alone. Treacheries will be discovered, sacrifices will be made, friends will be lost, and love will be tested, but if even one line of the riddled prophecy is misinterpreted, Rynnaia will fail . . . and the Kingdom will fall.

Beginning at the point THE RYN ended, THE REMEDY concludes an epic re-imagining of the classic Grimm fairy tale, Snow White & Rose Red, but the Eyes of E'veria series is only beginning

 . . . Book 3: The Seahorse Legacy (May 2014) begins an adventurous retelling of the classic Grimm tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses and an epic scope that will conclude the second 2-book set of the Eyes of E'veria series when Book 4: The Sunken Realm releases in 2015.

My Thoughts:

When I fall so deeply in love with a debut novel, especially in a genre such as fantasy, I always pause before picking a sequel.  In the back of my mind I always wonder if the second can be as epic as the first.  After all, the second novel is often the bridge book in a series, and can sometimes be the slowest of a series.

Well, I'm very pleased to let my readers know that "The Remedy" by Serena Chase is not only AS good as "The Ryn"....it's even BETTER...and that was as close to impossible as a task can be!

This second novel is a whopping 524 pages, but you will feel as if you've blinked and you've reached the last chapter.  Sweeping, epic, and stellar with memorable characters and a gripping tale that will have you playing "just one more chapter" until the wee hours of the morning.

Serena also lays foundation for the next two novels in this huge and wonderful story arc.  Even greater things are ahead for our beloved group of fantasy friends...and Serena has promised two more novels to wrap up the story in a fairly nice and tidy bow.

My only issue with this fantasy series is I WANT THE NEXT TWO NOVELS NOW!!!  And yes, "The Seahorse Legacy" is already available, but I'm no dummy.  I'm waiting until "The Sunken Realm" is closer to release date, because I already know I won't want to wait.

My favorite fantasy series of the year (which would literally be 2014, but I'm late to the reading party), and most definitely in my top five fantasy reads EVER, which includes The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter (as well as Jill Williamson's "Blood of Kings" and Laini Taylor's "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" trilogy).

So get reading, friends!  You're in for an epic feast for the imagination with "The Remedy".  Trust me...this is a thing I know!

Happy Reading!

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth K. Vogt




About the Book:

Wedding bells and storm clouds collide in the first engaging novel in a brand-new series about destination weddings, the power of love, and the possible mishaps and missteps that happen on a couple’s journey down the aisle to “I do.”

Paramedic Vanessa Hollister has put her adolescence behind her, including the unwanted label of being the new kid in town over and over again, thanks to her father’s military career. She’s overcome what her mother called “the biggest mistake of her life” and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Florida with her new fiancé.

But will the reappearance of her first husband from her what-were-you-thinking teenage elopement disrupt her dream of an idyllic beach wedding?

As a professional storm chaser, Logan Hollister is used to taking risks. However, a reckless decision during the last tornado season has him questioning the future of his team, the Stormmeisters. Coming face to face with his ex-wife eight years after their divorce compels him to confront his greatest regret: losing Vanessa. Does their past give him the right to interfere with her future?

A fast-moving, powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together as they evacuate to a storm shelter along with other residents of the Florida Gulf Coast. Forced to spend time together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other.

Vanessa and Logan are faced with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after?

My Thoughts:

To quote the younger generation:  Oh, the FEELS!!  I absolutely adore this new book by Beth K. Vogt, and I'm so looking forward to more in her new Destination Wedding series!

To be completely honest, I wasn't sure if this was a book for me when I first started.  See, Vanessa was already engaged to marry a guy, and I didn't really like the guy much at all.  But by the time Vanessa landed in Florida to begin plans for her destination dream wedding, I was hooked...

...that all began in chapter two, so I wasn't a hesitant reader for very long.  And trust me when I tell you that Beth knows her way around a great story...I have a feeling she didn't care much for Vanessa's current fiancé either!

Logan....oh my word.  How dense can one man be?  I just wanted to reach into the book and shake some sense into his ever lovin' storm chasin' head!  For a guy who likes risk and adventure, he sure did chicken out on our girl years ago.

Turns out Mr. Adventure Storm Chaser has regular old feet of clay, and he gets told on soon after Vanessa arrives.  Hilarity ensues, but don't forget to keep the tissues nearby.  Beth had me grinning and laughing on one page, and then tearing up so much I couldn't see by the next scene.

And the ending...oh, that ending!  Talk about exquisite...talk about emotional power....talk about TRUE romance....OH, THAT ENDING!!  It took me almost a full 30 minutes to get through the last two chapters...I kept having to put the book down to dry my eyes.

Yup, this book is a keeper and a half, and if you know of any young women seeking love and romance, give them a copy and tell them to look for a guy like Logan: flawed, but oh so teachable!  I had to run out and hug my husband once I'd finished reading the book...

....because, yes, I got myself a Logan:-)

Thank you to my friends at Howard Books for my complimentary copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  I cannot recommend this book enough to you.  I do believe this one goes on my Top Ten Reads for 2015!



Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Justified by Varina Denman



About the Book:

In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.

Justified perfectly captures the rhythm and romance of life in a small town, telling the unforgettable story of a woman searching for renewal, a man looking beyond what others see, and a community torn between judgment and love. It is the unforgettable story of broken dreams, second chances, and relentless hope.

My Thoughts:

Varina Denman won my heart with her debut novel, "Jaded".  She has sealed the deal with her sequel, a book more powerful and more captivating than the first.  "Justified" is a book you must not miss this year.

Fawn Blaylock was a member of the "let's scorn Fawn and her mom" group.  Now life has turned upside down for her and she's on the receiving end of the judgment, shunning and scorn.  Can anyone get close to Fawn without dealing with the fallout of associating with her?

True, it was Fawn's choices that put her in such a precarious position, but don't we all make mistakes, bad calls in judgment, and...sin?  Then who are we to sit on our moral high horses when we find broken people in our midst?

Sometimes I fear the church either takes "judge not unless you're willing to be judged" too far...but she also goes on the "pass judgment bandwagon" so many times she should have a lifetime pass to ride.  (hopefully you got the wit in that last statement...if not, just move along, nothing to see here...).

Thankfully, God forgives us all and He enables us to have the faith to ask Him for His forgiveness.  My heart ached for Fawn in "Justified"...and believe me, that took some powerful writing, because I couldn't stand her in "Jaded"!

Oh, what a difference a sequel can make! 

For such a tiny, one horse town, Trapp, Texas packs a lot of mystery and small town secrets.  Surprises and Varina's specialty, and she has a few in store for readers in "Justified".  My thanks to my friends at David C. Cook Publishing for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly, make Varina Denman and her "Mended Hearts" series a must-read on your list.  And prayer your daughters might one day find real life men like Dodd and JohnScott!

"Justified" releases June 2015, which gives you plenty of  time to read "Jaded", available now at booksellers everywhere!


Happy Reading!

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Ryn (Eyes of E'veria) by Serena Chase





About the Book:

Centuries ago, an oracle foretold of the young woman who would defeat E'veria's most ancient enemy, the Cobelds. But after two centuries of relative peace, both the prophecy and the Cobelds have been relegated to lore--and only a few remain watchful for the promised Ryn.

Finally, a child is born who matches the oracle's description, but a Cobeld curse accompanies her birth. Led to believe they succeeded in killing the prophesied child, the Cobelds emerge from hiding with plans to overtake the Kingdom.

But the child survived.

Secreted away and called "Rose" for the first nineteen years of her life, Rynnaia E'veri has no idea of her true identity until a chance meeting with an injured knight reveals not only her parentage and true name, but the task assigned her by the oracle: discover the Remedy that will destroy the Cobelds' power.

Now, her time has come.

Offered the assistance of pirates, scribes, storytellers, a young woman who died centuries ago, and the knight who is quickly working his way into her heart, Rynnaia is fortified with friends. But if the Ryn is to complete her task, she must come to terms with not only who she is, but for whom she must be willing to die. For the kingdom's survival depends on her.

THE RYN begins an epic re-imagining of the classic Grimm fairy tale, Snow White & Rose Red, which concludes in Eyes of E'veria book two: THE REMEDY.

...but the Eyes of E'veria series is only beginning.

My Thoughts:

Epic.

Exquisite.

Sweeping.

Inspiring.

Destined.

Yeah, if I had to sum up the experience of reading "The Ryn (Eyes of E'veria)" by Serena Chase, those would be the words I'd choose.  I'm a bit late to discovering the magnificence of this fantasy series.

I'd seen reviews, and I'd purchased my Kindle copy.  But I had other books to read, other reviews to write, and fantasy isn't my genre of choice.  Honestly, I believe God had me delay, because there is no way on earth I'd be able to read "The Ryn" without knowing the sequel was already released!

The dialogue is crisp and witty.  The action is well paced and exhilarating.  The characters are well developed and beloved.  And the story...

...oh, the story!

"The Ryn" has earned a place among some of the greatest works of fantasy that our world has ever read.  Elements of Tolkien, Lewis, L'Engle, Rowling and so many others can be found within the pages of "The Ryn".

What makes this book destined to be a classic is the subtle but powerful allegory.  Readers will close the covers with a richer, deeper understanding of God, His Word, and His Son.  Sacrifice will have a richer, deeper meaning.  And the characters...oh, the characters!

Lady Rose and her company lift from the pages and remain in your heart long after you finish reading.  I truly cannot say enough about how swoony and glorious this book is.  I'm eager and ready to dive into the sequel...but I shall wait a bit.

I still need to digest this banquet of words and images that my imagination has feasted on for the last few hours.  Run, do not walk, to purchase a copy of "The Ryn (Eyes of E'veria)" as quickly as you can, then lose yourself in the pages of one of the most epic, exquisite, sweeping, inspiring and destined novels of our time.

Yeah, I said it.  And I'm so thankful Serena wrote it.

Happy Reading!

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Found and Lost by Amanda G. Stevens




About the Book:

When Violet DuBay's friend Khloe confides that her dad is a Christian, it's the one secret Violet can't keep. Turning in Khloe's dad to the Constabulary is her duty. Her decision becomes an opportunity to infiltrate the Christian resistance; but as she gets to know Marcus, Lee, and the others, she's compelled to question the things her society has taught her about God and His followers.

Clay Hansen persuades his family to join him at an underground church meeting and brings Violet, his teen daughter Khloe's best friend. That night, the church is raided. He and his wife escape, but in the chaos, he loses Violet and Khloe.

How can he find them with the Constabulary monitoring his every move? If the God who once spared Khloe won't intervene, Clay will have to save her himself.

My Thoughts:

This is the second novel in Amanda's 'Haven Seekers' series, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one!  "Found and Lost" picks up near the end of "Seek and Hide", and brings back favorite characters Marcus and Lee.

Seen as the head of the resistance, Marcus continues to shoulder the heavy responsibility of protecting true believers from the con cops.  When Khloe and her best friend Violet get separated from Khloe's parents, it's Marcus who finds them and takes them to safety.

But it seems a spy is in their midst, and the house church from the first novel is now under arrest and undergoing re-education.  With nothing but government approved bibles available, how can anyone find the truth?  God will make a way if people truly seek Him.

The action is evenly paced and "Found and Lost" gives us another side to the conflict between the government and Christianity.  Families are torn apart and lives are stretched to the breaking point as each person must decide what to believe...because to believe in Amanda's world is a choice between life and death.

I look forward to the next novel in this dystopian series that sends a chill down my spine.  Be warned: it can be a very dark story, but Amanda gives us just enough glimmers of hope to keep the pages turning.

My thanks to my friends at David C. Cook Publishing for my advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  "Found and Lost" is most definitely recommended.



Happy Reading!

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Pirate and the Firefly by Tara McClary Reeves and Amanda Jenkins, illustrated by Daniel Fernandez





About the Book:

Oliver loves pretending to be a pirate, but learns that blindly following others doesn't leave him with a good feeling inside.

In this Scripture adventure, kids join Oliver as he rights the wrongs done by his so-called Pirate friends.

Through it all, Captain Oliver learns that following God's way is the true way to wisdom!

The second book in the Firefly Chronicle series brings entire sections of Scripture to life via imaginative, fantastical stories that use a passage from Psalms to help children understand and applly biblical truths to their lives.

Each book in the series will depict Oliver wearing a different costume as he imagines and adventures his way through God's Word with the help of Phineas, the firefly.

The series will address the felt needs of children ages 4 to 8 including courage, confidence, friendship and more with biblical truths about God.

My Thoughts:

I love a good story, and I especially love a good children's storybook!  Tara McClary Reeves Amanda Jenkins have crafted a winning book based on Psalm 1:1-3.

Oliver wears many hats, and for "The Pirate and the Firefly" he dons the pirate's hat.  Unfortunately for Oliver, it isn't the Captain's Hat.  Even more tragic is the captain of this motley brigade.

Stealing candy and tipping a little girl's wagon are just two of the shenanigans of Captain Cole and his band of merry seamen.  Each night, little Oliver's conscience prompts him to ask Mom a series of questions.

Just as Pinnochio had a cricket, Oliver has a firefly as his conscience, and said firefly is well-versed in Scripture!  The story is engaging and easy to relate with, and the illustrations are some of the best in the business, thanks to Daniel Fernandez.

This is the second book in a delightful series, and at the end of each story is a Parent Connection that shares activities, discussion questions and more.  Not only will your child get a great Bible-based tale, but you'll have some opportunities for quality time with your child!

My thanks to my friends at B&H Kids Publishing for my complimentary copy of "The Pirate and the Firefly" in exchange for an honest review.  Highly recommended!

Happy Reading!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Haunted by Charity Tinnin



About the Book:

Punish the guilty or save the innocent? He can't do both.

As a liquidator, it's Noah State's job to carry out justice for the Elite-which is why they send him to Metro Area Four. There's evidence of a resistance movement and chatter about a dangerous uprising. Noah's orders? Stop it at any cost.

Failure means death. But Noah's haunted by the blood spilled in his past and certain God has condemned him for it. Shedding more isn't an option.

Then he meets Maddison James, a hospital apprentice with revolutionary leanings, and glimpses a future he thought was lost. A future within reach if they can survive his brother's interference, a resistance more threatening than anyone imagined, and one unforgivable choice.

My Thoughts:

So, yesterday I told you just how important book reviews were, and that it was a book reviewer who led me to discover one of my new favorite novels. 

Today, I'm impressed with how knowing what an author is reading can lead you to discover hidden gems in the world of fiction.  Because I took Serena Chase's recommendation and read "Saving Yesterday" by Jess Evander, I discovered Charity Tinnin's book, "Haunted".

How good is this new read?

Well, I played the "just one more chapter" game until two a.m. and then I just had to sleep, but I literally dreamed about the novel and the characters.

Yeah, it's THAT good!

Imagine a new world where choices are limited and mistakes are immediately punished with liquidation (i.e., death penalty).  Government knows best and answers to no one, and you dare not speak out against lest you want a visit from the liquidators.

Funny thing about dystopian literature when written from a Biblical perspective.  In some ways the landscape is even more bleak and desperate than the general market offerings.  But you also find a richer hope, a sense of possibility that many times doesn't exist in current dystopian fiction.

Charity has a gift with creating flesh and blood fictional characters that burrow into your emotional core and force you to invest in their imaginary lives.  Noah is so torn between his placement as a liquidator and his desire for change that you can feel the tension in your own body as you read.

Maddison is so deeply wounded over the liquidation of her parents that her ability to trust Noah is shaky, and you feel her uncertainty as you turn each page of the book.

And Daniel...he's not real, but I wouldn't want to run into him in an imaginary dark alley!  But is he really one of the bad guys??  He is to "Haunted" what Severus Snape was to "Harry Potter".


From cars that can drive themselves to self healing medicines to heightened sensory awareness to dictatorship to persecution and love and romance versus action and adventure..."Haunted" has it all.  I'm in love with this book, and I can hardly wait for more!

I purchased my e-book and devoured it in one sitting.  "Haunted" is available for your e-reader or in print, and I urge you to get your copy today!


Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Saving Yesterday by Jess Evander



About the Book:

Her blood holds secrets she never knew existed.

Despite the fact that she acts as a parent to her alcoholic father, Gabby Creed feels pretty normal. But her life is turned upside-down on her seventeenth birthday when a bracelet appears on her wrist and sucks her back through time.

Turns out she's not even a little bit normal. She's a Shifter-a protector of humans and of history itself. And she's not alone. The other Shifters believe Gabby is special, even more special than the mysterious Michael Pace. Oh, and the Shades-seriously creepy creatures who feed off of human despair-are determined to capture her.

It's all a lot to absorb. So Gabby's grateful to have Michael as her Trainer-or she would be if she could get her rebellious heart under control. Then again, if the rumors about her blood are true, saving yesterday will be the least of her worries.

My Thoughts:

This is an obscure title that I devoured yesterday.  All other plans for Monday?  Down the drain.  We had company over for dinner...and I wanted to reschedule so I could finish.  As it was, I was up until the wee hours until I turned the final page.

So, how did I find this little literary gem?  It wasn't through a search...back cover copy didn't attract me...wasn't even the cover.  What sold me on the book?

A review.

Yup.  Even for reviewers, the power of a review is an amazing thing.  A dear friend writes reviews for USA Today, and she reads a LOT of books.  For Serena Chase to post on Facebook that this is one author you don't want to miss...well, I sat up and took notice.

And she nailed it.  "Saving Yesterday" is phenomenal YA fantasy fiction, and should be on your bookshelf.  I loved everything (except the editing--sorry, but caught some glaring errors in text).  The characters were richly detailed, and the world building was spot on. 

When I read fantasy I MUST get lost in the story to the point that the real world is a hazy dream while I'm reading.  I did.  I MUST see growth in the characters.  I did.  And I MUST crave more once I'm finished.  I did.

Jess Evander is a writing force, and I can't WAIT for her second novel!  Fortunately for me, by the time I discovered "Saving Yesterday", I was one day away from the release of "Capturing Today", so yay for me!

My thanks to my friend Serena Chase for recommending such a stellar novel, and my eternal gratitude to Jess Evander for "Saving Yesterday".  Epic read, and highly recommended.

Happy Reading!

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Random Acts of Deceit by Christy Barritt




About the Book:

Break up with Chase Dexter, or I’ll kill him.”
 
Holly Anna Paladin never expected such a gut-wrenching ultimatum. But the man threatening her makes it clear he’s dead serious. With home invasions, hidden cameras, and bombs threats, Holly must make some serious choices.
 
Whatever Holly decides, the consequences will either break her heart or break her soul. She tries to match wits with the masked man, but he’s always a step ahead of her. The more she fights, the deeper she’s drawn into the perilous situation.
 
Dealing with the ultimatum, her sister’s wedding problems, and riots that have broken out in the city, Holly’s nearly at her breaking point. She must discover the identity of this mystery man before someone she loves dies. But the deceit is threatening to pull her under . . . six feet under.

My Thoughts:

Move over, Gabby St. Claire...there's a new girl in town...and she is rapidly becoming one of my favorite fictional heroines!

Well, not really.  I mean, don't get me wrong...I do adore Holly Anna Paladin and all her quirky vintage loving style.  She's just not new...this is her second in a series, and then there's that brief partnership she had with our beloved red-headed detective.

Christy Barritt has a knack for creating crazy, adventurous and accidental mysteries, and she's hit it out of the proverbial park with "Random Acts of Deceit".  Imagine a mysterious stranger in your dark bedroom, and he gives you the strangest ultimatum:

"Dump your boyfriend or he's a dead man."

Really?  Yup, that was my first thought when I read the opening chapter of "Random Acts of Deceit".  But I rapidly found myself urging Holly to break Chase's heart before Mister Mysterious did something undoable to our handsome hero.

Christy writes with wit, heart and faith, and she takes her heroines into the most unlikely--and sometimes deadly--places.  I've been a huge fan since I snagged a copy of her first novel, and this new series just seals the deal.  Christy Barritt remains in my top ten list of 'must read' mystery mavens.

I snagged a copy of "Random Acts of Deceit" for my e-reader, and devoured it in one sitting.  Oh, and good luck trying to figure out who's behind it all.  Christy is the Queen of the Red Herring, and I haven't been able to solve a mystery before the closing chapter as of yet.

Do yourself a favor and start with "Random Acts of Murder", the first book in the Holly Anna Paladin series.  And once you've caught up with Holly and friends, take a look at Christy's "Squeaky Clean" series, starring Gabby St. Claire and company!


Happy Reading!

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Princess Parables Sticker and Activity Book from Zonderkidz



About the Book:

Sticker books girls will love! The Princess Parables come to life through age-appropriate puzzles, activity pages, and 50 colorful and reusable stickers in the friendly and fun Princess Joy’s Sticker and Activity Book featuring Joy, her four princess sisters, and their friends.

Join Joy and her sisters in some creative and interactive fun with 16 pages of stickers and activities that are sure to please, featuring her father the king and her special animal friend Rosebud the Puppy.


My Thoughts:

With little girls everywhere enchanted by Disney princesses, "The Princess Parables Sticker and Activity Book" series is head and shoulders above anything the Mouse produces!

This series has five books, each with a different cover color and for a different princess: Joy, Hope, Faith, Charity, and Grace.  Each book shares a story about one of the five princesses, and includes stickers to help finish the illustrations, puzzles and lots of activities as you read along.

The books each come with 50 reusable stickers and lots of fun.  The illustrations are colorful and engaging, and the stories are well told and will hold a child's interest.  Once all of the activity pages are complete, the book can be saved as a storybook for bedtime, naptime, or your child's personal quiet time.

My thanks to my friends at Zondervan Publishing for my complimentary copy of "Princess Joy" in exchange for an honest review.  All five books in the Princess Parable Series are highly recommended!

Happy Reading!

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Friday, June 5, 2015

The Berenstain Bears God Bless Our Country by Mike Berenstain




About the Book:

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Matthew 5:14

In the newest Berenstain Bear Living Lights 8x8 title, the glorious fourth has arrived and the Bear family is busy decorating with flags and bunting. Brother, Sister and Honey are anticipating the big parade and all the fireworks but aren’t really thinking about the true meaning of the day.

But Mama and Papa make sure the cubs know just how much Bear Country is blessed with a quick lesson about the first Fourth of July.

Features 12 full-color stickers.

My Thoughts:

Excuse me while I get a bit political.

With photos and postings popping up everywhere encouraging people to walk on, spit on, step on and damage our nation's flag, the timing of this book for children couldn't be more perfect.

Now, on to my review!

I've never read a Berenstain Bears book that wasn't top quality in illustration and in story content.  Mike and Jan have created an iconic family of bears who live to teach us and our littles the best way to live life.

In "God Bless Our Country", Brother, Sister, and Honey Bear are all excited about the 4th of July Parade, but they aren't quite clear on the meaning behind the event.  Mama and Papa then proceed to tell them the story of the birth of the United States of America, and what July 4th means to us.

As an added treat, Zondervan Publishing (thanks for my complimentary copy) included a sheet of colorful stickers with the book.  And, as always, some great conversation starter questions wrap up at the end of the book.

This is a must have for fans of The Berenstain Bears, and a much needed book for America's children.  I received a copy of "God Bless Our Country" in exchange for an honest review, and I highly recommend this book.

Happy Reading!

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Day Is Waiting Illustrated by Don Freeman, Words by Linda Zuckerman





About the Book:

Don Freeman, the creator of Corduroy, was one of the most beloved and popular author/illustrators of picture books for children.

After Freeman’s death in 1978, colleagues and his wife decided to use his never before published artwork and make a commemorative book using his wonderful illustrations.

Paired with Linda Zuckerman's thoughtful rhyming text, The Day Is Waiting takes readers on a tour of our big, wide world and reminds us that no matter how far we roam, we always have home to come back to.

This classic tale is imbued with Freeman’s gentle humor, spontaneity, and his appreciation of the variety and complexity of human experiences, creating a book that children will enjoy reading again and again.

My Thoughts:

This is an absolutely gorgeous children's book, and a treat for me.  Don Freeman created one of my favorite storybook characters, and his illustrations for "The Day Is Waiting" capture the same essence of whimsy and playfulness he's known for.

The story is simple, but Linda chooses her words to carefully convey a much bigger story.  Each word is packed with promise and meaning, and with each turn of the page the world gets bigger, brighter and more inviting...

...until you reach the end and find your way back home once again.  The design and layout is amazing, the illustrations are captivating, and the words are world expanding and inviting.  "The Day is Waiting" is certain to become a children's classic.

My thanks to my friends at Zondervan Publishing for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  "The Day Is Waiting" is an ideal gift for any occasion, and a book parents and grandparents MUST have on hand for reading aloud with the little ones!

Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I'm Happy for You (Sort Of...Not Really) by Kay Wills Wyma



About the Book:

Is comparison living hijacking your life?

Do you find yourself measuring your value against your friend’s house, body, marriage, resume, paycheck, organic garden, or Pinterest-worthy holiday décor, and coming up lacking? Do your college roommate’s Instagram snapshots bear little resemblance to the scene at your house this morning?

Excessive comparison and competition sap our energy and steal our joy. Our friends become our audience and judges, and our kids become part of our brand. Add social media’s constant invitation to post and peruse, and it’s no wonder that we’re left exhausted, discontent, and lonely. Thankfully, there is another way!

With  refreshing candor and humor, Kay Wyma shares her experiences with comparison living and offers readers the simple remedies that helped her and her family reboot their perspective and discover freedom, authenticity, and joy.

My Thoughts:

For a book that majorly kicked my hind end around with it's convicting message, this was a lot of fun to read!  Kay Wills Wyma writes with both heart and humor, and that makes the medicine of the message go down a lot easier!

Maybe you're like me...you can't really think of any Jones's you're trying to keep up with.  I mean, we don't have new cars of a bright, shiny house, but I'm happy and content with my lot in life.  At least, I thought I was....

....then I remembered how "ahem"...envious I was of another blogger's review mentioned in an endorsement of a favorite book.  Or how green-tinged I can get when I see how many followers so-and-so has on her blog compared to my paltry following (this is an illustration--I'm very proud of my 160 + peeps!)

I realized all too quickly how easy it is to fall prey to the comparison bug, and how quickly it leads to discontent.  Truthfully, my favorite was chapter three when Kay talks about the power of the glimpse.  Basically, it's the split second it takes to notice a blessing someone else has received or a disappointment in our own lives and allowing it to balloon out of proportion.

Her solution?  Cultivating gratitude for what we have and disconnecting the power source from The Glimpse and plugging back into the True Power Source.  Something else I loved: true testimonies within each chapter about real people batting Obsessive Comparison Disorder just like you and like me.

Oh, and the quotes!  I love a book with quotes!  My thanks to my friends at Waterbrook Press for my complimentary copy of "I'm Happy For You (Sort Of) in exchange for an honest review.  No 'sort of' about it for me...this book is highly recommended!

Happy Reading!

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