Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Dream Dress - A Review

Publisher - Revell Books, a division Baker Publishing House, available February 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

Bible Stories for His Beautiful Princess - A Review

Publisher - Tyndale House Publishers, January 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

Unspoken - A Review

Publisher - Bethany House, October 2013

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

Echoes of Mercy - A Review

Publisher - Waterbrook Press, January 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.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February Bride - A Review

Publisher - Zondervan, January 2014

Author - Betsy St. Amant

Title - A February Bride

Series - A Year of Weddings Novella

Format - ebook

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Allie Andrews has left the love of her life at the altar. Wearing her grandmother's dress, she ran from the church. Now her best friend, who happens to be the sister of the man she was going to marry, has asked Allie to be the maid of honor in her Valentine's Day wedding. Allie agrees, even though she knows she'll be put in close contact with her ex-fiancee, Marcus. Marcus didn't understand what happened to cause Allie to run out. Yet as they're constantly thrown together with his sister's wedding, he finds reason to hope that things between them aren't totally over. Will these two find their happily ever after?

This was such a fun novellla! I don't think I've ever read any of Betsy St. Amant's books before, but I think that will be remedied after this one. Full of humor, I loved Allie as the "runaway bride." I also loved that she wanted to change who she was in regards to her family and their history of failed marriages so much that she loved Marcus enough to let him go. I loved how she searched to find out who she really was.

I loved loved loved Marcus's mother. I thought that she was a great voice of reason and gentleness that Allie needed to hear at times.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson/Zondervan/Harper Collins as part of the Booklook Blogging program for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Love Inspired, novellas, contemporary romance

Rating - 4 stars

January Bride - A Review

Publisher - Zondervan, December 3013

Title - A January Bride

Author - Deborah Raney

Series - A Year of Weddings Novella

Format - ebook

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When Madeleine Houser needs a quiet place to write that's not in the midst of a construction zone, her neighbor sends her to the bed & breakfast on the other side of town. The B&B is run by a widowed professor, Arthur. Madeleine soon finds herself being very productive in the quiet have of the B&B and leaves the owner a note. He replies, and soon both look forward to the notes. Both have started to fall for the person writing the notes, but what will happen when the pair finally meets in person?

This is part of the Year of Weddings novella collection. I read this in about 2 hours. I found it to be a sweet story. I personally loved the mistaken identities each of the two main characters had of the other. And I loved the letter/note writing. It reminded me of an old Judy Garland movie In the Good Ol' Summertime.

While it was sweet and a good story, overall I found this to really be just ok. I didn't love it, but I didn't dislike it either. Truthfully I felt kinda blah about this book.

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

Recommended to fans of Love Inspired, weddings, novellas, contemporary romance

Rating - 3.5 stars

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Princess Ever After - A Review

Publisher - Zondervan, February 2014

Series - Royal Wedding Series, Book 2

Author - Rachel Hauck

Title - Princess Ever After

Format - paper, ebook, audio

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Regina Beswick is happy with her simple life. She owns her own business - or restoring classic cars - and loves life. She doesn't know she's a princess. Or the one person who can save a country. When Tanner Burkhardt from the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg shows up at her garage and informs her that she's the long-lost heir to the throne, she really thinks someone is playing a joke on her. Yet when her father confirms at least part of Tanner's claim, Reggie finds herself at a crossroads. Should she give up everything she loves to rule this tiny island nation? Or should she give up being a princess? Even though she's unsure, Reggie travels to Hessenberg to at least visit the country and see where her great-grandmother grew up. But while she's there, she and Tanner discover a plot that could mean the end of the small country. Will Reggie accept her birthright? And how will she deal with her feelings for Tanner?

Last year when I read Once Upon a Prince, I absolutely adored it. This sequel to it was equally delightful. I loved Reggie's character. She's such a down to earth girl. And the way that she rolled with the things that came up showed me that she had spunk. I also loved catching a brief glimpse of Nathaniel and Susanna from the first book.

I thought Tanner showed promise. I didn't like him at all at first. I thought he was stuffy. But as I kept reading, I discovered just how much hurt he was hiding and I grew to love him. I really loved the glimpses of the past through Princess Alice's journal entries.

To me, this reminded me a lot of the Princess Diaries (both the movies and the books). And I loved the Princess Diaries! I also found this to be a very light-hearted, engaging, and entertaining read.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson/Zondervan/HarperCollins BookLook Bloggers program. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of fairy tales, happy endings, Princess Diaries, Karen Witemeyer, contemporary romance

Rating - 5 stars - another sigh-worthy book

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Prime of Life - A Review

 Published - Worthy Publishing, February 2014

Author - P. D. Bekendam

Title - Prime of Life

Format - ebook, paper

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Ben has left his life as a doctor behind and is working as a janitor at a retirement facility. He wants nothing to do with medicine, God, or the number 4. Yet when his past collides with his present, he's forced to face the things he turned his back on. Will he be able to find peace at last?

When I first started this book, I'll admit that I found it a little boring and I was easily distracted. But somewhere along about page 25, I found myself hooked. Ben loves prime numbers. To the point that it's almost an obsession. While he's the narrator of the story, I found the cast of supporting characters - Lex, Betty "Boop", Marvin, Frank, and Jerry "The Professor" to be delightful. I loved how in pretty much any scene that Marvin and Frank were in, they practically stole the show. Jerry was the voice of wisdom. I loved how Ben would seek out his advice and seriously think about it, even when he was mad at the truths that Jerry would tell him.

I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting in this book, but it certainly wasn't the comedy that I got. Yes, this is a comedy. But there are several serious moments in it too. I think it's a good read for someone who wants to escape into a contemporary novel.

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 comedy, contemporary fiction

Rating - 4 stars

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Shadows of the Past - A Review

Publisher - Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, February 2014

Author - Patricia Bradley

Series - Logan Point #1

Title - Shadows of the Past

Format - paper, ebook.

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Taylor Martin has a stalker. A stalker who has moved beyond the gifts of roses and notes and is now wanting her dead. When circumstances draw Taylor back home to Logan Point, Mississippi, she hopes to finally get answers to her father's disappearance so many years ago. She doesn't expect her stalker to follow her. She also doesn't expect to find herself falling for mystery writer Nick Sinclair as they both search for answers. Will the secrets in the past silence Taylor forever?

This the first book I've ever read by this author. If I'm not mistaken, this is her debut novel. I've got to say I found myself enjoying it more than I thought. At first, I found the characters to be rather dull, but as the story went on and I found myself getting more and more into the characters' lives. I really didn't see the ending coming. I also found myself rooting for Scott, the brother of Nick. I wanted Scott to be cleared of any charges. Still, as romantic suspense goes, I enjoyed it. I'll eagerly be awaiting the next book in this series.

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

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

Rating - 4.5 stars

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Laura Jackson Interview and Giveaway

Today, I'm thrilled to welcome my good friend, and debut author, Laura Jackson to my blog today.

Laura has taught 7th grade Language Arts for several years. In fact, she was finishing up college and started teaching 7th grade when I first met her. She is currently an elementary school librarian.

Laura and I have known each other for at least 10 years, probably longer. We met on a Robin Jones Gunn message board called God Lover's Online. As we chatted via messenger, we realized how close we live to each other. And while it's true that Houston is a large city and we do live on different sides, we discovered that it's not too hard to meet up in the middle and hang out. We typically get together once or twice a year to hang out. I'll be the first to say that when I got the text, followed by a phone call, from Laura when she was offered a book contract, I was thrilled for her.

And I'm thrilled to be able to welcome her here today for an interview. So without further ado, here is Laura.

Dawn: Laura, thank you for joining us here today.

Laura: I'm happy to be here. Thanks for hosting me.

Dawn: Well let's get started shall we?  What made you decide to write a novel?


I missed writing after I quit teaching language arts. When my dad was battling cancer, I would sit with him so that my mom could go to church. He’d often sleep the whole time, and so I decided to start a book, wanting a happy ending since we weren’t going to get one with my dad’s health. (But, his going to be with the Lord is the happiest ending for any of us.)

Dawn: I'm sorry to hear about your dad. I lost mine when I was little. 

I know you did NANO. How did you stay disciplined while working full time?

I have no clue! I had the idea of Ellie in my head, and the story just flowed fast. I was off for a week for Thanksgiving, so I did a lot of writing then.

Dawn: Tell about your journey to publication.

I wrote Worth the Wait in November and December. In January and February, I had it edited by an author and an editor.
In March, I began to send it off to agents. Some replied with a no, some didn’t reply at all, and one told me to edit some more and re-send it.
During that waiting time, I also sent it to a few small publishers that didn’t require agents.
Two publishers asked to see the whole novel, and HopeSprings Books offered me a contract in May. Then, the fun began.
And by fun, I mean countless rounds of editing! Editing was/is harder than writing the first draft.

Dawn: What authors have influenced your writing?


Too many to count as far as the writing!
Betsy St. Amant has been an encouragement to me throughout the whole process and offered me a lot of sage advice.
Erynn Mangum and Kristin Billerbeck have the best blogs and are the models I follow for interacting with readers….keeping it focused on the personal and not pushing the sales constantly.

Dawn: Who are your favorites?

Ally Carter, Jenny B. Jones, and Sarah Dessen for YA.
Kristin Billerbeck and Erynn Mangum for chick lit.
Irene Hannon, Dani Pettrey, and Lynette Eason for romantic suspense.
I could go on and on.

Dawn: Why did you target the young adult market?

I tried writing a Love Inspired type of book when my dad was sick. It was horrible. So, I thought about it…what did I love to read? YA was the first thing that popped in my head, and I decided to try it. It worked.

Dawn: What's next?


Lindsey’s story. She’s the mean girl in Worth the Wait. She’s a hateful heifer. I wanted to figure out why she was that way, so I’m writing and actually starting to like her. :)

Thank you Laura for stopping by. I know I'll be looking forward to Lindsey's story. Maybe you can redeem her. :)

Readers - Laura is offering a print copy of Worth the Wait to one lucky winner. This is open to US residents only. Just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter giveaway below to enter. The drawing begins at 10:00 AM CST today. (so come back then to enter) There are two options that are leaving a blog post comment. These are the two posts that comments are requested on - Worth the Wait Review - Interview with Laura. Not following the instructions on each option can result in being disqualified from the drawing. Ends on Feb 14, 2014 at 11:59 pm. A winner will be chose on the 15th and notified by email. Please ensure that the email address entered into the rafflecopter giveaway is valid. The winner will have until Monday Feb 17, 2014 at 7:00 pm CST to respond with a mailing address or another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 3, 2014

Worth the Wait - A Review

About the book
Published - February 4, 2014 Hope Springs Books
Series - Waltham Academy Book 1
Author - Laura Jackson
Format - paper, 220 pages
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Ellie Lansing is excited to start her senior year. She's a cheerleader, dating a wonderful guy, looking forward to the mission trip, and has a supportive family. Yes everything in life is going perfect. Perfect that is until she discovers her long-time boyfriend has cheated on her. Perfect that is until her mother's diagnosed with breast cancer. All of a sudden her perfect life has crumbled around her. Ellie struggles to pick up the pieces while trying to figure out exactly who she is in the midst of it all. Will she find herself or will she be lost adrift of all that is happening in her life?

This is Laura Jackson's debut novel. I was thrilled when the publisher contacted me to review this book. Like any other debut, I try to read it without overly high expectations because I never really know what I will get. Will I get a story that grabs me and causes me to react to the characters? Or will I get a story that feels like I'm be tortured to read? It does seem to me, lately, that the last several debuts I've read have fallen into the second category. I'm very pleased to say that Worth the Wait fell into the first category.

While I was reading it, I did find that Ellie was too perfect. Even when her life was completely turned upside down, she still seemed too perfect. That said, I loved watching Ellie grow and realize just exactly who she was and who God wanted her to be. I thought that Dylan was a first class jerk and that Ellie deserved better than him. I kept rooting for Ellie's best friend's twin brother, Josh, to be the guy that Ellie would finally notice.

I found that the author perfectly described life in a private Christian high school. I could "hear" in my mind as I read the cattiness of several of the characters, the gossip that ran rampant, and the wanting to fit in and be popular. Truly it wasn't much different than a public school. But where the biggest difference was, was in the way the characters reacted to situations. There was one party where one of the girls starts to feel really guilty about how she had been treating the main character and sends a rescue text or phone call to Josh. And while I can see several people being disappointed in how this book ends, I was really fine with it. Mainly because I felt that Ellie needed to figure out who she is.

Overall, I really loved this book. It's been a while since I've read  a truly young adult book, and I found this one to be delightful.  I will definitely keep an eye out for others by this author.

I received a pdf copy of the book from the publisher to review as well as to help promote the author's book. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Robin Jones Gunn's Christy Miller, Sierra Jensen, and Katie Weldon series, Meg Cabot's books, young adults, Jenny B Jones, Krista McGee

Rating - 5 stars - I loved it!

Note - Stop back by beginning on Wednesday February 5 for an interview with Laura Jackson and a chance to win her book.