Friday, December 18, 2015

My Review: Until the Dawn


I'm going to be honest and admit that I really don't care for this cover.  The colors, her dress, the drive the estate on the lower half - none of them are my particular cup of tea.  It's not one I would pick randomly off the shelf, had I not known the author.  That being said, the back cover is gorgeous!  Which, unfortunately, I can't show you.  But just know that it is.

Description:
A volunteer for the newly established Weather Bureau, Sophie van Riijn needs access to the highest spot in her village to report the most accurate readings. Fascinated by Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion high atop a windswept cliff in the Hudson River Valley, Sophie knows no better option despite a lack of permission from the absent owners.

The first Vandermark to return to the area in sixty years, Quentin intends to put an end to the shadowy rumors about the property that has brought nothing but trouble upon his family. Ready to tear down the mansion, he is furious to discover a local woman has been trespassing on his land.

Instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie find common ground when she is the only one who can reach his troubled son. There’s a light within Sophie that Quentin has never known, and a small spark of the hope that left him years ago begins to grow. But when the secrets of Dierenpark and the Vandermark family history are no longer content to stay in the past, will tragedy triumph or can their tenuous hope prevail?



About the Author:
Elizabeth Camden is a research librarian at a small college in central Florida. Her novels have won the coveted RITA and Christy Awards. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.








My Review:  3.5 stars
I really wish websites offered half-star ratings. Because 3 stars doesn’t do it justice, but I feel 4 is stretching my enjoyment a bit. So 3.5 would be my rating of choice. That being said, I did enjoy this book and found it quite engrossing, but there were a couple things that bothered me about it, as well, hence the indecision.

I personally adore historical fiction and Elizabeth Camden is by far one of my favorite authors in the genre. She’s known for unique characters and stories set in unusual places. Her books are always rich in historical detail and I find them entirely engrossing. I love her writing style and how she brings the characters to life within the pages of her stories. Who else could make me so thoroughly love an embittered man determined to destroy his ancestor’s home? I was pulled into the story from the first page and didn’t want to put it down, but then, something changed about half way through. I’m not sure I can even pinpoint the difference, but the story seemed to change drastically and while I still wanted to find out the ending, I found myself losing interest in the characters. Sections of the story felt contrived, as though maybe the author didn’t know where to go next and simply added an odd twist. The ending was also rather abrupt, though I’ve noticed that trend in a couple of her previous books, so I really can’t fuss too much.

I really loved Sophie, with her happiness and sunshine. She was determined to be kind and gracious, even when someone (Quentin in particular) was incredibly rude. Her joy and grace worked to balance Quentin’s bad temper and surly attitude, and seeing him through her eyes allowed me to like this otherwise unlikable man. He also worked to balance Sophie’s “Sally sunshine” demeanor so that the book wasn’t too sugary sweet. Though some may not like Quentin’s character, I found him interesting. He’s had many trials to overcome and rather than turning to faith, he’s turned to science to explain away everything or even to heal him. He battles almost constant pain and depression as a result of it. While he’s not the most lovable person to begin with, knowing his perspective helped me to understand why he was acting and reacting with such a force of temper. I enjoyed seeing his transformation as he learned to let go of his bitterness and embrace happiness again.

I’m going to be honest, the main issue I had with this story was the spiritual concepts displayed. Though some have called it “preachy,” I’m actually going to say the opposite. There is much talk of curses, magic, and Quentin’s grandfather searching for “transcendence.” Quentin himself scoffs at the idea of any god for much of the story. He firmly believes everything can be explained by science. We have several differing views, obviously, but though Sophie is the Christian in the midst of this, she really doesn’t share her perspective very often. It really bothered me that they compared Dierenpark to the Garden of Eden, but even that wasn’t my main problem. When something couldn’t be explained by science, it was almost always brushed off as magic or as simply beyond our understanding. It didn’t point to God. And there are several times when Quentin is considering God and feels as though there is a presence of “something - or someone” written exactly like that every time. I understood that he was still considering the idea of a Creator God, but the author never flat out says that it’s God and it drove me crazy! I didn’t appreciate her alluding to Him, without ever being straightforward about it. I believe doing that left the book with a murky sense of spirituality.

Overall opinion: This book is well written with excellent characters and great historical depth. If you ignore the somewhat murky spirituality and the abrupt shift in the middle of the book, it’s really a very interesting story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.


You know, I really wanted to love this book . . . I started into it so incredibly excited.  One of my favorite authors has a new book releasing?  "Yes!!"  I fell in love with her writing when I first discovered The Lady of Bolton Hill and have been an avid fan ever since.  I don't know if perhaps her writing is changing, or if my perspective and what I desire in a book has shifted.  Either way, I'm still hoping to read her next book, which releases in June, I think.  I hope you enjoyed my review and will consider stopping by again!
As always, if you'd like to look into the book further, perhaps read some other opinions, links are below.  Enjoy your day!

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Monday, December 7, 2015

My Review: One Enchanted Christmas


How gorgeous is this cover?!  Now, I may be just a teeny-tiny bit biased, because yes, I love the color blue, and lights.  Lights look great and it's just so pretty!  I love it!  I want to visit and sit on the bench (which plays a pretty big part in the story) and just enjoy the peace.  The setting looks peaceful, to me. 

Description:
Last December, mystery author Maren Grant had the most perfect night of her life. On a glimmering winter evening, she got to watch the photo shoot for her very first book and ended up on a magical date with the cover model himself—Colin Renwycke.

Fast forward one year. This December, with a looming deadline, restless spirit and her creative spark long since gone, Maren is desperate to get unstuck. And she can’t get Colin out of her head…or his year-old open invitation to spend a couple weeks writing at his family’s farm.

Drew Renwycke never planned to come home and take over the Renwycke family farm. But he’s spent too many years watching his siblings unravel, including his brother, Colin, after one terrible family mistake. If moving to Maple Valley, Iowa, renovating an old farmhouse and switching careers is what it takes to put the Renwycke family back together, he’ll do it.

But his simple plan upends when a scrappy author lands on his doorstep. And she just might be the key to coaxing his brother home. But what if he wants her all to himself? Drew will have to choose between his Christmas wish and the enchantment of a holiday romance that just might be the happy ending they all long for.




 


About the Author:
Melissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant writer and total Iowa girl. She writes romantic comedies in the banter-filled style of her favorite 1930s and 40s classic films. When she's not writing she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. Melissa loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com and on Facebook and Instagram.





My Review: 5 stars
I have two confessions: I’m not a novella person. Or a Christmas person, actually. But, I absolutely adore Ms. Tagg’s writing, so I was super excited to read this book! I was also SO ready to revisit Maple Valley! I fell in love with the town in her first novella, Three Little Words, that gave me the first glimpse of this completely charming little town. Then From the Start completely sold me on it. So a chance to revisit such a delightful place while also getting to read more of Melissa’s stories? Sign me up!

What to say about this lovely story? Well, first off, I love the her writing style! The descriptions are so unique, but so completely appropriate and give life to words on a page. And the details she continues to include just add even more depth to the town and the characters therein. I also really liked the narrative style to the story. It was quirky and funny, but so completely Melissa. It allowed the book to span a decent amount of time without the story feeling rushed or forced. It also allowed her to fill in gaps quickly, keeping it at novella length.

Maren and Drew are such compelling characters and I really enjoyed their story. Both of them are trying to figure where they belong, while fighting insecurities and questions about if the path they’ve chosen is the right one. I can definitely relate to them and I had to love how audacious Maren was in finally stepping out and chasing the question of “what if?” She made me want to follow in her footsteps, especially if they led me to Maple Valley, too.

Drew is the serious one, who feels as though the whole world rests on his shoulders, or at least the responsibility of his family. I think he wants to fix everything that’s wrong and maybe the past, while he’s at it. But everything he’s trying just keeps coming back at him. He wants to help, but doesn’t know what to do next. I could also very much relate to this and I’m sure many others probably can, as well. I enjoyed watching Maren pull him out of his shell and really get to know him. He needed someone to help shoulder his burdens and she was the perfect person to do that.

Honestly, I can’t think of a single thing I didn’t like about the story. Which, if you typically read my reviews, you’ll know that’s rather uncommon. I’m a nitpicker, but not this time. Melissa has done an excellent job with this book and I can’t wait for her next one! Though the word “novella” generally leads me to think a light story without much depth, Melissa delivers so much beyond that expectation. This story has depth, a seriousness behind the light moments that made me stop and think more than once. And despite my being a bit of a Scrooge, I adored this Christmas story!

I received an advanced copy of this book from the author for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.


*I'm going to tack on to the end here that I loved the sweetly old fashioned feel of the story.  I don't know if that's what Melissa was aiming for, but I loved it nonetheless.

And that's it!  Thank you so much for stopping by!  I hope you enjoyed my review and will come again soon!  This is definitely a Christmas novella that I recommend and right now, it's only $0.99* so if you need a treat and a break from all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas, this is a great way to spend a few hours.  As always, if you're interested, purchase links are below.
In case I'm not back on here before then, I hope you have a very blessed and joy-filled Christmas!

*I think the sale ends December 12.  You'll want to double check the price, in case I'm mistaken.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

My Review: The Wedding Chapel

 
 
This is a lovely cover and I found it very intriguing when the author first announced it on her Facebook page. I still find it lovely, though after reading the book, I'm seeing it in a slightly different light. 
 
 
Description:

A lonely wedding chapel built as a tribute to lost love just might hold the long-awaited secret to hope and reconciliation.
For sixty years, the wedding chapel has stood silent and empty. Retired football hall-of-famer Jimmy "Coach" Westbrook built the chapel by hand, stone by stone, for his beautiful and beloved Collette Greer, whom he lost so many years ago. The chapel is a sanctuary for his memories, a monument to true love, and a testament to his survival of the deepest pain and loss.

Photographer Taylor Branson left her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee to make a new life for herself in New York. Taylor had lots to run away from, not least of all a family history of broken promises and broken dreams. Love catches Taylor off guard when she falls for Jack Forester, a successful advertising executive, and their whirlwind romance leads to an elopement – and then to second guesses. Jack, in spite of his very real love for Taylor, is battling his own demons and struggles to show her his true self and the depths of his love for her.

When Taylor takes a photography assignment in Heart’s Bend, she is thrown back into her own past and encounters family secrets buried deep beneath the sands of time. And when Taylor and Coach’s journeys collide, they each rediscover the heartbeat of their own dreams as they learn that the love they long to hold is well worth waiting for.\


About the Author:
Rachel Hauck is a USA Today bestselling author. Her book, The Wedding Dress, was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and a RITA finalist. Her book Once Upon A Prince was a Christy Award finalist. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and two pets and writes from her ivory tower. Visit her online at rachelhauck.com, Facebook: rachelhauck, Twitter: @RachelHauck.








My Review: 4 stars
I’m so torn, writing this review! And there’s so much to say about this story! I’m a pretty big fan of Rachel’s books, especially since I loved her Royal Wedding series and I’m going to be honest - I loved this book! I really did! It pulled me in immediately and I read it in less than a day, staying up too late and stopping only occasionally to rejoin the “real world” for a short amount of time. I adored the characters and definitely enjoyed the dual romance, from 60 years past to present day. On the other side, which is leaving me torn, I found it a little . . . “odd,” I suppose is the word I’m looking for. I’ve only read her Royal Wedding series and this book so far and I’m definitely not making a blanket statement, but I’ve noticed a trend in her books that I’m not entirely comfortable with. Thus, the indecision!

As always, Rachel has done an excellent job with the details and may I just say that I adore how she describes things?! She draws me into the setting, until I can almost feel the sunshine, or see the view from Colette’s penthouse, or see the snow drifting down. It’s fantastic and a talent I would personally love to have. She brings the story to life in so many ways and I just love it! I also enjoy how she uses several different perspectives to tell the story, giving different opinions and views of the events. This is something I appreciate as a writer, because it gives the tale depth and allows me to make connections as I follow along and become drawn into the narrative. I really wish I could better describe it, because it’s one of the things I adore about her books. The characters just come to life on the page as she weaves their respective stories into a collective one.

I usually chat a bit about each character, but since there’s a dual relationship going on, and that would make this review super long (okay, longer than usual), I’m just going to say that I loved each character! Taylor and Jack have a lot to work out and they struggle with communication and letting go of past hurts. They both also have issues trusting the other person. They’re disillusioned by life in general and aren’t sure how to fix what’s wrong in their marriage and themselves. So a lot of their story focuses on communication and both learning to be vulnerable. I loved the realness (is that a word?) in their story. It’s not easy. Not “happily ever after.” It’s hard work. It’s pain, tears, anger, hurt, and all of those messy emotions that we sometimes gloss over. And I loved that! I loved reading a book that reminded me it’s okay to be a mess sometimes and that life doesn’t have to be perfect for you to love those all around you.

The other couple’s story takes place many years prior and it also focuses a bit on communication, but also betrayal and decades worth of heartache. It was undeniably the hardest to read and I can’t imagine Rachel writing it without tears rolling down her cheeks. I’m not one to cry at much of anything, but the painful reality shown in this story tempted me. It’s definitely a story of forgiveness and second chances. Some of which come a bit later in life than expected.

Now for the part I struggled with. I’ve already mentioned that I really appreciated the moral backbone of the story, the themes of forgiveness, second chances, communication, and learning to “love well.” But (and isn’t there almost always one?), I have to admit that the spiritual side of the story gave me pause and made me rather uncomfortable. I found that it didn’t line up with my personal beliefs and convictions and honestly, gave me a bit of pause as to whether I was going to finish the story or not. Obviously, I found myself too invested to put it down, but it does leave me indecisive as to whether I can truly recommend it.  

Overall impression: The Wedding Chapel is a wonderfully written novel that left me with much to think about and I loved being taken on a journey that tugged my heart and reminded me to “love well.”

I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.


Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and read my review!  I hope you enjoyed it!  Of course, this is simply my opinion, so if you'd like to view others, you can always find the book on the links below. 
I actually wrote this review probably around a week ago and I'm still not 100% certain that I could recommend it.  Many sites are now asking "Would you recommend this product to a friend?" and I wasn't sure what to say with this one.  If you've read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions!  Please share in the comments section!

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

My Review: The Lost Heiress


This cover is gorgeous! And the one for the next book?  *sigh*  I can't wait to see it in person!  I love the gold tones in this one.  The colors are rather understated, but it comes to life and I just enjoy the "feel" of it, if that makes sense.  :)

Description:
Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she's British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook's friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.

The mystery of her mother's death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook's life is threatened do they draw close--but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.

As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that what began as friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?


About the Author:
Roseanna M. White grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, the beauty of which inspired her to begin writing as soon as she learned to pair subjects with verbs. She spent her middle and high school days penning novels in class, and her love of books took her to a school renowned for them.

After graduating from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, she and her husband moved back to the same mountains they equate with home.

Roseanna is the author of two biblical novels, A Stray Drop of Blood and Jewel of Persia, the historical romance, Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland, and the historical, romantic suspense Culper Ring Series (Ring of Secrets, Whispers from the Shadows, and Circle of Spies). She is also the senior reviewer at the Christian Review of Books, which she and her husband founded, the senior editor at WhiteFire Publishing, and a member of ACFW, HisWriters, and Colonial Christian Fiction Writers.
 


Side note:
I had no idea that Roseanna was a fellow WV girl! 
I knew there was a reason I loved her books! ;)

My Review:  4 stars
I first fell in love with Roseanna’s books when I discovered her Culper Ring series. The books were unique, with unusual characters, who were unafraid to break some of society’s numerous rules if it meant solving a puzzle or protecting others. When I first heard about this one, I was super excited to read it and can happily say that this book is no different from her previous ones and I’m very glad for the opportunity to read it.

Roseanna always does an excellent job with the historical details and descriptions. It’s obvious from the start that an immense amount of research went into this book and I loved that! I appreciate the unique details she adds, little things that might appear frivolous, but that add another layer to the story. The setting for this one is a bit different from her others, with it being in the early 1900s as automobiles became popular and ladies were allowed more freedom. This worked especially well with Brook’s character, because she’s always pushing the boundaries.

I also enjoyed how the story comes from multiple view points, giving a larger picture and building the story to its climax. It also allowed added depth to a mystery that kept me guessing. I enjoyed the mystery immensely, as I tried to guess who the villain was and what they might be after. I loved being surprised at the twists and turns that prodded me to turn pages late into the night. My one negative comment here is that there were a couple moments I became lost in the storyline and I would have to back up and try to figure out what I’d missed. Particularly when the story jumps several months and I’m trying to catch up.  Though to be honest, that probably had more to do with my eReader app that kept glitching, than anything. 

Brook Eden is the heroine of the story and I adored her! She is lovely and funny, her perspective often causing me to smile at the way she viewed the world. She is a bit impulsive and brash at times, though I did love how “fearless” she was. She gladly discards society’s requirements, determined to be herself regardless of how that may be perceived. She also cares deeply for others, though after being hurt often, we see her begin to harden that part of herself. I loved that during her journey to find her place, she never lost sight of who she was beyond all of the trappings.

Justin is the hero of the story and frankly, I’m at a loss as to what his last name is! I’ve no idea how they kept up with all of the names and titles, and such back then! Or how the author kept everything straight! I definitely appreciated the character list in the front, explaining who everyone was and their titles . . . Anyway. Justin. There are so many things I could say about him, but I’ll try to keep it short. Honestly, I struggled a bit with his character. Though I understood his motivations, I didn’t connect with him until nearing the end, something that made it difficult for me to really like him. Despite that, he is a well drawn character. Most of the story revolves around Brook, making it something of a challenge to focus on Justin’s side of the story.

I also loved the spiritual side of the story, which focuses largely on trust. Not only trusting God, but also one another. Brook struggles with trusting those around her and believing that love is worth the pain. I think there’s a point in each person’s life, where they have to decide whether love is worth the risk. I appreciated the realism and depth Roseanna employed here and the fact that she chose to highlight the point, rather than brushing it off. There were several times I found myself pausing to highlight a quote (definitely appreciate that part of ebooks!) or consider a line that challenged me.

Overall impression: awesome book! I can’t wait for the next one (Brice’s book!)!

I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read my review!  I hope you enjoyed it!  Also, if you're new to my blog, welcome!  Feel free to nose around or leave me a comment saying you've been here. 
As always, purchase links are below.  And, since I was bragging on the cover for Roseanna's next book, I have to share it!  So keep scrolling to see the beautiful job Bethany House's artists did!

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*drum roll* Ta-da!!  Roseanna's next book!  Gorgeous, isn't it?  Unfortunately, it doesn't come out until March 2016 . . . it seems so far away!  But in reality, it's only about 4 months, so I guess I'll survive waiting that long . . . maybe.







Saturday, November 7, 2015

My Review: Catch of A Lifetime


Isn't this cover so pretty?  I love the combination of blue across the top and the font works well with the overall style of the cover.

Description:
 Can she forget the fumbles of her past and open her heart to love?

He breathes football. She shudders at the very mention of the sport.

After a tragedy involving a football player destroyed her family, athletic trainer and graduate student, Cassie moves across the country looking for a fresh start, but a change in financial aid lands her in the middle of her worst nightmare.

Meanwhile, rookie coach Reed worries his dream career will slip away as injuries plague his players and his star receiver teeters on the brink of ineligibility. As the two work together to salvage the season, sparks fly, and Reed must eventually choose between the game and the woman he loves.





About the Author:
Candee Fick is the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy with her day job or writing, she can be found cheering on the home team at football, basketball, baseball, and Special Olympics games. As a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), she has been a Genesis Award double finalist and winner over several years.  Category: Romance/sports college, football, medical, therapist, tutor, contemporary, inspirational.






My Review: 4.5 stars
I’m going to go ahead and confess this: I’m not a football fan. I’m more in the category of “Hide! The game’s coming on!” Okay, now that we have that out of the way, I do have to say that I truly loved this book! So, if you’re second guessing picking up this story because you don‘t care for the sport, don’t worry about that part of it. You’ll hopefully love it as much as I did.

Ms. Fick's writing is excellent! The characters and setting came to life for me and I was drawn into the story from page one. This was definitely a quick read for me. Once I started it, I didn't want to put it down and also stayed up late finishing it. Her details and descriptions flowed perfectly throughout the story and even a football idiot such as myself very rarely became lost. I actually enjoyed the extra details she supplied regarding the sport, because even when I didn't fully understand, I could still picture it easily.

The protagonists are well rounded and I really liked both of them. They were incredibly realistic and seemed like people I would actually know and be friends with. Cassie Parker, is an academic advisor for the students on the football team. She despises the sport in general, but also has little respect for the teammates, due to a poor experience with football players in the past. I enjoyed watching her grow closer to them and actually become great friends with a few of them. Once she looked beyond the uniform to the people behind them, she found some wonderful friends. Cassie also has a strong faith in God, though it has been rocked by past events and she questions His will in her life. I appreciated her faith, but also the realism we see in her. Because, honestly, who hasn’t questioned God at some point? She isn’t perfect, but maybe that’s why I loved her so much.

Reed Worthington is the receivers’ coach (hope I have that right), who strives to do his best and be someone his team members can look up to. I loved him too. He is honorable and truly cares about each of the students he comes in contact with. I appreciated his desire to be a man worth emulating and he reaches toward God for guidance in that area. He is also less than perfect, and as his relationship with Cassie progresses, we see some mental struggles on his behalf. At first, I questioned Ms. Fick’s decision to include his struggle, but the further I read, the more I was grateful for her decision to make Reed realistic. Instead of causing me to lose respect for him, I found I loved him even more because of his desire to honor God and Cassie.

Honestly, the only reason I'm rating this at 4.5 instead of 5 stars is because I wish the story had been a bit longer. Ms. Fick touches on a few difficult topics, such as forgiveness, trusting God, physical assault, and dealing with temptation (as mentioned above). All things that were woven carefully throughout the story and handled well. I just would have appreciated more page time for them. In keeping with the book length, I felt they were a bit glossed over, at times. But, that being said and again noting the length of the story, I believe Ms. Fick did an admirable job of including such difficult topics. She took the book beyond what some would call “fluff” reading and made it something more. I must applaud her for that.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick read that touches the heart and may leave you thinking!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.


Thank you so much for taking time to read my review!  I hope you enjoyed it!  If you're interested in learning more about the book, or perhaps purchasing a copy, there's a link to Amazon below.  
I hope you have a blessed week!  Please come again!

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

My Review: Isle of Hope


Happy release day to Miss Julie!  I'm so excited for more readers to get this book and discover this awesome story!  Also, isn't this cover cute?  I like the colors, though I personally would've preferred the title to be all one color and the others focused in the sunset.


Description:
She stole his heart.
He stole her peace.
Can hope steal their pain?

At the age of eighteen, Lacey Carmichael was a wild girl bent on fun, promised to Jack O'Bryen, a straight-and-narrow pastor’s kid bent on the seminary. When her father kicks her out of the house, she runs away from Isle of Hope, turning her back on everything she loves. Now, eight years later, she’s back as a woman of faith, hoping to make amends to the father she defied, the boyfriend she deserted, and the best friend she denied. Only the bridges she’s burned are still smoldering, kindled by an adulterous affair by Jack’s pastor father that damaged his son’s faith. But can a turning of tables—and hearts—lead the way back to “hope” for them all?



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: 4.5 stars
Isle of Hope is Julie Lessman’s first contemporary Christian novel and the first in a series by the same name. I’ve adored her historical novels and she is definitely one of my all-time favorite authors, so I was super excited for this book! When an author shifts genres I always have this question of, “will I like it as well?” in the back of my mind. Sometimes I don’t, just to be honest. The writing comes off as forced, or I think perhaps that sometimes as a reader, I don’t like the change. That being said, I can very happily say I loved this book just as much as her historical ones!

Though this book is contemporary, Julie definitely doesn’t change her writing style, just the setting. I think what first drew me to Julie’s writing was the passion behind every story. Her love for the Lord comes through on every page, and also challenges my walk with Him. Next was the complexity of her stories. I love the sagas and following the characters through the ups and downs of life. I found myself falling in love with characters who come to life so completely that they feel like life-long friends. Finally, the depth of her writing. The emotions that are so evident on every page that it seems I’m experiencing them, too. Her attention to detail is rarely rivaled and I love her writing style, as well. All of this, and a myriad of other things, all come together to create books that grab my heart and hold on. This story is no different in any of those aspects, something I was very happy to see.

This is a story of redemption in so many ways. Lacey Carmichael has made many mistakes in her past. More than she’d care to ever remember. But after becoming a new Christian, she returns home to make amends. I fell in love with her from the start. Her honesty and desire to make things right after so many years of running away; her earnest attempts to live for God, even when she fails and feels unworthy of His grace. Lacey became so real to me and I was cheering for her every step of the way. She is incredibly tenacious and determined when she sets her mind to it, and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. She also has a pretty great support system, so even when her faith was flagging and she wanted to surrender, they wouldn’t let her. I loved following her as she learned what it truly means to be a child of God and how to follow His leading.

Jack O’Bryen is actually the complete opposite, now. The man who was once so on fire for God, is now running from Him with everything he has. This is as much his redemption story as it is Lacey’s. Jack is broken and bitter, after feeling betrayed by two people he so dearly loved. There were a few times that he was hard to love, simply because of his anger. But, it was easy to look beyond it to the hurting man he tried so hard to bury.

Julie’s books always challenge my faith, which I’ve already mentioned. I love the spiritual depth her books contain, which goes beyond a fair amount of the books currently in the Christian market. Not only does God come first, but the evidence of the strength of her relationship with Him comes through incredibly clearly. And it’s always obvious that whatever topic she’s chosen is something she’s battled with before. It’s personal for her, which allows it to become real for this reader. It never feels forced or pushes beyond what is needed to be said. This book especially, because it’s self-published goes a little bit deeper than some. The redemption theme is very evident and I loved that she didn’t gloss over any of it, but rather took her time and allowed God to decide where she should stop.

I also enjoyed the dual romance that Julie always has in her books. It adds an extra layer of depth for me and I enjoy the continuation throughout the series. So, I’m very excited to read the next book and find out what happens there. Plus, I don’t know who’s story is next and the suspense is driving me batty!

Honestly, I have just one very minor complaint, which is what’s keeping me from a full 5 star rating. The last few chapters felt rushed to me and sometimes a little choppy. I actually really wanted more detail. I wanted her to fill in some blanks, drag it out a bit more. I imagine the reason it’s like this is because it’s a pretty long book and she may have felt it needed to be shortened a bit. Personally, she could write a book to rival “War and Peace” in length and I would still run to grab it, but I know not everyone feels the same way. Maybe it’s just me, but I would have enjoyed a few more pages toward the end.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great romance filled with the truth of God’s love and grace!

I received an advanced copy of this book from the author for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review!  I hope you enjoyed it!  Also, good news for those of us who adore owning the paper version - I heard from Miss Julie that the paper version should be available mid-November!  But, if you're like me and incredibly impatient, the ebook version works wonderfully well and is available on Amazon for $7.99 or free on Kindle Unlimited.  Thanks again for coming by!  I hope you have a blessed week!

Do You Believe?




A month or so ago, I watched a film titled, “Do You Believe.” Admittedly, it’s a Christian film, produced by Pure Flix. I think it may have released sometime in the last year or so. Anyway, the title of it comes from an important question that is asked. A man, walking along the sidewalk, dragging a wooden cross, stops beside the car of a pastor and asks him, “Do you believe in the cross of Christ?” The pastor huffs a disbelieving laugh and answers in an incredulous voice, “I’m a pastor.” “Yes, but you didn’t answer the question,” the man insists. That struck me. How often do we give the expected answer? The pastor was startled by the question and didn’t even think before replying. How often do I do that? Have I ever really stopped to truly think about the question and my answer? Or do I simply give the expected response?

“Do you believe in the cross of Christ.” The answer sounds like an obvious one, but it requires action. A change. A difference. Would you die for what you believe? Would you risk everything for God? For His kingdom? How much is He worth to you? Because if it is less than your all, then you might reconsider your answer. Faith in God demands everything of you. Half-way isn’t an option. Just enough isn’t a possibility. The answer isn’t multiple choice. It’s yes with your whole heart, or no. Maybe has never been an option.

There is one decision. Two questions. Do you believe? If so, are you all-in?


For me, and maybe a few other people, these are difficult questions.  Who wants to consider death in the face of belief?  Many would ask if it's even worth it.  But if I'm going to live my faith, I want to have a clear picture of everything that entails.  So many times we gloss over the "unsavory" parts and end up telling people that if they'll follow God, everything will be fine.  We don't want to talk anyone out of believing.  Honestly, that's not even close to the truth.  Jesus warns us that we'll face tests and persecution as a result of being His followers (John 16:33).  But He continues in that same verse saying, "But take heart, I have overcome the world." 
Though the questions are difficult and truthfully, they gave me pause for a few moments, there's only one answer I'm able to give.  A yes!, loud and resounding, without an ounce of fear.  Because living without Him isn't something I can even bear to consider. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Review: Love in the Details


Happy release day to Becky Wade!!  Pick the confetti out of your hair, because I'm super excited!  This is her first novella and I personally loved it!  And this is coming from someone who avoids novellas like the plague (okay, not quite that much, but you get the idea).  But, I am a huge of Becky's, so that might have had something to do with it. :)
Side note, does anyone not love this cover?!  Because, it's gorgeous, in my opinion!  I love the simplicity of it and the dress is lovely.

Description: 
Holly ended things to give him a better life, but she was the future he’d always dreamed of.

Eight years have passed since Holly last saw her high school sweetheart, Josh. Now the wedding of Josh’s best friend has brought him back to Martinsburg, Texas. His duties as best man and Holly's as the church's volunteer wedding coordinator link them together. As they work behind the scenes to plan a beautiful November wedding for their friends, they're forced to confront painful reminders of what might have been.

Holly broke up with Josh all those years ago in an attempt to ensure his future success. However, she never told him the true reason behind her actions and now must decide whether to keep her secret hidden. She's terrified of letting herself fall for him because she barely managed to piece her life back together after losing him the last time.

Not a day's gone by since Josh parted from Holly that he hasn't thought about her. The pain of the past eight years has been too much to bear and he doesn't want to make himself vulnerable to her again. But the more time he spends with her, the harder it is to deny the love he still has for her.

Will Josh and Holly risk their hearts on the hope that God's timing really can be best?
(Description copied from Amazon.  Italics mine.  No infringement intended)





About the Author:
Becky Wade makes her home in Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three children. She's the Carol Award and Inspirational Reader's Choice Award-winning author of contemporary Christian romances My Stubborn Heart, Undeniably Yours, and Meant to Be Mine. Visit Becky online at www.beckywade.com, Facebook authorbeckywade, and Twitter: @beckywadewriter.






My Review: 5 stars
I’m going to preface this review with the note that I generally don’t care for stand-alone novellas. I find them too short and they often feel either rushed, or as though they stop short. I always want them to be longer. While the last is true of Love in the Details, neither of the other two are. I actually loved this one! Becky is by far one of my favorite authors, so I’m very glad that I took the chance and read this novella.

I think one of things I love the most about all of Becky’s books, this one included, is how down to Earth they are. Though Josh Bowen is a millionaire, he comes across as a “normal” person. As does Holly Morgan, who I adored. She’s such a delightfully quirky character and is someone I’d love to be friends with. I also really enjoy the dialogue, both between the characters and the internal! It made me laugh more than once and I had to agree with Holly many times. I also confess to a slight case of jealousy, because I adored Josh and if he was real and wasn’t taken . . . .

Though the story is short, Becky packs in much more than a simple love story. She also includes topics about trust and not letting fear rule your decisions. And maybe it’s just me, but that’s something I always need to be reminded of. I appreciated the depth she was able to convey in such a short story and the care she took to ensure the message came through loud and clear while not overwhelming the romance.

This is going to be a short review, because there’s not really much else I can add, other than another “I loved it!” and more gushing. Which isn’t necessary. Hopefully that has been made very clear already. I can’t wait for Becky’s next story, and I highly recommend this one!

I received and advanced copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and read my review!  I hope you enjoyed it!
And, as it is release day for this novella, here are some links if you'd like to check into it!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book



 

 

Friday, October 23, 2015

My Review: Fire & Ice

 
Does the cover of this book make anyone else smile?  Because her expression is exactly what I would imagine from Bailey.  Also, I love the colors.  All of the covers in this series are gorgeous!
 

Description:
Bailey Wilde is one of the best new ranchers in the West. She's been living disguised as a man for a while, but when Gage Coulter comes to drive her off her homestead, he quickly realizes he's dealing with a woman--a very tough, very intriguing woman at that.

Gage is an honest man, but he didn't make his fortune being weak. He won't break the law, but he'll push as hard as he can within it. Five thousand acres of his best range land is lost to him because Bailey's homestead is located right across the only suitable entrance to a canyon full of lush grass. Gage has to regain access to his land--and he's got to go through Bailey to do it.

Spending a winter alone has a way of making a person crave some human contact. In a moment of weakness, Bailey agrees to a wild plan Gage concocts. Can these two independent, life-toughened homesteaders loosen up enough to earn each other's respect--and maybe find love in
the process?


About the Author:
Mary Connealy writes "romantic comedies with cowboys" and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has over half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild At Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie's Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero. Learn more at www.maryconnealy.com.


My Review:  5 stars
I finished this book with a big smile on my face, sighing with happiness. That should tell you that this is going to be another gushing review, because . . . I loved it! I freely admit that I am a huge fan of Ms. Connealy’s, so this review may lean a bit toward bias, though I always try to give a thoroughly honest review. That being said, I did honestly love this book!

This book is the last in Mary Connealy’s Wild at Heart series and is Bailey’s book. I’ve been anticipating this one since reading the first, so I was super excited to receive it. It grabbed my attention from the very first page and I read quickly, finishing it within a day. I love that Mary’s books always make me laugh and this one is no exception. I found myself in stitches more than once and just randomly grinning, probably causing a few people to question my sanity. She’s doing something a bit different with this series, though. These books are a bit more serious and cut a little bit closer to the heart. I honestly adore this, because while I enjoy the fluff and laughter, if a book touches my heart, that’s one I’m going to remember. Now, before I make it sound like a drag, it definitely isn’t. I was kept on the edge of my seat for most of the story, wondering what might happen next and how everything would work out.




Mary’s writing is, per usual, excellent. I love the details and descriptions, but also simply her writing style. It’s unique in a way I can’t really define, but that I know I enjoy. The dialogue is also a blast, both the verbal and internal. I love knowing her characters’ thoughts, because they so crack me up with their bluntness and just the fact that they’re thinking what most people would never say but definitely never admit. She paints lovely (and hysterical) pictures with her words, to the point that I could almost imagine I was right there with Bailey and Gage. I love being so thoroughly swept into a story and Mary’s books do that.

I hate to play favorites, but I think Bailey Wilde has been my favorite sister from the start. She’s the mysterious one that plays at being a man and is willing to fight toe-to-toe with anyone who would dare threaten her sisters. Even if I didn’t love her before this book, I do now. I enjoyed getting to really know her and see another side of her character. She comes to life within pages of her story. She isn’t quite as tough as she’s led everyone to believe, but she is fierce and a force to be reckoned with. Beyond that though, is a hurting woman who has faced war and lived to tell about it. One of my favorite parts of her story is when we finally get to know what haunts her and understand who she truly is behind her mask.

Gage Coulter . . . I’m not sure what to say about him. Stubborn fills in a lot of gaps. Thickheaded. Tenacious. But on the flip side, once you get past his cranky exterior he is very caring toward Bailey and her family. Even when they’re driving him batty (though that was often mutual). Gage is one of those heroes that I loved, but also wanted to slap at the same time. So I sympathized with Bailey quite easily. Beyond his annoying qualities, he is actually quite likable and I had to laugh and agree with many of his observations. 



I also enjoyed the bit of mystery that’s woven throughout, keeping me guessing as to what might happen next. It’s actually downplayed a bit from the previous books, but with everything else going on, I understood that it didn’t exactly take precedence. The ending was well done, with all of the loose ends neatly tied up. I was disappointed to see it come to an end, simply because I didn’t want to say “goodbye.” There’s something bittersweet about reading the final book in a series and realizing that my time with these particular characters is coming to a close. That being said, I’m also very excited to find out what Mary has up her sleeve, next!
 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in anyway. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by my blog!  I hope you enjoyed my review!  As always, there are links for it below.  I hope you're having a fantastic day!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book



Saturday, October 17, 2015

My Review: Valley of Decision, plus GIVEAWAY!


I'm not even sure what to say about this book, even a week after reading it.

Description:
Thirteen years ago, Lisbeth made an impossible decision—leave third-century Carthage and her husband Cyprian behind for good. She knew it was to protect her daughter Maggie, so Lisbeth gathered the strength to move on with her life.

All these years, Lisbeth has thrown herself into her work and raising her headstrong daughter, all to live up to the promise she made to Cyprian. But Maggie is sick of being protected. In an act of teenage rebellion Maggie decides to do what her mother can’t—secretly returning to the third century on a quest to bring her father back, leaving Lisbeth no choice but to follow.

With Maggie’s surprise arrival in Carthage, chaos ensues. She finds her grandmother on trial for murder and attempts to save her, but instead the diversion sparks a riot that nearly destroys the plagued city. Only one thing will appease the wrath of the new proconsul of Carthage: the death of the instigator.

Will Lisbeth arrive in time to save her daughter from the clutches of Rome? How can God possibly redeem such a slew of unwise decisions and deep regrets? Filled with heart-wrenching twists and riveting action, Valley of Decision brings the romantic adventure epic, The Carthage Chronicles, to an electrifying conclusion.

 
About the Author:
Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications. She is a professional acting coach, theater director, and playwright. Lynne is an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer who loves spending time with her family and medical therapy dog.


My Review: Am I allowed more than 5 stars?
I’m going to be honest. My brain is spinning while I’m trying to gather enough words to write a review for this book that has left me emotionally rocked and asking difficult questions. I don’t even know where to begin. How do I describe this story that has me reeling, trying to avoid crying for a fictional character, and replaying sections of it endeavoring to figure out where I became so attached? What can I say that will do it justice?

I should probably note that there are two other books in this series, The Healer of Carthage and Return to Exile  (click on the titles to read my review). All three books follow the adventures of Lisbeth Hastings and Cyprian Thascius in third century Carthage. Each of these stories have touched me in some manner, but this one pretty much knocked the wind out of me for a few moments. I found myself so engrossed in this book that I read it in little more than a day and had to struggle to pull myself away from it. Forget about focusing on anything else, I was so entrenched in my reading that I would look up and blink a few times, trying to make sense that I wasn’t in Carthage with them. Lisbeth may have time-traveled to the third century, but I think I took that trip with her.




Ms. Gentry, as usual, has outdone herself with this book. Her writing is superb and she brings Carthage to life in such a way that I would almost swear I’d be there myself. There were several times when it was as though I could almost smell the eucalyptus used in the vaporizer pots and feel the discord running through the city. I’ve loved being pulled into the journey that flows through three books and finally climaxes in an ending that made me want to pitch it across the room. Before I deter anyone with that comment, I’m going to continue by saying that my remark is more of a testament to just how wonderful a job Lynne has done with this series. I have to be deeply attached to the characters to prompt that reaction from me, so well done Lynne!

Lisbeth and Cyprian have been favorites of mine from the start, but in this book we also get to know a grown-up Maggie and Barek, as well as knowing Lisbeth’s parents a bit better. I loved the new depth Lynne adds to each of her stories, expanding them and drawing more characters to the forefront until it’s not just Cyprian and Lisbeth’s story, but it’s about so many people that their lives have touched along the way. I’m honestly not sure there’s much more to say about these two people, because I’ve talked about them quite a bit in my reviews for the two previous books. They are constantly growing and changing throughout each book, but in small ways that you’d really have to read the books to know, as my explanations wouldn’t come even close to doing them justice. 



I think if I had to choose one reason that I love Lynne’s books so much it would have to be this: they challenge me. They force me to ask questions and reevaluate some aspects of my life. They are so real and sometimes raw that I believe it’s almost impossible to remain unaffected. After I had turned the final page of this one, I just sat there for a few moments, trying to wrap my brain around what had just happened. It seemed hard to believe it was over, but then I feel that way about any book I fall into. They never seem long enough and I feel a bit bereft for a while afterward. I’m sure this will be one that sticks with me for quite a while as I mull the words within, the ones that have caused me to stop and think, to look to God for answers, or to simply ponder the questions Lynne’s words inspire.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

If you took the time to read my review, I applaud you!  If you just skipped down to the giveaway details, then I suppose I can't really blame you. 
I enjoyed this book so much, that I'm giving away one copy of it, along with a surprise (which I'm really excited about!)!  To be entered, you simply have to leave a comment on this page that includes an answer to the question below and your email address.  You MUST leave your email address in order to be entered (otherwise, I won't be able to contact the winner).  A similar safe format is recommended: suchandsuch[at]something[dot]com.  This giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry!) and will close Friday, October 23 at Midnight EST

Entry Question:
If you could time-travel to any past era, where would you want to go? 

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by!  I hope you have a blessed week!

Oh, one last thing: if you'd like to learn more about the book, or maybe purchase a copy, links are included below!

Amazon

Christian Book

Barnes & Noble

 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

My Review: The Mistress of Tall Acre, plus GIVEAWAY!


I have to confess - I really love this cover!  It's so lovely and gives a glimpse into the setting and story!  The designers at Revell definitely did an excellent job, in my opinion!

Description:
The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general's past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?



About the Author:
Laura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the author of several books, including The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel's Lady, and The Ballantyne Legacy series. She lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. Learn more at www.laurafrantz.net.







My Review: 5 stars!
I confess, this is the first book I’ve read by Laura Frantz. Now, don’t start throwing rotten tomatoes yet, because I am now a huge fan of hers! I had no basis for expectations, aside from the gushing of her fans (who I now must concur with). I have to think that if I’d had any, they would’ve been far surpassed. I adored this book!

Ms. Frantz is definitely a gifted writer and it shows through in every line of this book. I was engrossed from the very first page and I couldn’t read fast enough! I loved the historical details she includes, the little things to bring the story to life and transported this reader back to the trying days after the War for Independence. Every scene is vivid and full of images and descriptions that took flight in my imagination. Even when I would put the book down, a part of it would stay with me through my day, in the back of my mind, waiting for when I would pick it up again. This is a book that kept me up late more than once, then stayed with me long after I finished it.

I loved the intricate storyline and the twists and turns that kept me turning the pages as quickly as I could. Though I wanted to savor the writing, the desire to find out what would happen next won out more often than not. I will confess that I found a couple of the “surprises” a little lackluster, but mostly because I had already guessed as much from reading the book description. Sometimes I think a little too far ahead and try to guess what might happen next, rather than just enjoying the ride and being surprised with everyone else. Despite this, I was never disappointed with where the story went. I’m a sucker for marriage of convenience stories and this one sets the bar quite high for the future ones I’ll read.

I loved all of the characters, but I confess Lily Cate stole my heart at once, much as she did Sophie’s. Sophie Menzies is a character I wasn’t expecting. She’s faced hard times, trials, and difficulties, but she still loves freely. She gives freely, though she has little. She knows the true worth of a person isn’t their wealth, or their home, but their heart. I loved seeing this play out through every page, as she cared for and loved the people in her life, even those who were unkind to her.
Seamus Ogilvy (whose last name I never did figure out how to pronounce), is a unique hero. He’s a war veteran who has seen the darkest parts of life. He doesn’t know how to love his daughter, how to be the father he wants to be. I loved this broken leader of many. Because to lead, you have to be willing to do the work too, which Seamus does. He sets high expectations for himself, then does his best to meet or surpass them. He has his scars, but he tries so hard to be the best father, and then husband, that he can. Even when he falls short of the measure he built for himself, he gets back up and fights again.

This is one of those books that becomes so real that sometimes you have to step back and remember it is fiction. I had to do this a time or two, when I found myself forgetting completely where I was. I confess, it almost made me cry a time or two, and not many authors can manage that. The spiritual element was so realistically written that I could almost feel the characters’ pain, their questions to God of “why?” But in everything, I loved their faith. In the hard times, they believed God was still good. In the good times, they praised Him. And in the darkest moment where the only thing left was “why?” they still didn’t lose faith. I loved how Ms. Frantz handled the questions and how intricately she wove the faith aspect through out the book. I have to honestly believe she is a lady of deep faith, because it showed on every page.

I honestly don’t have a single complaint about any aspect of this book. I loved it and will be eagerly anticipating the next book by this new-found author! I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a compelling historical read!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own. 

 

Now, I'm simply going to assume that most everyone reading this completely skipped my longwinded review in order to learn more about the giveaway.  And I honestly can't say that I blame anyone, because hey, free books are more exciting than my gushing, right?  That being said, I loved this book so much, that I want to share a copy of it with someone, hence the giveaway. :)
Every giveaway has to have rules, correct?  And mine are simple.  To be entered you have to do 2 things:
1) Leave a comment about almost anything (i.e why my reviews should be shorter, what books you like to read, the weather, something funny your dog just did . . . .).  I'd just like it to be something more than "I'm so excited!"  Okay?
2) Be sure to include your email address somewhere in your comment, so that I have a way to contact the winner.  A format similar to something[at]suchandsuch[dot]com is recommended to deter spammers.
And that's it!  The giveaway is open until midnight EST on Thursday, October 1st.  I'll notify the winner on Friday morning.  Okay!  I think that's everything . . . yep!  I hope you all have a fantastic day!


P.S. Oops!  I almost forgot!  If you'd like to read more about this book before entering, or maybe consider purchasing your own copy, you can find it on these sites (as well as others):

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Review: Love's Every Whisper


Just so you're forewarned, I've been falling a bit behind on my reviews the past couple weeks, with work and such, so I'll be posting a bit more frequently until I'm caught up.  It also means that I'll be posting on seemingly random days, like today. :)


Description:
Victoria Donnelly is, as always, a failure. With five years of failed courtships behind her and the calendar inching closer to another birthday, Victoria's determined to redeem herself and snag a proposal from a wealthy childhood acquaintance, Gilbert Sinclair. But returning to Eagle Harbor stirs up long forgotten memories. And worse, old affection for her betrothed's enemy.

Elijah Cummings has loved Victoria for fifteen years. But fishermen's sons don't marry shipping barons' daughters. He knows it. She knows it. The entire town knows it. Resolved to keep his distance from Victoria, Elijah focuses on establishing a much needed life-saving station, risking his own life by rescuing sailors stuck aboard shipwrecks.

He knows how to save drowning sailors, but how is he to save a woman from the biggest mistake of her life—without destroying both their hearts in the process?


About the Author:
A mother of three, Naomi Rawlings spends her days picking up, cleaning, playing and, of course, writing. Her husband pastors a small church in Michigan's rugged Upper Peninsula, where her family shares its ten wooded acres with black bears, wolves, coyotes, deer and bald eagles. Naomi and her family live only three miles from Lake Superior, where the scenery is beautiful and they average 200 inches of snow per winter. Naomi writes bold, dramatic stories and is currently enjoying writing the Eagle Harbor Series, which is set near where she lives.



My Review: 4 stars
Love’s Every Whisper is the second story in Naomi Rawlings’, Eagle Harbor series. That being said, it can definitely be read as a stand-alone. I personally didn’t read the first book and though it may have filled in a couple small gaps, I didn’t feel lost or find it confusing. I discovered her books a couple years ago with the release of her first book with the Love Inspired Historical line and very much enjoyed it. I was really excited to read this book and can happily say that I enjoyed it immensely!

Ms. Rawlings does an excellent job with the details and descriptions. I enjoyed getting to visit the little town on the edge of Lake Superior and see it through her characters’ eyes. It’s obvious she did a great deal of research about the US Life Saving Service and sailing in general. I will admit that there were a couple times I struggled with the amount of detail that occasionally kind of clumped together on a page, but fortunately, it didn’t bog down the story or disrupt my reading very much.

Victoria Donnelly is the heroine of this story and I fell in love with her almost immediately. She is very realistic in her flaws, but also in her kind heart. There was a part of me that felt so sorry for her, because in the beginning, she doesn’t see her true worth. I loved the kindness and desire to help others that drives her throughout the story, even when she struggles to know what is right. There is definitely a bold message of worth, value, and strength shown through this character that I wish so many young women would know. Watching Victoria grow and discover how much she is loved was definitely a highlight of this book, for me.

Elijah Cummings is an interesting, if sometimes frustrating, hero. He tries so hard to save everyone who ventures into the nearby waters, when his life seems to be falling apart. He is definitely strong and very stubborn, to the point I kind of wanted someone to whack him upside the head. That being said, I did fall in love with him, too. And sometimes I think we need more characters that are flawed and maybe a little broken to remind us that we don’t always have to pretend perfection. Elijah is far from perfect, but he tries to be a better man, which is all anyone can really ask. While his actions aren’t always noble, his intentions and heart are - speaking of, I also loved his heart for Victoria. He’d loved her for years, but always saw the impossibilities in any future between them. Even when it seemed so out of reach, he was still there, guiding her and trying to show her the worth she so rarely saw in herself.

My only negative comment is that I really didn’t much care for Gilbert. Elijah’s rival in this book, who I believe is also the main character of the next story. He is something of the villain here and is not a very likeable character. I honestly can’t really see reading his story, though he does become a little more tolerable later in the book. I wish that Ms. Rawlings had softened his character a bit, so that I would have liked him at least a little better.

Finally, I would say that I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys Christian historical romance!
 
I received an advanced copy of this book from the author for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review!  I hope you enjoyed it! 
If you'd like to look into it further, it's available on Amazon in both paper and the Kindle version.  And the ebook is currently on sale for $3.99!  Which I'm a little excited about. :)

Also, please come back here Saturday, September 26, 2015 (4 days from now),  for a random giveaway (and no, I'm not telling what it is)!