Friday, January 27, 2012

Belonging by Robin Lee Hatcher

Robin Lee Hatcher
Zondervan Publishing
Pub Date: August 2011
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Historical

In the high desert town of Frenchman's Bluff, Idaho, Felicia Kristoffersen has set out to create a future for herself that is better than her painful past. Alone in the world with only her faith to sustain her, she must prove herself as this tiny community's new school teacher. She cannot, must not, fail. But, there are those who never wanted her there to begin with. 
Five years after the death of his wife, local merchant Colin Murphy cares about just one thing: raising his daughter, Charity. Colin wants to give her the educational advantages he never had. The new schoolmarm's inexperience doesn't sit well with him, and if this teacher up and marries like the last one did, Charity's heart will be broken once again. 
A woman who hasn't known love. A man who lost the love he had. 
In the midst of the wide, sage-covered plains, each is about to discover that life's bitterest circumstances truly can work together for good.
Robin Lee Hatcher is a seasoned author. Belonging is no less than you would expect from someone of Hatcher's caliber. However, it also leaves very little to the imagination. Felicia is a likeable character and as a reader you'll find yourself resonating with some of the issues she faces. Colin is a troubled widower slowly being won over by the schoolmarm. Nothing new under the sun in this book. However, this is an easy read that will transport you to another time and place. The characters and developed well which makes for a very enjoyable read. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Zondervan Publishing for providing me a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

The Key on the Quilt by Stephanie Grace Whitson

The Key on the Quilt
Stephanie Grace Whitson
Barbour Publishing
Pub Date: Coming Soon! March 1, 2012
Genre: historical, fiction, romance

I was immediately hooked the minute I opened this book. You could not ask for a more unique story in the most unlikely setting. Taking place in woman's prison Whitson weaves her tale delightfully. The characters all have incredible depth and you immediately feel like they are friends. I found the setting absolutely fascinating and I appreciate all the research the author does for her books. While one might think this story revolves around a quilt that could almost be deceiving. The quilt plays a small but important role but this is not your typical "quilt book".

Whitson is an excellent author and I rarely read anything from her that I'm not completely taken with. She writes about people and places that she knows and she does so with effortless ability. Due in March this excellent read can be pre-ordered here .

God’s Plan Revealed. . .Stitch by Stitch
From a distance, the building may resemble a castle, but it’s the last place Jane Prescott, Mamie Dawson, and Ellen Sullivan thought they’d be, and the last place they expected to see love grow.
Broken in spirit and wondering if God has abandoned her, Jane is serving a ten-year sentence at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, even as she hides a startling secret. How will one caring physician help unravel the hidden meaning behind Jane’s courthouse steps quilt?
Mamie told God she’d go anywhere, never dreaming He’d send her to nurture women the world had forgotten. But while helping those around her, will she stubbornly keep the attentions of a kind guard at arm’s length?
Ellen was never going to leave Kentucky, but then marriage made her a Nebraska warden’s wife. Can she reach past uncertainty and fear to find God’s purpose in it all?
Together, these three women form an unlikely friendship that takes them to the end of themselves and, ultimately, on a journey that proves prison walls can neither frustrate God’s plans nor keep love out. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Barbour Publishing for providing me with a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Tall, Dark, and Determined by Kelly Eileen Hake

Tall, Dark, and Determined
Kelly Eileen Hake
Barbour Publishing 
Pub Date: 12/1/11
Genere: Historical, fiction, romance

Let it be said I am very tenacious when it comes to reading books. The do not have to grab me within the first page or the first chapter. However, if by chapter 5 I'm still completely lost then we have a problem. Unfortunately this book left me completely befuddled. I honestly haven't finished it yet and I'm not sure I will. I know Hake to be a decent author and aside from the corny title I was looking forward to reading this book. However, after five chapters I was more confused than ever. Because this was a digital copy I kept assuming whole chapters hadn't transferred properly. I even went online at midnight one night to see if I was missing something, but to no avail. 

Tall, Dark and Determined is the second story in the Husbands for Hire series by award winning author Kelly Eileen Hake. Perhaps if I had read book 1 I wouldn’t have felt so lost throughout Lacey Lyman’s story.  She and her four friends are seeking to rebuild Hope Falls after the mine collapsed, which nearly killed her brother.  They post an ad for husbands who can help turn the town into a successful sawmill.  The men arrive by the dozens, but none of them catch talkative and independent Lacey’s eye.    

The story goes on but to where and how I don't know and I'm not sure I ever care to. Certain things irritate me greatly and having and author forget that her readers don't live inside her head with the characters is one of them. I will read more from Hake in the future with the hopes that she finds her way back to weaving a readable and intriguing story. 
Thank you to Netgalley and Barbour Publishing for providing me with a free digital copy in exchange for me honest review.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Irish Healer by Nancy Herriman

The Irish Healer
Nancy Herriman
Worthy Publishing
Historical Fiction, Romance, Medical
Publication date: Coming Soon: April 2012

Accused of murdering a child under her care, Irish healer Rachel Dunne flees the ensuing scandal while vowing to never sit at another sickbed. She no longer trusts in her abilities—or God’s mercy. But when a cholera epidemic sweeps through London, she feels compelled to nurse the dying daughter of the enigmatic physician she has come to love. James Edmunds, wearied by the deaths of too many patients, has his own doubts about God’s grace. Can they each face their darkest fears? Or is it too late to learn that trust and love just might heal their hearts?

My Opinion:
This is Herriman's debut novel and I have to say I will be looking for her next book because I believe she has got some great potential. This book had all the makings of being excellent but, for me, fell a bit short. I found the main characters to be a bit muddy and lacking in consistency. Rachel isn't a servant and yet is treated like one although she's not supposed to be....but I was never quite clear what she was doing. Dr. Edmunds is broken almost to the point of annoyance and I still remain not completely clear on why he was leaving the medical profession. The supporting characters shined! The cook and the houseboy were a delight and extremely endearing which makes me believe Herriman has it in her to be great. The cholera epidemic noted in the description is less than awe inspiring and I personally find it irritating when the book description doesn't match the book. I appreciated both main characters revelation of God back in their lives and felt as though those parts were written very honestly. I give this a 3 out of 5 with my ears and eyes looking for another by Herriman to see how she develops as an author.

Thank you to Worthy Publishing for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Christmas Singing

Gideon broke Maddie's heart 3 years ago but just maybe the Christmas season will bring understanding and warmth to Maddie's heart. A part of the Ada House novels by Woodsmall this one is a true little gem. It can be read as a stand alone and enjoyed just as much. After Gideon breaks Maddie's heart Maddie moves away. When circumstances force her to return Gideon is determined to reveal the truth behind his decision of three years ago. Lies, romance, secrets, and fun are all apart of this book. It's a light read that is perfect for the Christmas/winter season.

I believe I have established here on my blog that I am not an overwhelming fan of this rampant Amish theme in Christian literature. However, if I'm going to read one and enjoy it I will always turn to Cindy Woodsmall. She writes with depth and honesty that makes the Amish craze almost, not quite, worth diving into :)

WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group provided this book to me for free in exchange for this honest review as part of their Blogging for Books program.

Then Sings My Soul

Then Sings my Soul  written by Robert J. Morgan is truly a keepsake book. Morgan brings each hymn within the book to life in a beautiful way as he gives the story behind the hymns. Using careful research the stories are told in a truly unforgettable way. My favorite hymn story was the story of the writing of "It is Well". We learn that Horatio G. Spafford wrote the words to this hymn as he was on a ship. His wife and four daughters had been sailing to Europe ahead of him when their ship was hit by another and the ship sank within minutes. Only Horatio's wife Anna survived. The two years perceeding this event had already been years of tremendous loss in Spafford's life. He penned "It is well with my soul" in the deepest darkest moment of his life.

This book in print is beautiful with the pages edged in a tattered sort of way to make them seem old. It's definitely a book I will be keeping and enjoying over and over again. A true delight and treasure!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Book Sneeze book review blogger's program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Like Sweet Potato Pie by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

Like Sweet Potato Pie by Jennifer Rogers Spinola
Reviewed by Melissa J. MacDonald
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc
Date: Coming soon March 2012

I was delighted to get an early release read of this book. After reading Southern Fried Sushi I was immediately hooked on Spinola. This second books does not disappoint.

Shiloh P. Jacobs has a new life in Virginia and a new life with Jesus as her Savior. Life should be going splendidly for her...right? Not quite. Her finances are a mess, the IRS has a hold of her checking account, her half-sister is fighting her for her mom's house, and the house is weeks away from being taken away. Not to mention she's working non-stop and her dear friend Becky has given her a puppy. Life continues on in hilarity in Virginia where mullets are king and deep friend food soothes all woes. Insert a surprise visit from her best friend from Tokyo and her handsome ex-fiance and this book will keep you hopping.

In the midst of all the craziness Shiloh finds her new relationship with Jesus to be both fulfilling and difficult and somehow exactly what she needs. She sorts through real life problems with the new filter of "what would Jesus do?". God continues to woo her away and her delight at knowing Jesus will give you fresh eyes at what it means to walk with Christ.

We certainly can not forget the not so handsome Adam who has done absolutely nothing to charm Shiloh and yet she finds herself drawn to him. They hit setback after setback as they try to "court" and you'll find yourself frustrated at the lack of communication these two have! I'd keep going but I'm not going to give it all away.

Spinola continues to write with the light and color that makes reading her novels seem like a vacation. Her descriptions are just the right amount of spice and make the book the gem it is. Her character development is thorough and these characters are ones you'll find yourself wanting to hop in your car to Virginia to hang out with. Another delightful read that I highly recommend! Kuddos once again to Spinola for writing with transparency and honesty.

Releasing in March you can pre-order Like Sweet Potato Pie here. 

Thank you to Barbour Publishing for providing me a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Shadow of Your Smile- Susan May Warren

Title: The Shadow of Your Smile
Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Tyndale House
Date: 1-1-12
Genre: Modern Fiction

After 25 years of marriage Eli and Noelle Hueston are contemplating divorce. Their only daughter was murdered three years before they can no longer seem to find a way to belong together. Their last son is about to graduate from high school and Eli is finding himself draw to the widow of one of his former deputies. On a cold dark night in northern Minnesota everything changes for them. While witnessing a hold-up Noelle hits her head and wakes up with no memory of the last 25 years of her life. Thinking she is 21 she's shocked to find she has a husband, two sons, and the life she thought she'd always have looked nothing like what she expected.

As Eli helps Noelle begin to heal physically he realizes it's time for himself to start healing emotionally. He's shocked to find secrets out about the wife he thought he knew so well. He's also ashamed to find he's draw to the pretty widow Lee. As Noelle and Eli begin to find a common ground and healing they start falling in love with each other all over again. However, when their problems and secrets come to life it seems as though they'll never truly be able to make their crippled marriage work...or will they?

Set in the familiar town of Deep Haven, MN Susan May Warren has once again written an engaging novel. Neither Eli or Noelle are likeable characters until they begin to give up control, surrender to God, and start trusting in his plans for them. The loss they experienced with their daughter is tragic indeed but joy and life are found in loving and appreciating the memory of all she was. Noelle will make you laugh as she looks in the mirror and finds herself 25 years older than she remembered with wrinkles and sags in all the wrong places. You'll quickly find yourself drawn into this book. With just enough mystery and just the right touch of romance Warren will delight you. And one of the reasons I like Warren so much is her ability to write healing through a fictional story. Her love of the Lord is evident and spills through each of her books. Find a fireplace, put on your mittens, and get ready for a heartwarming read.

Thank you to Tyndale House for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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