Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Max Lucado
Thomas Nelson


We talk as though we understand the term. The bank gives us a "grace" period. The seedy politician falls from "grace." Musicians speak of a "grace" note. We describe an actress as "gracious," a dancer as "graceful." We use the word for hospitals, baby girls, kings, and premeal prayers. We talk as though we know what "grace" means.

But do we really understand it? Have we settled for wimpy grace? It politely occupies a phrase in a hymn, fits nicely on a church sign. Never causes trouble or demands a response. When asked, "Do you believe in grace?" who could say no?

Max Lucado asks a deeper question: Have you been changed by grace? Shaped by grace? Strengthened by grace? Emboldened by grace? Softened by grace? Snatched by the nape of your neck and shaken to your senses by grace?

God's grace has a drenching about it. A wildness about it. A white-water, riptide, turn-you-upside-downness about it. Grace comes after you. It rewires you. From insecure to God secure. From regret riddled to better-because-of-it. From afraid to die to ready to fly.

Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.

Let's make certain grace gets you.

As we have come to expect from Lucado Grace is beautifully woven. Explaining what grace truly means with thought provoking clarity this book grabs you from the beginning. It dives deep into grace and challenges what you my have thought it originally meant. Grace isn't safe, it's challenging, it's bold, it's life-altering. Dive into this book and allow grace to transform you. 

My thanks to my friends at Thomas Nelson for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Love's Fortune

Love's Fortune
Laura Frantz
Revell Publisher
September 2014
Fiction, Historical, Romance

Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.

Frantz just so happens to be one of my more favorite authors. I always appreciate her attention to detail and historical elements. This book did not disappoint. It's a beautiful coming of age story. Wren will capture your heart and James is a stunning hero. I'll admit I had a hard time getting into the story but I am SO glad I stuck with it. Give yourself a little time and persevere. You'll be ever so glad you did.  The Ballatyne saga has been a true joy to read. Props to Frantz for writing books with meat and the thread of God's grace throughout. 

My thanks to Revell publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Woman of Courage

Woman of Courage
Wanda Brunstetter
Shiloh Run Press
Fiction, Romance, Historical
Take a three-thousand mile journey with Amanda Pearson as she leaves the disgrace of a broken engagement and enters the work of a Quaker mission in the western wilds. The trip is fraught with danger, and Amanda is near death before reaching her destination. Among those she meets are an Indian woman who becomes her first convert and a half-Indian trapper who seems to be her biggest critic. But love follows her into the wilderness and will determine the course of her future. You are sure to enjoy this historical romance adventure from New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter.

I'll be completely honest, I'm not typically a fan of Brunstetter. I usually am not able to finish her Amish books. However, this was a good surprise. The author steps away from Amish for this book and it's refreshing. The characters are endearing and likable. As a history buff, I especially appreciated the historical aspects of the book. All in all, a good read. I have my doubts that Brunstetter will ever be truly great but sometimes you just need an easy decent read. You'll find it in Woman of Courage. 

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Unbreakable Boy

Unbreakable Boy
Scott LeRette with Susy flory
Thomas Nelson Publishers
November 11, 2014

It was graduation weekend. I walked up to Austin's house where all the festivities were going on celebrating him and there he was sitting on the retaining wall of their driveway.
 "Congrats Austin! I'm so proud of you. How are you today?"
"My butt hurts and my back hurts."
And that's just Austin, no pretense, no guessing games. 100 percent real. One of the many reasons I love that kid.
10 minutes later he was sitting by me chomping on some candy and telling me all about his party and thanking me for coming.
What a guy.

When Scott (the dad and author) let me know he was writing a book on Austin and their family I was delighted. I also knew I'd be requesting a review copy as soon as it was ready.

Unbreakable Boy is the story of "unconditional love", the story of a father and his son.

Born with a rare brittle-bone disease and autistic Austin is defined by none of his diagnoses and he's broken every box he's been asked to fit in. He is unique, he is challenging, he is loved. He is also a popular fixture in our town and at my church.

Scott does a beautiful job of weaving the tale of Austin. It's told with such honesty and candor I'll admit I started this late at night and finished it a few hours later, well into the early morning hours. Thoughts of sleep and my agenda for the morning flew out the window as I entered the life of the LeRette family.

I personally have known Austin and his family for a number of years now. Austin loves my parents "Pastor and Connie" and for years just referred to me as "Connie's daughter". Seen in our church and around town wearing one of his wacky hats Austin makes a statement everywhere he goes. I remembered a number of the stories from later in the book and will never forget the first time Austin raised his hands in worship in our church. It was both touching and hilarious, as Scott describes so well.

This book is both inspiring and challenging. I'll be honest and say that I truly did laugh out loud, and cry a couple times too. I so appreciate Scott's openness with the reality of life with Austin. It's challenging, sometimes achingly so, it's also beautiful. Written in a timeline way that doesn't make you feel like you're reading a timeline you'll love the way the story weaves together. From Scott meeting his wife to Austin's birth to the realization that something wasn't quite right with Austin all the way to him going to prom, the story just keeps on getting better and better. It's captivating.

This book has no obvious agenda other than to tell the story of Austin and his dad. Autism is mentioned but not parked on. As the reader, you can't help, however, be intrigued by autism as well as the brittle bone disease.

Throughout the entire book is the very obvious thread of God's grace. Austin loves his Jesus and that love of his Creator has been modeled by two parents who came broken and needy before the throne of grace. You'll love how God woes Scott in particular.

While it was particularly heart-warming for me to read about a boy and a family I know personally and love so dearly I can promise you you don't have to know them to love them and love this book. I read it and passed it on and everyone who has had it in their hands has become instantly engrossed and fallen in love with Austin.

I highly recommending going over to Amazon to pre-order this book today. It's a story so sweetly written that I know you'll want to read over and over and over again. And if you're passing through Red Oak, Iowa, head to our local grocery store. You just might see Austin carrying out groceries and making everyone he comes in contact with smile just a little brighter. He's just that kind of kid and it's just that kind of story.

My sincere thanks to Thomas Nelson publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Yankee in Atlanta

Yankee in Atlanta
Jocelyn Green
River North 
June 2014
Historical, Romance, Fiction 

When soldier Caitlin McKae woke up in Atlanta after being wounded in battle, the Georgian doctor who treated her believed Caitlin's only secret was that she had been fighting for the Confederacy disguised as a man. In order to avoid arrest or worse, Caitlin hides her true identity and makes a new life for herself in Atlanta.

Trained as a teacher, she accepts a job as a governess to the daughter of Noah Becker, a German immigrant lawyer, who is about to enlist with the Rebel army. Then in the spring of 1864, Sherman's troops edge closer to Atlanta. Caitlin tries to escape north with the girl, but is arrested on charges of being a spy. Will honor dictate that Caitlin follow the rules, or love demand that she break them?

Rich with historical detail and rampant with suspense this book kept me reading well into the night. I'm sad to say I haven't been privileged to read the first 2 books in this series. So while I did read this as standalone I would have much preferred to have read it in order. There are many characters in this book, almost too many. We switch back and forth so often I found myself confusing story lines at times. I think that may have been easier to follow if I had read the first two books. 

I very much appreciated the attention to detail regarding the war. I have done extensive reading on the Civil War and still found myself learning new things. Green does an excellent job as a historian. Not overtly Christian the book still has enough of a thread of grace throughout to be an inspirational read. I'll be looking for more from Green soon! 

My thanks to River North for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

All Things Hidden

All Things Hidden 
Tracie Peterson, Kimberly Woodhouse 
Bethany House Publishers
December 2013
Fiction, Romance, Historical 

Gwyn Hillerman loves being a nurse at her father's clinic on the beautiful Alaskan frontier. But family life has been rough ever since her mother left them, disdaining the uncivilized country and taking Gwyn's younger sister with her.

In Chicago, Dr. Jeremiah Vaughan finds his life suddenly turned upside down when his medical license is stripped away after an affluent patient dies. In a snowball effect, his fiance breaks their engagement. In an attempt to bury the past, Jeremiah accepts Dr. Hillerman's invitation to join his growing practice in the isolated Alaska Territory.

Gwyn and Jeremiah soon recognize a growing attraction to each other. But when rumors of Jeremiah's past begin to surface, they'll need more than love to face the threat of an uncertain future.

When will I quit "trying" to read anything written by Peterson? I mean really, I brought this on myself. Peterson consistently lacks depth, meat, creative dialogue, and anything that can keep my attention beyond the first chapter. I'm sad to say that even with the co-authoring with Woodhouse this book left me cold and trying to get out of Alaska. I didn't make it through the 3rd chapter. The characters are ridiculously one dimensional and the plot-line (which sounded intriguing) gets completely convoluted in bad development. Sadly, not even the historical or medical factors could keep me reading this one. Let it be said here first, I'm officially swearing off this author. For real this time. 

My thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Tide and Tempest

Tide and Tempest
Elizabeth Ludwig
Bethany House Publishers
March 2014
Fiction, Historial, Romance

Two years ago, her fiance perished
during their voyage to America.

Now she discovers it may have been murder...

Dreaming of a better life, Tillie McGrath leaves Ireland behind and, with her beloved fiance by her side, sets sail for America. But when illness robs her of the man she holds dear, she's left alone with only a handful of tattered memories. While forging on proves difficult, Tillie soon finds some new friends at her New York boardinghouse, and begins pursuing a new dream--to open a home for orphaned children.

Despite two years passing, Captain Keondric Morgan has never forgotten the lass who left his ship so heartbroken. When a crewman's deathbed confession reveals her fiance's demise was the result of murder, the captain knows he must try to contact her. But his attention draws the notice of others as well--dangerous men who believe Tillie has in her possession something that could expose their crimes. And to their way of thinking, the best way to prevent such an outcome is to seize the evidence and then hand Tillie the same fate as her naïve fiance.

That intro to the book grabs your attention doesn't it? I know it did mine. I eagerly dove into this book and sadly found myself in waters much too shallow and confusing for a good swim. I can't fully judge this book because I didn't finish it. And I didn't finish it because it was poor writing, I didn't finish it because I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Characters and storylines were swarming around and I couldn't follow any of them. So I put the book down hoping for the day when maybe after reading book 2 and 3 I could pick it back up. Until then, this is not at all recommended as a standalone. 

My thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Water Walker

Water Walker
Ted Dekker
Worthy Publishers
March 2014
Suspense, Ficiton

My name is Alice Ringwald, but the man who kidnapped me says that's a lie.

Thirteen-year old orphan Alice Ringwald has no memory beyond six months ago. The only life she knows is the new one she's creating one day at a time with the loving couple that recently adopted her and gave her new hope.

That hope, however, is shattered one night when she is abducted by a strange man. In a frantic FBI manhunt, he vanishes.

So begins Water Walker, a modern day parable that examines the staggering power of forgiveness, and reminds us that it's possible to live free of the hurt that keeps our souls in chains.

So I don't do well with abstract or fantasy or basically anything that doesn't seem likely. And to be honest this book was a bit far-fetched for me. I almost put it down a number of times and yet somehow I managed to read it all the way through. Dekker writes with great imagery and while I didn't always "get" what was going on in the story I found myself inserted into the story. I think that's what kept me reading. Alice is captivating and her story is completely gripping. The whole random prophet/stranger/angel guy was a bit weird for me but the story is that good. I'm not likely to jump into another book in this genre anytime soon but when I do it will be with Dekker at the helm. 

My thanks to Worthy Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Poison Town

Poison Town
Creston Mapes
David C. Cook
February 2014
Mystery, fiction, suspense 

There’s More Than One Kind of Poison in This Town People are sick and dying. Rumors are swirling. Some claim chemicals leaking from a manufacturing plant are causing the cancer that’s crippling people on the poor side of Trenton City, Ohio. Yet nothing at the plant appears amiss. The problem remains a mystery until reporter Jack Crittendon’s long-time mechanic falls ill and he investigates. Soon Jack becomes engulfed in a smokescreen of lies, setups, greed, and scandal. The deeper he digs, the more toxic the corruption he uncovers. As he faces off with the big-time players behind the scenes and tries to beat the clock before more people die, he realizes the chillingly unthinkable—he knows too much.

This book gripped me from the beginning and never let me go. It's rare to find a "Christian" mystery that will keep my attention. This did it. Mapes writes with true finesse and it's very refreshing. This is book 2 in the series and I did find myself a little confused with the characters so while it could be read as a stand-alone I would recommend reading it in order. This has enough mystery and suspense to keep you reading far into the night and enough justice to make falling asleep a little easier. 

My thanks to my friends at David C. Cook for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Love Comes Calling

Love Comes Calling
Siri Mitchell 
Bethany House Publishers 
Fiction, Historical, Romance 
March 4, 2014

Dreaming of becoming an actress, Boston socialite Ellis Eaton captures Griff Phillips' attention. But while filling in for a look-alike friend at the telephone exchange, she overhears a call that threatens Griff's safety. With handsome policeman Jack Flanigan investigating - and her heart in a muddle - will she discover what might be the role of a lifetime?

The unfortunate part of this book is that I never actually liked Ellis, the main character. I found her bratty, spoiled, self-centered, and obnoxious. I also found her captivating. So while I was annoyed with her I kept reading the book to see what would happen next. Mitchell continues to write at about a 4 start level. Never amazingly good but never so bad I quit reading. This book felt a bit like a hot mess and all over the place. Multiple levels of stories left me grasping a bit. Jack is easy to like and keeps the book moving. Overall a decent read, just be prepared for a bit of annoyance over the main character. 

My thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Thank You, Billy Graham

Thank you, Billy Graham
Barbour Publishing

You know his name, his faith, his ministry—now enjoy the inspiring, heartwarming, personal stories of his legacy in Thank You, Billy Graham.This brand-new book contains scores of thank-you notes collected on the website ThankYouBilly.com, sharing moving stories of God’s grace, love, and power in the lives of real people. Compiled by three of Billy Graham’s grandchildren, Thank You, Billy Graham will encourage and inspire you with a beautiful picture of a life well lived—a life lived in faithfulness to the God who made you, loves you, and offers you salvation through His son, Jesus Christ.

I don't think I've ever hidden the fact that I am a huge fan of Billy Graham. I love his heart, his ministry, and his legacy. This book pays tribute to tall of those. Sweet notes, beautiful letters, and graciousness abounds. What an honor to read. 

My thanks to Barbour Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Place in His Heart

A Place in His Heart
Rebecca DeMarino
Revell Publishers
Romance, Fiction Historical

She could cross an ocean, but could she ever win his heart?
Anglican Mary Langton longs to marry for love. Left at the altar and disgraced in her small hamlet, she is being pressured to marry the eligible son of the London milliner. Puritan Barnabas Horton still grieves the loss of his beloved wife, but he knows his two young sons need a mother. 

With tender hearts, Mary and Barnabas take a leap of faith and wed. But when Barnabas's secret plans to move his family to the New World to escape persecution come to light, Mary's world is upended. How could she possibly leave her papa and her dear sister? 

And will she ever reach the secret places of her husband's broken heart?

The first chapter of this book instantly gripped me. A lost love, a forced marriage, endless possibilities. And then I kept reading. It was almost like the first chapter was written by someone else entirely. What seemed like good character development quickly developed into...well nothing. The characters were confusing and contradictory, the plot-line is nothing like what the book's description says, and the dialogue was elementary. After 3 nights of struggling to read I finally gave up. It's true folks, this was one I didn't finish. I would highly caution you to not be fooled by this book's cover unless you're needing a good nap book.

My thanks to Revell Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

While Love Stirs

While Love StirsLorna Seilstad
Revell Publishing
Romance, Fiction, Historical 

As a graduate of Fannie Farmer’s School of Cookery, Charlotte Gregory is thrilled to have the opportunity to travel, lecture, and give cooking demonstrations on the very latest kitchen revolution–the gas stove. And she certainly doesn’t mind that the gas company has hired the kindhearted Lewis Mathis to entertain at her lectures. Lewis encourages Charlotte’s work, especially her crusade to introduce fresh, appetizing, nutritious food to those convalescing in hospitals. But young Dr. Joel Brooks is not convinced any changes should be made–especially by this outspoken young woman. When Charlotte and Joel are coerced into planning a fund-raising gala for the hospital, will this combustible pair explode? Follow the second Gregory sister as she looks for true love and makes her way in a rapidly changing world in this breezy, lighthearted love triangle that will keep you guessing.

I'll admit Seilstad didn't steal me away with her debut book but it obvious after reading While Love Stirs that she has improved greatly as a writer. This book has depth and is a delight to read. Charlotte is a spitfire of a character that I immediately liked. She's got depth and an unique position. I, of course, loved the historical aspects of this book from the food in hospitals to the gas stove to the fashion of that time. Dr. Brooks starts out a bit bland but quickly picks up in depth. 

This is a great summer read. Grab a cookie, find a porch swing, and enjoy! 

My thanks to Revell Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pelican Bride

Pelican Bride
Beth White
Revell Publishers
Romance, Historical, Fiction
May 2014

It is 1704 when Genevieve Gaillain and her sister board a French ship headed for the Louisiana colony as mail-order brides. Both have promised to marry one of the rough-and-tumble Canadian men in this New World in order to escape religious persecution in the Old World. Genevieve knows life won’t be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of beheading. But when she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer whose courageous stand for fair treatment of native peoples has made him decidedly unpopular in the young colony, Genevieve realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. And a secret she harbors could mean the undoing of the colony itself.

This book captured me right away. The whole premise and storyline is intriguing and thankfully White is one of those authors who is more than a good back cover. There is some sweet depth to the book. It's laking in certain areas, I'm still confused how Genevieve and Tristan ended up married in the space of a page, but the good outweighs the confusing. The time period and setting is not one that has been saturated with stories. White seems to be a true historian and has immaculate detail and history. I thoroughly enjoyed that part. All in all an excellent read. 

My thanks to Revell Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

God's Daughter

God's Daughter
Heather Day Gilbert 
Aspendawn Books
November 2013
Fiction, Romance, Historical 

One Viking woman. One God. One legendary journey to North America. 

In the tenth century, when pagan holy women rule the Viking lands, Gudrid turns her back on her training as a seeress to embrace Christianity. Clinging to her faith, she joins her husband, Finn, on a voyage to North America. 

But even as Gudrid faces down murderous crewmen, raging sickness, and hostile natives, she realizes her greatest enemy is herself--and the secrets she hides might just tear her marriage apart. 

Almost five centuries before Columbus, Viking women sailed to North America with their husbands. God's Daughter, Book One in the Vikings of the New World Saga, offers an expansive yet intimate look into the world of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir--daughter-in-law of Eirik the Red, and the first documented European woman to have a child in North America.

I so badly wanted this book to grip me from the very beginning and not let me go. Unfortunately, it didn't. I loved the time period and was very excited to read more about the Vikings but I got bogged down. It may have been the confusing repetitive names, it may have been the plot, I'm just not sure. Gudrid was a wonderful mix of strength and soft as a character. I throughly enjoyed reading about her. Her love for God was especially interesting in that age. Torn between men she walked with grace in so many ways. It's a bloody, tragic, messy, confusing tale. Not one I would dive into again any time soon. However, I did love the historical facts. Props to Gilbert for exploring a new piece of history. 

My thanks to Aspendawn Books for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Fair Play

Fair Play
Deeanne Gist
Howard Books
May 6, 2014
Fiction, Romance, Historical

From the bestselling author of It Happened at the Fair comes a historical love story about a lady doctor and a Texas Ranger who meet at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.

Saddled with a man's name, Billy Jack Tate makes no apologies for taking on a man's profession. As a doctor at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, she is one step closer to having her very own medical practice; until Hunter Scott asks her to give it all up to become his wife.

Hunter is one of the elite Texas ranger and World's Fair guard specifically chosen for his height, physique, character, and skill. Hailed as the toughest man west of any place east, he has no patience for big cities and women who think they belong anywhere but home.

Despite their differences of opinion, Hunter and Billy find a growing attraction until Hunter discovers an abandoned baby in the corner of a White City exhibit. He and Billy team up to make sure this foundling isn't left in the slums of Chicago. As they fight for the underprivileged children in the Nineteenth Ward, an entire playground movement is birthed. But when the fair comes to an end, one of them will have to give up their dream.

Will Billy exchange her doctor's shingle for the domesticated role of a southern wife, or will Hunter abandon the wide open spaces of home for a life in the gray city; a woman who insists on being the wage earner, and a group of ragamuffins who need more than one breathing space?

Much like the first fair book I read from Gist I found this book to be entertaining and fun. It grabbed my attention right from the start. Hunter and Billy are likable in so many ways. The story runs a bit all over the place. I did feel at times that there were multiple plots all at once. While it wasn't hard to follow it did feel a bit boggy.

Once again, I want to make it clear, there is absolutely no mention of anything "Christian" in this book. While well-written and "clean" I can hardly call it a Christian fiction book. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, I just feel that's worth mentioning. The romance sections seemed a bit more risque this time around as opposed to previous books. Nothing explicit but not your average Christian romance book.

My thanks to Howard Books for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

A Dad's Prayers for His Daughter

A Dad's Prayers for His Daughter
Rob and Joanna Teigen
Revell Publishers
March 2014
Parenting, Non-fiction

From the moment your little girl was born, you knew you were going to be doing a lot of praying. But you may wonder, What exactly should I be praying for?

Now the authors of 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates show you how to pray for every area of your daughter's life. Rob and Joanna Teigen give you a strong foundation to build a lifelong habit of prayer for your daughter with a collection of specific prayers you can use to get started right now. They include engaging stories from well-known authors like Joe Stowell, Bill Farrel, Ted Cunningham, Jim Samra, and others. And they explain a bit more of what girls go through growing up, including stress, purity issues, social pressure, modesty challenges, spiritual growth, and more. 

Remember: just because you don't always understand your daughter doesn't mean that God doesn't! Start asking for his guidance, protection, and blessings today. 

This book is invaluable. Not only is it a great resource you'll find yourself praying as you're simply browsing through it. 88 practical ways to pray for your daughter. When she's considering dating, when she hear's false teaching, when she's using the internet, etc. So practical! The "chapters" are simple and easy to read. Even dad's who don't like to read will grab on to this one. 

I've personally met Rob Teigen and liked him from the start. He's a real honest guy who loves his kids and his wife and is passionate about helping others be good parents. He's believable and this book is the same. Hats off to the Teigen family. May they continue to walk forward in truth and in the light of Jesus. Now I need to start making my list of the all the dads I'm going to give this too.....

Found out more at www.strongerdads.com

My thanks to Revell Publishers from providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Summer of Joy

Summer of Joy
Ann H. Gabhart
Revell Publishers

For Jocie Brooke, the summer of 1964 certainly was eventful, but it's nothing compared to what's coming to Hollyhill, Kentucky, and the Brooke family next. The past is coming to call, threatening to destroy the relationships that everyone thought were so strong. Two people--one thought to be gone for good and the other no one's ever heard of--are making their way to the small town. And it promises trouble for everyone.

This complex and beautifully written story is the perfect conclusion to The Heart of Hollyhill series. With true-to-life family drama, refreshing humor, and characters readers have come to love like dear friends, "Summer of Joy" will delight Gabhart's fans.

I love the Hollyhill series. I read them back when they first came out in 2008 so I'm delighted they're out again. Gabhart writes with such light and ease in this series. Jocie is a hoot and incredibly likable. Her dad and his relationship with his significant other almost steal the story away. The mystery and intrigue in the book will keep your attention and you'll want to keep reading. A sweet, easy read with just enough sass to give it depth. Thanks Revell for republishing this series!

My thanks to Revell Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Echoes of Mercy

Echoes of Mercy
Kim Vogel Sawyer
Waterbrook Press
January 21, 2014
Fiction, Romance, Mystery, Historical

When a suspicious accident occurs at the Dinsmore Chocolate Factory in Sinclair, Kansas, in 1904, Caroline Lang goes undercover as a factory worker to investigate. Oliver Dinsmore, heir to the Dinsmore candy dynasty, has his own investigation to conduct. Posing as a common worker known as “Ollie Moore,” he aims to find out all he can about the family business before he takes over for his father.

The book centers around Caroline Lang. She is an investigator for the Labor Commission. She is sent to work at the Dinsmore World-Famous Chocolate Factory. To find out what truly happened with an accident surrounding another investigators death and for the underage child workers. 30% of the workers are children ages 11-15. Caroline has a deep seated need to change those numbers and have things be different for kids. Much of that passion stems from her own painful childhood. 

Ollie is also undercover as the factory janitor. He's trying to learn the family business. When he meets Caroline he's instantly attracted to her. The stats she has differ greatly from the stats he knows to be true about the factory and the two can hardly seem to agree on anything. 

This is a sweet and easy to read book. I enjoyed the Chocolate factory perspective and I loved that Caroline was an undercover investigator. Woven throughout are moments of sweetness between Carrie and Ollie and Carrie's adopted parents. There is also a sibling group that steps into the story and they'll steal your heart away. Nothing too deep or earth shattering in this book but definitely an excellent read.

My thanks to Waterbrook Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

With Autumn's Return

With Autumn's Return
Amanda Cabot
Revell Publishing
Fiction, Romance, Historical 
January 21, 2014

Elizabeth Harding arrives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to establish her medical practice thanks to the wooing of her two older sisters who extolled the beauty of the land. She's certain she'll have a line of patients eager for her expertise and gentle bedside manner. However, she soon discovers the town and its older doctor may not welcome a new physician. Even more frustrating, the handsome young attorney next door may not be ready for the idea of a woman doctor. For his part, Jason Nordling has nothing against women, but he's promised himself that the woman he marries will be a full-time mother.

Despite their firm principles, Elizabeth and Jason find that mutual attraction--and disdain from the community--is drawing them ever closer. And when the two find themselves working to save the life and tattered reputation of a local woman, they'll have to decide how far they're willing to go to find justice--and true love.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Westward Winds series from Cabot and this book did no disappoint. Elizabeth is a great character. A wonderful mixture of spunk and softness. I liked her from the very beginning. She was prickly but she quickly grew on me. Jason is a sweet guy who develops nicely through the book as well. This is an easy read but not necessarily a moving read. In many ways it feels like there are too many storylines throughout the book. There's a murder, there's a Madam, there's an overweight single mother, there's a wanna be rancher, there's a doctor, and there's a lawyer. At times I wasn't completely sure where exactly we were going. However, I was in the mood for an easy read so I didn't get overly worried about the confusion. I would like to see Cabot take a stance and stick with it at some point. 

Elizabeth and Jason grow together as friends and then fall in love. It's sweet, it's how ideally real life may look like. I appreciated that. While they didn't resolve all of their issues between careers and marriage I was fine without having everything wrapped in a neat little bow. I think you'll be too. Sit back and enjoy. 

My thanks to Revell Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sadie's Secret

Sadie's Secret
Kathleen Y'Barbo
Harvest House Publishers
February 1, 2014
Mystery, Romance, Historical

From bestselling author Kathleen Y'Barbo comes Sadie's Secret, the third book in The Secret Lives of Will Tucker series. These historical novels capture the romance of the South mingled with adventure and laced with secret identities and hidden agendas.

Louisiana, 1890--Sarah Louise "Sadie" Callum is a master of disguise, mostly due to her training as a Pinkerton agent but also from evading overprotective brothers as she grew up. When she takes on a new assignment with international connections, she has no idea her new cover will lead her on the adventure of a lifetime.

Undercover agent William Jefferson Tucker is not looking for marriage--pretend or otherwise--but his past is a secret, his twin brother has stolen his present, and his future is in the hands of the lovely Sadie Callum. Without her connections to the world of upper-crust New Orleans, Jefferson might never find a way to clear his name and solve the art forgery case that has eluded him for years.

Only God can help these two secret agents find a way to solve their case and uncover the truth about what is going on in their hearts.

Y'Barbo grabbed my attention with this book. The premise is completely intriguing and indeed much of the book is fun to read. Sadie and Tucker are likable characters that pull you in easily. I will admit I found myself often confused regarding the twin brothers. Who is who? What is going on? I felt like I needed cliff notes to try and follow along.  

Sadie is cute and perhaps a bit too squelched by her whole family situation. Her family ended up being quite endearing and interesting. I found she lacked a bit of emotion, I wanted to know more about what she was thinking and feeling. There wasn't much to get inside her head with. 

Jefferson, while confusing, is handsome and believable. You'll enjoy reading about him saving the day, or not saving the day, or trying to guess who it was that just saved the day. 

My thanks to Harvest House Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Junipero Serra

Junipero Serra
Steve W. Hackel 
Hill and Wang
September 2013

In the 1770s, just as Britain’s American subjects were freeing themselves from the burdens of colonial rule, Spaniards moved up the California coast to build frontier outposts of empire and church. At the head of this effort was Junípero Serra, an ambitious Franciscan who hoped to convert California Indians to Catholicism and turn them into European-style farmers. For his efforts, he has been beatified by the Catholic Church and widely celebrated as the man who laid the foundation for modern California. But his legacy is divisive. The missions Serra founded would devastate California’s Native American population, and much more than his counterparts in colonial America, he remains a contentious and contested figure to this day.

 I'm a sucker for a biography that's engaging and easy to read, this book does not disappoint. Eye opening and historically accurate I was fascinated. While consider the founding father of California Serra had a dark side that was carefully navigated in this book. Worth reading. Don't expect to get warm fuzzies but do expect to get to know a historical figure that is first, and foremost, just a man. 

My thanks to Hill and Wang for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Emmy's Equal

Emmy's Equal
Marcia Gruver
Barbour Books
Fiction, Historical, Romance

Get ready for a suspenseful romantic adventure deep in the heart of Texas. Emmy Dane doesn’t want to give up her petticoats and frills for boots and spurs when her family decides to learn ranching in South Texas. 

Diego Marcelo’s mother tells him God will soon deliver him from his loneliness—but he assures her he has no need of deliverance. . .that is, until Emmy disrupts the entire way of life at the ranch. Can Diego put his jealousy aside before time runs out? And will Emmy admit she’s found her match in the stubborn foreman?

This was an average book with average characters. Emmy is 21 and yet she acts much younger through much of the book, seriously immature at times. The whole "lover's triangle" thing was a bit overdone and tired. Diego is a character with a unique story and background which makes him fascinating to get to know. Without his background I'm afraid he wouldn't be all that interesting. 

Growth does take place and maturity begins to flourish. It's an easy read with an even pace. Good for a cold night at home when you need a temporary distraction. 

My thanks to Barbour Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

For Love or Loyalty

For Love or Loyalty 
Jennifer Hudson Taylor 
Abingdon Press
November 2013
Fiction, Historical, Romance 

Scotland to Carolina, 1760

One conquest could destroy her, but avenge his family.

Malcolm MacGregor vows to free his family and exact revenge against Duncan Campbell. When the opportunity arises, Malcolm decides to use Duncan’s daughter as the bargaining price. Lauren Campbell is the perfect answer, until she begins chipping away at the bitterness in Malcolm’s heart and changing everything. Her bold faith and forgiveness ignites guilt he would rather avoid and a love he doesn’t deserve.

Lauren Campbell never expected to discover such a caring and protective man behind the façade of Malcolm MacGregor’s fierce reputation. When they arrive in America, things turn against them, and Lauren finds herself in a fate worse than death. Now Malcolm has the dilemma of freeing the rest of his family or rescuing Lauren, but time is short and with little means, he needs a miracle.

This book started off rocky and confusing and I nearly put it down. I'm glad I didn't. Taylor introduced a number of characters as the very beginning that were very hard to follow. I actually thought I had stumbled into the middle of a series rather than the start of one. I stuck with it and the main characters quickly grew on me. 

Malcolm was a bit confusing as if he couldn't quite decide whether he was bad or good. Lauren is a sweetheart of a character that seemed to have emerged from a very dark place. I had to remind myself that things were very different back in the "ole days" because it seemed quite unbelievable that Lauren and Malcolm could just disappear as they did. 

The love story was believable and intriguing. It's one of those books where you feel like the writer has maybe written herself into a corner and you're just along for the ride. It was a good ride. While a bit amateur in writing and story development I did enjoy this one and would be willing to pick up another book from Taylor. 

My thanks to Abingdon Press for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 
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