Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday Scribbles Vol 2.4

Happy Saturday everyone! One of my friends is an artist, and she has been posting pictures of her journal making on Facebook. It's been fun to see the pictures and to watch her process.

It made me think about my own journals. I have quite a few. Some of them are filled. Others aren't so much. My current one is one that I use to write my thoughts in during my quiet times.

But I found one of my older ones from college the other day. I was looking back through the entries and I thought, wow, so much has changed since then. I wrote poetry, stories, prayers, Biblestudy thoughts, and more. So I thought that I'd share just portions of a few entries with all of you today. By the way, they are all pictures.

A poem called the Rose I wrote July 1, 1999

A portion of an entry called "Christmas Spoons" written in August/September 1999

CRU's fall retreat Oct 2, 1999.

Oct 3, 1999 - This was on the CRU Fall Retreat during the free time in the afternoon. I wasn't able to participate in the games due to a badly sprained wrist, so I started writing. This is the beginning of my novel, Callie.

November 9, 1999 - CRU girls Bible Study. 

Notes from either a sermon or a quiet time - January/February 2000

A poem I wrote June 28, 2000

Friday, January 29, 2016

Thin Ice - A Review

Published - January 2016, Revell Books
Series - Men of Valor Book 2
Author - Irene Hannon
Title - Thin Ice
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Over the past year, Christy Reed has lost her parents in a car accident and her sister in a house fire. Having finally gotten to a point where she feels that her grief is manageable and that she can move on, she receives in the mail an envelope addressed in her sister's handwriting with a note claiming she's still alive. Warned against contacting the police, Christy reaches out to the FBI office. Special Agent Lance McGregor is the agent who is available to meet with her. As he digs into the case, he has more questions than answers. He also finds himself fighting his attraction to Christy. But when her life is threatened, can Lance and his agents solve the case before Christy is killed?

I've enjoyed every single one of Irene Hannon's romantic suspense books that I've read. While this is the second one in a series, it stands alone. I'd been told that this book would be a page turner, and the friend who told me that was correct. This book is indeed a page turner.

The action in this book starts with a bang and kept me turning pages until the end. I enjoyed catching up with Lance's brother Mac in this book too.

I liked Lance. I liked how he went with his gut on so many different decisions. I love the bond that he shares with his brothers. And I'm really looking forward to Finn's book when it comes out late this year or next year.

While this review may not be as detailed as some of my others, it's not that I didn't enjoy the book. It's just that it's hard to talk about the book without giving away MAJOR spoilers, so it's a shorter review.

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

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

Rating - 4 stars

Thursday, January 28, 2016

With This Ring - A Review

Published - January 2016, Bethany House Books
Authors - Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Mary Connealy, Melissa Jagears
Title - With This Ring
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

In this collection of four novellas, four different couples find love in unusual circumstances.

The Husband Maneuver by Karen Witemeyer
About the story: Marietta Hawkins has loved Daniel Barrett for years. She loves both the man and the dime novel hero. When she hears that he may be leaving her father's ranch, she takes matters into her own hands.

My thoughts: This novella is a compliment to Karen's Worthy Pursuit. I really enjoyed getting to see Daniel again. I'd have loved for his story to be a full length novel, but this novella was still a sweet read. Rating - 4 stars

Her Dearly Unintended by Regina Jennings - When Josiah Huckabee assists Katie Ellen with ensuring that her cows are safely across the river, he doesn't expect to be stranded with her! When a stranger arrives, Josiah and Katie Ellen must pretend to be newlyweds to ensure Katie Ellen's safety. But can this pretend match become something real and lasting?

My thoughts: Having not read any books in her Ozark series, I had no idea this was connected to those books. It really does stand alone. I enjoyed this one. It's funny and sweet at the same time. Rating - 4 stars

Runaway Bride by Mary Connealy - Big John Conway has been hired by Audra Kincaid to escort her younger sister to the family's ranch in Colorado in order for her to escape an arranged marriage. When word gets out that Carrie is missing and has been spotted in Big John's company, he has no choice but to divert to Broken Wheel where his Regulator friends can help him stop this latest bit of trouble in Texas. The only thing he didn't expect is to fall for woman he's supposed to be rescuing.

My thoughts: I think that this one was probably my favorite one. I'd always felt that of all of the Regulators, Big John needed his own happy ending. I loved seeing him with his friends and with Carrie. Rating - 4.5 stars

Engaging the Competition by Melissa Jagears - Harrison and Charlotte - known as Charlie - have always been competitors. When his glasses are broken while he's checking on her safety during a strong spring storm, Charlie feels that she has no choice but to help him with his teaching. While the forced togetherness may be fine for most people, Charlie's engaged - and not to Harrison! Will these two manage to put their competitive natures behind and possibly discover love in the process?

My thoughts: This one was fun to read. I loved how Harrison kept putting Charlie's well being ahead of his own desires and that she was determined to save her family farm so that her mother could happily live where the memories of her father were the strongest. Rating - 4 stars

Overall thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read, though it did take me several days to get through. For fans of these authors, you will enjoy this book. For someone who isn't sure about these authors, then I recommend trying it. The stories are all entertaining.

Rating - 4 stars

I received a copy from one of the authors for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

An Undaunted Hope - A Review

Published - January 2016, Bethany House Books
Series - Beacons of Hope Book 3
Author - Jody Hedlund
Title - An Undaunted Hope
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Tessa Taylor is looking forward to starting over in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a teacher. She's hoping to escape her past. Upon her arrival, she's dismayed to discover that there was a mistake. The town requested a male teacher. Homeless, jobless, and with winter setting in, Percival Updegraff agrees to let her remain as the teacher until spring which then places  Tessa into his debt. A debt that he won't hesitate to collect upon. Determined to bot be replaced come spring, Tessa throws herself into teaching the town's children and soon two adorable children feel she's the perfect match for their widowed father, the lighthouse keeper. Yet their uncle, the assistant keeper, has his own feelings for Tessa. Tessa soon finds both brothers competing for her hand, and begins to feel that someone is tracking her every move.

When Tessa was first introduced in Hearts Made Whole, I didn't like her at all. It takes a really talented author to take a character that I didn't like and turn that character into one that has me rooting for her. Jody Hedlund is one such author. While this book wasn't my favorite in the series, that privilege belongs to Hearts Made Whole and Ryan Chambers, it was a very gripping read.

First, I love how Tessa has learned what grace is and how to give it. Even when her past comes back to haunt her, she still shows grace to those who are set at ruining her. She's not the spoiled child any longer. She's grown up and it shows.

I liked Alex from the moment he stepped into the story. I loved how supportive he was of his brother. And the children were adorable! I really think that his niece and nephew were my favorite characters in the book.

Like her other books, Jody has done a fabulous job with crating her story around a remote lighthouse in Michigan. I love the way that she brilliantly brings to life her settings and her characters. I think that alone is one of the reason she's become one of my favorite authors. Because whenever I pick up a Jody Hedlund book, I know I'm in for a rich story with complex characters.

I received the book for free from the author to help promote it. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Jody Hedlund, historical fiction, Elizabeth Camden, Kristi Anne Hunter

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Freebie - Top Ten Book Friendships

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the Broke & the Bookish.

This week, the topic is a freebie. Since I was talking about friendships on Saturday with my Scribbles post, I decided to carry this theme over to books today and focus on the top ten book friendships.

So here are my top ten.

1. Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling - These three have each other's backs, they defend one another, tease each other, and overall are just a remarkable friendship.

2. Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins from the Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien - Sam is so loyal. He will do anything to help out Frodo, even carry his burden for him.

3. Charlotte and Wilbur from Charlotte's Web by EB White - A pig and a spider are an unusual set of friends. But they are. She saves his life and the he ensures the survival of her children.

4. Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh from the Pooh books by AA Milne - I'm noticing a theme here of authors with just initials. ;) But while Pooh is really just Christopher's stuffed teddy bear that lives in the 100 Acre Wood, to Christopher, Pooh is his best friend. He's Christopher's companion. This would be true also with Calvin & Hobbs. I still have my Pooh bear. And my best friend's three year old has this same kind of relationship with her Pinky dog.

5. Marcus, Kate, Lisa, Jack, Rachel, Stephen, and Jennifer O'Malley from Dee Henderson's O'Malley series - These seven were such great friends that they chose to become their own family. They adopted each other and care for each other just like family.

6. The Marauders of James Potter, Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, and Remus Lupin from the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling - At least while these four were at school, they were great friends. Yet for the most part, their friendship continued beyond school. We of course know that one of the four betrayed James & Lily resulting in Harry growing up without his parents.

7. Luke Stone, Dare Riker, Vince Yates, Jonas Cahill, and Big John Conway from the Trouble in Texas Series by Mary Connealy - They spent time together in Andersonville Prison during the Civil War. Their experiences have bound them together in such a way that when is in trouble, they all respond.

8. Anne Shirley and Diana Barry from the Anne of Green Gables books by Lucy Maude Montgomery - Anne's a romantic, a dreamer, and full of spunk. Diana is her complete opposite. Yet these two girls become "bosom" friends from the moment that they meet. While I've grown up on both the books and the movies, the movies are some of my favorites.

9. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson from the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - The world's greatest detective and his friend. I've read most, if not all, of the Sherlock stories. Even though Holmes is hard to work with and to be around, I love the fact that Watson is faithfully by his side.

And finally, because I can't think of another one,

10. Christy Miller & Katie Weldon from Robin Jones Gunn's Christy Miller books - These two really do feel like my own "forever" friends. They meet when Christy moves to California at the beginning of her sophomore year of high school. Add while they are really more of acquaintances first, of Christy's new friends, Katie is the only one who sticks by her when Christy needs her. Their relationship reminds me so much of the relationship that I have with one of my "sisters." And they are probably some of my favorite fictional characters of all time.

What other great book friendships can you think of?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Curio - A Review

Published - January 2016 Thomas Nelson/Zondervan
Author - Evangeline Denmark
Title - Curio
Format - ebook, hardcover
Find on Amazon

Grey Haward's family is different. Both her father and her grandfather do not need the life giving potion that the Chemists who rule their town give out in order to survive. She suspects that she is like them. But she's always followed the rules. When her best friend Whit is caught by the Chemists one night while trying to protect her, Grey sees the results of his punishment and suddenly taking risks doesn't matter. When she discovers that the Chemists know her family's secret, Grey panics and runs to the only place she feels safe - her grandfather's curio shop. Her refuge isn't to be though. She soon learns that she is the only person who can save a young man trapped in a world of porcelain people and clockwork people inside an enchanted cabinet in the shop. Leaving the world she knows behind, Grey soon finds herself fighting for her life against the porcelain people in Curio City. Will Grey save the young man and return to set things right in her world, or will they be stuck in the cabinet forever?

When I first picked this one up to read, I found myself easily distracted. Then I discovered that there was a prequel novella that is free. So I picked up that and read it. While it is not necessary to read the prequel to enjoy this book, I found it very helpful to do so.

I wasn't sure what to expect to be perfectly honest. This book is a cross between Young Adult fantasy and Young Adult dystopian. But as I read, I was captivated. There are three main points of view to this book - Grey, Blaise, and Whit.

I really think that Blaise was my favorite character. I loved seeing him try to fit in with the porcies and tocks in Curio City. I also loved how helped Grey out and was determined to save her life when it came to it.

I'm hoping that this is the first book in a series as there were several threads that  need to be explored further.

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

Recommended to fans of young adult fiction, the Lunar Chronicles, Kiera Cass

Rating - 4 stars

The Silver Suitcase - A Review

Note from Dawn - This week and next will be heavy on book reviews. There may be some days that have multiple posts in one day.

Published - January 2016, Waterfall Press
Author - Terrie Todd
Title - The Silver Suitcase
Format - ebook, paper, audio
Find on Amazon

Two women, decades apart, joined by the secrets in one suitcase. In 1939, Canada is teetering on war. Farmgirl Cornelia's heart hasn't been the same since she lost her mother five years before and blames God. When a young man named Henry arrives for the summer, the two become close. When tragedy strikes again, Cornelia doesn't know what to do. She's alone with a secret, so she makes a choice that will haunt her for decades to come. Unable to talk to anyone, she pours out her heart to her diary. Decades later, Cornelia's granddaughter, Benita, is struggling in her marriage. In the span of a week, she experiences several losses including the death of her beloved grandmother. The resulting emotional toll take their place on Benita seeking her to discover her grandmother's diary. Can the secrets of her grandmother's life bring healing to her own?

This book intrigued me because the cover is so pretty. I'll admit that I didn't know anything about the book or the author before picking it up.

I was rather surprised at how quickly I was drawn into Cornelia's story, especially her diary. My heart for all she went through. Benita on the other hand, kinda of annoyed me. I found that she didn't like to let go of controlling things. But the way things worked out, made it all worth it in the end.

I'll probably read more by this author because her style was quick and easy to follow along with.

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

Recommended to fans of Tracie Peterson, WWII fiction, historical & contemporary fiction, women's fiction.

Rating - 4 stars

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Saturday Scribbles Vol 2.3

Happy Saturday my friends! So last week's Saturday Scribbles didn't happen because I forgot to hit the publish button, so I have added to it for this week.

My pastor has started a series about friendship. I'm really enjoying it. But it has made me think about the friendships I've had in my life, the ones I currently have, and things like that.

Some of my friendships have moved on and we no longer stay in touch. There was a girl who lived on the street we lived on when I was very little. I think that her name is Stephanie. She and I were very good friends for a few years. After we moved, I didn't keep in touch with her. Then there was Melanie. For years we were pretty good friends. At least through much of my early elementary school years. After she moved, we still managed to get together on occasion. But once again, we no longer are in touch. I could probably attempt to find them on Facebook, but I'm really ok with not.

Because friendships change over the years. While I'll admit that I have several Facebook friends from elementary, junior high, and high school that I count as "friends", they're really not the ones that I'd share my heart with. Truthfully, they're not.

There have been friends whose exit from my life I've truly missed. They're ones that were special for a season.

Some of my friendships have spanned decades. And we're still in touch today. Beyond Facebook. We may have lost touch for a while, but we're still friends today.

Then there are those friendships that have moved beyond the label of friend. These are the ones that have evolved into family. These are the friendships that I share my heart with. The ones that support me. The ones who aren't afraid to tell me when I'm wrong. The ones that are my biggest cheerleaders. The ones that hold me accountable and expect me to hold them accountable. These have become my sisters. These friendships are more than best friends. We laugh together. Cry together. Talk. And the important thing is that we spend time together. While I only get to see one of these sisters a couple of times a year, I know that I can count on her to be there for me anytime I need it and she can do the same with me. One of these sisters is one I  see very regularly. While one friendship has spanned 30+ years, another between 15 and 20, the third has only been in my life for the past 11 years, all three of these women are special to me.

Celebrate your friends whether they are online or face to face. The relationships are true.

What are some of your special friendships?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Painter's Daughter - A Review

Published - December 2015, Bethany House Publishers
Author - Julie Klassen
Title - The Painter's Daughter
Format - ebook, paper, audio
Find on Amazon

Captain Stephen Overtree is used to cleaning up his brother's messes. When he arrives in the Devonshire village where his brother had said he'd be painting, he finds his brother disappeared and the painter's daughter, Sophie Dupont, left pregnant and alone. To rescue the young lady and keep a scandal from smearing her reputation, Stephen proposes a marriage in name only. Her child will have a name and should he be killed, Sophie would be a respectable widow. Sophie agrees knowing that it is the best decision. Yet why does her heart feel torn between her husband and the man who fathered her child? When Wesley arrives home, will Sophie seek a future with the father of her child or will she have discovered that she's fallen in love with her husband?

Once again, Julie Klassen has written a beautiful gothic tale of romance, betrayal, and mystery. While I found found the book to be really good, it didn't enthrall me like The Secret of Pembrooke Park did.

I loved the way that Stephen treated Sophie. I loved that he went out of his way to ensure that she was going to be provided for. I especially loved that he set up a studio for her to paint and to be creative. I loved that he wasn't willing to let her go.

Sophie, on the other hand, was hard for me to really like. I did come to like her. But for much of the story, I thought that she needed to stand up for herself. And Wesley needed to grow up.

Still, the book was beautifully written and like her others, makes me want to visit England.

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

Recommended to fans of Jane Eyre, Jane Austen, Julie Klassen, Regency fiction, Sarah Ladd

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books Recently Added to my to read list

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the Broke & the Bookish.

Today's topic is the about books on my to-read list. It's actually the top ten most recently added to my list. This topic was done recently, like in the fall, but my list has changed since then.

For me, it's a good thing that I use Goodreads to track this.

Here is my list. Most of them aren't published yet. Most of them are middle grade/young adult this time. Because it seems that lately, I've added a lot of YA books to my list.

1. Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas - This is the rest of Sleeping Beauty's tale.

2. Heartless by Marissa Meyer - A new series by the author of the Lunar Chronicles? Yes please.

3. Traveler by Arwen Elys Dayton - I read Seeker last year. I'd like to read the next installment.

4. On Lone Star Trail by Amanda Cabot - it's the third book in a series I've been enjoying.

5. The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury - It's an Aladdin retelling. Besides the cover is pretty.

6. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer - This comes out next month. And I'm super excited about it.

7. Percy Jackson and the Stolen Chariot by Rick Riordan - No idea what this one is about but I saw it when I was browsing one day.

8. The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan - This is book 2 in the Mangus Chase series. It's due out this fall.

9. The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck - Her books are amazing!

10. Beyond the Silence by Tracie Peterson & Kimberly Woodhouse - Of all of the ones on my list, this one will probably be read rather soon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten 2015 Releases I wanted to read but didn't

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the Broke & the Bookish

This week's topic is about the releases from 2015 that we wanted to read, but didn't get to. Most of mine are coming from my review emails. 

Here is my list in no particular order.

1. Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White - I actually own this one. Maybe someday soon, like next month, I can get to it.

2. Red Girl, Blue Boy by Lauren Baratz-Logsted - I've only read one of these If Only books. And I liked it. This looks like a fun one.

3. Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden - I missed this one when it was available to review. I enjoy her books, so I have a feeling I'll like this one.

4. Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason - This has been getting some pretty high reviews. I keep looking at it and admiring the pretty cover.

5. After a Fashion by Jen Turano - When I finally got around to reading one of her books this year, I was surprised by how delightful she is. 

6. Love Everlasting by Tracie Peterson - This one I want to read just because the cover is pretty. 

7. Midwife's Tale by Delia Parr - I've heard a lot about her books, but as far as I'm aware, I've not actually read any.

8. Lightning by Bonnie S. Calhoun - I thought I requested this one to review, but evidently I didn't. The first book ended on a cliffhanger, so I'd like to read book 2.

9. Mirrored by Alex Finn - Another pretty cover. It's also a fairy tale retelling, so I really should check these books out.

10. Told You So by Kristen Heitzmann - It's been a while since I read one of her books. This one looks pretty good.