Monday, March 10, 2014
Author - Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan
Title - Where Courage Calls
Format - ebook, hardcover, paper, audio
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Beth Thatcher follows in the footsteps of her aunt Elizabeth Thatcher Delaney and accepts a teaching position in Canada's far West. For a spoiled, pampered, daughter of a wealthy family, Beth finds Coal Valley to be a shock. A mining accident has caused the town to suffer a great loss. The children have had very little exposure to a formal education. Yet as she begins to teach the children of the town, she finds herself loving the townspeople's simple ways. She soon finds herself gathering the attention of two young Mounties - one a childhood friend and the other a new acquaintance. When her sister visits, Beth is reminded of the luxurious life she left behind. Will Beth return home where it's safe or will she find her wings to soar?
Written as a companion novel to bridge the gap between the Hallmark movie of When Calls the Heart and the TV series with the same name, this novel returns Janette Oke to the prairie fiction that she has been known for.
I have long loved Janette Oke's books. Some of my earliest memories of reading Christian Fiction around 4th, 5th, or 6th grade include reading both the Love Comes Softly Series and the Canadian West series. I remember thinking that these were like a Little House on the Prairie book that wasn't a children's book. At one point, I believe I even owned every one of her books. And I still classify among my all-time book favorites these books of hers: Roses for Mama, A Bride for Donnigan, A Woman Named Damaris, the Love Comes Softly Series, and the Canadian West Series. So I was thrilled when I discovered that she had a new book coming out.
After a very slow start, I found that once Beth arrived in Coal Valley things began to pick up. I thought that Beth tried too hard to find out what God wanted her to accomplish. Still I did enjoy how she grew from the spoiled debutante into a pioneer woman. She didn't even realize she was changing until her sister arrived and Beth saw her through fresh eyes. As far as romance goes, there was very little. There were the two potential suitors, but neither of them played a major part. This was a story about Beth growing up.
While it was a sweet book in classic Janette Oke fashion, to be perfectly honest, I found that I could have easily put it down and not returned to it. It wasn't that I found it boring, because it really wasn't. It was more that I found my attention wandering. And I can't blame that on watching the Hallmark series. Because I don't have cable/satellite and have not seen a single episode of it. I will admit to having watched the When Calls the Heart movie, but I've not seen the series.
Overall, this book didn't enthrall me. I really found it to be mediocre. Still for someone who is looking for a sweet story, this would be for them.
I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to like the book or to give a positive review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.
Recommended to fans of Janette Oke, Little House on the Prairie, Lynn Austin, Tracie Peterson, Lauraine Snelling
Rating - 3 stars
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
I made these for my friend's daughter's 3rd birthday. I have to say that they turned out really cute. Even though I used the same pattern for each one, some are different sizes. But aren't they cute?
I had a blast putting this together. Makes me want to try other non-blanket projects.
Find the free pattern here.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Series - A Year of Weddings Novella #4
Author - Rachel Hauck
Title - A March Bride
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Three weeks shy of her wedding to King Nathaniel II, Susanna Truitt is feeling overwhelmed. She's having to adjust to a new country, a new culture, becoming a royal, and the press. When her mother calls her and delivers some devastating news to her, on the heels on an announcement from Nathaniel, Susanna doesn't think. She just runs home. Nathaniel has found his soul mate in Susanna. He is very much aware of what all she will have to give up to be his wife. But with Susanna returning home, he will do whatever it takes to show her exactly what she means to him. Will this be the end or will the king and his American princess figure out a way to have their happily ever after?
I LOVED this! I walked around with a silly grin on my face when I got to the end. *sighs* When Once Upon a Prince Came out last year, I really was ok with not having more of Susanna and Nathaniel's story. Then I found out that the author was doing a short novella continuation of their story as part of the Year of Weddings series. I knew I just had to have it. I pre-ordered it from Amazon back in November and then the Booksneeze/Book Look Blogging program offered it for review as well. So I requested it.
Obviously since this is a novella in a collection of a year of weddings, the happily ever after is a given. But it's how that happily ever after comes about is what is special. Susanna struggles with some very real fears that I'm sure most brides struggle with. Only in her case it's magnified by about 100 times because her fiance isn't just an ordinary man - he's the ruling king of a nation. So her fears and struggles are very public. I loved how her pastor at home gave her some sound advice. I also loved how Nathaniel decided to do whatever it took to show her that he loved her and understood what she was giving up by marrying him. And the way he goes about showing her is where I got the silly grin on my face and it didn't disappear until I finished the book.
Once again the supporting cast of characters, Avery, Susanna's parents, Jonathan, and Prince Stephen were all delightful to engage with through the story. I'd love to see a story for Avery, Jonathan, or Prince Stephen.
With the Royal Wedding series, I can honestly say that Rachel Hauck has become one of my favorite authors. After all, what little girl doesn't dream of being a princess?
I received an e-copy of the book for free from Thomas Nelson/Zondervan's Booklook Bloggers program for the purpose of reviewing. I did also purchase this from Amazon. My thoughts and opinions are my own.
Recommended to fans of happy endings, weddings, Rachel Hauck, fairy tales, Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, contemporary romance
Rating - 5 stars - I just can't gush enough about this one!
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Series - Weddings by Design book 3
Author - Janice Thompson
Title - The Dream Dress
Format - ebook, paper
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Gabi Delgado longs to be more than just a "material girl" at the high end bridal shop on Galveston Island. She spends her nights sketching and creating her own designs of bridal gowns. Unfortunately for Gabi, her boss only sees her as an alterations specialist. When a handsome reporter from Texas Bride magazine arrives at the bridal shop to do a feature story on the designs created by Gabi's boss, he soon discovers Gabi's talent and decides to feature both Gabi's designs and her boss's. The more time that Gabi spends with Jordan (the reporter) the more that sparks fly between them. Not only is Gabi attracted to him, she's drawn to his faith. Add in Bella Neeley, the Splendora Sisters, two best friends, and a Spanish grandmother, Gabi soon finds herself willing to take a chance and soar on her own.
As always, I know I'm in for a humorous adventure anytime I pick up one of Janice Thompson's books. This one is no exception. I loved all of the characters, especially Gabi. I also loved all of the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers references and quotes. Janice has a way of creating characters that yearn for something more, and then gently delivering a solid faith message.
Jordan was such a sweet heart. I loved that Gabi kept thinking of him as Prince William. I also loved the constant references to Cinderella. I know fairy tale retellings are a big thing right now, and this is not one. But I could still see the elements of a simple Cinderella story. I wish the Club Wed, the Parma John's pizzaria, Scarlet's bakery were real spots on Galveston Island that I could visit on my next trip to the Island. But they're not. I have to content myself with visiting them over and over through both the Weddings by Bella series and this one, Weddings by Design. I am eagerly looking forward to book 4.
I received the kindle version of this book for free from Revell Books via NetGalley for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.
Recommended to fans of chick lit, romantic comedy, Janice Thompson, Rachel Hauck, Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, Abby Gaines
Rating - 4 stars
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Title - Bible Stories for His Beautiful Princess
Author - Sheri Rose Shepherd
Format - Hardcover
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A collection of beautifully illustrated Bible stories that will delight any little girl. Each story is short and has a prayer and "princess jewel" as part of it.
I love it when Tyndale offers a Biblestory book for review. And my best friend loves it too as her daughters benefit from it once I've reviewed it.
This one is beautifully illustrated. The pictures are sweet. I love the fact that there are crowns and jewels on every page! The stories are short. Only one or two pages in length. I think that is a great length for a small child's attention span. I also love the fact that each story has a short prayer and a princess jewel at the end. The princess jewels are little tidbits of advice to the young princess.
The only thing I didn't really care for was that the stories were not written in an engaging rhyme. That's probably the only reason I'm not ranking it 5 stars.
I received the hardcover of this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.
Recommended to parents of young daughters, Sunday School or Children's Church Teachers, homeschoolers
Rating - 4.5 stars
Friday, February 21, 2014
Author - Dee Henderson
Title - Unspoken
Format - paper, hardcover, ebook, audio
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Kidnapped as a child, Charlotte Graham has never spoken of the years she was held captive. A very independent woman, she seeks privacy and avoids the media spotlight at all costs - even to the point of having her twin sister speak out. Yet when Charlotte inherits a massive estate from her grandfather that requires liquidation, she realizes that her sheltered life may soon be over. As part of the estate, there are millions of dollars of coins that she seeks to move. Bryce Bishop owns a very successful coin shop in Chicago. A phone call from the head of the Chicago FBI begins his relationship with Charlotte. Bryce agrees to buy the coins from her. As he gets to know her, he's more and more fascinated by this very private woman. But he's concerned that her past will hold her back. Will she find the way to at least speak of those events from when she was kidnapped?
I've read every one of Dee Henderson's books, and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one. With this one, the back of the book leads the reader to expect something other than what this book is actually about. While I found the first half of the book to be very tedious and boring, the second half reminded me of what I came to expect from a Dee Henderson book.
In the first half of the book, the reader gets a very deep education on the ins and outs of trading rare coins. I feel that that section and the massive amounts of detail on the coins could have been cut by 75-100 pages and the story would have moved along nicely. As it was, I struggled quite a lot to wade through those pages and chapters. Sure, it was interesting - for the first several pages, but after that, I felt that it was tedious and caused the story to drag. While I'll admit that I found the detail of the coins fascinating, at first, because of my father's coin collection, I really did have to struggle to get past all of the details and what seemed to be repetition. She has coins. He buys them. He sells them. Repeat many times over.
The second half of the book felt much more like what I've come to expect from a Dee Henderson book. The action was fast paced and storylines collided into a dramatic conclusion. There was also the aspect of Charlotte finally speaking about the events that happened to her while she was kidnapped. For me, that provided a closure that she definitely needed.
Still, the book was good. Just hang in there through the first half which deals with the coins in extreme detail. Also, ignore the back cover as it implies that the reporter's story about the kidnapping is very important to the story - it's not. This was different than Dee's other books because of the relationship depth she develops between Charlotte and Bryce. It's not the best one Henderson has written by any means. And I'd also not recommend starting with this book unless you've already read some of her other works.
I read this book for pure pleasure. My thoughts and opinions are my own.
Recommended to fans of romantic suspense, Dee Henderson, Irene Hannon, Lynette Eason
Rating - 3.5 stars - It would be a 4 star rating if the part involving the coins was not so tedious.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Author - Kim Vogel Sawyer
Title - Echoes of Mercy
Format - paper, ebook, audio
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When an accident at the Dinsmore Chocolate Factory takes the life of an undercover Labor Commission agent, Caroline Lang is sent undercover to investigate. Caroline gets the job of toter, which is toting the trays of chocolates to the packagers. Her questions draw more attention than she wants. Both the manager, Gordon Hightower, and the young janitor, Ollie Moore have taken notice of her. Ollie has a secret himself - he's really the son of the owner. As Caroline and Ollie began to form attachments to each other, a complication arises in the form of three children needing care. Caroline feels strongly that the children belong in school and not working. Ollie doesn't understand why. But as they join forces to care for the children, will they reach an understanding on their very different viewpoints? Also will she find the truth behind the death of her fellow agent?
I've read others of Kim Vogel Sawyer's in the past and found them to be rather slow moving. This one intrigued me. First it's set in a chocolate factory. That alone was enough to garner my interest. But the fact that both of the main characters were undercover made it even more interesting for me. I enjoyed their interactions and how each respected the other's opinion - even when it didn't match with their own.
I found that the "villian" in the story was a man who wanted wealth but went about it the wrong way. I felt a little sorry for him to be honest.
The way that Carrie lived her faith and depended on it was something that caught my eye. She was genuine. To the point that when Ollie asked her what was different, she was able to say her faith.
I received this book for free from Waterbrook/Multnomah's Blogging for books program for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.
Recommended to fans of Tracie Peterson, Beth Wiseman, Amanda Cabot
Rating - 4 stars
Please rank my review.