Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fairest - A Review

Published - 2015
 Series - The Lunar Chronicles, Prequel Novel
Author - Marissa Meyer
 Title - Fairest
 Format - ebook, hardcover
Find on Amazon

 Levanna wasn't always the cruel queen readers know her to be from her encounters with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress. Long before she was queen, she was a young girl growing up in the Royal Palace on Luna. This is her story.

 With how much I loved Cinder, Cress, and Scarlet, I was excited to read Fairest. I was wanting more as to what made Levanna the way she is. This was a disappointment. The majority of the book didn't provide any new information much less more insight into Levanna's character. And in fact, it made me dislike her even more than I did already. Still I'm looking forward to Winter though.

 I rented this book from the library and read it for pure pleasure. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of the Lunar Chronicles, young adult

Rating - 3 stars

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Every Bride Needs a Groom - A Review

Published - April 2015, Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Series - Brides with Style Book 1
Author - Janice Thompson
Title - Every Bride Needs A Groom
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Katie Fisher is busy planning her wedding. It doesn't matter that her long term boyfriend hasn't proposed yet, she's still dreaming of her big day. When her cousin tells her to enter an essay into a contest sponsored by the Texas Bride magazine with the prize being a wedding gown designed by premier designer Nadia James, Katie enters. She never expected to win. She also never expected her boyfriend to breakup with her on the same day that she wins the gown. Heading to Dallas and the prestigious bridal shop, Cosmopolitan Bridal, Katie is determined to not accept the gown. But her plans have a way of going awry once she meets the shop employees and the handsome pro-basketball player turned bridal shop manager, Brady James. As she and Brady begin spending more and more time together, Katie begins to wonder if she'll have a chance to wear the exquisite gown - someday.

I've always enjoyed reading Janice Thompson's books. I always know I'm in for a fun, humorous, lighthearted tale. This one didn't disappoint.

The first in a new series introduces a new cast of delightful characters. The similarities to the Rossi family are noticeable to readers who have read the Weddings By Design and Weddings By Bella books, but a new reader would easily be able to pick it up and find it delightful. There is the large family, the elderly women in town who know everything (much like the Splendora Trio), the family business, and the cast of characters that can steal the show.

I'll admit that it took me several chapters to get into the book, but once Katie had won the dress, I was hooked. I loved the ladies at the bridal shop. I loved their code names for all of the different brides. I also loved how they each wanted to see Katie's dreams come true. And that they wanted the best for Brady. It was also fun to have cameos from Jordan Singer of Texas Bride and photographers Hannah and Drew. I love when authors pull other characters into their new books to share a small glimpse into their lives.

I loved how Brady and Katie seemed to be great together. They each could tell what the other needed.

I'm looking forward to seeing how their romance develops in the next book.

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

Recommended to fans of Janice Thompson, romantic comedies, Mary Connealy, contemporary romance

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Together With You - A Review

Note from Dawn - Once again there is no Top Ten Tuesday post today. And that's because the topic of "Top Ten Characters who _____(like music, are orphans, etc) wasn't an easy one for me to come up with. I do like next week's topic though, so TTT will be back on May 5. So enjoy today's book review. 

Published - April 2015, Bethany House Publishers
Author - Victoria Bylin
Title - Together With You
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

When a Lost Child notice comes over the PA system of the mall she works at, Carly Mason is determined to follow protocol. She finds the little girl happily playing with a stuffed rabbit. While she notifies the mall authorities, Carly notices that there's something different about Penny Tremaine and her heart clinches when she realizes that Penny suffers from fetal alcohol effects. Carly had vowed to never again get involved personally with a client. But Penny needs her help. Penny's handsome father, Dr. Ryan Tremaine, is trying to put the pieces of his life back together. He's got custody of his teenage sons for the summer as his ex-wife and her new husband are on a trip overseas. And then there's Penny. She needs so much more than what he can give her. Ryan has one objective this summer - reconnect with his children by doing things on his Sink or Swim list. The first thing he needs is a nanny for Penny. Particularly one who understands her needs. He's determined that Carly be that nanny. As attraction between them grow and they both fight it, Ryan comes to realize that maybe Carly is the missing piece of his family's puzzle.

 I've read a lot of Victoria's Love Inspired/Love Inspired Historical books, so I was thrilled to finally pick up a full length novel. I've got her release from last year on my Kindle, just haven't gotten to it yet.

This book captivated me from the first page. I found myself wanting more for Penny and wanting Carly to help her. I also loved Ryan. I thought that he showed great promise for admitting to his mistakes and to taking responsibility. But he also wanted what was best for his children. I loved his faith journey too. I loved how when he was at his lowest, that's where he found God.

I loved how Penny really kinda stole the show in the book. She was such a pivotal character. I loved seeing how she grew to trust not only Carly, but her father and brothers. And how she came to call Ryan Daddy as opposed to Dr. Tremaine or "Dr. Daddy."

This book surprised me on so many levels. I'd love to see a sequel to it that would allow us to get a glimpse into their lives a few years down the road or so.

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 Love Inspired/Love Inspired Historicals, Irene Hannon's contemporary books, Karen Kingsbury, Becky Wade, Kathryn Springer

Rating - 5 stars

Monday, April 27, 2015

Betting on Hope - A Review

Published - February, 2015, Thomas Nelson Publishers
Series - Four of Hearts Ranch Romance Book 1
Author - Debra Clopton
Title - Betting on Hope
Format - ebook, paper, audio
Find on Amazon

Maggie Hope is a journalist and the author of a popular advise column. When her friend needs her to fill in on a TV interview with horse trainer Tru Monahan, Maggie agrees because she knows what it could do for her column. When she makes a bet with him on camera, her producers and his sponsors want it to happen. Maggie never dreamed she'd go from having never been on a horse to entering a competition in just a few short weeks. Yet Tru's a good teacher and she soon finds her heart being drawn to the handsome cowboy doing all he can to save his family's ranch. Will Tru be able to see into Maggie's heart and that she really does belong in Whispering Springs?

I've read quite a few of Debra Clopton's Love Inspired Books over the years and I always enjoyed them. So when I had a chance to review this full-length novel, I was thrilled.

I loved how Maggie had to step out of her comfort zone to do something she wasn't sure about. I also loved how patient Tru was with her. I loved how he was determined to do whatever he had to do in order to save his family's ranch.

The cast of minor characters were delightful and I look forward to the stories featuring Tru's brothers.

I found the book to be a very quick read. It was filled with humor. I think I giggled all of the way through it.

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

Recommended to fans of Janice Thompson, Love Inspired, cowboys, romance, Debra Clopton

Rating - 4 stars

Sunday, April 26, 2015

April Quarterly Giveaway

It's time for a Quarterly Giveaway! It's been three months since the last giveaway, so it's time for a new one!

I'm giving away a print copy of Candace Calvert's newest book, By Your Side.

Giveaway is open to US residents only as I can only ship US.

To Enter:
Follow the steps in the Giveaway form.
You can gain extra entries by leaving additional comments.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday Scribbles Vol 13

Hello my friends. Last week, I'd had a wonderful post planned out, and even written in my mind, only when I went to actually type it up, my mind went completely blank and I forgot what I wanted to talk about. Oh well.

So last Friday evening, I was having a pretty typical night. That means I was reading and watching one of my favorite shows, The Amazing Race, and listening to the storm rage outside. Of course pieces of Elsa's song "Let It Go" was going through my mind as I heard the thunder and watched the lightning. Amazing Race was a special two hour episode. The team I was rooting for was having to overcome a few problems and they'd fallen behind. Oh yeah. I also had almost every light on in my apartment. 

Well at 8:30 pm, I lost power. My first thought was that I wouldn't know how my team finished! I've got a couple of flashlights and a camping lantern. The problem? The flashlights were in the car and the lantern was in the kitchen. AND my phone was dead. So what was I going to do? Of course I turned on my flashlight app on the dead phone, and wandered into the kitchen. I fed Kiki (who was upstairs hiding from the storm)and decided that I might as well head upstairs.

So with no electricity, and not being tired, I decided to do something I'd not done since I'd gone camping as a child - read by lantern light. I read and read. Sure, I had review books I could have been reading, but I had rented a new book from the library and I was engrossed. 

Around midnight, I think. I mean my phone was dead and plugged in to the charger, with me hoping that at some point the power would come back on, I finished the book, turned off the lantern, and attempted to fall asleep. With no electricity, that meant no AC. And Houston's spring evenings can be hot and sticky. So my sleep was rather restless.

At 2:30 am, the power came back on. And every light was on downstairs. I decided they could just stay on and all I turned off was the one at the top of the stairs.

So when was the last time you weathered a storm? Or read by lantern light?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten All Time Favorite Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke & The Bookish.

It's Tuesday! And that means it is time for another fun list. Today's topic is the top ten all time favorite authors. This is a HARD topic. But I think I managed.

1. Robin Jones Gunn - She is by far my all time favorite author. I love all of her books.

2. Lori Wick - I think she's retired from writing now, but I still find her books to be delightful rereads

3. Chris Van Alsburg - I love his illustrations. Polar Express is my favorite.

4. JK Rowling - I love the Harry Potter books. I'm currently rereading them with a friend.

5. Julie Lessman - She kinda  sneaked up on me and I have devoured every book since I discovered her.

6. Liz Curtis Higgs - I love her historical books.

7. Rose Gordon - As far as secular books go, I've enjoyed reading Rose's since I discovered her two years ago.

8. CS Lewis - Particularly his Chronicles of Narnia, but I've read others as well.

9. Jody Hedlund - a fairly new favorite of mine. Her books automatically hit my must read list.

10. Francine Rivers - I reread her book Atonement Child on a pretty regular basis. She's deep, but oh so good!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Creole Princess - A Review

Published - April 2015, Revell Books a division of Baker Publishing Group
Series - Gulf Coast Chronicles Book 2
Author - Beth White
Title - The Creole Princess
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon 

The Eastern Coast of the American colonies is engaged in the fight against the British for freedom. Yet in the British held port of Mobile, Alabama, the fight is much quieter though no less deadly. Lyse Lanier has French roots, but spends most of her time with the daughter of the British commander. Rafael Gonzalez is a young, Spanish merchant newly arrived in town. Lyse is attracted to his easy wit and while he thinks she is beautiful and charming, he needs to focus his attentions more on her friend. But is he really what he says he is or is he more? After all, it is war, and spies abound on both sides of the conflict and Spain hasn't yet chosen a side. But as Lyse and Rafael are drawn more and more together, can she trust him with her heart or will he prove to be a liar?

The cover of this book captured my attention much like the first one in the series did last year. Unlike the first one though, this one took me a little longer to get into.

I can say that this is rich in historical detail and it gives some insight into a bit of the Revolution that most people don't know about. Because when I hear about the American Revolution, I immediately think of Boston, and the other eastern states where most of history is focused on. So it was fun to learn a little more about the Louisiana territory during the war.

I liked Lyse a lot. I liked how she grew in the book and developed. And for Rafael, I adored him from the moment he set foot on the page. I loved how he was a man of integrity and fought for what he believed was the right side. The bit of mystery and intrigue in the story only served to move the plot along even more.

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, Laura Frantz, Julie Klassen, Jody Hedlund

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

By Your Side - A Review

Note from Dawn: Friends, if you are looking for a Top Ten Tuesday post today, you're out of luck. There are a couple of reasons for that - 1 I didn't care for the topic and 2 I've got SEVERAL book reviews that MUST get posted. Look for the TTT next week. :)

Published - February 2015, Tyndale House Publishers
Series - Crisis Team Book 1
Author - Candace Calvert
Title - By Your Side
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon 

Summary (from Amazon):
ER nurse Macy Wynn learned essential, gritty lessons in the California foster care system: land on your feet and trust no one. She’s finally located the fellow foster child she loves like a sister, but the girl’s in deep trouble. Macy’s determined to help, no matter what it takes. Her motto is to “make it happen” in any situation life throws at her—even when she butts heads with an idealistic cop.

Deputy Fletcher Holt believes in a higher plan, the fair outcome—and his ability to handle that by himself if necessary. Now he’s been yanked from Houston, his mother is battling cancer, and he’s attracted to a strong-willed nurse who could be the target of a brutal sniper.

When everything goes wrong, where do they put their trust?

My Thoughts:
I've read several of Candace Calvert's books in the past and this one kept my attention the best. Maybe because I've come to know what to expect from one of her books, but I found this one to be better than some of the others of hers I have read. 

I found the book to be very fast-paced. In fact, it starts off with a bang, literally. And as the book progressed, I found that the action remained steady, which was good. 

I liked both Fletcher and Macy. I liked how they were real and struggled. Some of the other characters I actually liked a bit better, but their relationship with Fletcher and Macy served to develop the couple as dynamic characters.

I'll admit that I don't usually read medical related books. Maybe it's because I remember watching ER so much in high school that made me not want to be bogged down in medical details. But this one didn't go over the top with medical terminology. 

Fans of contemporary fiction will enjoy this book.

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

Recommended to fans of DiAnn Mills, contemporary fiction, Irene Hannon

Rating - 4 stars 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Buried Secrets - A Review

Published - April 2015, Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Series - Men of Valor Book 1
Author - Irene Hannon
Title - Buried Secrets
Format - ebook, paper, audio
Find on Amazon

Ready for a more peaceful life after years on the Chicago police force, Lisa Grant takes the police chief position in a small town. But when human remains are discovered at a nearby construction site, Lisa finds herself and her department stretched too thin. With a call for assistance into St. Louis County, Lisa comes into contact with ex-Navy SEAL Mac McGregor. As Lisa and Mac search for answers behind the unmarked grave, they soon find themselves involved in a decades old missing person case. But someone has gone to great lengths to ensure that the past stays buried.

I'm always delighted to pick up one of Irene Hannon's books. I know I'll be taken on very suspenseful ride. This newest is no different.

I really enjoyed it. I found the mystery to be intriguing and the killer's motives to be what kept me turning pages. The dynamics between Mac and Lisa were fun to watch develop. I look forward to seeing them more in the next book too.

While this one was not my favorite of Irene's, it was still good and made for an enjoyable read. I'd read this one rather quickly because I was so interested in it . It was also fun to see a couple of "cameo" appearances from one of the characters in one of her other series. For me, I always enjoy getting a glimpse into the lives of characters whose story is finished.

Fans of romantic suspense will surely 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 Irene Hannon, Lynette Eason, Dee Henderson, romantic suspense

Rating - 4 stars

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Saturday Scribbles Vol 12

It's Saturday my friends. I don't know what your day holds, but for me, it's a rainy day. I've got a busy morning, and I hope to have a nap this afternoon. But we shall see.

A couple of weeks ago, my best friend and I joined her 4 year old doing something that all children love - coloring. True, we weren't coloring with crayons but markers instead, there's still just something so relaxing about pulling out a coloring book and just coloring. I literally just felt worries seep away and was relaxed. I wonder what it is about coloring that makes that happen?

I think that as adults, too often, we don't allow ourselves those moments to just let go and relax. In my opinion, the workplace would be more productive if it allowed for its employees to have a 15 minute period where they can break out the crayons & coloring books. I'm wise enough to realize that that is probably a pretty unrealistic expectation of the corporate workplace. But still, people would be relaxed and would probably be more productive.

But still when was the last time you picked up the crayons and sat down to color? Try it one day. You might realize how much more relaxed you are.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Characters I'd like to check in with

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

Have you ever read a book and wanted to know what happened to the characters AFTER the story (or series) ended? I do that regularly. I end up being so grateful to authors like Janice Thompson, or Robin Jones Gunn who do give glimpses into the lives of their characters AFTER the official series has ended. Well, today's Top Ten is a chance for me to tell you which characters I'd like to check in with and see how they're doing now that their story is over.

1. The O'Malleys from Dee Henderson's O'Malley series - I'd love to know what Kate & Dave, Marcus & Shari, Lisa & Quinn, Jack & Callie, Rachel & Cole, and Stephen & Megan are up to now. I realize they've made "cameo" appearances in some of Henderson's other books, but it's not the same.

2. Minerva McGonagal from the Harry Potter books - Sure there's an epilogue. But that's set 19 years after the end of book 7. So I'd like to meet up with Professor McGonagal and just chat with her. Find out if she is still teaching. You know, that sort of thing.

3. Josh & Sophie Newman from the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott - The twins were such interesting characters that now that the world has been saved, I'd like to know what they are up to.

4. Jake & Meredith Wilde from Robin Jones Gunn's Glenbrooke books - I'm forever thrilled that I'm getting a glimpse into Christy and Todd as a married couple, but Jake & Meri were actually my favorite couple. I'd love to know what they are up to now in Glenbrooke.

5. Renesme Cullen from the Twilight Saga - While I didn't love the Twilight books, I ended up being most fascinated with Bella & Edward's half human half vampire daughter. Fan fiction doesn't do her justice. 

6. Rose Weasley from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Ron's daughter. Fan fiction abounds with her ending up with Scorpius Malfoy - I've even written some like that myself! But what is going on with her now? I'd really like to know.

7. Alex & Marcail Montgomery from Lori Wick's Donovan's Daughter - I loved Alex & Marc. We get a small glimpse of their life in the epilogue of the fourth book, but I want more.

8. Kit and Nat from the Witch of Blackbird Pond - Does Kit get tamed? Do they live happily ever after? I like to assume that they do.

9. Rand al Thor from Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time - So the ending of the Last Battle was pretty epic. But what happens to Rand now? Does he get to live a peaceful life? Will he see his children?

10.  Dinah Carey from Francine Rivers' Atonement Child - The ending of the book left it full of hope for the future, but I'd like to check in with Dinah and Joe and see how they are faring now. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Saturday Scribbles Vol 11 - A Special Sunday Edition

Welcome to a special Sunday edition of Saturday Scribbles.

Today is Easter Sunday. For some that means egg hunts and chocolate rabbits. For me, though it means so much more. For me it is the celebration of Christ's resurrection.

But even that holds a special meaning to me. Because, you see, my salvation story holds Easter dear. It was on Easter Sunday that I came to truly understand exactly what it was that Jesus did for me. I fully understood that I was a sinner and that Jesus was the only answer for my sins. Yes, even at the age of 6, I recognized my need for a Savior.

So Easter is indeed Resurrection Sunday. But it is also my spiritual birthday.

Enjoy the one of my favorite Casting Crowns songs, Glorious Day. This is just the basic one, so no fun pictures with the video.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dauntless - A Review

Published - March 2015, Bethany House Publishers
Series - Valiant Hears Book 1
Author - Dina L. Sleiman
Title - Dauntless
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Once a wealthy baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now living as an outlaw in the forest along with the orphaned children of her former village. Merry and the children soon earn the title of the "Ghosts of Farthingale Forest" because they steal food, clothing, and things to survive leaving no trace of their existence. Yet their fame soon catches the attention of the king when they commandeer a chest of gold meant for the king's treasury and fast become a target of the king's wrath. With bounties on their heads, provided they can be caught, Merry and the children move again and think they are safe. Timothy Grey, the 9th son of a baron, longs to preform some feat that will cause him to earn his own title and rise from obscurity. When he learns that the famous Ghosts of Farthingale Forest have appeared in Wyndeshire, near where he serves as an apprentice to a local earl, Timothy vows to capture them. But this band of thieves isn't all that Timothy expects. And once he comes face to face with their leader, he must decide what is more important - wealth, power, and prestige, or freedom and love.

I've been fascinated with the story of Robin Hood from the time I was little. Probably due in part to the old Errol Flynn movie and in part to the Disney film. So when I read that this was going to a female Robin Hood-ish story, I was certainly intrigued. With this book also being my first exposure to Dina Sleiman, I wasn't sure what to expect from her either.

The book captivated me. There was adventure. There was romance. There were precious characters. There was danger. It literally had everything to make this a wonderful adventure. And I was thrilled with it.

I think that my favorite character in the entire book was little Wren. She was just too precious. Though I also enjoyed Allen. I'm glad to know that the next book will be about him, because I felt that he deserves better than he got.

There were times that I wanted to shake both Merry and Timothy. I felt that they could have grown up a lot too. I understand that while one lost everything and struggled to survive, the other thrived. But these two did manage to push my buttons a lot, probably the reason this is only 4 stars and not 5.

Still, the book was a great adventure. I look forward to more.

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 Robin Hood, adventures, young adult

Rating - 4 stars