Sunday, May 27, 2012

Short Straw Bride - A Review

When Meredith Hayes ventures onto the forbidden Archer land to warn the Archer brothers of a threat, she had no idea that her life was about to change forever. Her message safely delivered, she becomes injured and her reputation in tatters. The four Archer brothers, Travis, Crockett, Jim, and Neill, have lived alone on the ranch since their father died. They don't leave the land. To save Meredith's reputation, one of them must agree to marry her. But which one? Straws are drawn and Travis ends up being the one to hold the short straw. When danger threatens the safety of all on the ranch, the brothers respond, yet will Meredith and Travis find a happy ending of their own?

Having discovered Karen Witemeyer's books last summer, I quickly read threough them. Needless to say I was thrilled when I learned that she had a new book coming out this summer. I'm a little impatient and didn't want to wait to be offered to review this book for the publisher, so I saw it at Lifeway yesterday and picked it up.

I loved the book. I loved how Travis's biggest fear is trusting in God to care for and protect his family. Something he should have been doing for years instead of shouldering the burden on his own. Crockett is a very loveable brother and I didn't want to have the story end as I wanted to know more about Travis's brothers.

I recommend this book to fans of humorous romance,  Mary Connealy fans, and anyone who likes a bit of spunk in their characters.

Rating - 5 stars

 The following is not part of my review on Amazon or Goodreads.

I read a blog post by the author the other day that told me a little bit of the background into this book. She based the book, in part, on the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. If I hadn't already known I was going to read the book, that clinched it for me. That musical is one of my all time favorites and ranks up there with Oklahoma!, Sound of Music, and Newsies. Here is a link to the full blog post. The contest giveaway she had on it is over now, but the post is still worth reading.

Thanks Karen for a wonderful book and I look forward to reading more of yours.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Too Many Thoughts in My Head

My head is full of thoughts today. More like questions really. Most of these questions have to do with writing and publishing so bear with me.

I have a story idea that will be based on what I know of how my grandparents got together. Since it's based on real people, do I sta as accurate as possible and use the real names of my grandparents, their siblings, and their parents? Or do I change the names to become fictional characters? I've got the title already figured out, The Sailor's Sweetheart.

I think that the story/book would be a good fit for the Love Inspired Historical Line, once I get it written that is. It's set around the time of WWII. But how do I make it "religious" when I don't know exactly how religious my grandparents were? I mean I know that they were Catholic, and I'm a born again believer. I know that I can't flat give the plan of Salvation when I'm not sure how "religious" they were.

I can already promise that my writing won't have anything in it that would make me ashamed or would give the wrong impression of the Christian I am. So nothing that will break my own moral code. It'll be clean.

I've got other stories in my head too, and I wonder how can authors keep characters, plots, etc straight for the stories they write or work on. If something is historical, how much research is needed into the time period? How would I submit a manuscript for consideration of being published? I'm one who would want a publishing house to publish it as opposed to self publishing and submitting it onto Amazon as say an e-book.

I follow a couple of really wonderful blogs that have helped me in some of my writing adventure. Seekerville is a blog that is written by several published authors. They always share tips and tell about contests and things too. Jody Hedlund, author of the Preacher's Bride & the Doctor's Lady, is another one I follow and have gained some insightful information.

So my head's full of questions and I have no answers.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Giveaway Winner

And the winner of the the book Love at Last Sight and a special Mary Kay item from my basket is....


Congratulations girl! I'll get everything sent out to you by next weekend.

Used to determine the winner.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Prize of My Heart - A Review

Captain Brogan Talvis has been searching for his son for the past three years. When he has a ship commissioned, he not only gains a beautiful ship, but finds his son under the loving care of the ship builder's daughter, Lorena Huntley. Lorena is determined to be a mother to the child that her took in three years before. She holds a dark secret regarding the child. As she spends time with the dashing captain, she finds herself falling in love with him. Yet when she's taken against her will on a ship sailing for England, Brogan must decide which is more important - the son he has just found or rescuing the woman he's come to love.

This is the first book I've read by Lisa Norato. I feel like I've gotten a lesson in sailing thanks to this book. Themes of love and forgiveness run rampant through the course of the book. I enjoyed reading it. I found the characters easy to relate to and the story moved rapidly. It wasn't my favorite book by any means, but it was still an enjoyable read.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating - 4 stars

Angel Eyes - A Review

Brielle Matthews returns to her hometown after a tragedy at her elite dance school. She's grieving and can't seem to shake the terrible cold that surrounds her. Jake's the new boy at school. He has a gift in his hands. A gift that forces of darkness would love to have doing their bidding. Yet there's something more that draws them together. Evil is gathering and two angels watch, unsure of the outcome. And Brielle must make a choice to join in a battle in a realm that only angels, demons, and Brielle can see.

Debut author Shannon Dittmore has brought to life the angels, demons, and the evil in the world in which we live. I found myself drawn into the story and very eager to find out what will happen. Seeing how exactly fear can feed the evil, and then the angels intervening at a last moment, made me think of other books where good vs evil is the major theme. I loved Jake. He's so patient with Brielle and in answering her questions. And Brielle struggles with the question that so many of us have struggled with - If God exists, then why did he allow such and such, a good person, to die? I know there have been times that I've struggled with that question myself. Eagerly awaiting book 2.

I recommend this young adult book to any parent who wants an alternative to Twilight.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson's booksneeze program in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating - 5 stars

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Giveaway

Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms. Today, I'm taking my mom to see the movie Avengers and then I'm making her dinner. I also got her the movie Tangled. Last year I got her flowers. This year, a movie and dinner. It'll be fun.

Here's a picture of my mom and me at my college roommate's wedding.

Now on to the giveaway.

Today, I'm giving away a copy of the book Love at Last Sight by Kerry & Chris Shook. I accidentally received this book from the publisher and they told me I can read it, review it, give it away, or whatever I wanted with it.

Here's the description of this nonfiction book.
Everything you’ve been taught about relationships is wrong.

The movies and TV make it look easy. Matchmaking Web sites have it down to a science. Two people connect—love at first sight—and the relationship is magical from then on. But the truth is, strong, deep relationships that last a lifetime aren’t based on the mysterious chemistry of two personalities. Real love in relationships—friends, married couples, siblings, parents—isn’t a magic act. It’s a journey. A great relationship grows from an investment of time and effort.

Kerry and Chris Shook know that deep relationships aren’t built on initial attractions, but on
last things—the experience you shared the last time you were with someone . . . the words you spoke with her last week . . . the effort you made for him the last time you were together. And Love at Last Sight offers a one-month relationship plan that will improve your most important bonds, including a weekly focus and daily readings that guide you through the process. By learning to be  present in the moment, acting intentionally, risking awkwardness, and learning to let go, you’ll discover wisdom from the Bible that contradicts what popular culture would have you believe.

Meaningful relationships depend on seeing other people as they are, so that the last time your eyes meet on this earth, your relationship will be closer and deeper than ever before.
Love at Last Sight is the last book you’ll need to get your dearest relationships right.

Another life-changing book from Kerry and Chris Shook
Authors of the best-selling One Month to Live

Your closest relationships will naturally drift apart over time.   And chances are, right now, one or more of your most important relationships is less than what you wish it could be.

Now you can change everything and take steps to reconnect with the people who really matter—and we don’t mean by connecting on Facebook! This thirty-day program guides you step-by-step to deeper, more satisfying relationships by developing four forgotten but powerful relational arts for  changing, improving, and repairing the relationships you care about most:

            Week 1 – The Art of Being All There
            Week 2 – The Art of Acting Intentionally
            Week 3 – The Art of Risking Awkwardness
            Week 4 – The Art of Letting Go

Learn the secrets that will lead you to healthy relationships with the most important people in your life—starting today!

Also, I'm going to enclose one of my Mary Kay goodies from a basket of products I have set aside for giveaways. Can't tell you what it is, but it'll be awesome!

To enter - leave a comment telling me about a memorable Mother's Day you either had or you gave your mom. To gain a second entry, leave a comment telling me you follow the blog (email, networked blog, Google Friend Connect, etc). Please leave your email address in your comment so I can email the winner. I'll randomally draw a winner next Sunday morning.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wildflowers From Winter - A Review

Bethany Quinn left her small hometown years ago and has never looked back. When she receives a call from her estranged mother, it draws her back to the small town. Once there, Bethany faces a series of tragedies that force her to remain in town longer than she intended. A unexpected inheritance of farmland puts her at odds with Evan Price, the man who has worked her family's farm for years. Bethany's stubborn disbelief that there is a God who cares threatens to crumble as she spends time around Evan's gentle Christianity. Will the demons of her past drive her away from a God who truly loves and cares for her, or will she be broken and finally set free?

This is an incredible book. I'll admit that it started off rather slow and had me leery of actually enjoying it. But as the pain of Bethany's past is revealed and her hurts come to light, I found myself drawn in further and further into her journey. Grief is something that everyone knows well, and it affects each person differently. The three main characters - Bethany, Evan, and Bethany's friend who is also Evan's sister-in-law Robin - all have different ways of dealing with the grief that affects them. Bethany runs away. Robin secludes herself. And Evan buries himself in work. But the truth that there is life helps each of them through that dark tunnel. I loved the fact that Bethany struggles with some issues that Christians today don't know how to answer. The people who should have helped her have shunned her. Yet it's Evan who relays words of her grandfather that actually find a way to pierce the armor she's surrounded her heart in. That and a tiny baby.

I highly recommend this book. Katie Ganshert is a new author and I look forward to reading more of her work. For a debut novel, this one rocks!

I received this book for free from the publisher, Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program. I was not required to like the book only to give my honest opinion of it. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating - 5 stars.

Please rank my review.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Beckon - A Review

From the back cover:
Some things weren't meant to be discovered. Three people are each drawn to the small town of Beckon, Wyoming.  A young anthropologist researches a Native American legend and makes a terrifying discovery. An ex-cop investigating her cousin’s disappearance finds herself in grave peril. And an aging businessman is lured by the promise of a miracle. One by one they discover the town’s ghastly secret. The only question is . . . will any of them make it out alive?

My Thoughts:
I don't usually read thrillers. To be honest, this book didn't draw me into it immediately. But as I read, I was quickly engrossed in it. Jack, Elina, and George all find their way to Beckon in search of answers. What they find is a horror that none of them could have imagined. As the story unfolds, I was able to put the different pieces together and found myself hoping that these three would figure out a way to survive. Some elements of the book reminded me of Frank Peretti's The Oath, a book that I first read in college and one that gave me nightmares. Because this book was a thriller and I know my tendency to dwell on things, I had to kep my reading of it limited to my lunch breaks at work. That would give me plenty of time to allow other things to filter into my mind and I wouldn't dwell on the book. Other elements reminded me of one of the Stargate Atlantis episodes that involved the Wraith enzyme and the retro-virus. I will say that this book actually makes you look at your own life and to see the sin that clutters it.

I would recommend this book to the thrill seeker, Frank Peretti fan, people who enjoy thrillers, or someone who wants to read a griping novel. I received this book for free from Tyndale House for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating - 4 stars


Tyndale website - Tyndale House Publishers 
First Chapter - Beckon First Chapter 
Author Website - Tom Pawlik 
Author's Facebook Page - Tom Pawlik Facebook Page

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Springtime of the Spirit - A Review

After the end of the Great War, Christophe Brecht returns to his home in Braedon, Germany in hopes of peace. What he finds there is that the home that he longed for no longer exists. When family friends ask him to travel to Munich to look for their daughter, Annaliese Duray, he agrees. Arriving in Munich, he finds the city in the midst of a political upheaval and Annaliese in the thick of it all. She's not the girl he remembers. He's not the man that she once had a crush on. The years of the war have changed them both. But as the situation in Munich grows more and more violate, they each find themselves drawn to the other. Will love prevail or will these two let the politics drive them apart?

This is the third book in the Great War Series, and thankfully I didn't need to read the others to make sense of this one. This is also the first book I've read of Maureen Lang's. While the book did start off slow, as the story moved along, I found myself drawn into it. I don't think I've ever read a book that was set in Germany after WWI. To see the political upheaval following the war brought to light, made me wish I knew my history a bit better. Christophe is a very strong character and I love the way that though the War changed him, he held fast to his faith and didn't let circumstances take that from him. Annaliese's character is one that shows just how frequently we as humans can question why bad things happen to good people. She grows a lot in the course of the book, and is even able to figure out what she exactly believes.

Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this book. Especially people who want to read a book set in a setting that most authors don't write about.

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

He Chose the Nails - A Review

An invitation to linger on Calvary. A look at the pieces that make up the Crucifixion. A chance to understand why. The answer may not be the one we want to hear, but it's the one we need and that's that He did it just for me and for you.

From the back of the book:

Linger on the hill of Calvary.
Rub a finger on the timber and press the nail into your hand.
Taste the tinge of cheap wine and feel the scrape of a thorn on your brow.
Touch the velvet dirt, moist with the blood of God.
Allow the tools of torture to tell their story.
Listen as they tell you what God did to win your heart.

I've read several of Max Lucado's books in the past. For a person who reads primarily fiction, I really enjoy reading his nonfiction books. For the most part, I find his easy, almost story telling type, writing very interesting and I usually learn something too. This book was no different. I've never taken the time to fully understand the pieces of the Cross. The nails, the crown, the sign, etc. I gained a new appreciation for each little piece. And it reminds that once again, I don't deserve Christ's sacrifice. I deserve the death He suffered. But instead, I'm set free and that's grace.

Once again, I was drawn into the author's easy way with words. I did enjoy this book. I look forward to sharing it with others. I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson as part of the booksneeze program for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating - 4 stars