Thursday, March 19, 2015

From the Start by Melissa Tagg



About the Book:

Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn't kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays...until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley.

 
Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend's hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he's lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he's never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it's like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn't part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that's ever happened to them?

My Thoughts:

I fell in love with Melissa's writing with her first novel, "Made to Last."  Her characters were so engaging and alive, and her imagination crafted unique stories that grabbed me from the first page and held me until the end.

But as I began reading "From the Start", I noticed something had changed.  This novel wasn't like her first books.  My own imagination perked up and paid close attention.

As I navigated the early chapters of Melissa Tagg's latest novel, I was impressed by one overarching thought. Melissa captures a gorgeous essence of the Father, working behind the scenes to orchestrate events that are best for His creation, or, in Melissa's case her children. The beautiful weaving of change and circumstance into the ideal plan was breathtaking and inspiring.

And again, much like the Father, Melissa took the fragments of broken dreams and wounded hearts and crafted good things for her imaginary people. Things not just for them, but for the good of those around them also. Her artistry is a true pleasure to watch.

That's right.  Melissa bends and weaves words like a master craftsman.  Not one syllable is wasted, and prepare for an emotional tug-of-war.  But know this: the reader always wins at the conclusion of the story.

Make room on your shelf for "From the Start" and make room in your heart for some unforgettable characters.  You know what?  Go ahead and leave a couple of spaces for her other books as well, because once you read a novel by Melissa Tagg, she'll be "Here To Stay".

Trust me, you'll love her "From the Start"!  And every book she crafts will be "Made to Last".  (Like how I did that?  Huh??  Huh??)

My thanks to my friends at Bethany House Publishing for my complimentary copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Highly, highly recommended!

Happy Reading!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Seek and Hide by Amanda G. Stevens



About the Book:

Six years ago, the government took control of the church.

Only re-translated Bibles are legal, and a specialized agency called the Constabulary enforces this and other regulations. Marcus Brenner, a new Christian, will do anything to protect his church family from imprisonment-including risk his own freedom to gain the trust of a government agent.

Aubrey Weston recanted her faith when the Constabulary threatened her baby. Now released, she just wants to provide for her son and avoid government notice. But she's targeted again, and this time, her baby is taken into custody. If only she'd never denied Him, maybe God would hear her pleas for help.
 
When Aubrey and Marcus's lives collide, they are forced to confront the lies they believe about themselves. And God is about to grab hold of Marcus's life in a way he'd never expect, turning a loner into a leader.

My Thoughts:

First of all, you need to know that this is the first book in a four part series.  That said, be prepared for major cliff-hangers!  Second, there was a time when this would have been pure speculation and pure fiction.

I personally believe we are going into a time when this kind of thing could really happen.  Which is why I found the book so frightening and disturbing.  Should Christianity fall under government control one day, this is a great manual for what could be coming.

Having said that, I had an issue with the main character.  And I believe the issue I had with him was deliberately planned by the author.  Amanda has created a he-man/martyr/walking guilt on the stick kind of guy.

Marcus is distant, a bit cold, and has a HUGE chip on his shoulder.  We receive glimpses into why he acts as he does, but only glimpses.  I'm hoping more of his background is revealed in future novels.  I wanted to like him, but it felt as if he wouldn't let me.

Which, of course, is excellent writing, because Marcus isn't real!

Then there was Lee, his best friend and someone who is carrying the past around with her like a fashion accessory.  This makes her stand-offish as well, and I sense that was deliberate.  Lee has been deeply wounded in the past and she has cement walls built up to guard her feelings. 

There's a weird kind of synergy between Lee and Marcus.  If one would drop his or her guard, the other would follow and a relationship could begin.  These two are either playing a stalemated game of chicken or just so stubborn a heavy wind would snap them in two.  Either way, I felt very chilled as I read the book.

Thankfully, Aubrey is open, honest, and equally tortured as Marcus and Lee.  But because Aubrey has a son, and a disabled son at that, she can't put up walls like the other two main characters have done.  She has to able to feel in order to care for her child.

You learn quick that caring in this future world can be most dangerous.

Unfortunately, and I won't spoil the book for you, tragedy strikes out of literally no where.  It was almost as if Amanda was editing and thought "I haven't tortured my readers enough, so I have to do THIS."  It felt abrupt, jarring, and made no sense to me at all.

It almost ruined the book for me.  I've decided to at least read the second book to see what happens in the aftermath.  That will help me decide just how I feel about "Seek and Hide".  By the way, the titles of each book are extremely clever and have their own meaning if you think about it for long.

My thanks to my friends at David C. Cook Publishing and Wynn-Wynn Media for my complimentary copy.  I'm recommended "Seek and Hide"....hope it disturbs you as well.  LOL!!

Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Candy and the Cankersaur by Jason Sandberg


About the Book:

This is the sweet and funny tale of a young girl named Candy and her Cankersaur Rex! Candy receives a dinosaur as a gift and is determined to train him to be a good pet.

This playful homage to Syd Hoff will make all dinosaur-crazy boys and girls happy!

 As a bedtime story Picture Book it's ideal for children ages 2-7.

My Thoughts:

The book description doesn't really tell you much, does it?  Allow me to fill in some empty spaces:

1. Candy is lovable.

2. Her father is too busy.

3. Because of #1 and #2, he tends to buy her extravagant gifts.

4. Her little neighbor covets (i.e., gets pouty faced and tries to one up her).

This story is cute and engaging, and is extremely whimsical.  I love Jason's motivation!  He wants to recreate the books from his childhood, and he takes great care with his writing and illustrating.  The drawings may look a bit simple, but go and check out his other books.

Every book has a different flavor and appeal, and I'm proud to introduce him to you with "Candy and the Cankersaur".  My thanks to author Jason Sandberg for gifting me a prerelease e-copy of his book for review.

Recommended, and I'm off to check out his other titles.  Very eye-catching artwork!


Happy Reading!

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Monday, March 16, 2015

When God Turned On the Light by Allia Zobel Nolan, Illustrated by Linda Clearwater



About the Book:

In her newest children's story, beloved author Allia Zobel Nolan treats her young audience to an unforgettable look at how God created the world. Imagine that day when God smiled and His love and light filled the Earth!

Set to rhyme and accompanied by Linda Clearwater's colorful and engaging illustrations, this story inspires 3- to 6-year-olds to imagine how fun it would be to dance through fields of brand new red poppies, spy on freshly created pink flamingos, and climb up just-made mountain peaks.

Best of all, children come to understand that God is the source of all life and that His Son, Jesus, came to live in their hearts and light up their lives.

My Thoughts:

Allia Zobel Nolan is one of favorite authors, and her books never disappoint!  The rhythm of the words is perfect for reading aloud.  Her word choices and clever and make me smile.  And her illustrators are always unique and bring life to the pages.

Her new book "When God Turned on the Light" is an engaging tale of creation.  Instead of just repeating the Biblical day and night story, Allia adds a bit of whimsy and wonder to her re-telling.  The story she unfolds is refreshing and accurate, but really makes the reading engage with ALL of creation.

"When God turned on the light, trees shot up, grass took root.

        He made red poppies blossom.  Plants bloomed and bore fruit."

The illustrations are more like paintings than pictures, demonstrating an almost 3-dimensional feel.  The color choices are vibrant, adding extra life to Allia's clever rhythm and rhyme.

Basically, Allia's books are always top notch quality, engaging and clever.  And she always points the way to discovering God's love.  I've enjoyed every copy I've been able to read and I look forward to many more books to come!

My thanks to my friends at Harvest House Publishing for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  Highly, highly recommended!

Happy Reading!

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

It's a God Thing: Volume Two, created by Don Jacobson and K-LOVE




About the Book:

More incredible stories of God’s intervention

Some things in life have no earthly explanation. It’s just a God thing.

Miracles are not reserved for the characters in the Old and New Testaments; they happen to everyday people today, all around the world. Series creators Don Jacobson and K-LOVE Radio Network (14 million listeners) have joined together once again to produce a remarkable collection of modern-day miracles.

Stories include:
  • A man who was mysteriously pulled from a broken truck as it sailed over a ravine
  • A young boy who made a full recovery after being trapped under water for seven minutes
  • A young girl who defied all medical prognoses and survived after her vehicle was hit by a train
  • A mother, compelled to drive across town, who found her nine-year-old son stranded and alone at a busy intersection
Experiences like these are far more common than one may realize. From more than 1,000 occurrences, these more than 50 stories were chosen for their ability to amaze, encourage, and inspire all who live each day with both faith and doubt, victory and despair. Each day, the sunrise itself is a sign of God’s miraculous hand, and these stories prove that it’s only the beginning.


My Thoughts:

Needing encouragement?  Pick up this book!  Needing a 'faith-lift'?  Pick up this book!  Enjoy things like 'Chicken Soup for the Soul'?  Pick up THIS book!

"It's A God Thing" is back, and the second volume of stories is even better than  the first volume.  The stories are moving and inspiring, and they are all TRUE.  The entire book is a testimony to God's love and care for His people.

I'd love to list the stories that really touched me...but I'm too lazy to copy the entire table of contents.  I can't think of one story that didn't lift me up and set me on the Rock.  Stories of supernatural rescue, divine appointments, and timely words of encouragement fill the book.

We live in a world that is full of noise and negativity, so a positive tale is like a true breath of fresh air for the soul.  I just read a news story on line about a 16 month old baby rescued from a horrific car crash.  Fire rescue reported hearing a distinct voice cry "Help me!", which drew them to the car.

They still cannot explain who cried out, but were moved by the circumstances and outcome, some of them to tears.  THAT'S the kind of story you'll find in "It's a God Thing: Volume 2".  And God's fingerprints are on every single story.

My thanks to my friends at Thomas Nelson W Publishing for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  Highly recommended!

Happy Reading!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Berenstain Bears County Cookbook by Mike Berenstain




About the Book:

It’s The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook! Bear lovers everywhere are sure to find favorite recipes for fun food in this new kid-friendly, cookbook--ranging from Bear favorites that use honey and berries to pie, a delicious stew, and even some Berenstain favorites like Jan Berenstain’s famous green lasagna.

Featuring breakfast, lunch, main meal, and dessert recipes as well as kid-friendly cooking tips such as food and measurement conversions, this is sure to become a go-to cookbook for delicious and fun recipes kids can cook with an adult.

My Thoughts:

This is the ideal book for the fans of The Berenstain Bears series!  Author Mike Berenstain has combined his skill at weaving a story with some fun and easy recipes.  I plan on trying a few of these myself!

The book is divided into four sections, five if you include the appendix.  We open with 10 tasty breakfast recipes, then move on to lunch with another 10 delish recipes for the midday meal.  Next are the Main Dishes, 10 delectable choices, and Dessert/Snacks rounds out the book with 10 scrumptious selections.

How about some "Bear-y Good Oatmeal" or "Bunny Biscuits" to start your day?  At noon try "Lettuce Wraps" or whip up a pot of "Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup".  Have dinner on your mind?  Why not try "Easy Enchiladas" or "Grilled Chicken with Carrots"?  And for dessert let's have "Banana Pops" or a slice of "Cola Cake"!

Each portion of the recipe book opens with a story that is fun and educational, and crafted in the tradition of The Berenstain Bears book series.  The illustrations are full color and introduce each section in a fun and engaging way.

My thanks to my friends at Zondervan for sending me a complimentary copy of "The Berestain Bears' Country Cookbook" in exchange for an honest review.  Highly recommended, and perfect for Easter Baskets!


Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Undone by Michele Cushatt



About the Book:

Undone is author Michele Cushatt’s quest to make peace with a complicated life. It is an honest confession of a diagnosis of cancer and the joys and disappointments of motherhood and marriage, ripe with regret over what is and, yet, still hopeful for what could be.

With enough humor to ease the rawness of the story, Undone takes the reader on a roller coaster two-year journey through the unexpectedness of life.

A look back makes Michele long for a do-over, the chance to make fewer mistakes and leave less of a mess to clean up.

A look forward makes Michele wonder if all her attempts to control life have robbed her of the vibrancy of it.

And, in the middle of this internal chaos, she finds her once-pristine house filled with the sights and sounds of three small, uncontainable children who just want to be loved.

In the end, Undone turns complication into a beautiful canvas, angst into joy, and the unknown into an adventure, revealing that sometimes life’s most colorful and courageous stories are written right in the middle of the mess.

My Thoughts:

Allow me to open this review with a statement I rarely use:  If I had the means to do so, I would buy this book by the CASE to give to as many people as possible.  The message of Michele's book is so universal, profound and desperately needed by people--especially Christian people.

We all long to 'get it right'.  But life tends to happen without consulting our plans, dreams and even abilities.  I know very few people who have never met an "Undone" moment at some point in their lives.  In fact, I must correct that to read, I don't know ANYONE.

Sometimes those moments are life-altering, like Michele's battle with cancer (which is still ongoing, so please pray for this lovely woman of God).  Other times the moment when we come "Undone" is the moment our marriage unravels, our child rebels, our income is lost, or a beloved person leaves this life unexpectedly.

I myself can point to several "Undone" moments.  The beauty of those moments is simply this: if we don't waste them, those moments can change us, renew our perspective, and make us into the person we truly long to become.

"Undone" matures our faith, and we need that maturation.  Yes, life is hard, God is good, and we are imperfect people loving and serving a perfect Savior.  All of those things tend to drive us to unrealistic expectations and create a false drive toward the unachievable goal to be right, solid, perfect.

What we need to be is easily molded, purified, and continually set apart for His will.  Michele writes with gut wrenching honesty, and a transparency that gloriously reveals Jesus in her life.  In the midst of her already challenging life, even more of the unexpected occurs, resulting in another moment of being "Undone".

This book is deep, real, profound, and honest.  My thanks to my friends at Zondervan for allowing me the opportunity to take part in the "Undone" book launch, and for a complimentary copy.  I personally plan on purchasing as many copies as I can to give out to friends and family.

"Undone" is a must-not-miss read, and is one of the best memoirs I've ever had the privilege of reading.  If you knew how much I read, you'd know that is a really huge statement!  And "Undone" is a book that will be permanently placed in my 'library of influence", to be read over and over again.

Please, do NOT miss out on "Undone" or meeting Michele through her writing.  And keep tissues near by.  Keep Michele and her family in prayer as she continues her battle with cancer an influencing lives for Christ.

Happy Reading!

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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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