Friday, May 31, 2013

Gone South - A Review

Tish McComb learns that the Civil War era ancesteral family home in Alabama is up for sale and jumps at the chance to leave frosty Michigan and start over in the deep South. Yet once she's there, she finds that old sentiments are hard to overcome because of her name. To make matters worse for herself, she takes in the local prodigal Mel. Mel's got quite a few issues and as Tish shows her love and compassion, changes start to happen. Yet with everything going against her, will Tish be able to call the small Alabama town home or will she wish she's back in Michigan?
The cover of this book is what captured my attention when I first saw it on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and some emails. In fact, the cover of this book alone has intrigued a co-worker of mine enough that she asked to borrow it from me! I'd never read anything by Meg Moseley before. And while I read a lot, most of what I read is historical romantic fiction, so I thought "Sure, I'll give a contemporary fiction novel a chance."

Overall, the story itself was good. There were some humorous moments mostly pertaining to the dog that kept escaping. I saw several parallels to some of the parables that Jesus told. The one that I thought was the most noticable was that of the Good Samaratian. Tish is the outsider who shows kindness and compassion to Mel, the native, that the residents of the town refused to help because she was the "bad girl."

I didn't find that I connected to the characters like I'd hoped. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book and it was a pleasant read, but I didn't have the heart connection that I get with some characters. While this story may not be a favorite of mine, I did pick up on the truths that the author tried to get across. From reading several of the reviews, I'm seeing that others did connect with the book, so please don't just take my opinion on the book!
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 contemporary fiction, Marybeth Whalen
Rating - 3.5 stars - which on Amazon will be a 3 star rating.

Please rank my review.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Tutor's Daughter - A Review

Emma Smallwood accompanies her father to Cornwall as a private tutor for a baron's two youngest sons. Yet once they get there, they find  that not only were they not expected, but that the household is in turmoil. Settling in, Emma and her father decide to try to make the best of their year there. Soon after their arrival mysterious things start happening. The piano being played beautifully in the music room yet no one is there. Objects of Emma's going missing only to turn up days or weeks later with a threatening message. Add into all of this the eldest two sons, Henry and Phillip Weston, each with his own secrets. Someone wants the Smallwoods to leave the cliff side manor. Will the secrets of the household come to light before someone gets hurt? And what of the growing attraction between Emma and one of the sons? Will something ever come of it?

It has been a while since I read a Julie Klassen book. I'd forgotten how she weaves mystery and suspense into her Regency tales. I enjoyed this book. I found myself transported to the cliffs of Cornwall and the plights of the characters. I was reminded, as I read, of both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights as well as Jane Austen's books. There was one character I disliked at the beginning of the book, but by the end, I'd fallen for him. The romance played a minor part in the story. The main part of the story was getting to the truth of happenings at the manor.

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

Recommended to fans of Downtown Abbey, Jane Austen, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Regency Romance, Laura Frantz

Rating - 4 stars

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Once Upon A Prince - A Review

Susanna Truitt never dreamed that her high school sweetheart turned Marine hero and love for the past twelve years would break up with her instead of proposing. Yet that's what he does. As she scrambles to put her life back together, she strikes up a friendship with a man she knows only as Nate. Prince Nathaniel of Brighton came to the small Georgia island community of St. Simmons for a vacation and well needed rest. He never expected the woman whose tire he changed to steal his heart. A beautiful friendship develops between the two. But there are so many obstacles of their being together - the first of which is that Brighton law forbids the marriage between a royal in line for the throne and a foreigner. But as both Nathaniel and Susanna learn, God is bigger than oceans and countries. Does His plan include a royal wedding?

I love fairy tales. And happy endings. This book is a modern day fairy tale that once I finished it, I just sighed happily. I'd first discovered Rachel Hauck's books in January of this year with The Wedding Dress. After reading and loving that  book, I knew I had to read Once Upon A Prince. There is so much of this book that reminds me of Lori Wick's The Princess. I loved both Nate and Susanna. I also loved the way that Susanna's homeless, tent-living friend, Aurora would speak God's truth directly to her. Yet Susanna was reluctant to believe and listen. I loved how both Susanna and Nate were willing to sacrifice for the other's well being, or for the sake of the Kingdom of Brighton. Sure, it's a little predictable, but that was fine with me.

This is a perfect read for a lazy summer day at the beach or under a shade tree with a tall glass of lemonade.

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

Recommended to fans of happy endings, fairy tales, Lori Wick, Becky Wade, summer reads, and feel good stories.

Rating - 5 stars - I loved it and it made my inner princess happy.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Stealing the Preacher - A Review

Crockett Archer is on his way to interview for a pastor position in Brenham when he is kidnapped from the train and taken to a ranch in the middle of no where to be a birthday present for the outlaw's daughter. Joanna Robbins has been praying for a preacher to come and bring new life into the small country church near her father's ranch in the hopes that maybe her outlaw father will finally answer God's call on his life. She certainly didn't expect her prayers to be answered by a handsome preacher who isn't too happy to be there. Yet as Crockett seeks what it is that God would have for him, he and Joanna both unite to pray for her father and the other members of the small congregation. But will they listen to the call of their own hearts as well?

I've discovered since I read my first Karen Witemeyer book A Tailor Made Bride two years ago, that any of Karen's books will have that same feel-good, happy feeling I get when I read a Lori Wick book. Last year's Short Straw Bride quickly became my favorite one of Karen's but Stealing the Preacher is right up there with it. I loved Crockett when I met him in Short Straw Bride and to see his character grow and become more in depth was a delight. I found myself laughing and rooting for all of the characters - not just the romance between Crockett and Joanna. I loved the brother-sister style relationship between Joanna and the young neighbor boy Jackson. I also loved how genuine Crockett was with his faith. He lived his faith out loud. It was such an integral part of him that when he spent time around Joanna's father, he wasn't pushy or anything like that. He was real and Silas respected that.

I could go on an on about this book. But I won't. One of my status updates on goodreads had me saying how Crockett has now moved onto my favorite heroes list. I will say, and to borrow the phrases from Mary Kay National Sales Director Lisa Allison, on June 1, run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore, online website, or wherever you need to go to buy a copy of this book. It is highly recommended!

I received this book for free from the author to help with the promotion of it. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommend to fans of Karen Witemeyer, Julie Lessman, Becky Wade, Amanda Cabot, Lori Wick, Janelle Mowery, Regina Jennings, Mary Connealy, historical fiction

Rating - 5 stars - I absolutely loved it!

Visit Karen's website.

She's also on Facebook.

To help spread the word of her new book, I will be giving away a copy of it! But not yet. Check back around June 15th for the giveaway!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

When Love Calls - A Review

Hannah Gregory's life changes drastically when her parents die. She drops out of law school and goes to work full time in order to provide for her sisters. When handsome young lawyer, Lincoln Cole, delivers devastating news about a foreclosure on the farm, Hannah vows to make sure that her sisters never want for anything and to have nothing to do with Lincoln. For a rule breaker like Hannah, when she gets a job as a telephone operator - where strict adherence to the rules is mandatory - her sisters are shocked. And as much as Hannah wants to have nothing to do with Lincoln Cole, he keeps showing up, determined to show her that he's not the enemy. Will Hannah learn to trust and let go of being in control?

This the first book I've ever read by Seilstad and I found it to be delightful. It was humorous at times, yet the characters felt real to me. One of my favorite scenes was when Hannah the rule breaker pulls Lincoln into a pond. I laughed so hard at that scene. I found that the struggle Hannah went through to accept help and rely on others to be a very struggle. I know it's something that I've had to learn to accept as well at times in my life. I also loved how the one instance in which Hannah maybe should have said something, she didn't because she wasn't sure and she didn't want to falsely accuse someone.

I found this book to be a light-heart fast read. It took me only a couple of days to read it as I was reading it mostly in the evenings. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a light read.

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

Recommended to fans of Karen Witemeyer, Jody Hedlund, DeeAnn Gist, historical fiction fans

Rating - 4 stars - though it's really more of a solid 4.5 stars.

Available May 2013 at your local bookstore from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I'm still tweaking things on the blog signature. The one below is take 2. I changed the color of the font a little. I'd really appreciate your feedback regarding the way it looks.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Trying something different and new

Ok, so I'm experimenting at the moment.

I want to make a signature appear in each of my blog posts. And while I've googled some things, until I actually sit down and read them I'm experimenting with a picture.

I found a picture of a butterfly on a purple flower from the MANY pictures on my computer of when I was in Seattle. This one actually came from the roll of zoo pictures.

And since my blog has purple and butterflies on it, I decided to try it.

Anyway, I'm trying it. At least for now, it'll be inserted into each blog post as I write it until I can figure out how to get to go in automatically. Your thoughts are welcome on if the font on the picture is easy to read, should I change the color, etc.

Heiress of Winterwood - A Review

Amelia Barrett promised her dying friend that she'd raise her newborn daughter as as her own child. With the child safely in her care, Amelia takes on a new role as mother and care-taker/guardian to the baby especially since the child's father is away at sea. When he returns, Captain Graham Sterling learns that his daughter is being raised and cared for by Amelia. When the two first meet, Amelia proposes a way that the Captain can have the best of both worlds, that is someone to care for the baby and still have his life at sea. And that way is that she and the Captain marry. For her, her motives are selfish. She would get out of an engagement where her fiancee doesn't want the baby on the property and she gets to keep Lucy. The Captain would benefit as well by becoming the Master of Winterwood, the family home that Amelia will inherit upon her marriage. Agreeing the her proposal, Graham doesn't realize that the consequences will be dire for them until Lucy is kidnapped and both Graham and Amelia must learn to trust each other and let go of whatever pride and self-reliance that they have and learn to trust that God has everything in control and will see Lucy delivered back to them.

I'd been seeing this book everywhere and being recommended by other bloggers as well as authors whose opinion I trust. I missed the opportunity to request it via Booksneeze, but was able to obtain a copy from NetGalley.

I fell in love with the cover of the book when I first saw it in a Booksneeze newsletter as an upcoming book to review. I typically don't love reading the Regency period, though I seem to read a lot of it. This book captured my attention immediately and didn't let me go. There were several nights over the past few days that I'd be up until the early hours, knowing I had to be at work the next day, because I wanted to know what was going to happen next! As far as I know, this is Sarah Ladd's debut book. But you couldn't tell it by reading it! There is enough mystery surrounding the outcome of Amelia's decisions that kept me wanting to know more. And Graham reminded me of a classic tragic hero in that he had made mistakes and was determined to overcome them and move on. I am looking forward to reading more by this author.

I received the Kindle version of the book from Thomas Nelson via NetGalley for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Jane Austen, Downtown Abbey, Julie Klassen, Lisa Tawn Bergren, Regency Romance

Rating - 4 stars

Share your thoughts with me in the comment section. Did you like it, love it, hate it, or just want to tell me Hi? I love to hear from my readers and will respond to comments as I am able.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Couponing for the Rest of Us - A Review

About the book (from Amazon):
Not everyone is an extreme couponer. Most of us just want to save some money--not let clipping coupons and scouring the internet for deals take over our lives. For all the savvy shoppers out there, Kasey Knight Trenum has written Couponing for the Rest of Us.

She knows that money is tight, food prices are going up, gas prices are closing in on unbearable, and people have better things to do than spend every spare minute (if they have any) obsessing over costs and coupons. She also knows coupons just happen to be a tool that can save a family hundreds of dollars every month and ultimately improve a family's finances and its future.

Couponing for the Rest of Us shows readers

•where to find coupons for what your family eats
•how to make the internet do the work for you
•how to find sale cycles and store match-ups (and what those terms mean!)
•how to reinvent your shopping strategy and toss your lists
•how to make grocery shopping less stressful--even fun!
•how to turn money saved into money shared
•and much more

If readers want to save money and time, this book is a gold mine.

My thoughts:
I love to save money. I'm not a true bargain shopper in the way that my aunt can find the 90% off racks at the major department stores and have a coupon to go with it. I'm not one of those grocery shoppers who hunt through the sale ads for the stores and will show up at the store with all of the sale ads for price matching. I'm just not. I've tried to be, but it's not me. I've used coupons in the past and even still use them. But I don't have any sort of system, and I certainly don't pay attention to the sales! But I want to be able to save money on my weekly grocery bill.

So I picked up this book. Let me say that I love the easy to read way that the book is written. It feels that I'm sitting down with the author and having a conversation with her. I've learned that even using one or two coupons is money that you've saved and is in your pocket and not the store's cash register. One of the things that really stood out to me while reading this book was that she talked of the 12 week sale cycles that the stores have. I never knew that before. Or at least I never paid attention to them. So after reading that, I started to think of the items I buy on a weekly basis (milk, slim fast, frozen foods, etc) and the items that I buy at least once a month - though most are twice a month - (cat food, kleenex, kitty litter, toothpaste, etc). I'm going to try one of the things that she suggests and that's to track the price of an item for the twelve week cycle. I just bought a bag of cat food, so it wasn't on sale and I didn't have a coupon for it. It cost me $3.48 for it. So over the next 12 weeks while I figure out how much food my cat eats in a month, I'm going to watch the price of her brand of cat food and see if I can figure out when in the 12 week period it goes on sale. So that when it does, I'll pick up more than just the one bag and slowly begin to stock pile and reduce my weekly grocery bill.

There are TONS of useful tips in the book. And there's even an appendix that has "coupon" lingo in it so that I could understand the difference between a store sale and a manufacturer's coupon and all the parts of a coupon. The author even has a website that has taken all of the guesswork out of the way for you and has done all of the leg work telling of the best deals and there's a database with coupons that can be printed out. I've not spent a lot of time browsing there, but I've bookmarked it. Her website is Time2SaveWorkshops . I highly recommend checking it out.

I received this book for free from the publisher, Revell Books, for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

 Recommended to people who want to save money, bargain shoppers, Dave Ramsey fans, those on a budget, couponers, moms, and busy people.

Available May 2013 at your local bookstore from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Rating - 4.5 stars (only because I'm still reading it!), so for Amazon purposes, it'll be 4 stars.

Share your thoughts with me in the comment section. Did you like it, love it, hate it, or just want to tell me Hi? I love to hear from my readers and will respond to comments as I am able.

Swept Away - A Review

Luke Stone has returned to Texas after the Civil War to reclaim his family's ranch that was stolen from his father. When he finds a woman unconscious in a nearby river, he can't help but to stop and help her. Ruthy McNeil became separated from her wagon train at a river crossing and isn't too upset to be on her own. As Luke draws Ruthy into his quest for justice, she starts to fall for the handsome cowboy. Together with Luke's friends, the pair must figure out a way to reclaim his ranch. But will the cost be too high?

This book is connected, slightly, to the Kincaid Brides series. The main character is the brother of Callie Kincaid. This book stands on its own and the Kincaid Brides series does not have to be read to fully enjoy this one. While it is full of action and some humorous moments, I found I didn't connect to the main characters of Ruthy and Luke like I did with some of the author's previous couples. I absolutely loved Luke's Regulator friends. I think my favorite was Dare Riker, and I look forward to reading his story soon.

It's not my favorite of Mary Connealy's books, but it was still good. Fans of hers will enjoy this quick read.

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

Recommended to fans of Mary Connealy, Karen Witemeyer, cowboy romances

Rating - 4 stars

Share your thoughts with me in the comment section. Did you like it, love it, hate it, or just want to tell me Hi? I love to hear from my readers and will respond to comments as I am able.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Flight of the Earls - A Review

With her family's farm about to fail due to the potato famine, Clare Hanely, her brother Seamus, and a friend set sail for New York. The trip across the ocean is perilous and Clare hopes things will be better in America. Once there, the three soon find that work is hard to find and they are just as poor as they were in Ireland. When they find an unexpected benefactor in the form of a ghost from Clare's past, their fortunes appear to have changed. But even this unexpected benefactor is keeping secrets. Secrets that if found out can be very dangerous for Clare and her companions. Will danger cause them to be separated again?

This is the first book I've ever read by this author. I'm a sucker for pretty much anything Irish. I'll admit that this book took me a while to get into. It started off slow, and it felt that it took them forever to cross the Atlantic and get to New York. Most of the chapters were very descriptive, though short. I did find myself frequently skimming more than reading at points. But I will also say that I loved Clare. I didn't think I'd like her at first, but as the book went on and she went through such hardships, she grew on me to the point that I loved her.

The book was very researched and I felt that I could experience the potato famine with the farmers or the harshness of New York with the immigrants. I don't think I've ever read something that dealt with the potato famine, and while I have a basic understanding of the history, particularly as it relates to immigrants, I've never actually read about how widespread the famine was and the devastation that it caused.

I am looking forward to reading the second book in this series.

I received the Kindle version of this book from B & H Publishers via NetGalley for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Irish history, Cathy Gohlhe, historical fiction, Laura Frantz,

Rating - 4 stars

Share your thoughts with me in the comment section. Did you like it, love it, hate it, or just want to tell me Hi? I love to hear from my readers and will respond to comments as I am able.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Bending Toward the Sun - A Review

Emilie Heinrich works with her father at the general store and she's attending classes at the girls college, Lindwood. She still finds time to join the Thursday quilting group out at the Brandenburg farm. She's happy for her friend Maren with her upcoming wedding, but Emilie has to wonder if there is love in her future. Quaid McFarland has returned to St. Charles after the Civil War and is helping in his family's freighting business. When the two meet again after so many years, the attraction is mutual. Yet there is one problem that neither forsaw - that of Emilie's father. Will they be obedient to her father's wishes or go behind his back to be together?

This is the second novella in the Quilted Hearts series. It picks up soon after the end of the first. It's easy to read and understand without having read the first. It was nice to reunite with the characters from the first novella. What I loved about this book was the fact that both Emilie and Quaid respected Emilie's father enough to honor his wishes even though it may have cost them a chance to be together. When one of the friends in thequilting circle finally receives word of her husband's fate, my heart broke for the poor girl. This is a very quick read. I think that I read it in about 2 hours. While there is not the depth of character development in this novella as there is in some of the author's full length novels, the characters are well developed for the length of the story.

Since I understand that a novella is a short story for all practical purposes, and this novella, along with the first and the third, are written to bridge a gap between the author's new book due out in August, I'm ok with the fact that these are short, quick reads. Would I have liked each one to be a full length novel? Yes. But as I'm getting an entire story told in three pieces, it's a pleasure to read it.

I received the Kindle version of the 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 novellas, historical fiction, Tracie Peterson, Colleen Coble

Rating - 4 stars.
Please rank my review.

Share your thoughts with me in the comment section. Did you like it, love it, hate it, or just want to tell me Hi? I love to hear from my readers and will respond to comments as I am able.