Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Halloween Freebie

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

Today's topic is about Halloween. It's a freebie one, so I decided to go with my favorite Halloween costumes, either that I've been or that I've seen others as.

Costumes I've been:
1. The 50's girl in the poodle skirt - I think is my standard go to costume for Halloween. It's simple and I don't have to do much to pull it off.

2. Medieval maiden - This was a fun costume for me. I loved the dress.

3. Clown - I was a clown once in college.

4. Donald Duck - My mom made this costume for my brother and I years ago. I remember wearing it in high school. Did you know the Village People had an encore appearance by Donald Duck in the song YMCA? Yup. A lip sync thing my sophomore year had me dressed up as Donald Duck for the group's YMCA.

5. Night Solution - Every year my Mary Kay unit has a dress as your favorite cosmetic item as a guest event. It's quite fun. And the Night Solution is by far my favorite product.

Costumes I've seen others as:
6. Jellyfish - A few years ago, my best friend's oldest daughter wanted to be a jellyfish. I've never seen anything that adorable.

7. Owl - My best friend is very talented. Her middle daughter wore this one and then last year, her youngest wore it. But it's super cute.

8. Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz - I'm not sure who I saw in this costume or when I saw it, but the child looked absolutely adorable.

9. Storm Trooper - I've seen this one several times over the years. I must admit that I've always been impressed.

10. Dinosaur - I remember seeing a friend's little guy dressed as a dinosaur when he was just a little baby. It was so cute.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Royal Christmas Wedding - A Review

Published - October 2016, Zondervan
Series - Royal Wedding Series Book 4
Author - Rachel Hauck
Title - A Royal Christmas Wedding
Format - ebook, paper
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Five years ago, Avery Truitt met Prince Colin of Brighton Kingdom. Five years ago, she fell in love. Five years ago, he broke her heart. Now, Avery's trying to find a coaching job as a volleyball coach. When she and her mother travel to Brighton to spend the Christmas season with her sister Susanna and brother-in-law, King Nathaniel. Susanna's pregnancy is helping to ease the sadness Avery has felt since her father's passing six months ago. Avery knows that she will have to see Prince Colin again. But she's not sure if her heart can take it. Prince Colin finds himself in the center of a centuries old tradition involving Cathedral City's Christmas Season, the Pembroke Chapel Bell, and the speculation regarding that he rang the bell to announce his engagement. Yet Colin's never really stopped loving Avery. Can he convince her that he's sorry for breaking her heart and to give him a second chance by marrying him on Christmas morning as the tradition dictates?

Ever since I read Once Upon a Prince, I have wanted Avery and Colin's story. I kept hoping that they'd end up together. Like the others in this series, I found this book to be utterly delightful.

I loved seeing how Avery has grown up from the teen she was in the first book to the beautiful, confident woman we see in this one. I also love how Colin readily admitted that he still loved her. While there were obstacles to overcome, I loved seeing how they both chose to follow their hearts.

This is by far a perfect conclusion to the Royal Wedding Series.

I received this book for free as part of the Booklook Blogger Program. I was not required to like the book, only give my honest opinion.

Recommended to fans of happy endings, fairy tales, contemporary romance, Rachel Hauck, Becky Wade, Denise Hunter, Melissa Tagg

Rating - 5 stars

Friday, October 21, 2016

Wild Montana Skies - A Review

Published - October 2016, Revell Books
Series - Montana Rescue Book 1
Author - Susan May Warren
Title - Wild Montana Skies
Format - ebook, paper
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Summary (from Amazon):Search and rescue pilot Kacey Fairing is home on leave in Mercy Falls, Montana, twelve years after she joined the military to escape the mistakes of her past. With a job waiting for her as the new lead pilot of Peak Rescue in Glacier National Park, Kacey hopes to reconnect with the now-teenage daughter she sees only between deployments. What she doesn't realize is that someone else is also back in town. Ben King has been building his country music career since the day Kacey shut him out of her life. Now all of that's on hold when his injured father calls him home to help run Peak Rescue until he's fully recovered. It doesn't take long, though, to discover his father's ulterior motives as Kacey Fairing walks into the house and back into his heart. With Mercy Falls in a state of emergency due to flash floods, Kacey and Ben are forced to work together to save lives. But when floodwaters turn personal, can they put aside the past to save their future?

My Thoughts:
I've long been a fan of Susan May Warren's books. When she finished her Christiansen Family series at the beginning of this year, I was sad to say goodbye. But I knew that she'd have something new coming for her readers. This book combines action and adventure with romance. 

I'll admit that it was very different than her Christiansen Family novels, but different can be a good thing. In this case, it's a VERY good thing. Ben and Kacey have a history. Yet they have to put aside their past in order to save lives. But their past does make itself known in the present. I loved how these two finally got around to talking about what happened so many years ago. And that they weren't going to let anyone stand in their way again. 

I'm looking forward to seeing these characters again in the second book of the series, and to see who the next book will be about. I've got a couple of ideas, but I'm not sure.

I received this book for free from Revell as part of their Revell Reads Blogging program. I was not required to like the book, only give my honest opinion. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Susan May Warren, Becky Wade, Denise Hunter, contemporary fiction

Rating - 4 stars

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Waves of Mercy - A Review

Published - October 2016, Bethany House Publishers
Author - Lynn Austin
Title - Waves of Mercy
Format - paper, ebook
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Anna Nicholson is spending time at the Ottawa Hotel on the shores of Lake Michigan to figure out where she wants her life to go after breaking her engagement. As she searches for answers about her past and her future, she meets a young seminary student who encourages her to ask questions. This young student is a close friend of Geesje de Jonge, one of the early settlers to Holland, Michigan. Geesje has been asked to write her story of leaving the Netherlands and arriving in Michigan. As she begins to write her story, she shares both her heartaches and happiness. Anna's young friend wants to have her meet Geesje simply because Geesje's story may help Anna through her struggles. What neither woman could expect is how closely their lives will become entwined.

I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. This is one of those books that lingered after I finished reading it. I've read a lot of Lynn Austin's books over the years, my favorite being Eve's Daughters. This book reminds me a lot of Eve's Daughters in how rich it was.

For anyone wanting a historical romance, sorry, this one's not for you. There are layers upon layers to both Anna and Geesje's stories. And yes there is some romance, especially as Geesje shares her story. But what I loved about this book was how both women searched for answers. I loved how their journeys were similar in their searches. There was a depth to these characters that has been missing from the books I've enjoyed lately.

I received this book for free as a part of Bethany House's blogging program. I was not required to like the book, only to give my honest opinion of it. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Jody Hedlund, Laura Frantz, Joanne Bischof, historical fiction

Rating - 5 stars

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tangled Webs - A Review

Published - October 2016, Revell Books
Series - Men of Valor Book 3
Author - Irene Hannon
Title - Tangled Webs
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

About the book (from Amazon):
After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime. A peaceful month in the woods sounds like the perfect way to decompress. But peace isn't on the agenda once he crosses paths with publishing executive Dana Lewis, a neighbor who is nursing wounds of her own. Someone seems bent on disrupting her stay in the lakeside cabin she inherited from her grandfather. As Finn and Dana work together to discover who is behind the disquieting pranks, the incidents begin to take on a menacing tone. And when it becomes apparent Dana's foe may have deadly intent, Finn finds himself back in the thick of the action--ready or not.

My Thoughts:
I was so excited to read this book. It's the final one in the series, and I've enjoyed seeing Finn as a minor character in the first two books. To actually be able to read his story and see him have his happily ever after was quite fun.

I read this book pretty quickly. The plot drew me in in the first few pages and kept me turning pages until the very end. I really think that I like the author's romantic suspense books better than her contemporary romance ones. 

As for the characters, I wanted to see how Finn was going to overcome the injury he'd suffered earlier in the series. I loved reconnecting with Mac and Lance. I loved how protective of Dana that Finn was. I also enjoyed seeing their banter back and forth as they fell in love.

I received this book for free as part of Revell's Revell Reads blogging program. I was not required to like the book, only to share my honest opinion. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Dani Pettrey, Irene Hannon, Dee Henderson, Lynette Eason

Rating - 4 stars

Monday, October 17, 2016

Heart Most Certain - A Review

Published - August 2016, Bethany House Publishers
Series - Teaville Moral Society Book 1
Author - Melissa Jagears
Title - Heart Most Certain
Format - ebook, paper
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Lydia King joined the Teaville Moral Society because of her father's debts and her mother's illness. She's not from the high end of society like most of the members, but her heart is in the right place. She's given one simple task - ask the town's wealthiest man to donate to the cause of the Teaville Moral Society. Plus she's hoping to impress the politician who is courting her. There's just one problem, Nicholas Lowe, the wealthiest man in town has refused her request. Multiple times. Yet he something in Lydia that tugs at his heart. He makes a deal with her, accompany him on three different missions of charity and he'll consider making a donation. But neither one could foresee what their actions mean to the town as well as their hearts.

My Thoughts:
This book was so different than the others that this author has written, but still just as good. For one thing, it was deeper than her others. I'll admit that I didn't find it to be the fluffy read I expected, but that's a good thing.

I remember meeting Lydia in the novella, Engaging the Competition. She was still in school in that novella. In this book, Lydia is grown up. She has a tender heart, but doesn't really understand being charitable until she meets Nicholas. As they go about their missions, Lydia has to admit some hard truths about herself. I loved the fact that the author didn't make it easy for Lydia. Nicholas, too, had to face some hard truths about himself and how others see him.

This is one book that while it is a historical romance, the romance actually took a back seat. It's been a while since I've seen that happen. I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author as part of her team of influencers. All she asked me to do was to help get the word out about the book, and to honestly give my opinion of the book. She did not ask me to like the book, though I did enjoy it. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Karen Witemeyer, Jody Hedlund Mary Connealy, historical fiction

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books Read Based on Recommendations

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

Today's topic is about books that I've read based on the recommendation of someone else. That could be a fellow blogger, a friend, family member, etc.

1. Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer - I read this series based solely on the recommendation of several different friends. Friends who didn't usually read YA.

2. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins - During the wait for both Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows to come, I was in a quandary as to what to read next. Several of my Harry Potter friends recommended I try this series. So I did. Though I'll admit that I felt that I needed therapy after reading Mockingjay.

3. The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott - Another series that was recommended to me from some of my Harry Potter friends. In fact, my friend Jamie was the one who recommended the series to me.

4. Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan - One of my long time friends talked me into this series AGES ago. I wasn't completely hooked until I got about halfway finished with book 3.

5. Divergent by Veronica Roth - Because a lot of my friends knew I'd read the Hunger Games (and enjoyed them), this series was constantly recommended to me. I put it off for forever, and finally rented the first book on audio once. Truthfully, I wasn't impressed.

6. Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter - This is one of those books that I kept seeing on various blogs and lists. Several of my blogging friends kept saying I'd enjoy it. Took me a while to actually get to it, but they were right. I did enjoy it.

7. In Good Company by Jen Turano - Multiple friends who read Jen's books kept telling me that I'd enjoy them as they're funny and cute. It took me until I this second book in the series appeared in my title to review listing before I was able to actually try her books.

8. Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George - With my love of fairy tale retellings, I'm actually surprised that this one missed me. Several bloggers recommended it to me multiple times. I'm glad that I was able to finally get to reading it.

9. Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Ashfar - Biblical fiction isn't my favorite genres, but this book came recommended to me from several different blogging friends.

10. A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin - One question I kept being asked by my reading friends was why hadn't I read this yet. Especially since I'd read several others of Sarah's books and loved them. I finally got around to it last Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Room for Hope - A Review

Published - February 2016, Waterbrook
Author - Kim Vogel Sawyer
Title - Room for Hope
Format - ebook, paper, audio
Find on Amazon

Summary from Amazon:
Neva Shilling has a heavy load of responsibility while her husband travels to neighboring communities and sells items from his wagon. In his absence, she faithfully runs the Shilling Mercantile, working to keep their business strong as the Depression takes its toll, and caring for their twins. When a wagon pulls up after supper, Neva and her children rush out—and into the presence of the deputy driving a wagon carrying three young children. The deputy shocks her with the news that Warren and his wife have died, insisting it was their last request that the three children go live with “Aunt Neva.” Neva’s heart is shattered as she realizes that Warren’s month-long travels were excuses for visits with his secret family. She wants nothing more than to forget Warren, but can she abandon these innocent children to an orphanage? Yet if she takes them in, will she ever be able to see them as more than evidence of her husband’s betrayal and love them the way God does?

My Thoughts:
I've read a lot of Kim Vogel Sawyer's books. This one though was HARD. Not so much that it was hard to read because it wasn't. But the fact that the topic was a hard one. 

Neva was a strong character. She didn't ask for the responsibility of three young children. But she took it. As much as she was hurting, she tried hard to to keep her husband's memory positive - both for her children as well as for the three young children. Yet I found that she really relied on God to see her through. 

Let me be honest. If this wasn't a review title, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. The topic didn't interest me though the cover did draw me in. I'm glad that I did pick it to read and to review. Because I found a really good book.

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 historical fiction, Jody Hedlund, Laura Frantz, Karen Kingsbury

Rating - 4 stars