Saturday, August 19, 2017

My Review: Chasing Secrets


"So I had to let it go.  It wasn't easy.  It was definitely a daily thing and sometimes an hourly thing, but eventually, it got easier.  And then one day I realized that I had truly release the hate and he had no more power over me."  - Haley Callaghan

Description:
Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan may be in South Carolina, but when a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, her life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she's made a career out of taking care of others. But after an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her--and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he's not about to let Haley fight this battle alone.

In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories--and the depths of the heart--Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley's past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won't quit



About the Author:
Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, and the Hidden Identity series, as well as Always Watching, Without Warning, and Moving Target in the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of two ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Readers' Choice Award. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College and lives in South Carolina. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.




My Review: 4.5 stars
Chasing Secrets is the fourth book in the Elite Guardiansseries and one I have been anxiously awaiting since meeting Haley in the very first book!  I can very happily say that I was not disappointed in the least!  I was drawn in from the first page and hated to put it down - I just had to know what would happen next!  

As always, Ms. Eason kept me on the edge of my seat from cover to cover and begging the clock for just a few more minutesof reading time.  I love her writing style, how her words breathe life into characters and their story, making them seem real and like dear friends by the time the final page is turned.  I never want her books to end, despite dying to know if Im right about whodunit.”  I loved the suspense that kept ratcheting higher and higher, causing me to race toward the ending, regardless of my intention to savor this last book in the series.  My only negativecomment is that I found the first few chapters a bit discombobulating, as things happened very quickly and were spread across multiple view points that seemed disconnected.  It smoothed out once I caught up and figured out what was going on, but the time line tripped me up a bit, at first.  

Of course, I loved the characters, too!  I so enjoy how every book in this series stays connected with the same characters.  The ladies from the Elite Guardians and their significant others continue to step in and out of each others lives, offering friendship and help along the way.  So though this is Haley Callaghans story (at last!), I was also kept up to date on the couples from the previous books, as well.  And I so adored Haleys character!  She is strong and bold, with a killer Irish accent, and a heart that pours into others.  I loved her compassion and desire to reach out to the hurting around her, even when her efforts were rebuffed.  She isnt perfect, but her heart shines on these pages.  

Steven Rothwell is one of those heroes that makes me smile - from his rapport with Quinn (from Moving Target [click the title to read my review]) to his desire to care for Haley, to his strength under pressure.  He is determined to watch over Haley and anyone around her, while she focuses on caring for others and tries to figure out her past.  I loved his support of her, being her sounding board and anchor in a world whirling out of their control.  He is driven and stubborn, struggling to accept events in his life, and holding on to bitterness from his past.  I appreciated the conversations between Steven and Haley, some revolving around forgiveness and the pain of the past.  I saved several quotes from those pages, needing the reminders they held.  

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys romantic suspense!

Thanks again for taking the time to stop by!  As always, links are below!
 Have a fantastic day! 








Saturday, August 12, 2017

My Review: Just Look Up


"It won't change anything for me to worry about it.  We'll do what we can do, and it will be enough." - Ryan Brooks

Description:
After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back homea quaint tourist town full of memories she'd just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on worksomething her eclectic family doesn't understand.

Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren't ideal.

Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can't find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he's found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all alongif only she'd just look up.


About the Author:
Courtney Walsh is a novelist, artist, theater director, and playwright. Change of Heart is her fifth novel and is set in the same town as Paper Hearts. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists and was a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category.









My Review: 5 stars!
As this is my first book by Courtney Walsh, I wasnt sure what to expect.  I knew it was contemporary romance, but would I like her style?  Would it be a new take, or the same old thing?  Id heard so many excellent things and one of my friends very highly recommended it, so I decided to give it a go.  And Im so glad that I did!  I immediately found myself drawn into this story, pulled into these characterslives and wishing I could take a trip to Harbor Pointe, MI.  I have definitely found another favorite author, whose books will be finding a home on my keeper shelves.

The story line itself, intrigued me.  A character that hides behind her phone, keeping it as a shield between herself and the world.  It is so fitting for the time, where electronic devices are everywhere and so many seem so attached to them.  I was curious to see how Ms. Walsh would tackle this subject and I have to say that I think she did an excellent job!  I felt as though every time someone admonished Lane Kelley to look up,they were also speaking to me, challenging me to pay attention to the world around me.  I loved that!  I found this story to be a journey, both for the characters and myself.  The further I read, the more I found myself pausing to really see the people around me, wondering what Id been missing.  I also loved how Ms. Walsh took care to describe the world around Lane, placing emphasis on the things she was missing by always running, going full speed ahead.  
I have to confess, when I first met Lane Kelley, she didnt impress me.  She seemed selfish and stubborn, unwilling to bend.  But, as I got to know her and saw beyond the cool facade she showed everyone, I found someone I would love to have as a friend.  Shes spent most of her life feeling as though she doesnt belong, doesnt measure up.  My heart broke for her, for the lies shes believed, for how hard shes worked to attain something that was always right in front of her.  I loved watching the transformation her character goes through, learning to love and allow herself to be loved in return.

What do I say about Ryan Brooks?  So many things . . . . first, he is SO swoony!  Not only is he nice to look at, but hes got a great sense of humor, doesnt always take life too seriously, knows how to have fun, focuses on the important things in life, and is willing to drop everything for a friend in need.  Oh, and he has a chivalrous streak a mile wide, which just adds to the swoony-ness.  I loved getting to know him and seeing his heart for Lane, despite her standoffish behavior and sometimes cranky attitude.  And their romance was so sweet!  There were definitely several *sigh* worthy moments, a couple where I just wanted to Gibbs slapthem, and the great just have to smileending.

Overall, I would highly recommend reading this book, whether romance is your genre of choice, or not.  I loved being challenged by the message with this story and would happily give it more than 5 stars, were that an option.  


Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read my review!  There's a chance that while you were reading this, I was at the Christian Fiction Reader's Retreat in Cincinnati, OH!  I might do a blog post with some photos and stories about the awesome people I'm hoping to harass while I'm there!  I haven't decided, yet, but I am super excited about it!

Anyway, hope you have a wonderful day!  As always, purchase links are below, and I really hope you'll check out this book!





Monday, July 31, 2017

A Name Unknown blog tour, plus GIVEAWAY!


There are a couple quotes I'd love to share, but I don't want to spoil anything or ruin the fun of finding them yourself, so I'll refrain . . . this time.

Description:
Shes Out to Steal His Name.
Will He Steal Her Heart Instead?

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpocketsnow they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemarys challenge of a lifetime comes when shes assigned to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. How does one steal a familys history, their very name?

As Europe moved closer to World War I, rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter cant help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the Crownso he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstop pretending to be a well- credentialed historian, Peter believes shes the right person to help him dig through his familys past.

When danger and suspicion continue to mount, though, and both realize theyre in a race against time to discover the truthabout Peters past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

About the Author:
Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, shes homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of over a dozen historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novelsto offset her real life, which is blessedly boring. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.


My Review: 4 stars
A Name Unknown is the first book in a new series by one of my favorite authors and I was so looking forward to reading it!  Ive very much enjoyed Ms. Whites previous book, since first discovering her Culper Ring series, and have been eagerly anticipating this one.  A heroine who happens to be a thief, looking to steal a mans name?  Yes, please!  I just had to know how that could possibly work out!  I can happily say that I enjoyed this book, though there were a couple things I mightve changed.
As always, Ms. Whites writing is excellent!  I love her writing style, the way she describes things, how she brings her characters to life, and the unique story lines always found between the covers of her books.  I do confess that it took me a bit to really get into the story, but once I did, I found myself rushing to the end.  I dont believe Ive read any books set in England just before the start of WWI and I was fascinated by the history and the rising tensions regarding ones nationality.  Its obvious the amount of research the author put into the story and I loved the historical background and details.  And I quite liked the characters Ms. White introduced in this story.  From Peters friends, to Rosemarys family, to some of the towns people.  Im very curious as to whos story will be next and am hoping at least a few of these delightful people will be back!

Rosemary Gresham is definitely a unique heroine!  A thief, tasked with learning where Peter Holsteins loyalty lies, she masquerades as a librarian.  Despite her questionable employment, I liked Rosemary from the first.  Her love for her family is obvious within just a page or two and I admired her desire to see them cared for, even if it meant doing something that began to rub on her conscience.  I had to laugh at her quick wit and occasionally quick temper, as well as smile over her defense of those who cant defend themselves.  Rosemary is a survivor with a cynical outlook on life, until meeting Peter, someone who seems to be a genuinely kind person.  I loved watching her forced out of her element and having to adjust her preconceived notions.

Peter Holstein is an excellent hero for Rosemary.  He is patient, kind, a willing listener, and someone who sees her for who she truly is.  He refuses to let her hide herself.  They are both very observant, occupational hazards, and note things about the other that they would generally prefer to keep hidden.  I loved his quirkiness, his tendency to get distracted and completely ignore everything going on around him, his faith, and even his faltering speech, for its something that has made him a compassionate person.  He defies Rosemarys expectations of the upper-class, while she helps him see the world and his writing from another perspective.  

My favorite part of this story was either the romance between Rosemary and Peter, (which is so sweet!) or the faith woven throughout.  Peter truly tries to live his faith and it plays into every decision he makes, and how he treats those around him.  There is wisdom found within the pages of this story that touched my heart.

My only negative comment was that I found part of the ending a bit contrived, with too many characters in play and a couple belated plot twists that I didnt think necessary to tie up loose ends.  Despite that, I did love the final chapter and was laughing and smiling as I turned the last page.

You can purchase a copy here.


As I'm sure you'd like me to just get on with the giveaway details, I'll put you out of your misery now.  :)

Ms. White is giving away a grand prize of a paperback copy of A Name Unknown, along with 2 dozen cookies!!  Click below to enter!  And be sure to leave me a comment to gain 9 extra entries!

And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour (listed below) and collect entries from each one! 
July 20: Genesis 5020
July 21: Pause for Tales
July 22: Bigreadersite
July 23: Vicky Sluiter
July 26: Carpe Diem
July 27: cherylbbookblog
July 27: Splashes of Joy
July 31: Cafinated Reads
July 31: Artistic Nobody
Oh, and one last thing!   One of Rosemary Gresham's favorite cookies is a ginger fairing (I'm wondering if they're  the ones pictured above) and we have the recipe for them!  So it's listed below, as well!  If you make them, please let me know how they turn out!  I've not had the chance to try them, yet.
Ginger Fairings:
100 grams butter, cold and diced
225 grams all-purpose flour
¼ heaping teaspoon salt
2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
2 heaping teaspoons baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon ginger
2 heaping teaspoons mixed spice
100 grams superfine (caster) sugar
4 heaping tablespoons golden syrup

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a stand mixer. Add the butter and beat until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Stir in sugar.

In a small saucepan, warm the golden syrup until it’s clarified a bit; stir into the flour mixture until a dough forms. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and put on prepared baking sheets a few inches apart.

Bake 8-10 minutes, until golden. Cool a few minutes on the trays and then transfer to a cooling rack.






Friday, July 28, 2017

My Review: His Steadfast Love


"'Isn't that just like God,' the old woman had said with a rusty chuckle, 'to take a nasty-looking green worm and turn it into something so beautiful, giving it flight to soar closer to Him on the wings of the wind?'" - Miss Lilly

Description:
She's bent on fun.
He's bent on faith.
'Til true love bridges the gap.

Cat O'Bryen is the prodigal daughter unhappy with God. First, the father with whom she reconciled dies of cancer and now her twin sister and best friend marries, leaving Cat at home with a newlywed mother, her new husband, and a little brother. But when Cat moves in with a roommate of questionable morals, her family is worried, certain shes on a path that could damage her faith forever.

Reluctant to get involved with a woman like the one who destroyed his life, ex-Navy SEAL Pastor Chase Griffin steers clear of the attraction he feels for Cat OBryen. Until her family begs him to take her under his wing, hoping he can draw her back into the fold. But when the draw she has on him proves too strong to resist, he must rely on the strength of God to offer a friendship as steady and strong as the God whose love is wooing her home.

 About the Author:
Julie Lessman is an award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston series, the Winders of Change series, and The Heart of San Francisco series. The recipient of seventeen Romance Writers of America and other awards, Lessman was chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2011 and 2012 Readers' Choice Awards. She resides in Missouri with her family. Learn more at www.julielessman.com.

My Review: 5 stars
I know I say this a lot, but I just loved this book!  Ive been anxiously awaiting Cats book since reading Isle Of Hopethe first time and then after reading Love Everlastingand learning it would be Cat and Chases story just made me all the more ready to find out how the last OBryen would finally meet her match.  And oh-my-goodness!  It was SO worth the wait!  I devoured this book, groaning loudly any time I had to put it down, and picking it up again at the first opportunity.  Julie Lessman already held a place on my list of favorite authors and she definitely outdid herself on this one!  It maybe my favorite of hers yet . . . . Ill probably have to read them all again, before I can make such a decision.  

As always, I adored Ms. Lessmans writing style!  When she first said she was going to write a contemporary novel, I confess to being a bit unsure how that would work.  I loved her historical books, of course, but just couldnt imagine her style as a contemporary story.  But, happily, I was wrong!  Her contemporary stories are excellent as well and I love how she kept her style the same, just changed the setting.  She drew me in from the very first line and held my attention throughout, keeping me wondering what was coming next for these characters Id fallen in love with.  I love how honest her writing is, drawing me into the characterslives and emotions, and the unique way she has of describing things.  I also love how her books always revolve around a big family and have dual story lines going at the same time, keeping me up to date with the characters from the last book, while Im getting to know the new ones.  

Catherine CatOBryen is definitely a unique heroine and one I immediately connected with.  Shes been known to be a bitof a drama queen and she never shies away from a challenge.  Shes a daredevil with a cautious streak and she wants to experience more of life, but also isnt willing to break a promise she made to her siblings.  I confess that there were a couple times I wanted to shake her for the decisions she was making, but at the same time, I understood where she was coming from.  I appreciated how Ms. Lessman chose to write her struggle with faith, as it was something else I connected with.  Her questions and doubts echoed some that Ive also faced and that made her all the more realistic to me.

And Chase Griffin.  Am I allowed to sigh over fictional characters that are already spoken for?  As an ex-Navy SEAL-turned-pastor, he is definitely more than a little swoony.  Add an addiction to Coldstone and the heroine and I might need a fan or two for this one.  I liked Chase from the two previous books and he is definitely a guy Id turn to for advice, but I just fell in love with him here.  His dedication, his friendships with Jack and Sam, his muscles, his determination, his care for Cat.  He has his own struggles too, of course, and to be honest, they made him even more lovable.  He is a bit of a wounded soul and I confess to a tear or two, when I finally learned his story.  
Despite all of the things mentioned above, I have to say that my very favorite part of Ms. Lessmans books is always the spiritual depth I find in them.  She doesnt sugar-coat things or try to make excuses, but she uses difficult situations as teaching moments or opportunities to encourage both the characters and this reader.  I find her books challenge me.  They cause me to stop and think, and sometimes reevaluate how I view things.  They might bring me to tears, or point out things in my life Id prefer to ignore, but they also point me to the Truth.  Some may find them preachy,but I love it!    

My final comment is that as much as I dreaded the ending of this book and also this series, it was SO good!  Definitely worth a couple sighs and soggy smiles, courtesy of the OBryens.


As always, thanks so much for stopping by!  I hope you'll check out this fantastic book (and it's predecessors) and maybe give it a go!  

Have a complaint-free day!  (something I'm working on)







Sunday, July 23, 2017

My Review: Heart on the Line


I just love this cover!  I know you can't see it very well (or maybe at all) here, but there's a swirl of Morse code looping across the cover and I'd really like to know if it actually says something . . . where are Grace and Amos to translate for me when I need them?

Description:
Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can't let the villain she believes responsible for her father's death release his wrath in Harper's Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she's ever known.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship--dare he believe, courtship?--has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.




About the Author:
Christy Award finalist and winner of the ACFW Carol Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes Christian historical romance for Bethany House, believing the world needs more happily-ever-afters.  She is an avid cross-stitcher and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

I "procured" (read: bummed) this photo from Karen's website.  I tried to use the "official" photo, but I liked this one too well. 







My Review: 4 stars
Okay, a new book from a favorite author that promises to be interesting - how could I possibly resist?!  And better yet, why would I?  Im a huge fan of Ms. Witemeyers books and am always super excited to read them and this one was no different!  I so enjoyed the first book in this series and couldnt wait to get back to Harpers Station and reconnect with the ladies (and 2 gents) there!  

As always, Ms. Witemeyer manages to take a story line that might seem tired or overused and makes a brand new and unique one!  I cant recall ever reading a book about telegraph operators and I loved the concept of a couple meeting on the wires.  It almost reminded me of a very early version of online dating or something of the like.  I was fascinated, to say the least!  And with her now familiar style, Ms. Witemeyer drew me right into the lives of these characters, making me care about them and rush to find out how their story would end.  I enjoyed her details and descriptions and how she tailors them to each perspective, with Amosbeing a bit more wordy than say Helens, or even Graces at times.  My only mildly negative comment is that I was a bit disappointed in the mystery, knowing part of the outcome right away, as soon as a particular character was introduced.  And I did find the conclusion of Graces trials a bit anticlimactic, though she did make up for it in the ending that had me smiling and sighing.

I loved Grace Mallory and Amos Bledsoe from the first and was cheering for them the entire story!  Their relationship was so sweet, as well as having a couple steamymoments.  I loved that Amos isnt exactly the typical Western hero and how that actually worked to his advantage.  He is kind and caring, attentive to Grace and definitely protective, despite knowing he cant physically best any of the men in Harpers Station, he still does his best to be Graces hero.  His stature also causes him to be quick witted and improvise with what he can do, and I quite enjoyed his unique adventures.  And I appreciated how Grace was able to see the great guy behind the glasses and fastidious manner.  She fell in love with the quick wit, stories, and kindness evident in the man on the other end of the wire and looked to find the same in the man who came to ride to her rescue.  I loved that.  And their romance.  It was so well written and if I had an ebook copy, there would be quite a few highlights marking the sweet things Amos says and does.  Definitely worth a reread and a few sighs along the way.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an unique historical novel!

Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read my review!  I hope you'll consider checking out this book, as well as Ms. Witemeyer's other ones!  Many of which help comprise my very long list of favorite books!  As always, links are below if you'd like to learn more!
Have a fantastic day!