Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Fool and His Monet - A Review

Published - March 2016, Revell Books
Series - Serena Jones Mystery Book 1
Author - Sandra Orchard
Title - A Fool and His Monet
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon 

Summary (From Amazon):
Serena Jones has a passion for recovering lost and stolen art--one that's surpassed only by her zeal to uncover the truth about the art thief who murdered her grandfather. She's joined the FBI Art Crime Team with the secret hope that one of her cases will lead to his killer. Now, despite her mother's pleas to do something safer--like get married--Serena's learning how to go undercover to catch thieves and black market traders.

When a local museum discovers an irreplaceable Monet missing, Jones leaps into action. The clues point in different directions, and her boss orders her to cease investigating her most promising suspect. But determined to solve the case and perhaps discover another clue in her grandfather's murder, she pushes ahead, regardless of the danger.

My Thoughts:
I'm in a minority here, but I couldn't get into the book. The characters are quirky, which always makes for entertaining reading, but I was very easily distracted with this book. I frequently found myself putting it down and not coming back to it.

Still, I enjoyed the mystery part of the book. I enjoy mysteries. But I'm not sure on the whole love triangle thing.

When book 2 comes out, I might give it a try, but I might not too.

I received this book for free from Revell Books 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.

Recommend to fans of mysteries

Rating - 3 stars

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Playing the Part - A Review

Published - March 2016, Bethany House
Series - Class of Their Own Book 3
Author - Jen Turano
Title - Playing the Part
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Lucetta Plum is the darling of the New York stage. When her stepfather offers her up as payment for his outstanding gambling debts, Lucetta has no choice but to abandon her starring role and seek shelter at the estate of the grandson of her widowed friend, Abigail Hart. Since Lucetta has no interest in Abigail's matchmaking schemes, she hopes to remain politely cordial to Bram Haverstein, Abigail's grandson and owner of the estate. Bram's eccentric in his own right, and is fascinated with a certain actress, yet his secrets could change the course of everything. As Lucetta and Bram get to know each other through a series of misadventures, both realize that it's time to drop the roles they've assumed and play the parts that they were meant to play.

I loved this book! I knew going in to expect humorous situations, but I was literally giggling through the entire book. Of the ones in this series, I think that this one is my favorite.

Bram and Lucetta's first meeting isn't all that normal. I mean, she's tossed in the moat of his castle! Plus there are walking suits of armor, a skirt eating goat, and a ton of other misadventures that the pair face. I loved their chemistry and their interactions.

I also loved the secondary characters. Some of them really stole the show. Plus it was good to catch up with Millie and Harriet.

Overall, this book was very light-hearted and delightful.

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

Recommended to fans of Janice Thompson, Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Jody Hedlund, Regina Jennings

Rating - 5 stars

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Red Door Inn - A Review

Published - March 2016, Revell Books
Series - Prince Edward Island Dreams Book 1
Author - Liz Johnson
Title - The Red Door Inn
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Marie Carrington left Boston to escape bad memories and her father. She has no money and no place to go. When she meets Jack Sloane, he sees in her a hurting soul and offers her a place to stay in exchange for helping him and his nephew renovate a bed & breakfast. Seth Sloane thinks his uncle is crazy for bringing a woman they know nothing about home. Seth's hurting himself and was hoping that the island could bring healing to his heart. Yet as he attempts to get close to Marie, he finds that she's very skittish around him. Can his persistence wear her down? Will both of these two hurting hearts find healing?

I loved this book. First it was set of Prince Edward Island and had a lot of references to Anne of Green Gables. Second, the characters gripped me from the first page.

As I read, I found myself falling in love with the townspeople and hurting for Marie. I wanted to shake Seth once or twice, but even when he acted incredibly stupid, I found myself rooting for him.

The characters in this book were very deep. I discovered that each one had many layers to them, and I am looking forward to revisiting the island in the next 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 women's fiction, Karen Kingsbury, Denise Hunter, Colleen Coble

Rating - 5 stars

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Latest Books I Gave 5 Stars To

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

Today's topic is about the books that I rate 5 stars. Only it's not just any books, it's my most recent ones, which has me going back to last fall.

So in no particular order, here they are.

1. Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson - I loved this beautiful book set in Prince Edward Island. Look for the review soon.

2. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer - A perfect companion to the Lunar Chronicles, it took me over a month to read it as I didn't want to say goodbye. Review should be up soon.

3. You're the One that I Want by Susan May Warren - Owen's story is well worth the wait. Another one where my review will be posted soon, like in the next week or so.

4. Glimmer of Hope by Julie Lessman - I think I've loved every single one of Julie's books, and this one was no different.

5. Where She Belongs by Johnnie Alexander - This new to me author dazzled me with this book.

6. Winter by Marissa Meyer - The fourth installment in the Lunar Chronicles takes place on Luna. While it is mostly Winter's story, Cinder has a big role in it.

7. Love in the Details by Becky Wade - This novella was just so much fun!

8. One More Wish by Robin Jones Gunn - The third in the Christy & Todd Married Years series, it had me sighing happily when I finished it.

9. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling - I was reading it with a friend of mine who hasn't yet read the series, so it was a reread, but well worth it.

10. Playing the Part by Jen Turano - Of the ones in this series, I think I enjoyed this the most. They are each delightful though. Review soon.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Saturday Scribbles Vol 2.10 - Special Sunday Edition

Welcome to a special Sunday edition of Saturday Scribbles.

Today is Easter Sunday. For me, it means so much. You see, 32 years ago on this day, I realized my need for a Savior. Yes I was only 6 years old, but I still understood that I wasn't perfect.

So today is so much more than the bunny. It's the day that my Savior rose from his grave and conquered death!

So however you choose to celebrate, Happy Easter!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Brooklyn on Fire - A Review

Published - January 2016, Random House
Series - Mary Handley Mystery Book 2
Author - Lawrence H. Levy
Format - ebook, paper, audio
Find on Amazon

On the heels of assisting the Brooklyn Police Department in solving a very notable case, Mary Handley is hoping that the case would launch her career as a detective. Yet she's finding that isn't the case. When Emily Worsham shows up at Mary's office saying that her uncle has been murdered, Mary takes the case. As she investigates, she soon finds herself in the midst of a series of interconnected murders, a high stakes family scandal, and more. Yet danger is still lurking with each new clue that unfolds.

This book caught my attention in that Mary is a female Sherlock Holmes-type character. I enjoy a good mystery and unexpected twists.

Yet, I struggled with this one.  I'm not sure if it's because there was a large cast of characters and I wasn't completely sure as to how they were connected. Or if I got bogged down in tedious details. Either way it took me a long time to finish this book.

Overall, the book was good. As the mystery unfolded, I have to give the author credit, I hadn't figured out the solution/guilty party early on in the book, like I usually do.

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

Recommended to fans of Sherlock Holmes.

Rating - 3.5 stars, rounded to 3.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I love but haven't gushed over lately

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

Today's topic is about favorites that I've not talked about lately, or in a while. Sorry it's later than usual. I actually forgot.

1. The Glenbrooke Series by Robin Jones Gunn - I seriously love these books. She's my favorite author and I can't talk about her books enough.

2. The Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen Series by Robin Jones Gunn - Once again, I love these books. I feel like they are old friends.

3. The Californian Series by Lori Wick - I don't talk about these enough. These are some other books that I feel like I'm visiting old friends when I read them.

4. Charlotte's Web by EB White - This class children's book is still one of my favorites. I don't talk about it nearly enough though.

5. The O'Malley Series by Dee Henderson - This is the series that probably sold me on romantic suspense. Her later books aren't the same quality.

6. The China Garden by Liz Berry - I discovered this book in college. And it fascinated me. I've read it several times since then to the point that my copy is practically falling apart.

7. Here Burns My Candle and Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs - Her historicals are amazing. This set takes the story of Ruth and sets it in Scotland during the time of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

8. The Gifting Series by K. E. Ganshert - This is the YA dystopian series that Katie Ganshert has written. I read all three in the space of a weekend because I couldn't put them down.

9. The Royal Wedding Series by Rachel Hauck - This is a series that has delighted me from the beginning. I love it.

10. The Christiansen Family Novels by Susan May Warren - My review on the final one in this series should be up this week or next week. But this family is delightful.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday Scribbles Vol 2.9

Happy Saturday my friends. I woke up this morning to rain hitting my window. Even Kiki didn't wake me up demanding her breakfast. Rainy Saturdays remind me of that childhood rhyme that goes like this "What can you do on a rainy day when you can't go out to play?" I'm sure that there is more to the rhyme than that one line, but I can't remember it.

So what will I do today? I'll probably curl up with a book and a movie. I plan on getting some housework done. And attempt to figure out where I put my Alaskan Courage series so that I can take it to my mom's. She wants to borrow them. But other than that, I have zero plans for the day.

What do you like to do on rainy days?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Dancing Up A Storm - A Review

Published - February 2016, Hope Springs Books
Author - various authors
Title - Dancing Up a Storm
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

A collection of nine Christian short stories that are built around the theme of dancing. These are the winners from a contest that the publisher held.

My thoughts:
For the most part, I enjoyed these stories. I loved how each author chose to use the theme of dancing in a different way. Some used it in a literal sense as in the characters were dancing while others used it in a more metaphorical sense as in the characters had to decide whether or not to do the right thing. There is something for everyone here - historical romance, contemporary romance, general historical/contemporary fiction, fantasy, and futuristic. Some of the stories I really wished were longer. Others, I didn't really care for. My favorites were probably "When I'm Gone," "Dancing Hands," and "Night Dance." It was a quick read.

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

Recommended to fans of all genres, short stories, Christian Fiction

Overall Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books on my spring to be read list

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

This week, the topic is what is on my spring to be read list. Since I rarely pay attention to what is on my list, let alone splitting that list into seasons, I just decided to do the top ten books I hope  to read this spring.

1. Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund - This is the second book in her medieval young adult series, and I can't wait to dive into it. It's sitting prettily on a shelf waiting for me to open it up.

2. You're the One That I Want by Susan May Warren - Yes I've had this one since January, but haven't had time to pick it up yet. Definitely this spring.

3. Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer - I really enjoyed the first Banister Falls book last year and am really looking forward to this one.

4. Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg - I can't wait for this one. It's probably one I'm the most excited about.

5. Her One and Only by Becky Wade - I've got an advance digital copy right now, and I'm happily savoring this one. I'll get the paperback when it comes out as I need it to complete my collection.

6. Every Bride Has Her Day by Janice Thompson - I can't wait to be delighted with the conclusion to the Brides with Style series. This is one that will certainly be worth a giggle.

7. Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin - I don't think I've read one of Sarah's books I've not enjoyed. I can't wait for this book 2 in the Waves of Freedom series.

8. A Season to Love by Nicole Deese - The cover captured my attention. I've got a NetGalley copy on my kindle and I hope to get it read this spring.

9. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer - I think I'm reluctant to say goodbye to the Lunar Chronicles. I've had this one since the day it came out, but I've only read a couple of the stories in it. Definitely this spring.

10. The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan - Have I mentioned that I love his books? This is the  first of a new series set in Percy Jackson's world. Apollo has done something to anger Zeus, so Zeus turned him mortal.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Step by Step - A Review

Published - February 2016, Tyndale House
Series - Crisis Team Book 2
Author - Candace Calvert
Title - Step by Step
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Widowed ER nurse, Taylor Cabot is determined to move on after three years. She is slowing checking things off of her survival list. She moved to San Diego in the hopes of starting back over without the painful memories that still haunt her. She's even considering the possibility of dating again, and is in a relationship, of a sort, with a plastic surgeon. When crisis chaplain, Seth Donovan, steps back into her life, Taylor is forced to confront the unanswered questions surrounding her husband's death. Seth's in San Diego to train the crisis volunteers. He wants to get to the truth behind the surface reasons Taylor has given for taking herself off of the crisis team. When a crisis hits the community and several lives are at stake, both Taylor and Seth must work together for the sake of the community. But is is possible that hope can be added to the survival list and have a chance at blossoming in the midst of adversity?

First of all, I just have to say that I love this cover. Of all of the books I've read by Candace Calvert, this cover is my favorite.

For some reason, most of Candace Calvert's books are hard for me to get into. I'm not sure why. I'm happy to say that this one wasn't hard to get into at all. I had met both Taylor and Seth in the first book, and so getting to know them better in this book was a plus.

Taylor made me laugh at the way that she's just crossing off items on her list. But as I got to know her, I realized that she was hurting, and only really going through the motions. I loved Seth from the moment that he set foot on the page. I also loved how he was with Taylor. He didn't let her get away with easy answers.

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

Recommended to fans of women's fiction, medical romance, Candace Calvert, Denise Hunter, Colleen Coble

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Bedtime Snuggles - A Review

Published - March 2016, Worthy Publishers
Author - Patricia Reeder Eubank
Title - Bedtime Snuggles
Format - board book
Find on Amazon

Told in rhyme, baby animals get tucked in for bed at night.

My Thoughts:
This was super cute. The way that it was illustrated, it seems that you can almost feel the fur of the animals.

I read this one aloud to my best friend's daughters. All three of them loved it (ages almost 2, 3.5, and 5). Each child had a different favorite page.

The illustrations are bright and beautiful. They really engage the kids. Also the text was very simple and made the kids smile.

I received this book for free from Worthy's First Look Blog Tour for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to parents of young children, toddlers

Rating - 5 stars

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Characters Everyone Loves but I just don't get

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

Today's top ten is about characters. The official topic is the top ten characters everyone else loves that I don't get OR the top ten characters I love that no one else seems to get

I have a feeling that I'm in the minority in several of these, but oh well.

1. Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice - Yeah I don't see what the fuss is about him. I really don't.

2. Peeta Melark from Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games - For some reason, I didn't really like him when he walked onto the page. I get him, but I don't really like him.

3. Edward Cullen from Stephanie Meyer's Twilight books - I think that this sparkly vampire is very immature and not well written.

4. Princess Winter from Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles - Don't get me wrong, I've loved each of the books in the Lunar Chronicles, but Princess Winter was probably my least favorite character.

5. Tyrion Lannister from George R R Martin's Song of Ice and Fire Series - Sure he's rather entertaining to read about, but I just don't really care for him.

6. The Baxter Family from the Baxter Series by Karen Kingsbury - I've read all of the Baxter books. While I enjoyed the first five the best (Redemption, Remember, Return, Rejoice, Reunion), the characters in the others were not nearly as developed as the ones from the Redemption series. I can't pinpoint a specific character that I didn't like that everyone else has loved, so I went with the entire series.

7. Tris and Four from the Divergent Series - I stopped reading after book 1. I wasn't too interested in it, so I don't understand the hype around these two. Maybe if I read the others I'll understand.

8. Nancy Drew from the Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene - Yes I read Nancy Drew when I was growing up. But I don't really get her. I mean she's the only child of a rich father who evidently is pretty busy with his life, and it's like she gets into all sorts of trouble. I don't get it.

9. Perrin from Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books - Yes, I know he's very pivotal to the story. But he became a whole lot less interesting to read about after he married Faile.

10. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird - I didn't understand her when I read the book in school. As an adult, I still don't understand her.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Berenstain Bears Easter Blessings - A Review

Published - January 2016, Worthy Publishers
Author - Mike Berenstain
Title - The Berenstain Bears Easter Blessings
Format -  board book
Find on Amazon

In this addition to the popular series, Brother and Sister Bear learn what they are blessed with.

My thoughts:
I grew up reading the Berenstain Bears books. I think I had a collection of almost all of them. They are still some of my favorites.

Mike Berenstain has continued his parents' series. This particular book is delightful and engaging. My best friend's almost two year old loved it.

What I really loved about this book, as opposed to the ones that I grew up with, is that there is a much more Christian feel to the book. I love the fact that the cubs learn that the biggest blessing of all for Easter is the resurrection of Jesus.

This is a wonderful addition to the Berenstain Bears collection.

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

Recommended to fans of the Berenstain Bears, parents of young children, teachers, librarians

Rating - 4 stars

Saturday Scribbles Vol 2.8

Happy Saturday my friends. Today is a beautiful day. Spring has unofficially arrived in Houston. The temperatures have been in the 70's most of the week. And the pollen counts have been crazy high. Which all adds up to spring arriving.

Spring is my favorite season, I think. Yes I know, I can't breathe for half of it (hello allergies!), but there's something about spring in general that makes me smile. Maybe it's the fact that wildflowers bloom like crazy. Or that farms have an abundance of baby animals. Or the fact that there's Easter.

Spring in Texas means that the hill country hillsides become covered in bluebonnets. Where I'm at in Houston is just a short drive to Brenham and other popular locations for photo shoots of the abundance of bluebonnets growing along the sides of the road. My cousin has a field in her backyard and every year, she has a beautiful bluebonnet crop.

These pictures were taken about 6 years ago in my cousin's backyard. And if you notice, you'll see that they were also used in my blog's title picture.

What are some of your favorite spring flowers?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Kissed by A Cowboy - A Review

Published - February 2016, Thomas Nelson Publishers
Series - Four of Hearts Ranch Romance Book 3
Author - Debra Clopton
Title - Kissed By a Cowboy
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Cassidy Starr has returned to Wishing Spring after hard divorce. She wants to put her aunt's farm back in operation and raise organic strawberries as well as open a bed and breakfast. She's done with love. Jarrod Monahan's got his own troubles. He's running the family cattle ranch and trying to track down some rustlers. He's never forgotten the girl next door though. When he learns that the one woman who stole his heart years ago has moved in next door, he can't help but see this as a second chance. Despite the fact that she wants nothing to do with him or love. But as their lives collide, will Cassidy recognize the fact that not all men are like her ex-husband, and will she give the cowboy she still loves a second chance?

Whenever I read one of Debra Clopton's books, I know a couple of things. First, there will be cowboys. Second, it's usually hilarious. This book is true on both accounts. It's the third in the series, but does stand alone.

I loved Jarrod's pursuit of Cassidy. I loved that he realized when he was rushing her and took a step back. But I also loved how he was the wonderful good neighbor and was there to help her out when she needed it. I thought that Cassidy was a little too determined to hang onto her plans.

The secondary characters, as usual, are delightful. I love the town of Wishing Springs and the people who live there. In this one, I really liked Doc's pig Clover.

It's a quick read. I also found it to be very light-hearted.

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

Recommended to fans of Debra Clopton, Love Inspired, cowboys, Mary Connealy, Janice Thompson, Lacy Williams

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books to read if in the mood for WWII fiction

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

Today's topic is the top ten books to read if in the mood for _____. So I decided to do WWII fiction.

1. The Wings of the Nightingale Series by Sarah Sundin - This trilogy is my first experience with Sarah's books. I loved them. In fact, all of her books are wonderful. For fans of WWII, I highly recommend them.

2. The Zion Covenant Series by Brock & Bodie Thoene - I remember reading this AGES ago, and my mom loved them. They're really good.

3. The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss - I read this one in junior high. It's a fictionalized account of the author's own experiences as a Jewish girl in WWII.

4. Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke - I adored this book in 2014. It was one of my favorites for the year. This one is about an American woman who travels to Germany and saves the daughter of a friend.

5. Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke - Another one that looks at the war in a different way. But just as moving as some of the others I've read.

6. The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron - Seriously, this was probably my favorite book last year. I love how it's both modern and historical. The sequel to it, Sparrow in Terezin is good too.

7. For Such a Time by Kate Breslin - I read this book before all of the fuss was being made about it. It's a retelling of the story of Esther set in Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia. I thought it was beautifully done and well written. It has since taken a lot of heat because of the fact that it is controversial. Still as much as we like to say it didn't happen, the Holocaust did in fact happen.

 8. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry - I read this one in school. Probably in junior high. It's told through the eyes of a ten year old as she and her family hide a young Jewish girl as part of their family. It also tells of how the Danish Resistance managed to smuggle almost all of Denmark's Jewish population out of the country to Sweden.

9. The Wings of Glory series by Sarah Sundin - Have I mentioned that I love her WWII books? This one is her first series, and it took me several years to read it. But it's very good.

10. Dangerous Allies by Renee Ryan - In this one, Jack's a British agent who must work with Katarina Kerensky, an actress. She's desperate to save her mother from the Gestapo, and will work with Jack. But their lives are in danger. Yes, it's shorter than most. It is supposed to be. But it's still one of my favorite WWII books.