Monday, September 30, 2013

Love's Awakening - A Review

Ellie Ballantyne comes home suddenly to find her parents on a trip and her siblings busy with other things. To keep herself from being bored, Ellie decides to start tutoring the young ladies of Pittsburg in the social graces. When one of her students is discovered to be a Turlock, tension already high between the two families escalates even higher. As Ellie finds herself drawn more and more to the secrets her family is hiding and to one of the Turlock men, Jack, she soon finds herself torn in two directions. What price will she pay for falling in love with the enemy?

When I read the first book in this series last year, Love's Reckoning, I was amazed at how beautifully written and engrossing it was. I had high hopes for this book. I was not disappointed. It was just as beautiful and emotionally gripping as the first. I loved how Jack wanted to be his own man and not live under the stigma of his family's misdeeds. I didn't like Ellie at first. I thought that she was, for lack of a better word, a wimp. But as her story progressed and I began to see the layers to her character, she grew on me.

I really loved this book. I highly recommend it.

I received a copy for free to review from Revell Books. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of JoAnne Bischof, Laura Frantz, drama, Julie Lessman

Rating - 5 stars - well deserving for a beautiful story

Available September 2014 at your local bookstore from Revell Books, a divisihon of Baker Publishing Group.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

There Needs to be Half Ratings

I read a lot. Obviously. There needs to be a way to rate books on Amazon, Goodreads, etc for the half star ratings.

I say this because if I find a book better than a 4 star rating, but not deserving of a 5, I rate it 4.5 stars. Do I round up or round down? Rules of mathematics dictate that I round up. But should I really?

There is a big difference between a 3 star book and a 4 star book. A 3.5 star book shouldn't necessarily be classified as a 4 star, but it doesn't necessarily deserve the 3 star rating either.

Do I need to change my criteria in rating a book? True 95% of what I will read will be a 4 star book. I recently finished one book, Rules of Murder, that is actually a 4.5 star rating. I've not posted the review here on my blog, Amazon, or Goodreads yet, because of my dilemma of trying to decide to round down to 4 stars or up to 5.

A recent one I read, The Invention of Sarah Cummings, while it's a solid 3.5 star rating, I didn't have a problem rounding down to 3 stars for it because of how the main character annoyed me to no end.

I find myself more and more frequently rounding DOWN to establish the difference between what I consider a 5 star rating and a 4 star rating. Or the difference between a 3 star and 4 star rating.

There have been a couple I've finished on Goodreads in the past week or so, that while good, aren't truly spectacular. And one of them was even by one of my all time favorite authors!

I really wish that Amazon & Goodreads would institute half ratings. My world would be much happier.

So I ask you, my reader friends, how do you solve this dilemma I find myself in?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Stranded - A Review

Darcy St. James didn't expect to return to Alaska so soon. When she answers a plea for help from a reporter friend of hers, Darcy thinks that she'll enjoy an Alaskan cruise while helping to figure out what has Abby scared. She didn't expect Abby to go missing. She also didn't expect that her cover would cause her to work closely with the McKennas, especially Gage. Gage McKenna is pleased to have the family company, Last Frontier Adventures, being the sole excursion provider for the Bering cruise ship. He's also joining the crew as the on-ship liaison. The last person he expects to see is Darcy St. James. She walked into his heart last winter, and he's been trying to forget her. So when he finds her up to her ears in an investigation, he thinks he's been right all along and she's more concerned with her career than those around her. He couldn't be more wrong. But with danger lurking around every corner and timing running out on both the cruise and the investigation, the pair join forces to get to the bottom of things. But will either heart be able to recover?

I've loved the McKenna family since the first book. I actually think that this one is my favorite one of the series so far. Filled with romance and adventure as well as faith, I was engrossed from the first page. I read this book entirely in one setting because I didn't want to put it down. There are so many things I loved about this book. Gage is a wounded soul and it shows. Yet he's also a strong character. He's loyal to his family and to those who have managed to get into his heart. I also loved the fact that Jake and Kayden had a larger role in this book than they've had in the past. And finding out more about Jake's past is a bonus!

Like the other heroes in this series, Gage is featured at the Fiction Hero Features as a hero of the month. I invite my readers to head over there and read the exclusive tidbits about Gage.

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

My mother is the next one inline to read my copy of this book, so as soon as I remember to, I'll take it over to her.

Recommended to fans of Dee Henderson, Irene Hannon, O'Malley series

Rating - 5 stars

Check out Dani's website for exclusive extras. Dani's Website

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dangerous Passage - A Review

Detective Avery North has a lot on her plate. She's a single mom raising a preteen daughter, she's trying to find a murderer of a Jane Doe, she's trying to solve her brother's murder as well, and she's pursuing a relationship with handsome Medical Examiner Jackson Bryant. Avery doesn't have time for cases that aren't simple. Especially when a second Jane Doe is murdered in a similar fashion to the first. The leads are suddenly going no where, and danger is escalating. Will she and her team be next?

I've never read anything that Lisa Harris has written. I'll be honest. This book took me a long time to get into. In some ways, it was very similar to other romantic suspense books I've read. It was also similar to some of the TV shows I've enjoyed (CSI, NCIS, NCIS LA to name a few). But I had a hard time really connecting to the main character. I would like to read other books in the series and see how she develops. I'd also like to see how the author develops as a writer. The overall mystery was a bit choppy and the clues didn't come together very easily. The last several pages, it really ended rather abruptly. Would I read others in this series and by this author? Yes. I do want to see how this author develops.

I received this book for free from Revell Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to write a positive review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

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

Rating - 3.5 stars, which will be 3 stars on Amazon.

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

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Invention of Sarah Cummings - A Review

Sarah Cummings is a parlor maid in the household of the wealthy Bannings on Prairie Avenue. She longs to better herself and break out of service and into the wealthy society. She's become quite talented at remaking the discarded gowns of her employer into something new and fashionable.When she's out window shopping one afternoon on her day off, a young woman of means assumes that Sarah is also wealthy. On the spur of the moment, Sarah invents a new identity for herself, Serena Cuthbert. So begins her double life. As Serena, Sarah is able to go and do things that a domestic servant could not. Yet, all the lies she's told are bound to catch up with her. What will she do when the girl she's befriended insists on attending the sewing class that Sarah has been teaching at the orphanage she once lived at? And when two men, one of wealth and privilege the other a simple orphanage director, both start to show an interest in her, who will Sarah choose? Will she follow her heart or her dreams?

This is the third and final book in Olivia Newport's Avenue of Dreams series. This series follows three young women who want something bigger for themselves - Lucy Banning - a college education in a time where women were not encouraged to seek higher learning, Charlotte Farrow - a chance to raise her son without his father finding him, and Sarah Cummings - the dream of a better life outside of servitude. It is highly recommended to read the series in order, though it is not completely necessary. This book brings back both Lucy and Charlotte, though neither plays a large role in the story.

I have to say that Sarah annoyed me from the moment that I met her in the Pursuit of Lucy Banning. I'd hoped that by this story, I'd have grown to like Sarah more. Sadly, for me, that was not the case. I struggled to find redeeming qualities in her for the majority of the book. I didn't like the choices she was making and the fact that she had no qualms at all about deceiving her friend and other people really bugged me. I found her to be very selfish. It wasn't until well over halfway into the book, that Sarah seemed to develop a conscience. And that was in part due to the orphans she was working with.

Redeeming qualities of this book for me were the rich historical detail. I loved that. I also loved Simon. I thought he was very good to see in Sarah something she didn't see in herself. I also loved Jane and Lillie (Sarah's friend). I found those characters to be very real and in some instances very forgiving. I also loved reconnecting with the characters from the first two books.

Overall, the book was intriguing and very rich in history. The fact that Sarah herself became more likable towards the end of the story definitely caused my rating to increase.

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

Recommended to fans of the Gilded Age, historical fiction, Olivia Newport, Laura Frantz, Lisa Tawn Bergren, Elizabeth Camden

Rating - 3.5 stars, which will be 3 stars on Amazon.

Available in September 2013 from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Two Nonfiction Books - A Review

For those of you who know me, even for about 5 minutes, know that I DON'T read non fiction. Unless the topic has piqued my interest. When I received an email from Worthy Publishing asking to take part in a duo book blog tour, my first inclination was to decline, because the books are non fiction. But then I read the descriptions and one of the two piqued my interest, so I said yes to the tour. I ended up being pleasantly surprised by the one that I wasn't expecting to like.

The Power of An Ordinary Prayer by Michael W. Smith
 In a short gift book format, multiple Grammy and Dove Award winning writer/singer Michael W. Smith, shares his heart of how he learned to pray blessings over every situation. He tells how falling in love with the Father can literally change your world.

My Thoughts
I've been a fan of Michael W. Smith's music for years, so I was interested in reading his thoughts on prayer. In some ways this book is very similar in style to the Prayer of Jabez book that was popular in the '90's. I found the book easy to read. And one of the things that I really enjoyed about this book is that at the end of each chapter there is a spot for reflection on what you'd just read. The author makes it very clear that the prayer he prays over people he meets isn't a magical prayer, but it is a prayer that offers hope. I'll admit that this is the book that piqued my interest, but I found it didn't WOW me like the other book. There were things I picked up from the book that I will try to incorporate into my daily prayer life. If nothing else, the book got me really focusing on how I pray and what I pray for.

Recommended to fans of the Prayer of Jabez, people who want to grow in their faith, Stormie Omartian

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

Rating - 4 stars

He Knows Your Name by Travis Cottrell
 In this short gift book, worship leader Travis Cottrell invites the reader to worship God in everything - struggles, longings, seasons of needing to know His hope, everything really.

My Thoughts
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It was written in an easy to read format that had a spot for reflection at the end of each chapter. The author tells of how worship is so much more than just singing songs on a Sunday. And that's something has been talked about lately at my own church both by worship leader and by my pastor. He goes on to tell how your life can be so much richer by learning to have a lifestyle of worship. It's learning to appreciate the beauty in the little things and to expect God to move. I really loved this book. 

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

Recommended to fans of Beth Moore, Max Lucado, worship leaders, people who want a more meaningful worship experience.

Rating - 5 stars

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Trapped - A Review

When Laura Griffith's sixteen year old sister disappears one cold, snowy Friday afternoon, leaving only a note behind, Laura is determined to do everything in her power to find Darcy. She turns to Private Investigator James Devlin for help. Yet time is critical, and with it growing colder by the hour, foul play may be at work. Every lead appears to be a dead end. Dev and his co-workers are soon working against a clock to locate Darcy before something even worse happens. Will they be successful?

I think that this is my favorite book of Irene Hannon's to date. Though the villain is known early in the story, the quest to put together all of the clues takes the reader on a fun, thrilling ride. I seriously could not read this book at night because I know myself well enough to know I'd dwell on it. Laura's determination to locate her sister shows in every aspect of her character.

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 Dee Henderson, Irene Hannon, Dani Pettrey, romantic suspense

Rating - 5 stars - I seriously loved this book!

Available in September 2013 at your favorite bookstore from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing House.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Nominated for the Liebster Award

I have recently been nominated for the Liebster Award by two really great blogs. Miranda over at To Be A Person and Kara over at A Booklover's Heart. So thank you ladies.

I normally don't respond to these, but I decided to answer it this time.

The Rules:

  • Link back to the blogger who tagged you
  • Nominate 10 others and answer the questions from the blogger that tagged you.
  • Ask 10 questions of the bloggers you nominate.
  • Let your nominees know of their awards.

So I'm answering questions from both Miranda and Kara.

Miranda’s questions.

1.      If you had to choose one author to have a face-to-face chat with, who would it be and why?
·         Robin Jones Gunn – because I’ve loved all of her books and even her nonfiction makes me want to have a deeper relationship with Christ.
2. Describe your ideal leisure day.
·         That’s easy. A good book (or several), my cat, and being lost to the world.
3. If you were offered any vacation spot in the world free of charge, where would you go?
·         Ireland
4. What day would you say was the happiest in your life?
·         That’s a really hard one. I really don’t know. I’m typically a happy person all the time.
5. If you were asked to pick one book you believe should be adapted into a movie, which would it be?
·         I think Juliet by Anne Fortier
6. Describe your ideal Christmas, or any other holiday.
·         Christmas is my favorite holiday simply because one of my love languages is gifts. It makes me happy to give gifts or to receive them. I can’t say I have an ideal one though.
7. Which book (or movie) have you read that you wish you wrote?
·         Harry Potter. J
8. What good cause do you believe God has laid upon your heart to impact positively ( if it is not personal)?
·         I really have no idea. I really enjoy working behind the scenes on things.
9. Coffee or tea—what’s your preference?
·         Tea
10. Name one blogger that inspires you.
·         There are several really. My friend Jamie who I “met” through our obsession with Harry Potter. The Seekerville blog, because the writing adventures the authors share are very encouraging. My friend Lynnette. When our church was going through the Bible in a year, she posted daily and helped to hold me accountable.

And Kara's Questions.

1. Who is your favorite author (s) and why?
There are actually so many, I'll just my all time favorites.
·         Robin Jones Gunn - I love her books and have for years. The characters are my friends.
·         Liz Curtis Higgs - I love the way she writes Biblical Fiction set in Scotland. 
·         Lori Wick - her books always make me feel good
·         Julie Lessman - Lots of romance and the characters aren't flat
·         Karen Witemeyer - She's one I discovered at the library. She always makes me laugh
·         Jody Hedlund - books are full of rich historical details
·         Sarah Sundin - the books are full of rich historical details about WWII
·         Dani Pettrey - romantic suspense in the style of Dee Henderson's O'Malley books. 
·         Rhonda Gibson - I've had the pleasure of interviewing Rhonda. She's an author whose books always find their way onto my to-read pile. I feel that she's a friend, really.
·         Rick Riordan - I love Greek mythology and the Percy Jackson books filled a void after the last of Harry Potter books.
2. What do you enjoy most about blogging and would you recommend it to others?
·         I love expressing my thoughts! And yes I would recommend it to others.
3. Is there a book you didn’t think you’d like, but you ended up loving it?
·         Yes. There have been several. Usually it’s an author I’m unfamiliar with and I’m not sure what to expect. Juliet by Anne Fortier is one that comes to mind
4. What would be your ideal vacation spot or your dream vacation?
·         Ireland
5. How many books are on your TBR shelf?
·         Entirely too many! On my Kindle alone, in the folder labeled “To Read”, there are 290. My Goodreads Shelf has 445.
6. What is your favorite spot to read?
·         Curled up in the recliner
7.  Do you have a favorite snack while reading?
·         Milk
8. Which blogger has inspired you the most?
·         See my answer to Miranda’s question on this one.
9. What are your other hobbies (besides reading)?
·         Crocheting, scrapbooking, movies, writing, baseball, Harry Potter
10. What’s one of your biggest book pet peeves?
·         I’m pretty hard on my books. Most of the time. So as long as the book is readable, I’m usually ok. I’d say my biggest pet peeve for books though is missing pages.

I'm going to nominate the following seven blogs/bloggers (of those who haven't already been nominated): 

My questions:
  1. If you could meet any literary character, who would you meet and why?
  2. Which fantasy world do you want to be a part of?
  3. What is your idea of a perfect day?
  4. What time period in history would you want to visit?
  5. What is your dream job? 
  6. What is your first memory of reading (or being read to)?
  7. How did you get started blogging? And why do stay with it?
  8. What hobbies to you enjoy?
  9. What makes you happy?
  10. Tell me one more thing that most people don't know about you.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Trouble in Store - A Review

When Melanie Ross is fired from her position as a governess, she cuts her losses in the city and heads to Arizona, where she hopes to find the mercantile she inherited from her cousin. Yet, things aren't as she expected once she arrives. Caleb Nelson is positive that he inherited the mercantile from his uncle, and he's not to thrilled to find this beauty insisting she should run the store. Caleb comes up with a fool-proof plan - get Melanie married off! As more and more would be suitors walk through their doors, Caleb grows more unhappy with each one. Could it be that he has fallen for Melanie? Plus there's the danger that seems to targeted at the two of them. Will they work together?

As I got into the story, I found that I really liked Melanie's character. Her ideas for the store brought in more business, but it took her being patient with Caleb to really see the results. The bit of mystery in the story as well, kept me entertained. True, the story dragged at times,  but overall, it was a very good book.

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers for free in exchange for a review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Lori Copeland, Karen Witemeyer, Elizabeth Camden

Rating - 4 stars

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dark Halo - A Review

One halo gave Brielle sight. Another one offers her relief. With a heavenly battle occurring in the skies about Stratus, Brielle sees the Celestial all of the time now. Especially since the Terrestrial Veil is being ripped in two. She longs for a chance to be normal and not see. Her boyfriend, Jake, has been taken by the forces of Darkness, and she will do just about anything to save him. When she encounters the Prince of Darkness himself, he offers her a halo that will take her Celestial vision and he promises a future with Jake, something that the Throne Room seems to be taking from her. But the Prince is an accomplished liar and manipulator. Will Brielle take his tempting offer?

This is the conclusion to the Angel Eyes trilogy. I loved seeing the battles between Light and Darkness. It reminded me so much of Frank Perretti's This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness books. I enjoyed watching Brielle grow in her faith in these three books. I absolutely loved Kaylee. I'd love to see her in her own book. While I enjoyed the entire series as a whole, I really enjoyed this one. I think it was my favorite of the three. I loved how the encounter with the Prince of Darkness showed Brielle's doubts and her longings.

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 young adult fiction, Krista McGee, Frank Perretti, Steven James.

Rating - 4 stars

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Welcome to Last Chance Giveaway Winner

It's Sunday. And I'm off tomorrow!

Anyway, using to pick a winner, the winner is Katie J!

I've emailed her.

Congratulations Katie.