Sunday, December 31, 2017

Top 10 Books of 2017

I've been contemplating this list for the past few days and it just kept getting longer and longer, so here are the 10 books I've been able to narrow it down to, in no particular order.  This list definitely isn't exhaustive, but I had to limit myself to just 10 books!  So if you're favorite isn't on here, or your book wasn't included, it's not that I didn't enjoy it, I just didn't want this to be the "blog post that never ends."  And please leave a comment letting me know about a favorite book that I maybe missed!  I know there are quite a few I didn't have time to read this year and I'm always looking for more to add to my To-Be-Read list!
Oh, and if you click the title, it'll either take you to my review post or Amazon to learn more.  :)



Life After by Katie Ganshert
Such a beautiful story that made me cry more than once - in a good way



Griffith's book!  Enough said.



His Steadfast Love by Julie Lessman
An incredibly honest story about His love.



Love That Lasts by Jefferson & Alyssa Bethke
Such an honest look at relationships and marriage.
I loved how candid they are and it definitely gave me much to think about.


All This Time by Melissa Tagg
Bear and Raegan's book *sigh*


Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar


A sweet romance and an excellent reminder to look up
and truly experience the world around us.


Then There Was You by Kara Isaac
Australia!  Humor and tears and dear people.


Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors
I struggled to find the words to review this beautiful, heart-wrenching, hope-filled book.
And I'm still struggling to accurately describe it.


True To You by Becky Wade
An ex-Navy SEAL and the "bookish cottage" - need I say more?




So, there's my list!  What's on yours?






Thursday, December 28, 2017

My Review: One Enchanted Noel


The covers for this entire series are just gorgeous!  Though I think this one may be my favorite . . . it's a tie between this one and the one for the collection. 
And yes, I realize it's after Christmas - I'm falling behind - but, this story would be lovely any time of year!

Description:
Seb Pierce isn’t exactly a cowboy, but after fifteen years on a ranch in Texas, he might as well be. And he’d do just about anything to keep the rancher who took him in so many years ago from losing his land…including returning to the wealthy roots he’s long since abandoned. Seb agrees to work for his stern grandfather for one year in return for an early draw on his inheritance. But he never expected the agreement to land him in a quirky small town in Iowa at Christmas-time, renovating a dilapidated theater…and running into a woman he never thought he’d see again. She might not remember him, but he remembers her.

After too many years away from her hometown—and too many failures to count—Leigh Renwycke is finally back in Maple Valley and living the stable life she used to wish for. If only she could shake the old restlessness that used to get her into trouble. When Seb Pierce waltzes into her world and begs for her help planning the theater’s holiday reopening, it could be the solution to her discontent. If she pulls it off, it might be enough to jumpstart a new career…and to prove once and for all that the new-and-improved Leigh is here to stay.

But between old secrets and new sparks, restoring a town treasure in time for Christmas may not be as easy as it seems…especially once Leigh learns the truth about Seb.



About the Author:
Melissa Tagg is the author of the popular Walker Family series, the Where Love Begins series and the Enchanted Christmas Collection. She’s a former reporter, current nonprofit grant writer and total Iowa girl. Her spring 2016 release, Like Never Before, was named to one of Publishers Weekly’s Top Ten lists and her fall 2017 release, All This Time, was a Romantic Times 4.5-Star TOP PICK. Melissa has taught at multiple national writing conferences, as well as workshops and women’s retreats. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever—not that she’s biased—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!
This novella completes Melissa Tagg’s Enchanted Christmas collection and it was such a good ending!  As someone who doesn’t typically care for novellas, Christmas stories, or endings, that’s saying a lot!  Ms. Tagg is one of my very favorite authors, so that may have something to do with it.  I so enjoyed the other two and have been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to read Leigh Renwyke’s story.  And it’s just as filled with Maple-Valley-at-Christmas charm, quirky characters, and sigh-worthy and laugh-out-loud moments as the previous stories!

One of the things I enjoy the most about Ms. Tagg’s writing is her ability to transport me into the lives of her characters.  I feel as though I’m standing right beside them, staring in wonder at what one unusual town comes up with and laughing at the situations they find themselves in.  Leigh Renwyke has a painful story, but she’s trying so hard to pick up the pieces and move on from her past.  I admired her determination and cheered her on as she worked to make up for lost time and overcome her fears.  Sebastian Parker Pierce III (a great name!) is only in town for a short time, trying to finish a project for his grandfather, and completely unaware how Maple Valley draws you in and makes you wish to stay.  The author does such a great job with dialogue, something else I adore about her books!  I could almost hear the teasing, the awkwardness, and the verbal sparring as Leigh and Seb butted heads again and again.  It was so much fun!  

If you’re looking for a sweet Christmas rom-com filled with quirky characters, I would highly recommend this book!


As always, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by! 
Have a delightful day!

Purchase Link:




Monday, December 25, 2017

Solve by Christmas blog tour, plus giveaway!


Merry Christmas, friends!

About the Book:
When sabotage threatens the Rudin Sugar Factory, Detective Jasper Hollock believes this will be his first real case. But dear Mr. Rudin—the only father Jasper has ever known—holds a different assignment for his private investigator.
“I’ve struck a deal with God, Jasper, and you’re my angel.”
Mr. Rudin charges Jasper to build a “case” of reasons for his employer to continue his life. If he fails, Mr. Rudin will end it in suicide on Christmas night.
As the incidents at the factory become life threatening, Jasper’s attempts at dissuading Mr. Rudin prove futile, and Jasper is left staring at the stark reality of his own soul. Time is ticking. Jasper must solve both cases by Christmas before Mr. Rudin, the company, and Jasper’s faith, are dragged to perdition. Will this be the Christmas Jasper truly discovers what makes life worth living?


About the Author:
Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call “historical fiction at its finest”. A homeschool graduate from a family of 12 children, Amber found her calling early in life. First published at age 21, she has continued to hone her craft and has been awarded the 2017 CSPA Book of the Year Award in Historical Fiction. Between ministry, family and working in their family-owned businesses, Amber loves to connect with readers and hang out on Goodreads with other bookish peoples. Find her on the Stitches Thru Time blog, or on any of the major social media sites. Amber is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers.


Guest post from Amber!
Thank you so much for joining us on the Celebrate Lit blog tour for Solve by Christmas!! I am so excited you’re here. For this special event, I wanted to share the inside scoop behind the story.
Solve by Christmas is a historical Mystery set in Denver during the great blizzard of 1913. It has a unique storyline, so people often wonder where the idea came from. Honestly, it was one of those ideas that just popped into my head, then took on a life of its own and evolved over several weeks.
I wanted to give my readers a new story before the year was out, but I didn’t have a specific plot in mind. I did know I wanted to write a Christmas story. So, I had that much. Then I decided I wanted something with a firm deadline.” If this doesn’t happen by this date, everyone dies” sort of thing. Then “By Christmas” popped into my head and flicked on a light. What if Christmas was the deadline?

I’ve always loved detectives and mystery stories, and they go perfectly with deadlines. So, then I thought, what if a detective must solve the case by Christmas or death wins?
Sometimes, as an author, there are ideas and thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere. Almost like God dropping a card into your mental mailbox. The next point of Solve by Christmas was that way. What if a detective was assigned a case that he had to solve by Christmas, but it wasn’t a real case –at least not the type of case he wanted—but something completely different? From there, the story began to really take shape.

The next step, of course, is to come up with a character to be the detective. I wanted the story to have a Sherlock Holmes feel, so I started by studying his character a bit. But my story also has a less serious side since it isn’t a murder mystery and takes place at a sugar factory. I wondered…what would happen if you took Sherlock Holmes and meshed him with Barney Fife?

Now THAT would be hard to pull off. But I was determined to try. So, I made a list of Sherlock Holmes traits, and one of Barney Fife’s traits. I began to see that they actually DO have several similarities. They’re both a bit socially awkward. They both have a very similar flavor of pride. And they both have this air of authority…although Sherlock can back his up while Barney struggles in that area. Then I began to pick and choose between the traits that were left, this Barney trait, this Sherlock trait, and pretty soon I had Detective Jasper Hollock forming on the page. Whether you will get a Barney Fife and Sherlock feel when you read Solve by Christmas, I can’t say. But I do believe I was successful in creating a unique, quirky character that will bring this Christmas mystery to life.
There you have it. The scoop behind Solve by Christmas. I hope you enjoy the story, and best wishes in the giveaway! I will be stopping by along with Jasper and Denny (the two main characters) to answer any questions you may have about the story or the characters, so please do leave us a comment.

Side note:  I'm still reading this book - I've been falling behind with the busyness of the Christmas season - and this character explanation makes so much sense!

To celebrate her tour, Amber is giving away a fun grand prize of a Christmas themed basket which will include a paperback copy of Solve by Christmas and The Swaddling Clothes (my two Christmas books) as well as a Christmas terrarium jar, and a Solve by Christmas notepad!!

Make sure to use this link to enter!  https://promosimple.com/ps/c5bb
 And leave me a comment to gain 9 extra entries!

As always, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by!  And today, have a Merry Christmas!

Blog Stops



Bigreadersite, December 13


Genesis5020, December 14

Baker Kella, December 15

Daysong Reflections, December 15


Karen Sue Hadley, December 16



Aryn The Libraryan, December 18

A Reader’s Brain, December 18

Bibliophile Reviews, December 19

Mary Hake, December 19

Texas Book-aholic, December 20

Simple Harvest Reads, December 20

Babs Book Bistro, December 21

Reading Is My SuperPower, December 21 (Interview)



Just the Write Escape, December 23

The Power of Words, December 23

Live.Love.Read., December 24

Carpe Diem, December 24

Blogging With Carol, December 25



Sunday, December 17, 2017

My Review: For Love of Liberty


Dear Readers, be proud of me.  I think this may be the shortest review I have ever written! ;)

Description:
A Match Made in Heaven?
Or Someplace a Whole Lot Warmer?

She’s stubborn, educated, and looking
to give women the vote.
He’s bullheaded, successful, and looking
to give her a piece of his mind.
But when things heat up, they just may give each other
a piece of their hearts.


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 stars!
“For Love of Liberty” is the prequel novella to Julie Lessman’s new series, Silver Lining Ranch, and despite my not being a huge fan of novellas, I quite enjoyed this one!  Ms. Lessman is one of my very favorite authors, so my opinion may be slightly biased, since I can’t help but enjoy her stories.  And this one definitely was not the exception!  She brings her characters to such vivid life, until it seems as though I’m standing right beside them, listening to the shouting matches and eating Mrs. Poppy’s cooking.  

One of the things I find so unique about Ms. Lessman’s writing is the fact that she has managed to write novels set in five different time periods (so far) and still keep her writing style the same.  She has such a distinct flare that carries over through every story and I immediately know it’s her writing, regardless of the context.  Her stories speak truth in such a straightforward manner, drawing this reader in, then showing me something in my own life, through the characters and their situations.  I would be sorely disappointed if that ever changed.  

As this is a novella, I’ll try to avoid rattling on too much.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that if this story is anything to go by, then we’re in for quite a series!  It had me laughing at one moment and wanting to ring someone’s neck in the next!  I do confess to wishing this had been a bit (or a lot) longer, but then, I think that about the 400+ page books, as well!  And I know novellas are supposed to capture your interest until you’re counting down the days until the first full novel releases - something this one definitely does!

I think this may also be the shortest blog post I've ever written, as well!  Okay, then!  As always, thanks for stopping by and sharing your time with me!  I so appreciate it!  Curiously, I'm feeling as though I ought to ramble on a bit, just because this post is so short and I've been quite absent lately.  But, I won't do that too much.  I do thank you for your patience with me!  Long reviews, short reviews, no posts period - and you still popped over!  Thank you!
Oh, and I do need help: I'm hoping to do a "favorite books of 2017" post - how many books can I have on that?  Is there a limit?  ;)  And any suggestions to add to the list?  Please, leave me your thoughts!

Have a delightful day! 









Tuesday, December 5, 2017

My Review: Lady Jayne Disappears


"Too often we cut away essential elements of ourselves to fit into a mold and discover those elements were vital to who we are, and our improvements have only made us more ordinary." - Nathaniel Droll

Description:
When Aurelie Harcourt's father dies in debtor's prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.

When Aurelie decides to complete her father's unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother's disappearance--and perhaps even her father's death.



About the Author:
Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets.





My Review: 4 stars
I have been so looking forward to reading this debut novel by Joanna Davidson Politano!  I obviously had no idea what to expect and can happily say that I quite enjoyed it!  I was intrigued by the idea behind the story - a young woman searching for answers to finish her father’s novel and finally know the truth herself.  The story drew me in from the first and kept me up until the early hours of the morning, having to know how it was going to end!

Ms. Politano has a very unique writing style that I found very engrossing!  I’ve not often read stories that alternate between a first person perspective and another character’s observations and I have found I really enjoy it.  I knew exactly what Aurelie was thinking, while at the same time, I was anticipating the story switching to Silas’ view so I could know what his thoughts on the matter.  I relished getting to know these characters and found myself forgetting at times that they were fictional.  Aurelie is so honest and straightforward, without the air of sophistication her family clings to so thoroughly.  I did find her a bit immature at times, though based on her upbringing and the age of her character, it actually suited her.  That didn’t stop me from wanting to shake some sense into her a time or two, though.  But, I think that made her even more realistic.  She shares much deeper thoughts in conversations with Silas, and found herself simply wanting to fit in with her vapid relations.   

I also really enjoyed the mystery surrounding Lynhurst Manor and the illusive Lady Jayne.  Ms. Politano definitely kept me on my toes, with the various twists and turns, until I wasn’t at all sure what would happen next!  The ending actually really surprised me, something that doesn’t happen very often, though I had figured out one clue beforehand.  I did find the story a bit disjointed at times, losing several days between chapters, or simply a change in scenery that confused me for a few sentences.  Also, I’m no historian by any stretch of the word, but I did notice a couple things that seemed a bit out of place in the time period - mainly just some words and thoughts that seemed rather modern for the setting.  Though, I don’t believe I’ve read any other books set in England during the mid 1800s, so it could very well just be me.

Overall, I found this story to be incredibly engrossing and didn’t wanted to put it down!  With a mystery that kept me guessing and characters that became dear friends, I would highly recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction with a twist.  I also can’t want to learn more about this author’s next book!

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and check out my blog!  I so appreciate your time!  If you'd like to learn more about this book, as always, links are below!  And, if you're thinking about purchasing a copy, it's currently on sale on Christian Book for $7.49!  I think that's about it, for today.  :)

Have a lovely day!





Friday, November 24, 2017

Charming The Troublemaker giveaway and blog tour



Description:
Troublemaking never looked so good…

When Dr. Alex Murdock is demoted to a university in rural Virginia, the last thing he expects to find is a future. But country charm never looks as good as it does on Rainey Mitchell.

Rainey Mitchell doesn’t need a high-class flirt in her wounded world, but trouble and temptations wafts off the new professor as strong as his sandalwood-scented cologne.

When circumstances thrust them together to save her tutoring clinic, can the troublemaker find the hero inside and encourage the reticent Rainey to open her heart again.

You can purchase a copy here 





About the Author:

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes novels inspired by her love for history and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her Penned in Time series has garnered recognition in the Inspys, Grace Awards, and the ACFW Carol Awards. Her contemporary romance novel, A Twist of Faith, received 4-stars from Romantic Times, and most recently, her newest release, The Thorn Healer, received a Top Pick from RT with 4 ½ stars. Her newest contemporary romance, Just the Way You Are, releases in April 2016. You can get to know Pepper on Facebook, or over at her group blog, The Writer’s Alley, or Instagram.


The lovely Pepper is hosting a fun giveaway to celebrate the release of her new book!  If you follow her on social media, you may have seen the various "troublemaker" photos - they all looked rather suspicious, in my opinion.  ;)
Following on in the same vein, she's got a fun giveaway going on, including a "Troublemaker" Snickers bar - highly appropriate!  Chocolate with a nutty personality! :)  She is also giving away (pictured below) a paperback copy of A Twist of Faith, a mug from Blue Ridge Parkway, one driftwood scented candle, and one mango scented candle!  



Be sure to click below to enter and leave me a comment to earn an extra 9 entries!  Also, check out the other tour stops listed to gain even more entries! 


Blog Stops:

By The Book, November 14

Just the Write Escape, November 14



Moments Dipped in Ink, November 15

Fiction Aficionado, November 16

autism mom, November 16


Inklings and Notions, November 17

Faithfully Bookish, November 18

Radiant Light, November 18


The Power of Words, November 19

Cordially Barbara, November 20

Red Headed Book Lady, November 20

Smiling Book Reviews, November 20

Kat’s Corner Books, November 21

A Greater Yes, November 21

100 Pages per Hour, November 22

Splashes of Joy, November 22

Carpe Diem, November 23

Bookworm Mama, November 23


Daysong Reflections, November 25

Rachel Scott McDaniel, November 25

Remembrancy, November 26



Karen Sue Hadley, November 27





Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Out Of the Ordinary, blog tour and giveaway!





Description:
Working as a paid companion may be quite commonplace, but Miss Gertrude Cadwalader’s eccentric employer makes her job unpredictable, to say the least. She finds herself carrying out an array of highly unusual tasks, including wearing peculiar outfits and returning items the woman pilfered. But when the wealthy Mrs. Sinclair catches Gertrude sneaking around the Sinclair yacht with some of the missing items in her possession, she immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion.

Shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair is caught in the middle of a misunderstanding between his mother and Gertrude, but he can’t help coming to his friend’s defense. Even as he hopes their friendship might become something more, Harrison is unprepared for the outlandish escapades that seem to follow the lovely, anything-but-ordinary Gertrude at every turn.

You can purchase a copy here.


About the Author:
Jen Turano, author of nine books and two novellas, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at www.jenturano.com.










My Thoughts:

Jen Turano is without a doubt one of my very favorite authors and I was so excited to start this book!  Her books are the ones I pick up on bad days when I need a smile and something to lift my spirits.  She just makes me laugh!  And I love it!  Whenever I start one of her stories, I know I’m in for an adventure and this one is certainly no exception!  She had me from the first couple pages to the turn of the final one, laughing and smiling, and falling in love with these dear quirky people.

As always, Ms. Turano had me in stitches from the very beginning!  I love her writing style, how she can take something that sounds very mundane, and make it so very humorous!  The descriptions, the wording, the historical details, the way she chooses to color in the scenes with such unique characters - I simply adore it!  And I was so glad that several of the characters from the previous book were back in this one!  I so liked Harrison from “Behind the Scenes” and have been looking forward to reading his story.  I was also quite curious to learn Gertrude and Mrs. Davenport’s stories and what they had to share surprised me!  Before I make this story sound like complete fluff, it’s not.  It does touch on some heavier topics, such as depression and struggling marriages, but holds on to much of its lighter notes even within those moments.

Harrison Sinclair is a man with no sense of style, who sees the world differently than almost everyone else.  I so enjoyed his sense of chivalry, his kindness, his desire to do what is best for Gertrude, even when he’s completely off the mark.  This story didn’t seem so much to be his, as Gertrude’s.  Though he is most definitely the “hero” in more ways than one, she is the one with the most story to tell.  I so enjoyed getting to know her, as well.  She’s also very kindhearted, though she doesn’t always see herself that way.  She’s brave and quirky, and very forthright, something that makes for some humorous conversations.  I loved seeing her come into herself more and go from seeing herself as simply “ordinary” to maybe becoming someone quite “extraordinary.”  And the ending!  I normally don’t care for endings, because it means the story is ending quite rapidly, but in this case, I’ll have to make an exception.  It was perfect!
    
Overall, if you’re looking for a light-hearted tale filled with laughter inducing moments and a bit of a mystery, then I would highly recommend this book!


Now, for the reason you've made it this far down the page:  Giveaway info!  To celebrate the blog tour and the release of Out Of the Ordinary, Bethany House is graciously giving away a grand prize of two of Jen's novels and a $20 Starbucks gift card!



Click the form below to enter and be sure to leave me a comment (do you have a bad day go to book/author?) to gain 9 extra entries and check out the other sites listed below for even more chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks so much for stopping by!  Have a lovely day and a Happy Thanksgiving!


Blog Stops

Vicky sluiter, November 11

Bookworm Mama, November 11

cherylbbookblog, November 11

Book by Book, November 11

Lane Hill House, November 12


C Jane Read, November 12

The Power of Words, November 12

Smiling Book Reviews, November 13

Moments Dipped in Ink, November 13



Faithfully Bookish, November 14

Bigreadersite, November 14

Mommynificent, November 14

All 4 and About Books, November 14

Just the Write Escape, November 15

allofakindmom, November 15


Pause for Tales, November 16

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 16



Neverending Stories, November 17

Have A Wonderful Day, November 17

Christian Bookaholic, November 17

A Reader’s Brain, November 18

Karen Sue Hadley, November 18

The April Journal, November 18

Cafinated Reads, November 18

Bibliophile Reviews, November 19

Blogging With Carol, November 19

Mary Hake, November 19


Baker Kella, November 20

Rachel’s Back Talk, November 20

Texas Book-aholic, November 20

Joy of Reading, November 21


Remembrancy, November 21


Splashes of Joy, November 22

amandainpa, November 22



A Greater Yes, November 23


Radiant Light, November 24