Monday, December 31, 2018

Countdown to 2019 Book Style!

New Year's Eve is known for countdowns.
In the spirit of remembering what was and anticipating what is to come,
here's my top 5 Favorite Reads of 2018!




and (drumroll) ONE!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

More Than I Bargained For

Author Regina Jennings' 2nd book in her Fort Reno series captures the readers attention from page 1 with her humor and charming storytelling.

Hattie Walker's longing for independence has a two month ultimatum tied to it. She has sixty days to prove to herself she's a talented and renowned artist. Failure means return home to Van Buren and marrying as per her parents wishes.  Her plans are disrupted when her stagecoach is attacked and she's rescued by a group of Arapaho Indians...not realizing they are friendly and mean her no harm.

Lieutenant Jack Hennessey hears word that a stagecoach has been robbed and a young woman is the lone survivor and witness. He saddles up to rescue her. Imagine his surprise when the "survivor" turns out to be the only woman he's ever loved and  never stopped carrying a torch for....Hattie Walker.

Wanting to impress her, Jack asks the Arapaho to arrange for a prisoner transfer; making it look very ceremonial.  Needless to say, something gets lost in translation and they both get more than they bargained for. 

The Lieutenant's Bargain had everything that hooks me as a reader: An interesting storyline, relatable and complex characters, and wit. Ms. Jennings builds Jack and Hattie's relationship in an intriguing way.  The key moments shared from their childhood, that helped shape them into who they would become as adults, was unique and very well done. She expertly keeps the reader interested with the 'will they won't they' ploy. 

A couple of elements of this story which stood out to me and I enjoyed was seeing how both Jack and Hattie communicate differently. Jack is better at using letters to convey his feelings and Hattie is able to capture moments and memories through her art. 

Another component of the story I liked was how the main characters realized their sins and shortcomings and how they dealt with them head-on versus simply acknowledging them and not taking action to change. 

 The Lieutenant's Bargain is written to be a stand alone. If you haven't read book 1 in the series (Holding the Fort) you won't be lost.  However, if you have, you'll enjoy being reunited with some of the main characters. 

If you are a fan of Ms. Jennings' novels you need to add The Lieutenant's Bargain to your list of books to read in 2019 or try to squeeze it in these last days of 2018!

Reading is adventure,

~~ The Lieutenant's Bargain was provided to me by the author herself and Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and the author .I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~~

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled
which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 
 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child,
and bear a Son, and they shall call
His name Immanuel,”
which is translated,
“God with us.” 
Matthew 1:22-23

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Big Question...IS the Book Always Better?

The book was so much better! 

A phrase most die-hard bibliophiles proclaim when referring to a film adaptation

of a beloved story.

For years I have watched the timeless 1940's black and white classic, Miracle on 34th Street starring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, and a young Natalie Wood, never realizing it was based on a novella of the same name.

 Author of the novella, Valentine Davies, wrote the story Miracle on 34th Street in 1947. It was adapted into a screenplay that same year and earned him an Academy Award for Best Story.
Other screen credits to his name are: It Happens Every Spring (1949),  The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954), The Benny Goodman Story (1955), and The Glenn Miller Story (1945).

While I genuinely enjoyed this 120 page short story, I found myself continually picturing images and scenes from the original film. This is one of those rare and I do mean rare cases where the movie was better than the book.
Yes, I said it...the movie was better than the book.

Can you image a more perfect casting of characters?

I certainly can't!

This is one of those unique cases where the film embodied everything the story was and more.

In the book, there is a line that Doris says to her daughter that (I think) the film took to heart and kept that concept throughout. "Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to." (Davies, 116). Miracle on 34th Street inspires you to believe and have faith in others, something we all need a little more of today. 

Fun Film Trivia:

Actress Thelma Ritter's film career began after her small part in Miracle on 34th Street. She was the exhausted mother trying to finish her Christmas shopping.

Edmund Gwenn improvised his reaction to the beard pull to get a reaction out of Natalie Wood.

 Miracle on 34th Street was ranked #9 in AFI's 2006 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time.

In her autobiography, Maureen O'Hara said that she never tires of children asking her if she's the lady that knows Santa Claus. Her answer is always the same,
"Yes I am. What would you like me to tell him?"  

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Shelter of the Most High Provides the Ultimate Encouragement

Shelter of the Most High is the second book in Connilyn Cossette's Cities of Refuge series. In order to have a fuller appreciation and understanding of this wonderful novel, I recommend reading the first book A Light on the Hill.
Eitan has lived in Kedesh for the past 11 years. He still feels guilt over the tragic accident that happened in his childhood. The way the author has written Eitan you'll fall in love with him twice; once as a young love-starved boy in A Light on the Hill and now as a young man in Shelter of the Most High. Eitan is loyal and fiercely protective of his family. It makes you connect to him as a character and gives men everywhere a high standard to live up to in a good way. However, the most beautiful thing was seeing how he discovers forgiveness and can move on from his past and dream of his future.
Sofea comes from a pagan background. She's the daughter of an ungodly high priest. When she meets Eitan he's unlike any man she's ever met and she's drawn to that. I loved how this story shows how men should treat women and she finally realizes she's worthy of his respect.

When Eitan meets Sofea he's intrigued and attracted to her. He loved her "vivid eyes" (Cossette, 54). when he first met her.They have obstacles to overcome. The two major ones being language barrier and coming from two different worlds (pagan vs. God-fearing). I liked the way that Ms. Cossette has them connect through using facial expressions and hand motions proving that people can adapt when faced with the challenge of different languages. It was very intriguing to read these exchanges and see how their relationship grew. I think because of these barriers it made their relationship even stronger. I really enjoyed learning how their experiences shaped them as people, but also how they worked through these challenges, something all of us can always be working on.

 One of my favorite moments in the book is when Sofea sees her worth and realizes she is loved by God. "I was inexplicably valued by the One Who Made the Stars had been worth every painful step." (Cossette, 291). This was a beautiful full circle moment and so perfectly said.

If you are looking to be inspired, encourage, pushed to grow and know your worthiness as a person, I urge you to check out this book. You will find yourself cheering and praying for Eitan and Sofea can get their love story, but more importantly, you are a better person because you've read it.

               Your fabulously blonde bookworm, 

~~ Shelter of the Most High was provided to me by the author herself and Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and the author .I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~~

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Christmas Heirloom is a Joy from Start to Finish

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Christmas Heirloom is a charming set of novellas that will make you believe in love and excitedly anticipate the upcoming Christmas season.
Being a sentimentalist, I loved the concept behind this collection of stories. One unique broach is passed down from mother to daughter over the course of multiple generations dating almost 200 years and spanning 2 continents.  
Karen Witemeyer's novella is a slice of joy. I liked how she cleverly combined the two tales that inspired Gift of the Heart. It's a blend of The Book of Ruth from the Bible and has elements of Beauty and the Beast. 
Widow Ruth Fulbright accepts a position as a cook to provide for her seven year old daughter, Naomi.
Unable to afford the cabin her employer rented out on behalf of her and her daughter, she seeks out her landlord Mr. Beauregard "Bo" Azlin who owns the whole town. Bartering her family's heirloom broach she borrows money from him and upon full payment she'll receive the treasured piece of  jewelry. 
This quote below displays Ms. Witemeyer's trademark wit and flare, all the while conveying deeper emotions and building understanding for the characters. 

"Hope was a dangerous thing to give a man, and Ruth Fulbright had just served him up two ridiculously large slices." (Witemeyer, 142).

Christmas Heirloom is the perfect book to start off your holiday reading. Cozy up with a blanket and your favorite hot beverage and just let yourself get lost in the worlds these 4 talented authors have created. One of my favorite scenes was at the end of author Sarah Loudin Thomas' novella, A Shot at Love. The ending was equal parts surprising and amusing. I would say more, but it would give away the ending. 
 I also thought it was so sweet that Ms. Witemeyer dedicated this novella to her Posse group on Facebook. This only increased her fans and readers appreciation for her kindness and generosity as an author. 
Thank you Ms. Witemeyer! 

~~ Christmas Heirloom was provided to me by the author herself and Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and the author .I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~~

Monday, October 15, 2018

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Still Rings True

Hollywood in 1939 churned out many iconic and memorable films. Among them were Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind and Love Affair (In my opinion the 1957's remake of An Affair to Remember is the best version.) With all these unforgettable movies being released, Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was somewhat overlooked.
In honor of the 79th anniversary of this film, TCM and Fathom Events brought it back to the silver screen.
Jimmy Stewart plays Jefferson Smith, a naïve, idealistic young man who is appointed to the United State Senate after an unexpected vacancy. Aided by Jean Arthur who plays his secretary Miss Saunders he comes up against political corruption and remains true to who he is.

Capra's film will inspire even the most lukewarm patriot to greater loyalty to our country and invoke feelings of gratitude and devotion.

Nearing the end of the film, there's a quote from Mr. Stewart's character that struck a chord with me.
"I wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules if behind them, they didn't have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness, and a little looking out for the other fella, too."
Talk about a stirring speech that inspires you to treat your fellow man with more compassion.

Fun Film Trivia:

In 2006, AFI ranked Mr. Smith Goes to Washington as #6 on the Most Inspirational Film of All Time list.

During the memorable filibuster scene, Jimmy Stewart reportedly had his throat swabbed with mercuric chloride to achieve the raspy sound in his voice. (True dedication to his craft!)

Jean Arthur cited this film as her favorite of all her films.

Actress Beulah Bondi portrayed Jimmy Stewart's mother in 5 films: Of Human Hearts (1938), Vivacious Lady (1938),  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939),  It's A Wonderful Life (1946), and The Jimmy Stewart Show (1971)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Powerful Story

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Stories have to power to move us and change us.
 Things I Never Told You (Thatcher Sisters series) is one of those stories that will stay with you long after you've closed the book. 

Author Beth K Vogt poignantly pens a tale of family, loss, restoration and redemption.

Ten years after Payton Tatcher's identical twin sister Pepper died in a tragic accident she is still trying to survive and cope with the loss. Her relationship with her parents and two older sisters is strained and she tries unsuccessfully to bury her feelings of grief in her work as a partner at a successful party planning business. 

This story was so raw and emotionally gripping, I found myself crying several times throughout. 
Ms. Vogt's talent as an author makes the family dynamics believable and authentic and I found myself rooting for them to find peace, closure and renew their broken relationships.  

I would rank Things I Never Told You as one of the best books I've read so far in 2018. 

An Hour Unspent is Time Well Spent

 So excited that Barclay finally gets his own story in An Hour Unspent! After reading about Rosemary and Willa's 'older brother' in A Name Unknown (August 2017) and A Song Unheard  (March 2018) readers excitedly anticipated his story and it doesn't disappoint.

Barclay Pearce,  a reformed thief, now uses his skills to help in England's war effort. He's been hired by Mr. V to keep tabs on an engineer working as a clock-maker. However, it's the clock-maker's daughter Evelina "Lina" Manning that captures his interest.

Barclay and Lina are opposites in their stations in life and their views of family. He is considered lower class, yet he has formed a large and loving family of orphans. Middle class Lina's  upbringing is divided between a tense relationship with her mother and a caring relationship with her father. Upon meeting Barclay's family, Lina sees the how her family is lacking and longs to change that. Time will tell if it's meant to be.

Ms. White is an exceptional author and An Hour Unspent has all of the elements that make an exciting story and should not be missed. The author ties up all of the loose ends leaving readers delighted. An Hour Unspent can be read as a stand along novel if you haven't read the first two books in this series. However, if you have you'll appreciate this story so much more.

If the WWI era is a historical genre enjoy then you need to add Ms. White's Shadows Over England series  to your TBR pile.

An Hour Unspent was provided to me by the author herself and Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and the author.I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are mine alone. ~~

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Hills are Still Alive with "The Sound of Music"

Picture this: Iconic actress Julie Andrews joyfully dancing while singing her heart out with a majestic mountain backdrop. Of course I'm referring to The Sound of Music. (1965).
Image result for sounds of music

In honor of the movie's 53rd anniversary, it came to the theater.  I had the immense pleasure of attending the showing. There is something about the 'big screen' viewing that makes this renowned film even more endearing.

While The Sound of Music speaks for itself, here are a few fun film facts that you might not be familiar with.

Fun Film Trivia:

Julie Andrews learned to play the guitar specifically for The Sound of Music.

"Edelweiss" was written for the film, and was the last song Oscar Hammerstein II wrote before his passing in 1960.

Maria never calls Captain Von Trapp by his first name "Georg" but refers to him as Captain, Sir, or Darling.

Friday, August 31, 2018

A Few 'Surprises' in Store

Image result for caught by surprise jen turano
(Apart From the Crowd series book 3)
Childhood friends Miss Temperance Flowerdew and Mr. Gilbert Cavandish's lives are turned upside down when he receives a plea to rescue a missing woman. He's stunned when the 'missing woman' turns out to be his chum Temperance. Before either of them can piece together the mystery surrounding her abduction, they are seen by a well-known and respected society matron thus putting their reputations in peril. 
 Gilbert gladly proposes marriage to salvage their reputations. 
Temperance, having recently acquired freedom and independence from her indifferent relatives declines his offer. 
Will Gilbert and Temperance realize their true feelings for one another before it's too late?
"She [Temperance] was often far too carefree, and he [Gilbert] was often too much of a stickler for the rules, but together...they balanced each other."(Turano, 192). 
With an established history, having known each other since their youth, Gilbert and Temperance are totally familiar with each other's quirks and idiosyncrasies. Because of this, Ms. Turano was able to make her hallmark humor between them even more amusing. 
Overall, I found the story charming, but slightly predicable.

Reading is adventure,

Dead Drift Wraps Up the Exciting Chesapeake Valor Series

Image result for dead drift dani pettrey

Dead Drift (Chesapeake Valor Book 4) has it all! Danger, suspense, mystery and romance! What more could a girl ask for?!

CIA Operative, Luke Gallagher is part of an elite task force with the intent of capturing terrorists. Over the past seven years, Luke has been "compromising, blurring the line between right and wrong." (Pettrey, 111). He wonders if the woman he loves and left (to keep her safe) can still love him. More importantly, he wonders can God still love him?

Private Investigator, Kate Maxwell has never stopped loving Luke. Even after his disappearance several years ago, she "remained the adventurous, wanderlust-filled girl he loved." (Pettrey, 32). Her faith in Christ has remained strong and unwavering.

Luke's boss has him teaming up with Kate & the gang (Griffin, Parker, & Declan) to help him take down a terrorist focused on wreaking havoc on U.S. soil and successfully avoiding capture.

After being introduced to Luke in Blind Spot, I was excited that he was getting his own story in Dead Drift. His character intrigued me from the second he stepped onto the page. Kate is the perfect match for Luke. The author creatively and realistically rebuilt their relationship.

Ms. Pettrey manages to throw in a few plot twists I wasn't expecting making Dead Drift hard to put down and not to be missed!

Reading is adventure,

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Do You Want To Change the World?

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'Don't forget to make your bed' is one of the first instructions your mom probably gave you growing up.

 Well, according to Admiral William H. McRaven making your bed is one of the little things you can do if you want to change the world.  (If I'd thought of it this way I might have made my bed more cheerfully in the morning.)

Be honest...who doesn't want to change the world?

In Make Your Bed Admiral McRaven outlines 10 principles to follow if you want to see change.  Powerful anecdotes from his time as a Navy Seal accompany his practical advice.

This quote from the books sums it up perfectly:
"Remember...start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life isn't fair and that you will fail often. But if you take some risks, step up when times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden, and never, ever give up- if you do these things, then you can change your life for the better...and maybe the world! (McRaven, 103-104).

If you're looking for a short motivational book look no further than Make Your Bed.

Reading is knowledge and knowledge is power,

Sunday, July 29, 2018

"Falling for You"...A novel of Second Chances

Image result for falling for you becky wade
Falling for You was well worth the wait!
Model Willow Bradford is taking a break from her high-profile  career to help run Bradfordwood, her family's inn.
Running into ex-boyfriend former NFL Quarterback Corbin Stewart is an unexpected shock and stirs up feelings she thought she'd buried.
Reluctantly, the two of them are thrown together to help solve a decades old mystery.
Willow attempts to resist Corbin's charms, but finds herself falling for him once again.
In spite of their successful careers that place them in the limelight  both Willow and Corbin  remain humble and grounded.

I have to confess the minute I read the heroine was a gorgeous supermodel and the hero was a successful NFL athlete my mind went into stereotype mode.

To my surprise and delight the author took every preconceived notion I had and tossed them out the window.
Ms. Wade sensitively deals with complex cultural issues from a Biblical Christian viewpoint as well.

If you're new to Ms. Wade's books I recommend beginning with True to You, then diving into Falling for You. You'll be transported to a West Coast small town and find yourself caught up in the Bradford sisters lives not wanting to leave anytime soon.

Reading is Adventure,

A regal romance in "A Defense of Honor"

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The Honorable Katherine 'Kit' FitzGilbert deserted London society over a decade ago after being falsely ruined by scandal, determining to never get swept up into that life of luxury and opulence.
She, along with her equally scorned friend Daphne, have carved out a country life of purpose for themselves by taking in illegitimate children, and seeing to their upbringing and education at Haven Manor. Graham, Lord Wharton, heir to the earldom of Grableton has grown indifferent to snobbish society and its conceited customs. But meeting Kit in a London ballroom piques his curiosity. Through a series of events, their lives would become intricately intertwined, and, as with any books by Ms. Hunter, readers can expect plenty of 'sigh-worthy' moments between Kit and Graham. Something else to be appreciated about the hero and heroine in Ms. Hunter's A Defense of Honor is her ability to give her characters a truly Biblical conscience.

Kristi Ann Hunter's Hawthorne House series garnered her many fans, myself included. 
A Defense of Honor begins her brand new Haven Manor series and I was elated for the opportunity to read and review it.
A Defense of Honor can be read as a standalone, but I found it  helpful to have read the Haven Manor novella A Search of Refuge first because of the character connections.

~~A Defense of Honor was provided to me by author herself and Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and the author.
I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are mine alone. ~~

Sunday, June 24, 2018

More Than Eye Candy

More Than Eye Candy
Bookworms are familiar with the phrase
"between the pages of a book is a lovely place to be."
My amendment to this quote would be
"between the pages of a Karen Witemeyer book is a lovely place to be." 
Fans rejoiced as a new book by this talented author More Than Meets the Eye
 (A Patchwork Family novel) hit the shelves on June 5th.
Image result for more than meets the eye karen witemeyer

Warning: Slight Spoiler...
you may need some tissues handy when reading the prologue.

Evangeline "Evie" Hamilton "[is] no stranger to loss, to hurt feelings, [or] prejudice." (Witemeyer,64).
All her life, society has rejected her due to her mismatched eyes,
yet through it all Evie chooses to remain optimistic and sunny. 
For the past seven years Logan Fowler has been focused on revenge against
the man who devastated his family and stole their land.
What he doesn't expect is to meet and fall for the beautiful
and exceptional sister of his sworn enemy.
Eva (Logan's nickname for Evangeline) has him contemplating derailing his "plans"
of retribution against Zach Hamilton.
And so begins the journey of More Than Meets the Eye.

Ms. Witemeyer is a gifted author who continually delivers exceptional stories
with diverse characters, and her works are always rooted in gospel truth.

I just have to mention how visually captivating the cover of More Than Meets the Eye is.
The design team captured the essence of Ms. Witemeyer's novel.
Also, I love Evie's sweet look and head tilt on the spine of the book!  
Your summer isn't complete until you've read
Karen Witemeyer's More Than Meets the Eye.

~~More Than Meets the Eye was provided to me by author herself and Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. ~~

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Gallant Guardianship

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The Accidental Guardian kicks off Mary Connealy's brand new High Sierra Sweetheart series.

Deborah 'Deb' Harkness along with her sister Gwen are traveling with a wagon train headed for California.

Deb becomes the lone witness to an attack on their camp with only her sister and the two children in their care surviving.

Due to a tragedy that happened in his youth, Trace Riley has become a guardian of the trail when he encounters Deb, Gwen and the children.  He knows very little about women and even less about children, nevertheless he helps this small group to the best of his ability by taking them back to his spread of land and providing for them.

Deb is stunned by the kindness and generosity of Trace having experienced none from her own father.

When Trace finds out that Deb could identify one of the men who attacked their wagon trail he's determined to protect her and put an end to this once and for all.

The Accidental Guardian has a different, slightly more serious tone than some of Ms. Connealy's previous books. It still contained elements of her sarcastic humor readers have come to love, but it erred more on the solemn side. I believe this showed her growth as an author and presented readers another side of herself.

I hope others find Ms. Connealy's character Trace to be as charming and chivalrous as I did.

~~The Accidental Guardian was provided to me by Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. ~~

Monday, May 28, 2018

Life, Faith and Getting it Right: The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck

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Sarah Hollenbeck a.k.a. Raine de Bourgh has made a name for herself writing secular, sizzling, romance novels. When she's saved through the witnessing of her friend Piper, she struggles to reconcile her past with her future in Christ.

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is Ms. Bethany Turner's debut novel and I hope will not be her last! Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Turner. She was hilarious, sincere, down-to- earth, and straightaway put me at ease.

The author doesn't shy away from candidly exploring the trials of the Christian Life that we experience in today's society.

How Ms. Turner presented the character of Sarah was unique. She doesn't overly describe what she looks like and in this case I think it was smart because the reader can form their own idea of how they imagine her appearance.

Sarah is genuine in her newfound faith if not somewhat hilariously misguided at times.

If Sarah Hollenbeck stepped from the pages of this book I have a feeling we would have been friends in real life.

From the second she meets Ben Delany I was instantly caught up in their whirlwind romance. I appreciated that both Sarah and Ben strove to honor God in their relationship.

I'd love if the author wrote more books about Ben and Sarah. Not quite ready to say goodbye to these characters yet. Also, can the best friend Piper please get her own happy ending?!

 The cultural references cleverly woven into scenes to add humor or make a point was hands down my favorite part of the book. I also enjoyed the witty chapter titles. It piques your curiosity and makes you want to read further.

Congrats Ms. Turner on a delightful, charming, and funny debut novel.

Christ's Strength Made Perfect in Our Weakness

Image result for together forever by jody hedlund
Together Forever Orphan Train Book 2

Jody Hedlund continues her moving Orphan Train series in Together Forever. 
 Middle sister Marianne Neumann, nineteen is our main character in this story. She is now a placing agent for the Children's Aid Society.  With this position Marianne is hopeful that it will help her find her younger sister Sophie.

Embarking on her first placement mission to Illinois, Marianne didn't realize how this journey would change her in ways she couldn't have foreseen. She along with fellow agent Andrew 'Drew' Brady are responsible for placing thirty-one children ranging from three years to sixteen. Drew is the more experienced agent and Marianne quickly sees he "[Has] bottomless kindness and a tender, sweet way of interacting...the children adored him." (Hedlund, 61).

Having been introduced to Marianne's character in the first book of the series (With You Always), I was a little hesitant as to how I'd react to her.  However, the author had a good balance of explaining her previous actions, showing genuine remorse and a want to change. She portrayed her (Marianne)  as an extremely likable and sympathetic character.

Together Forever was an emotionally gripping story where Drew and Marianne come to realize Christ's strength is made perfect in their weakness.

 A gifted author, Ms Hedlund  does extensive historical research making the reader feel that they've been transported to the time period the story is set in.

Recently, I had the honor of meeting Ms. Hedlund.  What a thrill for me! Having been a fan of her work for years it was truly a delight to come face to face.  She was everything I imagined her to be and more.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Playing the Part is Particularly Amusing

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Flawless New York stage actress Miss Lucetta Plum's star is on the rise.  However, when a fan's interest turns threatening, she's convinced by Mrs. Abigail Hart, a widowed friend and meddling matchmaker, to travel to her very eligible grandson's estate.

The estate?  A 'haunted 'castle known as Ravenwood.
The eligible grandson? The peculiar Mr. Bram Haverstein.

Initially, Lucetta isn't sure what to make of Bram. She finds him more than a little odd with his menagerie of quirky animals and reformed household staff, and she's annoyed at his obvious infatuation with her.

Starstruck Bram soon discovers that the 'real' Miss Plum is nothing like the damsels in distress she plays so convincingly on stage. Rather "...difficult  may be part of [her] charm. It's far more delightful than bossy." (Turano, 124).

Both Bram and Lucetta have secrets they are keeping. Will they be able to reveal them to one another before it's too late?

 The author perpetuates the perfect balance of banter between the leads while adding just the right amount of romantic attraction.

While Playing the Part is the 3rd book in Ms. Turano's A Class of Their Own series it can be read as a stand alone.

Warning: Reading this book in public is not advised as the reader will likely break out in bursts of laughter periodically.  I guarantee it!

Hidden Affections Falls Short

Image result for hidden affections delia parr
Annabelle Tyler is en route to Philadelphia to start a new life after her husband's betrayal and divorce.  Re-marriage to  handsome, eligible bachelor and notorious womanizer, Harrison Graymoor is not part of her plan.

When their stagecoach is attacked, the bandits handcuff Annabelle and Harrison together. To protect themselves against the elements they spend the night in the coach unchaperoned...

Propriety mandates he marry her to salvage her reputation. Harrison assures her they can have the marriage annulled.

For two people who are vehemently opposed to marriage, precarious situations and the people in their lives seem intent on  keeping them together.

Hidden Affections is the first book I've read by author Delia Parr. There were aspects I liked about this book and others I struggled with.
Annabelle was sweet and unpretentious. Genuine in her love for God and in her walk with Him. At times, I found her almost too perfect. This made her hard to relate too as a character.

Harrison was a man who was deeply wounded by past losses of his family.  He'd closed his heart off to love thinking if he never married he wouldn't get hurt. His character evolves and he sees his view is misguided.

Normally, plots that involve 'marriages of convenience' intrigue me, but I felt like Hidden Affections came up short.  My primary issue with this book is that both characters were so set on getting a divorce. In the beginning this story had promise, but for me the ending was not what I was expecting.

The great thing about books and booklovers is each work and each individual's preferences vary...(while I didn't) you may love the book!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Living Life One Limb at a Time

 Widow Lady Keturah 'Ket' Banning Thomlinson and her younger sisters unexpectedly find themselves heiresses of Tabletop, their recently deceased father's West Indies sugar plantation. With his loss, the girls soon realize how much debt he's accumulated over his lifetime Their only recourse is to travel to the notorious island of Nevis and salvage what's left of their inheritance. This action flies against all convention of the time, women didn't travel unchaperoned let alone run plantations. 

Childhood friend Gray Covington owns property adjacent to the Banning sisters.  He seeks to make a success of his plantation and has gambled every penny of his inheritance into this task. He's been in love with Keturah since they were young and he's hopeful that by making his fortune he'll be able to ask for her hand.
   Ket's abusive first marriage has made her tenacious and determined to never ever have to rely on a man for anything. This kind of thinking went against the tradition of the period, basically that a women's sole purpose was to find a husband that would provide for her. 

Will Ket be able to make Tabletop profitable and save their legacy? And more importantly, will she be able to change her views on re-marriage and come to  realize Gray's in love with her before it's too late?

Keturah was my first introduction to books penned by Lisa T. Bergren and will not be my last. I"m hopeful that younger sisters Verity and Selah get their own stories in the Sugar Baron series. 


       Reading is an adventure,

~~Keturah was provided to me by Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. ~ 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Loyal Heart is Medieval Romance at it's Finest

Loyalty to family is a concept imbedded into Lady Olivia Norfolk's DNA.
When Ludlow Castle is under siege, she and her younger sister Isabelle are taken captive by their father's enemy Lord Pitt.

Commanding this attack is Sir Aldric Windsor who discovers firsthand how feisty and strong-minded Olivia can be.

He soon finds out just how far her allegiance reaches...doing anything to save her sister's life and obey her father's order to steal a sacred relic from her captor.

Lady Olivia is thrown into the dungeon for "attempted" thievery and sentenced to be executed. To save her life, Aldric considers a mandate that he be betrothed to Olivia. This promise to marry a lowly knight would have been a stark punishment for a noblewoman such as Olivia. It meant she would most likely live out her remaining days in poverty and anonymity.
So while Aldric knows that his plan is the only way to save Lady Olivia's life, he's deeply conflicted about actually going through with the betrothal.

Olivia was a distinctive heroine. She's fiercely devoted to her family and is skilled in combat. Her skills with weapons made me want to know how to fight with a sword! Throughout the story her commitment to those she loves is tested. Her views of loyalty change. As you can see from this passage in the book, "Loyalty wasn't a birthright. It was earned...Instead I had to live in allegiance to God and His ways first." (Hedlund, 245). She was challenged on what loyalty really means to her and not just her father.Through all the challenges Olivia faced I found myself hopeful that she would find the strength to make the right decision, and celebrated with her when she made the tough choices.

Aldric was a honorable and clever hero. He has a very compelling and heartbreaking back story that makes you want to root for him all the more. Because he is a man of integrity, you find yourself secretly longing that he'll outwit the schemes working against them. You champion him in his quest to save Olivia and overcome his fears with love.

I sped through A Loyal Heart within a day and a half. Every spare second I had I was eagerly devouring Ms. Hedlund's tale bursting with adventure, danger, political intrigue, and romance. This is medical romance at it's finest, so I highly recommend running, not walking to your nearest bookstore or library and grabbing this book off the shelf.

Reading is an adventure,


A Chance at Forever is a beautiful story of forgiveness

Get ready to be challenged by A Chance At Forever (Teaville Moral Society Series). While this is the third and what I consider the best book in the series, you will not be confused if you haven't read books 1 & 2.

The heroine, Mercy McClain finds joy and fulfillment in her work at the orphanage and being on the school board. Her past comes back to haunt her in the form of Aaron Firebrook. He was the boy that relentlessly plagued her about her missing hand. She thought she'd forgiven him, but with his appearance in town again all her old emotions bubbled back up.

George "Aaron" Firebrook is all grown up and has applied for a teaching position in his former hometown of Teaville. This decision is two-fold. He hopes to show the townsfolk he’s a changed man and ask forgiveness of those he wronged, especially Mercy.

When her boss, Nicholas Lowe hires Aaron to serve a dual role at the orphanage: gardener and tutor. Mercy is upset by this because dodging him becomes impossible. 

However, Mercy's resolve to avoid her former tormentor crumbles as she soon finds herself seeing Aaron in a different light as a new man that's been changed by God.

The change that Mercy goes through to forgive Aaron is a complete transformation and shows the redeeming love of God. It is a beautiful reminder for why true forgiveness is so essential for everyone, and how the author brings that concept full circle. While she always wanted to be seen as Mercy, she didn't fully live out the meaning of her name, until she offered true forgiveness to someone she absolutely hated.

Aaron's character was complex and compelling. Because he is so earnest in his growth to change as a person and to make amends for past mistakes, you find yourself sympathizing with his character and hoping that others see how he's reformed and to have his past no longer define him. 

I found Mercy's character truly inspiring and convicting in my own life. I wanted to be able to forgive as she had. The powerful motivation this book inspires in your own life should not be missed.

I really liked how the author Ms. Jagears had her characters dealing with their flaws and shortcomings rather that merely acknowledging them and not making an effort to change. This made her characters more authentic and loveable.

While I'm sad to see the Teaville Moral Society end, A Chance at Forever was a beautiful ending to a poignant series. 

Reading is an adventure,


Image result for Melissa Jagears teaville moral society series
Teaville Moral Society Book 1
Image result for Melissa Jagears teaville moral society series
Teaville Moral Society Book 2

~~A Chance at Forever was provided to me by Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. ~~