Friday, June 23, 2017

Sweetbriar Cottage

Book description:  " Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.
Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.
Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and okay, the botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.
But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.
As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?"
My review:  While the book description gives the impression that at least part of the plot is fun and light-hearted, it really is the absolute opposite. There are definitely some light-hearted and funny moments, but the author, Denise Hunter, delves into some very difficult subjects. The story unfolds carefully, and I appreciated the "flashbacks" that gave a lot of the back story. It would take much more than one book to really unpack the depth and gravity some of these topics contain, but for the amount of space she had in one book, Denise Hunter handled it very well. Some of the circumstances that Noah and Josephine found themselves in were a bit unrealistic, at least with all of them put together in just a few short days. But this is a work of fiction after all, so that is to be expected to some degree anyway. I really enjoyed this book and wish that it wasn't a stand-alone novel so that I could read more about Noah and Josephine. I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Booklook Blogger Program. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

You'll Think of Me

Book description:  "Her mother abandoned her, her father disowned her, and her husband left her. Can Brooklyn be convinced that it is possible to forgive the greatest of betrayals?
Brooklyn Myers escaped her broken home and her embittered, unloving father by eloping to Reno at the age of 17. But when she was pregnant with their first child, her husband abandoned her as well. Not welcome back home in Thunder Creek, Brooklyn stayed in Reno and raised her daughter Alycia on her own, doing her best to make sure Alycia never knew the heartache and rejection Brooklyn herself had known.
When her estranged husband Chad Hallston dies, he leaves the family home in Thunder Creek to his daughter. Believing it is the best way to give her daughter a stable home, Brooklyn does what she thought she would never do. She goes home to the orchard and wine country of Southwest Idaho. There, she encounters Chad’s best friend, Derek Johnson, a part time sheriff's deputy who also owns an organic produce farm next door. Derek was never a fan of former bad girl Brooklyn Myers, but he made a promise to his dying friend that he would be the father to Alycia that Chad had never been.
Although Derek and Brooklyn get off to a bumpy start, he and Alycia quickly form a bond. And soon, Derek realizes that he wants Brooklyn to trust him too . . . even knowing that her trust won’t come easily. And then he realizes he wants even more than her trust. He wants to win her love.
While Brooklyn may be tempted to give her heart to Derek, risking her daughter’s happiness is another story. Will Brooklyn hold onto her self-reliance for dear life, or will she come to understand that the greatest gift she can give her daughter is showing her how to love and trust others?"
My review:  This was a fun enjoyable read even though there was not real depth to the plot. It was definitely predictable. The author touched on many topics but did not delve very deeply into the many issues that were presented. The characters were a perfect fit for each other, but I think that Brooklynn especially could have been developed more. While I don't regret reading this particular novel, it is not one of Robin Lee Hatcher's best. I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Booklook Blogger Program. All opinions are my own.

With You Always

Book description:  "One of the many immigrants struggling to survive in 1850s New York, Elise Neumann knows she must take action to care for her younger sisters. She finds a glimmer of hope when the New York Children's Aid Society starts sending skilled workers to burgeoning towns out west. But the promise of the society's orphan trains is not all that it seems.

Born into elite New York society, Thornton Quincy possesses everything except the ability to step out from his brother's shadow. When their ailing father puts forth a unique challenge to determine who will inherit his railroad-building empire, Thornton finally sees his chance. The conditions to win? Be the first to build a sustainable community along the Illinois Central Railroad and find a suitable wife.

Thrown together against all odds, Elise and Thornton couldn't be from more different worlds. The spark that ignites between them is undeniable, but how can they let it grow when that means forfeiting everything they've been working toward?"

My review:  While I really enjoyed this book, it was more about women traveling west in order to find work instead of orphans heading west to find homes. This book had a great plot though given that that particular historical detail is not often heard. I think Jody Hedlund did a great job portraying the difficult circumstances many women found themselves in as well as the reality they had to endure in order to do what they could for their families. The unique challenge that is presented made for a great plot, and the relationship between Elise and Thornton was well-balanced and fit in perfectly with challenge that Thornton faced. I have really enjoyed reading books by this author, and I felt that this particular book was one of her best. I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are my own.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Threads of Suspicion

Book description:  "Evie Blackwell's reputation as a top investigator for the Illinois State Police has landed her an appointment to the governor's Missing Persons Task Force. With so much public fanfare surrounding the launch of this elite investigative team, the political stakes are high, and the team will have to produce results--and quickly.

Evie and her new partner, David Marshal, are assigned to a pair of unrelated cases in suburban Chicago, and while both involve persons now missing for several years, the cases couldn't be more different. As Evie opens old wounds in a close-knit neighborhood over the disappearance of a college student, David searches for a private investigator whose last case involved a high-powered client.

With a deep conviction that "justice for all" truly matters, Evie and David are unrelenting in their search for the truth. But the questions that lie just beneath the surface in Evie's personal life are also begging for answers."

My review:  I really enjoyed this book, but in my opinion it wasn't one of Dee Henderson's best. For some reason I seemed to get bogged down in the middle of the book. Usually I'm able to read through her books very quickly, but this time I didn't have as much time to read. There might have been too much time between my reading sessions that caused me to get bogged down. As always, Mrs. Henderson clearly included the gospel message, which I so appreciate. Overall it was another good book by a great author. I am looking to forward to reading the next books in this series. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, April 14, 2017

If I'm Found

Book description:  "Is Dylan hunting Casey to prosecute her or protect her?
Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist that he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily.
As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and just may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail.
In this riveting sequel to the USA Today bestseller If I Run, evil lurks, drawing Casey out of the shadows . . . but there is light shining in the darkness. Is Dylan a provision from the God who loves her, or another heartache yet to happen?"

My review:  Wow! This book was worth waiting for! The first book in this series, If I Run, was amazing and left the reader hanging. I have been anxiously waiting for the sequel, and now I am anxiously waiting for the third and final book in this series. If you like suspense, this is the series for you. The overall plot is complex and the sub plot in this book kept me just as captivated as the plot itself. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough, yet I didn't want to turn them fast in order that the book might last a little longer. The characters are real, and you feel like Casey is family by the time you finish the book. Terri Blackstock writes some of the best suspense novels available. This is a series that you won't want to miss! I received an e-copy from the publisher through the Booklook Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

The Ebb Tide

Book description:  "Sallie Riehl has dreamed of traveling at least once before settling down to join church, so she is thrilled at an unexpected summer opportunity to nanny in Cape May for a well-to-do family. However, saying even a temporary good-bye to Paradise Township means forgoing baptism another year, as well as leaving behind a would-be beau. Yet the weeks in Cape May soon prove unforgettable as Sallie meets a Mennonite young man whose friendship she quickly begins to cherish. Has she been too hasty with her promises, or will she only find what her heart is longing for back home?"

My review:  The ability to write quality fiction is truly a gift from the Lord! Beverly Lewis has certainly been blessed with that gift! I always look forward to reading her books, and this book became one of my favorites from her. I appreciated the subtle yet unmistakable message of following God's will for our lives and not someone else's desires for us. And as parents we have to understand that God's will for our children may look way different than what we had imagined. Sallie had some hard choices to make, and I love that she chose to seek wise counsel. The message also crosses the fence. Give Godly wise counsel when asked and not personal preference. This is a delightful story that just seemed to resonate with me more than others. I received an e-copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Grace and the Preacher by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Book description: "At the age of twenty-three, postmistress Grace Cristler has all but given up hope of finding a husband among the narrowing group of eligible men in her town of Fairland, Kansas. But when her uncle decides to retire from the pulpit, Grace is responsible for corresponding with the new preacher set to take his place. She can’t deny the affection growing in her heart for Reverend Rufus Dille—a man she deeply admires but has only met through his letters.
 
Theophil Garrison is on the run from his past. Ten years ago his outlaw cousins convinced him to take part in a train robbery, but Theo fled the scene, leaving his cousins to face imprisonment. Now they’ve finished their sentences, but the plan for vengeance has just begun. Branded a coward and running for his life, Theo has a chance encounter that could provide him with the escape he needs.  
 
But the young man’s desperate con might come at an enormous price for the tenderhearted Grace—and the entire town. Will Grace’s undeserved affection and God’s mercy make something beautiful from the ashes of Theo’s past?"

My review:  I loved the idea that was implied in the description and knew that I had to read this book! It was exactly as I expected and made for a great plot. I don't want to include any spoilers in this review, but I will say that this is a book that will keep you turning pages and even chuckling some as you go. Grace is a bit unrealistic at times, but in this case it just seems to add to the story and make her even more lovable. The sub plot adds a whole other dimension to the book as well that compliments the rest of the story. This is a book I highly recommend! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

An Uncommon Protector by Shelley Shepard Gray

Book description:  Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one year post.
The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two hundred acre ranch as best she can.
When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.
Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.
But when cattle start dying and Laurel’s life is threatened, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero, and he needs more than just his freedom—he needs her love and care too.
My review: I enjoyed reading this book, but I wouldn't say that it is one of my favorites. I enjoyed the plot, but I think it could have been a little better developed. Laurel is one of those characters that you enjoy getting to know, and find yourself cheering for from the sidelines. I did really like the flashbacks in Thomas' life. I think it helped to develop and show his character better. The history that was included from the civil war time was very helpful and added to the story. I enjoy reading historical fiction and appreciate that aspect of this book. The story moved along, but I found that the ending seemed a bit rushed. It was as if all of a sudden the author decided to tie things up quickly and have the story finished. This book would not be my first recommendation, but I can still recommend it. I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

Book description:  "A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to wheedle her way into an audition with the maestro at the newly formed Nashville Philharmonic. But women are "far too fragile and frail" for the rigors of an orchestra, and Rebekah's hopes are swiftly dashed because the conductor--determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music--bows to public opinion. To make matters worse, Adelicia Acklen Cheatham, mistress of Belmont Mansion and Rebekah's new employer, agrees with him.

Nationally acclaimed conductor Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville's new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse--and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head--he must finish composing his symphony before the grand opening of the city's new opera hall. But far more pressing, he must finish it for the one who first inspired his love of music--his father, who is dying. As Tate's ailment worsens, he believes Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman's trust when you've robbed her of her dream?

As music moves us to tears yet makes our hearts soar, A Note Yet Unsung captures the splendor of classical music at a time when women's hard-won strides in cultural issues changed not only world history--but the hearts of men."

My review:  This is a beautifully written story! While the story was mainly about Rebekah living in a world that would not recognize her accomplishments as a woman, the simple mountain life also collides with a successful world. The parallel lives of Rebekah and Tate bring a new level to this story. The difference is that Tate could overcome his background much more easily than Rebekah could overcome her obstacle of being a woman. I appreciate the Biblical themes that run through the story as well. There were so many pieces to this story and Mrs. Alexander wove them together so wonderfully to make a beautiful story! I think this was my favorite book in this series. I hated to see this book come to an end as well as the series. I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. This is my honest review and all opinions are my own.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Because You're Mine by Colleen Coble

Book description:  "Alanna has been plagued by tragedy. So it should come as no surprise that in the beauty that surrounds Charleston, all is not as it seems.
When her husband is killed by a car bomb while their band is on tour in Charleston, Alanna doesn’t know where to turn. Her father-in-law is threatening to take custody of the baby she carries, but the one thing she knows for sure is that she can’t lose the last piece of Liam she has left.
Their manager offers her a marriage of convenience to gain her U.S. citizenship and allow her to escape her father-in-law’s control. It seems like the perfect solution . . . but her doubts begin almost as soon as she arrives at Barry’s family home, a decaying mansion surrounded by swamp.
To make matters worse, Liam’s best friend survived the car bomb. She’s never really liked Jesse and now she can’t seem to get away from him. When he takes Liam’s place in their band, it’s almost more than she can bear.
But then things start happening. Things that could easily cost Alanna her life—or the life of her unborn child. Are they merely coincidences? Or is there something much more sinister at work?"
My review: I couldn't read this book fast enough! I did figure out a couple of the main twists from the very beginning, which is unusual for me to do with this author. However, it did not take away from the excitement of the book. There are some books that you want to stay up reading but you don't. Then there are some books that you stay up reading because there is simple no way you can make yourself put it down. This is one of those books! The characters are little unbelievable, which again is unusual for this author, but this is a fiction book after all. The plot keeps moving and builds to the climax, which does not disappoint. The ending couldn't have been better. In spite of the fact that some of the aspects of this story do not represent the author's usual writing, this is an excellent book that I highly recommend. I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from the publisher through the Booklook Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, January 6, 2017

In the Shadow of Denali

Book description:  "Cassidy Ivanoff and her father, John, work at the new and prestigious Curry Hotel near the foot of Mount McKinley--Denali as it's still called by the natives. John is the wilderness and exploration guide for the wealthy tourists while Cassidy works in the kitchen as Cook's assistant. The entire staff buzzes with excitement during the busy days preparing for the President's imminent visit. His historic trip to dedicate the new national park on his way to driving in the golden spike to officially complete the Alaska Railroad will be the beginning of a new era for all of them and place The Curry at the heart of Alaska. 

Allan Brennan travels to the Curry Hotel to be an apprentice to the seasoned Alaska mountain guide, with hopes of discovering the truth about his father's death on the mountain years earlier. His father's business partner blames the guide for Henry Brennan's untimely death, but Allan cannot be at peace until he knows for sure. He finds an unlikely ally in Cassidy, and as the two begin to look into the mystery, they suddenly find that things are much less clear, and much more dangerous, than either could ever imagine."

My review:  I always look forward to reading books by Tracie Peterson, and this book certainly did not disappoint! Tracie Peterson along with Kimberley Woodhouse have written a book that pulled me into the story from the very first sentence, and I didn't want to put the book down. Even though the story is fictional, there are historical facts woven in. I always enjoy learning a little bit of history as I read these fictional stories. I also appreciate the Biblical truths that are sprinkled throughout without being over-the-top. There is a perfect balance.  Cassidy is one of those people who always seems like nothing can ever get her down, and just when you think that she has been made to be "too perfect" she is shown to be totally human like everyone else. Not only were the main characters outstanding, the supporting characters couldn't have been better. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish!  I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review posted on my blog. All opinions are my own.

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

Book description:  "The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant landlady. Jane has no idea how to manage a business, but with the town's livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must quickly find a way to save the inn.

Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to overcome her losses and find purpose for the future. As she works with Jane, two men from her past vie for her attention, but Thora has promised herself never to marry again. Will one of them convince her to embrace a second chance at love?

As pressure mounts from the bank, Jane employs new methods, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place, including a mysterious newcomer with secret plans of his own. With the help of friends old and new, can Jane restore life to the inn, and to her empty heart as well?"

My review:  I definitely enjoyed reading this book, but I would not rank it with the best books I have ever read. I didn't really like Jane very much at the beginning, so it took me awhile to get into the book. She acted too brainless for normal people. By the end of the book, she had proven that she was far from brainless.  Despite a slow start, the story did build appropriately to the climax. There was some intrigue that kept me guessing, and the outcome was satisfying. I think an appropriate sequel would help make this book that much more appealing. If you are given a chance to read this book, I would not pass it by, but if you have some favorite authors you are waiting to read, this one will definitely wait.  I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. I was only required to write a review for my blog. All opinions are my own.