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.

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!


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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!

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!


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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.

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!


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