Friday, May 30, 2014

A Place in His Heart Giveaway

I'm excited to start reading this book, A Place in His Heart. I'll be posting my review of it the week of June 8 as part of the Revell Tour.

The author is running a giveaway for the book. You can enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
Please note, I am not running the giveaway, so do not try to enter it via comments on my blog. I am only sharing the giveaway at the request of the publisher.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bridge to Haven - A Review

Published - April, 2014, Tyndale House Publishers

Author - Francine Rivers

Title - Bridge to Haven

Format - hardcover, ebook, audio

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This is probably one of the best books I've read so far this year, if not the BEST! Anyway. Moving on with my summary/review. :) There are slight spoilers to follow.

Summary (my words): Abra Matthews was abandoned as a baby under the bridge in Haven. Though she was soon placed into the home of a loving family and then later adopted, she grows up guarded and wary. When a handsome LA playboy arrives in town, she throws her upbringing aside and runs away. Soon Abra realizes that the price she's paid isn't worth the Hollywood glamour of the 1950's. Given a new identity, Lena Scott, she soon becomes the newest thing on the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe, and few know her real name or the price she's paid to be somebody. Those who love her back home have prayed for her everyday in the hopes that someday, someway, somehow, Abra will find her way home. With God on her tail, her life disillusioned, she doesn't know who she is anymore. Can Abra bring herself to return home to those who love her - her family, her pastor, the young man who has been the best friend she's ever known?

My thoughts: It has been a long time since I read a Francine Rivers book. I've read all of hers. While my personal favorite is (and still remains) Atonement Child, this one gripped me from the first page. I started this book late Monday night, brought it to work on Tuesday and finished it Tuesday night. Not since the times I read older Kingsbury novels, Joanne Bischoff's Cadence of Grace series, and Katie Ganshert's Broken Kind of Beautiful has a novel tore my heart out like this one did.

Rivers has written the characters in such a way to cause the reader to feel for them. I found myself wanting to shake Abra while at the same time I was weeping for her. And Joshua. Yes, he was honorable. Yes, he was "perfect." I loved his struggle in learning to trust. Pastor Zeke. I loved how he also struggled with letting go. For me, one of the most touching scenes was when Abra came home and runs into Pastor Zeke's waiting arms. Talk about a beautiful showing of forgiveness and redemption right there!

Other reviews are saying that this may not be Francine's best. That's their opinion. In mine, this is going to fast become a favorite. Still, don't just take my word on how much I loved this book, read the opinions of others and make your own decision.

I rented this book from the library and read it for pure pleasure (that and it's been on my reading list for ages and fit a Scattegories category on Goodreads). My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Francine Rivers, Joanne Bischoff, Katie Ganshert, Karen Kingsbury, Nora Roberts, Susan May Warren, Lynn Austin, Denise Hunter, women's fiction

Rating - 5 stars

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Undetected - A Review

Published - May 2014, Bethany House Publishers

Author - Dee Henderson

Title - Undetected

Format - ebook, paper, audio

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Mark Bishop is a commander in the Navy. He typically down plays his actual job, which is the commander of a submarine that is armed with nuclear weapons. Having been married for several years before he lost his wife, he longs to have someone to come home to at the end of his deployments. When he finds himself drawn to the attractive younger sister of one of his best friends, Mark knows he must go slowly. Gina Gray is a genius. Her discoveries have provided the Navy with advanced technology that ensures the US is one step ahead of both allies and enemies in submarine warfare. When she asks a question in theory of locating a silent sub in the midst of a noisy ocean, she soon finds herself changing submarine warfare yet again. Yet that's not the end of her discoveries. When two men, both submariners, begin to pay a romantic interest in her, she spends more time in her work because she's afraid. Which man will be the victor of Gina's heart. And will Gina's discoveries forever change the way that Mark and Gina's brother command their vessels forever?

I've loved Dee Henderson's books for years. My favorite are her O'Malley series. After reading Unspoken last fall/winter and feeling very bogged down with it, I was a little wary of her newest release.

I have to say though, that this one seemed very similar to both the Uncommon Heroes and the O'Malleys in tone of writing. I didn't find myself bogged down in page after page of tedious detail. It was fast paced and very much a page turner. I started it on Monday May 19th, and finished on Friday the 23rd - that's reading mostly only at lunch/breaks at work.

I loved Gina's mind. Her intelligence and her questions. I also loved how she would question God about things and that her relationship with Him was very real and personal. Mark was great. He reminded me in so many ways of Joe from True Devotion. I loved how Mark would make sure that his crew was safe and knew their jobs inside and out. I also loved how he tried to let Gina be who she was and not expect things from her.

While it's classified as romantic suspense, it's really not. I mean it is, but not in the ways that Henderson fans have come to expect. For me it seemed a more of a return to the books that highlighted her earlier career.

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 Dee Henderson, Lynette Eason, Irene Hannon

Rating - 4 stars. Four really solid stars.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Pick your own topic

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly theme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Today's topic is a chose your own. So I got to thinking. Did I want to do a post of Disney songs? Or how about music that makes me happy? Or books waiting to be reviewed? Or books I've read so many times that they are falling apart? None of those ideas really caused me to go "Yes that one!" Well after much deliberation on it, I finally came up with one. 

Top Ten Books that are Fairy Tale Retellings.

1. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine - by far the best retelling of Cinderella I've EVER read. I've loved it so much that my paperback copy that I'd had since my children's literature class in college finally fell apart and I was able to replace it with a hardcover from the library in one of their book sales for $1.00.

2. Beauty by Robin McKinley - my favorite retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I'm not sure when I discovered it, but it was probably in college sometime. 

3. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier - a retelling of the Seven Swans. That was one of my favorite fairy tales growing up, and when I discovered this at the library one day, I was delighted.

4. Enchantment by Orson Scott Card - a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I love the twist in this one of both modern and the past.

5. The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey - a retelling of Arabian Nights. I still remember the day I checked this one out from the library. I had 10 books that all came in that day for me to check out! All of them were fairy tale retellings. Good thing I'm a fast reader!

6. The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn - a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. I remember being fascinated with Rumpelstiltskin growing up. 

7. Fairest by Gail Carson Levine - It's really more of a Snow White retelling than anything else. It's set in the same world as Ella Enchanted.

8. Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson - a retelling of Snow White. This is the first one I read by Melanie but it certainly wasn't my last! 

9. Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett - it's not an actual retelling of one fairy tale, but has elements of several in it. It's hilarious really. 

10. The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson - A retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I really enjoyed this one, and I LOVE the cover. 

So there's my top ten. What about you? 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

While Love Stirs - A Review

Published - May, 2014 Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Series - The Gregory Sisters book 2

Author - Lorna Seilstad

Title - While Love Stirs

Format - ebook, paper

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Charlotte Gregory dreams of running her own kitchen in a hotel or a restaurant. She is a culinary school graduate and understands food preparation and nutrition. When hotels and restaurants refuse to hire her because she's a woman, she ends up with a job at the gas company as a cooking demonstrator/lecturer. She travels across the state giving cooking demonstrations on the new gas stove. As part of her agreement, she is allowed to teach about the nutrition as well. The gas company has hired a young man, Lewis Mathis, to perform before her lectures. He would like to get to know Charlotte on a more personal level, but she's not looking for anything though her mind is constantly drawn to young physician Joel Brooks, a man who likes order. When Charlotte and Joel are talked into planning a hospital fundraiser, sparks fly. But will these two figure out what they want before something explodes?

This book was absolutely delightful! While I enjoyed the first in the series, I didn't giggle like I did with this one. The sparks flying around the room anytime that Charlotte and Joel are together are awesome. And some of their conversations are pretty funny. I have a feeling that this will be the one book of the series that I'll reread.

The interactions between Charlotte and her sisters builds on characters that were introduced in the first book, though this one stands alone. Watching Joel and his sister together was also delightful.

The one thing that keeps this from being a 5 star rating for me is the fact that Joel refused to let Charlotte explain her relationship with Lewis and that he (Joel) kept the fact that he'd been engaged from her. It seemed like he expected her to do and act a certain way but he didn't allow that for himself.

Overall, I found the book to be delightful and very enjoyable. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this book.

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 historical fiction, Julie Lessman, Karen Witemeyer

Rating - 4.5 stars, rounded to 4 stars

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Silenced - A Review

Doesn't the girl on the cover look like the actress who plays Kensi on NCIS LA?
Published - May, 2014, Bethany House Publishers

Series - Alaskan Courage book 4

Author - Dani Pettrey

Title - Silenced

Format - ebook, paper, audio

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When Kayden McKenna agrees to a climbing race with her sister Piper, she gets more than she bargained for when she accidentally stumbles across a body. With her climbing expertise, Kayden suspects that the death wasn't just an accident. When she's asked to help investigate, she can't say no - even if it means working closely with Jake Westin. Jake's past is no longer the mystery it was, and he's now working with Landon and the sheriff's department to investigate the climber's death. But things aren't always what they seem. Threatening messages to both Jake and Kayden cause them to start digging deeper into the case and into Jake's past. Someone feels that they are getting too close to the truth and will do whatever it takes to prevent that truth from coming out. Will Jake and Kayden be safe? And when will they figure out what they mean to the other?

Like every book in the Alaskan Courage Series, this one is one I enjoyed immensely. This has been one my most anticipated books so far this year. I'm happy to say that Silenced didn't disappoint.

I loved watching Jake and Kayden get to the truth. I loved the interaction with the rest of the McKenna clan. I loved getting a glimpse into Reef's story for the next book. I loved how protective of Kayden Jake is. I think that this is my favorite family next to Dee Henderson's O'Malleys. Jake has been my favorite character since the first book.

Sure there's romance in it. A couple of weddings as well. But there is a TON of adventure and suspense. Dani's stories are always filled with a mix of romance, adventure, and suspense.

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

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

Rating - 5 stars

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books About Friendship

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly theme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Tuesday. This week's topic is the top ten books about friendship.

So here are mine, in no particular order.

I was looking for the original trilogy not the Hobbit as part.

1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien -  Specifically the parts with Frodo & Samwise

2. The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas - I was really thinking of the Disney movie when I came up with this one.

3. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series by Ann Brashares - follows four friends and a pair of pants

4. The Sisterchick Series by Robin Jones Gunn - I love these books. Each book is a new adventure of friendship.

5. The O'Malley Series by Dee Henderson - The friendships between Kate, Marcus, Lisa, Jack, Rachel, Stephen, and Jennifer are some that I've never seen anywhere else.

6. Frog & Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel - great books for young readers about friendships

7. True Friends (Christy Miller book 7) by Robin Jones Gunn -technically the whole series is about friendship, but in this particular book Christy learns just how special Katie is to her.

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling - actually the entire series, but in this one, Harry's two friends (Ron and Hermione) refuse to let Harry hunt down the remaining pieces that will all allow for Voldemort to be defeated once and for all by himself.

8. Sisters Ink by Rebeca Seitz - friends who scrapbook together. I've not actually read this one, but it's on my list.

9. Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne - I love Pooh. And his friends in the Thousand Acre Wood.

10. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams - sometimes the best friendships are those of the child and the stuffed animal. I still have one of the stuffed animals I had from when I was a baby, and like the Velveteen Rabbit, my Pooh is real. Seriously, if you've not read this one, read it. It's a bit of tear jerker, but I love it.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Heart's Pursuit - A Review

Published - May, 2014, Zondervan Books

Title - The Heart's Pursuit

Author - Robin Lee Hatcher

Format - ebook, paper

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When Silver Matlock is left at the altar and discovers that her fiance stole a considerable sum of money from her parents, she decides that she will set out to retrieve the stolen money. To assist her in her quest, she hires bounty hunter Jared Newman. The pair begin a trek through mountains and deserts never knowing that their quest may cost them their hearts.

I've read almost everything that Robin Lee Hatcher has written. This one was a fast read with lots of action and short chapters.

Still, I wasn't too particularly impressed with it. It was ok. The characters didn't have much depth to them. The plot did hold my attention, but it wasn't what I expected from a Robin Hatcher book. I get the fact that the book was more of an adventure than a romance, and that was fine. It made it rather entertaining. But still, I felt something was off.

This would be a book I'd recommend for the beach, or for a fast summer read. I didn't have to think much while I read it.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson/Zondervan's Booklook Blogger program for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to like the book, only give my honest opinion. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of adventure, Robin Lee Hatcher, historical fiction.

Rating - 3 stars

Saturday, May 17, 2014

One More Last Chance - A Review

Published - May, 2014, Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Series - A Place to Call Home book 2

Author - Cathleen Armstrong

Title - One More Last Chance

Format - ebook, paper

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Sarah Cooley has returned to her hometown of Last Chance, New Mexico as a new 2nd grade teacher. She's thrilled to be back in Last Chance because nothing ever changes there. Yet, unknown to Sarah, change is coming. Chris Reed is the new owner of the Dip-n-Dine diner and would love to change things on the menu. Yet everything that he tries is consistently vetoed by his cook.When he suddenly finds himself caring for his seven year old niece, he comes to realize that sometimes change is good.

This book had the feel of a typical small town. It seemed to just kind of gently flow along. I'm not saying that it was slow moving, because I read this in a day and a half, but that it just felt like a small town. I loved the townspeople. I loved how they'd come together to welcome someone into the community and to help out when things needed it. I loved how Chris wanted to change things, slowly. I did feel that Sarah was a little too resistant to change, but as the book went along, she got better.

Overall, this would be a good summer read. I enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to the next one.

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 women's fiction, Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, Irene Hannon

Rating - 4 stars

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Here to Stay - A Review

Published - May 2014, Bethany House Publishers

Series - Where Love Begins book 2

Author - Melissa Tagg

Title - Here to Stay

Format - ebook, paper

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Blake Hunziker returns to his hometown of Whisper Shore, Michigan on the heels of his "celebrity" status as Miranda Woodruff's fake husband. He's ready to come to grips with his past and to put his years of wandering the globe behind him. When his father and the town's Chamber of Commerce offer him the job of getting the town ready for the Christmas festival, Blake agrees. There's only one problem. He has no idea how to run a festival. Autumn Kingsley is running her family's inn and dreaming of leaving her small town. Her inn is in need of a lot of TLC and when a high profile potential investor checks in, Autumn is determined to put her inn at its best. Though with no money for repairs, Autumn doesn't know how she will put the inn's best forward to her investor. When she runs into Blake, he offers a solution to both of their problems. He'll help with the repairs around the inn if she'll help him with the festival. Autumn knows that both of their families will protest the bargain due to a long held feud between them, but she agrees to Blake's offer. What she doesn't expect is to start to fall for the man. What's Blake to do when the man who has stopped running begins to fall in love with the girl who can't wait to leave?

After loving Melissa Tagg's debut novel, Made to Last, last year, I eagerly anticipated Blake's story. I'd grown to love him in Made to Last and had very high expectations for this book. I'm pleased to say that this book exceeded all of my expectations.

This one was filled with humor like the first. I loved how Blake wanted to show he'd changed and had moved far from his nickname of "Blaze." I loved how he went out of his way to help someone or to assist Autumn. For her part, Autumn needed to discover who she really was and what made her happy. I loved her journey.

Seriously, if this were a movie, it had all of the makings of a chick flick that I'd enjoy over and over. I loved this book just as much as the first.

I received this book for free from the author as part of her Tagg Team to help promote the book. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of romantic comedies, chick lit, Janice Thompson, Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, contemporary romance

Rating - 5 stars

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top 10 Books I Almost Put Down but Didn't

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly theme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's theme is the top ten books I almost put down but didn't.

So here we go.

1. Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling - I LOVED Harry Potter, but was really disappointed with this one. 

2. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan - The first in the Wheel of Time Series. I had a hard time getting into it, but have since read it several times.

3. Veiled Rose by Anne Elizabeth Stengel - I love fantasy. This one just didn't do it for me.

4. Fifteen Minutes by Karen Kingsbury - The quality of a Kingsbury book isn't what it used to be. This one was basically the same story as her past several with just different names and settings.

5. Vow Unbroken by Caryl McAdoo - slow moving, very wordy. Just not one I'd read again.

6. Whispers in the Wind by Lauraine Snelling - book 2 in the series that did nothing to move the story along

7. Twerp by Mark Goldblatt - I couldn't get interested or stay interested in this one

8. Black by Ted Dekker - I think I wasn't in the mood for this type of book when I first read it.

9. The Pawn by Steven James - When this one came across my desk (I was working at a bookstore at the time), I wasn't too interested in reading it, but was asked to by my manager.

10. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - I was in a fantasy mood not a sci-fi mood when I first read this one.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fatal Exchange - A Review

 Published - May, 2014, Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Series - Southern Crimes Book 2

Author - Lisa Harris

Title - Fatal Exchange

Format - ebook, paper

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Emily Hunt is content to live a relatively boring life compared to that of her sister, her brother, and her father. She's a high school history teacher when the rest of her family works in law enforcement. Her quiet life suddenly changes when a student holds her classroom hostage with a gun while demanding a ransom to be paid in order to get his brother back from a drug cartel. Emily must figure out a way to remain calm and in control. When Mason Taylor hears that the student he has been mentoring for the past several months has taken Emily's class hostage, he acts as the negotiator. He knows the boy. Hopefully Mason can talk the student into ending things peacefully. But time is running out. And there is more at stake than just release of the hostages. Will Mason be able to meet the demands?

I've got to admit that this book was MUCH better than the first one in this series. It literally kept me on the edge of my seat through the entire book. While not an all time favorite, I was fully engrossed and engaged with Mason and Emily. It was fast-paced. This particular book did remind me of an NCIS episode several years ago. I think that may have been why I enjoyed it so much. I think it would make a great summer read.

You don't have to read the first book in order to understand this one, but it is recommended.

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 romantic suspense, Irene Hannon, Lynette Eason, Dee Henderson

Rating - 4 stars