Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review: Dare to Love Again

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Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman, resorting to a mammoth hat pin for protection on her way to and from the school where she teaches. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast she quickly discovers she is no match for rum-soaked brute strength.

 Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite jiu-jitsu, but it seems he has little choice in the matter. Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper. But when Nick suddenly leaves town, Allison realizes he’s a fraud just like all the rest of the men she’s cared for. Does she dare love again?

Again I find myself reviewing the second book in a series when I haven't read the first! Luckily for me, this book didn't need for me to have read anything else. Like so many other books lately, I loved this one too. (I guess I've gotten lucky and not had a lemon in a while!) Allison certainly is spunky and there's a twist to Nick's story that I certainly didn't see coming. Historical fiction is another favorite area and this book didn't let me down in the slightest.


I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are totally my own.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Book Review: The Calling

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Twenty-year-old Bethany Schrock is restless. Her love life has derailed, her faith hangs by a thread, and she is spending the incredibly hot summer days wading through a lifetime’s accumulation of junk at the home of five ancient Amish sisters. About the only thing that holds her interest is the spirited and dangerously handsome Jimmy Fisher–and he seems bent on irritating her to no end.

When the sly old sisters and a guest at the Inn get Bethany involved in running the local soup kitchen and starting a community garden, she suddenly finds herself wondering, Shootfire! How did that happen? Despite her newfound purposefulness, a gnawing emptiness about a childhood mystery continues to plague her. Encouraged by Jimmy Fisher, she will seek out the answers she craves–and uncover a shocking secret that will break her heart, heal it, and point her to love.

Suzanne Woods Fisher has become one of my favorite authors. This book certainly didn't disappoint me. In fact, it made me want to go back and read the first book in the series, all while eagerly awaiting the next book. This book kept me glued from page 1 to page 320. While this is the second book in the series, I had no trouble picking it up and reading it without having read the first. All of the characters were well developed and you felt as if you were a part of the community, watching and waiting to see what would happen next. Honestly, if you love Amish fiction, you're going to love this book.

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are totally my own.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review: On the Shoulders of Hobbits

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The world of J. R. R. Tolkien is filled with strange creatures, elaborately crafted lore, ancient tongues, and magic that exists only in fantasy; yet the lessons taught by hobbits and wizards speak powerfully and practically to our real lives. Courage, valor, trust, pride, greed, and jealousy--these are not fictional virtues. This is the stuff of real life, the Christian life. Professor and author Louis Markos takes us on the road with Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, with looks at selected classic works of literature as well, to show how great stories bring us so much more than entertainment. They inspire and convict, imparting truth in unforgettable ways.

Rediscover the virtue of great storytelling and the power of fantasy to transform our reality.

It's been a long time since I've read anything that has an intellectual basis. Don't get me wrong, I love fiction and getting lost in a story but it's a different brain experience than reading something that actually causes you to pause and think about what the author is saying. This is just that sort of book. More than once, I found myself holding my page with my finger while I considered and contemplated something that he had wrote within the pages. This is a book that helped to re-stretch my brain and one that I will go back and read again once my brain has been stretched again. If you're at all offended by biblical references, this won't be the book for you but if you're interested in how they compare with some of our favorite fantasy stories, don't hesitate to pick this one up.


I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. In fact, I received two copies, so if you'd like one, let me know and I just might send one on its way to you. All thoughts, comments and opinions are my own.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Life Changing Moments

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I don't write much here anymore. Sure, I try to keep it filled with book reviews and if I'm honest, most of the time, I miss writing. Writing is a part of my soul, but it's been a part that I've had to put on the back burner while I dealt with other things. Then, something happened...and it opened my eyes just a little bit wider..

You see, I just returned from spending a week in Canada with one of the most amazing people that I know. I know that I've mentioned him here before. His name is Rob and we've been friends for something like seven years now.  Sometimes it feels like I've known him a blink of an eye and others for a lifetime. He's just one of those people who came into my life and it was as if there was a perfect Rob shaped space that he slid right into. In all that's happened, there has been a comfort knowing that whatever happens, he's in my life for good. I can't imagine us not knowing each other.

Now, before I gush on too much and make y'all think that I'm in love with the man or that we've secretly snuck off to the Canadian version of Vegas (is there such a thing?), let me just say that he really is one of my best friends and if I take sneaky pictures of his backside, that's my business. *grins* Seriously though. Rob is amazing. For starters, he has lost an entire person over the course of the past year or so. I cannot begin to tell you how proud of him I am. He looks seriously amazing and I can tell just how much it's helped his health and has bled into so many other areas of his life.  If that wasn't enough, he's also really taking control of his life and starting to live it for him and his children and nobody else. I've long said (and yes, said it to myself, as well) that you have to live for you before you can add in anyone else. Like me, he had that a bit reversed for a while. It's exciting to watch as he rediscovers aspects of himself.

Folks, that's just what I got to spend a week doing. I got to watch as he puttered around his new apartment, making it just how he wants it. He asked my opinion of where he had things stored and I couldn't help but smile as I told him that it was his place. It only had to work for him. I'd find things if I needed them. I got to listen as he talked about his struggles and yes, preened a bit over his accomplishments. It reminded me of how far I've come and how far I have yet to go. It inspired me. He inspired me.

So, here I am...back at the keyboard because I wanted to put all of this down into words. I'm not sure that I'm really doing it proper justice..just how much that time meant to me...but my heart knows and for once, my head is right on board with it. Every time a negative thought peeks its head in, I'm reminded of how he told me to take away the memories of a good weekend together..I remember and I smile. I'm also taking the inspiration and I'm using it. They may be tiny little things to the "average" person, but to me, they're steps in the right direction...

Since I've been home, I've:

  • not left things sitting in the van to be dealt with later.
  • stopped drinking most anything other than water.
  • hauled out more bags of trash than I'm going to admit to here.
  • gotten my new nightstands into place and organized them.
  • flipped my mattress and put clean bedding on it.
These are only small steps, but I was reminded that small steps add up to big changes. I was inspired in a couple of other ways too, but I'm keeping those to myself for now. They're going to take some guts on my part and if I can pull them off, I'd like them to be a surprise. Honestly, I'm more than a little scared to try but as we learned over the course of the week, fear keeps you frozen. 

Rob, like so many brilliant people, isn't always the greatest with words. I can't say that he really vocally encouraged me, other than saying that he's learned that if he can do it, any one can do it. He never made it about my personal journey, just showed me his own. I was reminded this past week that actions really do speak louder than words and his actions nearly screamed c'mon, you can do this too. 


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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Book Review: The Painted Table

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"A beautiful heirloom ingrained with family memory has become a totem of a life Saffee would rather forget—a childhood disrupted by her mother’s mental illness.

Saffee does not want the table. By the time she inherits the object of her mother’s obsession, the surface is thick with haphazard layers of paint, and heavy with unsettling memories.

After a childhood spent watching her mother slide steadily into insanity, painting and re-painting the ancient table, Saffee has come to fear that seeds of psychosis may lie dormant within her. But as an adult with a family of her own, Saffee must confront her mother's torment if she wants to defend herself against it.

Traversing four generations over the course of a century, The Painted Table is an epic portrait of inherited memory, proclivity, and guilt. It is a sprawling narrative affirmation that a family artifact—like a family member—can bear the marks of one’s entire past . . . as well as intimations of one's redemption."

Wow, where to start? This book is not one of warmth and laughter. Instead, it is the story of those who struggle with mental illness and the affects that it has on all those around them. So many will relate and not only that, will be drawn in. You'll cry alongside Saffee and move with them from house to house. At the end, you'll breathe a soft sigh as you close the final pages because Saffee has become a real part of your life. Even though this might not be one of those light hearted, fun reads, I can't suggest enough that you find yourself a copy and read it. It may give you insight, it may give you a new way of thinking or maybe, just maybe, it might even move you.

Suzanne Field is celebrating her novel The Painted Table with a beautiful hand-painted table giveaway!

One winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 18th. Winner will be announced January 20th on Thomas Nelson's Facebook Page.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by the TNZ Facebook Page on the 20th to see if you won.


I received a copy of this book through Litfuse. All thoughts, comments and opinions are 100% mine.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review: Inn on the Edge

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Angela and her brand-new husband Josh have just arrived at their honeymoon destination, a romantic bed-and-breakfast hotel on the breathtaking Washington coast—the Inn on the Edge.

But everything isn’t as it seems. The lessons that come free with the room aren’t for painting the lovely coastal scenery—the lessons are for better sex. Angie and Josh, shocked and titillated, immerse themselves in every sensual offering.

It doesn’t take long for things to go horribly wrong. They discover that the old man running the place is a sex demon who has been stealing their sensual energy. Worse, he’s dangerously in love with Angie and he has plans for her—plans involving an heirloom wedding ring.

Inside Scoop: This book contains scenes of unbridled demon-inspired passion—girls with girls, boys with boys, twosomes, threesomes and more!

Wow! It's been ages since I've read anything like this and I'm completely thrilled that I got the opportunity. Angela and Josh have a true love romance and then along comes a sex demon! The book was well written, the characters well rounded and the sex scenes...well, they were hot! The author keeps you guessing as you turn page after page. I won't spoil the ending for you. I'll just say that if you like hot, steamy, paranormal erotica that keeps you guessing, you'll want to check out Inn on the Edge.


I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are 100% mine.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Book Review: December Bride

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What started as a whim turned into an accidental---and very public---engagement. Can Layla and Seth keep up the façade in Chapel Springs this holiday season---for the sake of her career . . . and his heart?
Under normal circumstances, Seth Murphy - the best friend of Layla O’Reilly’s ex-fiancé - would be the last person she’d marry. But the news of their upcoming (and phony) nuptials convinces a big client that Layla may be high-society enough to work for his agency - a coup that would put her fledgling home-staging business on the map. Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, even when she was dating his best friend. Maybe she’ll never forgive him for the way he hurt her back then, but he has to try. And Layla is willing to keep up their engagement farce until she’s landed her client.
For Layla, it's the chance to save her career. But for Seth, it's his last chance to win her heart.

Do you ever just want to read a book that makes you sigh, smile, laugh or even shed a tear or two but that won't draw you in so far that you're devastated when it's done? Then, this is the perfect book for you. I had just finished a tough read and my internet went out so I couldn't write about it. It was cold (the arctic vortex has us firmly in its grip) and when it's like that, I just want a comfort item. That's when I remembered this ebook sitting in my pile. Before I knew it, I had zipped through the entire thing and loved every single bit of it. It's a light, easy read with well rounded characters that you'll grow to love. I'm looking forward to tracking down the other books in this series to check them out, as well!


I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are 100% mine.
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Book Review: Packing Light

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What do you need to leave behind?

When I was in college, I figured my life would come together around graduation. I'd meet a guy; we'd plan a beautiful wedding and buy a nice house-not necessarily with a picket fence, but with whatever kind of fence we wanted. I might work, or I might not, but whatever we decided, I would be happy.

When I got out of college and my life didn't look like that, I floundered around, trying to figure out how to get the life I had always dreamed of. I went down so many different paths for it. Career. Travel. Friends. Relationships. But none of them were as satisfying as I hoped they would be.

Like many twenty-somethings, I tried desperately to discover the life of my dreams after college, but instead of finding it, I just kept accumulating baggage. I had school loans, car payments, electronics I couldn't afford, a house full of mismatched furniture I didn't love but that had become my own, hurt from broken relationships, and unmet expectations for what life was "supposed to be" like.

Just when I had given up all hope of finding the "life I'd always dreamed about," I decided to take a trip to all fifty states...because when you go on a trip, you can't take your baggage. What I found was that "packing light" wasn't as easy as I thought it was.

This is the story of that trip and learning to live life with less baggage.

I had high hopes for this book and perhaps that's where my problem with it lies. I was expecting it to be a true memoir of a trip across the country but instead, it's more of a let go and let God while taking your own life into your hands type of book. She touches on moments that touched her, but doesn't really talk as much about the trip as you might think. Over all, I would say it's a good book if you're looking for something to inspire you in your Christian walk, but please don't mistake it for a Bill Bryson travel guide or you'll come away disappointed. I enjoyed the book, but I'm not sure that I'm in the right place in my life for it to have really touched me. I would really love to see a follow up book where she really talks about the trip and what happened afterward. I was hoping for an epilogue that gives the reader an update on her life and on her friends'.


I received a copy of this book through the publisher for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are mine.

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Book Review: Christmas in Apple Ridge

12:30 PM 1 Comments
"Experience the holidays with the Plain folk of Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania, in these touching novellas centered around love, romance, heartache, and restoration from best-selling author Cindy Woodsmall.

The Sound of Sleigh Bells
Beth Hertzler is unable to let go of a past tragedy, but when she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds. Determined that her niece meet the gifted artist, her aunt tracks him down, but it’s not that simple – will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love?

The Christmas Singing
Mattie thought her childhood sweetheart adored her until he abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve. Brokenhearted, Mattie moves away and pursues her longtime dream of becoming a cake decorator, and even finds a new beau. But when Mattie is forced to return home three years later, will learning the truth behind Gideon’s rejection restore her Christmas joy – or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?
The Dawn of Christmas
Sadie enjoys her freedom away from home and her mission trips to Peru, but after four years, her Old Order Amish family insists it’s time to come home and settle down. Levi, a bachelor who distrusts women after a family heartbreak, also has no desire for romance. To keep their families from meddling in their lives, Sadie and Levi devise a plan—but soon discover that the walls around their hearts are breaking down. Can they let go of their prejudices, learn to trust each other, and embrace a future together?"

As you probably know by now, I have fallen in love with Amish romance and this book has only served to feed that love. I had already read and reviewed The Dawn of Christmas, so for me, it was all about the first two books within the book. It was a joy to read the backstories of characters that I had already met. It was like seeing an old friend, popping into a local cafe to catch up and not leaving for hours. Honestly, I have to say that Cindy Woodsmall has become one of my new favorite authors. Whenever I see one of her books in a review stack, I can't help but keep my fingers crossed that I'm going to get it. Her characters have depth and feel like people you might actually meet. I never have any problem visualizing the scenes. Honestly, there's not a single bad thing that comes to mind when it comes to her books. If you love Amish Romance or just a really good read, I cannot recommend enough that you go out and find one of her books. This one is a great one because it really is three good books all in one and not one of those skimpy books you see claiming to be.


I received a copy of this book through the Blogging For Books program. All thoughts, comments and opinions are 100% mine.
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