Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Bride At Last by Melissa Jagears

Product Details

Abandoned by his mail-order bride, Silas Jonesey has fought an uphill battle to recover from a pattern of poor choices. Now his prayers for reconciliation have finally come true and his estranged wife has contacted him with her whereabouts.

Kate Dawson was supposed to be a mail-order bride, but upon realizing she'd been deceived about her intended groom, she's now settled into life as a schoolteacher. When the mother of a student passes away, Kate assumes she'll take on care of nine-year-old Anthony--until two men suddenly show up in town, claiming to be the boy's father.

Silas can see Anthony loves Kate, so he enlists her help in reaching out to the boy and attempting to prove his paternity to the court. When a common interest in Anthony leads to an interest in each other and Silas and Kate begin to think they can overcome their rocky start, neither is prepared for the secrets and past hurts that have yet to come to light. Can Silas, Kate, and Anthony's wounded souls bind them together or will all that stands between them leave them lonely forever?

This book is the third book in a series but it reads well as a stand alone novel. I haven't read the first two and didn't feel like I missed out on anything.

I really liked this book. The characters were likeable but flawed. The premise was believable. The only real issue I had with it was there just seemed to be too many things that popped up. It's almost like the author had several ideas of what roadblocks could come up and couldn't decide which to use so she used every single one of them.

All in all though it was a very enjoyable book with an undercurrent of the unquestionable love for God and a desire to give Anthony the best home and family life possible.



My copy of this book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

Product Details

After her father's death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren't supposed to have such roles, so it's only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper--even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.

Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He's secured the position of lighthouse keeper mostly for the isolation--the chance to hide from his past is appealing. He's not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who's angry with him for taking her job and for his inability to properly run the light. When his failings endanger others, he and Caroline realize he's in no shape to run the lighthouse, but he's unwilling to let anyone close enough to help. Caroline feels drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope...and possibly love?

Another winning book from bestselling author Jody Hedlund.

I love the Civil War time period and in this book you get to see a bit of a perspective you don't always get to see - the aftermath. Ryan Chambers is living in the aftermath - and it's not an easy place to be. Caroline Taylor has no place else to go and needs to stay in the lighthouse she has been running. Can the needs of these two people come together to keep the lighthouse running as it should - and could they possibly learn something from each other and grow together?

Wonderful descriptive writing, characters who are flawed but worth investing in and a story that will keep you turning pages long into the night.



My copy of this book was provided by Bethany House for my honest review.

The Shore by Sara Taylor

 The Shore

The Shore: a group of small islands in the Chesapeake Bay, just off the coast of Virginia. The Shore is clumps of evergreens, wild ponies, oyster-shell roads, tumble-down houses, unwanted pregnancies, murder, and dark magic in the marshes. Sanctuary to some but nightmare to others, it's a place that generations of families both wealthy and destitute have inhabited, fled, and returned to for hundreds of years. From a half-Shawnee Indian's bold choice to escape an abusive home only to find herself with a man who will one day try to kill her, to a brave young girl's determination to protect her younger sister as methamphetamine ravages their family, the characters in this remarkable novel have deep connections to the land, and a resilience that only the place they call home could create. 

Through a series of interconnecting narratives that recalls the work of David Mitchell and Jennifer Egan, Sara Taylor brings to life the small miracles and miseries of a community of outsiders, and the bonds of blood and fate that connect them all.

Spanning over a century, dreamlike and yet impossibly real, profound and playful, THE SHORE is a breathtakingly ambitious and accomplished work of fiction by a young writer of remarkable promise.

 This book seemed to me to actually almost be a collection of novellas. I normally enjoy the books that go from one time period to another. But this one left me mostly confused. There were so many people to try to get to know. Even with the "family tree" in the front of the book it was too confusing.

While definitely not a book that I couldn't put down I did find the descriptions to be so real that I felt like I was there and the writing was wonderful. Ms. Taylor is obviously a gifted story teller and I will certainly pick up her next book and give it a try. But I don't really recommend this one.


This book was given to me by the Blogging For Books program for my unbiased opinion.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Amish Promises by Leslie Gould

Product Details

Journey Down a Quiet Lane in Lancaster County Where Love and Heartache and Friendship and Healing Meet
When Joel and Shani Beck arrive at their new home, they're looking for peace. Shani is thrilled to have Joel back from Iraq, but he needs time to heal, and the quiet of Lancaster seems just the place. They can't imagine any trouble with their Amish neighbors, the Lehmans, but things get off to a rocky start when their son is involved in an accident that injures one of the Lehman boys.

Eve Lehman has run her brother's household ever since the death of his wife, but Tim's a stern patriarch. Despite his protests, she's drawn to the new neighbor, Shani, and the two begin to form a strong friendship forged on faith and family. Things seem like they've quieted down until Joel's single and handsome army friend Charlie catches Eve's attention--a man unlike any Eve has ever met. Suddenly life for both families becomes more complicated than any of them could have ever imagined.

 Nice mixture of focusing on the "Englisch" - Shani, Joel, Zane and Charlie and the Amish, Tim, Eve, Daniel, Simon, Lila, etc.  There's not too much on one side or the other. And I like how she worked their stories together. Living closely to a family who's lifestyle is so completely different than your own must be challenging but Ms. Gould showed how each could learn from the other and make some changes that help you to grow while keeping true to your own beliefs.

Tim and Joel were, at times, both frustrating to read about. But the thing is, the issues they had are real and living those things out have to be frustrating. This book touched on a number of things you don't really often have in Amish fiction - there was abuse and PTSD but there was also love and caring. People trying to do the right thing for the ones they love - even when they felt like things would never change and when circumstances went from bad to worse.

Wonderful debut for a new series - and I can't wait to see which of the scenarios I have playing in my mind find their way in to book two!


My copy of this book was graciously provided by Bethany House publishers for my honest review.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When Grace Sings Kim Vogel Sawyer

Product Details

When trouble roars into quiet Arborville, Alexa and Anna-Grace find themselves the target for discord and exposed secrets. Can they continue to seek the God of all grace amidst the fog of confusion?  
Alexa Zimmerman wonders if the Old Order Mennonite community in Arborville, Kansas will ever fully accept her. Her family roots here aren’t what anyone thought when she first arrived, but she is hopeful that her culinary and hospitality skills will win the skeptics over. The bed-and-breakfast she’s operating needs to succeed so Alexa agrees to allow Briley Forrester, the hotshot reporter from Chicago, to stay as a long-term boarder not knowing his real motives for being amongst the Plain folk.

But when Alexa agrees to host her cousin Anna-Grace Braun, the presence of extended family brings out Alexa’s insecurities and sets Briley on the trail to uncovering a web of hidden truths.

Plans for a secure future and the sweetness of young romance hang in the balance when Alexa and Anna-Grace have to face that their secrets are interconnected, binding the two in ways they could not have imagined. They must trust in a loving, heavenly Father and His plan for their futures.

This is book two in a series and while this book could be read as a stand alone I highly recommend reading the first book of the series. First, it's a good book and second, it will make some of what happens in this second book a little bit clearer. The other thing I will mention is that you will want to read book three after reading one and two - I know I'm anxiously awaiting it.

This book focuses on Alexa Zimmerman, one of the main characters in book one. Alexa is running a B&B in her grandmother's house and trying to find her place in a family she has just recently been reunited with.

Briley Forrester is a guest at her B&B but he's there looking for a story. And he is going to find one! But will he be able to bring himself to print it?

And then there are Anna and Steven - will they move to Arborville? Will they get married? Will Steven realize his dreams?

The title of this book is what the story is all about - Grace. What it is. Who needs it. Who is willing to give it. And, most importantly - who is willing to accept it?

Pick up book one and read it and then read book two - and wait on pins and needles for book three.


This book was provided for my honest opinion courtesy of the Blogging For Books program.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Unselfish Love Thy Neighbor As Thy Selfie

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Unselfish contains 99 inspiring stories of people putting others before themselves. Each story is accompanied by beautiful photography, making this the ideal coffee table book. Everyone is trying to get noticed. Selfies are taking over the internet. Selfish behavior seems to be at an all time high. But there are people who do Unselfish things everyday. Acts of kindness that no one notices. Extraordinary sacrifices that don't go viral. This book celebrates just a few of the unsung stories of regular people and celebrities alike going against the grain and helping their fellow man. Unselfish will reignite your faith in humanity and may just inspire you to "love thy neighbor as thy selfie".

 Great reading for the entire family. The pictures are beautiful, the stories are moving. Seldom is there a book that is entertaining and holds the attention of the entire family. Uplifting stories that will restore your faith in mankind.

Highly recommended.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Love Letters by Beverly Lewis

Product Details

Marlena needed time to let things sink in. It was beyond her how all this could possibly work out--adding the care of an infant to her daily routine. Fortunately, it would just be until Luella returned home from the hospital and was stronger.No more than a couple weeks, surely.

Marlena Wenger's life takes an unexpected turn on the day she learns she must care for her estranged sister's baby. Spending the summer in Brownstown, Pennsylvania, to assist her Mennonite grandmother, and miles from Marlena's Old Order Amish beau, she feels out of her element in nearly every respect. Yet Marlena determines to do her best and stay focused on her future, even as those hopes become drastically altered.

Another fabulous book by Beverly Lewis, the original bonnet-book author.

Flawed but lovable characters, lush descriptions and a "will she or won't she" storyline that are a complete joy to read.

There are two story lines - Marlena helping her Grandmother after the death of her Grandfather, with the addition of her sister's infant daughter to care for. And the family next door - Small Jay and his friend Boston - both who have physical challenges but accept each other without hesitation or limitation.

Nice light read - easy to pick up and put down but compelling enough to continue to pick up.


My copy of this book was graciously provided by Bethany House publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Product Details

The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her, this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city—the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village—all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen, where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.

I have to say that this book was compelling - but it was also disturbing.

The writing and the descriptions were enough to make you feel like you were there - but I can't imagine why anyone would want to be there.

The life Ruby lived was horrendous. But the pure, unselfish love that Ephram shows is incredible. For the majority of the book, Ruby is considered to be crazy - and who could blame her with what she went through. There are glimpses of sanity and in those times, there was hope.

I suppose the thing that is the hardest to deal with is that these types of things actually did happen.

As compelling as the book was - I really would not recommend it.


This book was given to me for my honest review by the Blogging for Books program.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Joy To The World by Scott Hahn

What could be more familiar than the Christmas story -- and yet what could be more extraordinary? The cast of characters is strange and exotic: shepherds and magicians, an emperor and a despot, angels, and a baby who is Almighty God. The strangeness calls for an explanation, and this book provides it by examining the characters and the story in light of the biblical and historical context. Bestselling author Scott Hahn who has written extensively on Scripture and the early Church, brings evidence to light, dispelling some of the mystery of the story. Yet Christmas is made familiar all over again by showing it to be a family story. Christmas, as it appears in the New Testament, is the story of a father, a mother, and a child -- their relationships, their interactions, their principles, their individual lives, and their common life. To see the life of this "earthly trinity" is to gaze into heaven.

This book begins with a trip to the Holy Land with his family and how the trip affected his daughter Hannah. She was particularly taken with an orphanage they visited. Fitting as they had just left the cave where Jesus was born.

The book is presented in chapters about different views. The differences between the Gospels tellings of the story. The magi, the angels, Mary and Joseph. The killing of the babies by Herod. He discusses genealogy and the different people involved in the story.

Very well written, in depth information that brings the Joy of it all to the celebration.


My copy of this book was provided by Blogging for Books for my honest review.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Post Card by Laura V. Hilton

Product Details

David Lapp (from Promised to Another) survived a "code blue" when he was in a buggy/semi truck accident in Seymour, Missouri. Now after extensive therapy he has lingering mobility problems and is still struggling to find his place in the world. Lured away from Webster County by thoughts of closed buggies and a postcard friendship he's developed with an Amish girl in Jamesport, he moves north, hoping for a fresh start. He finds temporary work in the area teaching school, and also makes fishing flies and weaves baskets. He sells his products in the Amish markets in the Jamesport area.

Rachel Miller dreams of travel, but feels tied to her Amish life. She is being courted by Mark Graber, but wonders if there's more to life. When she sees David's name mentioned in The Budget, she strikes up a pen pal friendship with David while he's in the hospital and in therapy, consoling him when he and his girlfriend part ways. She never dreams that David will come north and move into her community. David is still fearful in the buggy, especially in high traffic areas. Feeling he's called by God to preach, David spends hours in the Bible, but the Amish discourage him, believing their ministers should be drawn by lot. Will David follow his call, even if it takes him out of the Amish church? Will Rachel realize her dream to travel?

I didn't realize, when I received this book, that it was the second in a series. But I have read enough of these types of books to pick up on different things that were said that led me to believe I wasn't at the beginning. But the book is still wonderful even if you don't know the back story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I read a lot of Amish fiction - it's probably my favorite type of fiction. The culture of a slower paced life, focusing more on family and God - and of course the quilting! - draw me in. There are many different branches of the Amish community and I love reading how different authors portray the different communities. This story showed a difference that I have seldom seen explored - the idea that some Amish do not subscribe strictly to the Ordnung and the belief that the Bishop and the Pastors dictate what parts of the Bible are not to be followed. I loved that David and a few other characters (don't want to give any spoilers here) knew that they could be saved.

There were a couple of other reveals - that might not have been reveals if I had read the first book - that I wasn't sure where leading to where they led.

The characters where great - flawed but lovable. Some you just wanted to pray for because you knew they were wrong about things. And the descriptions - during the snow storm I wanted to get up and cover up with a quilt!

Highly recommended - whether you read the first book first or not - although I will be looking for that book shortly. And I will definitely be keeping my eye out for a follow up book to this one.


Thanks to Laura V. Hilton for providing me with this book for a fair and honest review.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter

Product Details

When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her only clue is the Hawaiian quilt—a red rose snowflake appliqu├ęd on a white background—in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage. Kai Barnes, however, is determined to protect the people he’s come to regard as family. He thinks Laney is nothing more than a gold digger and blocks every move she makes toward her Hawaiian family. As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing that Kai and Laney both want most—a family.

I simply love the Quilts of Love series. I have read at least ten of them and have not had a single one I didn't enjoy - so I was terribly upset to see that they are stopping the series at 25!

This book was just as good as every other one in the series. Set on the Big Island and using lots of Hawia'an terms (with a glossary in the back) and offering lush descriptions of the area, you felt like you were right there.

Twists and turns and some surprises I admit I didn't see coming made this a quite enjoyable book.

Highly recommended.


Steadfast Heart by Tracie Peterson

Product Details

Despite her spoiled upbringing, twenty-year-old Lenore Fulcher isn't pretentious. She simply believes a marriage should be built on true love. Her father, however, thinks she's wasted enough time searching for the perfect husband. He wants to marry her off to one of his business partners--who is seventeen years her senior--an idea that is out of the question for Lenore.

Kolbein Booth, a young lawyer from Chicago, arrives in Seattle looking for his headstrong sister, who he believes may have answered an advertisement for mail-order brides. Sick with worry, he storms into the Madison Bridal School, demanding to see his sister, only to learn she isn't there. But Lenore Fulcher is, and something about her captures his attention.

Is this the man Lenore has been searching for? She may not have long to find out...

I always enjoy Tracie Peterson's books and anxiously looked forward to this one. But I struggled to get interested in it. The main characters, per the synopsis, are Kolbein and Lenore but the book seemed to be more about Abrianna. But other than that, I just could not get involved with these characters. I can't put my finger on what I didn't care for but it just didn't pull me in.


My copy of this book was generously provided by Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.

You Can, You Will by Joel Osteen

 Product Details

In this New York Times bestsellerJoel Osteen shares eight undeniable qualities of winners that can help you to reach your potential and achieve new levels of success in your life. You are created to be a winner. Get these eight principles deep down on the inside and boldly go in the direction of your destiny. 

Positive and inspirational - which pretty much sums up Joel Osteen himself - also sum up the tone of this book. With chapters like:

  1. Keep Your Vision in Front of You - Dare to dream big dreams.
  2. Run Your Race - Focus on your unique course and goals.
  3. Expect Good Things - Anticipate great opportunities.
  4. Have a Positive Mind-set - Take control of your thoughts and attitudes.
  5. Commit to Excellence - Do your best and maintain high standards.
  6. Keep Growing - Be proactive, be intentional, build on your gifts, and continually improve.
  7. Serve Others - Invest yourself in others.
  8. Stay Passionate - Light the fire within and approach life with enthusiasm.

 You can see the direction he takes in this book. Take your good qualities and build them up and use them to improve yourself and help others.

 Apply these principles to your life and see how you can grow and expand and reach the goals you are striving for.


My copy of this book was given to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review by Hatchette Book Group.  

Good Health, Good Life by Joyce Meyer

 Product Details

To do the work we are meant to do, our bodies need to stay in shape. In this compact read Joyce Meyer presents her twelve-key plan to address the "self esteem drought" which perpetuates the habits that cause poor health. As she explores each of the twelve keys for good health, she offers five methods for improving our physical and spiritual wellness.

This little book is divided into 12 sections making it perfect for a year long plan.

I decided to read through all the chapters - one a day and then go back and spend a month focusing on each individual chapter.

The topics include Get God's Help, Learn to Love Your Body, Exercise, Water Your Life, etc. All things geared toward helping you make changes that will enhance the body that God has given you.

Very helpful and enlightening.


My copy of this book was given to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review by Hatchette Book Group.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith

 The 13th Gift    

After the unexpected death of her husband, Joanne Huist Smith had no idea how she would keep herself together and be strong for her three children--especially with the holiday season approaching. But 12 days before Christmas, presents begin appearing on her doorstep with notes from their "True Friends." As the Smiths came together to solve the mystery of who the gifts were from, they began to thaw out from their grief and come together again as a family. This true story about the power of random acts of kindness will warm the heart, a beautiful reminder of the miracles of Christmas and the gift of family during the holiday season.

I can't say enough what a touching, moving story this was.

It was, in a way, bittersweet for me. My kids and I were celebrating our first Christmas "without" their father, my husband. But he did not die - he just decided to leave. The parallels were similar - but not the same. How do you celebrate one of the biggest holidays - which isn't just a "holiday" but a "season" when this year is so different from all the ones before it?

Mrs. Smith and some members of her family just didn't want to celebrate. I took a different path and decided that we would keep some traditions that we didn't want to give up and make others based on where we felt our life was at that point. And, in the end, that's pretty much what the Smith family did.

The journey from the first gift to the last brought many different reactions - from the initial gift that Mrs. Smith wanted nothing to do with to the gifts that brought eager anticipation. The difference the gifts made in every member of the family, from Megan who was "in" from the first gift, to the boys who came along as the presents made more of an impact, there was a journey through the sadness to the acceptance that things, while they would never be the same, would be okay.

Fabulous reading - and it will be a holiday staple that I will read again and again.

Highly recommended.


"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."