Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hearts We Mend - A Review

Published - March 2016, Zondervan
Series - Barrister Falls Book 2
Author - Kathryn Springer
Title - Hearts We Mend
Format - ebook, paper
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Evie Bennett lost her husband in a fire when their son was six years old. For the past thirteen years, she has been raising Cody alone. Now Cody's getting married and will soon be a father as well. Evie begins to feel an entirely different form of loneliness. Always organized and sticking to a schedule, Evie has no idea how much her life is about to change dramatically. Jack Vale has been hired to fill in as the church's handyman. He's a man who lives his life moment to moment. His appearance raises more than a few eyebrows around the community. But as Evie gets drawn into Jack's life and world, she learns that sometimes spur of the moment is better than a safe, secure plan. But can Evie learn to let go of herself enough to fall in love again?

Last year when I read the first book in this series, Dandelion Field, I loved the book, but didn't like Evie too much. At first. But when I saw that there was going to be a second book about Barrister Falls, I was excited. Because I wanted to know more about the characters, and I wanted to see if Evie continued to grow on me as she did towards the end of the first book.

While I didn't love love love this book like I did the first, I still enjoyed it very much so. I loved seeing Evie be drawn out more and more. I ADORED Jack. I thought he was wonderful in the way that he related to Evie, tried to take care of his brother, and was there for all of the tenants in his building. But he was pretty deep too. He knew that he wasn't perfect, but he tried to show how Christ had changed him.

I loved how Jack actually saw Evie. And what I mean by that is that he actually saw through her facade and deep into her soul. He recognized (and encouraged) her to be herself. To have fun. To let go. I also loved catching up with Cody, Raine, Dan, and Gin.

This book does stand alone, but the story is much richer if you read Dandelion Field first. If this is the last one about this town, that's fine. But I could easily see stories for Nicki, Maggie, and some of the others.

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 Karen Kingsbury, Becky Wade, Katie Ganshert, Liz Johnson, Denise Hunter, Irene Hannon, contemporary fiction, Johnnie Alexander, Susan May Warren, Love Inspired

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Bookworm Delights

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

This week's topic is about the little things that delight readers. You know, those things only true bookworms really and truly understand.

1. Bookmarks - I love bookmarks. Seriously. I love it when authors send me bookmarks, because then I get to help promote them. Plus I can hand them out. I don't care if they have tassels or are just simple. Bookmarks delight me.

2. Walking into a bookstore and taking a deep breath - Why do you ask? Well, there's something about the smell of a bookstore (if it's a Barnes and Noble, then it's the coffee smell) that sends immediate signals to my brain that I can relax and escape the real world for a while.

3. Checking my mail - Because I get so many books to review, that when they show up, I feel like a kid a Christmas. And then when they all show up on the SAME day, I am not only giddy, but I have to ask myself, what was I thinking.

4. Falling in love with the characters - Wait, they're not real?! Yeah, that's my problem. I forget that the characters aren't real because I've grown so attached to them. They've become friends.

5. A cup of hot tea, a snuggly kitty, a rainy day - To me, that's the perfect reading day. Unless of course it's like a crazy storm where the storm is pretty awful

6. That moment when you forget the rest of the wold - Of course, then you have to surface for air. My family was on vacation one summer. My brother had just turned 16. I'm in the back reading, and when I surface for air, I happen to inform my mom and brother that the exit to the hotel was two exits back. Then I'm asked why I didn't say anything, but I'm already back into my book.

7. Those books with the pages that look torn on the edges - I love those types of books. Why, I don't know.

8. The knowledge that I will never finish my To-Read list in my lifetime - Seriously, there is no possible way that I could. I mean I've got 900+ and counting on it. And then I'm constantly adding new ones. 

9. The reluctance to start that final book in the series - I did this with Stars Above. I was so excited to read it, but I also knew that it was the last in this series. Same thing with Deathly Hallows.  And part of that is because I fell in love with the characters that I didn't want to say goodbye.

10. The feeling of dragging into work the next day because I stayed up too late reading - I do this ALL of the time!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Stars Above - A Review

Published - February 2016
Series - Lunar Chronicles Companion
Author - Marissa Meyer
Title - Stars Above
Format - ebook, hardcover
Find on Amazon

This is a collection of 9 short stories set in the world of the Lunar Chronicles. In this collection, the reader gets to discover how Wolf became the solider he is, a young Carswell Thorne, how Cress ended up on the satellite, how Cinder arrived in New Beijing, Cinder and Kai's first meeting from his perspective, how Scarlet came to the farm, a wedding, and more. They are arranged in chronological order.

Story: The Keeper
Michelle Benoit, Scarlet's grandmother, finds herself the guardian of a young lunar girl. This girl is important, but she must be kept hidden. Then her young granddaughter Scarlet arrives. Michelle knows that she will protect both Scarlet and the young girl at all costs. But what will it be?

My Thoughts: This is actually a prequel to Scarlet. Time passes rather quickly in this story. Since I have never read the prequel story before, I really enjoyed this one. I loved getting more of Scarlet's background and seeing how Cinder received her cyborg parts. Rating: 4.5 stars

Story: Glitches
Cinder has arrived in New Beijing and now meets her new family. Cinder soon finds herself at odds with her new family, and then tragedy strikes when Linh Garan is stricken with the plague.

My Thoughts: Cinder's book is a retelling of Cinderella. This is a prequel story for it. It explains how the stepmother is left raising the girls. This glimpse into the eleven year old Cinder is both touching and rather sad. Touching because I know what she will become. Sad because of how she's treated. Rating: 4 stars

Story: The Queen's Army
Ze'ev Kesley is only 12 years old when he is chosen to become a part of the army that the queen is building. He's ripped away from his family and given injections that change him. He's forced to prove himself over and over.

My Thoughts: Wolf has been my favorite character since he first appeared. But this backstory of his shows just how cruel Levanna was. My heart hurt for the boy that was Ze'ev. But this story made me love him more. Rating: 5 stars

Story: Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky
Carswell Thorne is young. Very young. And he's already proven himself to be adept at getting what he wants. But is he really just trying to gain the attention of his parents?

My Thoughts: This one was rather humorous for me. I enjoyed getting to see the young Thorne. And to see, in part, how he became the man that falls for Cress. Cute. Definitely light-hearted, especially after reading Wolf's backstory. Rating: 4 stars

Story:After Sunshine Passes By
Crescent Moon is a shell. But she's very talented at anything related to a computer. She hopes to be of use to the queen, but doesn't like Sybil Mira. When Sybil realizes exactly how skilled Cress is at computer programming, she takes Cress to an isolated satellite. There Cress is left on her own.

My Thoughts: This was probably the shortest of all of the stories. And once again, it just shows how far those who work for the queen will go to ensure that the queen remains queen. But, at least this story explained how Cress came to the satellite. Rating: 5 stars

Story: The Princess and the Guard
Princess Winter is used to playing with the son of one of the palace guards. Jacin is Winter's best friend. But he's so much more than that. He's her protector. Sure, he's got his own dreams of being a doctor, but Princess Winter is more important. As Winter grows, she realizes what using her Lunar gift does, and wants nothing to do with it. Will Jacin stay beside her?

My Thoughts: While this couple is not my favorite, I have to admit that this story made me understand their relationship so much more. My heart broke for Winter as she realized the end result of not using her gift. But I actually came to really like Jacin for the way he stay with her. Rating: 4.5 stars

Story: The Little Android
Mech 6.0 is a mechanic working on a luxury ship. When the owner's son falls into a vat of oil, she dives in after him - at the expense of her own functionality. A new body later, Mec 6.0 is watching from a distance as the young man falls in love with the client's daughter. Yet he doesn't know how she feels.

My Thoughts: I loved this story. It's a retelling of the Little Mermaid, and is just beautiful. This is the only story that doesn't really feature any of the main characters. I've read the Han Christian Anderson fairy tale and it is heart breaking. This one had me in tears. Meyer stays true to the Anderson story and not the Disney version. Rating: 5 stars

Story: The Mechanic
Prince Kaito has a problem. His trusted android, Nanci, isn't working. He needs her. Because she has information about the missing princess Selene. Kai has heard of a mechanic name Linh Cinder who has a reputation of being able to fix just about anything, so since he's desperate, he leaves the palace and heads to the New Beijing market. He doesn't expect to discover that Linh Cinder is a cute teenage girl close to his age. He also doesn't realize how important that this mechanic is going to be in his own life.

My Thoughts: I loved seeing this from Kai's perspective. Because at first, I didn't like the dynamic between Kai and Cinder. It grew on me through the series, but I didn't like it at first. This though, showed that he liked her from the beginning. Of course, it gives glimpses of what they're going to mean to each other later on, but this first meeting, from his perspective was so sweet. It was like one of those awww moments. Rating: 5 stars

Story: Something Old, Something New
This is the wedding of the century. Cinder, Iko, Cress, and Thorne arrive at Scarlet's farm where they meet up with Kai, Winter, and Jacin. There has been a wedding being planned, but which couple will be the one to get married?  And will everything go off without a hitch considering that in attendance there will be an emperor, a princess, a queen, and more than a few Lunars?

My Thoughts: This is the story that I was by far the most excited about. It is the reason that I bought the book. I have to say, that this is the perfect conclusion to the series. The wedding was obviously going to be one of the four couples, but which one? I knew which couple I was wanting, but I'd have been happy with any of them. This story is set 2 years after Winter. And I have to say, that I LOVED it! I'm trying really hard to be spoiler free here, so I can only gush about how delightfully cute it is.
Rating: 5 stars

Overall thoughts: This is the perfect companion to the Lunar Chronicles. More so in my opinion than Fairest. While some of the stories were better than others, all were good.

I read this book for pure pleasure.

Overall rating: 4.67 stars, rounded up to 5 stars.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Reluctant Duchess - A Review

Published - April 2016, Bethany House
Series - Ladies of the Manor Book 2
Author - Roseanna M. White
Title - The Reluctant Duchess
Format - ebook, paper
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Lady Rowena Kinnaird is the heir to a Highland earldom, but she has never felt worthy. All her life, her father has belittled her. When the man that she thought she would marry brutally attacks her, Rowena is left broken and bruised. She's afraid to trust anyone and longs to escape her father's home. Brice Mysterson, Duke of Nottingham, is a favorite of London, but he's no stranger to sorrow. He's recently lost his father and has come into possession of a rare treasure. He's not looking to marry while the danger associated with the gems is still so high. Yet when he and his family go to their Highland home, he meets Lady Rowena. There's something about her that stirs his protective instincts. When she's the victim of another attack, Brice proposes marriage to rescue her. Rowena longed to escape, but she didn't expect it would be by marrying a notorious flirt! When she learns that Brice is in danger due to the rare gems, will Rowena be able to trust her husband enough to be safe? And can Brice show his wife that not all men are like those she's known? Will the pair find love together or will they live as strangers for the rest of their lives?

This is book 2 in the series, and I have to say I enjoyed it way more than the first book. I found the first book to be slow, but this one I loved! I do recommend reading the first one before this one though as it explains how Brice came to be in possession of the Fire Eyes. I loved how this book continued the mystery surrounding the Fire Eyes.

I loved how Brice was obedient to the Lord. And how he didn't question the leading. Even when his world was shaken, I loved how steadfast he remained. I loved how he was there for Rowena and that he showed her that she could trust him and love him.

Rowena is so strong. I think that she's a perfect compliment to Brice. While she grew frustrated that he wouldn't listen to her concerns, she did learn to trust him.

The other characters were interesting. Especially the villain. The villain wasn't the person that I would have thought. And as we get into this character's mind, I was shocked at the depth of this particular character's delusions. I wasn't sorry to see this particular character get what was coming.

The third book is going to follow Brice's sister, Ella, and the Fire Eyes to its conclusion. I believe it comes out in the fall, and I'm excited about it.

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 Roseanna M. White, Jody Hedlund, Sarah Ladd, Melanie Dickerson, Julie Klassen

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books that Will Make You Laugh

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

Today's Top Ten is all about laughter. Books that make you laugh.

Here are mine, in no particular order.

1. Janice Thompson's Bella Books, Weddings By Design, Backstage Pass, Brides With Style (basically anything she has written).

2. Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer - I can't tell you how hard I laughed through this book.

3. Say Uncle...and Aunt by Suzy Pizzutti - This one is older, but I remember cracking up when I read this one AGES ago.

4. The Princess Bride by William Goldman - The movie is hilarious, but the book is by far funnier.

5. A Class of Their Own Series by Jen Turano - This series is hilarious. I mean, each book is full of misadventures and romance.

6. At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings - This one was funnier than some of the others. I especially loved the fact that the heroine's family bought an auction house sight unseen and ended up with an animal auction barn as opposed to an antiquities auction house.

7. Accept This Dandelion and Dandelions on the Road by Brooke Williams - Think about the shows like the Bachelor or the Bachelorette. And add in clutzy characters and animals. Your end product is a romantic comedy that is both sweet and funny.

8. Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan - A YA romance that is filled with humor.

9. TJ and the Time Stumblers Series by Bill Myers - All TJ wants to do is fit in at her new school. She doesn't want to have to deal with two time travelers who have happened to get stuck in her century. Getting them back home is one hilarious adventure after the next.

10. Wild at Heart Series  by Mary Connealy - Mary's books always make me laugh.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Back in the Saddle - A Review

Published - March 2016, Multnomah Books
Series - Double S Ranch Book 1
Author - Ruth Logan Herne
Title - Back in the Saddle
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Colt Stafford is coming home. Years ago, he left the family ranch angry with his father. He's made a success of himself in the financial world of Manhattan. But when the stock market leaves him jobless and broke, Colt makes the decision to return to the family ranch and his ailing father. He's broke, but not broken. He's determined to do all that he can to help out on the ranch until the market stabilizes and he can return to New York. He doesn't expect to be greeted by a pretty young woman pointing a shotgun at his chest. Angelina  Morales has her own reasons for working as the housekeeper at the ranch. She has her own secrets. Yet this oldest Stafford son sees more than she wants, and she can't deny that she's drawn to him. But when the market rebounds, will Colt stay or return to the city?

I think that this is my first book I've read by Ruth Logan Herne, but I may have read some of her Love Inspired books in the past. I really don't remember.

I really enjoyed this book. This is a unique twist to the parable of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15. I have to say, that I enjoyed Angelina's son and Nate's girls the best. They were minor characters in this book, but they were totally sweethearts.

I loved how much Colt, his brother, and his father change in the book. The Staffords have a reputation around town and it isn't a pleasant one. Yet each of them must try to change that reputation. They all have struggles too. For Colt, it's the issue of forgiveness. For his father, it's the issue of pride, and for Nate, it's the issue of fear.

The next book deals with Nate, and I'm looking forward to it.

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 Denise Hunter, Kathryn Springer, Susan May Warren, Love Inspired, cowboys, Becky Wade, Liz Johnson

Rating - 4 stars

Her One and Only - A Review

Published - May 2016, Bethany House Publishers
Series - Porter Family Book 4
Author - Becky Wade
Title - Her One and Only
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Dru Porter has always had to prove herself. As the youngest of four, and the only girl, she has always been trying to prove herself as capable as her older brothers. Now she's got that chance. She's been hired to help provide private security for NFL great Gray Fowler and keep him safe from a stalker. When Gray sees that an attractive young woman has been assigned as part of his security detail, he thinks the agency is crazy. But as Dru and Gray begin to work together, Gray sees that of all his detail, she's the best. But he's also drawn to her. Dru knows better than to fall for her client. Yet as part of her cover, she is posing as his girlfriend. But when the danger toward Gray escalates, will either of them survive to realize that sometimes love can catch them unaware?

This is probably one of the books I've been highly anticipating this year. I mean, finally, we get Dru's story. Needless to say, this one didn't disappoint me.

Dru is a strong character, and I fell for Gray right along with her. While this isn't my favorite of the Porter family (that honor belongs to Meant to Be Mine), I did enjoy reading it. I loved being able to connect with the others in the family too.

Like the other books, there is a secondary plot going on here. This time, we're taken full circle with Meg and Bo being the secondary plot. I'm not going to say what all is going on with them, as I don't want to give it away, but I found it delightful to come full circle.

It took me a while to read this book as I wanted it to last as long as possible.

I received the Kindle copy via NetGalley for the purpose of reviewing. I also received the paper copy from the author to help promote the book. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of contemporary romance, Becky Wade, Janice Thompson, Denise Hunter, Katie Ganshert

Rating - 4 stars

Note - Review will be posted on Amazon on the release date of May 3, 2016. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books Every Harry Potter Fan Should Read

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

Today's topic is the top ten books that every ____ person should read (history lover, memoir, etc). I chose to do one that I know for me would be rather easy, and that's for the Harry Potter fan.

1. Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series by Michael Scott - This series was the first one I read after Harry Potter. They are excellent.

2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis - Narnia is still one of my favorite worlds, and for the HP fan, if you haven't read Narnia, then you are missing out.

3. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan - Greek mythology takes a new face and meaning with this fun series.

4. The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan - This is a continuation of the Percy books. Seriously, these books are so much fun.

5. The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit by JRR Tolkien - Probably one of the fantasy pioneers, these are must reads for Potter fans.

6. The Story Thieves by James Riley - This is a series that's fairly new on the scene. Yet the books are fun. At least the first one. I've not read the second one yet.

7. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson - It's been a long time since I read this book. But it's probably one of the most well known children's fantasies.

8. The Wrinkle in Time Series by Madeline L'Engle - The Time Series is still one of my favorites, and I think that Potter fans who haven't already read them would really enjoy them.

9. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl - While there isn't really magic, this sweet tale ranks up there with the Potter books for me.

10. The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques - This is a series that has been on my reading list for AGES, and comes highly recommended to me. I know it's popular.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Saturday Scribbles Vol 2.11

Happy Saturday my friends.

Spring is my favorite time of year, even though my allergies can't stand it. But it's my favorite time of year because the one sport I care about starts up. I'm a huge baseball fan, and I love the fact that baseball season starts up. I don't get to as many Astros games as I would like to, but I try to go to one a season. Sometimes, I make it to more than one, and other times, I don't make to a game at all.

How did I fall in love with America's National Pastime? Well it started when I was little. You see, the school I attended, and my brother attended, would give out two free tickets to two games for either straight A's or perfect attendance. So my parents would always make sure to order 4 tickets to the games so we could go as a family. Which meant 4 games - 2 for me and 2 for my brother. By the time I was in 2nd grade, my mother told me that I couldn't bring the book with me. So I asked what I was supposed to do at the game then. Her response was to watch the game. And so I started watching it. I'd pay attention to what was going on. I developed a crush on the 2nd baseman (Bill Doran at this time). As I watched the Astros, I learned the players. I learned how to read and understand a batting average. I learned terminology. And I people watched.

The Astros remain my favorite team, even though I don't know who half of the players are anymore. I grew up in the era of Nolan Ryan. And then the Killer B's of Biggio, Bagwell, Berkman. And the really cute catcher, and my second favorite player, Brad Ausmus. But even though I don't know half the players on this young team, the love of the game is there for me.

When my brother and I went to our first game at what is now Minute Maid Park, we were both like kids in a candy store drinking in all the sights and sounds. When I was teaching, the field trip that my students go to take that year was a tour of the ballpark. I actually think that I was more excited than my students. Because I got to walk on the field, sit in the dugout, and more.

So while I freely admit that I'm not a sports fan, I love everything about the game of baseball. Because baseball has so many memories for me.

Friday, April 8, 2016

You're the One that I Want - A Review

Published - February 2016, Tyndale House
Series - Christiansen Family Book 6
Author - Susan May Warren
Title - You're the One That I Want
Format - ebook, paper, audio
Find on Amazon

Owen Christiansen left Deep Haven bitter and angry. An injury left him unable to continue to play hockey, and he's let his bitterness fester. He's now working on a fishing boat in the Bering Sea. When Scotty McFlynn is swept overboard during a strong storm, Owen doesn't think. He jumps in after her. In order to survive, the pair are forced to depend on each other. Scotty's an only child and doesn't know what to think of Owen. Yet she's drawn to him. When Owen's older brother Casper appears in town while Owen is recovering, Scotty realizes that some problems need to be dealt with. As a police officer, Scotty is tasked with escorting the brothers back to Deep Haven. There Owen is forced to come face to face with his past, including the daughter he didn't know about. Can this prodigal find forgiveness, love, and his place in the family circle? And the budding relationship between Scotty and Owen, is it strong enough to survive the turmoil of Owen's past?

I've loved each of these novels, and this one was no exception. I've waited a long time for Owen's story. I wanted this prodigal to return home. His journey has been told through each of the books, so to finally get the rest of his story was very satisfying.

I loved the banter between Owen and Scotty. I loved that she actually saw him for who he was and not as the hockey player, the youngest Christiansen brother, etc. I also loved how she didn't mince words with either Casper or Owen. I loved how Owen realized that just how much he needed her.

Sure their relationship was rocky, but it's part of the beauty of this series. None of the siblings had an easy way to their happy ever after. I love how the author takes the time to show that forgiveness and grace are needed for each person.

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

Recommended to fans of Karen Kingsbury, Susan May Warren, Jody Hedlund, Denise Hunter, Lisa Wingate, Rachel Hauck

Rating - 5 stars

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Would a Worm Go On a Walk? - A Review

Published - April 2016, Worthy Publishing
Author - Hannah C. Hall
Title - Would a Worm Go on a Walk?
Format - hardcover
Find on Amazon

Children learn what different animals can and cannot do through bright pictures and fun rhymes.

This was another delightful book. The pictures were a little silly and reminded me a little of one of my favorite children's books, Rain Makes Applesauce.

When I read this to my friend's daughters, they giggled at the fact that a worm had feet and tennis shoes, and the other silly things in the book. They really enjoyed it.

I thought this book was adorable.

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

Recommended to parents of young children, kindergarten, librarians

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Busy, Busy! - A Review

Published - April 2016, Worthy Publishing
Author - Eileen Spinelli
Illustrator- Elina Ellis
Title - Busy, Busy!
Format - board book
Find on Amazon

It's spring and all of the animals are busy doing something. Mole is digging. Bear is fishing. Mama's busy too. But there's one thing that Mama's never too busy for and that's her children.

This book was adorable. The illustrations were vibrant and made the pages come to life. The story itself is written in simple rhymes.

I read this book to my friend's children (5, 3, 2), and each of them were captivated by something different. The youngest was captivated by the pictures and kept reaching out to touch them. The oldest enjoyed the almost musical quality to the words. The middle one, she was sitting with me sounding out some of the words and actually reading it.

I'd say that this book is good for kids of all ages. Parents will enjoy it as it helps children that sometimes parents are busy, but never too busy for their little ones.

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

Recommended to fans of board books, parents of young children

Rating - 4 stars