Monday, April 21, 2014

Meant to Be Mine - A Review

Published - May 2014, Bethany House Publishers

Author - Becky Wade

Series - A Porter Family Novel book 2

Title - Meant to Be Mine

Format - ebook, paper

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Celia Park has had a crush on handsome cowboy Ty Porter since their days in high school. A trip to Vegas to watch him in a rodeo soon turns into a whirlwind romance. When he proposes and they get married, Celia thinks it's a fairy tale come true. She wakes up the next morning fully prepared to be his wife. Yet Ty is not ready to be a husband. He leaves her and breaks her heart in the process. When their paths cross five and half years later, Ty is shocked to discover Celia's struggling to raise their daughter - the child that he never even knew existed. When a bull riding injury ends his career, he will do anything in his power to ensure that Celia and their daughter are in his life and nearby. Celia's afraid to trust him again after all these years. Will Ty's persistence wear her down and will they figure out their feelings for each other?

Oh my goodness. I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book! Let me start my gushing with the cover. It's eye catching and I love the colors of it. Plus the couple just looks like they are having a fun time.

The chemistry between Celia and Ty was amazing. I loved how they would tease each other. I also loved how they knew the other better than he/she expected.

The way that they both searched out what it means to be forgiven and that they struggled with it was something else that I loved.

While I've not read My Stubborn Heart, I have read Undeniably Yours (the first in this series). In my opinion, this one is so much better than Undeniably Yours and I enjoyed that one.

I received this book for free from the author as part of her Cheer Squad. I've been asked to help promote the book, and I've agreed to review it on my blog, Amazon, Goodreads, FB, Twitter, and Pintrest. The author has also graciously handed me several bookmarks to give out as well. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of chick lit, romantic comedies, Karen Witemeyer, Becky Wade, Janice Thompson, Katie Ganshert, contemporary romance

Rating - 5 stars

Distortion - A Review

Published - March 2014, Zondervan Books

Author - Terri Blackstock

Series - Moonlighters Series book 2

Title - Distortion

Format - paper, ebook, audio

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Juliet Cole watches her husband murdered before her eyes. As she and her sisters navigate her new reality, Juliet unearths her husband's secret life. Did she really know the man she married? As the search for answers continues, Juliet realizes that she has put her sons in danger now too. What will she do to get to the truth?

I read the first in this series last year and enjoyed it. I found this one to be much more interesting than the first. I loved Juliet's search for the truth. I also loved how she wanted to shield her sons from their father's criminal activities.

In this book, I found the characters more developed than they were in the first. I really enjoyed Holly and Juliet. I thought the action was fast paced. I literally read this book at work during lunch/breaks over the course of a week. So it probably took me about 6 hours total to read. It drew me in from the first page and kept me going til the end.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson/Zondervan's Booklook Blogger program for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of suspense, Lynette Eason, Dee Henderson, Irene Hannon, Dani Pettrey

Rating - 5 stars - This may very well be my second favorite book by Terri Blackstock.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blossom Street Brides - A Review

Published - March 25, 2014, Ballantine Books

Author - Debbie Macomber

Series - Blossom Street

Title - Blossom Street Brides

Format - ebook, hardcover, audio

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Lydia Goetz is the owner of A Good Yarn. Her shop is a popular one on Blossom Street. Lauren and Bethanne are just a couple of the customers who come in to purchase the yarn for the baby blanket in the window. Lauren's younger sister has excitedly announced that she's pregnant. Lauren is happy for her sister but also feels that her life isn't going the way she'd planned it. When she gives her long time boyfriend an ultimatum and he stands her up again, Lauren decides to cut herself free from him. Meeting a man that she thinks she has nothing in common starts to bring new hope to her heart. Will her happily ever after be on the horizon? For newlywed Bethanne, she is struggling to balance a long distance marriage and an ex-husband who wants her back. The news that she'll soon be a grandmother has her in the shop buying yarn. But will this news draw her back to her ex or will she remember that her marriage is worth fighting for? As the lives of Lauren and Bethanne intersect in the yarn shop, Lydia also realizes she's got some problems that need the care of these women. Lydia's adopted teenage daughter is having traumatic nightmares and doesn't want to talk about them. Plus who is responsible for all of the baskets of knitting projects showing up around town? Lydia seeks the answers to those questions and finds more than she thought.

For some really strange reason, I believe that this is the first Debbie Macomber novel I've read. I seriously don't know why it's taken me this long to find her, but after having read this book, I can easily see how she is so popular.

I really enjoyed this book. And while it is a part of the Blossom Street Series, it stands alone. Other characters from other books are mentioned, but what I loved about this book was the relationships. The relationships between the women and the relationships that extended into their families and work lives. My overall favorite character was Rooster, the man that Lauren happens to meet. I loved the depths to each of the main characters. I also loved how this book split perspectives from one character to another. Yet those transitions didn't allow for the reader to get lost. Instead it allowed for a rich reading experience.

I received the Kindle copy from Random House via NetGalley for free for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of women's fiction, Debbie Macomber, Irene Hannon, Robyn Carr, Fern Michaels

Rating - 5 Stars

Readers, if you are like me and have never picked up one of Debbie's novels, I highly recommend this one. True it is not Christian Fiction, but there was nothing in it that would be considered "questionable."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Broken Kind of Beautiful - A Review

Published - April 15, 2014, Waterbrook Press

Author - Katie Ganshert

Title - A Broken Kind of Beautiful

Format - ebook, paper

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Model Ivy Clark is willing to do whatever she can to salvage her career. She's almost twenty-five and the magazines are wanting the younger girls to be their models. When the opportunity arises to return to Greenbriar, SC to be the new face of her stepmother's bridal gown line, Ivy balks at first, but then sees it as a chance to make it the best shoot of her career. She arrives aloof and wanting to hold people at arms length. She doesn't count on her stepmother's gentle love, the enthusiasm of Sara, a childhood acquaintance, or her photographer, Davis Knight. Davis has put his cameras away ever since an accident injured his sister. He is happy and content working at the maintenance man at the church. Yet he can't resist when his aunt asks him to be the photographer for her new advertising campaign. True it puts him in close contact with a woman who longs to remain in the high paced fashion world. But as he gets to know Ivy, he sees her for who she really is. Can he show her that what she's searching for is right there in front of her? And will he be able to surrender his own desires as well?

I was thrilled to pick up this newest book by Katie Ganshert. I'd loved both of her previous ones. This one is a stand alone and not connected to her other books.

Once again, Katie has written a story that not only pulls at the heart strings, but also causes the reader to care. Ivy is broken. She knows her father never wanted her. Her mother pushed her aside. A stepmother loves her, but Ivy has too many walls built around her heart that prevent her from caring about Marilyn. The modeling world has been her life since she was 14. She dived right into the glitz, glamour, drugs, etc that are connected with that world. She doesn't understand what love really is.

 As I read what all Ivy went through, my heart ached for her. I wanted her to realize that she was beautiful. There were a couple of things that ran through my mind as I figured out Ivy. The first was that she reminded me a lot of Jenny in Forrest Gump. The second is the song "More Beautiful You" by Christian Recording Artist Jonny Diaz. Both of those things showed someone longing for something else. The YouTube music video is at the bottom of this post.

There were times when I wanted to shake Davis. He needed to learn that he's forgiven for what happened to his sister and that he didn't need to sacrifice his own calling. But it's a tough road for him. I can understand how he feels.

Overall, this book is about redemption. About finding out how God takes a broken soul and turns it into something beautiful.

I really do think that this is my favorite book of Katie's so far.

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 Karen Kingsbury, women's fiction, Denise Hunter, Becky Wade

Rating - 5 stars

More Beautiful You Video 

Please rank my review.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Vow Unbroken - A Review

Published - Howard Books, March 2014

Author - Caryl McAdoo

Format - ebook, paper

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Summary (from Amazon)
A spunky young widow hires a farmhand with a bad reputation to help her get her cotton to Jefferson to meet the wagon train, and sparks fly—but can she love a man who doesn't love the Lord?

Susannah Abbot Baylor reluctantly hires Henry Buckmeyer to help her along the Jefferson Trace, the hard stretch of land between her Texas farm and the cotton market, where she is determined to get a fair price for her crop. It’s been a rough year, and she’s in danger of losing the land her husband left to her and the children, but she’ll need help getting both of her wagons to Jefferson safely. She knows Henry’s reputation as a layabout and is prepared for his insolence, but she is not expecting his irresistible good looks or his gentle manner. Soon they are entwined in a romantic relationship that only gets more complicated when Susannah learns that Henry doesn't know God the way she does. Dangers arise on the road—but none as difficult as the trial her heart is going through.

Will Susannah and Henry’s love overcome their differences? And will she get her crop safely to the cotton market with enough money to save the farm? In this heartening and adventurous tale, a young woman’s fortitude, faith, and heart are put to the ultimate test.

This is the first book I've ever read by this author. To be perfectly honest, I really failed to connect with the characters. I found the narrative to be long and descriptive, and when I was at 30% finished (I had a Kindle copy), I was feeling that I should have been a lot further along. I ended up skimming the rest of the book to find out what happened, but I wasn't invested in the story. This is one of those books that I could have put down and not returned to.

I liked the premise of the book - a young widow needs to get her cotton crop to the market and enlists the help of a neighbor man. Yet, I really found it to be slow moving. I didn't need to know EVERY little detail on the journey. I really didn't.

I also didn't see what it was about the heroine that made the hero love her. To me, she was a rather flat character. On the other hand, the hero, Henry, was very well developed. I enjoyed the various layers and depths to him. Sure, he was a little rough around the edges, but I did find him to be very kind and caring.

I've recently read an article by one of my favorite authors where she explains seven different things that can stop her from finishing reading a novel.  As I read her article, I really felt that she was describing my feelings regarding this book perfectly! I found myself not caring about the characters,  and I thought it was too slow moving to name a couple of things.

I may give the author another try. But truthfully, I'm not sure.

Still, I know others may enjoy this book, even though I didn't particularly care for it. Please don't just take my opinion on it. There are several really positive reviews on Amazon.

I received a Kindle version of this book for free from Howard Books via NetGalley for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to like the book or give a positive review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of historical fiction, wagon trains

Rating - 2 stars - I really couldn't care about the characters

Thursday, March 27, 2014

First Kisses: An INSPY Kisses Collection - A Review

Published - February 2014, INSPY Kisses LLC

Authors - Linda Goodnight, Janet Tronstad, Debra Clopton, Margaret Daley, Camy Tang, Lacy Williams

Format - ebook

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A collection of 6 inspirational novellas from popular authors: Linda Goodnight, Janet Tronstad, Debra Clopton, Margaret Daley, Camy Tang, and Lacy Williams.

  • The Rambler's Bride - Linda Goodnight - On the Kansas Prairie in the 1870's, widow Esther North is determined to save her farm from her powerful cousin. Jericho North wants revenge on his brother's widow. Yet he soon finds his heart stolen by a baby girl and her mama. Together this unlikely pair join forces to stop Esther's ruthless cousin and find love in the process.
  • Lovebirds at the Heartbreak Cafe - Janet Tronstad - A truck driver with a dream of a family meets waitress Penny who is the guardian of six children. In danger of losing their crop, Penny is determined to provide for the six children in her care. She didn't plan on falling in love or for a trucking community to come to her aid.
  • Her Mule Hollow Cowboy - Debra Clopton - Maddie Rose is determined to prove herself to her partners and herself. She didn't expect to be rescued by handsome bull rider Cliff Masterson. Cliff came to Mule Hollow to be closer to his twin brother, one of Maddie's partners. He dreams of putting down roots. The spunky cowgirl sparks feelings in him that he thought were buried. Can these two overcome the obstacles to a happily ever after?
  • Deadly Hunt - Margaret Daley - Bodyguard Tess Miller is looking forward to her vacation at her uncle's mountain cabin. Her vacation is cut short suddenly when a wounded stranger arrives on her doorstep with a gunshot wound. Shane Burkhart opens his eyes to see a beautiful guardian angel standing over him. Yet inviting Tess into his world puts her life in danger as well. Will the pair survive long enough to figure out how they feel?
  • Necessary Proof - Camy Tang - When Alex Villa became a Christian in prison, he was determined to change his life when he was released. Once released, he becomes an informant for the Sonoma PD regarding drugs and gangs. When he discovers he is being set up in such a way that will ruin his reputation with the police and land him back in jail, he seeks the assistance of computer expert Jane Lawtown. Can she find what is needed on the laptop to prove his innocence before they both are silenced forever?
  • Kissed by a Cowboy - Lacy Williams - Years ago, Maddox Michaels took Haley Carston to her senior prom. When she returns to Redbud Trails to care for her dying aunt, Haley soon finds her path crossing with her high school crush Maddox Michaels as she becomes acquainted with his enterprising niece Olivia. Trying to keep the walls around her heart up, Haley finds herself falling once again for Maddox. For his part, he also tries to keep the walls up. But the more time that he spends in Haley's company, the more that he hopes that they can have something lasting. Will these two get past their walls and see what their future holds?
I really enjoyed each of these novellas. A mix of historical and contemporary (one was set in the 1950's), I found myself wishing for more story in most of the books. I'd love to see a full length novel that revisits the characters in these books. My overall rating will be determined by averaging each of my ratings for the novellas.

Rambler's Bride - I found this one to be a little hard to get into. I thought that overall the characters were well developed. I really liked Jericho. This one just didn't stand out to me. My rating for this novella is 3 stars.

Lovebirds at the Heartbreak Cafe - This was one I struggled to get through. I loved the way the trucking community came to Penny's aid. Yet I found that the characters could have been fleshed out more. Still it was a sweet story. My rating for this novella is 3 stars.

Her Mule Hollow Cowboy - I've come to expect a giggle when I read a Debra Clopton book. This was no exception. I just wanted more story! My rating for this novella is 4 stars.

Deadly Hunt - I really enjoyed the suspense in this novella. I was kept engrossed through the entire story. I did feel that Shane's character could have been a little more developed. But overall, this was one of my favorites in this collection. My rating for this one is 4.5 stars

Necessary Proof - I've never read anything by Camy Tang before and was excited to finally read something of hers. I'm pretty certain I've got others of hers somewhere on my Kindle. Anyway, this one was completely unexpected in the way that it grabbed me in and kept me engrossed. I loved both Jane and Alex. My rating for this one is 5 stars.

Kissed by a Cowboy - This was by far my favorite of the collection! I loved all of the characters and sighed happily at the end. I really loved the enterprising Olivia and the way that she had a dream and ran with it. Her uncle Maddox was sweet. I wanted more of this story as well. My rating for this novella is 5 stars.

Overall rating - 4 stars

Recommended to fans of romance, Love Inspired books

I received this book from Netgalley for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.