Saturday, December 31, 2016

Best books of 2016 (in my opinion)

Can you believe tomorrow is the first day of 2017?!  I'm still in shock, personally.  Where did 2016 go?  Did it fly by for anyone else?  It seems like I was just halfway botching doing one of these posts for 2015 and now, a whole year has passed in the time it took me to blink!  Am I the only one so not ready to start another year?  Not that I have any say in the matter, unless I want to keep dating my checks for 2016, I can't do anything to change it . . .  So, without further ado, seeing as this is primarily a book blog, my Best Books of 2016 list!  And be sure to leave me a comment and let me know what's on your favorite reads list and if I left anyone out!
Oh, and these are in no particular order, which is driving my alphabetizing self crazy.  But this way will be more fun, right?


Book: Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson
Reason: As always, Ms. Henderson is one of my
very favorite authors and I loved the depth she brings
to this story.  Evie is a unique character and I so enjoyed
getting to know her, along with the rest of the cast. 
I can't wait for her next book, which is on my most anticipated list!
 
 
Book: Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig
Reason: Tox, plague, suspense, Kasey,
what-happens-next, London, can't-put-it-down,
Israel, Ram, Syria, questions.  So many reasons . . .


                                               
Book: Giver of Wonders by Roseanna M. White
         Reason:  I'm not really a "Christmas person."  But this
       story brought it to life in a brand new way.  I loved the
         unique time period and how it took the truth of Christmas
         back to the beginning, to when the celebration was still new
      and the sense of awe wasn't yet lost in traditions and shopping
 and gift giving.


 
Book: Love Everlasting by Julie Lessman
Reason: This book is both sweet and passionate,
humorous and serious.  I loved getting to know
Sam and Shannon.  Laughing and crying with them
and anticipating that Cat's book will hopefully be next.
 
 
 
Book:  Without Warning by Lynette Eason
Reason:  Ms. Eason is one of my go-to authors when
I want a book that will keep me on the edge of my seat,
but also has characters that touch my heart, and this one
perfectly fits the bill!  And spoiler, though the next book is on
my anticipated list, I can go ahead and tell you that it is ah-mazing, too!


 
Book: The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White
Reason:  I'm always a sucker for marriage of convenience
stories and this one quickly became one of my favorites.
I loved watching Brice and Rowena learn how to intentionally love
someone.  And as always, I loved the suspense Ms. White weaves into
her books.
 
 

Book: Playing the Part by Jen Turano
Reason:  Jen's books always crack me up!  Just ask Lucetta
about the moat or Bram about his motley crew of staff and pets.
Complete with a dress-hating goat and a basement that doubles as a dungeon.




Book: Her One and Only by Becky Wade
Reasons:  This cover!  I mean, honestly.  The Porters (if you haven't read
her books, you're totally missing out).  Also, a hot football player
and a female bodyguard.  Can you say "sparks"?  So many
sigh worthy moments between these pages!
 
 

Book: Close to You by Kara Isaac
Reason:  It's set in New Zealand.  Hobbits are a feature.
I loved the chemistry between Allie and Jackson.  And the dialogue!
Definitely an excellent debut novel!
 
 

 
Book: Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey
Reason: Honestly, I think this was one of the
first books I read this year and I totally need to read it again,
because I remember adoring it, but I don't recall why!
But, it's on here anyway.  Just because.  And I can't wait
to read Still Life!
 
 
 
Book: Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar
Reason:  Tessa has a way of bringing the Bible to life
that I just so enjoy!  Her books cause me to look at the stories
found in God's word more closely, to see the people behind the words written
on a page and to wonder what they must have been like.  I love
her unique take on things and the questions she raises that cause me to stop and think.
 

Book: Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson
Reason:  Returning to the Red Door Inn.  Getting to hang out in Caden's kitchen.
Adam - so swoon-worthy!  Seeing PEI through their eyes.  I can't wait
to make a return visit next year!
 
 

Book:  A Harmony for Steve by Hallee Bridgeman
Reason:  I've been eagerly anticipating this book for a couple years
and was so not disappointed!  Ms. Bridgeman tackles some very difficult
subjects in this story, addiction and spiritual warfare being the biggest ones.
And she does in a way that was totally engrossing.  I didn't want to put the book
down for anything.  Her books are so realistic and I loved being draw into
Steve and Harmony's lives, as well as getting to reacquaint myself with some old friends.
 
 
I couldn't choose between these next two books, so they're both on here! 
 




 
Books: A Time to Speak and A Time to Rise by Nadine Brandes
Reasons:  These are books two and three in Ms. Brandes' Out of Time series
and I couldn't pick just one of them!  They each had an impact on me and caused
me to reevaluate how I view things.  I loved the honesty in how Parvin approaches God
and following her path as she sought His will and fought to right a terrible wrong.
These books were my first foray into the dystopian genre and will hopefully not been my last!  
 
 
Well, I think that's all I can manage to think up right now.  So Dear Reader Friends, who am I missing??  I know there's at least a couple books that I've misplaced in my brain that deserve to be on this list, but I just can't remember!  I'm also doing a "most anticipated" list in a day or two, so please chime in with what you think should be on it, as well! 
Thank you so much for stopping by and Happy New Year!
 
P.S. I was too lazy tired to find the links for all of the books here, but you can find all of them on Amazon and most of them everywhere else, should you be interested in checking them out further.  I've also reviewed most of them here, if you'd like to see my thoughts on them.  I'm still only doing this thing halfway.  Oops!  

Friday, December 9, 2016

My Review: Conspiracy of Silence, plus GIVEAWAY!


You know when a book description begins with "This is the way the world end" that said book is going to be epic!

Description:

This Is the Way the World Ends.
Four years after a tragic mission decimated his team, Cole "Tox" Russell has been disavowed by the United States.  And that's fine - he just wants to be left alone.  But when a dormant, centuries-old disease is unleashed, Tox is lured back into action.

Tox and his former Special Forces team regroup to work with FBI deception expert, Kasey Cortes, and fiery archaeologist, Tzivia Khalon, to search the globe for answers - and a cure.  As the mission leads from one continent to another, it becomes clear they're not just fighting a plague but battling an ancient secret society whose true goals remain hidden.

With time running out and the threat for a global pandemic rising, Tox and his team realize their sole chance might be to reach back through centuries of silence to find the only answer that can save them all.


About the Author:
Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. She's penned over a dozen novels, including The Quiet Professionals series and the A Breed Apart series. She and her hunky hero hubby have a fun, crazy life with their children and a retired military working dog in Northern Virginia.





My Review: 5 stars!
There are so many things I could say about this book.  It has 400+ pages and hours of my life were spent between those pages, immersed in a story so compelling I found myself glancing up every so often, making sure I wasn’t in [insert country] with the team, chasing down leads and running for my life.  I’ve found few authors that can hold my attention the way Ronie Kendig always does, even on the second and third rereads.  Her stories practically demand my undivided attention, because otherwise, I’ll be turning back the pages in a matter of moments, trying to figure out what I missed and how on Earth they ended up there.  This story moves so quickly that the both the characters and I were struggling to get our bearings and catch our breath.  If you pick up this book expecting to find a quick, light read, don’t.  This story is hard, sometimes it’s dark, with the realities of war, and it goes by so quickly that you may find yourself looking back and trying to figure out how you’re already halfway through and you just blinked.  This book most definitely met and majorly exceeded my expectations!

As already noted, Ms. Kendig’s books always keep me on the edge of my seat and if I were to try to give a reason why, I wouldn’t have one beyond simply “her writing.”  There is something about it that I find so compelling and that draws me in again and again.  She undeniably knows how to do suspense and she does it on a whole new level.  The twists and turns of this story often left me hurrying to catch up with the newest bend and then quick as a blink, it would change, again.  And she does it in a way that comes across as believable.  Some things do touch the side of outlandish here and there, but even the characters agreed.  There are several controversial topics touched on and argued about throughout the story and I appreciated how honest the conversations they have are: the fear, doubt, questions, and in the end faith, carry weight and emotion in a story that moves so rapidly I wonder that there’s a moment to breathe.  I was pulled in so thoroughly from the very first chapter that by the time I turned the final page, I felt as though I had taken the journey with them - questions, doubts, bullets, arrows, wisecracks, black eyes, unknowns and all.

One thing that sets this book apart from Ms. Kendig’s previous books is the characters.  This book doesn’t so much focus on one particular character and their story, but more the team as a whole and the events taking place.  I confess to being a little confused in the beginning of the story, as I tried to make each character fit into a specific role, then finding that didn’t work.  Cole “Tox” Russel is a main character, but so are Kasey Cortes and Tzivia Khalon, and really the team as a whole.  I wanted them to each fit in the usual boxes: hero, heroine, best friend, villain, character who’s book comes next, and so forth.  But these characters just refused to fit the mold and I found myself having to readjust my thinking.  I did really love the dynamics of the team: Cell with his sarcasm, Ram with his connections, Kasey learning where she fits, Chiji the calming presence.  There are a couple team members that I didn’t get to know as well, so I’m definitely going to be rereading this book for that, but also to catch all of the threads that didn’t connect the first time around or that I flat out missed because I was rushing to find out what would happen next.

I do have to add that if you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend reading the prequel novella that takes place a few years before this book.  It fills in a few otherwise gray areas and gives an extra layer of detail.  It isn’t a must and doesn’t directly tie in, though events that happen in it are referenced a few times here and there.
Overall, I immensely enjoyed this book and will most likely be found rereading it the first chance I get.  


If you took the time to read my review, thank you so much!  If you just scrolled down here to get to the giveaway info, then keep reading - you made it past most of the gushing.  :) 
So, I accidently ended up with 2 paper copies of Conspiracy of Silence and rather than hoarding both of them, which was my first instinct, I decided to share one with someone.  There should be a Rafflecopter form below to help me keep everything straight (if that's possible).  The giveaway will end at midnight on the 18th and I'll email the winner the next day.  Unfortunately, this giveaway is only open to US visitors. 

Oh!  And if you haven't had the opportunity to read the prequel novella The Warrior's Seal, it's currently FREE on Amazon Kindle (if you don't have a Kindle, the app is free).  I HIGHLY recommend it and if you're new to Ronie's books, this is an excellent way to check out her writing and see if it's your cup of coffee (because Tox would cringe at tea). There's a link for it below, along with purchase links for Conspiracy of Silence.

Final note:
Ronie also has a super awesome giveaway happening on her site!  You should totally go check it out!  Click here to be directed to the giveaway.

Thanks again for stopping by!  I hope someone makes you laugh today.  :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The Warrior's Seal (FREE e-novella!)
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Conspiracy of Silence
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Sunday, November 27, 2016

My Review: One Enchanted Eve


" . . . It's that any control I've ever thought I had is flimsy and fake.  A false comfort when what I really need is to learn to trust a God who offers something better than answers . . . . Hope."  - Drew Renwyke

Description:

After years of mistakes and regret, Colin Renwycke finally has a plan: Hone his baking talent at the Denver Culinary Institute and embark on a new career as a pastry chef. If he's lucky, he might even manage to earn back his family's respect. But despite his skills in the kitchen, Colin's a mess in the classroom and his ongoing disasters are proving too much for his prickly instructor. If he loses his spot at the school, he's out of backup plans.

Culinary school instructor Rylan Jefferson has the chance to reclaim her dream of running her own bakery. But she only has until Christmas Eve to come up with the perfect recipe to impress an eccentric investor. She has no time for holiday parties or family plans . . . and especially not for the unruly student baker who couldn't follow a recipe if his life depended on it.

But Colin has the one ingredient Rylan needs most—talent. Lots of it. And when he makes a proposal that just might solve both their problems, Rylan can't say no—even if it does mean traveling all the way to Iowa. It just might be that the snow-covered plains and a charming small town full of postcard Christmas cheer are exactly what her hungry heart needs . . . along with a man who is much more than he seems.





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. The second book in her popular Walker Family series, Like Never Before, was named by Publishers Weekly to their spring 2016 "Religion and Spirituality" Top 10 list. 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
If you’ve had the pleasure of reading One Enchanted Christmas, then you will probably remember Colin Renwycke, the hero for this story.  I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book and another chance to return to Maple Valley and the unique cast of characters therein.  Colin is the prodigal brother and as this story starts out, we find him in the middle of yet another mess and trying to charm his way out of it, as always.  Only this time he contends with Rylan Jefferson, who doesn’t really have anything to lose by kicking him out of her cooking class.  Except that is, the extra work his “experiments” bring.  Can you say “sparks”?  I love how Ms. Tagg starts her books off with with something funny/embarrassing and just keeps it going from there.  I found myself smiling or laughing so often that I was probably getting a few strange looks, but was too engrossed to notice.
Ms. Tagg’s writing is excellent, as always.  I actually think I’m kind of running out of things to say on this, because I’m sure I’ve covered everything over my previous reviews.  Anyhoo, her descriptions drew me right into the story and I loved how she brought everything to such colorful life.  I could almost imagine being part of the the kooky town snowman building contest and seeing the lights twinkling on the bridge (courtesy of the cover) and going sledding and walking into The Red Door for coffee with Rylan.  I love this fictional town Ms. Tagg has created and always jump at any chance to visit again.
With Colin being the “prodigal brother” there are obviously several issues there and I really appreciated how the author handled them with a care that isn’t always seen in novellas.  She also tackles the incredibly difficult topic of having a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, something that made my heart break for them.   For Rylan, her story focuses on stepping outside of her comfort zone and taking chances - with cooking, but also with life.  I really enjoyed watching this theme play out through the story and seeing her learn what it means to be all in.  And also the audacious things Colin talks her into that adds another level of fun to the story.  I loved taking this Christmas trip with them and am sure I’ll join them again soon.
I highly recommend this story to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance filled with humor and characters you can’t help but love.


Thank you so much for stopping by!  I hope you enjoyed my review!  Oh, and I have to share that One Enchanted Eve is presently one sale for only $.99 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (and probably IBooks or whatever Apple's reading app is called)!  So, if you haven't had the opportunity to read any of Melissa's books yet, now's your chance!  Oh, and if you haven't read One Enchanted Christmas (the first novella in this collection) it's also only $0.99!  You can find the links for both books below.  :)
Have a delightful day!

One Enchanted Christmas (book 1):


One Enchanted Eve (book 2):








Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My Review: Finding Margo


If you need something to laugh about, I highly recommend this book!

Description:
International pop star Margo Hartman could use a night off. A grueling tour and overbearing entourage have sent her over the edge. It’s time for this diva to disappear. And who would think to look for the superstar in a small town in Ohio?

Sheriff’s deputy Brock Moore is undercover as well. He knows Margo isn’t who she appears to be, but her uncanny resemblance to a local Amish woman is raising all sorts of questions. . .the kinds that make her a target for a killer.

Both are determined to find answers, but their mutual attraction stands in the way of either of them doing it alone. Is finding Margo the solution to Brock’s problems or just the beginning…?

 

About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Jen Turano writes contemporary and historical romances with quirky characters and unusual storylines. She is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in Clothing and Textiles. Just outside Denver, Colorado, Jen and her husband live as empty-nesters, and they do so fabulously. Contact Jen at www.jenturano.com.








My Review: 5 stars
After giving it some thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that Finding Margo is in a genre all its own. It’s contemporary, with mystery, suspense, a bit of Amish, some romance, and a lot of laughter inducing moments! If you’ve read any of Ms. Turano’s other books, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about. I’m a huge fan of her historical books, so of course, I had to read this one. I’m always curious when authors write different genres: wondering how it’ll work out, if I’ll find I prefer one genre over the other, if their writing style will change much . . . and I can happily say that I very much enjoyed this book! I was a little leery when I realized it had an Amish focus, being that I’m not into Amish fiction at all, but it actually doesn’t linger much on that side of the story. So if you’re going into this book expecting Amish fiction, you may find yourself disappointed, or you may find yourself laughing too much to really care that it wasn’t what you had expected. Ms. Turano is always my go-to author when I need a laugh, something to brighten a dreary day and this story is definitely no exception to that rule. It’s full of her trademark humor and quirky characters, along with suspense and a mystery to keep me wondering what will happen next!

As expected, the author did an excellent job with the details and descriptions and I was quickly swept away into an odd town, filled with unusual characters and an old mystery waiting for someone to solve it. I was so excited to start this book and discover that Ms. Turano hadn’t changed her writing style from her historical novels in the least! She pokes a bit of fun at her own writing style a time or two, with the slightly more proper and sometimes unusual word choices. Her writing cracks me up and I found myself laughing so often at the dialogue, or how she chose to describe something, or the quirky habits of her characters, or a myriad of other things. One of my favorite things about this story was the mystery. It’s fairly rare that I find a book that leaves me stumped, but this one did just that! I found myself rushing through the story, wanting to know what disaster would befall them next, and I had not a clue who the villain was and was as surprised as the characters when it was revealed. I’m so looking forward to reading the next book, especially after the bit of a cliffhanger that left me simultaneously smiling with anticipation for the second book and groaning at the knowledge I’d have to wait a while to find out what happens next.

Margo and Brock are both definitely unique characters, along with the host of other curious people spending time in the town of Millersburg. I loved getting to know both of them, amidst the chaos of everything going on. Brock is definitely swoon-worthy, as Margo first notes, and she is . . . . something else. They both kept me in stitches, particularly Margo with her newfound “pet” and odd way of looking at things. Brock is definitely the more serious of the two and he grounds Margo well, a foundation she needed with her life in a whirlwind. I really appreciated how Ms. Turano handled their relationship, with the swift pace of the story. It didn’t overwhelm the mystery and didn’t end with an unrealistic declaration of undying love. I loved the quiet, sweet moments they shared and the promise of something more at the end. They were a little cheesy a times, but very smile-worthy.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a story with a genre identity crisis, but that is full of laughter, an intriguing mystery, and very unique characters.

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by!  In case you missed it from my blathering, I so enjoyed this story!  If you'd like to learn more about it, or maybe purchase a copy, there are links below!
Depending on when you read this, I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with family, friends, and laughter!  If it's after that, I wish you the same for any day.

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book


Saturday, November 5, 2016

My Review: Giver of Wonders, plus giveaway!



"But when faith is easy, it loses its potency." - Nikolaos

Description:
A miracle once saved her life ~ will another give her a future?

Cyprus was little more than a child when a fall left her paralyzed...and when the boy known as the wonder-worker healed her. Ever since, she has wondered why the Lord spared her, what he has in store for her. But her pagan father thinks she was spared solely so she could be introduced to the wealthy wonder-worker, Nikolaos.

Nikolaos has never questioned that his call in life is to dedicate himself to the church and to God. Never, that is, until he and his cousin Petros meet the compelling Cyprus Visibullis. For years he struggles with the feelings she inspires...and with the sure knowledge that Petros loves her too.

Petros knows he will never be good enough for Cyprus's father to consider him as a match for his favorite daughter not as long as Nikolaos is there. But when tragedy strikes the Visibullis family, he will do anything to save his beloved. Unfortunately, his beloved is determined to do anything to save her sisters ~ even at the cost of herself.

As the festival of lights bathes their Greek city in beauty, Cyprus, Petros, and Nikolaos celebrate the miracle of their Savior s birth together one last time. And in remembrance of their Lord's greatest gift, one of them will make the ultimate sacrifice for the others...and a centuries-long tradition will be born.



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, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna has a slew of historical novels available, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.RoseannaMWhite.com







My Review: 5 stars!
I should probably start this review with the usual disclaimer that I am not really a Christmas person. I know, right? Don’t worry, you can lynch me later. Anyway, that being said, I absolutely loved this book! I was so curious to read it for several reasons, the main one being that it sounded like such an unusual take on a Christmas story. I’m already a huge fan of Ms. White’s so I couldn’t resist giving it a go, and I’m so glad that I did! This honestly may be my all time favorite Christmas novel! It is so well written and I loved the unique historical take on a person that has become so prominent in our culture. I also appreciated the historical note at the end, telling the known facts and what was added for effect or was creative license.

Ms. White really outdid herself this time! The writing and details of this story were fantastic! Her stories always draw me in right away and this one definitely wasn’t the exception! I didn’t want to put it down and read it very quickly. I greatly appreciated all of the historical details and it’s very obvious the amount of research she put into making the story accurate. It’s often the minute details that bring a story to life and that is very true of this one. I also enjoyed how she added explanations in a way that seemed natural and not at all like reading a history textbook. Her descriptions are excellent and I loved being transported to early Lycia; learning about the culture and getting to know the Visibullis family.

Cyprus Visibullis is the main heroine of this story, though her sisters play huge roles, as well. I enjoyed getting to know the three sisters, both through Cyprus’ eyes and the eyes of Nikolaos and Petros. Each of the characters seemed to climb right off the pages and into my world. They were so realistic and so well written. Their emotions were almost palpable at times and I quickly fell in love with them. Much of the story focuses on the sisters working to preserve their home and family, and the faith and strength they show is challenging. I often felt as though I was right there with them, fighting to survive and rise again from the sorrow and doubt pulling against them. Nik and Petros were excellent heroes for this story and I enjoyed the connection between them, how they used one another as sounding boards and spoke of everything.
This story is filled with Biblical references and faith matters, many of which challenged and encouraged me, something I always love to find in a fiction novel. I enjoyed getting to see Christmas from the perspective of early Christians and learning how some of our traditions came about. This was possibly my favorite part of the story, because it gave me a new appreciation for a holiday that I often find myself dreading. I needed the reminder that it is about so much more than gifts and treats. I found myself in great need of a reality check and this story does that. It takes the story of Jesus’ birth back to the very basics and I loved that. The joy shown in times of trial and the simple reminder of faith is excellent for Christmas, but also for the entire year. This story was definitely a grand adventure that I’m intending to take several more times.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction that takes an old story and breathes new life into it. 



Thank you so much if you took the time to read my review!  If not, then that's okay, too.  I can't really blame you for scrolling to the bottom first, since I do it all the time. :)

I enjoyed this book so much that I want to share an ebook copy of it with someone!  An early Christmas gift, if you like.  There should be a Rafflecopter form below with all the details you'll need to enter.  The giveaway will be open until midnight, November 12th, so be sure to enter and then watch your inbox on the 13th for an email naming you the winner!  

And, if you're impatient, or would prefer to own a paper copy of this book, there's a purchase link below (as far as I'm aware, Amazon is the only place to buy a copy right now). 
Have a fantabulous day!

Amazon 


 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 4, 2016

My Review: A Lady Unrivaled


"The rest of the world is filled to bursting with ill-tempered people.  It's my solemn duty not to be one of them."  - Ella Myerston

Description:
Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile--even if it's just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well how the dangerous Fire Eyes diamonds have haunted her brother and their friends, and she won't wait for peril to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better.

Lord James Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he's determined to live a better life . . . but that proves complicated when old acquaintances pull Cayton into their desperate attempt to seize the jewels. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won't budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her--and his daughter--from those intent on destroying them all?



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, she's homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of nine novels, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. Roseanna lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.roseannamwhite.com.






My Review: 4.5 stars
I always have mixed emotions regarding the final book in a series: I want to rush through the story to find how everything ends, but I also want to savor it, because I know with the turn of the last page that I’ll be wishing my fictional friends “farewell.” I rarely actually manage the “savor it” part and this book is no exception - I flew right through it and loved every moment! I’ve been anxiously awaiting this story since learning it was to be Ella’s book, especially after getting to know her better in The Reluctant Duchess. The addition of Cayton was just an added benefit, though I did love seeing his character growing and changing from the first book.

Ms. White has quickly become one of my favorite historical authors and I have to say that one of my very favorite things about her books is how she brings each page to life. Her words engage every sense until I can almost feel the chill in the air, or see the gardens about to bloom, or inhale the musty library scent. Her characters are also as colorful and vivid, until I almost felt as though I could sit and have tea with Ella and Brook, or join Cayton in the nursery to see little Addie. I also loved getting to spend time with the characters from the past books, while getting to know the main characters even better. I do have to brag on Ms. White’s mystery writing skills, as well! There are few things I enjoy more than a historical romance with a side of mystery and suspense and this book is definitely on the list to be read again! I appreciated how she tied everything into the previous books, while also adding new elements that kept me guessing what might be happening next. There was one particular character that I found a little creepy, though I’m pretty sure that was the point. The only time I could’ve done with a little less description was in regards to this villain, though happily the book never came from their perspective.

I’m caught in a debate as to which heroine in this series has been my favorite, and while I really don’t think I can choose, since I’ve loved them all, Lady Ella Myerston is definitely outstanding! The sister to Brice in the previous book, she’s often thought to be na├»ve or foolish because of her perpetually happy outlook on life and I simply fell in love with her! She is so joyful and one of those characters that just makes me smile! I loved getting to know her and immensely enjoyed her spunky personality and quick wit, as well as getting to see behind her glowing exterior to learn that she does have bad days and fears, but she chooses to smile rather than spend the day crabby. One of my favorite lines in this book from Ella, “The rest of the world is filled to bursting with ill-tempered people. It’s my solemn duty not to be one of them.” I found that quote summed her up rather well.

I also quite liked Lord Cayton, despite his past mistakes. He’s been something of a prodigal for the previous books (probably part of the reason I like him) and I so enjoyed seeing his transformation. He tries so hard to not been that person any longer, that he sometimes misses the obvious - that he isn’t. I loved seeing him grow and finally learn that he is redeemed. And Ella is the perfect foil for his occasionally gloomy demeanor. I completely enjoyed their banter and how Ella pulls him out of his comfort zone and makes him laugh. I loved the little things that became special for them - the quirky comments that made me laugh along with them, the random things that would pop back up and become a running joke. For all of the heaviness of the tale, I loved the light moments sprinkled within that would bring a quick grin to my face.

Honestly, I have only one negative comment to share and that’s the fact that I wanted the ending to be drawn out a little longer. This is partially my desire for the book not to end, but also partially that I found the final chapters just a tad rushed. Everything played out so quickly that I found myself scrambling a bit to keep up with where everyone was and what was happening. But, I did really appreciate how all of the loose threads found their way back and were neatly tied up, with a final page that left me sighing and wishing it wasn’t over, yet.


Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read my review (I know, it's lengthy)!  I hope you enjoyed it and I have to say that I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical romance mixed with suspense and mystery (which is personally one of my favorite combinations)!
If you'd like to learn more about the book, links are below, as always!
Have a delightful day!

Amazon   

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book


P.S. Be sure to stop by tomorrow for a giveaway of Roseanna's new Christmas novel!

Friday, October 28, 2016

My Review: Keep Holding On, plus giveaway!


"But real trust, real belief - it wasn't about what she hoped for . . . but who she placed her hope in.  A faithful God.  A God who never promised perfect circumstances, but who did promise his love."  - Kit Danby

Description:
Beckett Walker hasn’t stepped foot in Maple Valley in years. There’s no getting past the painful memories, and there’s every chance he’ll be arrested as soon as he shows his face. Which is exactly what happens when he finally returns. Suddenly his dream of adventure as a military lawyer comes skidding to a halt.

Horticulturist Kit Danby has spent too much time missing home and her childhood best friend—Beckett Walker. Now she might have a shot at reclaiming both. After years of living abroad, she returns to run her family’s apple orchard. She has one season to turn a profit and impress the father she barely knows. But she can’t do it alone.

It should be simple: Beckett needs community service hours. Kit needs a helping hand. But there’s more at stake than either of them planned. With a tangled past and futures that look nothing alike, they’ll have to find a way to weather the storms of the present . . . or risk losing everything.
 
 
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. The second book in her popular Walker Family series, Like Never Before, was named by Publishers Weekly to their spring 2016 "Religion and Spirituality" Top 10 list. 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.
 
(Side note: Be sure to check out her blog!  It's where I was first introduced to her writing and fell in love with her characters before ever reading her books!)



My Review: 4.5 stars
Keep Holding On is the third full-length novel in Melissa Tagg’s Walker Family series and I was so excited to be returning to the town of Maple Valley and getting to visit with some characters that have become dear friends. I’ve adored the previous books in the series, so of course, I lunged at the chance to read this book and I can very happily say that I was not disappointed! I’ve been anticipating Beckett’s book since first learning of the prodigal and I quickly fell in love with his passionate, impulsive, all-in character. Returning to Maple Valley is definitely always worth the trip.

As always, Ms. Tagg does an excellent job with the details and descriptions of this book. I could almost smell the apples, feel the leaves crunching under my feet, hear the wind whistling through the trees. The images her words create come to vivid life on the pages and I loved it! My one and only negative comment (and the only reason I’m going with 4.5 rather than 5 stars) is that I became a little frustrated with how much time would elapse between some of the chapters. An important event would happen, then it would suddenly be a week later. Ms. Tagg did fill in the gaps and I do understand that she needed the spacing to allow for certain parts of the story. It just bugged me a time or two. But, it did play out well for Beckett and Kit’s relationship, which I have to tell you is so sweet! Seriously! I caught myself sighing a time or two at the crazy, silly, or romantic moments between them.

Characters are always my favorite part of any story and this one is no exception! I adored Kit and Beckett and their story encouraged me so much! Kit is thoughtful. She’s the “look before you leap” type and not one to take on things or make decisions lightly. But when it comes to her family’s orchard, she can’t let it go. She is kind, caring, also strong, determined, and searching. I loved getting to know her and the way her character resonated with me. She is so realistic and easily relatable that I loved her from our very first meeting.

And Beckett. I couldn’t possibly forget him! He’s the charming one, the sweet talker. The one who seems like he has his life all together, but then finds it crashing around him. He’s the one who takes that first step and worries about the rest later. I loved his zest for life, his determination to make his mom proud and do something worthwhile. And I loved how his character changed throughout the story, as he learned to embrace who he was instead of fighting to become someone different. His family played a huge role in the story and I love how they all challenge, razz, encourage, and hold each other up.

I also adored how Ms. Tagg wove the theme of the title throughout the story. It became the foundation for so many things and the basis of the spiritual side of the story. Much of the focus is about continuing to hold on to God during the rough times, but it also plays out in so many ways: Beckett holding on to his dreams, Kit holding on to the orchard, and both of them finally learning how to hold on to one another. I just loved that! And there are so many great quotes throughout the book that I’d love to share, but I don’t want to take away the fun of finding them yourself!

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance!


If you actually read my review before scrolling down here, I applaud your self control!  I rarely actually manage to do that!  :)

*Drum roll*

I'm giving away an ebook copy of Keep Holding On!  I know, most of us love paper books, but this way international friends can enter!  And . . . I'm on a bit of a budget.  Facts of life, friends.  But, smile anyway!  Because you could win a very awesome book!  There's a Rafflecopter form below to enter and the giveaway will be open until midnight November 4th - so be sure to enter and watch your inbox on November 5th to see if you won!
Also, if you're impatient or would prefer a paper copy, there are purchase links below - thank you so much for stopping by!
Have a delightful day!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Sound of Silver Blog Tour and Giveaway!

 
Hello and welcome to The Sound of Silver birthday blog tour! I don’t often participate in blog tours and I’m so excited to share this one with you!

Today we’re celebrating the “birthday” of Rachelle Rea Cobb’s second book in her Steadfast Love series, The Sound of Silver! It’s an inspirational historical romance set in the 16th century! I haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet, but I’m really looking forward to spending some time with these characters soon (does your TBR pile look like mine? I nicknamed it, “The Leaning Tower of Books”).

To add to the fun of the occasion, Rachelle is also having a pretty awesome giveaway, which you’ll find a Rafflecopter form for below. It includes the beautiful necklace pictured below (isn't it beautiful?!) that was created by Baubles, Beads, and Stuff and your choice of any Rachelle’s three books (the series begins in Book One, of course, but in case you have one or two of her books already, Rachelle will gladly send you the next one to read!).




International friends, the paperback & necklace giveaway is open to continental U.S. addresses only (sorry!). But do enter, because one international winner will also be chosen to receive an e-book!

Here's a little blurb about the series overall, with back cover descriptions for each book a little further down:
In 16th-century Europe, the Reformation rages between Protestants and Catholics. Gwyneth, half-Dutch, flees from England to Holland to escape the man who murdered her parents. When he follows her there and insists he came to rescue her, will she trust this man called Dirk? When tragedy strikes, will their steadfast love erode?



More about the lovely author hosting this tour:
Times gone by snatch Rachelle Rea Cobb close, so she reads and writes about years long ago--her passions include the Reformation, Revolutions, and romance. Rachelle wrote the Steadfast Love series during college. Five months after she graduated, she signed a three-book deal with her dream publisher, WhiteFire. She's a homeschool grad, Oreo addict, and plots her novels while driving around her dream car, a pick-up truck. In June 2016, she married a man with the same name as her fictional hero, and they live happily ever after in Small Town, South.(I hope you don't mind my bumming your picture, Rachelle!)

You can find Rachelle on:


Instagram: @RachelleReaCobb
 
 
 
 
Keep reading to learn more about her books!  Though if you're like me and intending to start the series with book one, then I might suggest foregoing reading about the other two, just in case of spoilers.  If that's you, then just scroll down really fast to the bottom so you can enter the giveaway!

About The Sound of Diamonds (book 1):


Her only chance of getting home is trusting the man she hates.

With the protestant Elizabeth on the throne of England and her family in shambles, Catholic maiden Gwyneth seeks refuge in the Low Countries of Holland, hoping to soothe her aching soul. But when the Iconoclastic Fury descends and bloodshed overtakes her haven, she has no choice but to trust the rogue who arrives, promising to see her safely home to her uncle's castle. She doesn't dare to trust him...and yet doesn't dare to refuse her one chance to preserve her own life and those of the nuns she rescues from the burning convent.

Dirk Godfrey is determined to restore his honor at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk knows he has only one chance at redemption, and it lies with the lovely Gwyneth, who hates him for the crimes she thinks he committed. He must see her to safety, prove to the world that he is innocent, prove that her poor eyesight is not the only thing that has blinded her, but what is he to do when those goals clash?

The home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, the saint and the sinner must either dare to hold to hope...or be overcome.

Find The Sound of Diamonds on…
(Click on the name of the website to open the page)

Amazon

Kindle

Barnes & Noble

Books A Million

Goodreads
 

About The Sound of Silver (book 2 and guest of honor for our tour):






The stalwart saint and the redeemed rebel. One fights for faith, the other for honor…

After Dirk rescues Gwyneth from the Iconoclastic Fury, she discovers that faith is sometimes fragile—and hope is not as easy as it may seem. Gwyneth continues her quest to learn more about the love of God preached by Protestants she once distrusted.

Meanwhile, Dirk’s quest is to prevent his sullied name from staining hers. Will his choice to protect her prove the undoing of her first faltering steps toward a Father God? Once separated, will Dirk and Gwyneth’s searching hearts ever sing the same song?


Find The Sound of Silver on…


Amazon

Kindle

Barnes & Noble

Books A Million

Goodreads 


About The Sound of Emeralds (book 3):





What once was blazing hatred has turned to lasting love, but could the union of a wild heart with that of a lady ever result in more than heartache?

With the help of an old friend with uncertain loyalties, Dirk inches ever closer to clearing his name. Gwyneth throws her faith into good tidings and the promise of a future as a family. But an old evil comes to call, just as tragedy rips apart a fledgling truce. Enemies from the past and grief for the future threaten to tear asunder what God had brought together…

As the date of Dirk’s trial approaches, his fate and his family hang in the balance. Will he be proven innocent of Gwyneth’s parents’ murders or separated from her forever? How much pain does it take to erode a love steadfast?

Find The Sound of Emeralds at . . .

Amazon

Kindle

Barnes & Noble

Books A Million

Goodreads 


And that's all she wrote!  Haha!  I've always wanted a reason to use that.  It may not been appropriate at the moment, but I had to give it a shot.  :)
The Rafflecopter form to enter should be just below these words.  The giveaway will run until October 30th, so be sure to watch your inboxes after that to see if you won!  Have a fantastic day!








 





a Rafflecopter giveaway