Thursday, September 29, 2016

Eden Hill - A Review

Published - July 2016, Tyndale House Publishers
Author - Bill Higgs
Title - Eden Hill
Format - ebook, paper
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Summary from Amazon:
Nothing seems to change in Eden Hill, Kentucky, and that’s just fine with Virgil T. Osgood. He’s been content to raise his family and run the only service station in town. But when a new station is set to open right across the road from Virgil’s pumps, he suddenly faces obstacles in his career, his marriage, and his self-worth that he’s never even dreamed of. Cornelius Alexander wants his new Zipco station to succeed and help establish a strong foundation for his growing family. As long as he follows the Zipco guide, he’s sure to be a success―and prove his father wrong. Reverend Caudill wants to be a conduit for grace in his town, but that grace is challenged by the changes sweeping through in the early 1960s. For the sake of this small town, Virgil and Cornelius must learn to get along, but how do you love your neighbor when his very presence threatens to upend everything you hold dear?

My Thoughts:
I'd heard about this book for months before seeing it available to review. This book intrigued me. I mean it's a small town that doesn't every really change, but change is a part of the process. How will certain changes affect the lives of the residents?

This is Bill Higgs's debut novel. His wife, Liz Curtis Higgs, is one of my favorite authors, so I was excited to see what her husband has to offer. I was impressed. I found the characters to be very deep and layered. I also was impressed with the ways that characters related to each other. There were some that I didn't care for at the beginning, but by the end, I had come to like them. 

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

Recommended to fans of Chris Fabry, Karen Kingsbury, Davis Bunn, fiction

Rating - 4 stars

Keep Holding On - A Review

Published - September 2016, Larkspur Press
Series - Walker Family Book 3
Author - Melissa Tagg
Title - Keep Holding On
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Beckett Walker hasn't returned home to Maple Valley in years. He's come back for his cousin's wedding. And to make amends for an incident that happened years ago when he stopped Kit Danby's wedding. Beckett knows that there's a pretty good chance he'll be arrested once the police know he's back in town considering that he stole a car and then wrecked it prior to leaving town. Kit Danby's supposed to be in London. But she's back in Maple Valley and trying to make sense of her life. Her family's apple orchard is in danger of closing, and Kit begs her father to allow her to make a go of it for the season. When trouble strikes, Kit turns to her best friend from childhood, Beckett, for assistance. Beckett's got to do a lot of community service and Kit's orchard is the place to do it. But can he keep from falling for his best friend - again?

Melissa's books always make me smile. Over the past few books, I've gotten to know the Walker family, and I love them. I love the way that the siblings pull together when they need to. I also love the way that they tease each other.

Beckett and Kit were a cute couple. I thought that they did well together. Of course it's fun to see the other siblings as well. I am looking forward to Raegan's story.

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

Recommended to fans of Jody Hedlund, Becky Wade, Susan May Warren

Rating - 4 stars

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wedding Shop - A Review

Published - August 2016, Thomas Nelson Books
Author - Rachel Hauck
Title - The Wedding Shop
Format - ebook, paper
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Summary from Amazon:
Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled. It's the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman, after having inherited her great aunt's wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet. More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart's Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life. When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love. As Cora’s and Haley's stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love. 
My Thoughts:
I don't think I've yet to read a book of Rachel Hauck's that I didn't love, and this one was no exception. This one is in the style as the Wedding Dress and the Wedding Chapel. 
There are two stories - a modern one involving Haley, and Cora's story from the 1930's. I loved this book. It was beautifully written, and captured me from the first page. I don't know for sure which story I enjoyed more, but both were wonderful. 
I can honestly say that this was one of my highly anticipated books for this year. If you've never read any of Rachel's books before, why not start with this one? There are some minor characters from the Wedding Dress and the Wedding Chapel, but I honestly don't think that this book is technically part of a series. 
I received the Kindle copy of this book for free from Booklook Bloggers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.
Recommended to fans of Laura Frantz, Rachel Hauck, Karen Kingsbury, women's fiction
Rating - 5 stars

When Love Arrives - A Review

Published - September 2016, Revell Books
Series - Misty Willow Book 2
Author - Johnnie Alexander
Title - When Love Arrives
Format - ebook, paper
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Brett Somers is trying to change his life. He's not the man that he used to be. When he meets Dani Prescott outside of the children's hospital, he has no idea that she's trying to gather information that could discredit him. As an upcoming young professional, Brett mentioned in an interview that he blamed the pilot for the crash that killed his parents. He didn't know that Dani's mother was the pilot and that she was killed as well. Dani's determined to find something that will discredit Brett. But she's hiding something too. When their secrets come to light, can there be both forgiveness and love with new beginnings?

I didn't care for Brett in the first book, but I wanted to see how he would change when given his own story. I'm glad to see that he has changed. I loved his interactions with Dani. I also loved how determined he was to truly show he had changed. I loved how Dani was able to find where she actually belonged.

Book three in the series will be about Brett's sister Amy. I'm really looking forward to reading her story.

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 Melissa Tagg, Susan May Warren, Liz Johnson, Becky Wade

Rating - 4 stars

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lady Unrivaled - A Review

Published - September 2016, Bethany House
Series - Ladies of the Manor Book 3
Author - Roseanna M. White
Title - Lady Unrivaled
Format - ebook, paper, audio
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Lady Ella Mysterson always finds a reason to smile. When she overhears her brother and his wife discussing the Fire Eyes, Ella is determined to ensure that her family is safe. Danger follows those in possession of the Fire Eyes, and Ella won't let her family be threatened again. She heads to the Cotswolds for an extended visit. James Cayton, an earl and cousin to the Duke of Stafford, is a man grieving. He's lost his wife before he could convince himself to love her. He's also broken the heart of another young lady. Now, he's determined to change his ways, and not get involved with anyone. Yet, he soon finds himself drawn into the danger surrounding the Fire Eyes. With a determination to keep his young daughter from danger, and Lady Ella, Cayton has to risk his heart. Can he open himself up to love?

This is the conclusion of the Ladies of the Manor series. It really is best to read them in order to follow the Fire Eyes on their journey.

I liked Lady Ella from the time that I first met her. I thought that she was very bubbly and a sweet. I wasn't wrong. But in this, her story, I learned that she's so much more than what she had first seemed. She's got a depth to her that I didn't expect. I loved how she and Cayton kept insisting that they didn't like each other, but you could tell that they did.

I loved watching how Cayton changed from the first book to this one. He redeemed himself from his actions in the first book in this one. I loved how he finally recognized what he was supposed to do and did it.

I really enjoyed this entire series. Book 2 was my favorite though.

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 Jody Hedlund, Kristi Ann Hunter, Tamera Alexander, historical fiction

Rating - 4 stars

Berenstain Bears Book of Prayers - A Review

Published - September 2016, Worthy Books
Author - Mike Berenstain
Title - Book of Prayers
Format - board book
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Summary from Amazon:
This new prayer book for toddlers features Mama and Papa Bear, Brother, Sister, and Honey. Nearly 50 simple rhyming prayers cover a typical day and the typical worries of a young child. From waking in the morning to going to sleep at night, from thanking God for a meal to praying for His comfort when afraid, the prayers will help little ones see that any moment is a good moment to talk to God.

My Thoughts:
This book was cute. I loved seeing how the Bear family brought their concerns to God in simple, short, rhyming prayers. I love the fact that this teaches little ones that no concern is too small or to big to bring  before God. I'm looking forward to sharing this with my best friend's little girls. 

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

Recommended to fans of Berenstain Bears, parents, teachers

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten All Time Favorites

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

Today's Top Ten is all about our all time favorites. Of course picking just one favorite book is nearly impossible for a book lover. In fact, the specific topic is to pick your all time favorite out of genre ____. Yeah. I can't do that for the simple reason that I've done several similar ones like that. So it's my all-time favorites.

1. Waterfalls by Robin Jones Gunn - Anyone who knows me knows that I ADORE Robin's books. This one is by far my absolute favorite though.

2. Donovan's Daughter by Lori Wick - I've read all of Lori's books multiple times. This one though, I just love. I did just finish rereading it.

3. Roses for Mama by Janette Oke - Of all of her books, this is the one that I will reread the most frequently.

4. Emerald Windows by Terri Blackstock - As much as I love her suspense books, this one is so different. First, it's not suspenseful. And it's beautiful.

5. The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron - This was my favorite book of last year that I read. I just finished rereading it. It is just wonderful.

6. Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling - I'm a HUGE Potter fan. I reread these on a regular basis.

7. Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer - As much as I loved Short Straw Bride, this one about Crockett stole my heart.

8. Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund - By far my favorite one of Jody's, this book has a hero that is both dashing and wounded. Definitely a swoon-worthy hero.

9. Charlotte's Web by EB White - Probably one of my all time favorite children's books. I've got at least two copies, one of which is falling apart.

10. Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle - This ranks up there with Charlotte's Web. And yes, my copy is also falling apart.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Saturday Scribbles Vol 2.16

Welcome my friends to, at long last, an edition of Saturday Scribbles. My last one was in July. I've missed this. Today's post has been on my heart for a while, but it's been hard to find the words. I'm not even sure how well I'll be able to write this one.

When I was in Dallas for Mary Kay's Seminar, the big theme was to find your dream. Sure, we all dream. And I'm not just talking about the dreams that you have at night when you fall asleep. But dreams of the heart.

I recently started reading a nonfiction book, You Were Made for A God-Sized Dream by Holley Gerth. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Me reading nonfiction?! Well it happens...sometimes.

But anyway, this book talks about figuring out if God has placed a dream on your heart. Not a goal mind you, but a dream. One thing I've learned through the Mary Kay Seminar as well as chapter one of this book (I told you I just started it!) is that it's ok for your dream to change. I know mine has.

When I was little, I wanted to grow up to teach 3rd grade because I fell in love with my 3rd grade teacher. The courses that I took in college were tailored towards that dream. After I graduated, I was hired on as a 3rd grade teacher. So here I was working in my dream job, but you know what? I wasn't truly happy. Yes, I had achieved my dream, but I see now that it wasn't what God really wanted for me to do with my life.

So my dream has changed. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what the dream God's given me is, but I know one thing - both my Mary Kay business and my current job of working as a trainer in the City of Houston's HR department - are a part of it. I know that I am where I am supposed to be for now.

So what are the dreams of your heart?

Friday, September 9, 2016

God Made the Sun and God Made the Moon - Reviews

Published - September 2016, Worthy Publishing
Author - Mary Manz Simon
Title - God Made the Sun
Format - boardbook
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This cute story talks about how God made daylight and sunshine.

My Thoughts:
This was super cute. It's brightly illustrated and very easy to read. When I brought it over to my best friend's house to share with her young daughters, her youngest promptly claimed it.

It's a great book for parents to add to their children's library.

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

Rating 4 stars

Published - September 2016, Worthy Publishing
Author - Mary Manz Simon
Title - God Made the Moon
Format - board book
Find on Amazon

This is a companion book to God Made the Sun. It's super cute and talks about the moon and nighttime.

My Thoughts:
Like God Made the Sun, this was super cute. I found it to be very easy to read and enjoy. As with God Made the Sun, my best friend's youngest daughter promptly claimed it.

It's a great book for parents to add to their library.

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

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Favorite TV shows

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

Today's topic is about fall TV. And we were given free reign with this one. We could do favorites, shows that we're looking forward to, shows that we wish weren't cancelled, etc.

Here is my list of all time favorite TV shows. Some are current, some aren't.

1. NCIS - I mean seriously, this is a no-brainer for me. The new season starts on Sept 20, and while I'll miss Tony, this is still my show.

2. Amazing Race - I love how fun this one is. I can travel the world  from the comfort of my living room.

3. Stargate SG1 - Sadly, this one isn't airing anymore, but I own all 10 seasons and can watch it whenever I want. This one introduced me to Egyptian mythology and I love the dynamics of the cast.

4. Five Mile Creek - I grew up watching this one. I think I loved it more than Little House on the Prairie. I don't remember too much of it, just that I loved it.

5. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman - This was a favorite when I was in high school. I loved how Dr. Mike did things that women of the period usually didn't.

6. Big Bang Theory - I don't watch this one too often, but when I do catch it, I love it. Probably because I know guys like Howard, Raj, Sheldon, and Leonard.

7. Warehouse 13 - This is one that I had recommended to me a year or so ago. I binged watched on Amazon, and fell in love with it. It's a cross between Indiana Jones, Stargate (sorta), and the crime dramas. But it's so much fun!

8. MacGyver - The original series was great. I'm pretty excited about the re-launch.

9. Full House - I think I saw every episode through reruns when I was in college. Whatever reason, this show was great.