Tuesday, January 16, 2018

My Review: Oath Of Honor

Police officer Isabelle St. John loves her crazy, loud, law-enforcement family. With three brothers and two sisters, she's never without someone to hang out with--or fight with. And she knows they'll be there for her when things get tough. Like when her partner is murdered and she barely escapes with her own life.

Determined to discover exactly what happened, Izzy's investigation sends her headfirst into a criminal organization, possibly with cops on the payroll--including someone from her own family. With her dead partner's handsome homicide detective brother Ryan shadowing her every move, Izzy's head is spinning. How can she secure justice for her partner when doing so could mean sending someone she loves to prison? And how will she guard her heart when the man she's had a secret crush on for years won't leave her side?

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

My Review: 4 stars
I was so excited to see this book is the first in a new series!  Lynette Eason is one of my go-to authors for suspense and stories that keep me guessing, so a new series from her is always exciting!  The cover was definitely the first thing that caught my eye, and though I’m often told not to “judge a book by its cover,” I honestly think you can with this one.  It definitely lives up to the beautiful and intriguing cover art!    

As always, Ms. Eason did an excellent job with the mystery/suspense!  She kept me me guessing with twists and turns,  loose threads, and more questions than answers, before tying it all together with a unique ending!  I so enjoy how she weaves a story, somehow keeping straight all of the new characters, the mystery, and all of the minute details that goes along with both.  Her details and descriptions pull me right into the story, often making it seem as though I was right there with the characters, chasing down leads, following information, and in Izzy’s case, keeping away from the bad guys.  One of my favorite things about a new series is the chance to meet and fall in love with a whole new cast of characters and I’m so looking forward to getting to know the St. John family even better!  I so appreciated meeting this large family, with siblings that razz one another, but are also only a phone call away.  They had me laughing in a story where laughter wasn’t necessarily expected, and willing each one of them to safety in dangerous professions.  Izzy St. John is strong, willful (something of a requirement in her family), determined, honorable, and a survivor.  Her story isn’t an easy one, but there is grace and hope found within it.  
I also quite enjoyed getting to know Ryan Marshall, despite the circumstances around our acquaintance.  I appreciated how the author decided to handle the romance between them, keeping it mostly in the background, but not so much that it was forgotten or seemed an afterthought.  

Overall, I very much enjoyed this story and would highly recommend it to those who also enjoy mysteries and romantic suspense!

As always, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by!  Links are below, as usual. 
Something personal, this time, as well.   I've been writing reviews for . . . 5 years now, I think (goodness! I didn't realize it's been that long!).  And with the busyness of life and stepping into new seasons with 2018, I'm going to be cutting back tremendously.  I already have been, but other than a couple reviews already set for this month, I have just one book left to read specifically for review.  Wow!  Is it okay to admit that I'm rather excited about that?  I don't know how much I'm actually going to be posting much of anything on here, but perhaps God will see it fit to give me some different things to share this year.  I don't know.  And I'm not going to worry about it..  I'm looking forward to disconnecting from the Internet a bit more in 2018 and just enjoying seeing and focusing on the world beyond the screen.  :)
This isn't farewell, by any means.  More of an "until next time."  Thank you again, for walking this journey with me, such as it's been.
Have a lovely day, friends!

Friday, January 5, 2018

My Most Anticipated Books of 2018!

So, as with the "top 10 books" post, I had to limit myself to how many books I could reasonably share on here without having a"blog post that never ends."  My limit became 15 - it just sounded like a manageable number.  So, this definitely isn't all the books I'm looking forward to, but it's a fair part of them!  And these are in order by first release and then alphabetical by author's last name.  Because I'm writing this in a library and it just seemed right.  :)
Clicking on the title will take you to the Goodreads page for each book!
So, without further ado:

1) Oath Of Honor by Lynette Eason (January)
I'm so excited!  This book starts a new series!

2) A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White (January)
Second book in a series about unorthodox thieves! Yes, please!

3) The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin (February)
I'm still catching up on her last series, but her WWII series are some of my favorites!

4) No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert (April)
Ms. Ganshert always writes such beautiful books
and I have no doubt this one will be the same!

5) Things I Never Told You by Beth K. Vogt (May)
I'm intrigued by both this cover and the description.
It doesn't sound like my usual read, but I'm incredibly curious.

6) Falling For You by Becky Wade (May)
Willow and Corbin's story!

7) A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter (June)
A new series by a very favorite author!

8) Just Let Go by Courtney Walsh (June)
A lovely cover!  And I so enjoyed "Just Look Up"

9) More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer (June)
One of my favorite historical writers! 
Her stories always make me smile.

10) Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar (July)
Ms. Afshar brings Biblical history to life for me!

11) Fawkes by Nadine Brandes (July)
This cover and the Out of Time Series.

12) Called to Protect by Lynette Eason (July)
Second book in the series!

13) Thirst of Steel by Ronie Kendig (July)
I still haven't read the second book, yet.
But, I'm sure once I have I'll be anxiously awaiting this one!

14) Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey (July)
The cliffhanger at the end of "Blind Spot"

15) Caught By Surprise by Jen Turano (July)
The third book in the Wallflower series!  And Temperance's story!

Okay, there are my 15!  What would you add to the list?

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!

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! ;)

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

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!