Monday, September 30, 2013

Threads of Love

by Andrea Boeshaar
Realms Publishers

Emily Sundberg has her life all laid out. She has a respectable job as a teacher and an idea of whom she should marry.  But does God have a better plan?

Emily Sundberg considers herself a proper young lady of the twentieth century. But a decade ago she behaved more like a tomboy. So when the neighbor’s grandson came to visit one summer when she was thirteen, they became fast friends. Emily even got her first kiss—quite by accident.

Unfortunately Jake Edgerton told all the boys something else. Rumors circulated, and Emily caved from embarrassment and guilt. Meanwhile Jake returned home to Fallon, Montana and she never saw or heard from him again.

Over the years Emily has worked hard to prove to her peers and the people of Manitowoc, Wisconsin that, despite past mistakes, she is an upstanding young woman, one worthy of being a schoolteacher—and possibly Andy Anderson's wife. But even with the passing of time, Emily has never forgotten Jake and how he nearly ruined her life…

And now he's a US Deputy Marshal and he’s back in town!


My Review:

Lilly was sassy as all get out, and full of frills and lace. Underneath it all, she really is quite a tomboy - reformed into a lady now that she's all grown up. Her first kiss has shown up unexpectedly back into town; as a US Deputy Marshall and ready as ever to butt heads with his childhood playmate. I really enjoyed her antics to get Andy Anderson's attention, and I found it absolutely hilarious how he completely ignores her like she didn't even exist

Overall, this story was about forgiveness, love, restoration and second chances. There were many twists and turns that kept the story fresh and exciting. I was particularly excited about the turn of the century setting, and I was effortlessly drawn to the story like a moth to flame. It was a wonderful novel, and I recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction with a little extra romance on the side. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

The Courier of Caswell Hall

by Melanie Dobson
Summerside Press

An unlikely spy discovers freedom and love in the midst of the American Revolution.

As the British and Continental armies wage war in 1781, the daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner feels conflict raging in her own heart. Lydia Caswell comes from a family of staunch Loyalists, but she cares only about peace. Her friend Sarah Hammond, however, longs to join the fight. Both women's families have already been divided by a costly war that sets father against son and neighbor against neighbor; a war that makes it impossible to guess who can be trusted.

One snowy night Lydia discovers a wounded man on the riverbank near Caswell Hall, and her decision to save him will change her life. Nathan introduces her to a secret network of spies, couriers, disguises, and coded messages -- a network that may be the Patriots' only hope for winning the war. When British officers take over Caswell Hall and wreak havoc on neighboring plantations, Lydia will have to choose between loyalty and freedom; between her family's protection and her own heart's desires.
As both armies gather near Williamsburg for a pivotal battle, both Lydia and Sarah must decide how high a price they are willing to pay to help the men they love.
About the American Tapestries™ series: Each standalone novel in this line sets a heart-stirring love story against the backdrop of an epic moment in American history. This is the fifth book in the series.
My Review:
The last thing Lydia was expecting when she snuck off to admire British ships in the moonlight was a man. But find him she did, and with her discovery, an entire network of spies, couriers, coded messages, disguises, and operatives. The secret network may be the only thing that wins the war, but Lydia's allegiance lies - by association with her family - with the crown. 

Lydia's wavering allegiance to the crown made the story for me. Her uncertainty between what she was told was right and then her startling belief to the contrary got my attention and kept it throughout the entire book. Danger, action, suspense, forbidden romance, and espionage run rampant through the book, and whether or not this genre is your cup of tea - it was a very enjoyable book to read and a perfect recipe for a relaxing evening. 

This book was provided by the publisher through Litfuse Nest for free in exchange for an honest review. 
Purchase your copy here: http://amzn.to/1aLxC9s

Connect with Melanie through her website: http://melaniedobson.com

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Whispers From The Shadows

by Roseanna M. White
Harvest House Publishers

This exciting and adventurous romantic spy novel is the second book in a new series from Roseanna M. White. Whispers from the Shadows combines fascinating cloak-and-dagger secrets with a tale of love and intrigue during the War of 1812.
Treachery causes Gwyneth Fairchild's world to crumble. The daughter of a British general, she barely saves her life by fleeing London aboard a ship to America. Her goal is to find refuge with the Lane family in Maryland, having been told by her father she could implicitly trust Winter and Bennet Lane, even though their nations are once again at war. After meeting their son, Thad, she wonders how safe she truly is when she discovers that the Lanes trade in a dangerous commodity--espionage.
Not long after Gwyneth finds refuge in his city, Thad Lane experiences the tug of love, though he fears it may blur lines of loyalty. With family playing the part of enemies and enemies proving themselves friends, a future with Gwyneth is uncertain. But at this moment, with the British advancing on Washington and Baltimore, they have only their shared faith in God as a shield about them.

My Review:

Gwyneth and Thad were simply amazing characters. I know I've said I loathe perfect romances, but while their romance was beautiful, sweet, and tender, it very believable. I am a huge history lover, so the backdrop of a war won me over from the opening chapter. The settings and places were described by White in intricate detail, and I didn't get bored with any characters and their complex emotions and problems. Their faith was important and well portrayed, not at all overdone or dramatically flaunted. 

While the romance was wonderful, my favorite element of this novel lay with the codes and encrypted letters. The aspect of espionage really just set the perfect backdrop, and I enjoyed the element of danger and vulnerability of such perilous endeavors. The historical accuracy was wonderful (I admit, reading this book got me researching!) and taught me a lot about the time period and what life could have been like. A recommended read to anybody who likes a combination of good spy novel and plenty of romantic suspense.  

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Jewel of the Pacific

by Linda Chaikin
River North

Amid the looming political crisis in Hawaii, Rafe Easton faces one of the worst crisis he's ever known.  As a man of determination, independence, and masculine pursuits he suddenly becomes blind and his world ends.  Pride causes him to abandon the upcoming marriage to Eden Derington and seek medical care in San Francisco.  Through an associate he sends a letter to Eden telling her he left Honolulu to find himself again.  When he never hears from her again he settles into the belief that he was right all along; a helpless man is a bag of bricks around a woman's neck.
Parker Judson's niece, the beautiful Bernice "Bunny" Judson, sees her opportunity and makes a play for the one man she's always wanted, Rafe.
Hurt and angry that Rafe has walked out of her life, Eden knows about his eyesight loss but she never received the letter Rafe sent to her.  In heartbreak she goes with her father Dr. Jerome to Molokai to set up the clinic for lepers. Eden hopes to pick up the shattered pieces of broken plans and begin life anew.  At last she is emotionally free to close the door on the leper colony and allow her mother to rest in peace in the presence of the Lord she had trusted.
Eden discovers that during the year she was on Kalawao, not only did Rafe return to Honolulu, but he has rebuilt Hanalei coffee plantation on the Big Island, and is again running for a seat in the legislature.  He is hard at work with the other anti-Royalists to depose the Hawaiian queen and to bring the Hawaiian Islands under the Stars and Stripes.
Rafe's blindness was only a temporary condition.  Although she's delighted for Rafe, she discovers that he has no intention of reaching out to her again.  While her lost love affair with Rafe is as painful to her as ever, he is cool and distant, avoiding her to the point of arrogance. Nor has he been romantically idle.  Cousin Candace sadly informs Eden that Rafe is spending most of his time with Bernice Judson, and that her husband Keno has heard Parker Judson saying he is hoping for Rafe's future marriage to his niece. Eden is both hurt and angry.
The clouds of political disaster have arrived overhead.  Eden must decide which side of the upcoming Revolution she is going to support.  Plus she must discover the painful lessons God wants her to learn, and if she will ever find healing for her bruised heart with or without a life that includes Rafe.

My Review:

This story was a stunning conclusion to the Dawn of Hawaii series. I learned a lot about how it became a state, how leprosy really affected the population, and of course, the running of a sugarcane and coffee plantation. I felt as if I was really there with the way Chaikin describes the state in such detail and beautiful imagery. While I have seen this trilogy through from the first book till now, I was not disappointed with the historical accuracy and tidbits along the way that made this such an enjoyable ride for the entire series.

I must admit I was very disappointed when Rafe and Eden went their separate ways. I guess I really expected all along that somehow things would work themselves out, but the way it ended was not at all how I anticipated it to finish. It was a historical thriller in every sense of the word, with the crosswinds changes that swept the island and brought it to be the state it is today. Queen Liliuokalani was present with historical accuracy, as well as the Molokai leper colony that changed the lives of many people in their time of greatest need. A recommended trilogy and novel that delves deep into the annexation of Hawaii. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Not By Sight

by Kathy Herman
David C. Cook

Her sister couldn't be alive … could she?

The little girl she spotted outside a store in Foggy Ridge had to be Riley Jo, her long-lost sister. Abby Cummings is certain. Almost. But her family has had their hopes dashed before and quickly dismisses the idea. After all, her father and sister have been missing for five years, and are presumed dead. 

Abby refuses to ignore her intuition. She and her best friend, Jay, team up to track down the child in the face of scorn and doubt from all sides. But warnings from a mysterious stranger hint at a darker story, one that might not end well unless they leave it alone. 

Abby and Jay know too much to turn back, but too little to uncover the truth of what really happened. The only weapon they have is blind faith...is it enough? 

My Review:

The story is very well presented by Herman, as it can be difficult to write about missing people and the subsequent search for them. She drew me into the story and put me right in the middle of the action, emotion and drama. It made me feel as if I was personally responsible for finding Riley Jo and Mr. Cummings. The mysterious elements of the story really kept my attention, and I just had to know how the story ended. The characters were easy to identify with and very well developed.  

My absolute favorite element in this story was the focus on faith. Abby faces so much uncertainty with the loss of her father and sister, and the questions that gnaw at her about their fate would be enough to break down even the strongest of people. When the death of a family member happens, it's hard. But harder yet is knowing that they simply vanished into thin air, never to return. Abby's faith and friendship with Jay are the only things that keep her going, and Herman clearly writes her character as someone who isn't perfect, but has faith in the One we should all put our trust in. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pennsylvania Patchwork

by Kate Lloyd
David C. Cook

ONE HEART. TWO LOVES. ONE CHOICE.

Seattle native Holly Fisher is smitten by Lancaster County, its simplicity and her long lost relatives. In the sequel to bestselling Leaving Lancaster, Holly embraces the Amish culture, learning to slow down to see what  - and who – really matters.

Meeting the family that her mother had kept hidden from her, Holly comes face to face with her real life and blood legacy. She also falls for the charming Zach, a handsome Mennonite veterinarian who is everything she’s ever wanted in a husband: confident, kind, successful, and authentic. And Zach proposes marriage. Is this too soon? Is this the right choice? Mother and Amish grandmother think she’s rushing into too much of a lifestyle change. Holly is in love with Zach and that precludes everything. Until she meets an attractive Amish man. And an old suitor shows up.

Pennsylvania Patchwork is the moving, richly told story of one woman’s heart, her faith and trust, and the choices she makes. Never easy, but one choice can change your destiny.

My Review: 

My initial impression of Holly as a character in Leaving Lancaster was not a very good one. For a woman her age, she is self-centered and selfish, and has no backbone whatsoever. In this novel, she makes a complete turn-around that is rather confusing. I understand she wants to connect with her family and be a part of that family, but she goes from an Englisher mentality, to complete openness about the Amish life and ways. 

While that sounds like criticism for Lloyd's work and this novel, the elements of Holly's emotions and actions as a character is the reason why I loved this book. So many Amish novels out there portray their characters as people with a problem/situation, and of course it gets solved within the course of the book. In this book, Holly's personality is akin to someone in their teens, but I found her to be a more realistic character to real life than the storybook characters that run rampant in our Christian Amish Fiction genre. 

Overall, the book was an excellent sequel, and has all the ups and downs expected when someone from a completely different world and upbringing attempts to change their life. Very good reading, and I promise it is well worth the read. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Grace Given

by Beth Shriver
Realms Publishers

Elsie Yoder can't forgive her sister, Katie, for leaving the community. Unable to let go of her sadness, she withdraws from her friends and family, nursing her feelings of betrayal. 

Gideon Lapp has held a special place in his heart for Elsie and longs to help her get through her troubles. Together they find comfort in their study of the Martyrs Mirror, a centuries-old book that describes their ancestors' sacrifices for their faith through years of persecution. 

As Elsie opens up and begins to put her trust in Gideon, she tells him about the harassment she and her sister received at the hands of some local men. When the men return and threaten the community, Elsie and Gideon much stand together to do what is right. But can Elsie learn to give grace and to humble herself to accept grace as well? 

My Review:

The elements that stood out to me about this story was not only the setting in the state of Texas, but the re-occurring theme of harassment. This made for a unique backdrop to everything that was happening, and makes for a completely different type of Amish novel. Shriver kept me guessing on where she was going with the story, and really kept me turning those pages! Last but not least, I had to admire the community's determination to deal with the climate changes and challenges in living the Amish lifestyle in the arid state of Texas. 

I do have to admit I was very sympathetic when reading about Elsie's sadness that her sister Katie has left the community. I was a runaway once, and left my family, church, and community. I never thought how it affected my sisters when I left them behind, and reading Elsie's side of the story really just broke my heart. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Leaving Lancaster

by Kate Lloyd
David C. Cook

More than anything else, thirty-something Holly Fisher longs for family. Growing up in Seattle without a dad or grandparents, she wonders what it would be like to have a heritage, a place of belonging. Holly is furious when her mother, Esther, reveals a long-kept secret: Holly’s grandmother and uncles are still alive and begging Esther to return. And Holly is shocked when she learns that the family she’s never known lives on a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, farm—as part of an Amish community her mother once abandoned.

Guilt-ridden Esther, terrified to see her mother and siblings, begs Holly to accompany her on a visit to Esther’s mother before she dies. But can their journey to a conflicting world heal their emotional wounds and finally bring them home?

Set in the heart of contemporary Lancaster County, Leaving Lancaster explores the power of forgiveness, family reconciliation, and love where least expected.

My Review: 

Life as a she knows it comes to an abrupt halt when Holly Fisher discovers she has a family. Not just any family, but hundreds of cousins, aunts, uncles, and even a grandmother - in the heart of Lancaster County. Lloyd does an excellent job of conveying the vast array of emotions with the three main characters and gives us a unique glimpse of what actions and consequences have cost three generations of women. Holly has the least blame in everything, but she still stubbornly holds on to anger and resentment at her mother for withholding knowledge of her family's whereabouts.   

Now for the one thing that drove me nuts about Holly. Oh, she shaped up and turned out to be a great lead character, but her behavior in the beginning was absolutely terrible. I could hardly believe that any adult would act the way she did. I was very happy to see a change of attitude, and she did a complete 180 in the course of the book. Her entire viewpoint drastically changes and she becomes the woman she was meant to become. Lloyd writes with an above stellar perspective on love, relationships and what it means to truly be a family. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

A Man Called Blessed

by Ted Dekker & Bill Bright
Thomas Nelson Publishers

Rebecca Solomon is a former Israeli soldier turned archaeologist. She is currently leading her team deep into the heart of the Ethiopian desert, desperately trying to find the remains of the Ark of the Covenant. Such a discovery would bring hope in the hearts of her people, and give them something to hold onto in the midst of their trials and suffering. It's discovery would show the Jewish people that He truly looks out for His Own, and truly cared about their well being and future. But Rebecca finds that her expedition brings not only danger, but a discovery that will change everything. 

She doesn't realize quite how dangerous, until confronted with Ismael; sent by the Islamic fundamentalist on a mission to stop her at any cost. The greatest fear of the people that sent Ishmael is that the discovery of the Ark will compel the Jewish people to rebuilt Solomon's temple - right where their holy mosque in Jerusalem resides. Political and religious animosity that is centuries old comes to the forefront, and it is a race against time for both Rebecca and Ismael to accomplish what they set out to do. Who is to say either of them is right or wrong? Both take what they believe very seriously, and neither of them is returning home without their prize. Will they man Rebecca seeks shed some light into the future? Or will Ishmael succeed and take the assurance of a future from the Jewish people?  

This was a heart stopping novel that was absolutely explosive from the very beginning. I honestly do not care for stories about the constant troubles of the Middle East, in particular, the fight over Jerusalem. But this novel put my perspective on a whole new plane, and I've got to admit I was spellbound all the way through. What kept me glued to my seat through the book was the constant struggles from all three of the main characters. With one beautiful Jewish girl, one militant Muslim, and one desperate Christian - it was completely up in the air what would happen and how it was going to end. I was very impressed by this novel. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.

A Wedding For Julia

by Vanetta Chapman
Harvest House Publishers

Julia Beechy's life is completely uprooted when she receives the news that she must either marry or move out of the family home. Not only is she about to loose her mother, she will also loose the home she's lived in all her life. Her dream of opening her own cafe is slipping away like so much sand on a beach, and she is powerless to stop the frightening changes that will be taking place in her life. 

Caleb Zook thinks it is much too late in his life to marry, but he is compelled to offer his protection to Julia through a marriage proposal. The only hitch is that they barely know one another, and a marriage to Caleb simply for the sake of getting married seems more daunting that anything else Julia has ever faced. With a storm threatening Pebble Creek, Wisconsin, and so many things up in the air, will Caleb and Julia have a chance to make a go of a relationship despite everything happening in their lives?

The thing I liked the best about this story was the strong sense of community and family represented by the Pebble Creek characters. There were people from the previous two books whose stories were expounded upon and revisited, but in no way overshadowed the plot. Julia and Caleb's relationship throughout the book was very sweet and when they finally had their first spat I couldn't help but love them even more. Chapman conveys emotions well to the reader through her characters, and arrested my attention with not only her writing style, but her excellent portrayal of human relationships.

This book was provided by Harvest House Publishers for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

What Once Was Lost

by Kim Vogel Sawyer
WaterBrook Press

Christina Willems is the loving owner of Brambleville Asylum in Kansas. She is the only hope of many a lost, displaced soul, and they love her and the farm without reservation. Her "family" admires and looks to her for leadership and guidance, and they trust that she will care for them no matter what. But when a fire breaks out, her home is disbanded because the house is no longer livable, and the people who have become everything to her are scattered to the winds. 

Christina's biggest concern is a young man by the name of Tommy Kilgore. He is blind and needs constant attention to get around. So when Christina has to find someone to take Tommy in, she reluctantly is forced to entrust Tommy's care to the reclusive mill owner, Levi Johnson. When obstacles spring up in repairing the farm and restoring what was destroyed, she is discouraged that her life's mission may be just a dream that will forever be out of reach. Will what once was lost ever be restored? Or is the asylum that was passed down to her by her father gone for good? 

The element that impressed me the most of this story was how Sawyer described the world from blind Tommy's point of view. Seeing things from his perspective was unique, fresh, and original, and much more colorful than simply telling us he couldn't see. The rural setting, the ups and downs of the restoration process, and all the emotion Sawyer packs in this novel makes it a book I will gladly revisit. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and all the characters contained therein. A highly recommended read for any lover of historical fiction. 

Every Waking Moment

by Chris Fabry
Tyndale Publishers

Treha Langsam is a young woman with a past she cannot remember, and a future looming with uncertainty. Borrowing the stories of others because she cannot remember her childhood, she has no one to fill in the empty spaces of her life. Living alone and barely making ends meet, she struggles on a daily basis to be a part of a world she cannot understand.

The only thing that makes her somewhat a part of normal society is the fact that she can bring the elderly from the world of their minds to return to some clarity and clear thinking. But there are some people who do  not understand Treha's gift and will do everything in their power to make her just go away. When one of the residents of Desert Gardens Retirement Home in Arizona provides a vital clue to the past, will one of Treha's few friends, Miriam, be able to help her find her family? Or will the truth die along with the same man who is the answer with what is physically wrong with Treha?  

And finally a heroine that isn't stick skinny perfect, with the most beautiful eyes you've ever seen, or some other such flawless or stunning characteristic. Treha is real in the pages of this book, for Fabry has made a fictional someone we can believe in, cheer on, and can almost believe that she is as alive as we are. This is the kind of book that reminds you of the best movie you've ever seen, except so much better. It doesn't matter who you are or where you are in life; Treha's story will change how you see the elderly, the "not quite right" from society, and those who we tend to think are beneath us based on appearance. This novel will open your eyes to things you have never seen before, and make you see in a whole new light.   

This book was provided by Tyndale House Publishers for free in exchange for an honest review.

http://mediacenter.tyndale.com/downloads/press_kits/EveryWakingMomentAuthorQ&A.pdf

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Machine

by Bill Myers
B&H Kids

Twin siblings Jake and Jennifer aren't exactly thrilled when they learn they are joining their archaeologist father on his "expedition" to Israel. They don't really know him, but because they've lost their mom they have no other choice. Jake isn't terribly excited, but he doesn't seem to mind all that much either. Jennifer is less than pleased, and dreading everything about her new life. Will they be able to accept their dad for who he is - crazy time machine and all? Or is the science he is dabbling in more dangerous than it is worth? 


So I'm going to start by saying that this book was absolutely wonderful! I know I'm not a kid anymore, but that didn't make a lick of difference when it came down to enjoying this story! Kids of all ages will appreciate the adventure contained in these pages, and I venture to say that adults will enjoy the thrill of the ride as well. It was a fun book to read, it was unique, it was creative (I mean, how else can I explain Robbie?!) and the twins were absolutely fantastic! Yes, they had their issues (ok, they had some things come up from time to time) but they were dealing with some tough stuff. Highly recommended, and a book I am stashing away for my future children.   

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Red Like Blood

by Joe Coffey & Bob Bevington
Shepherd Press


At its heart, Red Like Blood is the over-arching story of the Bible, the story of salvation: the amazing grace of God in Jesus Christ impacting our brokenness, drenching us in forgiveness and mercy. It is told through the lives of two men a prodigal and a pastor s kid whose broken lives are forever stained the color of grace as they are confronted by the One who meets them in their hopelessness and despair, bringing redemption and healing. Red Like Blood chronicles the power of the gospel in all of its life-changing fullness. It is a story that should challenge, encourage and empower us all.

Let me start by saying that I never, absolutely never begin a review with the description of the book found on a retail website . I do not copy and paste, and I always write my own version of what the book is about. But I am breaking that rule today, quite sadly, because this is not a five star review.

While I completely understand that the sinful state of humankind cannot be sugarcoated, glossed over, or prettied up for the nicest message possible, I also understand that bad language has no place in a Christian's life. All the stories from these two men's lives could have been told without the vulgarities contained within. The concept for this book is wonderful. But the execution was absolutely terrible. Grace is not to be taken advantage of. "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of a God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." Jude 1:4. I know that the authors were trying to show who they were, and how by the grace of God they were turned into different men, but I believe they could have done a much better job of conveying that message. 

This book was provided by the publisher through Cross Focused Reviews for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fired Up

by Mary Connealy
Bethany House Publishers

Dare Riker is a man who saves lives, but he is not altogether convinced that he should be a doctor. With his experience during the Civil War, he's worked under a doctor's care. But now he's flying solo in the huge state of Texas, and he is the only doctor for 200 miles in each direction. He feels like a fraud by saying he a medical professional, but it seems like people can't stop having accidents that require his help. Between the avalanche that threatened to take out a few of his friends, the fire in his home/medical office, and various other incidents he can't seem to get under control, it seems people can't stop getting sick or hurt. Will he ever be able to begin a new life? Or is he forever stuck as a sub-par doctor?

Glynna Greer has had anything but an easy life. She's been widowed for a second time, raising two children on her own, no money, no resources, or a place to stay. She doesn't even have a plan for the future. When the town's diner becomes short an owner, she becomes the town's only cook. As her cooking is nothing to sneeze at, the majority of the town's men end up at Dr. Riker's door with stomachaches on a daily basis. Clearly, cooking is not her calling, but there is nothing else she can do to make a living. Then her attraction to Dr. Riker is further complicating her life - especially since she promised her son, Paul, that she wouldn't remarry without his consent. How is she going to fix everything that is wrong in her world? And will her children ever feel safe again?

This is a historical romantic comedy that I will never feel guilty about reading. It was just the kind of novel that you start reading hoping that it's good, and end up loving by the bottom of the first page. With Fired Up, you're going to get more than just a warm fuzzy feeling in the cockles of your heart; you're going to get an amazing story, an adventure that rivals any literary journey you've ever taken, and characters that will stay with you forever. Contrary to the popular belief that romantic comedies are for women; I highly recommend this to not only men, but even for the ladies that stay away from this genre.

This book was provided by the publisher through Litfuse Nest for free in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase your copy here: http://ow.ly/oOqGx

Connect with Mary through her website: http://maryconnealy.com/

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Promise Box

by Tricia Goyer
Zondervan Publishers

Lydia Wyse is an Amish girl from Seattle who became a book editor for the English. She has returned to West Kootenai, Montana, to be there for her grieving father as they mourn a wonderful wife and mother. She is irrevocably drawn to a box that belonged to her mother, filled with prayers and scriptures. The familiarity of her upbringing brings many precious memories of a much different life to the surface. But then her publisher sees the opportunity to make a sensational 'tell-all' about the Amish through the eyes of Lydia.   

Every year, young, Amish bachelors come to West Kootenai during the spring, live there for six months, and receive resident status to get a hunting license in the fall. They come single, and leave hitched. Gideon Hooley  is one such Amish man, and he has every intention of leaving with a bride. Lydia seems like the one, except she seems to be struggling with the circumstances of her birth. Gideon has some secrets to hide. Will they be able to resolve the hurts of the past to enter a brighter future? Or will the secrets that should never have been hidden threaten to destroy them all? 

While I loved this novel, the switch between "your" and yer" was a bit much. But other than that little disappointment, this was wonderful story! While there is so much Amish fiction out there (yes, it makes my head spin sometimes!) Goyer presents us with a thrilling installment in the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series. While the story line is not the most unique, there was plenty of tension between characters and all the quandaries they find themselves in. All in all, a great novel for fans of Amish fiction (die-hard, or otherwise) and anyone looking for a great summer read. 

This book was provided by the publisher fore free in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Swept Away

by Mary Connealy
Bethany House Publishers

Ruthy MacNeil is separated from her family during an unsuccessful river crossing en-route to California. No harm done, as the family isn't really her own, but a family that took her in when her parents died. Working her day in and day out for years, she feels no obligation to look for them. Finally free of such an abusive family, she is relieved because they were planning on marrying her off to their less than honorable son. Disoriented, confused, and miles away from the scene of the accident, she wakes up in a man's arms. 

But then Luke Stone carts her off on his horse, having no time to stop and see what became of her "family". Which suits Ruthy just fine. Until she finds out that he's headed straight for his ranch in a podunk town in the middle of nowhere (Texas), that is currently in the hands of one Flint Greer. And Luke has no intention of backing down until he reclaims what was stolen from his father. The problem lies in the exact details of securing the ranch. While Luke has the deed to the land, Greer has enough goons to discourage any kind of takeover. Luke has friends from his Regulator days, but will it be enough to take back his ranch? And what exactly is he to do with Ruthy, who has quickly laid claim to his affections and heart?

First things first. Luke and his friends are absolutely amazing. I'm not the kind of girl to fall for a bunch of fictional characters, but these guys are just awesome! I almost wish they were my brothers or at least real people. But on a more serious note, Connealy brings, yet again, another spectacular novel to the line-up, a solid winner. Her writing makes me reconsider my dislike of cowboys and ranchers, and makes me wish I could travel in the past for a chance to see the lives of the people contained in these pages. You will enjoy this romantic comedy no matter who you are; and the characters will quickly find a place in your heart.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Power of an Ordinary Prayer & He Knows Your Name




NASHVILLE, Tenn. – June 11th, 2013—The Worthy Publishing Group rounds out its Spring/Summer 2013 list with two gift titles penned by award-winning singer/songwriters Michael W. Smith and Travis Cottrell.

Smith’s book The Power of an Ordinary Prayer (Worthy Publishing, 9781617951923, July 2013, $14.99, hardcover) explores the heart of prayer and its power to transform your world. The beautifully-designed, hardcover gift book inspires readers to pray blessings over their loved ones, and in return discover the abundant joy and peace that can be theirs through the power of this simple blessing. 

Dove-award winning artist, Travis Cottrell’s 144-page gift book entitled He Knows Your Name (Worthy Publishing, 9781617951916, July 2013, $14.99, hardcover), looks at those surprising times and places when God proves his radical love. With a remarkable introduction by NewYork Times best-selling author Beth Moore, Cottrell reminds readers that God is the hope, strength, and deliverance they desperately need in every circumstance—especially those moments when it is least expected.

“These books, written by award-winning recording artists, come on the heels of our success with titles from contemporary Christian music artists Laura Story and Nichole Nordeman,” says Jeana Ledbetter, Vice President of Editorial.Within the past year Worthy Publishing has struck a chord with readers with the release of Grammy-award winning songwriter Laura Story’s devotional, What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops? (Freeman Smith, 9781605873220, March 2012, $11.99, trade paper) along with Dove-award winning artist Nichole Nordeman’s Love Story (Worthy, 9781617950513, August 2012, $16.99, hardcover). “It seems we have found a niche transforming best-selling recording artists into widely read authors,” Ledbetter continues.  Worthy is also scheduled to release Big Daddy Weave’s devotionalRedeemed (Worthy, 9781605875224, August 2013, $11.99), based on the song recently awarded “Song of the Year” at the K-Love Fan Awards on June 1st.

Michael W. Smith is a multiple-time Grammy and Dove Award-winning singer/songwriter, having recorded more than twenty-two albums and written numerous hit songs.Smith has written several best-selling books, including Old Enough to Know and Friends are Friends Forever. He and his wife, Debbie, have five children and live in Nashville.

Travis Cottrell is a Dove Award-winning recording artist and songwriter and has been the worship leader at Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live conferences for fifteen years. He also serves as the Worship Pastor at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife, Angela, and their three children.

Worthy Publishing Group (www.worthypublishing.com) is a privately held, independent voice in Christian and inspirational publishing, based in Nashville, Tennessee, comprised of threedivisions. Worthy Books publishes a boutique list of trade titles across a broad spectrum of genres, including current events, biography, fiction, devotionals, spiritual and personal growth, and specialized Bibles. Ellie Claire is a line of gift and paper expressions, and Freeman-Smith is a value-priced, impulse book imprint.  

My Reviews: 

In The Power Of An Ordinary Prayer by Michael W. Smith, he reminds us that any prayer, no matter how small, has the power to change our lives forever. While surrendering our lives to a higher power is nearly impossible for some of us, by doing so we place our lives in the best Hands possible. In this fallen world we experience the daily disappointments of life, and by looking to the One who made it for His glory should make us realize that praying is not being selfish, but honoring Him. Prayer is just as much the words we say as it is about hearing God. And this book will inspire you to listen to Him more, not just request and go about your day and life. Each chapter begins with a scripture, and ends with a prayer, quotes, and questions for application and further reflection. 

In He Knows Your Name by Travis Cottrell, he writes that no matter who you are, or what you've faced, you are acknowledged and loved by God. Even if you feel that no one cares for you, God does. He cares for the sparrows, how much more the people He has created? Cottrell encourages us to realize that God has a purpose for each of us, even if we don't feel like we're special or have a purpose other than to get through this life. After an introduction by fellow worship leader Beth Moore, the book is divided into ten chapters with inspirational quotations and writings of fellow Christians, with room for reflection and application. Perfect for all of us no matter where we are in our Christian walk, as this little book will inspire you to understand who you are through the Father that created us each uniquely

These books were provided by Worthy Publishers for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Born of Persuasian

by Jessica Dotta
Tyndale House Publishers

Julia Elliston is in a position that doesn't afford her any security whatsoever. An orphan and unmarried, she has very few options in a world where women are seen as property and intellectually inferior to men. She has one possibility, however, and it rests solely on a guardian that wants to pack her off to Scotland as a servant. Unhappy with that prospect, Julia attempts to make her own future. But when she fails at making her life her own, she is at the end of her rope with no options, no family, and worst of all - no future. 

But then a titled dowager presents the opportunity to introduce Julia into society. Julia happily accepts, but a cloud hovers over her joy rather quickly. Her mothers' past becomes a matter of great interest, and shadows lie in the mystery that was her life. When Julia finds herself a pawn between two powerful men, will she be able to unravel the secrets that lie within her reach? Or is the truth ambiguous and intangible? 

Dotta's obvious knowledge of history makes the story more credible, and there was a little bit of a Gothic feel to this novel with some of the settings in the book. Julia is completely believable as a character, as she bases her actions on her feelings rather than what is logical. Many of us in real life act exactly like this, and I really enjoyed that she wasn't portrayed as a perfect role model. She is infallibly human, and I found myself enjoying the drama of her life despite the constant mood swings and indecision she demonstrates. As a woman in this time period where they were treated as legal property, it is accurate to depict a young woman in this era exactly as she is. This wonderful addition to the world of Victorian Novels is not to be missed. 

This book was provided by Tyndale House Publishers for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Love Stays True

by Martha Rogers
Realms Publishers

It is April of 1885 and the War Between the States is over. Manfred and Edwin Whiteman are exchanged as prisoners as war for Union soldiers, and are now heading to their hometown of Bayou Sara, Louisiana. But the journey promises to be long, hard, and arduous, and that's only if nothing goes wrong along the way. Manfred wants to return the kindness shown by strangers as they go homeward, and is willing to be delayed a day or two in order to honor his promise. But when keeping his word means being waylaid by thieves and being thrown in jail, will he ever get home to his girl?
     
Sallie Dyer is awaiting word of her dearest Manfred. She doesn't even know if he's alive, because mail has been unreliable and with a war on, no more can be expected. She is determined to wait his return no matter how long it takes, even though her father is equally determined to let other suitors vie for her hand. When three of Manfred's brothers return, that still leaves Manfred and Edwin missing. Are they buried in some unmarked grave far, far away from home? Or are they, even now, returning home to them?

It was fun to see Edwin grow from an angry, taciturn young man into a mature, responsible man that his family could be proud of. I know Manfred and Sallie's story was the main focus of the story, but the side stories of their families and friends really stood out to me. Ultimately, all their experiences in the war change their lives forever, and they all learn lessons about life, love and what it means to come back as a country, as family, and as a community. I was very impressed by Rogers's sweet and poignant portrayal of what times were like after the Civil War; the people, their strength, but most of all their faith in the same God that allowed a country to be divided. This was the best post Civil War novel I have ever read.

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

My Hope Is Found

by Joanne Bischof
Multnomah Publishers

Gideon and Lonnie have finally found love together, and life seems to have finally settled down for their little family. But when a woman in Gideon's past comes back into his life, claiming she is his rightful wife, he has no choice but to return to Cassie. When Cassie finally gives him her blessing to return to the woman he aches to hold, Gideon embarks on a journey through the Blue Ridge Mountains to return to his true wife and son.   

Lonnie is determined to forget Gideon and move on with her life. A dashing Scotsman and Reverend by the name of Toby McKee is paying her court, and she has a mind to move on from the constant pain Gideon is perpetually causing her. So when Gideon returns to find her betrothed to another, Gideon must trust that the One who brought them together in the first place can do it again. But is Gideon too late this time? Is Lonnie and their son lost to him forever? 

There is just something about the long awaited love between Gideon and Lonnie. The way he held on to a ribbon that was hers as a keepsake just struck me as such a helpless gesture of the futility of his situation. I wanted to do something to help them all, but naturally, the story is already written and my part is to settle down and read where their journeys take them. I have no idea why I was completely arrested by this trilogy. Maybe it's the parallel to this verse in Proverbs 13:12; "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life." I read a lot, and I do read a lot of romances. But Bischof strikes in the most subtle of ways, and weaves a tale that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Unforgettable, remarkable and absolutely extraordinary.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Beneath The Dover Sky

by Murray Pura
Harvest House Publishers

It is 1924 and the ravages of World War I is over. The destruction wrought by the battles fought almost six years in the past are not ever to be forgotten. A man by the name of Adolf Hitler writes a book called Mein Kampf, and it is uncertain whether he poses a threat to Europe. Jerusalem is rife with tension between the Jewish people and Arab Muslims, and the world is holding it's breath in the interim between wars. 

Born a year before the Civil War ended, the recently named Lord Preston is having a birthday celebration in the family's summer home in Dover. The seven Danforth children and their families face plenty of crossroads and make choices that will affect the rest of their lives and generations after them. But as the journey into this family's life continues, everything they believe as believers will be severely tested. Will they be able to stand against what is to come? Or will they inevitably loose their faith in light of what is happening in their world?

In this second installment of The Danforths of Lancashire, the compelling story of a loving family is continued as they overcome obstacles none of them thought they would ever face. They will make you wish you were part of their family, even with all the problems they have to solve despite the odds! My favorite element in the story (besides the well-rounded characters that are absolutely memorable) is that the women are strong in their beliefs and determined to achieve their goals in life. Pura does not make his female characters swoon at the sight of every handsome man, and that is to be commended - especially with the seamless tie-in of historical facts and events. I felt as if these could be real people of the past, not some fairy tale, feel good, happily-ever-after characters. If you don't read normally read any Christian Fiction, do yourself a favor and pick up this novel. You won't regret it. 

This book was provided by Harvest House Publishers for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Eventide

by Shelley Shepard Gray
Avon Inspire

Elsie Keim has a wonderful family, a roof over her head, and a place to lay her head at night. While all her needs are provided for, there is something her family cannot give her - a normal life. From an early age, she has been afflicted by a disease that will eventually rob her of the ability to see. The disease has progressed to the point where she no longer dreams of a good life or that of a typical Amish wife. Her family is prepared to care for her the rest of her life, but all Elsie wants is a life she can never have. Who would want a damaged woman, anyway?

Landon Troyer has his entire life mapped out and planned to the tiniest detail. He has saved money and worked very hard to buy his own house and land, and all he needs is a capable wife to be his help meet. The only problem lies in finding that one woman that will fit in with all of his plans. So when he meets Elsie, it seems that everything is finally falling into place for him. But when troubling facts come to light, will he be disappointed with the truth? Or is love really worth paying the price of your dreams? 

This final conclusion to the Days of Redemption series by Shelley Shepard Gray was the perfect ending to a story fraught with the realities of life. The resolution of family secrets is no easy task, but the Keim family sticks together even through the hard times. No matter what they face, they look to God and each other to get them through the rough road of redemption, forgiveness, and grace. This novel by Gray is a shining example of what it means to be a family through the most difficult of circumstances, and what it means to be truly loved. I really enjoyed this novel and series, and will be recommending it to others.

This book was provided by the publisher through Litfuse Nest for free in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase your copy here: http://ow.ly/oBHhP

Connect with Shelley through her website: http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com/

Monday, September 9, 2013

City on Fire

by Tracy Higley
Thomas Nelson Publishers

Cato is a wealthy politician who has tired of Rome's corruption and hopes to find a better political scene in Pompeii. He doesn't play the power games of his peers, but finds that Pompeii is just as corrupt as the city he left behind. Things are looking bad for the Christians in the city, and Cato's family is in danger if he does not go along with what is expected of him. He looks for allies in the city, and instead discovers a group of Christians who confuse everything he's ever learned about life. And they hide a certain young woman who's existence may be the answer they all seek for resolutions to their unique problems. 

Ariella is nothing but a runaway slave in the coastal town of Pompeii. She has a a secret however, that could make her life worthless if discovered; she is disguised as a boy and gladiator. She is an excellent fighter, but the chance of discovery is determined only by her skills. She has a very good reasons for her deception, and she sees no other course for her life but to hide who she truly is. When Cato shows up looking for supporters, will she be able to trust him with her secret in order to save her fiends and his family? Or is the city of fire going to destroy everything they have worked for? 

Historical fiction is always going to be my favorite genre. But without question, this Biblical era saga has grabbed my attention in it's details, the way the characters interact, and the way the story moves along with the intrigue of the ancient city of Pompeii as it's backdrop. It is exciting and fast-paced, and the peek into the lives for the Christians of this time period was fresh and rich with historical details. I loved everything about this novel, and I am confident that even if one is not particularly drawn to this sort of book, it can be enjoyed by anyone. 

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Death on Lindisfarne

by Fay Sampson
Kregel Publications

Aidan and eight-year-old Melangell are still reeling from the loss of their wife and mother, Jenny. It is hard not to go into the past as everywhere they go reminds them of her. Lindisfarne is particularly special as it was one of the places she wrote a book about with photos taken by Aidan. Now years later, Aidan wants to show their daughter the places behind the books Jenny wrote, and give Melangell a little bit more time to say goodbye to the precious mother that raised her and loved them both with all her heart. Lindisfarne is the first place they stop and visit for a week - and accidental amateur sleuth Aidan finds himself in a very real 21st century drama. 

They meet up with Jenny's friend Lucy who is teaching a course on Northumbrian saints. She has with her a young woman that is troubled and in need of the peace and quiet the remote island offers. But when Rachel ends up dead, the eyes of the law turn to everyone presently on the island. Rachel's friends trickle in, and Aidan and Lucy learn more about Rachel's past. A piece of Lucy's past is revealed as well, and suddenly things just aren't so simple anymore. Will Aidan be able uncover who killed Rachel? And with all the intrigue and suspicion surrounding the murder, will Melangell be safe as he investigates?

So I've got to admit that the setting for this novel is very different than I'm used to. While I love historical fiction of any kind, I have zero knowledge of the Celtic history. This book put a quick end to that. Sampson combines the interest of a mystery along with what can be considered dull facts of saints dead for centuries (for those of us who aren't passionate about this time period.) and created a story that stayed long with me after I was done. The way she describes the places, and the word pictures of the thoughts she was trying to convey were just excellent. I felt like I could taste the salt water at the crossing and feel the sand underneath my toes. It was the next best thing to being there and seeing it for myself. 

This book was provided by Kregel Publishers for free in exchange for an honest review.