Saturday, February 28, 2015

Unbound by J.B. Simmons


About the Book:

He must be released for a little while.
But the one who sees doesn't believe.


Elijah Goldsmith has nightmares he needs to ignore. Why would a rich kid from Manhattan dream three straight nights about a dragon and the destruction of St. Peter's Basilica? He's never even been to Rome.

It's bad timing, too. He's graduating soon and applying to be a spy in the International Security Agency. That's where he meets Naomi. She's the kind of girl who makes boys like Elijah want to share their secrets. Were they brought together to learn what his secrets mean? There's more to their sparks than they think.

This is 2066, the year the world ends.

My Thoughts:

If you enjoy fiction about the end of days, then J.B.'s novel will be very satisfying.  I'm not a huge fan of this kind of story, but I did enjoy the first few chapters.

Somewhere around the middle of the book the story fell apart for me.  By the time I finished I had no idea where the author was intending to take me.  Was Naomi a spy, or wasn't she?  Did Charles mean to warn Elijah, or didn't he? 

The worst part?  I didn't care.  People died, and I felt nothing.  Characters got in over their heads, and I just shrugged it off.  I was left feeling disappointed and dissatisfied. 

I appreciate my friends at Believers Trust for a complimentary copy of "Unbound" in exchange for an honest review.  The early chapters were promising, but the book ended up on a down note for me.  But, if you really like this kind of fiction, I'd advise you to take a chance.  It just might be your cup of tea.

It just wasn't mine.  Mildly recommended.

Happy Reading!

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Friday, February 27, 2015

How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauck



About the Book:

Behind him, beside him, before him, the synchronized cathedral bells began to ring out.

One, two, three . . .

Then she said it first. The words his heart burst to share. “I love you, Stephen. You are my true prince.”

An American heiress and a crown prince seem destined to be together. Will the devastation of war keep them apart forever?

American heiress Corina Del Rey caught her prince once. But the tragedy of war kept her too long in a fog of grief. Now she’s shifting her life forward, reigniting her career as a journalist. Still, nothing can relieve her of the secret and the love she carries in her soul.

Prince Stephen of Brighton is one of the world’s most eligible bachelors and a star rugby player, trying to make sense of his life. His days in Afghanistan with the Royal Air Command will mark him forever. And he can’t shake their dark shadow.

But when his brother, King Nathaniel, confronts him with a document the prince thought long buried and forgotten, Stephen is forced to face the pain of his past and the love he left behind.

With a little heavenly help, Prince Stephen and Corina embark on a journey of truth. But when the secrets are revealed, can they overcome, move forward, and find love again?

My Thoughts:

Whenever I pick up a book by Rachel Hauck, I know I'm going to find a winner.  Rachel has a knack for creating memorable characters in standout stories that are filled with humor, faith and heart.

I've enjoyed all of the books in her "Royal Wedding" series, but I really believe "How to Catch a Prince" is my absolute favorite.  This third novel in the series packs an emotional punch that will have you smiling through your tears as the story unfolds.

Prince Stephen is truly a tortured soul, and the perfect personification of what life is like when you are unable or unwilling to forgive yourself.  He also ideally illustrates how ridiculous it is to assume how another person will feel to a secret they know nothing about!

Corina has wealth, fame, and once had the love of a prince.  But it isn't until she truly surrenders her life to Christ that she finds true peace and purpose.  She's lovable, spunky and passionate, and one of Rachel's most memorable heroines.

Lots of tears, lots of healing, and enough wit to keep the story at a good pace, "How to Catch a Prince" is one of the best novels of 2015.  I had a bit of difficulty with The Manor and its caretakers, but when I finished the book I realized that my reaction to that part of the story mirrored Corina's.

Now, that's powerful writing!!  And, ultimately, I found myself wanting to book a room there for myself!  I also adored Madeline and Hyacinth, and found their "talk show" hilarious.  I'd love to see more of these two feisty ladies in another book if possible.

Do something for me.  Treat yourself to Rachel's "Royal Wedding" trilogy, and don't forget to pick up a copy of my all time favorite Rachel Hauck novel, "The Wedding Dress".  All are published by Zondervan Publishing and are available at your favorite place to buy books.

My thanks to my friends at Zondervan Publishing for providing me with an advance copy of "How to Catch a Prince" via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Highly recommended

Happy Reading!

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Dubiosity by Christy Barritt



About the Book:

Savannah Harris vowed to leave behind her old life as an intrepid investigative reporter. But when a friend raises suspicions about two migrant workers who’ve gone missing from the sleepy coastal town Savannah calls home, her curiosity spikes.

As ever more eerie incidents begin afflicting the area, each works to draw Savannah out of her seclusion and raise the stakes—for both Savannah and the surrounding community. Even as Savannah’s new boarder, Clive Miller, makes her feel things she thought long forgotten, she suspects he’s hiding something too, and he’s not the only one. Doubts collide in Savannah’s mind: Who can she really trust?

As secrets emerge and danger closes in, Savannah must choose between faith and uncertainty. One wrong decision might spell the end…not just for her, but for everyone around her.
Will she unravel the mystery in time, or will doubt get the best of her?

My Thoughts:

If you've never had the opportunity to read a novel by Christy Barritt, this is a great book to begin with.  "Dubiosity" displays her gift with words and ability to layer story upon story, giving a richness to the tales she crafts.

Savannah is haunted.  An event in her past has left some deep and still bleeding scars on her heart.  She has closed herself off from the experience of living, fearful that she might hurt again, or hurt someone else with her choices.

Can anyone relate?  I know I can!  You can almost feel the shadows of the past as they linger in her mind, giving off a chill of loneliness that Savannah just cannot shake.

Clive is haunted as well.  But his secrets could endanger Savannah just as she might be starting to open up again.  Is it ever a good idea to hide or pretend with someone?  You might think so, but you'll be rethinking that after you finish this book.  Honesty takes on a whole different and richer meaning after "Dubiosity".

The beauty of a novel by Christy Barritt is difficult to explain.  First and foremost, she knows how to tell a great story.  What causes her books to stand out is simply this:  Christy never wastes a single word.

Each word gives a vibrant description, lightens the scene, explains a solution, defines a character, or points the way to faith in Someone bigger than ourselves.  And she devotes the same amount of time to her background characters as she does the imaginary people in the forefront.

You need proof?  I dare you not to weep when someone dies in just the first few pages.  I dare you not to have deep anger issues with a character within five sentences of meeting this fictional person.

And I challenge you to read "Dubiosity" and not fall in love with this amazing storyteller.  Do something great for yourself, and check out a book that people are talking about.  My thanks to my friends at Waterfall Press for my complimentary copy of "Dubiosity" in exchange for an honest review.

"Dubiosity" and all of Christy Barritt's novels are highly recommended.

Happy Reading!

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Little Chick's Bible by P. J. Lyons, illustrated by Melanie Mitchell



About the Book:

The Little Chick’s Bible is a soft, cuddly Bible that children age 2-5 can call their own. Throughout this plush-covered book little ones learn that they’re loved and cared for by God as they hear about God’s faithfulness in stories from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

With sweet, rhyming text and colorful illustrations, this soft and cuddly character storybook Bible is sure to become a classic with preschoolers.

My Thoughts:

This is simply adorable!  The cover is plush and textured, with little wings that little fingers can cling to.  The beak opens and closes, and the case is clear with snaps to store the Bible on the shelf.

Inside are colorful illustrations and short stories based upon well known Bible stories.  Each story has a reference to the actual Scripture.  Both Old and New Testament tales are written in a rhyme and rhythm that makes reading aloud fun.

My granddaughter turns one this weekend, and "Little Chick's Bible" is the perfect gift.  Need something for a baby shower, or for Easter?  Pick up a copy of "Little Chick's Bible"!

My thanks to my friends at Zondervan for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  "Little Chick's Bible" is highly recommended.



Also by Zondervan, "Tiny Bear's Bible", is just as adorable and perfect for gift giving!

Happy Reading!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dirty Deeds by Christy Barritt



About the Book:

“Promise me one thing. No snooping. Just for one week.”

Gabby St. Claire knows that her fiancĂ©’s request is a simple one that she should be able to honor. After all, Riley’s law school reunion and attorneys’ conference at a hoity-toity resort is a chance for them to get away from the mysteries Gabby often finds herself involved in as a crime scene cleaner. The weeklong trip is a chance for them to be “normal,” a word that leaves a bad taste in Gabby’s mouth.

But Gabby finds herself alone for endless hours while Riley is busy with legal workshops. Then one of Riley’s old friends goes missing, and Gabby suspects one of Riley’s buddies might be behind the disappearance. When the missing woman’s mom asks Gabby for help, how can she say no?

Secrets abound. Frankly, Gabby even has some of her own. When the dirty truth comes out, the revelations put everything in jeopardy—relationships, trusts, and even lives.
My Thoughts:

Here's a something that always wanders through my mind as I read books in a mystery series. If you keep finding dead bodies, especially in a small town or community...why not move? Apparently, Christy Barritt feels the same way, because intrepid crime scene cleaner and crime snooper...I mean, solver...Gabby St. Claire is on the move.

And wherever Gabby ends up, trouble is certain to follow! On their first couples vacation, Gabby and Riley attend a law conference and a reunion of Riley's old college friends. He extracts a promise from his fiancé (Gabby) to stay out of harm's way and to hold off on her instinct for seeking out a good whodunit. And that would be Riley's first mistake.

One cannot ask another to ignore said person's basic instinct, especially when solving crime is as natural as breathing. When Gabby finds herself neck deep in the "Dirty Deeds" of others, will she lose her head? Or will her magnificent and wacky intellect catch the perp and save the day?

Always packed with wit, suspense and delightful characters (sometimes caricatures), a novel by Christy Barritt never disappoints. If you love your crime served with a heaping helping of humor and a healthy portion of faith, minus the sex and language, you cannot go wrong with a novel by Christy Barritt!

Happy Reading!

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Monday, February 16, 2015

SnuggleTime Devotions by Stephen Elkin



About the Book:

Children will grow in their understanding of faith and look forward to spending time with God as they read, play, hug, and get inspired through these 52 heartwarming snuggle time devotions.

Along with the short devotional reading and Bible story, each snuggle time moment features a game or activity to help kids remember the lesson and tuck it away in their heart. This book will get you and your child talking together, laughing together, and hugging together!

It’s a great way to strengthen your parent-child relationship while introducing young children to the joys of spending time with God. It’s also an effective resource for helping to shape behavior and for teaching kids biblically based life principles.

My Thoughts:

I truly love this devotional book!  The illustrations are fun and colorful, and the reading is brief, sure to hold the attention of even the wiggliest little one.  This is a great way to introduce daily Bible time with your children or grandchildren.

Each devotional is about two pages in length.  You'll find a title, followed by the story's location in Scripture.  I highly recommend having your Bible handy, so you can show your little one that their story is found in the Bible.

There is a verse to remember, followed by what is called "My Snuggle up story", a brief paragraph that tells the story in easy to understand language.  Next is "My Snuggle Time takeaway", the application of the day's reading.

Finally, the devotion closes with an activity parent and child can do to help remember the main point of the day's reading, and a reason to hug closes out the reading.  And the stories range from Old Testament tales to New Testament stories, giving little ones a sample of the entire Bible in bite sized portions.

My thanks to my friends at Tyndale for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  "SnuggleTime Devotions" is ideal for baby shower gifting, a spring surprise, and would be an ideal Easter gift.

Highly recommended

Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer



About the Book:

This handsome firefighter makes a living coming to the rescue, but Gin doesn't need a man to fight her battles.

After Raine’s dad walked out, Ginevieve Lightly never lived in one place too long, a rambling lifestyle that defined her daughter’s youth. When their car dies in Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin promises Raine they can stay until she finishes her senior year of high school. Gin will do anything to make sure her daughter has a bright future . . . a future that’s compromised when Raine reveals she’s pregnant.

Dan Moretti has only ever called Banister Falls home. After losing his best friend in a tragic accident, Dan devoted himself to responding to fires, rescuing the helpless, and guiding Cody Bennett, his best friend's son, through life. With Cody being the epitome of the good kid, it was an easy job. Until he says four little words: “The baby is mine.”

Knowing gossip of Raine's pregnancy will erupt sooner or later in the small town, Gin's reflex is to grab the suitcase and escape to a new city, a new life. But with each passing day, Gin's feet stay rooted in Banister Falls, and she falls a little more for this local firefighter who shows her not all men abandon women at the first sign of smoke.

As Gin and Dan do the best they can to guide the two teenagers through their early entry into adulthood, they discover together that romance can bloom in the rockiest of situations. And God can turn the pieces of a broken past into a beautiful new beginning.

My Thoughts:

As an avid reader, I face the difficult decision of which books I keep and which must be moved off of my already buckling bookshelves.  What I'm finding as time passes is that the quality of inspirational fiction, already quite high, has truly become top of the line for readers.  This discovery, in turn, makes deciding which books to keep and which to move on more difficult.

Within reading the first chapter of "The Dandelion Field", I knew I had a keeper in my hands.  Kathryn Springer isn't a debut author.  I actually have 'kept' some of her novels from years ago on my shelf and have missed her in the publishing world.

But this novel is fresh, new and full of life...much like a dandelion field.  And just as the seeds from a dandelion are caught by the wind to be sent far and wide, the message of this book must be passed on from one broken person to another.

Ginevieve is a wounded, broken young mother who only wants for her teen daughter what we all want: a life that is better, easier than our own was.  That, and apparently lots of puns--I mean, Raine Lightly?  How cute is that??

Evie Bennett is more like Gin that she realizes, but has "doing things in the proper order" separated her from reaching out and encouraging Gin and Raine?  Fire Captain Dan Moretti will have to help bridge the gap and help both families find the path for the future.

But this novel is about so much more than teen pregnancy and abstinence.  The layers go on an on as you read: authentic faith, unconditional love, coming to faith, maturity in faith, healing the past, letting go of our 'adult' children, and recognizing genuine love when it comes your way.

The story is emotional and touched a spot in my heart that I hope never toughens up.  As the daughter of a sixteen year old mother, age has taught me to love for what I was given and not hate for what I lacked.  And this is just one of the lessons of "The Dandelion Field" that readers must see.

My thanks to my friends at Zondervan Publishing for my advance copy of "The Dandelion Field" in exchange for an honest review.  I truly cannot think of a novel I've enjoyed more, and my only wish is that Kathryn is hard at work on another book.

Highly recommended.

Happy Reading!

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Monday, February 9, 2015

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant



About the Book:

Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more.

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie’s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat’s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself—her—is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat’s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

My Thoughts:

Excuse me while I do my version of the Happy Dance:  I've found a new author to love, oh yeah, oh yeah, on my bookshelf, on my bookshelf!

That you for that wee bit of indulgence, but I just finished "All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes" by Betsy St. Amant, and I'm in love!  Betsy writes with flare and takes you right to her setting and drops you in the middle of the story.  With characters that leap off the page, no less!

Kat is so adorable, and Lucas is head over heels for her.  Together, they make the cutest couple...or at least they would, if they had confidence in themselves and in each other.  Doubt is a nasty enemy, and a dream destroyer.

But Kat's creative confections sound just divine, and will make your mouth water.  In fact, I loved both Kat and her cupcakes to the point of wishing she was real and I could just hang out in her kitchen!

And Lucas has a huge heart, but he comes damaged as well.  Still, his faith in Kat and his support makes me want to special order a guy like him for my daughter!  Will his need for control squelch Kat's creative spirit?

This is the usual tug-of-war between girl and guy you find in most romance novels, but with a lot more fun and so much heart a tear or two will roll down your cheek as you read.  Betsy has captured what most of us suspect about reality television as well...makes me wonder how she did her research...hmmm...do we need to view old episodes to see if we can spot her?

Yes, she wrote it that well!  I have a lot more sympathy for contestants now, and no desire to ever compete!  My thanks to my friends at Zondervan Publishing for a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  Betsy is on my 'must read' list, and she needs to be on yours as well!

"All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes" is highly recommended and available now wherever you love to buy books!

Happy Reading!

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Weird and Wonderful Creations by Zondervan Publishing



About the Book:

Weird and Wonderful Creations is a bind up of the nonfiction Made By God series. With photos and facts showing children the wonders of God’s creation, this collection includes four complete early reader titles as well as over 200 additional facts throughout the book.

Some of the creatures featured include whales, tarantulas, bats, sea turtles, and more. All facts align with the Common Core Standards for informational reading for young readers.

Weird and Wonderful Creations includes:
  • Spiders, Snakes, Bees and Bats
  • Big Bugs, Little Bugs
  • Sea Creatures
  • Poisonous, Smelly, and Amazing Plants
My Thoughts:

I've always believed that good books for young ones can be about practical things, but still contain the message of God.  "Weird and Wonderful Creations" does just that, and the book is perfect for young readers curious about God's creation.

This is a great value, as it is four books in one.  The illustrations are actually photos, and very eye appealing.  Inside you'll discover lots of fun facts about a variety of God's creatures, from spiders to beetles (not the British singing kind!), from sea horses (fascinating little things), to unusual plant life.

My grandson is turning six in a few months, and he's fascinated by so many things in creation.  Just recently we were discussion bugs and how he would like a book that told him all about bugs.  And then I received "Weird and Wonderful Creations" as a gift from Zondervan Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Boys and girls will get a kick out of learning about creatures that are unique and quirky, as well as a few that are just plain gross.  But God made them all, and finding a love for creation will lead a path to one day embracing and loving the Creator!

My thank again to Zondervan Publishing for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  Highly recommended.

Happy Reading!

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Friday, February 6, 2015

The Sweetest Story Bible for Toddlers by Diane Stortz, illustrated by Sheila Bailey


About the Book:

The sweetest things surround your little girl's life: hearts and flowers, kittens and puppies, umbrellas and tea parties, kisses and hugs. But the sweetest thing of all in her life is God's love. The Sweetest Story Bible for Toddlers includes eight beloved Bible stories that show how much God loves his people and your little girl. This board book includes a padded cover, perfect for reading with little ones.
 
My thoughts:

As I've shared many times, I'm always on the lookout for quality books for my grandchildren.  My youngest is a granddaughter and she is about to turn one, so "The Sweetest Story Bible for Toddlers" is ideal.

The packaging and binding is ideal for toddler hands and baby mouths!  Pages are sturdy and thick, and the cover has good coloring and a soft padding.

Inside are colorful images depicting key stories from the Bible, such as creation, Noah and the ark, Queen Esther and the resurrection of Jesus.  One of my daughters took a peek at the book and felt the stories left out important details, but I reminded her that the book is designed for little ones, and includes the passages of Scripture from the Bible with each story.

I encourage parents to use these Bible story books for littles as springboards, allowing the book to grow with the child as they add to the reading with Scripture and discussion.  In my opinion, the book is adorable and lives up to its title.

My thanks to my friends at Zondervan Publishing for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  My granddaughter turns one this month, and this will make the perfect gift.  Recommended.

Happy Reading!

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

One Sentence Storybooks by Nancy I. Sanders, illustrated by Hannah Wood


About the Books:

This set of 10 delightful minibooks will help beginning readers recognize basic vocabulary words while learning about 10 favorite Bible stories. These creative books teach reading in the strongest way possible using repetition in a way that draws children in and brings them joy.

The last word of each sentence part in the story is the featured vocabulary word on that page for a total of four featured vocabulary words for each minibook. Each page builds on the previous one both in art and text.

The final illustration is always the whole scene of the story, giving an understanding of the sentence as a whole

My Thoughts:

As a Nana to four grandchildren, with the youngest about to turn one, I'm always on the lookout for quality children's books that are easy to read, easy to understand, and especially ones that point the way to faith in Christ.

So I was thrilled when Tyndale Publishing offered me a set of the new "One Sentence Storybooks".  The books are small paperbacks, ten to the set, with colorful illustrations and easy to read aloud text.

Each story represents a well-known true tale from God's Word: "The Sun and the Moon"--creation; "Two Mice and the Ark"--Noah; "The City Wall"--Jericho; "The Angel and the Cave"--Christ's resurrection...and more!

Each book opens with a one or two word sentence.   Each turn of the page builds on the foundational two words until you have one complete, easy to read sentence that describes the heart of each story.  The books are small, easy for young hands to grasp.

My only issue is the paperback design.  My granddaughter would literally devour God's truth if these should fall into her tiny hands!  I'd love to see a set of board books as well as the paperback version. 

But, for my learning to read grandson, "One Sentence Storybooks" is perfect.  That's why I'm so excited to introduce you to this new publication from Tyndale Publishing.  I received a complimentary set of "One Sentence Storybooks" in exchange for an honest review.

Highly recommended, and perfect gift for first communion, baptism, baby shower, or Easter!

Happy Reading!

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh


About the Book:

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?

 My Thoughts:

I fell in love with Courtney's storytelling with her Sweethaven series (if you haven't read them, oh are you missing out!)  So when I found her new novel was coming, I put it on every wish list I had, and bought my copy on release day!

Yay me!

"Paper Hearts" did not disappoint.  The story was emotionally powerful and the characters easy to love.  Well, with one exception.  I wanted to give Kelly a good old smack...in Jesus' name.  She got on my last nerve and then some.

Abigail and Jacob are so broken, which is sad but makes them so appealing to the reader.  They both are searching for something, and it's the tradition of the paper hearts that ultimately brings them together.

I felt for Abigail.  Being wounded by love is so painful, but to be doubly wounded is tragic.  Her heart is so closed off, but she has so much to offer.  She's invited...or coerced...into joining the most unique group: The Valentine Volunteers.  What a bunch!  And what strong personalities!

Plus, can you imagine growing up with a mother named "Teensy"?  Sure, it's a nickname that stuck, but ohmyword....

Jacob is a martyr extraordinaire, and with good reason as we find out later in the book.  His daughter Junie is a delightful character, and thank God for his sister Kate.  She comes with her own issues, but she plays a huge part in Abigail's life, as well as Jacob's.

I absolutely loved this book!  It's release is just in time for Valentine's Day (NOW!), and it's sure to warm your heart in this cold, cold winter!  I'm so glad I got my copy, and "Paper Hearts" is going on my keeper shelf!  Highly recommended.

Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

 
 
About the Book:
 
The author of A Fall of Marigolds journeys from the present day to World War II England, as two sisters are separated by the chaos of wartime ...

She stood at a crossroads, half-aware that her choice would send her down a path from which there could be no turning back. But instead of two choices, she saw only one—because it was all she really wanted to see…

Current day, Oxford, England. Young American scholar Kendra Van Zant, eager to pursue her vision of a perfect life, interviews Isabel McFarland just when the elderly woman is ready to give up secrets about the war that she has kept for decades...beginning with who she really is. What Kendra receives from Isabel is both a gift and a burden—one that will test her convictions and her heart.

1940s, England. As Hitler wages an unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, hundreds of thousands of children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But even as fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence.

Acting at cross purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed.…
 
My Thoughts:
 
I've read some of Susan's novels, and I've always enjoyed them.  But the historical genre is not my favorite, so it's unusual that I will request a copy to read.
 
When I was offered the opportunity to read an advance copy of "Secrets of a Charmed Life" I must admit....it was the cover that drew me in.  Kudos to the designers!  But then I opened the book, and I was swept away.
 
"Secrets of a Charmed Life" reminded me why I love to read.  The story takes place during the reign of Adolf Hitler, and is set in England.  I've studied World War II many times, but place fictional characters in the midst of the Blitz and history comes alive.
 
I cannot fathom the fear and the pain one must face when life is so uncertain and dangerous that you must send your children away to live in safety.  Reading about the mass exodus of England's children was mind boggling, to say the least.
 
And I felt every bit of Emmy's resentment at being shipped off to the countryside and to strangers.  To be almost at the age of adulthood and yet treated like a child had to be maddening for her.  But when she made her pivotal choice I wanted to reach into the story and grab her, stop her from making that devastating choice.
 
This book is so well written that you'll be reading, then look up and be shocked to see that you are in 2015 and not in war torn England.  You'll feel the bombs as they hit, choke on the dust and debris, and feel the losses that come from that devastation.
 
Susan isn't an author in this instance.  Instead, she is an artist, creating a masterpiece of fiction that had me riveted from start to finish.  My only issue were the final chapters.  I enjoyed the storytelling within the story so much, that to be left reading letter after letter did slow down the book.  But that is such a minor quibble.
 
"Secrets of a Charmed Life" releases today, so get your copy soon.  You won't regret it.  My thanks to Susan for allowing me to be a part of her Dream Team in exchange for my honest review.  This one is highly recommended, and "Secrets of a Charmed Life" is a book I will read again!
 
Happy Reading!

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Believe, NIV


About the Book:

Grounded in carefully selected Scripture, Believe, NIV is a unique spiritual growth experience that takes you on a journey to think, act, and be more like Jesus. General editor and pastor Randy Frazee walks you through the ten key Beliefs of the Christian faith, the ten key Practices of a Jesus-follower, and the ten key Virtues that characterize someone who is becoming more like Jesus. Every believer needs to ask these three questions:

WHAT DO I BELIEVE?

WHAT SHOULD I DO?

WHO AM I BECOMING?

Each chapter uses short topical passages from the New International Version to help you live the story of the Bible. As you journey through this book, whether in a group or on your own, one simple truth will become undeniably clear: what you believe drives everything.

Using this edition of Believe, church families around the globe can now embrace a full ministry year through worship services, small group studies, and family activities. Learn more about this church-wide experience at Believe The Story.com.

My thoughts:

If you are at all familiar with "The Story", then you'll know quite a lot about the newest book in that series.  It's called "Believe", and it truly is a journey.  And one well spent.

I enjoyed taking a peek at "Believe", and I appreciated my friends at Zondervan for sending me a complimentary copy.  This book is perfect for new believers, young believers, or for those who have questions about what it means to follow Jesus.

The passages aren't lengthy, and the writing is easy to follow.  Basically you'll be reading some sections of Scripture along with a brief discussion.  Ideal for those who want to read through the Bible in a year, but want to start somewhere less intimidating.

Definitely recommended.

Happy Reading!

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Many Apologies....

For being absent from the reading world for so long!

Between the flu, the holidays, spending time with my grandchildren and handling chronic pain...

...let's just say my free time was sucked into the vortex of "Reasons Why I Can't Get Much Done".

But I'm back, and we have lots to share....so let's get this new year of reading started!

Happy Reading!

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

By Your Side by Candace Calvert



About the Book:

ER nurse Macy Wynn learned essential, gritty lessons in the California foster care system: land on your feet and trust no one. She’s finally located the fellow foster child she loves like a sister, but the girl’s in deep trouble. Macy’s determined to help, no matter what it takes. Her motto is to “make it happen” in any situation life throws at her—even when she butts heads with an idealistic cop.

Deputy Fletcher Holt believes in a higher plan, the fair outcome—and his ability to handle that by himself if necessary. Now he’s been yanked from Houston, his mother is battling cancer, and he’s attracted to a strong-willed nurse who could be the target of a brutal sniper.

When everything goes wrong, where do they put their trust?

My Thoughts:

Forget Shonda Rimes...Candace writes medical hope opera, and no one does it better...

"By Your Side" kicks off with a huge bang and the tension is high.  A sniper is on the loose, and no one knows when he or she will strike next.  The terror is palpable, and you'll find yourself sucked into the pages of the story within the first chapter.

Macy is a superb heroine: just flawed enough to make her easy to relate to, but with a strength that you can incorporate into your own life when troubles and trials come your way.  Well, at least by the end of the book, anyway!

I adore Fletcher, from his unique name to his love for family and his dedication to his job.  For Fletcher, his work as a deputy is more of a calling, and he's the one you want on your team.  My thanks to my friends at Tyndale Publishing and to Candace for my advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

All of Candace's books are excellent and I highly recommend them all, but especially "By Your Side".  Treat yourself to a good book (or two or three) as you ring in the new year!

Happy Reading!

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

At Home in Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong



About the Book:

Kaitlyn Reed and Steven Braden have always had a similar philosophy of life: when the going gets tough, they get going--out of town and away from the problem. Now they are both back in Last Chance, New Mexico, and trying to start over. Kaitlyn is working to reestablish a relationship with the seven-year-old daughter she left behind six months earlier.

Steven is trying to prove to his family that he is not the irresponsible charmer they have always known him to be. As Kaitlyn and Steven find themselves drawn to one another, one big question keeps getting in the way: How will they learn to trust each other when they don't even trust themselves?

With emotional depth and characters who leap off the page and into the reader's psyche, Cathleen Armstrong continues to delight her readers and win new fans. Readers will be thrilled to return once more to the small town they've grown to love.

My Thoughts:

I fell in love with Cathleen's ability to tell a gripping and emotional story when I read her debut novel, "Welcome to Last Chance".  I remember praying it would be a series...and low and behold, here we are at book three!

Kaitlyn earns your sympathy from the opening pages, and you'll be rooting for her through the entire story.  Steven, on the other hand, takes a few chapters to warm up to and to really grow attached.  Just like Elizabeth and the rest of Last Chance, you'll be warning Kaitlyn to keep her distance!

But once that precious little Speed Bump comes along, your heart with melt and you'll be praying for imaginary people, wanting to see their lives get back on track and to watch God bless them abundantly...even though, once again, they aren't real.

Olivia is just as feisty and adorable as she was in "One More Last Chance", and everyone comes back for an appearance in "At Home in Last Chance".  But I sense we have at least one more book in store...just can't confirm it.

My thanks to my friends at Revell Publishing for my complimentary copy of "At Home in Last Chance" in exchange for an honest review.  This entire series receives high marks from me...highly recommended.

Happy Reading!

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